Archive for July, 2014

LVL UP

July 29th, 2014 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

lvlup

There’s a lot to love about this. The band’s name is LVL UP (video game reference, awesome), they’re on the same label as Frankie Cosmos, Double Double Whammy, and they play Weezer-esque 90’s indie rock with a raw lofi sensibility. And they’re from New York, which is where I’ll be living in two weeks(!). (via Pitchfork)

Shlock Appeal // Things

July 27th, 2014 | Film | 0 Comments

things2

Recently I’ve been kind of interested in canuxploitation movies, which, for those who don’t know, are Canadian horror/sci-fi/WTF movies, usually from the 70s and 80s when the Canadian government was investing heavily trying to develop an internationally respected Canadian film industry. A lot of film-makers – including sometimes young, creative type likes David Cronenberg, perhaps the most succesful of all directors to come out of canuxploitation – were able to get money from the government and investors looking for tax havens and just make weird, crazy movies.

In my internet explorations of the genre, I came across people talking and writing about Things, a cheap 1989 horror film made in Toronto (or Scarborough, to be exact) by some crazy film students. Actually, to say this movie was made cheaply is an understatement, even though the internet says they had a budget of over 35,000. I would guess most of that budget went towards buying drugs.

Luckily, I knew that living in Toronto next to a video rental place like Eyesore Cinema and not far from Suspect Video, I would almost definitely be able to find this film, and I was right. Eyesore had a copy of the recent Intervision DVD of it. So I rented it and brought it over to my buddy Kevin’s place to watch. And despite my absolute bewilderment, I fell in love with this movie. However, to call Things a ‘movie’ might be misleading; it’s more like if two weird dudes on acid decided to actually film a feature length movie using 80s camcorders, and then somehow convinced someone to actually release it as if it were a ‘real’ straight-to-VHS movie.

The essential ‘plot’ of Things is that this guy can’t get his wife pregnant, so they go to a doctor who performs experiments on her that impregnate her with bug-like ‘things’ that then come out and kill people. What actually ends up happening is that this happens, and then the guy and his friend end up just hanging around their house on the lookout for the things, eating cheese sandwiches, talking about whatever. Then I don’t even know. Somebody screwed up with the footage or something because things just stop making sense completely as far as I can tell. And yet the movie keeps going.

Things is, by any standard appreciation of film, a terrible movie. But it’s the kind of terrible movie that has a sort of artfulness too it. Watching it, I felt like it was kind of the film equivalent of the weird music a lot of Canadians make in their bedrooms and you then hear on Weird Canada. It has a homey, innocent, almost childish charm. Hobo With A Shotgun director Jason Eisener said that the scenes where the guys are just chilling in the house eating cheese sandwiches remind him of young guys drinking beers and hanging out in houses in Nova Scotia, where both Eisener and Things actor/writer/producer Barry J. Gillis spent their formative years. Having spent my first year of university in Halifax, I know what he means and it’s true. Things has that kind of ‘Canadian bros chilling and having fun’ vibe.

If your tolerance for ‘weird’ is low, you will have no interest in sitting through one second of Things. However, if you love the weird, the homey, the WTF – this is a Holy Grail of a movie. Grab some friends, drink some beers, make some (vegan) cheese sandwiches, and watch Things at 3 AM. Your mind will be blown wide open.

STEVE JR

July 27th, 2014 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

stevejr

As if tonight’s bill at Comfort Zone with Doldrums, TONSTARTSSBANDHT and Cellphone wasn’t already ballin’ enough, Montreal’s sludgy STEVE JR is opening and they sound pretty badass too.

33 & 1/3: Kid A

July 25th, 2014 | Print | 0 Comments

kid a

Marvin Lin (editor-in-chief and co-found of Tiny Mix Tapes and a former Pitchfork editor) starts off his 33 & 1/3 book about Radiohead‘s Kid A by saying he’s not going to spend his time writing about how the album was actually made, but rather, about how the album was received in terms of popular culture. Luckily this ends up not being entirely true. In the process of trying to write about the effect the album had on the world, he ends up digging a lot into how the album was created conceptually, though he doesn’t spend much time on studio stuff.

As Lin writes, Thom Yorke and certain parties in the band were tired of rock music and wanted to explore more electronic, experimental avenues of sonic creation. So the band trades in their guitars for synthesizers. At the same time, Thom Yorke is having a serious case of writers block, so he cuts up his bad lyrics, puts them in a hat, and picks out the words to make up new lyrics. At the same time, the band is, as always apparently, reading voraciously, and the ideas they’re coming across subtly appear to influence the shaping of the album, even if only on a  subconscious level. In particular, Naomi Klein‘s book, No Logo, is a big influence, and its title almost became that of the album as well.

This unique confluence of factors led to the band enacting a major gear shift in creating Kid A, then releasing the album upon a very unsuspecting public, embarking on a new and uncertain millennium. Amazingly, despite how incredibly dark and weird the album is – and how much more so it seemed at the time of its release – its sheer excellence and all the good will Radiohead accumulated until that point resulted in Kid A being both a huge critical and commercial success.

I was only ten years old when Kid A was released and had probably never even heard of Radiohead, let alone been excited for the release of Kid A, but Lin does a good job of reminding the reader how unprecedented it sounded in 2000, especially coming from the band that put out The Bends and Ok Computer. Likewise, as Pitchfork wrote when they named Kid A the best album of the last decade, how amazing it is that all the hallmarks of the album are commonplace now: EDM and intelligent (or ‘alternative’) rock go together hand in hand; every other band uses synthesizers and drum machines (though the ondes Martenot isn’t quite as popular).

Lin also writes, of course, about how the popularity of file sharing and the internet played a big part in the album’s unique release. He also spends a substantial amount of time talking about the endlessly fascinating Thom Yorke – with a couple pages even just about what other celerities who are not so fond of him have said – and his politics, as well as the politics of Radiohead‘s, and Kid A in particular. Basically all the stuff you would hope to read about in a book about Kid A, unless you’re not a big recording nerd and just want the technical stuff. My biggest complaint would be that reading about the band’s politics was so interesting that I would’ve loved more.

Gorgeous Bully

July 24th, 2014 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

gorgeousbully

Manchester’s Gorgeous Bully usually play a very poppy brand of garage rock, but they recently released this song “I Think” which makes the case that they should just go totally shoegaze. Recent single “Dissolve” also serves this conclusion. (via Portals)