Monthly Archives: October 2012

Introducing – Kenzie & Kendal

This is literally the most chance discovery I’ve ever made. A Facebook friend of mine liked a band. She’s not someone I’m particularly close with. It popped up on my news feed, and I’m a guy always on the lookout for new music. So I clicked on the page, and listened to a few songs.

Kenzie & Kendal have doubled their likes on Facebook in October to over 1,000. I’m one of them now. They have a derivative sound, sure, but it’s a good derivative sound. Taking guidance primarily from The Civil Wars and The Swell Season, Kenzie & Kendal have crafted a well-arranged debut album of songs ranging from Swell Season’s acoustic indie-style stuff to Civil Wars’ more americana/folk-based melodies.

When searching for them on YouTube, I found one song, “Six Feet Deep”, the most heavily arranged and rootsy song on the album. A related song was “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and the Heart, one of my favorites. I won’t post it here, because I don’t think it’s the most accurate or best representation of their work. The album kicks off with a song called “We’ll Be Just Fine”, and it’s definitely the best of the bunch. So here’s a link to it:


Preview it, listen the WHOLE WAY THROUGH (the chorus takes a while to hit), and if you like it, help out some struggling indie artists. Or just rip it from their BandPage on Facebook and share the crap out of it like I would if we had the space to store it (coming soon, hopefully). Either way, attend their live shows and support them, ’cause that’s a good thing to do and you’re a good person, right?

Flight – Film Review

The best film I’ve ever seen about addiction*. Not without its flaws, but a great, totally entertaining ride from master director Robert Zemeckis, a certified pilot himself, making an original story that would most certainly have not gotten made if it weren’t for the noble efforts of Mr. Zemeckis.

February 3, 2012. Myself and three others were lucky enough to spend a few hours with Robert Zemeckis. We got to talk at length about anything and everything, about film and social media and modern society. He is easily one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever spoken to, if not the most intelligent. After those precious few hours, he became a hero and a role model. I know I’ll sound like I’m preaching some religious gospel, but he spoke of a coming revolution in film. He spoke of my favorite film, The Social Network, and how it was far and away the best film made in the past two years, and that only a few others had been made competently. He talked about how when he and his friends were in film school, they hated everything but Hitchcock. All they wanted to do was revolutionize filmmaking. Change it. Make it meaningful. Change the world. And they did. For better in many ways, for worse in others, he contends. But he spoke of a coming revolution, a necessary revolution, because this severely broken culture needs it, now more than ever. And he didn’t know where it would be headed, but he knew that from now on he’d try to do the best he could to set a good example for it. He declared to us in that room that he’d never remake a film, or make an unnecessary sequel, or otherwise make unoriginal, uninspired or unimportant material again. And he spoke of the film that would launch all of that: Flight.

He spoke of an inspired script by John Gatins–original, powerful and adult. Gatins had long intended to direct Flight, but leaped at the chance for Zemeckis to take his spot. While the script isn’t necessarily perfect–it suffers from some ill-advised tonal shifts that, while working effectively on their own, don’t seem to flow well together–it creates a moving character study that’s sometimes funny, always real, and surprisingly gripping. Interesting themes are explored, and there are more than a few beautiful, revealing character moments.

He spoke of Denzel Washington, giving one of his finest performances. He wasn’t lying. Denzel should easily be a part of this year’s Oscar conversation for his portrayal of a cocky, amazing pilot with alcoholism. He brings a gravitas, a distinctly male sensibility to the character, and a reality to the horrors of alcoholism. But he’s not the only brilliant performer. The surprising scene-stealer Kelly Reilly (the Sherlock Holmes films) makes Nicole, his love interest and recovering addict feel equally real and easily holds her own with Denzel’s powerhouse pilot. John Goodman makes his mostly-comic relief character soar (see what I did there), Melissa Leo makes her single scene phenomenal, Bruce Greenwood and Don Cheadle are, as always, rock-steady, and Tamara Tunie, as one of the flight attendants on board the doomed airliner, brings a graceful subtlety in a performance that I believe will be unfairly overlooked.

The reason the film is so excellent, though, is because of Zemeckis’ controlled, powerful direction that takes the audience on a tension-filled ride the whole way through. Zemeckis is one of the few elite directors around today that can make people really feel something in the theater. He can create jump scares from the most subtle of character moments, create tangible tension in even the most mundane scenarios, and immerse you in the dark, complex world of a dark, complex man, and make you love to watch him. It’s an x-factor that pushes beyond technical mastery to tap into something deeper. In the film’s first scene, there’s a riveting, distinctive shot of Denzel’s character doing cocaine. This shot is technically masterful on so many levels, and immerses the audience so deeply in the world almost immediately. I’m not a particularly visual filmmaker, but I recognize and appreciate the effectiveness of directorial action such as that.

Speaking of cinematography, Don Burgess creates an often beautiful film, with a few distinctive shots for good measure. Another Zemeckis longtime-collaborator Alan Silvestri delivers a subtle, spellbinding score, as per usual. Jeremiah O’Driscoll, who worked his way up from apprenticeship to assistant editor to full-on editor over the course of the past 20 or so years, proves his mettle in live-action films with a clean, taut and character-driven editing style that subtly enhances the emotional content of the film.

This is a rare film. Exploring the treacherous waters of addiction is a risky pick in today’s no-budget-or-big-budget business, and it certainly took the courage of a well-respected director like Zemeckis to get this made. Hopefully, this film does well at the box office, and studios realize that the Transformers and Paranormal Activity films aren’t the only way to make money at the multiplex. Hopefully, adult dramas will return with the ambition that this film exemplifies.

It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s damn good, and real adult dramas need to make a comeback. And for those reasons, it’s definitely worth the price of admission.

*Disclaimer: Still haven’t seen Trainspotting or Requiem for a Dream.

Introducing – The Shortcoats

As many of you probably know by now, one of my favorite screenwriters is Lorene Scafaria–she’s the writer responsible for the brilliant adaptation of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist and the auteur behind the significantly underrated and significantly beautiful film Seeking a Friend for the End of the World–and it should be no surprise, seeing as she’s good friends with Diablo Cody.

One of the most severely underappreciated actors in Hollywood is Adam Brody, who first turned heads as scene-stealing, Death Cab-loving, much-prettier-version-of-me Seth Cohen on The O.C. and continues to impress in films like Jennifer’s Body and In the Land of Women.

Jonathan Sadoff, along with Rob Simonsen, composed the score for Seeking a Friend. He also graduated from the best school in the world, USC, and scored the feature directorial debuts of both James Franco and Michael Keaton.

What do these three people have in common? They were all a part of Seeking a Friend, and they are all in a band called The Shortcoats. Scafaria takes on lead vocals and keys, Brody’s on drums, and Sadoff covers guitar, bass and production.

With just under 200 likes on Facebook (I was #194, just in case I have an excuse to brag about this later…not that I would or anything, I mean I’m not gonna be that guy…), The Shortcoats are under the radars of even the hippest of hipsters. I don’t really understand why. From their lone 5-song EP, I can easily tell that their melodies evoke the best of indie rock from the 80s with a modern spin (as the band members’ particular tastes would indicate), and their lyricism is unsurprisingly equal parts rhythmic and relatable, much like Scafaria’s dialogue. The lo-fi feel of the intricately choreographed backing tracks provide a worthy, rangy dynamic canvas for Scafaria’s unique, raw vocal style. There’s no unnecessary flair to the proceedings, but there’s a definite care for the details and little touches that really round out a good EP.

Check out “Too Late” below and check them out on Facebook and iTunes.

P.S:  Scafaria has also released two awesome solo albums that I can’t stop listening to at the moment, and Brody is also in the band Big Japan, with fellow underrated actor Bret Harrison. So those artists are worth checking out too. If, y’know, whatever, you’re into that sort of thing.

Introducing: Trails and Ways

Soak up this audio goodness. Seriously. This Oakland “bossa nova dream pop” band simply knows how to produce great tracks. The artwork featured for their singles aren’t too shabby either too. Let’s get go over a few of their tracks shall we? Here’s a main theme that carries throughout most of their works:  tropical rhythms and melodies.

My brother introduced this to me in the summer and it quickly escalated into one of my favorite songs to play during the summer.

The sunny world folk music continues on in this jam.

The band described their cover as an attempt to “…do justice to Miguel’s masterpiece by drawing on the smoky early 90s jazz guitar, synths and smooth beats we grew up loving.” I never thought I would say this, but damn I just found one of their works that surpasses the feelings that I had for “Nunca”. This will be my fall jam.

You want these tracks? Swing over to their facebook and download them for free! The only price you pay is a like on facebook, which is an outstanding deal for sweet music like this.

P.O.S- “Fuck Your Stuff”

Minnesota produces some good stuff. I first heard of P.O.S when I saw his collective Doomtree kill it at Capitol Hill Block Party during the summer. Recently, he dropped a really sick track in anticipation of his latest work We Don’t Even Live Here,  which comes out October 23rd via Rhymesayers. If you are feeling a little too cynical about anti-consumerism tracks (looking at you people that are tired of dealing with Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop”), this might be the track for you.

I Guest Reviewed on The Post-Credits Podcast and all You Get is this Stupid Free Download

A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Ben Affleck‘s new film Argo with Michael Chasin, Ty Sheedlo, JT Hagaman, and returning guest Michael Nader on the sublime Post-Credits Podcast, which, if you didn’t know, reviews and analyzes films with a cheery vibe and an infectious sense of humor. Now that the film’s been released, so has the podcast. Enjoy!

Right-click to download, or just left-click to listen:

icon for podbean

October 16th Miscellany for Your Perusal

Writer of catchy songs. Owner of the minds of a large segment of American youth.

A weekly thing? Maybe. Just maybe.

Ben Gibbard released a new album. It’s awesome. Go buy it … “Mount Eerv” by Ghostwoods was a discovery of iTunes trawling, and it’s definitely got a neat folk-ambient-electronic-sparse-mix feel to it that’s worth a listen … I’ve been waiting for a pop song that sampled “Popular” from Wicked, one of my favorite musicals. Mika finally did it. If you’re into unabashed catchy mainstream pop with a neat message, you’ll like it. If not, well, there’s always … Churchill‘s “Change”, which sounds like an early Grey’s Anatomy pick from music maven Alex Patsavas that I discovered through some iTunes trawling … if your taste leans to the harder end of alternative-metal, Flyleaf‘s new single “Call You Out” isn’t too bad, but doesn’t match the more raw, gritty style they had so mastered as recently as 2006 with “Fully Alive” … Christina Perri is one of my favorite pop artists–she has some real talent and it comes through in her recently released Christmas EP, featuring one of my favorite Christmas ditties, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”. It’s worth checking out for sure … if Taylor Swift released a jazz album, I’m sure America would buy it and jazz would be pop again. Dear Taylor, if you’re reading this, you can write the catchiest songs ever and people will buy them no matter what–so why not arrange them in ways that enhance our musical culture, and lyricize them in ways that would enhance our culture in general? Just a thought, from an admirer. PS Will you marry me? (What? Who said that? Totally wasn’t me.)