Friday, November 30, 2007

December @ Stereo Sanctity

And the time is upon us once again. Commencing next week will be my annual Best-of lists for 2007. As a result of the constant typing I will endure, regular posts will be minimized significantly. I will try and get to one more Race for the Prize column this weekend though, seeing as how every Oscar movie has finally been widely seen by critics. I'm not sure how my personal reviews will shape up however, but more than likely I will offer up truncated thoughts, or perhaps none at all if the film warrants. What you can expect though is an influx of links to critics top ten lists (both film and music), Golden Globe predictions and some fall-out commentary on the nominees. And of course the National Board of Review, which announces next Wednesday and kicks off the whole darn thing. We have made it indeed. Here is brief rundown of what you can expect at Stereo Sanctity though:

Dec. 3 - Best DVDs of 2007
Dec. 5th (hopefully) - Best Reissues & Compilations of 2007
Dec. 10 - 50 Best Songs of 2007
Dec. 17 - 100 Best Albums of 2007 (lord willing)
Dec. 24 - 10 Best Films of 2007

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dusted Interviews The Capstan Shafts



...or more appropriately, Dusted's Raf Spielman interviews Dean Wells, the sole force behind lo-fi pop heroes The Capstan Shafts. Wells just released his 7th - and first widely available - full length record Environ Maiden to a nice critical round of applause, and not long ago finally decided to show his face to a live audience for the first time. Dusted even anointed the album as "the aughties answer to Bee Thousand." And while I wouldn't go that far, it is certainly one of the best pop records you will hear all year. Here's an excerpt:

"Dusted: Is there any kind of organization, thematic or musical, that decides what songs go on each album or EP, or are they more documents of what's happened in the duration since the last cd? And when do you decide an album or EP is done?

Wells: There’s always some vague concept, some book as it were. One idea makes two if it works and three if it fails. So they generally rush out, but the connections are deliberate and when I have enough on that theme that I can throw away half of them, then I consider the album done. Having said that I realize they are all boy/girl songs even if it’s a rant against public financing of elections or emminant domain. I'll be singing it to a neo-abstract- expressionist/constitutional lawyer biker chick with a child she never sees named Contrary or Ruin, she can't remember."

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

2008 Independent Spirit Award Nominations



The Spirit Awards are an interesting awards body. They honor films seemingly at random sometimes, but on the whole I tend to agree with their choices more than those of the older-skewing Academy. Things have gone more or less as planned with the announcement of the 2008 Spirit's though, with the exception being the near complete snubbing of Once, which at the moment is quite easily the most successful indie of the year. I don't know how this will effect it's Oscar chances, but it certainly doesn't help anything. I'm also disappointed Control didn't make a showing.

On the upside, there is I'm Not There leading the pack with 5 nods, along with The Savages, Juno and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly grabbing 4 nods apiece. Gus Van Sant's Paranoid Park, which hasn't even seen theatrical release yet, picked up nods for both Best Picture and Best Director. There were a couple of well deserved screenplay nods for both Waitress and Year of the Dog, the former of which will hopefully hedge it's bet for an Oscar bid, both for it's script and for Keri Russell (who was inexplicably snubbed here). The controversial, NC-17 rated Lust, Caution also made a nice showing, with both it's leads grabbing nominations. Another surprise: Marcus Carl Franklin, the 11 year old boy who plays Dylan in I'm Not There, picked up a supporting nomination.

The Complete List of Nominees:

BEST FEATURE

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Jon Kilik

I'm Not There
Producers: Christine Vachon, John Sloss, John Goldwyn, James D. Stern

Juno
Producers: Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Mason Novick, Russell Smith

A Mighty Heart
Producers: Dede Gardner, Andrew Eaton, Brad Pitt

Paranoid Park
Producers: Neil Kopp, David Cress

BEST DIRECTOR

Todd Haynes
I'm Not There

Tamara Jenkins
The Savages

Jason Reitman
Juno

Julian Schnabel
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Gus Van Sant
Paranoid Park

BEST FIRST FEATURE

2 Days in Paris
Director: Julie Delpy
Producers: Julie Delpy, Christophe Mazodier, Thierry Potok

Great World of Sound
Director: Craig Zobel
Producers: Melissa Palmer, David Gordon Green, Richard Wright, Craig Zobel

The Lookout
Director: Scott Frank
Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, Laurence Mark, Walter Parkes

Rocket Science
Director: Jeffrey Blitz
Producers: Effie T. Brown, Sean Welch

Vanaja
Director: Rajnesh Domalpalli
Producer: Latha R. Domalapalli

JOHN CASSAVETES AWARD (Given to the best feature made for under $500,000)

August Evening
Writer/Directpr: Chris Eska
Producers: Connie Hill, Jason Wehling

Owl and the Sparrow
Writer/Director: Stephane Gauger
Producers: Nguyen Van Quan, Doan Nhat Nam, Stephane Gauger

The Pool
Director: Chris Smith
Producer: Kate Noble
Writer: Chris Smith & Randy Russell

Quiet City
Director: Aaron Katz
Producers: Brendan McFadden, Ben Stambler
Writers: Aaron Katz, Erin Fisher, Cris Lankenau

Shotgun Stories
Writer/Director: Jeff Nichols
Producers: David Gordon Green, Lisa Muskat, Jeff Nichols

BEST SCREENPLAY

Ronald Harwood
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Tamara Jenkins
The Savages

Fred Parnes & Andrew Wagner
Starting Out in the Evening

Adrienne Shelly
Waitress

Mike White
Year of the Dog

BEST FIRST SCREENPLAY

Jeffrey Blitz
Rocket Science

Zoe Cassavetes
Broken English

Diablo Cody
Juno

Kelly Masterson
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

John Orloff
A Mighty Heart

BEST FEMALE LEAD

Angelina Jolie
A Mighty Heart

Sienna Miller
Interview

Ellen Page
Juno

Parker Posey
Broken English

Tang Wei
Lust, Caution

BEST MALE LEAD

Pedro Castaneda
August Evening

Don Cheadle
Talk To Me

Philip Seymour Hoffman
The Savages

Frank Langella
Starting Out in the Evening

Tony Leung
Lust, Caution

BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE

Cate Blanchett
I'm Not There

Anna Kendrick
Rocket Science

Jennifer Jason Leigh
Margot at the Wedding

Tamara Podemski
Four Sheets to the Wind

Marisa Tomei
Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

BEST SUPPORTING MALE

Chiwetel Ejiofor
Talk To Me

Marcus Carl Franklin
I'm Not There

Kene Holliday
Great World of Sound

Irrfan Khan
The Namesake

Steve Zahn
Rescue Dawn

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

Mott Hupfel
The Savages

Janusz Kaminski
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

Milton Kam
Vanaja

Mihai Malaimare, Jr.
Youth Without Youth

Rodrigo Prieto
Lust, Caution

BEST DOCUMENTARY

Crazy Love
Director: Dan Klores

Lake of Fire
Director: Tony Kaye

Manufactured Landscapes
Director: Jennifer Baichwal

The Monastery
Director: Pernille Rose Grønkjær

The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair
Directors: Petra Epperlein & Michael Tucker

BEST FOREIGN FILM

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
Director: Cristian Mungiu
(Romania)

The Band's Visit
Director: Eran Kolirin
(Israel)

Lady Chatterley
Director: Pascale Ferran
(France)

Once
Director: John Carney
(Ireland)

Persepolis
Directors: Vincent Paronnaud & Marjane Satrapi
(France)

ROBERT ALTMAN AWARD
(Given to one film's director, casting director and its ensemble cast)

I'm Not There
Director: Todd Haynes
Casting Director: Laura Rosenthal
Ensemble Cast: Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Ben Whishaw, Marcus Carl Franklin, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Bruce Greenwood

Monday, November 26, 2007

Blender's 100 Greatest Indie Rock Albums

The newest issue of Blender features an article on what they feel are the 100 greatest independently released rock albums of all time. This is all subjective of course, and Blender isn't exactly an indie haven, but it is hard to argue with most of these records. By my quick count, I've heard all but 9 of these albums (and a couple of them I actually own, but just haven't listened to yet. Poor me, I know), so here are a few thoughts on the results:

- Slanted & Enchanted? Yeah Probably.
- Let it Be is amazing but #3 seems rather high.
- I'm sorry, but Funeral isn't the 6th best anything.
- Anyone who thinks that The Smiths is the groups best album obviously hasn't listen to their entire discography.
- Hell yeah, Spiderland
- I love that Sleater Kinney is here, but Dig Me Out over One Beat???
- Separation Sunday is a great album, but Boys and Girls in America is easily it's superior.
- GBV GBV GBV!!!
- Smashing Pumpkins, Rilo Kiley, Green Day? hmmmmm.....Let's pretend we didn't see that.
- No New York is an inspired choice.
- Don't know how Cat Power, The Mountain Goats and Stereolab, all of whom are more than worthy for - inclusion, made it with second tier albums.
- What's with all the greatest hits comps? The Fall simply cant be contained to a single compilation. I mean, I can think of at least 3 of their albums that should crack the top 100.

- I salute Emergency & I, Atomizer and Viva Last Blues.
- It's just way to early to include records released this very year (Strawberry Jam, The Reminder) even if both are likely to be considered classics.
- No Jesus Lizard??? I repeat, no...Jesus....Lizard???? Unforgivable, almost renders the entire list moot.
- Correct me if I'm wrong, but Is This It? was a major label release.

Alright, enough of that. You be the judge:

100 The Shaggs - Philosophy Of The World
99 Dream Syndicate - The Days Of Wine And Roses
98 Palace Music - Viva Last Blues
97 The Mekons - Rock 'N' Roll
96 TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
95 The Dismemberment Plan - Emergency & I
94 Half Japanese - Greatest Hits
93 Big Black - Atomizer
92 Dead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
91 The Chills - Kaleidoscope World
90 Animal Collective - Strawberry Jam
89 Art Brut - Bang Bang Rock & Roll
88 Daniel Johnston - Yip/Jump Music
87 Wolf Parade - Apologies To The Queen Mary
86 Flipper - Album - Generic Flipper
85 The Clean - Anthology
84 Beat Happening - You Turn Me On
83 The Misfits - Walk Among Us
82 The Embarrassment - Heyday 1979-83
81 The Vaselines - The Way Of The Vaselines
80 Feist - The Reminder
79 Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
78 The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators
77 Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
76 Le Tigre - Le Tigre
75 Galaxie 500 - Today
74 The Fall - 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong
73 Meat Puppets - Up On The Sun
72 The Mountain Goats - We Shall All Be Healed
71 Stereolab - Refried Ectoplasm
70 Mudhoney - Superfruzz Bigmuff Plus Early Singles
69 Nick Drake - Pink Moon
68 Descendents - Milo Goes To College
67 Hüsker Dü - New Day Rising
66 Young Marble Giants - Colossal Youth
65 Various Artists - No New York
64 Cat Power - The Greatest
63 Nirvana - Bleach
62 The Feelies - Crazy Rhythms
61 LCD Soundsystem - LCD Soundsystem
60 Sufjan Stevens - Illinois
59 Nine Inch Nails - Pretty Hate Machine
58 Built To Spill - There's Nothing Wrong With Love
57 Bikini Kill - Pussy Whipped
56 Archers Of Loaf - Icky Mettle
55 Bad Brains - Bad Brains
54 Unrest - Imperial F.F.R.R.
53 Smashing Pumpkins - Gish
52 Bright Eyes - Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground
51 Interpol - Turn On The Bright Lights
50 Rilo Kiley - More Adventurous
49. Spoon - Kill The Moonlight
48 Mission Of Burma - Vs.
47 Green Day - Kerplunk
46 Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand
45 Fugazi - Repeater
44 Various Artists - Wanna Buy A Bridge?
43 Black Flag - Damaged
42 Brian Eno - Another Green World
41 Modest Mouse - The Lonesome Crowded West
40 New Order - Power Corruption & Lies
39 Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain
38 The Strokes - Is This It
37 Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell
36 Elliott Smith - Either/Or
35 Liz Phair - Exile In Guyville
34 Superchunk - On The Mouth
33 The Shins - Oh, Inverted World
32 Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over The Sea
31 Guided By Voices - Bee Thousand
30 Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
29 Violent Femmes - Violent Femmes
28 The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
27 M.I.A. - Arular
26 Belle And Sebastian - If You're Feeling Sinister
25 Sebadoh - III
24 The New Pornographers - Mass Romantic
23 Yo La Tengo - Painful
22 Meat Puppets - Meat Puppets II
21 The Modern Lovers - The Modern Lovers
20 The Hold Steady - Separation Sunday
19 Sleater-Kinney - Dig Me Out
18 Joy Division - Unknown Pleasures
17 The White Stripes - White Blood Cells
16 Slint - Spiderland
15 X - Wild Gift
14 De La Soul - 3 Feet High And Rising
13 Hüsker Dü - Zen Arcade
12 Dinosaur Jr - You're Living All Over Me
11 Minutemen - Double Nickels On The Dime
10 The Smiths - The Smiths
09 Big Star - Third/Sister Lovers
08 My Bloody Valentine - Loveless
07 The Velvet Underground - The Velvet Underground
06 Arcade Fire - Funeral
05 Pixies - Surfer Rosa
04 R.E.M. - Murmur
03 The Replacements - Let It Be
02 Sonic Youth - Daydream Nation
01 Pavement - Slanted And Enchanted


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Britney in the Black Lodge (Damn Fine Album)


=

???

Fascinating new "Poptimist" column from Tom Ewing over at the 'fork, which (believe it or not) picks up the thread between Twin Peaks' Laura Palmer and Britney Spears, de-constructing the themes and inherent strangeness of the series and paralleling it with the public persona of America's former sweetheart. I have no desire to listen to Blackout, but this article has certainly peaked my interest. Here's and excerpt:
"David Lynch and Mark Frost's "Twin Peaks" begins with the discovery of a body and spends 30-odd episodes on the trail of a soul, both belonging to Laura Palmer, a prom queen of dazzling smile and doubtful habits. The show's most intense moments happen in a strange spirit-world, a red-draped room where a dwarf converses and dances with a pallid, marble-eyed eidolon of Palmer. Their voices are backwards-looped and treated, their dances a jerky shuffle, all adding to a sense of mocking evil that the rest of the show never tries hard to shake."

He continues:

" Meanwhile I was genuinely surprised, even shocked, by Blackout. Not because it's Britney, or because of its innovation, but because of its creepiness, its black hole heart. The crux of "Freakshow" isn't the wobbler, it's the unnerving moment when Britney suddenly starts repeating her lines in sick, flat vocals pitched down so low it's like she's turned mid-song into a man. This dramatic, near-random identity switch is what suddenly made me think about "Twin Peaks", and if there's one song that takes Britney right into the Black Lodge it's the album's centrepiece, "Get Naked (I Got a Plan)". This is a song about sex, nothing else, but the level of studio tricknology applied to it turns it claustrophobic, as frightening as it's exhilarating."

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DVD Review - Nirvana: Unplugged in New York (****1/2)



I've never actually kept track, but if I had to guess which CD I have listened to most in my lifetime, Nirvana's Unplugged in New York album has to be right up there near the top. It's not that it is the best album I've heard (cause it's not), nor is it my favorite, but it may just be the most intimate and easily re-playable record in my collection. But after all these years and literally hundreds of listens later, I (like a lot of fans no doubt) never actually had the chance to see complete footage of the legendary performance, which makes this long awaited DVD of Unplugged on New York one of the year's most anticipated releases.

Various bootlegs of the show have been floating around ever since the days after Kurt Cobain's death (which occurred only 5 months after this show), which no doubt mired this release in legal trouble and more than likely contributed to the set never being available on any home video format prior to this, let alone DVD. The death grip on the Cobain estate seems to be loosening slightly with ever passing year however, and the Unplugged in New York DVD is one of the last pieces of the Nirvana puzzle to see release (the final piece? 1991: The Year That Punk Broke, still criminally absent from DVD).

To be honest, actually seeing the performance for the first time nearly 15 years after the fact isn't too much of a revelation, but the simple fact that this is now available for home viewing is satisfying enough. The band's song selection was immaculate, beautifully balancing a number of their lesser known (but ultimately better) tunes with a handful of wonderful covers, including definitive readings of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World", The Vaselines "Jesus Don't Want Me for a Sunbeam" and Lead Belly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?". Of course with hindsight, nearly every original included here seems rather famous, but as is noted in the "Bare Witness" documentary (14 min) included on this DVD (there is also some nice if sketchy rehearsal footage), at the time many MTV execs were nervous that the band had chosen to highlight a good number of deep cuts and early gems rather than regurgitating radio singles (Kurt introduces "About a Girl" with, "This is off our first record, most people don't own it.")

The most interesting portion of the set to me has always been the band's decision to not only cover three Meat Puppets songs in a row, but to bring Curt and Cris Kirkwood on stage to play the songs with them. The fact that in 1993 the world's biggest band would bring with them one of the more idiosyncratic underground bands from the 1980s to play a handful of 10 year old songs (each selection comes from 1983s Meat Puppets II) is testament not only to Nirvana's love for the independent rock scene, but also to the band's awareness of their status as underground ambassadors of cool. The entire unedited 14 song set (here in its entirety) is, to say the least, mesmerizing, at once ominous and soothing, and in it's own unique way, life affirming. It's hard to imagine Kurt being so gentle and at ease with what we now know was going on behind the curtain in his personal life (another shameless Love & Death plug). Judged solely on it's musical merit though, what you have is one of the most important live documents in music history and a look at the softer side of perhaps my generations greatest rock band.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Awards Daily Launches "Sultans of Bling"



The best Oscar site in all the land has finally jumped on the bandwagon and launched their very own group think prediction charts. The difference between this and something like The Gurus of Gold or The Envelope's Buzzmeter is that the panel is made up entirely of long-time Awards Daily readers and posters. I have been an obsessed Awards Daily/Oscarwatch.com fan for nearly 5 years now, so I feel a certain affinity for the chosen few who have been picked to participate (where's the love though guys?). These guys know their stuff and the The Sultans of Bling look to be another valuable edition to the ever inflating Oscar watch community. Here they are with their inaugural charts. Everything looks as expected, except for the There Will Be Blood picks, which are no doubt due to the fact that this chart represents last weeks opinions, before word got out that the film probably won't float the conservative Academy's boat.

APMAS Documentary Shortlist

Today the Academy announced their typically ridiculous short list of documentaries which will vie for the final 5 spots at the 80th Annual Academy Awards. I've always had a problem with the Documentary branch of the Academy, a small group of elitists who consistently snub modern classics like Hoop Dreams and Grizzly Man in favor of quote-unquote important films that no one has any interest in seeing. Nobody can look me in the eye and tell me that The King of Kong and My Kid Could Paint That aren't among the 15 best documentaries of the year. Heck, The King of Kong may be amongst the top 5 films of the year period. Another year another travesty. I look for No End in Sight to probably take this, although if I could vote I would go with Sicko I suppose.

The Complete List In alphabetical order:

"Autism: The Musical"
"Body of War"
"For the Bible Tells Me So"
"Lake of Fire"
"Nanking"
"No End in Sight"
"Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience"
"Please Vote for Me"
"The Price of Sugar"
"A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman"
"The Rape of Europa"
"Sicko"
"Taxi to the Dark Side"
"War/Dance"
"White Light/Black Rain"

Friday, November 16, 2007

Stream: Tim Hecker - "Atlas One"



What did we do for music before the internet? It's gettin harder and harder for me to remember. Well thank god we live in modern times, because if we didn't, those of us that aren't vinyl fetishists would be out of luck to hear a brand new piece from ambient/drone maestro Tim Hecker. This song is called "Atlas One" and it comes from his new 10" vinyl record Atlas. "Atlas One" is the A-side, and it's a ten minute, slowly evolving concoction of phased guitar, molasses drone and crackling flecks of static. It seems like a lost epilogue to his 2006 masterpiece Harmony in Ultraviolet. It's right in Hecker's wheelhouse and as expected it is flat out gorgeous. (big thanks to the Forkcast imeem page for this).



Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's All Happening...



Well the rumors are true. Not only are MBV playing shows, they have at least 1 (possibly 2) new records on the way. Kevin Shields has spoken about the first seeing the light of day before the end of the year, but I don't see that happening. So....2 MBV albums in '08? I'll believe it when I see it.

I guess we already got the Jesus and Mary Chain, but please god let Coachella be next. (via the 'fork)

"For Emma, Forever Ago" on Virb.com



Not too long ago, Justin Vernon (formerly of DeYarmond Edison) went solo and adopted the Bon Iver moniker. He then proceed to record a collection of hushed folk songs in a Wisconsin cabin. The result? For Emma, Forever Ago, one of the most understated and beautiful folk records of the year. Unfortunately, the self released disc was pressed in super limited quantities, and as a result copies remain scarce. Thankfully, Justin has constructed a Virb.com page, where the entire record is streaming. I've been listening non-stop, and I recommend you do the same. Note: Jagjaguwar will be re-releasing the album in early 2008.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Race for the Prize 11/14/07



My last "Race for the Prize" column was over a month ago and a lot has changed in the awards race n that time. First and foremost, There Will Be Blood has finally been seen, and despite tons of acclaim, nearly every critic can't help but reinforce that PT Anderson's latest is a genuine art film - and a deeply disturbing and dark art film at that. As a result, it's Best Picture and Director shots have all but vanished. Daniel Day Lewis still seems like a sure thing to grab a nod, and perhaps a win, but outside of that you are probably looking at a screenplay nod and some scattered tech nods. Another development: Lions for Lambs, Reservation Road and Things We Lost in the Fire have all bombed, and although none were looking too great for Oscars to begin with, they are all officially out of the running.

On the other side of that same equation is American Gangster, which - despite it's "good not great" reviews - has made bank, and the Academy loves to reward at least one true financial success (which when it's all said and done could actually be 3:10 to Yuma). Still no word on the ever elusive Charlie Wilson's War though, but all signs to point to a rather nice showing for the film. Atonement remains the front runner for the simple fact that is soooo Academy friendly - I don't think I could imagine a film more in line with the Oscar mentality than Joe Wright's supposedly quite moving epic. It's finally got competition though, in the form of No Country for Old Men, which is by some distance the best reviewed film of the year and is in the process of racking up huge BO numbers. I don't see it missing in very many categories. There is also some movement in the acting categories (especially Supporting Actress), but that is pretty self explanatory. Once the Charlie Wilson reviews start to surface, I'll reassess.


Best Picture:

1. Atonement
2. No Country for Old Men
3. Charlie Wilson's War
4.
Juno
5. Into the Wild

Five On the Fringe:
American Gangster
Sweeney Todd
The Kite Runner
3:10 to Yuma
The Diving Bell and Butterfly

Dropped Out:
There Will Be Blood

Best Director:
1. Joel and Ethan Coen - No Country for Old Men
2. Joe Wright - Atonement
3. Mike Nichols - Charlie Wilson's War
4. Sean Penn - Into the Wild
5. Julian Schnabel - The Diving Bell and Butterfly

Five of the Fringe:
Sydney Lumet - Before the Devil Knows Your Dead
Ridley Scott - American Gangster
Tim Burton - Sweeney Todd
Jason Reitman - Juno
Marc Forster - The Kite Runner

Dropped Out:
Paul Thomas Anderson - There Will Be Blood

Best Actor:
1. Daniel Day-Lewis - There Will Be Blood
2. Johnny Depp - Sweeney Todd
3. James McAvoy - Atonement
4. Denzel Washington - American Gangster
5. Tom Hanks - Charlie Wilson's War

Five on the Fringe:
Phillip Seymour Hoffman - The Savages or Before the Devil Knows Your Dead
Emile Hirsche - Into the Wild
George Clooney - Michael Clayton
Viggo Mortenson - Eastern Promises
Tommy Lee Jones - In the Valley of Elah

Best Actress:
1. Ellen Page - Juno
2. Julie Christie - Away from Her
3. Laura Linney - The Savages
4. Marion Cotillard - La Vie En Rose
5. Keira Knightly - Atonement

Five on the Fringe:
Angelina Jolie - A Mighty Heart
Nicole Kidman - Margot at the Wedding
Helena Bonham Carter - Sweeney Todd
Jodie Foster - The Brave One
Cate Blanchett - Elizabeth: The Golden Age

Dropped Out:
Halle Berry - Things We Lost in the Fire

Best Supporting Actor:
1. Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
2. Hal Holbrook - Into the Wild
3. Tom Wilkinson - Michael Clayton
4. Phillip Seymour Hoffman - Charlie Wilson's War
5. Phillip Boscoe - The Savages

Five on the Fringe:
Max Von Sydow - The Diving Bell and Butterfly
Casey Affleck - The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
John Travolta - Hairspray
Paul Dano - There Will Be Blood
Ethan Hawke - Before the Devil Knows You're Dead

Dropped out:
Benicio Del Toro - Things We Lost in the Fire
Russell Crowe - American Gangster

Best Supporting Actress:
1. Cate Blanchett - I'm Not There
2. Saoirse Ronan - Atonement
3. Marisa Tomei - Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
4. Amy Ryan - Gone Baby Gone
5. Jennifer Jason Leigh - Margot at the Wedding

Five on the Fringe:
Tilda Swinton - Michael Clayton
Vanessa Redgrave - Atonement
Samantha Morton - Control
Kelly Macdonald - No Country for Old Men
Romola Garai - Atonement

Dropped Out:
Abbie Cornish - Elizabeth: The Golden Age
Meryl Streep - Lions for Lambs
Susan Sarandon - In the Valley of Elah

Best Original Screenplay:
1. Juno
2. Michael Clayton
3. The Savages
4. Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
5.Once

Five on the Fringe:
Ratatouille
American Gangster
Eastern Promises
Margot at the Wedding
I'm Not There

Dropped Out:
Things We Lost in the Fire
Waitress

Best Adapted Screenplay:
1. No Country for Old Men
2. Atonement
3. Charlie Wilson's War
4. Into the Wild
5. There Will Be Blood

Five on the Fringe:
The Diving Bell and Butterfly
The Kite Runner
Sweeney Todd
Gone Baby Gone
3:10 to Yuma

Dropped Out:
In the Valley of Elah (I guess it's an Original Screenplay)

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Radiohead Webcast: "The Headmaster Ritual" (Smiths Cover)/"Ceremony" (New Order Cover)



This is awesome. Probably the best modern band covering two of my favorite songs ever - The Smiths "The Headmaster Ritual" and New Order's immortal "Ceremony". These videos come from Radiohead's really frickin cool webcast from Friday. Oh, and this reminds me, go see Control.




UPDATE: They also covered Bjork with this beautiful, piano laced reading of "Unravel". Woopty Woop!



Thursday, November 8, 2007

Playlist #5 - Our Band Could Be Your Life



Back in 2001, Michael Azerrad published a book entitled "Our Band Could Be Your Life", a vividly detailed portrait of the American independent music landscape of the 1980s, told from the perspectives of the musicians, label owners and scenesters who defined the generation. To this day it remains one of my favorite books and it is essential reading for anyone interested in hardcore or the general indie movement that took place and changed the face of American rock music in the 1980s. The book covers 13 bands, of which I have included 12 on this Playlist (Beat Happening were excised due to their aesthetic differences, certainly not because of quality). However, I have rounded the total out to the normal 15, adding Rites of Spring, X and the Pixies, three bands who fall well in-line with the ones contained in Azerrad's book. Here are 15 reasons why the 80s remain my most cherished decade for music.

***If you're new to this, just click that big arrow in the side bar and let it play every song in full (randomly), or click individual songs for 30 second previews.

Black Flag - Rise Above: The defining band of the early hardcore movement, Black Flag decimated stages, fans and expectations alike. And then they added Henry Rollins. From 1981s landmark Damaged LP.

Minutemen - Political Song for Michael Jackson to Sing: The Minutemen's funk-inflected indie rock has always struck me as the oddest inclusion in the hardcore lexicon. But it wasn't the sound that mattered, it was the intent and the attitude. D. Boon, Mike Watt and George Hurley's legacies loom large over modern indie rock, and their double LP Double Nickels on the Dime gives 44 reasons why. Here's but one.

Mission of Burma - Einstein's Day: This Boston art-rock group released just one EP and one LP during their initial run (they've since regrouped and released 2 great records), using an invisible 4th member to loop and manipulate guitar tones into shards of undulating feedback bursts, giving them a sound much greater than the sum of their parts. From the appropriately titled Vs.

Hüsker Dü - Something I Learned Today: To their immense credit, Hüsker Dü were the first band to really see the limitations of hardcore, eventually branching out with greater conceptual range than most bands of their ilk. They never sacrificed the intensity though, which is made abundantly clear by "Something I Learned Today", the ferocious lead off track from their classic double concept record Zen Arcade.

Minor Threat - Straight Edge: The band and the song that launch an entire movement, one that burnt brightly but quickly, leaving thousands of pale imitators in it's wake. Maybe the most influential 46 seconds in 80s rock music.

The Replacements - I Will Dare: There is simply no reason why The Replacements weren't the biggest band in the world. Their brand of off-kilter pop-rock remains fresh over 20 years later. You know you have balls when you name your breakthrough record Let it Be, but as "I Will Dare" proves, these guys were more than up to the challenge.

Butthole Surfers - Human Cannonball: Perhaps more renown for their literally fire-starting live shows, the Surfers released a number of great records in the 80s, particularly Locust Abortion Technician, which is where you'll find the minimal thud of "Human Cannonball".

Sonic Youth - In the Kingdom #19: As any longtime SY fan will tell you, as great as their recent records are, there is just no topping their mid-to-late 80s output, especially their abrasively murky early days. They stepped out of the sludge ever so slightly from album to album, but the work they did on EVOL is unmatched for eerie darkness and sublime understatement. It may have been the one time that SY were unequivocally beautiful."In the Kingdom #19" was one of the first great Lee Ranaldo spoken word pieces.

Big Black - Kerosene: It's like pulling teeth for me to single out only one Big Black song, but "Kerosene" embodies everything that was so good (and so evil) about the Steve Albini led noise trio. There's the sheet metal guitar noise, the industrial throb of the drum machine and of course Albini, who had that great knack for exposing the underbelly of society and sticking your nose in it. Choice lyric: "Never anything to do in this town/Live here my whole life/Probably learn to die in this town/Live here my whole life/Nothing to do, sit around at home/Sit around at home, stare at the walls/Stare at each other and wait til we die/Stare at each other and wait til we die/Probably come to die in this town". From the Atomizer LP.

Fugazi - Bulldog Front: I wasn't around during the time, but it must have come as quite the shock to see the front man of arguably the most confrontational hardcore band of all time, Minor Threat, jump ship into angular, dub-out guitar rock. Going all the way back to their first EP though it isn't hard to see why these guys broke so much ground in so little time. "Bulldog Front" - one of Guy Picciotto's first contributions to the band -helped put the final nail into hardcore's coffin, while simultaneously announcing the arrival of quite possibly the quintessential American independent rock band.

Mudhoney - No One Has: Yeah, they are probably best known for helping to coin the term "grunge", but Mudhoney remain one of the more unique bands of the era, combining sludgy riffs and throat ravaging moans into a sweaty cauldron of mussed hair and amplifier buzz. Plus, they single handedly launched Sub Pop Records with their immortal debut single, 1988s "Touch Me I'm Sick". "No One Has" came a year later and kicked off the Superfuzz Bigmuff EP.

Dinosaur Jr. - Forget the Swan: Like The Replacements, Dinosaur took the classic rock template and turned it on it's head, layering ear shattering noise over top J. Mascis's Neil Youngish whine, creating a soothing yet mind-frying juxtaposition. They would go on to release one of the decades best records (1987's You're Living All Over Me), but "Forget the Swan" was one of the first inclinations that these three were onto something special. From Dinosaur.

Pixies - I've Been Tired: No band left a bigger mark on the coming decade than the Pixies, whose quiet-quiet-LOUD dynamic was cherry picked by (among others) Kurt Cobain and appropriated into millions of dollars in record sales. I, like most people, prefer early Pixies (although it all rules), and you can't get much earlier than Come on Pilgrim, their debut EP, where Black Francis would squeal, shriek and yelp out oddly disturbing lyrics over buzz saw guitar and shimmying bass grooves. Note: Last.fm has this song filed under the band's Surfer Rosa album, but I assure you it is from Come on Pilgrim)

Rites of Spring: Guy Picciotto, who would go on to co-lead Fugazi, had his first taste of greatness with his proto-emo band Rites of Spring. If nothing else, Rites of Spring hearkens back to a time when emo wasn't a four letter word and pure unadulterated emotion could carry an entire song. From their self-titled and only full length album.

X - Johny Hit and Run Pauline: Many people attribute X as being the first West Coast punk band, and certainly their early work fits the bill. Of course now they've become Guitar Hero fodder, but no licensing company in the world would touch a song as ominous and disturbing as "Johny Hit and Run Pauline".

Check Out Previous Stereo Sanctity Playlists

Monday, November 5, 2007

Thurston Moore - "Fri/End" (Live on Jimmy Kimmel)

Here's a cool clip of Thurston Moore performing "Fri/End " on Kimmel last week. It's odd to see Moore on stage without his SY cohorts, although Steve Shelley does man the kit. This song comes from Moore's new and quite good acoustic record Trees Outside the Academy. We're not on Murray Street anymore Toto.



WTF: The Killers - "Tranquilize" (ft. Lou Reed)

I don't know what's worse: the song, the cringe-inducing children's choir or the fact that one of my all time heroes makes an appearance in one of the cheesiest videos I've ever seen. There used to be some guilty pleasure status with this band. Now I just feel guilty. (no thanks to Forkcast for pointing this out)