Salt Of The Earth

April 7th, 2015 | Film | 0 Comments

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Salt of the Earth is German director Wim Wenders‘ incredible documentary (co-directed with Juliano Ribeiro Selgado) about the life and work of Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Selgado. The film is the first I’ve seen of Wenders’ documentaries. I never knew that Wenders, like fellow German director Werner Herzog, actually directed a lot of documentaries in addition to his fictional feature films. And not only is Wenders similar to Herzog in that respect, but the two seem to share a fascination with those who live their lives close to edge of human experience. In Salt of the Earth, Wenders’ subject Selgado journeys to remote locations in Africa, the Middle East, South America, Siberia and other places, to study humans and animals whose lives radically differ from the most of ours in the West in their constant proximity to nature, death, and suffering.

Selgado was born on a farm near a small town in Brazil. He went to university to become an economist, and while there he became involved in leftist student politics and met Lelia, the woman who would become his future wife. In the late 60s, he and Lelia fled Brazil for Paris, for fear of political oppression. There, Selgado decided to abandon his work as an economist and become a professional photographer. Though he began this career simply by taking pictures of sports stuff and weddings, he soon garnered attention when he travelled to Africa and later South America to photograph the struggles of those living there, including various native communities in the latter.

After many years of travel and work, including photographing the Rwandan Genocide and the burning of the oil fields in Kuwait, Selgado was exhausted from the sheer amount of human suffering he witnessed. On account of a decline in his father’s health, he returned to his family farm in Brazil. There, with his wife and family, he was able to revitalize the forests surrounding it that had been nearly completely destroyed from years of environmental abuse. The effort inspired him to turn to nature photography, in which he found solace and hope for humanity after years of despair as a result of witnessing so many atrocities.

Between the artistry of the photographs, the study of Selgado himself – portrayed as something of an angelic, Buddha-like old man – and the monumental world events he witnessed, all of which are depicted in the film, Salt of the Earth is at once beautiful, tragic, epic and astounding. I’ve never been a big fan of or expert on photography, but I’m not sure anyone could remain unmoved by Selgado’s photographs as shown in the film, with all the stories and commentary that accompany them. And like Selgado himself, the tone of the film is never overbearing, but calm, understated, contemplative, and of great depth.

Nedelle Torrisi

April 4th, 2015 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

nedelleOn Thursday I handed in a legal paper I’d been working on for weeks, went to classes, then left school to begin my Passover break (which we get instead of March break cuz my school is super Jewish). I hit up my friend Almo and we went wandering around Brooklyn for the rest of the afternoon. First stop was my favourite record store: Academy Records in Greenpoint. I was digging through the crates when I came across a record with a really cute girl on the cover. Her name was Nedelle Torrisi. The album was called Advice From Paradise, and there was also something on the album that said some guy who worked on an Ariel Pink album was on this one too. I tossed it on the little tester turntable they have at Academy and immediately fell in love.

Like fellow Los Angeles resident Ariel Pink, Torrisi clearly shares an obsession with the smooth sounds of 70s/80s mainstream pop, though her tastes lean more towards the slickness of 70s divas, ABBA and  The Bee Gees than Pink’s beloved 80s idols. Glistening synths, syrupy-thick harmonies, and the meticulous studio musicianship of the era make every song a model of nostalgic revival that sounds especially wonderful with headphones. Like Pink though, but with a lot more subtlety, there’s a self-consciousness in how this is handled. You can hear it in a synth that’s are a little too prominent in the mix, or drum pad hits that sound a little too campy.

After hearing “Psychic Returns” and “Double Horizon” I was head over heels, gladly forking over $15 for the album. Later, I Googled Torrisi and discovered that she’s been musically active for a long time as a member of projects like Crypticize, The Curtains and Nedelle and Thom. The album’s title is also the title of a love advice column she writes for Flood Magazine twice a month. And, the album, Advice From Paradise, actually isn’t even really new. It was released online in 2013, only recently being put to vinyl by Ethereal Sequence/Drag City.  Despite being out for almost two years now, there doesn’t seem to be much written about the album, the biggest piece being a 2013 post in Rookie. But luckily, now that she’s made it to Gold Soundz, her and Advice From Paradise‘s days of obscurity are over. :P

acab rocky

March 26th, 2015 | Mp3 Posts | 1 Comment

acab

I heard Victoria is maybe even more beautiful than Vancouver. Dreamy indie rockers acab rocky are from there. This EP cover picture is appropriate. (via If It Be Your Will)

Re-Evalutated // Teenager

March 20th, 2015 | Features | 0 Comments

teenager

In 2012, I boarded an Aerosvit flight to Tel Aviv with a stopover in Kiev. I had just said goodbye to my girlfriend of two years to go join the Israeli army, and we’d both agreed that last hug in the airport would mark the end of the relationship. I spent the next five hours listening to The Thrills‘ heartbreaking final album Teenager, crying my eyes out in-between two very confused Ukrainians.

The Thrills came out of the garage-rock revival of the early aughts. Of course, they were lumped in with all the other ‘The’ bands, even though they weren’t really much like any of them. But if The Strokes were the new Velvets and The White Stripes were the minimalist punk version of Led Zeppelin, The Thrills were the Irish Beach Boys of the scene. Their first album, 2003’s So Much For The City, was an ode to fun in the sun and the heartbreaking beauty of youth. Critics responded well to it and the album hit #1 in Ireland. Their second album, 2004’s  Let’s Bottle Bohemia, received a less enthusiastic critical reception but again made #1 in Ireland and even outdid its predecessor’s performance on the American Heatseakers and Billboard charts.

Then in 2007 the band released Teenager. Critics loved it the most of all three of the band’s albums, but commercially it performed worst by a considerable margin. I’m still not sure why. Teenager wasn’t a ‘difficult’ album. The songwriting, if anything, was stronger, poppier and more consistent than anything in the band’s oeuvre. Was it a marketing thing? Were people just too eager to find the newest, hottest bands to pay attention to a bunch of Irish dudes who released a song or two they liked in 2003? Whatever the case, Teenager‘s under-appreciation is tragic. It’s one of the most beautiful albums of the last decade and hands down the band’s best.

Ironically, considering the title, Teenager is about growing up and settling down. It’s about cherishing the memory of those fun times in the sun as they fade away in life’s rear view mirror. Maybe people just weren’t into that, the album’s of undercurrent of sadness, when they pressed play in 2007, but it was precisely what made Teenager so special, and I recognized it immediately. I guess Pet Sounds had the same problem with listeners in its time. But people appreciate Pet Sounds now; anyone who knows music knows that’s Brian Wilson‘s masterpiece. But nobody talks about Teenager, and that’s  shame. “This year could be our year,” sang frontman Conor Deasy on “This Year”, one of the album’s best tracks. Until Teenager gets the respect it deserves, every year could be The Thrills‘ year. And one of these years it will be.

Dead Last

March 17th, 2015 | Mp3 Posts | 0 Comments

deadlast

An old friend living in Halifax hit me up with some tracks from a new project he’s in called Dead Last. The guy’s a keyboardist who’s played in a bunch of indie rock bands, even sat in with mine for some shows, so I was surprised to press play and hear chill, homemade hip hop come out of the speakers. I rarely post rap or hip hop, but the songs were legit, so…yeah…here they are.