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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"Inside Out", blue is the colour

Inside Out

It's very easy to get carried away with 'Inside Out'. Visually fascinating as always, inventive, pretty entertaining and, finally, a riskier, braver move by embracing a serious issue ('Up' was "there" too, but only for the first 10 minutes): an insight on emotions and growing up through the mind of a child. Anyone who knows me (or reads the Blog) is aware how reluctant I am in what regards to animation. The visual richness and ability to explore/add new effects and techniques is pretty amazing but, imo, it's killing storylines, plot developments and acting. 'Inside Out', I'm keen to say, proves I can be mistaken.

Riley is a very happy 11-year-old kid from Minnesota with loving parents and a passion for hockey. But things are about to change drastically as the family has to move to San Francisco. It's a 360º degrees turn for little Riley and her emotions are going to explode. And that's exactly what are we going to see, as her emotions are the real protagonists of the movie, which try to guide her on every step of the way: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger and Disgust. The quintet live in Headquarters, the control room located inside Riley's mind. Until the arrival to San Francisco, Joy has been clearly the leading emotion, but the struggle of change creates a serious unrest on the kid. A new city, a new place, a new school. The five emotions (excellent work of the voices, by the way) are dealing with a completely different scenario, where tension and turmoil appear. Sadness (the best character hands down, impossible not to love her) in particular keeps getting in the way, mucking things up, transforming pleasant memories into melancholic, sad ones. Things get even worse when Joy and Sadness accidentally get swept away into the far reaches of Riley's brain, a visually stunning, gorgeous landscape of the mind, where beyond the control room are several islands representing Riley's personality.

'Inside Out' then would turn into a more traditional adventure movie for kids, with Joy and Sadness trying to get back into Headquarters... if there wasn't for the fact the two emotions are moving throughout extremely sensible mind areas like Riley's subconscious, and because is a race against time: Riley's crisis are destroying her emotional landscape. There's a slight moment the word depression came to my mind while watching the movie and, although I would say Disney wins and the plot drags slightly from what it could have been, entering a more conventional, funnier "action" ground, far for the complexity it was promising, I can't complain really. The overall feeling is that Pixar wanted to target adults for almost its entirety this time, without forgetting children. Kudos for that.    

Because 'Inside Out' is a wonderful attempt to portray what's going on inside the head of a kid. The moments where we see the adults' head are as funny as revealing (wish there would have been more scenes), as behind the laughs and charming moments there's a rare depth that has to be celebrated. There's a commanding emotion inside all of us, guess formed by the years and experiences we have to face. Young Riley shifts from a life dominated by Joy into something else, with multiple and, many times, conflicting simultaneous emotions, where other colours aside from the bright yellow of Joy might be needed. Isn't that what growing up is about? Acknowledging life is complex? Learning than life has many contradictions, turnbacks and deceptions but it's still an exciting and worthy ride? It's a great lesson to be learnt, for children and adults as well.

SCORE: 8/10

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 63

The endless heatwave (breaking records about warmth globally but still unwilling to do something serious about the environment), the amount of important decisions pending, tough bad news... here comes stress and anxiety. But at least we have the music, excellent music that flows continuously, even on holidays. So here's our new TOP TEN playlist, full of new discoveries without forgetting consecrated bands as SuperchunkAs usual, it's also available at our Soundcloud blog page, so please join us! 

Direct links to 2015 Jukebox playlists
Week 36  Week 37  Week 38   Week 39  Week 40 
Week 41  Week 42  Week 43  Week 44   Week 45
Week 46  Week 47   Week 48  Week 49    Week 50
Week 51   Week 52  Week 53  Week 54    Week 55 
Week 56   Week 57   Week 58  Week 59   Week 60
Week 61   Week 62

Monday, July 20, 2015

"Gone Girl", the reality show for perfect couples

Gone Girl

I have to praise David Fincher. He is one of the few "BIG" directors (meaning accepted by Hollywood) with a real ambition, a will of doing "something else" with blockbusters. 'Gone Girl' aims to subvert crime genre boundaries, something he has achieved previously with fascinating results (see 'Zodiac' by far his best movie if you ask me), in a bold and brave attempt. But this time, imo, the overall result is, sadly, disappointing.

The story of the Dunnes, the perfect couple of Nick (Ben Affleck) and Amy (Rosamund Pike) is umm... a bit annoying from the very beginning, but I'm not saying that as a criticism. I'm pretty sure Fincher wants to portray them as cliche-bounded (oh, two more young, handsome, NYC smart writers taken from a Tommy Hilfiger ad) so as the story unfolds while Amy goes missing the scars on their five year marriage keep appearing they look like gigantic cracks.

Of course, all suspicions point out to Nick. Here's a very interesting take on media (in particular to the ubiquitous and obnoxious programs of "social concern") and their role of social commentators, transforming what it should be a dramatic situation into a reality show. Fincher is telling us there's a reality clash between the image your portray to the others (here exaggerated to the extreme, as the others is that blurred concept of public opinion) and the one behind the doors of your home. Which is the important one? Unfortunately, the first one (the war was lost quite a long ago).

So far so good, you'll say. But the problem is Fincher completely looses the point, and the focus. It's clear he is not interested in presenting us a solid, convincing crime story, but that's exactly what the narrative of the screenplay (penned by Gillian Flynn, the book's author) is supposed to be. So why the lame work on that side? I get it David, after the story big twist arrives (no spoilers) it's all a GREAT FARCE, but the resorts you used are weak to the point of being ludicrous. Fincher seems to be saying us: "laugh with me, because the characters are all insane. Marriage is insane. Violence is insane. Oh, wait, all is insane, see?" Sure David, but then, why do you need me to stay for 149 minutes watching this, at times, serious nonsense? When Amy's story gets the lead, the film is not only unbeliavable. The plotholes an unbalances abound to an unbearable extent for such an experienced director. My God, I can't remember a more absurd character than the one played by Neil Patrick Harris' (not his fault, he does what he can with the material), unless its a fierce satire against How I Met Your Mother's Barney Stinson...

Reading the majority of the critics general praise I agree with the assertions on the movie weirdness, twisted, dark-humorous, stylised visual package. Pretty ok too with the opinions saying the two main actors gave their best... And as I said in the first paragraph, I salute Fincher's riskiness. But to me, 'Gone Girl' is not a thrilling ride, not even a satisfactory farce on marriage, fame, public opinion and rubbish TV... To me it's closer to 'Fatal Attraction', 'Basic Instinct' and, occasionally, not that far away from all the terrible TV-movies you can see in Spain any Sunday afternoon.  

SCORE: 4,75/10

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Discoverer 118: new indie findings

And here's another strong trio of discoveries for your listening pleasure!

Milky Wimpshake. If my memory serves me well, this is the most veteran band featured at the Discoveries section of the Blog, but better late than never! Hailing from Newcastle Upon Tyne, Milky Wimpshake formed in 1993, being Pete Dale's main music vehicle and an intrinsec part of the Slampt Underground Organisation, more than a label, and arts & activism scene and centre. Since 1994, when 'Songs Of Zoom And Buzz' their first release appeared to 'Encore, un effort!', out since this Spring via Fortuna POP! seven albums and six EPs/7" have forged a solid career as twee punkers, indiepop punchers, making jangle-pop bite and protest, and punk sing about love. C86, Comet Gain and Billy Bragg in tunes full of melody and meaning. In 'Encore, un effort!', Dale duets by Sophie Evans (gorgeous voice) from Life Model in more than half the record, adding a special vibe to a record that goes straight to your head & mouth. Another pop is (still) possible!

Life Model. From Newcastle to Glasgow to meet this quintet formed in 2012. They debuted with a self-titled EP in early 2013 which was praised by NME or BBC Radio. The single 'Come Round', also on tape, arrived in January 2014 and, since February 2015 we can enjoy their latest single to date, 'Lilt', out on Strong Island Records. Eight tunes of efervescent shoegaze and dreampop crowned by the melancholic and hypnotic vocals of Sophie Evans (yes, same Ms. Evans from Milky Wimpshake). There's energy and mystery here, the kind of soundtrack NASA's New Horizons spacecraft should be listening while capturing Pluto.

The Muscadettes. Change of continent to meet twin sisters Chantal and Kathleen Ambridge, hailing originally from Silicon Valley, CA, but raised in Montreal. After a night out they recruited Joe Gagné (Les Breastfeeders) on lead guitar, followed by Thomas Augustin (Malajube) on keys. As a full band, they released a self-titled EP in late 2012, making some exciting buzz on local media and setting them to tour around Canada. Now, since April we can enjoy 'Side A' EP, five delicious tunes of 60s surf-pop, a lot of beachy vibes & a garage-punk attitude that's hard to resist. Sugar and spice, the knack for melody and vocal harmonies with the crunchy energy of grungy guitars. Right in time for your summer!

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 62

Middle July, the excruciating heatwave doesn't go away and decisions are just around the corner. So, it's time to propose you another fantastic and diverse TOP TEN playlist, gathering wonderful returns like The Stammer and Major Leagues mind blowing tunes, our beloved The School and Sharon Van Etten, plus our trademark new findings. As usual, it's also available at our Soundcloud blog page, so please join us! 

Direct links to 2015 Jukebox playlists
Week 36  Week 37  Week 38   Week 39  Week 40 
Week 41  Week 42  Week 43  Week 44   Week 45
Week 46  Week 47   Week 48  Week 49    Week 50
Week 51   Week 52  Week 53  Week 54    Week 55 
Week 56   Week 57   Week 58  Week 59   Week 60
Week 61

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Indie Anthology 66: essential songs

The next chapter in our anthology is devoted to a now, again, extincted band that I was lucky enough to see during the last Primavera Sound. And a song devoted to a music legend (loved by this Blog), which unfortunately I'll never be able to see. Find you.... left of the dial!

Song: Alex Chilton
Artist: The Replacements
Year: 1987

Never been more than a very occasional fan of The Replacements. Love 'I Will Dare', 'Color Me Impressed', 'Left of the Dial' and a little bunch of alternative rock bullets. But they'll always have a place in the indie Olympus for me. Because Paul Westerberg and Co. penned the immense ' Alex Chilton', a wonderful homage to the lead singer, songwriter and soul of Big Star (and The Box Tops). 'Alex Chilton', the song, is one of these rare tunes that, no matter the place or situation, gives me goosebumps all over. The combination of the Replacements' trademark biting guitars, melodic lines and living euphoria (several times, very close to chaos) with a lyric that melts personal memories of youth with heartfelt lines on his music hero, still has to be beaten. And I can't even begin with the chorus without getting emotional. Killer.

Children by the million sing for Alex Chilton when he comes 'round
They sing "I'm in love. What's that song?
I'm in love with that song.

Watching The Replacements live playing 'Alex Chilton' past May was memorable. After many years, still in love, of course. I never travel far, without a little Big Star...

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 61

A never ending heatwave, uncertainties and too many big decisions. That sort of pivotal moment on which music is not just our regular companion, but a shelter that cares of you. So, our next and pretty eclectic TOP TEN playlist is not just a must-listen, because of the quality of the songs, but also is a music statement, a picture of "our current state of affairs". Anyway, do not miss it! This is also available at our Soundcloud blog page, so please join us! 

Direct links to 2015 Jukebox playlists
Week 36  Week 37  Week 38   Week 39  Week 40 
Week 41  Week 42  Week 43  Week 44   Week 45
Week 46  Week 47   Week 48  Week 49    Week 50
Week 51   Week 52  Week 53  Week 54    Week 55 
Week 56   Week 57   Week 58  Week 59   Week 60

Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Indie Anthology 65: essential songs

For the next chapter in our anthology we are still under the influence (well, safe guess is that I'll always be) of that "band from Athens, Ga" with mumbled cryptic lyrics and guitar lines from another space and time... But it's a tribute to another underrated music genius: Mr. Mark Mulcahy. College rock, you're gone but you'll never be forgotten...

Song: The Heart is Attached
Artist: Miracle Legion
Year: 1984

Again, it's very easy to know how I got into Miracle Legion back then. Of course I was looking for every other band on the planet with that early 'R.E.M.'s jangly sound, so there's no point on extending myself on these. Instead, allow me to focus on what does it means hearing 'The Backyard' in 2015 and how Mr. Mark Mulcahy songs keeps knocking at my door from time to time, thankfully.

'The Backyard' is one of those records you hear with reverence and some kind of fear, worried by the possibility the magic, the connection with the six tunes have gone because you are now an older, wiser, uninnocent, sadder person. But it never happens. It's a trip to familiar places, from the first guitar line and chord change of Ray Neal. From the title track and Mark delivering the killer line "The world was so big and I was so small", saying everything with so little, to the high-energy of  "Closer to the Wall" to my favourite, 'The Heart Is Attached', with its ups & downs, the bright and gloom altogether, this stories of young & old still ring true through my ears, still go close to my heart.  

Funnily enough, I never got myself into Polaris or Mulcahy's solo work, kind of losing track of his career... until my "other band", The National, delivered an astounding version of 'Ashamed of the Story I Told' in 2009, for the lovely tribute album 'Ciao My Shining Star', warning me there was a lot of music awaiting me to hear. The second coming of Mulcahy in my life. See? Always around...