Tuesday, March 31, 2009

DVDBeaver Launches Blu-Ray Line

Update: Fuck me! April Fool's. I wasn't expecting this the day before April 1st. Good one guys.

Earlier: Well, this is simultaneously disappointing and amazing news. First off, the great DVDBeaver.com will unfortunately quit reviewing digital media, effective immediately. For many many cinephiles such as myself, this site was a one-stop shop for Blu-Ray and DVD comparisons, and in fact, it's the only site I ever consistently went to for such info. In it's place, DVDBeaver has unexpectedly shifted it's focus to actually producing Blu-Ray discs of classic films, which they plan on launching at the end of May 2009. They are actively remastering many public domain films, with four already announced, including Edgar Ulmer's Detour, Orson Welles' The Trial (!), Ozu's Late Spring, and a never-before-seen 9 1/2 cut of Eric Von Stroheim's Greed. Amazing. Looks like Criterion may have some competition after all.

However, with the loss of DVDBeaver as a DVD/Blu-Ray resource, I currently have no where left to turn for screen captures and in-depth remastering reviews. Anyone have any suggestions???

Music Review: Mastodon - Crack the Skye (***1/2)

"Nothing pisses metal purists off more than growth. Not conceptual mind you-- they dig that-- but musical and ideological growth. Almost by definition, metal is a genre of stasis; all one chord meditations and swamp-like dirges. And if all was right in the dreary overworld of metalheads, more often than not bands would simply regurgitate past triumphs in order to please their dedicated minions." [Continue Reading]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Music Review: Lotus Plaza - The Floodlight Collective (**1/2)

"It’s amazing to think that Atlanta psych-rock denizens Deerhunter rose to prominence just over two years ago. To look back and think that there was a band out there that housed so much talent among so many distinct personalities, it’s a wonder they didn’t break sooner than they did. One reason could certainly be argued that it wouldn’t be until the unfortunately-titled Turn It Up Faggot failed to reach outside of the ATL, and Bradford Cox decided to enlist the services of friend and guitarist Lockett Pundt, that Deerhunter would truly evolve into the experimental iconoclasts we know today. All this time, the Lotus Plaza moniker was floating around as kind of a catch-all for the solo work of Pundt (similar to Cox’s home recording outlet, Atlas Sound), and those of you who frequent the Deerhunter blog are no doubt familiar with the project. However, it wouldn’t be until this year that Pundt-- coming off a huge year with Deerhunter’s gargantuan Microcastle/Weird Era Cont. to which he contributed some of the best tracks-- would gather the means to release his solo debut. The resulting record, The Floodlight Collective, while not straying too far (if at all) from the established Deerhunter/Atlas Sound/Kranky aesthetic, still manages to carve itself a worthy place among the hordes of one-man bands out there." [Continue Reading]

Music Review: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Beware (**)

"In our recent You Can’t Stop What’s Coming feature, I posited the theory-- based on nothing more than it’s Tonight’s The Night-evoking covert art, album title, and various song names-- that the new Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy record, Beware, may have turned out to be a return to the sadistic death-folk persona that Will Oldham constructed a decade ago, on 1999's landmark I See A Darkness. Unfortunately, it will only take listeners a cursory spin through Beware to realize that this was probably wishful thinking on my part. If anything, Beware sounds, for better or worse, like a logical extension of the sounds and themes of Oldham’s great 2008 record, Lie Down in the Light. In fact, the two records feel like opposite sides of the same coin. Whereas Lie Down snuck into the marketplace with little-to-no fanfare, Beware is being pushed by Drag City as a major release for both Oldham and the label. Further, if Lie Down found Oldham content with easy living and the simple pleasures of such a lifestyle, Beware finds him resigned to such comforts, as if his solemnity is an inherent trait one must cope with. As a result, and despite the promotional tags, Beware actually comes across as a smaller, more reserved and ultimately less vital song cycle than we’ve become accustomed to from this artist." [Continue Reading]

InRO Feature: You Can't Stop What's Coming - The Films of '09

"Many ’09 films of promise that I’m looking forward to this year do not meet the strict criteria of this list that our Film Editor Luke Gorham stringently enforces: Mainly that the movie has to either have a U.S. release date or convincing evidence that it will see release in this country some time before the end of the year. This, regretfully, rules out many films from some of World cinema’s true visionaries (which are, admittedly, unlikely to see release in that time frame). Among them: Tsai Ming-Liang, Catherine Breillat, Abbas Kiarostami, Jacques Doillon, Werner Herzog, Hong Sang-Soo, Johnny To, Bela Tarr, Alain Resnais, Jacques Rivette, Marco Tullio Giordana, and Jim Sheridan. Also disqualified were any films which Luke or myself have already seen at the various film festivals we attend, including some of our favorites of the year so far: Olivier Assayas’ “Summer Hours,” Kathryn Bigelow’s “The Hurt Locker,” and Claire Denis’ “35 Shots of Rum” (that last one also doesn’t have a domestic distributer, so it was doubly screwed). So then, it’s a testament to the promise of this year in movies that we’ve been able to find twenty films which do fit our criteria, and which we equally anticipate. Whether or not these works live up to the hype they have generated remains to be seen, but right now 2009 is looking better than 2008 did this time last year. --Sam C. Mac" [Continue Reading]

Magnolia/Magnet Botch "Let the Right One In" Subtitles

UPDATE: Well it looks like Magnolia is going listen to the fans, take responsibility, and try and fix this debacle. Perhaps George Lucas should take note. Magnet released this statement:
"We've been made aware that there are several fans that don't like the version of the subtitles on the DVD/BR. We had an alternate translation that we went with. Obviously a lot of fans thought we should have stuck with the original theatrical version. We are listening to the fans feedback, and going forward we will be manufacturing the discs with the subtitles from the theatrical version."

(From the Front Row via Hollywood Elsewhere)

Earlier: You all know by now that Let the Right One In was one of the very best films of 2008, so needless to say I was rather excited to pick up the Blu-ray a couple of weeks ago. Turns out, Magnolia/Magnet decided to hire a different translator to write the subtitles for the DVD release, resulting in a horribly botch version of the film. I haven't had a chance to watch the Blu-ray yet, so I hadn't noticed. However, Icons of Fright break things down with screen grabs and subtitle examples, so I won't get into specifics, but this certainly comes as a disappointment for fans like me who shelled out $25 for a sub-par Blu-ray. Thanks to Matt Singer of IFC news for alerting me to this travesty via his twitter.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"The Family Jams" Trailer

Kevin Barker of the supremely underrated Currituck Co. has apparently put together an actual documentary following the 2004 freak-folk dream lineup tour of Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Espers, and Vetiver, among others. Based on the trailer below, it's looks rather awesome, with Newsom plucking her way through her classic "Bridges and Balloons" while relaxing road footage colors the screen. It's doubtful this makes it too many theaters (although it is hitting the festival circuit), but it certainly looks like something to keep an eye out for on DVD. Man, these were the days.

(via p4k)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Away We Go" Trailer

This has been floating out the web for a couple days now, but it looks good enough to single out still. Traditionally, Sam Mendes would leave us salivating for year's on end between films, but Away We Go follows last year's emotionally devastating Revolutionary Road by just 6 months. Appropriately, the film looks to be a complete 180 from his previous work, which could at times could get none more black. Anyway, this one looks like one to keep an eye out for.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Reemergence of Spike Jonze

(via Awardsdaily)

Music Review: Marissa Nadler - Little Hells (***1/2)

"In 1971, Leonard Cohen released an album entitled Songs of Love and Hate. In 1981, Daniel Johnston released a cassette called Songs of Pain. As I listen through the catalogue of gothic folk songstress Marissa Nadler I get the feeling that if only she’d been around during those years, she would have probably utilized one of those titles first (though she eventually settled on the equally evocative Ballads of Living and Dying for her debut album, in 2004). Over the last 5 years or so, her songs have certainly encapsulated all those winding emotions on a pretty consistent basis, and on 2007's mesmerizing breakthrough, Songs III: Bird on the Water, Nadler even covered Cohen’s classic “Famous Blue Raincoat.” She follows in a long line of acoustic guitar toting singer-songwriters, and as far-to-few folk artists do in order to avoid stagnation, Nadler’s reach has extended past folk traditions and into realms altogether more sinister and satisfying. On her newest and best album, Little Hells, Nadler has stayed true to her roots, while expanding her sonic palette to encapsulate the outlying corners of dream-pop." [Continue Reading]

Break Up Your Band - The Essentials #5: V/A - No New York

"Igniting and burning out in less than four years time, the late-70s No Wave scene, which emanated alongside the filth of a rapidly disintegrating New York City, was (and still is) music’s most sadistic shooting star. This anti-movement began as a violent reaction to the inbred punk scene and the then burgeoning New Wave sound. Within a few months in early ’76, an untold number of quote-unquote bands rapidly shot up from the gutter. Weaned on art-school philosophy, performance art, and the music of The Dead Boys, The Stooges, La Monte Young, and most notably Suicide, a bubbling cauldron of barely adept groups began playing the most obtuse, jagged, atonal and confrontational out-rock the world has ever seen. When British producer and former-glam-rock-icon-turned-ambient-artist Brian Eno came to New York in the spring of ’78, he unwittingly stumbled upon the ever-mounting evolution of sound that had nearly nothing in common with anything that came before it." [Continue Reading]

InRO Feature: You Can't Stop What's Coming: The Albums of '09

"We’re just a little over three months into 2009, and there has already been enough worthwhile music to satisfy for an entire year. Many of our most anticipated albums of the year have already seen release, including new records from Antony & the Johnsons, M. Ward, Andrew Bird, Fever Ray, Marissa Nadler, and Tim Hecker, among others. So when compiling this list, it came as a shock (at least to me) that there are so many more albums that we just can’t wait to get our hands on (or into our hard drives). Legendary bands are returning to the fold, buzz-bands are in a make-or-break position and, of course, Grizzly Bear are looking to redefine the independent rock landscape and send us off into the next decade with fond memories of ten years spent watching a well kept secret become the next big thing. Here are 30 albums that, assuming they deliver on their considerable promise, deserve any and all titles that the media chooses to bestow on them. Happy listening." [Continue Reading]

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Videos: Black Lips Invade India

"We don't live with the spirit of fear."

Dingy garage-rock revivalists Black Lips recently toured India, subsequently (though not surprisingly) getting tossed from said country. I plan on catching them yet again on their upcoming North American tour. The last time was pure mayhem. Anyway, get up and go check out their woozily psychedelic new album 200 Million Thousand if you haven't already. It's a good one.

Oh and if you're not down with male nudity, I'd recommend steering clear of the last clip.

(via Forkcast)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Music Review: Wavves - Wavvves (***)

"Historically speaking, San Diego isn’t what one would consider a musical hotbed for upcoming young talent. Even the city’s best known and most beloved artists - from Pinback to The Black Heart Procession to the whole John Reiss orbit of Rocket From the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu and Hot Snakes – haven’t exactly tipped the Elbo.ws charts, let alone those of the Billboard variety. So the fact that Nathan Williams, the young San Diegan behind the Wavves moniker, has been able to organically manufacture and nurture hype (i.e. through shows and small-run singles) for this, only his second full-length and first for the Fat Possum label, is respectable in and of itself. Of course, this nice groundswell of anticipation for William’s not-quite-self-titled sophomore album Wavvves could be seen as right-place-right-time blog visibility, as similar band’s like No Age and Vivian Girls are currently sitting at the highest level of mainstream exposure their ever likely to reach. It would, that is, if the 14 songs that comprise Wavvves didn’t feel so urgent, passionate and meticulously arranged. " [Continue Reading]

Music Review: Volcano Suns - The Bright Orange Years/All-Night Lotus Party (***/**1/2)

(As has been pointed out in the comments, I misread the sticker on the jewel case. The Volcano Suns actually labeled themselves "the only band that NEVER mattered". Sorry for the confusion - J)

"Of all the bands to be posthumously slapped with the Clash’s “the only band that mattered” tag, Boston’s Volcano Suns may be the oddest recipients. I don’t mean this at all as a negative, as this band had quite a good run in the mid 80s, and put out at least one record (if not more) worth your consideration. The group existed from roughly 1984 to 1991 and even during their peak early years, they honestly couldn’t be considered the only band that mattered, not with Hüsker Dü, Dinosaur Jr. and The Replacements (to name just a few off the top of my head) all at their artistic apexes as well. Even the initial members of Volcano Suns had been or would go on to be in bands a little more worthy of the label, particularly front man Peter Prescott’s former band, the legendary Mission of Burma. All this aside - and, to be fair, I’m sure it was Merge’s idea to slap the slogan on the jewel case Volcano Suns were always at the very least worthy of taking their music into the digital age. Yet prior to these long overdue reissues, neither of the band’s first two albums had ever been released on CD." [Continue Reading]

Monday, March 9, 2009

Top Ten Tuesday

If you've got any good sense at all, tomorrow you'll make your way over to your local DVD retailer and indulge in what will probably turn out to be the best release day of the year. By my count, 5 of the films that made my top 10 last year will be released tomorrow, including Milk, Rachel Getting Married, Synecdoche New York, Let the Right One In, and Happy-Go-Lucky. Still waiting on my book ending films - Wendy and Lucy and The Wrestler - to round out the rest of the top ten, while I also anxiously await the Blu-ray release of Revolutionary Road, so I can finally give it a second veiwing. That film hasn't been far from my memory since I saw it mid-Decemeber. In the meantime though I've got these 5 gems to revisit. God bless the digital age.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"Up " Trailer

After only one spin through the Up trailer, I'm already more excited for it than any recent Pixar movie. So that' something I guess. Looks pretty solid.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Download: Original C86 Tape

With the recent groundswell of hype for slightly distorted indie-pop, Chocolate Bobka has done a great service by compiling the tracks that made up the original C86 cassette, which the NME released way back in 1986, and which subsequently influenced an untold number of bands, from Belle and Sebastian to The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. In fact, in my recent review of TPOBPH's debut album, I specifically cite the C86 tape and a few of the bands whom they share more than a few characteristics. If you dig what you hear on the cassette, I'd also recommend Castle Music's 2007 compilation CD86 (which I raved about thoroughly a couple years back), which took the concept of the original C86, and expanded it with even more obscure indie-pop, but this time in compact disc form. Both are essential listens in my book. (via GvB)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"Public Enemies" Trailer

Been waiting on this one for a while. Looks rather sleek for my liking, but there's no way I'm missing this.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Woody Allen's "Whatever Works" To Open Tribeca 2009

Normally festival news doesn't interest me very much (see, being on the West Coast does have it's disadvantages), but seeing as how it now looks likely that I'll be making the trek out to the Tribeca Film Festival this year, I'm stoked to hear that the new Woody Allen film, Whatever Works, is all set to open the '09 festival. At least that's the plan, assuming that the very idea of Larry David starring in a Woody Allen film doesn't tear a hole in the space-time continuum or something. Fingers crossed.

Check out all the info over at the Tribeca site.

InRO Feature: Dominique Leone Interview

"I think it’s safe to assume that I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today (or, at least, attempting to do what I’m doing) if it wasn’t for Dominique Leone. You obviously wouldn’t be checking out this interview, and I most certainly wouldn’t have just paid close to $50 for a Japanese import of the new Boredoms EP, Super Roots 10. Through his contributions to Paste, All Music Guide and, most notably, Pitchfork Media, Leone has had an indefinable influence on my tastes and listening habits. Back in the formative days of Pitchfork, he (actually at the time I wasn’t sure if he was indeed a he, but that’s a whole other story) was my go-to critic for anything experimental or avant. At the time (right around my high school/college divide) I wasn’t listening to “bad” music, per-se – it was actually stuff more along the lines of the Strokes and the White Stripes, not to mention a good deal of Clipse and various hip-hop artists – but I certainly wasn’t spinning Stereolab records. Leone, along with a few other critics which I don’t have the space to single out right now, opened my eyes to a new world of Acid Mothers Temple, This Heat, Excepter, Art Bears, Faust, Can, Neu! (Krautrock in general I guess you could say) and of course, Boredoms.

Leone is extremely modest when talking about his past as a music critic, and in the last few years his writing has been curbed in favor of his own artistic goals as a musician. Working under his given name, Leone has so far released an EP and a quite good, very underrated self-titled LP in 2008. He’s done what very few critics tend to do, and that’s put his music where his proverbial mouth is. As a result, he has gotten the opportunity to tour the world and work with some of modern music’s leading lights. Recently, Leone collaborated with space-disco producer Lindstrom on an epic remix of the Boredoms track “Ant 10,” which appeared - along with the original and three other remixes - on this year’s wonderful Super Roots 10. Leone was kind enough to correspond with me briefly, via email, about the genesis of the collaboration, his feelings on the modern Boredoms sound, and what the future holds for one of America’s most promising electronic-pop artists."


InRO: I'm sure you've worked with Lindstrom before, in addition to releasing music on his Feedelity label, but how did this particular Super Roots collaboration come about?

Dominique Leone: I was on tour in Europe last year in November, and while we were in Oslo, Lindstrom asked my band mate Maryclare and I to add vocals and things to the remix. I had done vocals for a Lindstrom song a year or so ago that hasn't been released yet, and he wanted to do something else. After I heard the song, we came in over a couple of days to add vocals, flute, trumpet, etc. Very fast, very fun!

InRO: After being slightly underwhelmed by Super Roots 9, how did you feel about "Ant 10" the first time you heard it?

DL: I liked it. I think the thing about SR10 is that they managed to compact a lot of the Boredoms experience into 10 minutes, rather than over 40 minutes or an hour. Even on albums like Super Ae or Vision Creation Newsun, although the music was all weaved together, each section was only 8-10 minutes, so I guess I hear this new one as being more in the spirit of those-- which I love. Who knows how they will play it live, maybe expand into a 2 hour “Ant 10” marathon. ;)

InRO: I know you have great respect for the history of Boredoms, as both a fan and a critic. How does it feel, after all these years, that you'll now forever be a part of that legacy?

DL: Good! [I] hope they like what we did.

InRO: Now that you're on the other side of the critic/artist divide, what are your feelings about the state of music criticism, especially when considering that nowadays literally anybody can start a blog and critique music they know little to nothing about?

DL: Hmm, the state of music criticism. In all honesty, I don't read that much music criticism. I browse a lot, and I like hearing about what my friends are into. Since it's so easy to hear just about anything I'm curious about, I generally just let my ears do the decision making. I think I've always been like this, which is why I'm sometimes surprised to think I wrote as many music reviews as I did!

InRO: What are your upcoming plans as a solo artist? Do you have any other projects currently in the works?

DL: I just finished mixing my 2nd CD, which should be out on Important Records this summer. Other than that, I have a project with Maryclare Brzytwa called Paul & Diane, where we do kind of a synth-pop/avant-power ballad hybrid. I'm also playing a bit with other folks: Mungolian JetSet (vox), William Winant and the Mills minimalist ensemble (organ), Odawas (drums). Mostly I'm just getting ready for the next record, and playing shows in Europe and the US.

InRO: And lastly, I have to ask, is there anything in heavy rotation on your iPod that we should know about?

DL: Well, unfortunately, lately my iPod is far too contaminated with my own music, due to mixing. But before that, I was listening to a lot of early/mid 20th century classical: Ravel, Stravinksy, Glenn Gould recordings, Messiaen, Debussy, Prokofiev, Schoenberg, Shostakovich. Also listening to the new Fever Ray, Cryptacize, Max Tundra, Animal Collective, old Hella, the last Squarepusher, Queen II, Magma, various other standbys. :)

InRO: Awesome Dominique. Thanks for the time and good luck!

Break Up Your Band - The Essentials #4: Boredoms - Soul Discharge

"It wouldn’t surprise me at all to hear that most new fans of Boredoms – those who were introduced to the band through their recent string of Super Roots reissues or even this year’s wonderful Super Roots 10 - were unfamiliar (if not downright unaware) of the legendary Japanese band’s first artistic phase, which existed roughly from their inception in 1986 until sometime around SR3 in 1993. Long before 1998's SR7 set the band’s controls for the heart of the sun, they could accurately (and probably proudly) be described as the world’s longest running penis joke. Faux-metal riffs, vaguely disgusting song titles, botched rap attempts, abrasive No Wave excursions; nothing was sacred to Yamatsuka Eye & his band of art-damaged weirdoes. Their first album alone housed references to both The Stooges and the Sex Pistols (depending on which side of the Atlantic you lived on), but the sounds emanating from the studio were anything but familiar. By the time of 1989's Soul Discharge, the band’s edgy, slightly formless, but promising early songs like “Lick’n Cock Boatpeople” and “Feedbackfuck” gave way to tighter, more compact, but no less unhinged splatter-punk classics like “Bubblebop Shot” and “J.B. Dick + Tin Tuner Pussy Badsmell.” The original Soul Discharge album – comprised of just 10 songs in barely 28 minutes – still stands as the best representation of this early, endlessly provocative Boredoms sound. It’s rare to say nowadays, but there’s really never been anything quite like it." [Continue Reading]

Music Review: Black Lips - 200 Million Thousand (**1/2)

"It’s not uncommon for a band, after many years of underground notoriety and a string of solid records, to attempt to expand their sound. In the case of the Black Lips, there’s really only so much you can do to do switch things up after four albums of increasingly accessible garage punk. The band’s Nuggets-style self-described “flower punk” has always had a psych bent to it, but on their newest album, 200 Million Thousand, the band stretches this particular aspect of their sound to its breaking point, forgoing a lot of the more polished tendencies of their breakthrough, 2007’s Good Bad Not Evil. As a result, 200 Million Thousand is a less direct, more atmospheric, and occasionally more interesting listen than what the band is commonly known for. In fact, it bears a little more in common with their infamous live shows (nicely documented on the great live album Los Valientes del Mundo Nuevo), which have unfortunately been curbed in recent years, perhaps due to increased commercial visibility." [Continue Reading]