Saturday, April 30, 2011

Show Alert/Interview - Crocodiles/Sleepy Sun/White Hills/Tang Lung - Rubber Gloves Sunday

There was a time not so long ago when Denton was the place for up and coming bands to stop through instead of DFW. Any given week if you checked Rubber Gloves or Hailey's websites you would find an often healthy selection of "hip" bands whom were obviously on the rise. I think I saw Of Montreal at Gloves three or four times? But those times seem a distant memory. All of that business has moved to our big sisters to the south, where I don't believe they receive the attention/attendance that the bands need as up and coming acts. Yes, we may not have as much money as Dallas or Fort Worth, but we are much hipper, which is what really gets people out to the shows. 

I was speaking last week with Rubber Gloves owner Josh Baish about this topic, which obviously affects him. I am not saying that Gloves still doesn't have great shows on a constant basis because they do. Local bookers do you a good job of getting local acts in and the occasional bigger name touring band. Most of those touring bands tend to be ones that  already have a history with the club, which is great, but what about those bands of tomorrow today?

Perfect example of the type of show I would like to see more of is happening this Sunday night at Rubber Gloves. This show was booked by Natalie D├ívila whom you may know from her time booking at the now defunct Majestic Dwelling of Doom and more recently one of the forces behind 35 Conferette. The show is a little bit pricier at $10, but well worth it. I am hoping that the tide can start turning back in Denton's favor and away from places I can't walk to. I asked Natalie about the future of her booking and this show inpaticular, here is what she had to say. 

FP: Why have you decided to stick with the booking gigs post DOOM? 
ND: Well, booking opportunities just kept falling in my lap… Baish opened up Gloves to me and has subsequently taught me a great deal about this business, as far as venue specific booking is considered. I was also approached by the NX35 beast and spent the last 8 months getting my life turned upside down. At the end of the day, it was worth it. I have been fortunate enough to get to view the world of booking from a few different angles… DIY booking, venue booking, and festival booking. All of which are so completely different from each other and all of which have their own unique problems. The business itself is rather fascinating… getting to peek behind the curtain and see how tours come together operationally. Suffice it to say my experience in this business has all been rather serendipitous. I’m just along for the ride. 

Is this booking venture official? You have a catchy title yet?

I will probably focus more on making it “official” after summer when I have the time to do so. I don’t have a name yet… Spune was already taken… so I was thinking about Spluge instead…

Most of our readers are probably familiar with Crocodiles, can you tell us a little about the other acts on the bill. 
Sleepy Sun is a big ole band from San Fran… with six members or so. I think compared to most psych rock outfits they show more restraint in their performance. Now that isn’t a bad thing… I just think they will prove to be well-crafted stoner rock. White Hills is a loud ass band hailing from New York. My friend Dustin Anderson caught this band live at SXSW and said it was a really powerful show, so I decided to check them out and see about bringing them to Denton. Their label, Thrill Jockey, has quite a few solid acts- stuff like Fiery Furnaces, OOIOO, Future Islands, etc. etc. Their sound is very space-y, atmospheric, definitely psychedelic and heavy. This is the band on the bill I am personally most excited about seeing, except for maybe Tang Lung… haven’t caught them live yet but I know they are going to kick ass. The DFW area lacks bands like Tang Lung… their myspace boasts some really interesting and promising recordings… their sound is reminiscent of Sonic Youth and Slowdive, but ultimately with a really fresh take on dreamy-psych rock. And I can already tell they are going to be really loud live… and that’s always a plus. 

How did the show come about? 

Well I was too broke to go to Psych Fest so I decided to bring some of Psych Fest to me. I just started hitting up some bands (actually, their agents) that I knew were going to be routed this way for that event and thus this power bill was born! Denton will be the last stop for Crocodiles’ tour. 

What kind of acts would you like to see booked more in the area? 
I just want to see more range and diversity. This town is in a bit of a slump, but things are looking up. Bands are eager to play Denton; I just don’t think they are being sought out. This town has a good reputation on the national scale… people know there is a strong music community here. The //Tense// show that was at Gloves the other night is a perfect example of a strong, eclectic Denton bill. Brought to you by the tastemakers behind Discipline, that bill was solid gold and Denton needs more of that.

Rubber Gloves Site

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Insane Criterion Blu-Ray Sale at Amazon

If you are like me you are nuts for the Criterion Collection. My relationship with Janus/Criterion goes way back to the Laserdisc...good times. These are the lowest prices I have seen on some of these. It looks like most of them are out of stock with a 7-10 day wait time for mailing. Who knows how long this will last, all I know is I am going to be broke as fuck the rest of this pay period. An [x] indicates a title I am picking up, a couple of them I already own. Please feel free to share your purchases. Movie watching party?

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

8 1/2
Wings of Desire

[x]Army of Shadows
The Naked Kiss
Paths of Glory
The Seventh Seal
Shock Corridor
Still Walking

Broadcast News
Fish Tank
Modern Times
[x]The Red Shoes
Sweet Smell of Success

[x]Blow Out
The Double Life of Veronique
[x]Le Cercle Rouge
The Mikado
White Material

Au revoir les enfants
Yi Yi

The Leopard

Yojimbo & Sanjuro

America Lost and Found: The BBS Story

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Frank Reviews - Somewhere - 2010 - Sofia Coppola

Why are you such an asshole? 

Throughout Sofia Coppola's latest mini masterpiece Somewhere our protagonist Johhny Marco (what a name) receives that cryptic question via text message. The sender's blocked phone number leaves the audience and Johhny guessing who(m) and what he did wrong. We soon finds out that Marco is  more than deserving of those blunt words for being a lazy, idle and filthy stinking rich celebrity. But he's not all that bad.

Somewhere could be consider a quasi-sequel to Lost in Translation. Both films center around a male movie starlet as they grapple with the hollowness of stardom and finding comfort in a non romantic relationship with the opposite sex. 

If you found Translation to be a boring exercise in the excess of modern neo-realism, substituting plot for pretty pictures and elitist pop culture, you aren't going to like this one either.

When the film begins you might question how and why you should empathize and not loathe Johhny Marco. The guy drives a loud car with a trunk in the front, has nubile twin blond strippers on call and one of the guys from Jackass is his best friend. Just as we begin to sympathize with Hitler (as a tragically flawed character) towards the end of Downfall, so do we understand the plight of Johhny Marco. Now, Marco is not a fascist dictator but he does embody the idle celebrity who we love to despise, envy and keep employed.

 Much in the same way Nicole Hollofocner uses the struggles of the middle-upper class to show the universality of human doubt and sorrow, so does Sofia with celebrity. At the core of the film we have a character who is ultimately unhappy even though he can buy anything he wants. While the whole "money can't buy happiness" line is nothing new, never before (outside of Antonioni films) has there been a cinematic representation of the banality that wealth and questionably gained status can bring. 

I appreciate relationships that are not normally seen in film, especially in American cinema. The father-daughter bond that is formed over the course of the film is the most satisfying one since Paper Moon and alot less creepy. It is through this unique bond between disconnected, unfit father and daughter that Marco discovers that he needs to make some changes in his life. Where Marco's eventual back turning on all that he is amassed could have been a cliche easy answer to the audience expectations, the relationship between the two is so honest and un-sentimental that the end comes from a place of discovery and not hackneyed expectation fulfillment.

Sofia wields a very heavy hand when it comes to the symbolism in Somewhere.  Every shot, even those that seem to linger past their time, is meticulously constructed to chart the emotional/spiritual growth of our protagonist. I have seen the film three times so far and each time there are little nuances that creep up out of nowhere.

"let them eat cake"

The cast all turn in subdued and memorable performances, bringing the story of the characters full circle with out the aide of an over wrought plot or dialogue. Stephen Dorf's real life status as an almost A list actor helps on a meta-level with our connection to his character. Ella Fanning does a fantastic job as the daughter that helps Marco find his heart or whatever. Better performance than anything her sister has turned out, even though I am a big fan of her narration of the Henery Darger bio-doc In The Realms of the Unreal.

The person who really surprised was Jackass cohort Chris Pontious who plays Marco's friend from back in the day who helps bring the flamboyant decadence down to Earth. Pontious is a natural in front of the camera and totally believable as the kind-hearted eternal house guest. There is a scene in particular with Fanning where Pontious finds out more about Marco's daughter in 5 minutes than Marco knows after eleven years of her being around. This could have easily been a stiff and/or vaguely creepy scene, but the earnestness that Pontious brings to the scene is almost heartbreaking. He should have won a best supporting award somewhere. 

As to be expected pop music plays a large role in setting the tone of the film. Unlike Marie Antoinette where the other timely musics was omnipresent to underscore the decadent youthfulness of the titular character, the music here is all incidental. There are moments like the above pictured stripping scenes where we hear the girls glide up and down the pole(s) in unison to Foo Fighters "Hero". Or there is T-Rex's "20 Century Boy" which we hear as Johhny fails miserably during a solo session of Guitar Hero. See what I'm saying with the symbolism? While I did not feel the connection to the music in this film like I have with Coppola's other work (meaning I won't be jamming to the soundtrack day and night) I was very impressed the use of music and it's important roll in the storytelling process. 

So is Johhny Marco an asshole? I think it would be hard not to be if found in the position that Marco finds himself in. While Coppola never passes judgment over her characters, by the end of the film Marco does find some sort of clarity and hopefully redemption. That clarity is not achieved by any cliche self epiphany or forced plot device but instead by watching and being apart of Marco's life and walking by his side as he leaves his piece of shit car in the dust. 

Frank Final Verdict: A

Not New Music - Poly Styrene - Translucenece (RIP 1957-2011)

Sad new to wake up today that X-Ray Spex front woman Polystyrene passed away after a long bout with cancer. Today also marks the release of her first solo album since the one you are about to download here. Oh cancer, up yours! This was posted by myself about a year ago over on the other site and figured now was as good a time as any to recycle it. 

Poly Styrene
1981 Receiver Records

Like most of the new wave and punk bands of the late seventies and early 80's, X-Ray Spex burned brightly but briefly. In their short time together the band embodied the independent punk spirit, much more than some of the more marketable figureheads of the time. The bands brace faced lead singer Poly Styrene also released a record in 1981 that is worth checking out for those of you hungry for more from this enigmatic performer.

Unlike the sneering proto-riot girl she played during her time with X-ray, Poly Styrene's fist solo album Translucence shows a much softer side to the unlikely chanteuse. Surprisingly the album has more in common with Astrud Gilberto than Johnny Rotten. While the arrangements and sounds are often light as air, Styrene's unique songwriting and undeniable voice make this a thoroughly solid record. Translucence is currently out of print, and in fact I'm not sure if it was ever even released domestically. So I would recommend you grab this and chill the fuck out to it, some of you guys seem to be a little high strung lately.

Poly Styrene - Translucence

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Not New Music - The Smiths Unreleased Demos & Instrumentals

Oh yeah remember this feature from back in the day? Thought it was about time to bring it on back. As before, any album posted is currently out of print and/or unavailable for commercial purchase. Downloads will be up for one week and then taken down forever, how sad. For this grand return let's start big shall we?

There have been various version of this floating around for a few months but I figured most you don't hang out in Suede chat rooms so you might not have heard about it. These are ripped with care from a vinyl and sound great for demos, suitable for everyday use and not just a one time curiosity listen through. If you are anything like me you exhausted the entire Smiths catalog somewhere around the age of 14 so it's nice to hear these songs (which I still listen to on a regular basis) in a slightly different form.

 Highlights include the way stripped down version of my favorite tune "Ask", the slight reggae groove of "Girlfriend in a Coma" demo, Mozz's warble in "Is it Really So Strange?" and the surprise trumpet in "Frankly, Mr. Shankly". But It's Marr on these recordings who really stands out with his three unreleased instrumental tracks including an ominous "Shoplifters of the World". Dude was brilliant, too bad he went on to do things like produce that terrible Modest Mouse record.

Keep an eye out for more Not New Music post in the future. I'll be digging deep into the vault most of the time but every once and awhile I'll through out stadium filler like this.

I've got the 21st century breathing down my neck...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Frank's Television Set - Superjail

This is a new segment where I tell you about shows I am watching. I watch alot of TV, all of it stellar. These posting will give you the courage to skip that fourth viewing of Arrested Development and catch up with the rest of us devoted boob tube heads. Some of these shows might be on pay-cable which I understand makes life hard but just find a friend who lives in a hotel or visit your parents. On an unrelated note I have a bunch of guest writers who I have solicited to write for me, we'll see if any of them put out.

       SuperJail Season 2
        Cartoon Network
          Sundays 11pm          

The first season of Superjail stands along side Tim & Eric Awesome Show and Xavier Renegade Angel as some of the best and weirdest animated comedy to appear on television in quite awhile. I had never been a big fan of Adult Swim programming previously because it was all a little too "stoner" for my taste. Yet these show are able to create surreal other worlds that are both funny and disturbing and not just "weird" like Aqua Teen or Sealab. It's been awhile since the first season of Superjail and I know many, myself included didn't think we would see it again.

Season 2 began this Sunday and was a bit of a let down. In the two years between the seasons the show seems to have picked up a new animation studio, leaving behind the grotesquely detailed art with a new,slicker style more accustomed to traditional half hour comedy animation. One of the thing that made the first season great was the amount of detail in every little scene. While the animation itself was stilted it didn't matter because you could take a freeze shot at any point in each episode and have at least 20 uniquely morbid things to point and laugh at.
The eleven minute running time of Superjail is perfectly orchestrated to stuff in as many disgustingly witty puns and sight gags as possible all concluding in the massive orgy of blood and gore that the inevitable prisoner vs Jail-bot showdown has in store. If you only see one episode of Superjail there is plenty to enjoy, but watching the full season you see just how well conceived and executed the show is.  The writing was still on in this debut episode including some clever twist and the typical character dynamics, but not once did I wince and yell at the screen in horror as I used to. I just hope that with this slicker animation the show doesn't loose the twisted surreal violence that made the show must see TV. I'll do a check back mid season and let you know what I think.