Glean, the seventeenth studio album from They Might Be Giants, somehow manages to be both innovative and familiar, like pulling on your favorite denim jacket and suddenly finding a secret treasure map in the pocket. Its fifteen tracks hold a number of surprises, but the songs never lose sight of what makes TMBG TMBG.
All but three of Glean’s tracks were culled from releases on the newly-revived Dial-A-Song, a project just a couple of years younger than TMBG itself which originally consisted of demos and musical miscellany being released via a simple answering machine. This year’s incarnation of Dial-A-Song has TMBG releasing a new song every single week for the entirety of 2015. Continue reading →
April Fools Day brought the first new music from the brand new alt-rock supergroup, FFS, made up of the members of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks! (If you’re following the new Unicorn Booty Tumblr admin’d by yours truly, you got a sneak peek yesterday morning.)
As confusing as it might sound, it sounds… exactly like what you’d expect from combining the two acts… the piano and operatic vocals from Sparks, and the angular guitars and jittery energy of Franz Ferdinand. Sure, on paper the only thing the bands have in common is putting out some of the best records of the past 40 years (Sure, 30 of those 40 years are held up by Sparks, but if you didn’t like Franz Ferdinand’s Tonight, you’re just wacky) — but “Piss Off” works perfectly. Continue reading →
Caveat: A request to review KateGoes’ debut album Animals Who Want To Be Other Animals was met with an express stipulation from the band that they would sanction a review only upon the precondition that it be written in a (to quote) ‘geordie accent‘. Whether this represents a progressive female re-appropriation of the male critical voice or is a matter of ethics in indie music journalism is open to debate.
The Geordie version ran yesterday, and an standard English dialect version follows below the cut.
Caveat: A request to review KateGoes’ debut album Animals Who Want To Be Other Animals was met with an express stipulation from the band that they would sanction a review only upon the precondition that it be written in a (to quote) ‘geordie accent‘. Whether this represents a progressive female re-appropriation of the male critical voice or is a matter of ethics in indie music journalism is open to debate. I will stress that any offence caused by the clumsiness of my aping of the Newcastle accent is wholly unintentional. It is worth noting at this juncture that in order for me to render the review in native dialect I have made recourse to a combination of translation software, academic research and personal observation. Thank you.
It is so incredibly difficult to make a good film about time travel. The successful ones live forever: Back to the Future, for example, hits everything right, while setting a standard for the genre. Many other time travel films miss the mark, by leaving gaping plot holes, or by messing with time so much so that it becomes a mess itself. I won’t name any names – but the movie that just popped into your head? That’s probably the one I’m thinking of.
And then there’s Predestination, a time travel film done so incredibly well it left my jaw hanging on the floor long after it had ended. A movie that messes with your mind so much that you wonder if you even had a mind at all.
This movie is almost impossible to review without spoilers, so this review will come in two pieces; spoiler free, and the full intense review. Continue reading →
My latest British sci-fi obsession on Netflix Instant is Black Mirror, a dark science-fiction anthology series that recently added its second season to Netflix Instant.
Black Mirror is like The Twilight Zone, brought forward to the age of social media and smart phones. Most of the stories are set in a very recognizable near future, with one or two tricky technologies that have evolved from current technology and subtly broken the society in “chaf”Charlie some way. The first episode, “The National Anthem,” could easily take place today, with characters inspired by Kate Middleton and British PM David Cameron. “Fifteen Million Merits” is the furthest afield. It seems to take place after an energy crisis that reshaped society into Brave New World plus The X-Factor, gamification, and porn ad pop-ups. Continue reading →
Edward Ka-Spel’s brilliance with The Legendary Pink Dots is to introduce us to isolated characters and then immerse us in their world-view through expansive and mysterious soundscapes. He begins with the most restricted, infinitesimal point of consciousness and then slowly expands it outward towards a state of ‘cosmic consciousness’ (to use the phrase of 1960s psychonauts). Musically, he often follows this template of expansion, with simple melody lines repeating and layering in increased complexity of texture. Much of the LPD’s music is an undertaking to help the listener (and perhaps composer) escape his/her own head. Lyrical phrases, musical motifs, album titles and themes recur across decades, but tonal shifts between albums are slow and subtle. Hopefully, The Legendary Dots Project, like the Residents and Sparks projects before, will provide the keen reader and listener with a giddy entry-point into the Legendary Pink Dots’ musical world. Fulfil the prophecy!Continue reading →
The fact Guardians of the Galaxy won me over is quite remarkable considering the attitude I started out with. I remember shaking my fist at the sky, full of feminist ire, as I proclaimed “How can they say Wonder Woman doesn’t have enough wide market appeal, then green light a movie about a cybernetic raccoon?” A dear friend of mine, and an expert in comic book nerddom, pointed out that one is DC and one is Marvel, and the rights are owned by different studios. I find that to be nearly irrelevant when I lump together all the “powers-that-be” into one man in a suit shaking his head “no.” But the fact of the matter is, my feminist ire was misplaced (but came in handy later on when protesting the very real lack of toys celebrating the kick-ass lady alien this movie made me care about).Continue reading →
Earlier this year, the largest video store in the United States, Scarecrow Video had a Kickstarter to help fund its survival and conversion to a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of video. Of course, being a film-loving Seattlite, I was just about contractually bound to contribute to the Kickstarter — and one of the perks was being allowed to curate a top 10 list that’d be available for folks to browse in the store. That list is here — though it’s not really a top 10 list, but more of 10 movies that may be a little obscure that are worth checking out. (And I believe a fair number of these I first saw from Scarecrow!) In no particular order, those films are…