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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

'Irrational Man', Dostoyevski revisited

Irrational Man

Our yearly dose of Woody Allen is here and, have to say, expectations were pretty high this time, as the combination of one of my all-time-favorite directors with Joaquim Phoenix, one of the best actors out there (now that Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away I would say he's the best) was exciting. And, in my opinion, he does a terrific impersonation of a hedonistic and deeply troubled academic. But he's not enough to save 'Irrational Man' from leaving me with a disappointing impression overall, imo falling flat, at times worryingly flat, as a whole.

Not to say the film is a complete waste of time, as some critics have said. A "serious" Woody Allen film dealing with existence, murder, philosophy is going to be more interesting than 80% of what Hollywood offers you any given weekend. Let me summarise the virtues:
  1. Acting is very good. As I said, Phoenix is excellent portraying philosophy professor Abe Lucas tormented. The always haunting Emma Stone does a nice job as the brilliant but smitten student Jill Pollard, and Parker Posey is stunning, a real scene-stealer as the art professor Rita Richards, showing a physical intensity that matches Phoenix fierce way of acting in her desperate crush for Abe, a romance where she is “throwing herself” as her life in Braylin College chokes her.
  2. In a pretty powerful depiction of a “womaniser” lying behind a sensitive, broken and misunderstood character, Allen is portraying mercilessly the other side of the romantic bad boy. Even more than that: through Abe Allen is also pointing out that the high class (Vermont private College) and so-called intellectuals in particular, have it all wrong. Check the scene of the Russian Roulette, the standout of the film. Snobs adoring a fake idol.
  3. This is Woody Allen taking several risks. The narrative point of view is a surprising one, with two voices (Abe and Jill) telling the story, shifting from one to another. And while the topic he address is a serious, gloomy one, he attempts to blur the lines between his comedies and his dark dramas. True, is not the first, second or even third time we are facing a similar argument. Masterpiece ‘Crime and misdemeanors’, and forgettable ‘Cassandra’s Dream’ & ‘Match Point’ (yes, I said forgettable) deal with the same issues. But Allen is exploring a different tone here, sort of playful and lightweight despite being solemn at the same time. I’m not sure it completely works, but praise the risk on a director with 50 films on his shoulders. A romcom with a very dark soul. Or a noir film with a knack to laugh at itself. You decide.
  4. The “envelope” of the film is also different one for Woody, looking gorgeous (Vermont seems paradise), with music and aesthetics (and light!) looking like a new chapter on the new yorker's palette.
But the problem with ‘Irrational Man’ is that the letdowns are almost equal:
  1. The movie plot is explained to an obnoxious detail, with Allen stressing everything, reaching a point he almost seems he doesn’t trust the viewer’s intelligence. For me, it was shocking he decided to say everything and not just showing it (he has filmed so many eternal scenes where a face, a shoot tells it all...). The Dostoyevsky/Arendt note was too much for me.
  2. Being objective, the plot, despite being smart, is derivative to say the least. Yes, I get (and Allen makes Abe say it too) he wants to talk about chance/luck, but the Raskolnikov-type of murder, Jill discovery and the final scene arrives so awkwardly, there’s a feeling plot works because of pure luck too.
  3. The double narrator thing is ruined at the end. No spoiling here, but the mistake on the voices is blatantly huge.
  4. Allen doesn’t explore the potential of his female characters, particularly Rita. Can’t help but thinking Jill is also a bit underwritten. Knowing as much as she knows, there was room for a braver twist with her…
At the end, the feeling is that Allen has been there, done that… and with more much punch, wittiness and clarity. Take ‘Crime and misdemeanors’ as the most obvious example: characters look completely human and complex, and mixing Judah’s with Cliff’s problems make the spectator connect with the more extremes turns on life. But on ‘Irrational Man’, the experiment on morality swallows characters and the “flesh and bones” reality, rewarding the audience with 95 minutes of suggestive possibilities and depth… that results in a somewhat lifeless movie. It's not a bad film, and has several points of interest (has some risks to be praised too), but is a flawed one.

SCORE: 5,75/10

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Discoverer 123: new indie findings

Destination New Zealand & Sweden, two realms of indiepop, in our today's discoveries series!

Salad Boys. Back to my dear New Zealand, this time to Christchuch, to meet this band formed by Joe Sampson (12-string guitar/vocals), Ben Odering (bass) & Jim Nothing (drums) at the end of 2012. Leaded by Sampson's ideas and his initiative co-running independent label/music collective Melted Ice Cream, they came out with self-titled mini-album released on cassette in 2013, creating instant buzz out there locally,propelled with their live reputation engaging them in gigs with Sebadoh, The Bats, Parquet Courts as well as being David Kilgour's backing band. Now the trio has just released 'Metalmania' on Trouble in Mind Records. A debut album of instantly catchy, floating, carefree, rural, DIY jangle-pop, somewhere in between The Feelies (band's name comes from a laughable misheard from song 'Fa Cé La'), early R.E.M. and their NZ legendary predecessors. Too much to resist!

The Sun Days. Hailing from Gothenburg, Sweden, this young quintet has been on my radar since their first songs surfaced the Internet around the end of 2013. Tunes like 'You can't make up my mind', 'Don't need to be them', '(Get him) off your mind', or 'Busy people', all points out here is a band with an incredible knack for penning perfect pop songs, something debut LP, entitled 'Album' and out since June proves magnificently. Eight tunes summoning the melancholy, bittersweet and enduring qualities of The Smiths or The Sundays (obviously), leaded by ice-melting vocals of Elsa Fredriksson. Bright days ahead, indeed.

Don't Cry Shopgirl. And we end in lovely Stockholm to unveil the parallel project of our beloved Astrid Wiezell from Northern Spies alongside John Svensson. They have been playing since 2013, starting to offer their tunes with three singles called 'What You Could Have Been to Me', 'Bring Me Home' and 'Boy You Can Tell Me'. Now you can pre-order the Don’t Cry Shopgirl 7″ at wise Cloudberry Records website. Four tunes, that judging from the first tastes showed are going to be unmissable. Blissful indie-pop of delightful vocals with an upbeat heart and keyboards providing melodies penned to stick with you forever.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 71

A long and, in principle, meaningful weekend (three years of constant stupidity makes me a non-believer sorry but, supposedly, there's an important election day this Sunday) that we need to enhance & empower (and let's admit, distract ourselves from) with an eclectic & diverse TOP TEN playlist.We encourage you to surf trough our list! Indiepop, folk, Spanish indie, new discoveries along with consecrated bands. What more you can ask for? And remember, it's also available at our Soundcloud, 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   Week 63  Week 64  Week 65 
Week 66   Week 67   Week 68  Week 69   Week 70 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

These Go to 11: interviewing The Persian Leaps

After recovering the section last week, here's another chapter on our interview series. This week we have to pleasure to count with Drew Forsberg from our dear The Persian Leaps and the excellent Land Ski Records label answering our questionnaire. A little bit of old-school-noise-pop in our blog today. These Go to 11! 

Ready for the jump
Drew Forsberg, The Persian Leaps 
Hailing from Saint Paul, Minnesota, this trio was formed in 2012, when Drew Forsberg decided to transform his originally solo project into a full band. A year after, they released via his own label Land Ski Records debut EP 'Praise Elephants', followed by 'Drive Drive Delay' in September 2014. Now the circle of EPs has been completed with 'High & Vibrate', out just now. Direct, shiny, infectious songs, somewhere in between noise pop and power-pop, recalling the brightest side of Sugar and our beloved Teenage Fanclub, ready for making your day immediately. Alive and kicking tunes! Here we go!

Second hand news: this record was huge
1. First record that you bought (be honest)
I believe I got several albums at once because I joined the Columbia House record club (8 records for a penny!). But I’m pretty sure that Fleetwood Mac – 'Rumours' and an ABBA greatest hits album were in there.

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)
My first concert ever was Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie at the Minnesota State Fair in 1985. My first real rock and roll concert, though, was Echo & the Bunnymen and New Order in 1987. These days, I mostly go to shows by local bands. The awesome shoegaze band, Ringo Deathstarr, was the last larger show I went to.

The fast, furious & hairy 80s, MTV style
3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
I have a weakness for Def Leppard, especially 'Photograph'.

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
I’m not into vinyl, and although I have stacks of CDs, I just listen to music on my phone these days. My oldest, most precious music-related item is a songbook for The Smiths – 'Meat is Murder' that I bought around 1986. I basically taught myself to play guitar using the chords in that book.
The father of lo-fi, hearing the voices...

5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
Just about anything by the Smiths or Guided By Voices. Morrissey and Robert Pollard are amazing lyricists, although very different. If I had to pick just one example, I’d choose 'The Headmaster Ritual' by the Smiths just because it so perfectly captures a bleak, miserable school experience.

6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
Robert Pollard from Guided by Voices.

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
My Bloody Valentine’s 'Loveless'.

8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both) 
My favorite movie is 'The Godfather'. My favorite book is 'The Crying of Lot 49' by Thomas Pynchon.

Elephants going noise-pop
9. Song (of yours) you are most proud of
They’re all my children. That said, I’m still very proud of the song 'Sleeples' from Praise Elephants. It’s about my father and so far, is the only time I’ve written a song with direct, personal content.

10. What does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
I’m biased and have a certain sound in mind when I hear that term (guitar-driven indie rock from the 80s and early 90s). But in general, it makes me think of musicians who are passionate enough about music to keep making it, even when they have little chance of commercial, popular success.

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
Still making music, with any luck, releasing the five best Persian Leaps songs we have ready every fall.

                                                                                     Zillion thanks Drew, thanks The Persian Leaps!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

"While We're Young", bohemian like you

While We're Young 

Very nice and welcomed surprise. Didn't know what to expect about 'While We're Young'. I have a strange relation with Noah Baumbach's movies, Loved 'The squid and the whale', liked the utterly dark 'Margot at the wedding', but I don't want to watch it again. 'Greenberg' was quite ok too, but I'm scared to death to watch 'Frances Ha' (seems a movie for hipsters), and I thought this one could be a very weak film, something several reviews stressed. Happily, there was no reason for my fears.

'While We're Young' might easily be the most balanced and, I guess, accessible of Baumbach's films to date. That assessment means two important facts. First, the bitterness and poignancy of many of Baumbach's previous works is virtually gone. As a matter of fact, the movie is a comedy, a satire. And second, the characters are likeable. This is, of course, a matter of personal taste. But aside the aforementioned 'The squid and the whale', in my opinion, his best movie yet, that makes leading characters Josh and Cornelia, played with conviction and some sort of charm by Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts, the most interesting, relatable, well-rounded, flawed, irritating at times and, therefore, human Baumbach has ever created.

Yeah, I have read the comparison with Woody Allen and, although I admit it hurts me quite a bit (I'll always be a fan) it is true that Baumbach has constructed a more credible, contemporary and refined story about the behavior of intellectuals than Allen's latest efforts. 'While We're Young' portrays this stucked couple trying to prove themselves they are still "in", still bohemian, still hip, although they have grown up. How do they try to connect with the times? Befriending, Jamie and Darby, played smoothly by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried, a free-spirited couple still in their twenties, after the younger hipsters approaches Josh after one of his boring classes on filmmaking (Josh is a documentary filmmaker).

'While We're Young' works admirably as a funny game of contrasts. Old friends having kids and making their existence surrender to the babies, while the couple of hipsters celebrate a 'street beach' event or an Ayahuasca ceremony (leaded by Dean Wareham in an hilarious role). One looks scary, the other one intriguing... but scary too? Baumbach is just saying: both generations are quite ridicule, and is pretty easy to mock them. Oh yes! Here's another unmissable vynil for your record collection. Oh yes! Can I have a better Ipod for my daily running exercise? Cool and laughable, childish, at the same time. It also makes you think about yourself for a second (and in a lightweight manner). As someone who is in between both ages, and who works/deals within a hipster environment but has never been or felt part of it, many of what appears in 'While We're Young' sounds extremely familiar... I'm writing this review while listening the new Churches album, completely shocked this is "what you should listen now" when to me sounds suspiciously similar to Carly Rae Jepsen. Didn't we agree 80s electro-pop is embarrassing?

The movie also attempts to explore one of the 'controversial questions': what's authentic then? It might the weakest side of the film, because Jamie's convictions as a filmmaker (Darby's to a lesser extent too) are not really exposed if compared with Josh's adamantium but lost aims. But despite that might be a shortcoming, it do serves well Baumbach's purpose of showing people with good and insufferable qualities as well, complex and multidimensional, trying to do something with their life as they keep growing. Highly recommendable, whether you are a young hipster or an old bore, hahahaha...

SCORE: 7,25/10

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Discoverer 122: new indie findings

Our today's proposals goes indiepop. Blissful & melancholic gems in our discoveries series!

Rozi Plain. Hailing from Winchester, England, but based in London, Rozi Plain has been making music since her brother gave her a guitar when she was still a teenager. She moved to Bristol to study art and paint boats, and there she met long-term collaborators Kate Stables and Rachael Dadd, creating their first two albums, 'Inside Over Here' in 2008 and 'Joined Sometimes Unjoined' in 2012 touring with Devendra Banhart and KT Tunstall and also being part of This Is the Kit. Now she's back with third LP 'Friend' out since May on Lost Map Records. A singer-songwriter with a unique, otherworldly voice and an unbeatable pop scent that is presented in multiple, genuinely exciting forms, sometimes sparse and pensive, at times quirky and oblique, others mellow and heartwrenching. Sadnes, brightness. Freedom.

Sleuth. Hailing from Vancouver, BC, they formed in 2009, first as a duo, releasing tape 'Brave Knew Nothing' in 2011. Tours began and also features in compilations (Cloudberry Records, CiTR, Mint Records, Shoutback Festival). until they released free single 'Heaven Knows, Love Goes On!' on Christmas 2013. Then the adventure grew, shifting into a full quartet that locked themselves to create their first album, 'Out of the Blue Period', out since August as a joint Jigsaw Records & Kingfisher Bluez release. Delightful, jangly indiepop with a distinct use of keyboards, a sense of urgency & romanticism plus a tone of melodies and hooks to arrest your heart.

Nevski. One of the most beautiful new findings arriving to my email is this Parisian combo who has their recent origins in Normandy, where Rodolphe Binot (piano, guitar, vocals) and Quentin Leclère (guitar, vocals) had already been playing music for several years. Then they recruited Simon Barret on drums, "officially" forming the band. Gigs followed around the world and afterwards, they went to the studio to record their first self-titled EP, that the label Out of Map released this past March. Now the band has expanded into a quartet with the addition of Julien on bass, and they are working on their first full-length record. Can't hardly wait to hear the results, because this four tunes are a pure indiepop joy. Undeniably charming, delicate vocals delivering subtle French lyrics and piano lines melting with "Scottish guitars". Keep an eye, and heart on Nevski.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 70

With almost a week of concerts ahead in Barcelona we couldn't miss the chance to join the celebration of La Mercè with a new TOP TEN playlist, This week we bring you some beloved artists/bands, like Alela Diane (we will see you soon!) or the long-awaited reutrn of DIIV. And, as it its the norm, we have included new discoveries like Varsity or Nevski. Lot to enjoy and discover! Have a nice weekend! And remember, it's also available at our Soundcloud, 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   Week 63  Week 64  Week 65 
Week 66   Week 67   Week 68  Week 69

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

These Go to 11: interviewing Victoria Ford

After a really long hiatus, the interview series are back! And to begin with, one of our most beloved national discoveries, Victoria Ford, answers our questionnaireThese Go to 11! 

Southern musketeers battling for victory
Ireneo Díez, Rafa López & Antonio Tejada, Victoria Ford
Hailing from Alcalá de Guadaíra, Sevilla, they formed in 2007, initially as a trio, then a quartet and now a trio again. After many local gigs, first recognitions arrived in the form of the 12doce award and being listed as one of the emerging national bands in 2010. In 2013 they came out with their debut EP 'Victoria', and after more Festivals, a semifinalist place at Proyecto Demo, radio airplay, and the praise from the Blogosphere. now here's a follow-up in 'Montaña, Guía y Milagros', out this week. Alternative pop with pulse & punch, mystery & manners, solemn synths riding waves of mournful yet expansive laments with guitars bursting like fireworks and lyrics biting with depth. A most promising band you should check out right now. Here we go!

"Su - Per - Sexy - Girl..." admit you danced  that
1. First record that you bought (be honest)
Ire: Fundación Tony Manero 'Looking for la fiesta' in 2001. Incredible but true. There are hits on that album and I was just 10.
Rafa: Robbie Williams, 'Intensive Care' in 2005. Haven't heard it again since the day I bought it. Before streaming life was complicated.
Antonio: Franz Ferdinand, 'Franz Ferdinand' in 2004. From my point of view, is the record that best reflects the spirit of the band.

2. First and last concert you have attended (be honest too!)
Ire: First I don't remember, really. Sort of, I recall seeing my father singing Nino Bravo in a karaoke of Sevilla. He nailed it. Nueva Vulcano in Sevilla is the last concert I have attended.
Rafa: First concert was Vetusta Morla in 2008, before they became massive. Last concert was The New Raemon at Nocturama.
Antonio: 2011, Supersubmarina with Full in Sevilla. Didn't go much to concerts before, but now I go to 3 or 4 each month. I even write reviews for a web. There's a lot to see! Last concert was Julieta Venegas, also at Nocturama.

Folks, we have a winner on this question!
3. Guilty pleasure (song/band you shouldn’t like but you do, yes, it’s the embarrassing question)
Ire: ‘Entre tú y mil mares’ by Laura Pausini is a hit. I'm ashamed to admit it, but the chorus is a killer. Yes, the lyric is extremely cheesy, but melodically is very good.
Rafa: Take That. Boy band for fortyish.
Antonio: 'Ecos del rocío', folks. My father is a fan and a bit of me too. 

4. Most precious music item you own (collector mode on)
Ire: I'm not a music collector, honestly. But I have much affection for two things: The 'Alligator' vinyl. That album of The National is a wonder. And my copy of 'Heaven' signed by Mobius Band.
Rafa: There's some, but nothing really worth mentioning. My Telecasater is the only fetish that I have!
Antonio: Exactly the same for me. I have some records, but nothing remarkable. So I choose my amplifier. Ampeg is God.

5. Favorite lyrics (not yours)
Ire: ‘Quiromancia’ by Nueva Vulcano.
Rafa: ‘Tú, Garfunkel’ by The New Raemon.
Antonio: ‘Cornerstone’ by Arctic Monkeys.
Mr. Berninger, out looking for astronauts

6. Musician/s you would like to meet (should be alive, for obvious reasons, but you can choose a dead one too)
Ire: Rufus Wainwright, Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene or Dan Snaith of Caribou. But if I had to choose only one it would be Jon Brion, without a doubt.
Rafa: Matt Berninger, Jeff Tweedy and Jonny Buckland.
Antonio: Tom Chaplin and Tim Rice-Oxley.

7. Favorite artwork album (not yours)
Ire: Mobius Band, 'Heaven'.
Rafa: 'A rush of Blood to the head', Coldplay.
Antonio: Bon Iver.

Only dinosaurs that never got extincted.
8. Books or movies? Depending on your answer recommend us one (trick: you can choose both) 
Ire: Solaris, the book.
Rafa: The complete saga of Jurassic Park.
Antonio: ‘The movie 'Her’, masterpiece.

9. Song (of yours) you are most proud of
Ire: ‘Sábana Santa’ or ‘Los hijos de Steven Spielberg’
Rafa: I'll go with ‘Royal Canin’
Antonio: The hit. ‘Los santos que conozcas’

10. What does it mean indie for you? (yes, the “serious question”)
Ire: Do what you always wanted to do without depending on nobody.
Rafa: A band that has to figure out life without much means. Just work and good songs without depending on trends.
Antonio:  Away from the inertia and that has its own style. Whether is music, cinema, painting...

11. Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 
Ire: Recording demos with a Yamaha CP-70 at my studio.
Rafa: Touring around a lot with the band and with less hair.
Antonio: Playing at Primavera Sound Festival.

                                                                      Zillion thanks Ire, Rafa & Antonio, thanks Victoria Ford!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Discoverer 121: new indie findings

Three different takes on pop today awaiting for you in our discoveries series, check them out!

The Shifting Sands. Back down under folks, to our dear Dunedin, NZ and the amazing roster of Fishrider Records. Active from 2010, it all began as the solo project of Mike McLeod, former frontman of Alpha State. His songs morphed into a full album, like  'Feel', released on Spring of 2012, recorded with lots of guests, including the great David Kilgour (The Clean), Robbie Yeats (The Verlaines), Robert Scott (The Clean and The Bats), just to mention three. Among collaborators was Tom Bell, who alongside Jake Langley formed the proper band. Based on the legendary music venue the trio owns, the Chick's Hotel at Port Chalmers, the group has been perfecting their new record, 'Cosmic Radio Station', out early October on Fishrider. And the results are stunning. Space-rock breathing telluric and oceanic vibes, psychedelic pop done over and under the sea and haunting jangle-pop pieces coming from another planet. Turn to this radio station!

Lunchbox. Let's move to Oakland, California, to meet Tim Brown & Donna McKean (both members of Hard Left) and their back and forth story. Formed around 1994, they released four albums, and some 7" and EPs before they went on hiatus in 2002. Then came Birds of California, new band's incarnation that delivered the EP 'Great Expectations' on February Records in 2010, and one record, 'One and Only', in 2013 on Jigsaw Records. But the duo changed back their name to Lunchbox, coming in full form with LP 'Lunchbox Loves You' last year and now completing the rebirth with EP 'Smash Hits' out this summer. Recalling Boyracer, Rocketship, The Faintest Ideas, their bubblegum pop with a punk edge is as full of hooks and instant-catchy melodies as fuzz and sharp edges. Smashing pop, really!

Bodyheat. Always trust a Scott when it comes to pop. Hailing from Glasgow, here's a quintet too modest to talk much about themselves (though here's quite a supergroup). They have had a slow beginning (their Facebook says five years to show first song), although they have shared bill with Teen Canteen of The Orchids while tunes got fully formed. Besides, there's not much to complain when results are as wonderful as their self-titled first EP, out since July on Heavy Rapid Records. Six tunes of radiant jangle pop, the one that makes you smile, forget there's always a Monday awaiting. The one that gives you energy (oh, these chiming guitars!) and shelter. Warm, embraceable, immediately lovely tunes.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 69

September and its challenges. Always a month of decissions, but also opportunities and possibilities. And new discoveries, as the ones we suggest you to listen in this new TOP TEN playlist, alongside the stunning tunes of some blog regulars like our beloved The School, The Ocean Party, Space Daze, and new friends like Hazte Lapón (you're going to see them frequently at the Blog). And remember, it's also available at our Soundcloud, 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   Week 63  Week 64  Week 65 
Week 66   Week 67   Week 68

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

'A Man Within', Burroughs, the alien

William S. Burroughs: a Man Within

I'm about to start reading 'Cursed from birth' (review coming soon at Indienauta), the memoirs of the unhappy and short life of William Burroughs Jr. and I remembered I had this documentary on the (long, overlong, infinite) movies-to-watch-list. Perfect timing, right?

'A man within' tries to offer an insight, based on archival footage (seems some never-seen-before) plus an impressive cast of interviewed people (Peter Weller, John Waters, Laurie Anderson, Gus Van Sant, Jello Biafra or Genesis Breyer P-Orridge to name a few), of William Burroughs, the writer, cultural-social activist and counterculture icon. It's an extremely difficult goal, as Burroughs might be one of the most elusive, contradictory and hermetic authors/human beings I can think of. Director Yony Leyser's does a nice job of assembling the movie, dividing it on a number of topics regarding "the man", as well as making it quite dynamic, with and engaging pace. But after the ending credits roll on, the mysteries surrounding Burroughs remain the same.

As entertaining 'A Man Within' is, revelations are few for the already converted. Ok, you have a point. With Burroughs you can pretend to have clear answers. But with the exception of a few remarks and memories from some of his most intimate friends and colleagues (not the bunch of famous admirers, with the exception of Patti Smith, who was really close to her and has a wonderful account on him near the end of the documentary), and the scenes on which we see him sharing the table with Allen Ginsberg or shooting cans outside his house, the promised insight on his work, life and times it doesn't go beyond the surface. More like an introduction, done with heart and wisdom, but just an introduction.    

In terms of structure, 'A Man Within' is a worthy attempt of gathering all the pieces that conform Burroughs' legend & complex puzzle: his role within the Beat movement; his subversive, rebellion against his time, against control & restrictions; drug addiction and experimentation (another of the most remarkable aspects of the film, he was a slave of drugs, not his defender); gun lover and main responsible of the death of his wife, something that tortured him for the rest of his life; absent father; punk godfather; and a revolutionary writer (a dubious painter too). But maybe Leyser's approach was too modest? It seems to me there's a lot more to dig in every chapter. For example: I'm not that interested in knowing that Iggy Pop wrote a song about him (despite the anecdote and how he explains is hilarious) or that Sonic Youth visited him in Kansas, but it would have been great to know why he collaborated with so many artists and what the artists were looking for with these collaborations. Besides I do miss a much deeper account on his books, having the impression 'The Naked Lunch' and 'Queer' are vindicated by many... but have been read by very few.

But let's keep with the moments that endure, as a 'A Man Within' has plenty of them. Aside from the already mentioned relation between Ginsberg and Burroughs, there's the amazing 'Thanksgiving Day ' short film ("thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison"...), his suffering after the ill-fated, demented William Tell. And the lovely, surprisingly charming end. Even the alien, the iconoclast, the irreverent, the guru, the cut-up pioneer, futuristic visionary, needed the same we all strive for...

SCORE: 6,25/10

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Discoverer 120: new indie findings

Holidays might be over, but we're going places with this ace trio of discoveries we propose you today!

Presents for Sally. Many thanks for this one Mike. This powerful British trio formed in 2009, with track 'Flowers Falling Sideways' being featured on the Invada records compilation 'The Secret Garden', quickly followed that November with the praised 7" single 'Catch Your Fall'. A year later arrived debut album 'A Touch of Joy, A Touch of Sadness' plus 7” single 'Anything Anymore'. After a couple of  quiet years and a self-financed 7” single for Xmas 2014, now they are back with sophomore LP 'Colours & Changes', out now by Saint Marie Records. A fantastic voyage to the realms of shoegaze, at times shiny, delicate and melodically blissful, others edgier and menacing. An extraordinary present for all of us.

Camera Shy. Hailing from Oakland, California, Nick Bassett, from Whirr and Nothing, and former Whirr band member Lexy Morte have joined forces on a sweeter, brighter affair since 2014. Debut EP 'Jack-O-Lantern' arrived on June last year, out on Run For Cover Records, followed this April with another EP, 'Crystal Clear' and a glorious self-titled album. Think on the Softies, think on the Sundays, think on Sarah Records. Fall in love with Alexandra Morte syrup voice. Be embraced by the warm jangly guitar lines and summery, dreamy vibes. Put yourself in front of the camera. Don't be shy. You'll enjoy.

Tomiji. And we end in Paris to meet Thomas Guilcher, the vocalist of our dearly loved Pale Spectres (new songs anytime soon, please?) and one of his most exciting solo projects. Released this June, this self-titled debut EP (that you should run to grab at his bandcamp, what a bargain!) is a slice of indiepop heaven, Impossibly, ridiculously catchy, melodic to the bone, it looks eye-to-eye to the The Pastels or makes you think on how The Field Mice would sound in the new millennium, with an irresistible subtle danceable beat. Enchanting and delightful.