Monthly Archives: November 2012

Like Passion Pit, if it Were 1983: Breakbot

Hey, remember when I talked about seeing Justice live? Or when I posted about Jamiroquai? You do?!?! Awesome, because this post is loosely related to both of those!

When I saw Justice live at the Paramount this past April another French electro artist opened up for them: Breakbot. Had I heard of him before? No. Was he amazing? I think so. It’s hard to remember to be frank. But that is probably more of an indication that yes, yes he was. After the concert, at some point I hopped on my handy-dandy laptop and scoured the internetz for more Breakbot. And I found this: 

A beautifully groovy song, Baby I’m Yours takes on a distinct 80s personality but still reminds you that it’s modern and most importantly, hip. Aside from this one song though, I couldn’t find a whole lot of other good Breakbot music. There were some 40+ minute long mixes on youtube but none of them really got me tapping my feet if you will. So, lo and behold here a mere 7 months or so later, I found myself googling “Breakbot” to find the song and listen to it (for the 200th time), only to find that he has in fact released a new album.

Absurd levels of excitement

By Your Side is all very similar to “Baby I’m Yours” but in a very non-repetitive way. Everything song has it’s own story to it, but they all revolve around sort of 80s pop meets electro meets romance. Romance is the key theme in this whole album. I can’t attest to it just yet, but I’d bet money that this album would be great to have sex to. Just sayin. As was referenced in the title, it sounds a bit like Passion Pit, with light synths and some mildly modified vocals. 

Here you can see a bit of the difference between the songs. Like I said, each song has a story told through the melody and lyrics. The whole album features some really interesting production and layering of sounds that’s very pleasing to the ear. Overall it’s just a great album that I highly recommend. Each song leaves you with a positive feeling and easily 75% of them make you want to dance in some way (the other 25% would be perfect for slow dancing). Breakbot’s really come out in an impressive way here and I’m incredibly pleased with the results. I’m looking forward to hearing more of his music and hopefully seeing him in tours to come.

Check out Breakbot on facebook
Buy and listen to By Your Side on beatport

 


Eyes on the Other Seattle Rapper – SOL’s “Old Him”

Yes, we all understand Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ greatness at this point (if you haven’t, you need to listen to The Heist right now). Not to undermine that awesome album in anyway, but it’d be nice to shine a little light on our other Seattle stud who is away right now. Sol’s world tour led him to India and when he was there, due to some food poisoning from KFC, he wrote “Old Him” on a night train, got it recorded in India and produced in Seattle, all while he was sick. If that’s not some damn hard work, I don’t know what is. This track comes off different than most of Sol’s tracks of late. This one is very very chill and smooth as shit.

I like a whole bunch of Sol’s music, but this track is probably my favorite as of now. The lyrics and message behind this song are so damn strong. You can almost feel like there is a difference in the way Sol operates himself now and off of his blog, he says a bit about how India has changed him, saying

“India is one of those places that will undoubtedly change your life. The man I was before I landed in Delhi and the man I am now, after having spent two months traveling around the country, are strangers in many ways.”

Meaning of the song essentially wants to put across his humbled experience and the things that he noticed while he was there, but it’s better to just read the lyrics yourself and make what you want out of it. Mad respect to Sol though, for going through this change and being humbled by the experience of travel. Come home soon Sol, we need to see you.

LYRICS:

8,000 miles from home
Still I hold it down for my folk
Surrounded by nothing but brown skin
Nothing but love, from the village to the township

My heart feels weak enough to give up
Sometimes tears flow quicker than the river
Smiles get thinner
Mouths don’t get dinner
And somehow we build houses even bigger.
Back home, my homie bought a Cadillac,
Out here, that’s cash enough to bring the dead back.

My belly’s empty, and not because it’s Ramadan,
I simply lost my appetite seeing children starve.
That’s what’s really hard, not your silly bars.
Not your grill, not your car, not the pills you pop.
Marvin said it, you better know what’s goin’ on and
Life’s a question; answer when the song ends
Answer when the world ends
Dance until the Earth spins
If the music stops, we’ll get planted in the dirt quick

Word is they talkin’ ’bout us.
They say we almost famous
Guess I forgot about it when I bought this plane ticket

More humble than he’s ever been
Sun up on his golden skin
Feelin’ something like a fugitive,
Something like a fugitive,
Runnin’ from the old him.
Represent enlightenment forever young, learning from the light within.
Yeah, something like a fugitive, something like a fugitive
Runnin’ from the old him.

I never dreamed to be a rap star
I never saved up for a fast car
But I did act selfish a bit
Buy stupid shit, and waste the tools that I had.
Sold out shows, money in the bank,
But my ego not sold, at least I don’t think.

But who am I to say? You tell me, ever change?
And if I have a pray it’s for the better, in Jesus’ name.
All lil’ Krishna everything, smokin’ hash on the back waters, King Fisher drank.
Thinkin’ bigger thoughts than you ever think,
And if you seen what I seen
Then you God damn better change.

Donated thousands for the earthquake,
Still, I felt helpless in a higher place.
Searching for a purpose when I’m buying drinks,
Buying clothes, seein’ people die is gettin’ kinda old.

More humble than he’s ever been
Sun up on his golden skin
Feelin’ something like a fugitive,
Something like a fugitive,
Runnin’ from the old him.
Represent enlightenment, forever young, learning from the light within.
Yeah, something like a fugitive, something like a fugitive
Runnin’ from the old him.

Read up on Sol’s experience in his own words:
http://www.solsays.com/


New Music: Silverstein

Canadian post-hardcore veterans Silverstein unveiled a whole lot of news today, including North American and European tour dates, album info, and a brand new song. The band’s sixth full length, a concept album titled “This Is How The Wind Shifts,” will be available February 5th, 2013. You can stream a song from it, “Stand Amid The Roar,” at http://www.facebook.com/silversteinmusic?fref=ts


West Coast Represent! HAIM’s “Don’t Save Me”

These three sisters, Danielle, Alana and Este Haim out of Los Angeles make up the nifty lil band that goes by their last name. And woo buddy do they sound gooood. Rocking a little bit of everything, sounding like some kind of nu-folk blended with some 90’s R& B, they bear a lot of resemblance to the former girl band, Those Dancing Days, but a bit different in the sense that the sounds of their songs change it up quite a bit. Releasing their EP “Forever” back in February, they’ve picked up quite some steam and are started to get pretty popular. I mean they got a Vevo and all…but in actuality, they have ties to artists like Julian Casablancas, Ke$ha, Florence + The Machine and some more, so it probably won’t be long until they’ll be established their own name in the music culture.

I want to give focus especially to their infectiously catchy pop tune “Don’t Save Me” and a fitting video for the song and its lyrics. Talking about not being saved and going up hard against some boys in B-ball? Pretty cool stuff. But the song is damn good. The chorus just croons and begs to be sung along with. I mean it’s just fun to say “Baby, don’t save me now” and dragging out the ‘now’. I’m glad they’re from the West Coast and bringing in another upbeat, catchy tune with this one. The thing that sets this song apart from their other ones is it seems to be the only fast paced one they have so far, but it’s damn cool and a perfect summer jam to look forward to being able to sing along with. Yo, ain’t no shame in singing along with girls. Keep an eye out for Haim. They’re gonna be something good.


Anna Karenina – Film Review

I never thought I’d see the day when I saw a film too smart for mainstream critics. This is that day. A visually stunning, intellectually challenging, and altogether beautiful adaptation of Tolstoy’s epic novel.

We all know the story. Or at least we should, because we’re all literate and intelligent, right? So I’ll skip over the plot introduction. Wikipedia it if you need to, then come back. But avoid spoilers.

Alright. You good? Great.

Joe Wright is known for directing visual masterpieces starring Keira Knightley, releasing them to high critical and decent commercial acclaim (see Atonement, Pride & Prejudice). So he’s trying to replicate the formula here–or so it seems. In reality, the director known for sweeping long takes and moving emotional drama has both reinforced and subverted the conventions of his own style with this Tolstoy adaptation.

The visual style deserves some serious discussion. Nearly the entirety of the film takes place on a single stage. That’s not hyperbole–even the outdoor sets are meant to exist on the indoor stage. It’s difficult to explain, so I’ll say you should see it to fully understand it. It’s beautiful to watch, if difficult to comprehend at first. The only scenes that take place outside the stage and are shot on location as such are the scenes that take place in the country. The scenes that take place in the stage are the scenes in upper-crust areas, and the setting is beautifully symbolic. The stage is meant to represent the theatricality of an imperial existence, that each of the members of Russian high society are each players in a complex play that must put on a false persona, whether or not that persona suits them. The cutting and the locations in the scenes in the country are simple and beautiful, but most of all, depicting a wide open and free environment. The freedom, the emphasis on the beauty of the lack of roles despite the lack of supposed high-class culture, allows a sharp contrast to the constraints of high society.

But of course, the film is really about love. That’s what Anna Karenina is in a nutshell, a treatise on love. This is where the film both succeeds immensely and falters slightly. As a treatise on the ideals of love, it absolutely succeeds. In depicting the actual romance, Wright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard (a legend in his own right) choose to skip over some crucial emotional (and plot-related) beats in characters’ relationships and allow the audience to fill in the blanks, which has upset some critics as they perceive the romance that follows to be shallower than necessary. While this might be a valid artistic choice and an efficient time-saver (considering the 2-hour-plus runtime, probably a good thing), it alienates viewers who don’t know the plot and forces them to work harder to achieve emotional impact. While I’m all for placing trust in the audience to put 2+2 together, it would have been nicer to see Count Alexei Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, a long way from Kick-Ass) and titular Anna (Knightley) truly fall for each other. It would invest us in them and their conflicts more.

Although it is entirely possible that that was a deliberate choice. Anna is a character who makes despicable choices for relatable reasons, and the point of a film like this is for the audience to walk out debating Anna’s actions and to determine their own concepts of love, and giving too much weight to her relationship with Vronsky could bias us against Alexei Karenin (a phenomenally subtle Jude Law), her lovely, selfless husband who gets pretty well shafted by Anna’s love for another man. There is another major subplot revolving around an awkward country man named Levin (a delightful Domnhall Gleeson, last seen as Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter films) and an upper-class girl named Kitty (Alicia Vikander) that epitomizes the good side of love in contrast to Anna’s bad side, and the idealistic vs. the realistic, one of the more interesting debates in the film.

“Sensual desire indulged for its own sake is the misuse of something sacred.” – Levin

The technical work is genius. Oscar nominations are likely headed to Seamus McGarvey for cinematography and the costume and production designers. Dario Marianelli delivers an opulent score that might slip under the radar, and Melanie Ann Oliver’s editing certainly deserves praise for thematically building metaphors, not overcutting and building dramatic tension smartly.

It’s nice to see a film like this existing in the modern landscape–a film of such ambition, visual beauty, sensuality and intelligence. Whether it will connect with mainstream audiences or even mainstream critics is yet to be seen. But it’s definitely something that should. Go see it.

4.5/5 stars.


Hitchcock – Film Review

D’awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

It is a most fortuitous coincidence that I am taking a class on the life and works of Alfred Hitchcock in the year of the release of the first real Hitchcock biopics–HBO’s The Girl being one, and the film I saw last night, Hitchcock, being the other. I haven’t seen The Girl, though the professor of the class (the Alma and Alfred Hitchcock chair, by the way, due to his status as one of the foremost, if not the foremost, Hitchcock scholar in the land) seems to think that it’s awful. But as of last night, I have seen Hitchcock. And it is far, far from awful.

The film covers the making of Hitchcock’s most popular and revolutionary film, Psycho, as the book it was based on (by Stephen Rebello) had done. (Author’s Note: I would recommend you see Psycho before seeing this film. Hitchcock will spoil some of its more inspired twists.) At the start of the film, Hitchcock’s latest effort, North by Northwest, premieres, and it is a rousing success, but the writings of a particularly disdainful critic stick in his mind, and he feels the need to do something new and ambitious to keep himself relevant as he enters into his 60s. So he finds the most pulpy novel in America, buys up all the copies so that no one knows the ending, and sets out to work on a picture no one wants to make–Psycho. He and his wife, Alma Reville, his most important and necessary collaborator, have to finance the picture themselves, in turn risking everything they have–their standing in Hollywood, their house, etc.–leading to one of the more interesting making of stories in the history of cinema.

Anthony Hopkins is obviously solid as the title character, and brings a great deal of nuance to the table, but the film belongs to Helen Mirren, who brings to life the amazing woman behind the man with an appropriate amount of vivacity and reality. She deserves an Oscar nomination, if not a win, for that performance. Because the film centers so much on the main couple, the characters that surround them are reduced to smaller roles, so to flesh them out with considerable presence, great actors are needed. Scarlett Johansson, my future wife what who said that, plays the star Janet Leigh, the always amazing Michael Stuhlbarg plays Hitch’s agent, character actor Danny Huston gets a chance to shine, Toni Collette seems slighted in the small role of Hitch’s secretary, but makes the most of it, Jessica Biel brings a necessary humanity and pettiness to Vera Miles, but the real scene-stealer is James D’Arcy, who IS Anthony Perkins–there’s no better way to say it. He has maybe two or three scenes, but he deserves serious consideration for literally being this other person.

The direction, by Sacha Gervasi, is necessarily tight and smart. One rushed, handheld sequence in particular really brings you into the emotional mentality of the master of suspense. The writing (by John McLaughlin, a long way from his last film, Black Swan) is consistently funny, absolutely beautiful to Hitchcock scholars–the nuances are stellar, though casual moviegoers might not get them–and worthy of consideration for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Technical stuff is superb. Danny Elfman’s score is whimsical and fabulous, bringing in elements of Bernard Herrmann’s classic motifs. Jeff Cronenweth proves he can shoot something other than Fincher darkness with his obviously Hitchcockian cinematography. The period aspects of the film are very well-done and the editing, by Fighter editor Pamela Martin, is tight and un-excessive.

Overall, Hitchcock is a beautiful, cute, funny and smart film that deserves serious Academy attention, with no technical flaws. It’s so obvious everyone on this movie was making it for the art, the passion and the legacy, and not the money. A legitimate labor of love, a rarity in modern Hollywood. Check it out if you love a good love story, a heartwarming story, or even Hitchcock. It’s a surprisingly awesome date movie.

4.5/5 stars.


Dead Man’s Bones (aka Ryan Gosling Has A Band)

Happy Birthday, Mr. Gosling

Do I need to say more? He’s a class act and a man other men should be like. My role model. My muse. Mr. Gosling, I salute you.

iTunes

Oh, and did I mention the entire album is a collaboration with a children’s choir started by Flea? Yeah, that’s a thing.

Oh, and it’s pretty good too.