Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith THE KID (2017)



I got really into her at the end of last year,  so with my increased expectations came the letdown.  (I really need to stop anticipating anything.) It just seems more woozy and meandering, and I truly disdain the vocals.  If you come into the house of Grouper, or Julianna Barwick, you better have pipes, and these are directionless, uninspired. I always like to support our PNW people, but this is like a tourniquet, I'm telling you that you may like her more if you start elsewhere.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Woo WHICHEVER WAY YOU ARE GOING, YOU ARE GOING WRONG (1982)



They put me in an incredible mood yesterday, I was singing all day long, which happens maybe once a year, so I'm going to double-down and see if these brothers are operating on some frequency I've been missing for too long.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

THE LITTLE HOURS dir. Jeff Baena (2017)





As funny as anything I've seen this year, as well as a celebration of slow, communal living and the Italian countryside. I wish more farces took themselves this seriously in terms of making a beautiful film as a second greater gift.

It is 99¢ on Amazon right now.  Just realized there is no cents symbol on the keyboard. Inflation is out of control!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ryo Fukui MY FAVOURITE TUNE (1995)



Great jazz often sounds Christmas-y to me, the spirit of joyful serendipity, solitude and laughter, bon temps and good cheer.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

LANDLINE dir. Gillian Robespierre (2017)



Jenny Slate is in I'd-watch-anything-with-her territory and John Turturro is some kind of king.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

LADY BIRD dir. Greta Gerwig (2017)



Just about as good a bildungsroman as you're going to see.  A Wonder Year.  Perfectly captures the mood the few years after 9/11, small city life in its sun-dappled perfections, family life as the cause of and cure to houndstooth-sized trauma and psychoses.  Cast is roundly terrific and direction by Ms. Gerwig is astonishing. Her writing, the cinematography of Sam Levy and editing of Nick Houy make this a swift, joyful, wise and very funny film that reflects perfectly that transformative year. Stephanie once got to open the castle gate that legend says Richard Lionheart entered immediately preceding death for water from a well.  It looked heavy but swung as smooth as time.

PS
Between the triple use of Dave Matthews Band here and its repeated use on the last two seasons of COMMUNITY, for scenes of communal relief and joy, I've had to do a lot of soul-searching.  So much rejection of the band, on the part of me and presumably others, came from petty despising of their fans- mostly harmless, well-adjusted kids. It is not flattering to look back on.  The character of Kyle hit so close to home, though Lord I wish I had that hair back then.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

GAME OF THRONES S7 (2017)



Bummer but they took a major step back.  They've been rushing more and more each season and it finally caught up with them.  Crossed a silliness line.  Also, the Euron Greyjoy pirate ambush scene was by far the worst thing the show has ever done, it looked like an outtake from 300, Good Lord I hated it so. Just felt like such a tremendous waste of momentum.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

BATTLE OF THE SEXES dir. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (2017)



Not sure I've ever seen a movie trying to be so many things to so many people.  Civil rights/underdog sports/period piece comedy/moody midcentury drama///

Buoyed by Steve Carrell, who makes enthusiasm look noble

Friday, November 10, 2017

Alexis Georgopoulos, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma FRAGMENTS OF A SEASON (2017)



Just a lovely, major-key boppy little instrumental album to brighten up your day.

Cantu-Ledesma's solo work is much more of vaporwave meets Tim Hecker, perfect for the serotonin-starved nervous wrecks among us:





Saturday, November 04, 2017

THOR: RAGNAROK dir. Taika Waititi (2017)


(This still reminds me of when Ian and I used to have arguments.)

Steph and I caught the opening night late show at the converted Shriners theatre full of college kids and it was just the right kind of goofy fun. I rolled my eyes at the first one, avoided seeing the second, but Mr. Waititi understood something essential about these characters and the venture in general. His own, the pile-of-rocks gladiator Korg, is just perfect, Murray from FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS, God bless these sweet Kiwis.

Monday, October 23, 2017

BLADE RUNNER dir. Denis Villaneuve (2017)


I wish I had kept my expectations low, so that's on me. The film is so much better in its smaller moments, but Villaneuve hammers this Hebrews and Egyptians metaphor into the ground with an unfortunate Jared Leto choice and a shadowy replicant army that would have been embarrassing in a Matrix sequel. In closing, Hans Zimmer is the fucking worst.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Patton Oswalt ANNIHILATION (2017)



Favorite stand-up; unfathomably brave and graceful performance. I, for one, am not worthy.

Friday, October 20, 2017

John Mulaney KID GORGEOUS tour (2017)



Pretty impressive that Mulaney can fill up two shows at the venue the dang Pixies just played, without any big-tent stuff besides 13 episodes of a bad Fox sitcom.  Does everyone know he created Stefon with Bill Hader? Netflix comedy specials have reach!

I knew he was a top-notch crafter of jokes but I didn't expect a guy who could fill up an opera house with his charisma, burst and stage presence.  One of the greats!

seen live power rankings

10. Tig Notaro
9. Aziz Ansari (2)
8. Demetri Martin
7.  Chris Gethard
6. Gary Gulman

5. Mike Birbiglia (3)
4. Michael Ian Black
***John Mulaney***
3. Amy Schumer (3)
2. Maria Bamford (2)
1. Patton Oswalt

Monday, October 16, 2017

Wolf Parade CRY CRY CRY (2017)



Really encouraging to hear Dan and Spencer still rolling on--true believers weathered worn and unbroken. They split songwriting and vocal tracks as always, but they feel better integrated than the last two albums.  Dan is still Bruce-Kurt-Bowie while Spencer is Bowie-Neruda-Vonnegut, and that overlap ties their visions together and makes a coherent and urgent album.  

Dan's Weaponized has my favorite music on the album, where they upgrade the formula with a nitro boost of M83.



Spencer's lyrics and performance on Lazarus Online make it one of his best, which is saying something.



There aren't the all-timer bleed-with-me anthems of ATTQM but these two are wise rejoinders; youthful firework memories sparkplugging the diesel old-man strength; endurance-living through long winters.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Tom Petty FULL MOON FEVER (1989)



This was one of the first CDs I ever bought, at Music Millenium naturally, and drove around to it incessantly.  "Yer So Bad" is my favorite Petty song. The man was so wry and laconic, he was like a Sam Elliott character or a Raymond Carver short story.  Exactly as many words and chords as needed, no more.

His music is the best pick-me-up I've yet found--an instant cure for beleaguered days.  I go into full Petty-mode in the month of April, when winter is survived, baseball is momentarily interesting, and the earth is beginning to look habitable again.  Joyful and stubborn, quiet and defiant, what a fucking cool dude.

I hope he's leading the Traveling Wilburys in the sky.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Miles Davis SKETCHES OF SPAIN (1960)



Free Catalonia!  Free Kurdistan while we're at it!  Who the fuck wants to impede self-determination?!

I had no idea Alan Lomax went abroad to make folk recordings as well; apparently they inspired this album.  What a hero.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Hey Violet FROM THE OUTSIDE (2017)



Top 5 song of 2017, as if Avril and Ashlee Simpson's squalid era had birthed a Venus from the scallop shell. The gf hoodie menace if real. Steph still has stolen and hidden my favorite, and I married the dang girl!  The album has some other fun tunes, bringing pop-punk sensibilities to a few different genres and pulling them off with the goofy sense of humor that was always people's favorite part of that genre's first-wave.



Anyhow, I'm rooting for them to break through and be as big as they want to be, because they're a tight band that know how to write a song---this album is >> better than whatever Bruce+Meatloaf spritzer we're about to get from the Killers, and I wish a freaky Friday could swap their audience sizes.




Thursday, September 21, 2017

Youth Bandits



When Steph is out of town for more than 24 hours, things get dire and I resort to singing myself theme songs from youth.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Neil Young HITCHHIKER (2017)



Ditch-adjacent, nocturnal and resigned to a fallen earth we made fell, not some garden with poorly-placed fruit trees, just natural frailty and greed summing and summing to larger burdens on this earnest, tender heart barely left beating in a collapsing cathedral of bone.

Not supplanting any of his impeccable run from '69-'75, but complementary, for a seamless cloth of doom folk ahead of its time. RIYL Live at Massey Hall or Live at the Cellar Door.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Satoshi Ashikawa STILL WAY (WAVE NOTATION 2) (1982)



"So what kind of music do you like, Ben?"
*deep breath*
"Right now it has been mostly Japanese minimalism and West Coast Jazz.  No one's more sorry than I am."

Sunday, September 10, 2017

THE HANDMAID'S TALE S1 (2017)



The front half was a lot stronger than the back--I think they are cutting the supply with a bit too much baking soda--but it is a truly intense experience of a show.  I saw the criticism on Twitter that it's a little "One Perfect Shot-y" and that is definitely true, but at least they're aiming for the brass ring and occasionally fall flat off their carousel horse. The soundtrack is also pretty amateur hour, and Joseph Fiennes and Yvonne Strahovski aren't able to salvage their underwritten, over-explained architects of the patriarchy. But Alexis Bledel, Samira Wiley, and especially Elisabeth Moss are all fierce as hell, and they're worth the price of admission, each showing her own balance of desperation and dignity in an impossible situation.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Hiroshi Yoshimura FOUR POSTCARDS (2004)



Hang in there. Can you imagine how refreshing the future could be, when we're free of all this?

Friday, September 08, 2017

AMERICANS GODS S1 (2017)



We slogged through this out of loyalty and affection for the book, and disbelief that it could have yielded such a terrible adaptation.  But despite the charm of Ian McShane and the try-hard effort from Ricky Whittle, this thing was DOA and somehow got worse with each passing episode.

Imagine, if you will, a middle-schooler raised in a basement on only Tim Burton and Zach Snyder, then given complete control over a TV show with the caveat being that it must be infinitely long, despite the brevity of the source material.  Voilà!   

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Hiroshi Yoshimura MUSIC FOR NINE POST CARDS (1982)



There are some truly stupendous youTube uploaders doing the hero's work of sharing foreign and out-of-print works. This particular album will be reissued this fall, but why wait if you don't have to? I'd attempt to lure you into a listen, but the host described it better than I could: small spaces with warm notes.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

NOBODY MOVE Denis Johnson (2009)



Johnson brings a little extra literature to the high brow humor-noir of Elmore Leonard, and delivers two indelible couples, locked in a California cat-and-mouse game. His mastery of elevating the scrubby life of losers and outsiders to both mythic and hilarious is a straight analogue to the music of John Darnielle and Craig Finn. Sometimes you have to suffer a life of bad breaks and torn tickets to get the girl and finally find some fiber.

Monday, September 04, 2017

BLOOD MERIDIAN: OR THE EVENING REDNESS IN THE WEST Cormac McCarthy (1985)



The film rights have been bought and traded and forgot.  They, probably rightly, call it unfilmmable.  It really helped to read this post-Westworld, because so many of the visuals for the dark, Mexican-Apache hinterland of the park seem to have drawn inspiration from this horror novel masquerading as a Western.  Based on the true story of a despicable gang of scalp-hunting American mercenaries, it reads like an Irish epic poem as inspired by the gospel of Judas. The language is gorgeously peaty, like Seamus Heaney narrating The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  It is an unpleasant, gut-wrenching experience, like Crime and Punishment but tortuously longer and more graphic in the agony of living without civilization, at the mercy of the unmerciful. The rewarding part is meta-textual--having been raised on the simple morality of the Westerns of the 40's through 80's, whether Silverado, Tombstone, Gunsmoke, or any number of John Wayne films, to fully explore the logical conclusions of an unlawful world, where the white-hats aren't coming...it is oddly satisfying to contemplate the worst case scenario, and this is it.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Sunday, August 06, 2017

PERSON TO PERSON dir. Dustin Guy Defa (2017)



The low-key ebullience of not being alone in a city. Having people and a purpose.  Bene Coopersmith (above) is a terrific mostly non-actor --he runs a record store in Brooklyn--and I hope to see him in more stuff.  If not, this was a great role, and he played it with an unusual and very cool combination of grace, verve and charm.  It goes without saying that I would love a full PI movie of Abbi Jacobsen and Michael Cera, but I'll settle for this goofy novella.  I didn't find much in the Tavi Gevinson third, other than a thought about precociousness being its own challenge, but maybe it was to and for her underserved audience.  If you are in an emotionally exhausted place, I bet this film would put you back on your feet.  Salut!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

CATASTROPHE S3 (2017)



Beautifully filmed in London, painful and joyful to watch, similar to LOVE but at a different stage in the relationship.  Both know where the pressure points are, and neither is afraid to put its couple through the wringer to examine how characters respond.  CATASTROPHE feels more tense in the process--Sharon and Rob make their jobs, mortgage and kids so real you feel like you share in the burden--and Rob's succumbing in secret to back to alcoholism was hinted at and serialized in its ups and downs like the sordid, humiliating part of the hero's journey that it is.  It is funny too, but not big set-piece funny, opting for the more personal brand of humor that two people forge together, and supplementing it by saving the best one-liners for their rogue's gallery of deplorable, deeply human, friends.  Some of the accents are so back-side-of-the-spoon thick that jokes are probably lost on me and others in the American audience, but there's plenty to go around.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

GLOW S1 (2017)



Favorite new show of the year, best outlet for Maron's talents yet.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

DUNKIRK dir. Christopher Nolan (2017)


Managed to screw up seeing this in Omnimax 70mm by stopping for ice cream first, underestimating that St. Louis would show up. So I think it was a very fine film, but also I was halfway up, on an aisle, and couldn't tell if a ship was sinking or not (it usually was.)

The Sea and Air chapters were terrific and my only hesitation with dowsing it in holy water and crowning it with laurels is the role Kenneth Branagh plays.  He's in a lesser movie.  It's not especially his fault, dialogue is Nolan's Achille's Heel.  But c'mon man, push back! He was like a strange Our Town narrator character, which I guess could be meta if you want.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING dir. Jon Watts (2017)



I really didn't think I'd ever love an MCU movie but the bastards got me.



Michael Keaton was in the two best superhero movies since I was born, three if you count BIRDMAN, just saying.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

MASTER OF NONE S2 (2017)




The romance with Italy was great.  The romance with the Italian was not.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

FARGO S3 (2017)



Less fun than its predecessors, but I think more important. They created a villain who maps precisely on how actual evil operates like today: sociopathic determination to extract wealth at any cost, and use the existing infrastructure and good will of ordinary people against them.  David Thewlis is bone-chillingly vile. Carrie Coon plays it quiet and straight, with soul, like a Bill Evans solo album, and deserves so much work after this.  The struggle of the Ewan McGregor brothers place it within the literary timeline stretching back to Genesis. A profound, perfectly executed fable for our modern times, ended with grandmaster confidence.



We live in a time of convoluted predation; fractions of blood by vampire bats. Humans are volitional predators who've killed all else so cannibalism remains. Our society is dying because the herbivores refuse to band together against the carnivores, and pretend evil like this is either imaginary or inevitable, intractable, the cost of doing business.

Monday, July 17, 2017

THE BIG SICK dir. Michael Showalter (2017)


Kumail's family was incredible, Ray Romano was a revelation, Holly Hunter was at almost peak Holly Hunter, and Zoe Kazan finally won me over. Kumail has a brave performance as a coward, and the comic timing of this movie was just terrific.  Mr. Bax from the Battleship Pretension suggests it will become "a modern classic" and I'm inclined to agree.

PS the most recent BP podcast with Scott was really fun

Friday, July 14, 2017

Le chant des baleines



Go Beavers Beat Ducks



I dig the narwhal.



These are useful if you need to trick your dog to go outside.



hf fam the Eurasian eagle owl is called le grand duc d'Europe I love this planet and pray for it daily.

Monday, July 10, 2017

UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT S3 (2017)



It keeps getting better and the finale is the best episode of comedy in a calendar year.

Friday, July 07, 2017

HAIM SOMETHING TO TELL YOU (2017)



Another stone-cold classic. Trompe-l'oeil for the ears, they dance between tempos and styles, mix and marry contrasting sounds into something novel, fresh, light and seemingly effortless.  May very well be the album of the year.

I like to think this is the music Stevie Nicks would have made if some psychiatrist didn't get her hooked on Klonopin for nearly a decade, at the height of her powers.  But even that probably does them a disservice.

Monday, July 03, 2017

Shura NOTHING'S REAL (2016)



I liked this last year but didn't find my way in until this morning.  One of the HAIM sisters is lost and enlists The xx in a Homeward Bound scenario.

PS
I long for the day when supremely talented non-mainstream folks dispense with the art-school (vinyl?) signifier tracks- (i) and (ii) here-- functioning as strategic noncharisma at the party.  Let's stop.  WE KNOW YOU ARE ZOOEY DESCHANEL A BEANIE DOES NOT HIDE THAT.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

BABY DRIVER dir. Edgar Wright (2017)



It is less embarrassing to be nostalgic for half-remembered Americana, tactile objects and communicative signifiers of less-troubled times (we know things turn out ok!) when middle-aged British filmmakers feel the same way. Like Lynch without the Jungian unconscious, just an open love letter to an essential, mythic form that must still reside somewhere in us, when you can seek it between the static.  Radio waves soak through your skin. A precise tuner is a tool for living.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lorde MELODRAMA (2017)



This was my most anticipated album of the year, so lend me my spleen as I explain why this mostly failed despite Lorde's inquisitive, adventurous nature and sophisticated palette: Jack Antonoff.  Ella was swept into the Lena/Rookie mag/Taylor Swift inner circles, got hoodwinked into abandoning her poetic sensibilities for lazy diary-spelunking, and worked with a graceless grifter of a producer/Lena bf.  Dude is responsible for the worst songs on 1989, and you wanted to work with him?  fun. was such an embarrassing band/moment: Glee still held sway, and well-enunciated self-empowerment anthems had a 50/50 shot of ending up being upgraded by Lea Michele, regardless of how tone-deaf these pocket sym-phoneys were.

It's fine.  I'm not mad on the internet.  You're mad on the internet.

In conversation, I tend to use the phrase 'theatre kid' as a put-down, but it is a lazy, sloppy shorthand for describing a kind of person whose life is full of drama without perspective, like they're a vacuum in search of titanic emotions, so any inconvenience or bad luck will do.  Live and let live, obv. but in proximity it is tiring, joyless, myopic, embarrassing; it is anxiety seeking more anxiety. And more often than not, that is what this album sounds like.

Green Light has some really cool stuff but could have used a hard edit

Sober is pulpy but those horns are vintage Kanye and the drums work

Homemade Dynamite has a cool ~Enya flute synth but is mostly lame

The Louvre is getting a lot of love but is a bore with a quotable punchline

Liability was disappointing when she played it on SNL, unfortunately it turns out to be one of the better songs on the album.

Hard Feelings/Loveless is two forgettable songs, but smushed together!

Sober II (Melodrama) Kate Bushwick

Supercut is an unsuccessful Dunder Mifflin sales call

Writer in the Dark is truly fucking awful.

Liability (Reprise) if you're going to be the downer at the (concept-album) party, just don't go

Perfect Places is very nice.  Ella, you're forgiven.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Rihanna Will Be Remembered as a Monumental Talent, But Yeah Tell Me More About LCD Soundsystem plz

Pitchfork published an impressively useless ranking of the best Rihanna singles so I thought it would be fun to try to set the record straight. They did 52 for "completists," but who the fuck needs a list with "Birthday Cake" on it?   The playlist is arranged in power ranking order, so it goes from all-timers to era-specific nostalgia pieces, but suffice it to say she's one of the most important artists of the last 10+ years.



Monday, May 29, 2017

Mark McGuire VISION UPON PURPOSE (2017)



"our souls should have been huge by now" says one flower to another in Louise Glück's The Wild Iris and tough titties, Louise, our souls grow very slowly, but we can hitch a ride on our betters, art is kind of like HGH, the NFL knows we're doing it and looks the other way.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Song of the Summer



My favorite song of the year thus far, and a 50:1 to break big, but it was really good to hear it on Top 40 the other night, as it has only climbed to 49 on the Hot 100.  It takes tropical house's luxury-lite aesthetic and gives it a steely backbone, boldly assuring us that salvation (romantic or perhaps political?) will be ours whether we can bear to ask for it or not.

The safe bets are "Despecito", which is p. good but will get stuck in your head soooo bad, "Something Just Like This" (whatevs,) and "Shape of You", which is just inescapable on radio right now, has 1.1B views on YouTube, and is the male gaze-y Lex Luthor to Gaga's Superman.  And now we get to look forward to seeing that schmuck on Game of Thrones.  "It Ain't Me" would also be great in my book but Selena just doesn't get the adoration she deserves.  So says I, adorer of Selena.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

COLOSSAL dir. Nacho Vigalondo (2017)



Superb science fiction allegory, Hathaway is modern heroine (is that word still ok?) writ large and Jason Sudeikis is in a role  that fits his particular set of skills to a T.  Give Nacho a chance.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOL. 2 dir. James Gunn (2017)



Somehow the 15th "MCU" film, I'm feeling the same sort of resigned fatigue for these things as new Star Wars films--they're serviceable enough storyboards of movies that I'd want to see,  but any opportunity for genuine charm is lost in the effort to keep the trains moving on time and allow for the requisite 4.5 big CGI battles that I guess they have evidence that kids need to stay enthused? There are enough goofs and heart to earn my genial, bemused goodwill but I sure wish the writers would do some soul-searching and think about why we really love the things we do. The X-Wing weren't the cool part.  Let the Wookie win.

"Brandy (You're a Fine Girl)" is one of the pinnacles of 70's songwriting, and if this only serves to bring it to a new generation, then it earns a pass in my book.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

SNATCHED dir. Jonathan Levine (2017)



Had a lot of fun seeing this with the Mother's Day crowd. Goldie and Amy have great chemistry and the supporting cast--Chris Meloni, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Arturo Castro and Joan Cusack-- is aces. I have more room in my heart for simple throwback comedies than most people, but wanted to stan for it a bit because it seems like Amy is experiencing some sort of weird riptide backlash.

ps
Spelled Barinholtz right on the first go.  Excelsior!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Gas NARKOPOP (2017)



POP (2000) soundtracked so many of my weird chilly nighttime strolls in Portland and Berkeley, helped me sleep in several cots and bunks, and this is arguably better, the kind of life music that comes from the wokest of pied pipers, as if the Beatitudes are some sort of chemo trip you have to stay on, 24/7, to capture the beauty and pain of decadence and decline, remoteness and accessibility, the confines of faith.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

San Fermin BELONG (2017)



One of the best live bands (8-piece!) I've ever seen, can't recommend seeing them enough.  They just started a tour behind BELONG, which Steph & co. caught in Portland.  They create an enormous sound, and downhill momentum that is so rare.  BELONG doesn't quite capture the verve and swing and crescendo of those euphoric moments.  Not sure what their recording process is, but it sounds a little flat, especially with the live show point-of-reference.  There also just isn't enough of vocalist Allen Tate, who possesses one of the coolest baritones on the planet.  Charlene Kaye is a tremendous showwoman, but her technically precise voice comes off as a bit thin and aetheric on record, blurring the songs into mood-pieces, which is trendy I guess, but does them a disservice.  She's a great counter-point to Allen, but personally I have trouble latching on and remembering her songs. The opposite problem as CHVRCHES, but they wisely don't split duties down the middle.

Spoon HOT THOUGHTS (2017)



Spoon make perseverance music.  To live in this world, you need to turn the fader up, tilt the L-R balance, bass up treble down, and cruise to your own whim, picking fights where necessary to keep your self-respect.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Future Islands THE FAR FIELD (2016)



I don't know how these guys do it, but they make the most perfectly propulsive springtime music: it is a distillation of a winter thaw, a college campus of competing and coinciding young narratives tied by a common thread of past and future both looming impossibly large.

Monday, April 10, 2017

HOMELAND S6 (2017)




After that finale, I am straight dunking on everyone who thinks THE AMERICANS has more to offer.  This episode was its own SICARIO, while resolving threads of past seasons, setting the stage for the next, and being bafflingly on pointe re: our horrifying now.

ps Straight out of Portland is the primer you need:


pps I've been suffering serious podcast fatigue for awhile now, probably dating back to the election if not before, and somehow this was a breath of fresh air.  He's born to the medium, and keeping it to 30:00 is 100%.
 

Saturday, April 01, 2017

REVIEW S3 (2017)

I can give no higher praise than Andy Daly created the modern Don Quixote.


(thanks Flavorwire)

Friday, March 31, 2017

George Saunders LINCOLN IN THE BARDO (2017)


I can't recommend strongly enough that you listen to the audiobook if able.

The Hobbit: LOTR:: Our Town: Lincoln in the Bardo

Exhaustively researched and shaped, with a Greek chorus of opinionated true people of history providing context for a moment where our nation stood on the knifepoint. Harrowing with acute anguish, leavened with slapstick and gallows humor; the most titanically empathetic work in any medium I've yet experienced.  Saunders is the fusion of Vonnegut and Whitman, and in this present crisis of American masculinity, there can be no more vital reminder of whom we should truly strive to emulate, who our spiritual father was and must continue to be.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Favorite Albums of 2016

20. Ian William Craig CENTRES
19. 1 Mile North AWAKENED BY DECAY
18. SubRosa FOR THIS WE FOUGHT THE BATTLE OF AGES
17. Margo Price MIDWEST FARMER'S DAUGHTER
16. Bruno Mars 24K MAGIC



15. Tim Hecker LOVE STREAMS
14. Caretaker EVERYWHERE AT THE END OF TIMES
13. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith EARS
12. Eluvium FALSE READINGS ON
11. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith/Suzanne Ciana SUNENERGY



10. Carly Rae Jepsen EMOTION: SIDE B
9. Chance the Rapper COLORING BOOK
8. Pallbearer FEAR AND FURY {EP}
7. Bon Iver 22, A MILLION
6.  Grouper PARADISE VALLEY {Single/B-side}



5. Rihanna ANTI
4. Lady Gaga JOANNE
3. Steve Hauschildt STRANDS
2. Julianna Barwick WILL
1. Beyonce LEMONADE

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Mount Eerie A CROW LOOKED AT ME (2017)



I own every Phil project on vinyl, pending this one.  The most open and honest and brutal album I've ever heard. Had to be impossibly hard to share, but of incalculable value.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Visible Cloaks REASSEMBLAGE (2017)



Somehow Portland, and the Pacific Northwest, own at my favorite genres.  I'm kind of toggling in binary back and forth from ambient to doom, doom when I must face and live in the present, ambient when I need escape.  Visible Cloaks made a very good magic wardrobe of an album.



JoJopus is now up on Spotify, meaning that your playlists finally have the possibility of attaining perfection.

EDIT I am still waiting for Leave (Get Out) and there will be no justice no peace

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Drake MORE LIFE (2017)



Such is the state of poptism and its thirst for male heroes--not to mention the slow Q1 news cycle-- that this is hailed as some achievement.  Tremendously boring, punishing to deep listening...fine, I guess it's fine if you're using it like Eno to provide texture to household chores and malaise, but I'd like a headcount in Q1 2018 of the folks that still give a shit about this non-album. I like the title, though. "Yes, to smell pork" would be a great, unsettling name for his next playlist.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

ALLIED dir. Robert Zemeckis (2016)



What do you think it feels like to turn in very good performances, as Pitt and Cotillard do, and then watch the film to see that the cinematography has no depth or character, the extras are astoundingly bad (saboteur-level,) and the score is by turns limp and lame?  The whole affair seems like a prestige picture from the 90's that got gussied-up with modern after-effects.  Middlebrau like flat beer.

To be fair, Brad and Marion presumably read the unoriginal script, and hopefully had an assistant capable of pointing out that its author owns a clothing line based on his similarly uninspired creation, PEAKY BLINDERS.  Style over substance, and tired imitations of style at that.  Akin to 90's slacker-indie-rock revivalism, but that is a diatribe for another time...

Saturday, March 18, 2017

LOVE S2 (2017)



Captures the first few months of a relationship of co-dependents agonizingly well.  A comedy without being a sitcom in the least, moments of humor are all the brighter for their unpredictability. Bertie, another perennial Comedy Bang Bang hero, is one of my favorite characters on this thing I guess we still call television.  Steph and I probably watched it more like a triptych, and I do think it shares some spirituality with Linklater's Before trilogy.  It is strange that what we really crave from a romantic comedy is this, the tissue, the actual relationship, but most modern rom-coms are de facto action movies.



Carry Bertie in your heart.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

THE AMERICANS S4 (2016)



Olds will try to tell you it is the best show on television.  I can squint and see saying it is the best drama on television, but there are at least five 2016 comedies I would take over it without blinking.  The show is great when it sets the adults up in opposition or uneasy cooperation, but as the Paige saga (now with 900% more Pastor Tim and Alice!) continues to fester and consume the show with necrotic banality, we've lost the verve of seasons one and two, where Elizabeth and Philip were confronted with incredible challenges and had to find a way out-- at its best reminiscent of the set-pieces of BREAKING BAD.  And those external battles would reflect in the internal chess of their marriage.  Both aspects were mostly lost in season three and are completely gone in season four.  Season five just started, with renewed interested in our relationship with the Russians, and season six will be the end: must I keep slogging?  Will it improve?  I can't trust the olds to tell me! It can be beautiful, thoughtful, and engaging, but television critics are giving it such a pass on its dreadfully slow storytelling and now-static relationship/characters of Elizabeth and Philip, who by turns hector and assuage Paige, the worst teenage character since Dana.  Dana, you were awful, but Paige has taken the throne.

HOMELAND>THE AMERICANS come at me bro!

Monday, March 13, 2017

I DON'T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE dir. Macon Blair (2017)



Duplass Brothers meets Tarantino; Melanie Lansky is terrific, Elijah Wood needs to play this character in every film.  The Far East Portland setting is genius...the 80's, 90's seediness of Portland is still present, it has just been pushed to the fringes, but life out in the triple digits of the eastside is damp dark dank.  It has a left-behind quality.  IDFAHITWA (lol) is a kind of a grindhouse movie with an overeducated undercurrent of nihilism felt by the lead, who is activated from her despair when a mission of vengeance and justice presents itself, finding that taking agency provides its own strength and stamina.  Reminds me of something that Brandon Johnson said on a recent Harmontown: the only silver lining to this horrible mess we're in is that now we get to be the self that has been waiting for its cause.

ps Pitchfork wrote up a "best new reissue" on this excellent Midori Takada album I suggested a couple months ago, if you needed a co-sign:

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Friday, March 10, 2017

Amy Schumer THE LEATHER SPECIAL (2017)



Amy has the throne and Netflix is a disturbingly well-run company.  Amy's expanded and improved her physical humor and there is just no one who conducts a better maglev of humor and guts than her. Off-topic: her book was funny and brave and slightly tedious, but that seems what like most of these books by comedians end up being, except Michael Ian Black, WHO STEPH AND I JUST MET AND CREEPED OUT! He is such a careful craftsman of sentences and has a more literary spirit than stand-up I think.  He's an insanely good improviser though, so I think specificity is his strength, whereas the world-beater stand-ups--Chris Rock, Louis C.K., Amy, Jerry etc.-- have to go broad and universal to achieve that status.  


PS I found the perfect retirement home for Pat in Bland, MO

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Rhye WOMAN (2013)



I've listen to this album a bunch in the last 365 days, but wasn't inspired to share it until Ben Ratliff (GOAT emeritus) on the New York Times Music Popcast podcast (I'm mainlining the back catalogue) included it in his 2013 best-of and mentioned that it was a man's voice.  Previously I'd taken it as perfect Sade tribute, now I'm baffled in the best way.  Both members of the duo have gone on to work with really interesting people in pop, and have left this as a stand-alone debut and denouement.  Sade is the hero of Quiet Storm, one of the greatest musicians of Late Capitalism, and her music never fails to put me in deep remembrance of middle school crushes, because smooth jazz was the only music made available to me as a youngster, and I took the best of it, and molded it to fit the unsordid dramas of being thirteen and hopeless and bursting with hope, and of course those crushes reached titanic heights during summer vacation, when you are free to romanticize a person with English-poet-with-syphillis vigor.  To me, the most magical part of growing up in Portland was the summer evenings.  The sun sets behind the West Hills but hasn't really set, so there is this hour, but it feels like more, of soft lavender light.  That's what this music, and especially Sade, always invoke for me.  The clarity and harmony of zero humidity, sprinklers, ice cream trucks; anxiety and stress distant as probes sent far from Earth, never to return.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Joni Mitchell



one of the dang jazz guys I start the morning with worked in a Christmas song motif and I needed a fix, took a lot of discipline but I restrained myself to River.  What a song.  It was the entry point I needed to get lost in Joni, who is just singularly great.  Regret that it took me so long to learn that.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Happy Casimir Pulaski Day



I tried to explain to a freshman cello player how this was a better song about cancer than some dumb country song he played me and Robby but his face went blank and Robby tried to tell me, people don't listen, they don't want to listen, and that's alright.

I mean, you can think that, you can be in a glee club with those guys, perpetuating the Maroon 5 and have more friends than me.  But allowing, smiling past uncritical thought or feeling, is how we ended up in this fucking awful place.  Deuces up.

Bright as the Oregon breeze:



Sunday, March 05, 2017

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM dir. David Yates (2016)


WOOF fam I thought you loved me.  How was I not warned? I played Quidditch with you people.

I mean, it is bad in a way I never would have suspected, but I guess I should have given latter-day JK's heavy involvement.  Like, I guess I'm glad these messages are getting to the kids...but the vehicle is a goth Christian rock band.

LOGAN dir. James Mangold (2017)



The kids are alright.  The villains suck, per usual. I coulda used more Johnny Cash!  Packed house for the Saturday early evening show; I think I've been disconnected from how popular these things are...did you know that David Benioff, he of smug GoT HBO exec producer fame, wrote the X-Men Origins: Wolverine script?  I think I made it through the first 20 minutes of that.  The Wolverine was alright.  Logan was well-done.  Any other pseudo-trilogies have a similar ramp-up in quality to the end?

Saturday, March 04, 2017

ZOOPTOPIA (2016)



I'm really glad the kids are learning about prejudice and stereotypes and through a classic buddy-cop flick, by way of film-noir.  Funny, caring, better than it needed to be.  The Shakira song was tacked-on-af and really empty, broad and formless, it sounded like one of those World Cup theme songs or something.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Nick Drake



This is quickly becoming my favorite thing on youtube.  I always enjoy a little movement in the video, whether it is just the vinyl spinning or whatnot, but that sailboat is apt af.  Contrasts to what we've been listening to at work, 'tropical house' mixes by Kygo, et al., which just collage ladies who seem to've lost their pants to time or tide.  Real classy bros, like the new hair metal is some unholy cross-section of chill, privilege and MDMA.  Fine, utilitarian; perfect music to convince a young mom to buy a fun top, just because, but Nick wouldn't sell your fandom out, and that is nice to know.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Dexter Gordon BALLADS (1991)



what if living with constant anxiety and crippling bouts of terror is actually what it takes for a white man to become human idk

Allmusic calls it regal and they fucking nailed it.  I guess I'd usually not advocate a culled collection from over a decade+ of performances but desperate times call for desperate measures.  the voice as purveyor of human language has uh, lost its endurability right now.

Monday, February 27, 2017

John Darnielle UNIVERSAL HARVESTER (2017)


(For some reason Australia got a cooler cover.)

JD is so gifted at describing the way repressed and introverted people catalog and process emotions, how currents carry cold and warm water, circulating through their system for years, while they recover or collapse.  He understands fanaticism, family and friendship and describes their development so acutely, that you have to stop and admire and re-read several times per page.  He reminds me of the poet Carl Phillips, how he can slice days, interactions so thinly that you can stretch it out, see light through it, see the vasculature of emotions and time and stored memory and human myth de-randomized, in a woven capillary bed.