My first video review for Michael Neno’s the Signifiers
The Thrifty Twist, written by and recorded in the summer of 2011 with Jarrod Probe.
2012 saw the release of many great films. When I started thinking about which one was my “favorite” I had a lot of difficulty arriving to that decision. One film would excel at something entirely different from the next. In the end it boils it all boils down to personal taste. 1. Django Unchained I saw this movie a few days ago and by far it’s the clear leader for best picture in my mind. While many of the entries on this list had qualities about them that took me out of the picture this film delivered on so many levels. It’s definitely not for the squimish (as any Tarantino picture). There was just so much to like about this movie. Great actors, great characters, unbelievable drama, gut wrenching comedy, shocks and awes. This movie will keep you thinking well after you leave the theater. 2. Skyfall Not only is Skyfall a good Bond movie, it’s a great movie altogether. I really didn’t know what to expect before watching this. I heard that Javier Bardem was a great villain. I heard that Judi Dench was more than a supporting character. I wasn’t prepared for how well all the characters meshed together to form one strong narrative. A good Bond movie needs a good villain and this movie delivers in spades. What’s surprising is the touching character development that is honest and believable. Where Casino Royale was shocking in it’s departure from the typical Bond film, Skyfall is able to blend […]
Cat Power | Sun (originally published on thefiddleback.com) Label: Matador by David Branstetter My only previous Cat Power listening experience, prior to this record, was the elegant “Sea of Love” cover from the Juno soundtrack. I’ve paid attention to her career with wavering interest, promising myself to dedicate time to listen to her work. When the opportunity came to review Cat Power’s new album, Sun, I could only assume that I would have the same kind of experience as before. Much to my surprise (and I’m sure Cat Power’s dedicated fan base) the album is nothing like Chan Marshall’s previous records. Sun’s opening track “Cherokee” begins beautifully. Its bright echoey guitar, its deep thudding drum track coupled with swelling piano arpeggios, and its heavily processed vocals try to strike a moody balance between the new “bold direction” and the old. After plodding along for a few seconds the track explodes with the upbeat “Bury me to the sky” hook and establishes the tone for the rest of the record. There’s a telling moment on the track that underscores some of the fundamental problems with the record. As the dance rhythms come to a climax there’s an odd moment when the track is suddenly punctuated by a hilarious bird squawk. I suppose thematically it’s trying to say “Look I’m still soulful, despite the way this may sound.” There’s no need to apologize, people and tastes always change. “Ruin” was the first track to really grab my attention. The bright circular piano […]
The Smashing Pumpkins | Oceania (originally published on thefiddleback.com) Label: Caroline/EMI/Martha’s Music by David Branstetter Whether or not you like Oceania, the new Smashing Pumpkins album, depends squarely upon how much you bought into the hype surrounding the band at the height of their popularity. If you can get past the fact that Corgan is the only original member of the band and can listen to the album with an open mind you might find yourself happy that you did. Smashing Pumpkins as a band has always been about defying expectations, looking left but often turning right. Where the band could have been trying to duplicate their hits with “sound-a-like” singles and endless greatest hit tours, the Pumpkins have taken the high road and have always put artistic integrity first. Corgan could have treated his new band as “hired guns” but instead he is forging ahead with them and creating a new legacy. Oceania never raises to the heights of the Pumpkins’ best work but it never sinks to the lows of material from ’98 on. In a bold move, the album doesn’t contain any obvious singles and was conceived to be listened to as a singular unit. Yet songs like the “Celestials” bubble out of the frame work looking for a home on the radio. One of best things about this album is the contributions from the other band members. There are moments on the record where you can feel the band solidify and take big steps together as […]