Considering how much people love the idea of giant robots fighting, of course Pacific Rim couldn’t be the first movie to show that on film. I don’t know if Robot Jox was the first, but it’s the kind of movie that simply had to exist: an 80s/90s B-movie with bad acting and cheap special effects in which giant robots (or mechs, really, since they have human pilots like in Pacific Rim) fight each other. Even better: America beats the Soviet Union. And thankfully it was directed by B-movie master Stuart Gordon (Re-Animator, From Beyond).
The plot is that in the future there are no more wars – when countries have a dispute, they send in their best mech pilots to fight each other and whoever wins wins. America has this pilot Achilles (Gary Graham) who’s a real hot shot. He has to fight the Ruski’s hot shot Alexander (Paul Koslo) to decide who gets Alaska. There’s also a girl involved named Athena (Anne-Marie Johnson) who’s a real bad-ass. The love story between Achilles and Athena is kind of lame, but the heart of the movie is the frenemy bromance between Achilles and Alexander. Forgetting all that though, the reason to watch this is for the cheese factor and fairly impressive non-CGI robot fighting. And Robot Jox has plenty of both.
Magical Power Mako was a dude named Makoto Kurito who started recording and releasing some really cool, weird Japanese psychedelic rock in the early 70s. I stumbled onto his best known work today, the 1975 album Super Record, and was totally enthralled. While there’s a lot of cool Japanese psych stuff from the 60s and 70s onward, what set Mako’s stuff on Super Record apart for me was that, like his early 70s home recordings that were later released as the HAPMONIYM box set in 2002, Super Record feels like a cool collage of weird, stylistically all-over-the-place music. It doesn’t feel like an album that was made to sell or impress anyone – it feels homey, intimate and diy. It’s also fairly mystical outsider music, and reminds me in that sense of Joachim Skogsberg‘s Jola Rota, which has a similar sensibility.
Since I just found Mako today, I haven’t had the chance to check out his other albums – which appear to be a bit less streaming-friendly – but hopefully I’ll get to them soon.
I know the Grundy bros from back when I lived in Halifax. They were making cool tunes then, and now, with bandmates Cheryl Hann and Nathan Doucet, they’re making cool tunes with shades of twee, nervy 80s art-rock and 90s indie-rock as Heaven For Real. Their excellent full length, Kill Your Memory, drops July 15th on Mint Records.
Adrian Teacher and the Subs new album, Terminal City (out now on the excellent You’ve Changed Records), is about a couple things, including gentrification. The band is based in Vancouver – where I was last week – and every conversation in that city these days is about how young people are getting squeezed out by absurd rent and property prices coupled with low wages. While Teacher’s lyrics reflect this frustrating state of affairs, the music remains pretty upbeat and poppy, and he manages to keep his sense of humour intact.
Old Cabin is a dude from White Horse up in the Yukon Territories (in Canada). The name Old Cabin is pretty appropriate – the stuff is folksy, mellow, a bit rustic. The vocals don’t sound that different from Robin Pecknold’s (of Fleet Foxes – and his don’t sound that different from Jim James‘ (of My Morning Jacket)). He’s got a new EP called Saturn Return dropping “later this summer.” Should be good.