Tuesday, February 24, 2009

InRO Feature: Chasing Gold 5b - Oscar Recap

"Sunday night’s 81st Annual Academy Awards were many things: predictable, disorienting, intimate, and - strangely enough - satisfying in their own way. For the first time in a long while, there wasn’t one category that brought any sort of real surprise. Even “Departures” taking Best Foreign Language film over “Waltz with Bashir” had gone from a whispered rumor to a solid underdog pick in the days leading up to the telecast. I personally made the mistake of voting with my heart in a couple categories, particularly in the Best Actor category, where Sean Penn came through on his host of precursor wins with a well-deserved second Oscar. Mickey Rourke’s portrayal of Randy ‘The Ram” Robinson will live on regardless of awards however, and more important than any accolades is the fact that one of the all-time greats is back in the business and working consistently." [Continue Reading]

Music Review: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (***)

"The resurrection of the fledging Slumberland imprint has been one of the more pleasant surprises in recent years. In the late 80s/early 90s, there were very few places you could retreat to for better indie-pop. As an early roster of such cult acts as Velocity Girl, Boy Racer and 14 Iced Bears gave way to a noisier subset of bands like the Swirlies and Lorelei, interest in fey pop began to wane, forcing Slumberland to begin a hibernation period in mid-2001. The year is now 2009, and in case you didn’t get the memo, lo-fi indie-pop is back in a big way, with bands like Times New Viking, Vivian Girls and Wavves drawing influence from a wide range of classic indie labels, Slumberland chief among them. Whereas those aforementioned bands are more beholden to the noisier aspects of the genre, Slumberland’s newest signings, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, while still burying their hooks under a good deal of guitar effects, are first and foremost a pop band. And compared to the methodical post-punk of Crystal Stilts, Slumberland’s ‘08 buzz band of note, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are even more unique. As it is, their self-titled album is one of the better debuts you’ll likely come across this year." [Continue Reading]

Music Review: Morrissey - Years of Refusal (**1/2)

"Even when setting aside its considerable merits and focusing solely on its commercial and critical impact, Morrissey’s 2004 album You Are the Quarry still stands as one of the more interesting comeback records of the decade. It had been 7 years since his last album, 1997’s critically ravaged Maladjusted, and it’s important to remember that the album had marked the unfortunate nadir of a solo career that had been at best respected and at worst reviled. Time and perspective have shone a friendlier light on that run of 90s solo albums, but it wasn’t until You Are the Quarry that Morrissey’s solo efforts could even come close to measuring that of his legendary band The Smiths. For better or worse, it’s doubtful any Morrissey record will ever again be met with such eager anticipation and rapturous acclaim. However, that doesn’t mean that Moz no longer possess the ability to impress, as he proves consistently over the course of his newest album, the muscular Years of Refusal." [Continue Reading]

Sunday, February 22, 2009

81st Annual Academy Award Winners

....sigh.....At least the ceremony was brisk and lively. Full write-up coming Tuesday at iRO.

Best Picture: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Director: Danny Boyle, “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Actor: Sean Penn, “Milk”
Best Actress: Kate Winslet, “The Reader”
Best Supporting Actor: Heath Ledger, “The Dark Knight”
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”
Best Adapted Screenplay: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Original Screenplay: “Milk”
Best Art Direction: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Best Cinematography: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Costume Design: “The Duchess”
Best Film Editing: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Makeup: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Best Music (Original Score): “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Music (Original Song): “Jai Ho” from “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Sound Editing: “The Dark Knight”
Best Sound Mixing: “Slumdog Millionaire”
Best Visual Effects: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
Best Animated Feature Film: “WALL-E”
Best Foreign Language Film: “Departures”
Best Documentary Feature: “Man on Wire”
Best Documentary Short: “Smile Pinki”
Best Short Film (Animated): “La Maison en Petits Cubes”
Best Short Film (Live Action): “Toyland”

I Can't Wait For The Oscar Speech

Fingers Crossed.....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

2009 Independent Spirit Award Winners

I think you already know my opinion on these winners.
(via Awardsdaily)

Best Feature: Darren Aronofsky, The Wrestler
Best Director: Tom McCarthy, The Visitor
Best Actor: Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler
Best Actress: Melissa Leo, Frozen River
Best Supporting Actor: James Franco, Milk
Best Supporting Actress: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best Screenplay: Woody Allen, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Best First Screenplay: Dustin Lance Black, Milk
Best First Feature: Charlie Kaufman, Synecdoche, New York
John Cassavetes Award: In Search of a Midnight Kiss
Best Cinematography: Maryse Alberti, The Wrestler
Best Foreign Language Film: The Class
Best Documentary: Man on Wire
Someone to Watch Award: Lynn Shelton, My Effortless Brilliance
Piaget Producers Award: Heather Ray, Frozen River
Truer Than Fiction: Margaret Brown, The Order of Myths
Robert Altman Ensemble Award: Synecdoche, New York

Thursday, February 19, 2009

"Broken Embraces" Teaser

Tantalizingly brief 29 second teaser for Pedro Almodovar's newest film, Broken Embraces. Thanks to Incontention for pointing this out.

Gene Siskel: Ten Years On

Tomorrow marks the 10th year since beloved film critic Gene Siskel passed away, and in a heartfelt tribute to his colleague, Roger Ebert has posted a lengthy appreciation of Siskel on his blog. It's a great, emotional read that is supported with the original "At the Movies" video tribute that aired just after Siskel passed on. You can check the three part video below, but Ebert's words are much more vivid.

Remembering Gene, Part 1

Remembering Gene, Part 2

Rembering Gene, Part 3

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Music Video: Bruce Springsteen - "The Wrestler"

Suck on this Academy

Touch & Go Closes It's Doors (wait a minute, no they don't - at least not yet. phew!)

Update: Hmmm. Guess it's not as bad as all that. Looks like T&G is planning on releasing new music sometime in the future (after that hotly-anticipated Crystal Antlers LP that is). Really though, who knows when that's gonna be. For now I can forgo my label retrospective I was planing. Instead, have a look at my recent Break Up Your Band column discussing the merits of The Jesus Lizard's Goat, probably my favorite album ever released on Touch & Go.

Earlier: Whoa. My all-time favorite record label Touch & Go - so near and dear to my heart for years, and particularly as my tastes in music splintered in all directions at the tail-end of my high school years - has official shut down. This is a major blow for independent music, and one I will dig into a little deeper later on tonight. In the meantime, P4k has all the details.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

InRO Feature: Chasing Gold 5a: Final Oscar Predictions

It all comes to a head on Sunday, so I've gone ahead and stuck my neck out for a couple of my most personal nominees (Mickey, Viola, help me out), perhaps against my better judgment. No guts, no glory though, right? Check out my final Oscar predictions* over at iRO, in the year's last official Chasing Gold column. And look for a recap/fall-out post the following week.

"As the Oscar nominations were about to be revealed about a month ago, I anticipated the second phase of the race to be a more hotly contested free-for-all then even the lead up to the announcement turned out to be. Unfortunately that has proven to be wishful thinking as most of the top categories are all but signed, sealed and delivered at this point. The “Slumdog Millionaire” train is not stopping for anyone at this point, and it now feels as inevitable as ‘No Country’ and “The Departed” did the last couple of years. However, three races still hold some suspense, including Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, and Best Original Screenplay. [Continue Reading]

*predictions subject to change

Music Review: Boredoms - Super Roots 10 (***)

"For a band that hasn’t recorded a full-length studio album in nearly a decade, the enigmatic Japanoise collective Boredoms have been awfully prolific these last few years. After their towering, clouds-parting masterpiece Vision Creation Newsun in late 1999/early 2000 (and head-Boredom Yamatsuka Eye’s remix of the record, Vision Recreation Vol. 0 in 2001), the band went silent for a time, only popping up in rare live appearances under the alias V∞redoms. Super Roots, the band’s ongoing EP series, stalled out in 1999 as well, leaving little if nothing in the way of new material, which only heightened the band’s legend." [Continue Reading]

Break Up Your Band - The Essentials #3: Silver Jews - American Water

"When I began this Break Up Your Band feature a few months ago, I had no idea (nor did I even dare to imagine) how poignant the phrase could potentially turn out to be. A few weeks ago, David Berman put his long-running and immensely beloved Silver Jews to rest at Cumberland Caverns in Tennessee, in front of a crowd of reverent and enraptured fans. News of this disbandment came as more than a shock. After years of depression and substance abuse, Berman cleaned himself up about three years ago, and subsequently released the rather optimistic and playful (and not to mention underrated) Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea just last year. Berman has always been an interesting and at times contradicting soul, dabbling in writing and art on the side while staying pretty consistent with his music for the past 20 years. He only released 6 official albums with the Silver Jews over that lengthy period, but nevertheless they felt like one of those bands that would just always be there in one way, shape or form. He wasn’t prolific by any means, but each album packed so much lyrical ingenuity into every twisting strand or turn of phrase that listeners could spend a lifetime unraveling each individual verse or couplet. 1998’s American Water, the defining statement from the Silver Jews, was the stars-aligning masterpiece that found Berman grafting definable melodies and structure onto his elusive wordplay. It’s one of the best records you’ll likely ever hear" [Continue Reading]

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ace Eddie Winners

Incontention has the rundown, but long story short, Slumdog and (slightly unexpectedly) Wall-E took the top prizes. My final Oscar predictions will be up on iRO on Tuesday.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What's Going On Here?

Seriously, I want to know. One day he's a huge movie star and the next he is some bearded hermit who only emerges from his cave for improv rap shows. I don't buy it. This whole shtick has to be a charade, right? Right.....?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Inglourious Basterds" Trailer

The long awaited trailer for Quentin Tarantino's upcoming film Inglourious Basterds dropped today, and once again a QT trailer knocks it out of the park. Funny, thrilling, stylish, Leone-tinted and testosterone fueled. I'm there.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Music Review : Fever Ray - Fever Ray (***)

"The Knife’s Silent Shout remains a rare gem; a record composed wholly by digital experimentation that nevertheless housed within its inhuman pore’s an uncommon warmth and distinctive personality. The source of this disconcerting comfort was vocalist Karin Dreijer Andersson, whose ghostly multi-tracked vox was fed through untold amounts of filters, vocoders and pitch shifters. Despite the near-constant vocal manipulation, she managed to weave compelling patterns through brother and Knife compatriot Olof Dreijer’s hall-of-mirrors beat construction, injecting an eerie sort of life into a bloodless corpse of battered house breaks and electro-magnetic synth washes. That was three long years ago, and the duo has been more or less quiet in the interim. And now, like an olive branch to satiate rabid anticipation for the next Knife full-length, we have the debut album from Fever Ray, the solo project of Andersson." [Continue Reading]

Monday, February 9, 2009

God Help Us....

We Twitter

BAFTA Winners

You already saw who won, but I missed the telecast last night and shaved a couple years off my life expectancy for good measure. Anyway, this win for Rourke seals the deal on who I think takes the Oscar. It'll be neck-a-neck til that envelope is opened, but I gotta go with my gut. And my god, that speech.

BAFTA Winners:
BEST PICTURE: Slumdog Millionaire
BEST DIRECTOR: Danny Boyle, Slumdog Millionaire
BEST ACTRESS: Kate Winslet, The Reader
BEST ACTOR: Micky Rourke, The Wrestler
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Heath Ledger, The Dark Knight
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
CARL FOREMAN AWARD: Steve McQueen, Hunger
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Martin McDonagh, In Bruges
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Simon Beaufoy, Slumdog Millionaire
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Anthony Dod Mantle, Slumdog Millionaire
VISUAL EFFECTS: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
MAKEUP and HAIR: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
PRODUCTION DESIGN: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
SCORE: AR Rahman, Slumdog Millionaire
SOUND: Slumdog Millionaire
EDITING: Slumdog Millionaire
COSTUMES: The Duchess
RISING STAR: Noel Clarke
SHORT ANIMATION: Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Milk", "Slumdog" Win the WGA

Variety reports. Slumdog's got the Oscar on lock, and Milk inches ever closer with this win, but Wall-E still poses a dangerous threat on the 22nd.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Coming Next Week to Stereo Sanctity: A Decade in Review - The Albums & Films of the New Millenium

As my first decade as an obsessive observer of modern film and music comes to an end in eleven short months, I eagerly await my Best of the Decade lists. For years I had planned on doing two large lists of the 100 best films and albums of the decade, yet as I sat and thought about it recently, it seemed less and less practical. Not only would that be a daunting task for any single writer, but you dear readers would be bombarded with 200+ records and films, many of which you haven't been exposed to or would even have any idea of where to begin with if you wanted to.

Instead I've decided to count down each individual Top 10 (by year) of the decade so far, month by month, until we reach December, at which time I will do my annual Best of the year lists, followed in January 2010 by my 10 Best Films and Albums of the Decade lists. So since we now have 11 months left in '09 and only 10 years to cover, I though I would give February over to the albums and films that won't be making my final Top 10s. So yes, these will be honorable mentions, but each and every one deserves special attention in my opinion. It also gives me good chance to outline the trends in both mediums, and revisit the highs and lows that undoubtedly characterized opposing years.

These features will be posted on the 2nd and 4th week of each remaining month of 2009: music reserved for the 2nd weeks and film taking over the 4th weeks. So that means next week will see my honorable mentions list for music. The week of the 23rd then will be given over to my film honorable mentions. I'll get into specifics as each list emerges, but hopefully you will have as much fun reading these as I did compiling them. So get ready, you've got a lot of entertainment on the horizon.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Drowned In Sound Feature: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: An Annotated Discography (1998 - 2008)

It was sometime around the release of Bonnie 'Prince' Billy's last album, the wonderful Lie Down in the Light, that I came to the realization that Will Oldham isn't actually that well known. Granted, it didn't get much of a promotional push from Drag City, but the record sold a small amount of copies even for him (they intend to remedy this problem on his forthcoming full-length however). Part of the problem could be that he spreads his riches over such a wide swath of monikers: besides Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Oldham has operated under the Palace Music banner as well as his given name, producing great albums in all arenas. I'm not here to dive into his extensive discography (or filmography for that matter), but I did want to point out this nice primer on Oldham and his Bonnie"Prince" Billy guise, written by Alexander Tudor of Drowned in Sound. I'm a little late on this, but I think it's worth it. It's a lengthy feature breaking down nearly every Bonnie "Prince" Billy release to date, and it's an essential read for anyone looking to parse his massive catalogue. However, I think it's safe to say everyone should start with I See a Darkness and move onward. Anyway, have a read.
"Will Oldham needs no introduction as the best-connected mainstay of US indie/alt. country since the early 1990s, and one of the most sought-after collaborators, having worked with Bjork, PJ Harvey, and recently Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon. Beneath all the joking, perving, and camp videos for Kanye West, his appropriation of Shakespeare, his engagement with Christianity and Eastern religion, and his knowledge of American folk music makes him, literally, Eliotic in his poetic sensibilities. No doubt, though, you could do with a guide through his formidable back-catalogue? [Continue Reading]


Even though he builds up Slumdog Millionaire against better judgment, I'll go ahead and cut the great Jon Stewart some slack for saying what most people (common folk mind you, not critics, who have been more or less on the money with this film) are afraid to regarding Benjamin Button.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Download: "Paul's Boutique" Audio Commentary

Next Tuesday, The Beastie Boys will reissue their stone-cold classic sophomore album Paul's Boutique in a deluxe 20th anniversary edition (however, you can download it early at the band's website). Anyone who's anyone probably already owns the first-run CD, and I can't imagine the Beastie's having a whole lot of deep cuts, which makes me wonder why they would offer the deluxe edition's best special feature - a track by track audio commentary by the band - for free on their website. Like I said, it makes me wonder; I'm certainly not complaining. If you can part with your email address, they'll send you over a link for the free download. Don't sleep on it.

Ok, I'll Bite

I really wanted to stay out of it, but this is brilliant.
(from Incontention via /film)

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Stream: Black Dice - "Glazin"

It's just a couple of months away until I can get my grubbing hands on REPO, the hotly anticipated (at least around these parts) new record from noise-band-turned-dance-pillagers Black Dice. Judging by this new track entitled "Glazin", it's probably a good idea for me stop hoping for a return to the band's noisier, more fractured terrain (which, granted, they all but perfected on 2003s great Beaches & Canyons). They are on a completely different trip at this point in their careers, and it shows. What this does sound like then is the most logical outgrowth of the trio's last couple of years worth of singles, which were compiled on the solid if slightly underwhelming Load Blown in 2007. Those mangled samples that begin the track tell me that Black Dice had the LP format in mind when crafting this record, and thankfully REPO will be the band's first album of all new material in four years. Cop the mp3 from GvB.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Video: Silver Jews Final Show

Well I'm sad to report that for once the rumors proved to be true. David Berman put his long-running and immensely beloved Silver Jews to rest last Saturday night at Cumberland Caverns in Tennessee. Two videos from the final show have surfaced so far, both pulled from the band's classic American Water LP. The "We Are Real" clip begins with a brief introduction from Berman, and it lends the proceedings an even graver air of completion. These songs and these final moments absolutely break my heart. Smith and Jones forever....
(via Forkcast)

"We Are Real"

"Smith and Jones Forever"

"Sugar" Trailer

I've been hearing good things about Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden's Half Nelson follow-up Sugar, and here we have the trailer. Certainly looks promising, and god knows we could use a solid sports film to wash away memories of any number of those recent Kevin Costner feel-good comeback flicks. Take a look.

Music Review: Animal Collective - Merriweather Post Pavilion (****)

"Merriweather Post Pavilion was released a few weeks back during a tidal wave of anticipation, hype, and critical adoration. In that time I’ve attempted the near-impossible task of tuning out the endless web chatter and glowing proclamations which have chalked the record up to something to the effect of the most important musical statement since Kid A. Evidenced by the fact that I’m even privy to these notions confirms that I haven’t completely succeeded in my task, yet if any band can withstand the barrage of acclaim being hurled its way – and, ironically, in a way not seen since the aforementioned Radiohead turned a corner from post-Brit Pop guitar heroes to experimental iconoclasts – it’s Animal Collective, and their stunning ninth album, Merriweather Post Pavilion." [Continue Reading]

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Stream: Animal Collective - "What Would I Want Sky"

Animal Collective recently recorded a BBC session, and as expected a new track has surfaced and spread like wildfire. This is going under the title of "What Would I Want Sky" (or possibly "Blue Sky") for now, and the studio recording will hopefully show up as a B-side on a upcoming single. From the sound of it, this has an even looser feel than the majority of the towering Merriweather Post Pavilion (which I have reviewed for iRO; it will be up next week UPDATE: it's up). After 3-plus minutes of jamming (complete with a Grateful Dead sample), the song sits up and drops voices into the mix. A Panda Bear vocal loop anchors a free-form Avey Tare verse , and the whole thing tops out at 7 1/2 minutes. This band just keeps on giving. Stream it over at I Guess I'm Floating, who also have an MP3 of "Lion in a Coma" up for listening.

Video: Gang Gang Dance (ft. Tinchy Stryder) - "Princes" (Live in the Studio)

This video for "Princes", from Gang Gang Dance's stellar 2008 record Saint Dymphna, was apparently shot in the studio as the band laid down the track. Dancehall MC Tinchy Stryder lends his manic vocals to the proceedings, and this video matches his exuberance with a quick cutting style befitting such playful song. (from GvB via Earl Boykins)

Danny Boyle Wins The DGA

The DGA was announced so late last night that I had to catch the winner via my iphone, and let's just say I wasn't in the soberest state of mind. Anyway, Danny Boyle won and the awards watching community collectively yawned. Sasha at Awardsdaily has rather throughly charted where that leaves the race, but long story short: Slumdog's gonna win it all. Once again, yawn...