Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Here's a special treat--Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren's wonderful stop-motion short "Neighbors". I haven't seen it since film school & happened to find a nicely encoded version on YouTube. Not only is the animation groundbreaking and clever, the synthesized soundtrack is pretty ahead of its time too. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

IAN WALLACE: 1947-2007

Bad month to be a friend of Bob Dylan....

Drummer Ian Wallace, who toured with Bob Dylan in the 70's (and featured on the albums "Street Legal" and "Bob Dylan at Budokan") and again in the 90's, died February 22nd of esophageal cancer at the age of 60. (Wallace was also the drummer on the King Crimson albums "Islands" and "Earthbound", for all you prog rock fans out there)

Also, folksinger Eric von Schmidt (whom wrote the song "Baby, Let Me Follow You Down" that Dylan made famous on his self-titled debut album and his later electric reworking of the song during his 1966 tour) passed away on February 2nd.

It's been quite a while since the release of the last Portishead album (nearly a decade in fact), but it looks like rumors of a new album this summer may be true. According to Pitchfork, the group had an impromptu show at a benefit concert in which they played a couple of songs, "Wandering Star" (off of 1994's "Dummy" and a brand new, yet-to-be-named song, possibly from the new album. I haven't heard it yet, but there are rumors that the live version will be up on Portishead's MySpace page soon.

Monday, February 26, 2007


It's well known now that I'm a Dylan fan (and apparently a member of his "camp" according to some Hayden Christensen supporters), and D.A. Pennebaker's Dylan doc "Don't Look Back" has long been one of my favorite films.

While perusing through the music DVDs at Coconuts yesterday, I happened to find this:

It was apparently a special edition box set of "Don't Look Back" that I never even heard about being released. I went home & did some research and found out why--it's not supposed to be on sale until Tuesday. Oops! But I also found out that it's not only a remastered copy of "Don't Look Back", but it also contains a completely new film called "Bob Dylan 65 Revisited" , in which Pennebaker went back to his archives & edited down 20 hours of his favorite footage into a one-hour supplemental film. Apparently it shows another side of bob (no pun intended) than the sullen, ego-driven dilletante is "Don't Look Back"--having fun, shopping for clothes, chatting with fans, etc. Goes to show the power of the filmmaker in the editing room, and also proof positive of the dangers of Cinema Verite and any art form that portrays itself to be "objective truth".

Unfortunately, the $50 price tag (along with the fact that I already own a DVD copy of "Don't Look Back) kept me from picking it up & giving a review. It should be cheaper at certain online retailers soon though. I'll post a full review when I pick it up.

I'm sad to say that we did not have a winner in this week's trivia challenge. The answers are as follows:

FILM: Julien Donkey-Boy
DIRECTOR: Harmony Korine
ACTOR: Werner Herzog
BONUS: Aguirre, Wrath of God; Fitzcarraldo; Woyzeck; Nosferatu; Grizzly Man; My Best Fiend; Even Dwarves Started Small; Land of Silence and Darkness; etc.

We did have one late entry (Thanks Tom!) that correctly identified the actor as Herzog & even named a few of his films. Not enough to win the prizes, but it will tack on some bonus points for Tom in next month's contest.

Seeing as this is primarily a music blog, I promise that this Friday's trivia will feature an audio clue. Good luck!

Sunday, February 25, 2007



Saturday, February 24, 2007


There's only 24 hours left & no one has submitted an answer yet to this week's trivia questions. There are prizes to be won people, c'mon!

If any of you braved the cold for the Mardi Gras parade, you may have seen me--I was the shivering Jack Sparrow at the wheel of the pirate ship float, awkwardly tossing out beads with my frozen hands! I'd like to say it's the first and last time you'll ever see me wearing mascara & brandishing a sword, but I've learned better than to make promises I can't keep.

Friday, February 23, 2007


As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've decided to add a bit of fun & shennanigans to the Spitting Out Teeth blog. Inspired by my ol' buddy Filmbrain, I have decided to do a weekly trivia game where I post a picture, question or audio clip & you have to guess where it's from.

This week it's a picture:

I am looking for:

1) The name of the film
2) The name of the film's director
3) The name of actor pictured (hint: he is also a director)

Bonus points if you can name at least two films the pictured actor has directed.

Send your answers to:

Oh, and did I mention there were prizes? Prizes will usually be given at on the last week of the month, with the person with the most first correct answers winning the prize (in the event of a tie, I will draw out of a hat. Or a boot. Possibly a boot.)

But...since this is the first time, I'm going to do prizes for this week. The winner has their choice of one of the following:

* New DVD copy of "Mutual Appreciation"

* New sealed CD copy of Mark Fry's "Dreaming With Alice"

* $20 Gift Certificate to PurePop Records.

Only catch--you need to be in the greater Burlington area to win (unless you want to pay shipping costs). DEADLINE IS SUNDAY, FEB. 25TH @ 5:00 PM. Good luck!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I realize that this isn't the first post where I've said this, but I almost didn't make it to the concert on Sunday night. My girlfriend Jaime-Lynn turned 27 on Monday, and we spent most of the weekend as a pre-birthday celebration, the peak of which was a party at our place on Saturday night. After a lot of pale ale & several too many shots of blueberry juice & vodka, I passed out late & enjoyed a debilitating hangover for most of Sunday. I got up around 1pm, ran some errands, had dinner with my parents & then returned back to my place around 6pm, when Jaime and I decided to take a "short nap". We ended up oversleeping and ran out of the house around 7:55 to make it to the Sonic Youth show.

We live right down the street, so we got to Higher Ground at about 8:05, still pretty groggy. We made our way through the line, checked our coats & made it into the main hall where opening act Wooden Wand was about mid-way through their set. Jaime was kind enough to be my DD for the night & seeing as I needed a bit of the proverbial dog hair, I made my way up to the upper level bar in the back of the hall (after filming a couple of Grace Potter concerts earlier in the winter I realized that this was the place to be--good view, good acoustics, not too crowded. And most importantly, faster bar service). I bought a Diet Coke for Jaime & a Red Bull & Vodka for myself. Not my drink of choice, but it was necessary.

Jaime and I watched Wooden Wand play a couple songs, our reaction being pretty neutral. I guess we were both expecting something a bit more energetic from an opening act for Sonic Youth. Not that I really knew what to expect from anything--I had never seen SY live and didn't really have a tremendous amount of exposure to the band prior to the past year. "Goo" was on heavy rotation in my car CD player this summer & I enjoyed "Sonic Nurse" and "Rather Ripped". But other than that, I just had a passing aquaintance with the majority of the Youth's oeuvre. I was looking forward to hearing some new stuff & hoped to hear at least one or two familiar songs, but I didn't want to get my hopes up. A band that is as established as Sonic Youth has every right not to play crowd pleasers if they don't feel like it.

I took a few more pulls off the Bull & looked toward the stairs. Now there are a couple of familiar faces--fellow music bloggers JB & Tanner. Although we have chatted on an almost daily basis via the webernet for the past six months or so, I still had never met them in person. I grabbed Jaime-Lynn (who is in love with Tanner's pussy. Cat. JC Pennys.) and went over to say hello. It's kind of strange to finally meet people that you already know quite a bit about, but they were incredibly friendly guys and just as clever and fun as they are in their blogs. We chatted a bit about the show, the blogs, Wooden Wand live vs. albums, etc. and the ladies talked about their cats. We parted ways to get to our viewing positions as the show began.

Sonic Youth took the stage to a roar of grateful music fans; it was Sonic Youth's first concert in VT, and it's not often that we get talent of their caliber in our neck of the woods, so we made sure they (and the folks at Higher Ground) knew we appreciated it. The show started off in a way that completely took me off-guard. I was expecting a brooding group of musicians who would take the stage, start right into the music & not say a word to the audience. Maybe even turn their backs to the crowd. Instead, Thurston went right into the small talk, saying how glad they were to be in Brattleboro (just kidding) and how they had wanted to visit Vermont for a while. They said the had spent the day visiting a guitar shop (Advance?) and having lunch at Leunigs. A nice touch that was obviously appreciated by the crowd.

After a few minutes of banter, the band got down to what they do best. And I was surprised that I even recognized the first song (I wasn't taking notes, but I think it was "Dirty Boots"???). Beginner's luck, I figured. They'd play a hit to get the crowd warmed up & then break into the new stuff. But it wasn't the case. The concert played out as almost a Sonic Youth Greatest Hits show. And they nailed every song, and not in a distanced, impersonal way--the energy & passion was there like they were playing them for the first time, but with the technical precision and closeness that you only get after playing it a thousand times. I hate to use the word "tight" to describe a band, but that's exactly what they were--and everyone I spoke with that night felt it too. They owned those songs.

What impressed me even more though was that the band still had the desire to be experimental, taking breaks in between groups of songs to do some screeching noise compositions, with Thurston playing his guitar with a drumstick or just playing the feedback from the amps. I've always been drawn to experimental art, whether it be film, music, poetry/prose, painting, etc., and It always worries me that I'll grow old and bore of the avant-garde. Maybe not so much "bore" of it as get to tired to do it--it takes a lot of energy & effort to keep finding new and unique sounds/images/etc. and to keep reinventing visual or sonic languages of your own. Watching Sonic Youth (with some members older than my father), it made me hopeful that the youthful wonder of the weird and unknown doesn't necessarily die as you grow older. It just takes more effort.

I got progressively drunker as the night went on, so I won't bother to review the end of the show. Let's just say I don't remember anything disappointing. I had a bit of a sobering moment when I turned to my left & saw Mike Gordon from Phish standing next to me. Apparently I wasn't the only one who noticed him, as random people stared at him & a few fans came up to break the musical spell he seemed to try to be getting into. I thought about how much it must suck sometimes to be a celebrity. Here I was, it my own little trance & no worries about being the center of attention or having anybody counting how many Sierra Nevadas I've put down. As nice as fame and recognition can be, anonymity can be even nicer. And it's either one or the other.

OK, sorry for the tangent. After a two-song encore, the show ended & we headed to a small table at the right of the hall to grab a free poster. It turns out they were designed by JDK, and some of their crew were there to take photos of people with their posters, which said: "Thank You Sonic Youth. You Made It OK to __________". I was too numb from music and beer to think of anything witty to put on mine, but lots of other folks filled theirs out & had their pictures taken. You can see them all on JDK's website. Funny enough, despite my laziness, I still ended up in Jaime's pic:

I look kind of sullen and angry, but it's just the post-booze nods kicking in. It was past this old man's bedtime.

Jaime and I waited in line a while for coat check. While there, I spied another member of VT music royalty, guitar virtuoso Scott Tournet of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Scott was looking dapper as always & was all smiles for the fans and friends who came up to chat with him. Is it just me or are the members of that band just the happiest & best looking
bunch of people in the world? They seem to be doing really well & building quite a fanbase nationwide, and if anyone deserves it, it's them.

I chatted a bit more with Tanner in the coat check line and he showed me his poster inscription--by far my favorite of the night. We said goodbye & how good it was to meet each other finally. Then Jaime and I spent another 15 minutes waiting for our jackets, and she was kind enough to drive my drunk ass home.

Monday, February 19, 2007


Last night's Sonic Youth show at Higher Ground was incredible. Despite being together for 20+ years and some members being in their early 50's, they still can rock with the best of them. And best of all, they haven't lost any of their passion for experimentation.

I will write up a more thorough review tonight. But I must say the highlight of the show was that I was finally able to meet fellow bloggers Tanner and JB. Incredibly nice guys & disarmingly handsome to boot--it was great to meet you both!

In other news, I learned from the False 45th blog that the Green Mountain Film Festival is just around the corner. There is a great lineup of films this year, and I was psyched to learn that one of my favorite filmmakers, Albert Maysles, will be there for Q&A following the screenings of several of his films--including my personal favs "Gimme Shelter" and "Grey Gardens".

UPDATE: Sorry I've been so lazy about getting my full review of the show up...but I promise it will be up tonight. So get off my back Casey! :) Also, I've been inspired by my ol' buddy Filmbrain at his wonderful film blog Like Anna Karina's Sweater to start doing a weekly trivia game (maybe every Friday). Who knows, maybe there will even be prizes? More to come....

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Eat your heart out Billy Joel.....


...I watched Scorsese's latest, "The Departed", for the first time last night. It definitely lives up to all the hype. Great acting, great direction. Probably my favorite Scorsese flick since "Goodfellas". The guy has got to start expanding his musical tastes though--using "Gimme Shelter" by the Stones just seemed like a self-referential inside joke. And "Comfortably Numb"? C'mon Marty....

...controversy is brewing over the ...Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll poster for this year, portraying Bob Dylan running over TV On the Radio's Kyp Malone with a little Rascal scooter.

Racist insult or innocent music humor? I'm not touching this one with a 50-ft pole.

...the cold that I have been fighting since the Sun Circle/Wind-Up Bird show seems to be winning. If I end up missing the Sonic Youth show because of it, I will be one angry little dude.

...speaking of the Sonic Youth show, who plans on attending? Barring the progression of my cold into full-blown Ebola virus, I'll be there with the love of my life Jaime-Lynn (the nicotine addicts among you may know her as the manager of the tobacco shop downtown) and it would be nice to finally meet some of you in person. I pretty much look like this...

....minus the balsam fir attached to my face. And I'll probably comb my hair. Maybe. So stop by and say hello or tell me how much my blog sucks or try to steal my wallet or something. See you there!

Monday, February 12, 2007


It's not something I talk about a lot on this blog, but I'm a huge Bob Dylan fan. No matter how diverse your musical tastes are, there is always one artist who just sums up what music is all about for you, whose albums you would take with you if the proverbial "deserted island" scenario ever arose. Dylan is that artist for me.

I can still remember the first time I ever heard a Bob Dylan song--I was in study hall during the last week of classes my freshman year of high school. My teacher was enlightened enough to know that studying was the last thing on our minds, with one of the last "free summers" of our lives (until retirement) ahead of us. So instead we had some snacks & everyone got to play a few songs on the stereo in the back of the room. My classmate Chris put on "The Times They Are a'Changin'" and it just blew me away. What was this? That craggy singing voice, the poetic lyrics--I imagined some weathered old Appalachian-type, drooping mouth & deep-lined face. Then I saw the album cover: a baby-faced, curly haired Jewish kid in blue-collar clothes. He looked like he could be anyone. He almost looked like me.

That night I went to the local record shop (the now defunt Island Records on North Ave) and picked up "Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits Vol. 1". I fell in love with every song, listening to the album over and over again. I then went through Dylan's full discography, from Guthrie wanna-be to commie-folk poster boy to amphetamine rocker to country bumpkin to christian fundamentalist to....well, he's been quite the chameleon.

After studying nearly every one of Dylan's eras, I always gravitate toward the 1965-1966 period. This could be because it is arguably the period when Dylan released his best work ("Bringing It All Back Home", "Highway 61 Revisited", "Blonde on Blonde"), or because it is the best documented era of Dylan's life on film. The 1965 tour was well documented by D.A. Pennebaker's legendary documentary "Don't Look Back", following Dylan at a highly transitional period in his career, right before his frenzy-inducing electric performance at the Newport Folk Festival when even everyone's favorite hippie, Pete Seegar, turned into an axe-wielding maniac.

But my true favorite is Pennebaker & Dylan's lesser-known follow-up to "Don't Look Back", an experimental documentary called "Eat The Document". Filmed by Pennebaker & edited by Dylan, the film was meant to be shown on television, but was never aired due to its Burroughs "Cut-Ups" style editing. Dylan was exploring many mediums at this time (he was writing has first novel, "Tarantula" during the editing period) and "Eat The Document" is a great precursor for understanding later Dylan films like "Renaldo and Clara" and "Masked and Anonymous", which explore the power of tangential narrative & creating alternative stories that twist the interpretation of "reality".

Not only is "Eat The Document" a brilliant cinematic experiment, it also features footage of some of Dylan's most dynamic live performances ever--his 1966 European tour. Fueled by exploding artistic energy & amphetamine addiction, Dylan brought to the stage new songs ("Tell Me Momma") and radically reinvented older songs ("Baby, Let Me Follow You Down", "She Acts Like We Never Have Met") doused with gasoline and lit on fire. And on top of it all, violently hostile folk fans (in a show of supreme hypocracy) shouting death threats at their former marionette puppet who would no longer let them hold the strings.

Sadly, this wonderful film has never received a proper release. After years of "copy-of-a-copy-of-a-copy" VHS bootlegs being passed around or sold on Ebay, the p2p movement has finally resulted in some halfway decent (at least watchable) versions of the film to be made available to the masses. While much better than what we previously had, the footage is still grainy, washed-out and artifacted by .AVI encoding. Not to mention the sound quality, which is a far cry from the wonderful "Royal Albert Hall" Bootleg Series Vol. 4 CD release a few years back.

Many fans got their hopes up for an official DVD release of "Eat The Document" when Martin Scorsese's wonderful Dylan doc "No Direction Home" was released with pristine, remastered outtake footage included in the film. But it's been well over a year since the film was shown on PBS and released on DVD, and still no word of "Eat The Document" being made available any time soon.

And it doesn't surprise me--"Eat The Document" doesn't fit in to Dylan's recent plans for "legacy building". The once elusive (almost hermit-like) artist has suddenly come out of his shell following the Grammy award for Best Album he received for his comeback epic, "Time Out of Mind". As if attempting to make amends for decades of heavy drinking, spiritual confusion & downright bad albums (or to simply try & erase history), Dylan has become downright social, hosting an XM Radio show, appearing in Victoria's Secret & Apple commercials, staring in a major motion picture, and even releasing the first volume of his memoirs ("Chronicles Vol. 1", written in a simple, salt-of-the-earth style that is far from the usual cryptic Dylan poetry & light years from the amphetamine-fueled free verse of his previous literary offering, "Tarantula").

While Dylan still has the desire to be the mysterious genius (and plays up this persona well), his desires to be the elusive symbolist poet he was best known as are long gone. He seems to be doing everything he can do to distance himself from the drug-fueled '66 period (and, in my theory, any indication that it was where he peaked and then "jumped the shark" on his Triumph before landing face first on the pavement in Woodstock, NY). Take for example his recent boycott of the Edie Sedgwick biopic "Factory Girl", where Dylan is portrayed by the horribly miscast Hayden Christensen. It is long been rumored (which a certain amount of evidence) that Dylan and Sedgwick were romantically involved, and that Dylan's efforts to distance her from the Warhol factory (which he perceived as a bad influence) and subsequent ditching of Edie when he got sick of her & married his first wife led indirectly to Sedgwick's downfall into heavy drug use & eventual fatal overdose. Dylan has gone so far as to have his personal legal staff to issue a cease and desist, along with threats of lawsuits for defamation of character if the film is ever released. According to recent advertising campaigns, it doesn't seem to be stopping the filmmakers, and the film we be released in the spring.

Unfortunately, Dylan owns the rights to "Eat The Document" and thus holds the cards to whether it is ever released or becomes another "Cocksucker Blues" in the history of great '60's rock documentaries. Does anyone care that Dylan is doing a line of speed off of the top of a grand piano in the opening shot? Does it somehow diminish the power of the music that he was making? I don't think anyone who matters could really give a damn. Dylan does though, and as a result this great film will probably never get the remastering and distribution it so rightfully deserves.

I posted a review of Andrew Bujalski's latest film "Mutual Appreciation" a little over a month ago after seeing it at Chicago's Music Box Theatre. Unfortunately this film, one of my favorite releases of 2006, never made it to theaters in VT.

Starting tomorrow, however, it will be available on DVD along with some great extra features (including a Bujalski short film). I plan on buying the first copy I can get my hands on, but I'm sure you'll be able to find it available for rent at Waterfront Video soon. Enjoy!

EDIT: I went to Waterfront Video today and they do indeed have "Mutual Appreciation" in the New Releases section. And not only one copy, but at least a half a dozen. I have one of them right now. So now you officially have no excuse for not seeing this movie. Rent it. Now.

Saturday, February 10, 2007


I almost didn't make it to the show last night. Once again, I was feeling the onset of a nasty cold, one of many since I've started my new job--lots of air travel + sick people in doctor's offices + stress = bleh. But I took a couple of Sudafed (not the crappy PE ones, the good "have-to-sign-a-document-to-get-them-because-you-could-use-them-to-make-crank-if-so-inclined kind) and had a mug of Throat Tamer tea & braved it out into the cold Vermont night.

I had never been to the Green Door before (besides seeing it from the outside when the doors are open in the summertime) and I was impressed. I opened the door & a light scent of nag champa was in the air, a scent which always calms me and makes me feel nostalgic. A good start to the evening.

Down the stairs, Greg Davis was sitting a small table taking admission and selling CD's, tapes, vinyl & t-shirts. I paid for my girlfriend Jaime-Lynn and myself and we found a spot against the wall. I scoped out the perfomance area. A small space for sure, but cozy and intimate, perfect for the music being performed. At first I wondered why the perfomers had chosen a square room to perform in (which is typically acoustic hell), but when the performance started, I understood completely. Reverberations and trapped soundwaves were just as crucial (if not more so) to this music than direct sound.

When we got there, only about a dozen or so people (including the musicians themselves) were present. However, most of the crowd was fashionably late & by 8:15, there were about 30 attendees. We all found our spots in the room as Wind-Up Bird (aka Joseph Grimm) took his spot in the circle of instruments in the corner. A soft-spoken man with a close-cropped orange beard, he reminded me of a younger, handsomer version of Will Oldham. Grimm started his performance with a meditation/relaxation exercise. Playing a single droning note, he instructed us to sit cross-legged & focus on a single object in the room. I spotted an interesting piece of paper-machier sculpture on the wall & used that as my focal point. After some deep-breathing (difficult with my stuffy nose) I started to relax & focus on the music instead of my health.

Soon after, Grimm added some vocal chants to the single note, which blended together to create a didgeridoo-type of sound. These solo chants, subtly changing in pitch and volume, continued for several minutes accompanied only by the same electronic note. But slowly, after about 15 minutes, other tones & instrumentation (including some refreshingly jarring violin) joined in to create a beautifully chaotic yet gracefully controlled cacophony of sounds. Then he brought it back slowly, returning to just the voice & then the note. A wonderful performance.

After a short break (which included some homemade sugar cookies--yum!) we returned back to the performance area for the Sun Circle performance. It was similar to the Wind-Up Bird piece in that it focused on droning notes and vocals, but its evolution was far more subtle, sounding almost monotone and unchanging if you weren't listening carefully. But the gentle shifts were definitely there, leading your thoughts and emotions through each movement. The Green Door started to make more and more sense as the venue for this performance--a larger space & a more distant seating space probably would have resulted in me missing such minute variations.

After the Sun Circle piece, the three musicians collected everyone into the center of the room for a performance for gong. I was expecting what I normally expect from the gong--loud, brash crashing with little range in volume or expression. What I got was exactly the opposite. The piece started softly, almost inaudibly, and built up to a gentle hum and wash sound, very much like ocean waves slowly crashing. Not a sound I ever would have expected to come from a gong. Over time, the three gongs played off of each other, building in volume and physical intensity (you could literally feel the vibrations) until it reached an ear-shattering peak. The noise was really like nothing I'd ever heard, a tinitus-inducing blare of white noise (it reminded me of falling asleep with the TV on full-blast & waking up when the station has gone off the air to pure static). Then slowly, the musicians brought it back to complete silence. We all stood for about a minute or so, listening to the nothing & letting our eardrums stop pulsating. Then applause. A magnificent performance & my favorite part of the show.

Afterwards, most of the audience left for a late-night sledding excursion a few blocks away. Because of my cold, I unfortunately had to leave my Sno-Tube behind at home. I headed home with some new music (I picked up a Sun Circle CD, a Wind-Up Bird CD & a Greg Daves vinyl album at the merch table during the break), and had a virtual-replay of the night, this time alone, dosed out on NyQuil, with a box of Kleenex by my side.

Wonderful drone & well as post-concert sledding!

$5 at the door tonight at the Green Door, 18 Howard Street. Be there or be doing something that is not is good as being there.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Some exciting new releases from the wonderful Criterion Collection. As the first installment in a new division of the collection, they will be releasing a box set of the early films of Ingmar Bergman. The Eclipse collection is a new subdivision of Criterion specializing in "lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple, affordable editions."

Also, it was announced (in a rather roundabout way) in the latest Criterion newsletter that they will be releasing a special edition DVD of Jim Jarmusch's "Night On Earth". The Criterion release of "Down By Law" was one of their best in my opinion, so I'm really looking forward to this one.

This video & song are great!

I can't wait for this album...

MP3: Panda Bear, "Comfy in Nautica"

Monday, February 05, 2007


While listening to the new "People" EP by Animal Collective this weekend, I started to get excited thinking about their new LP due out later this year. Will it sound like "Feels"? Like "Sung Tongs"? Like "Danse Manatee"? Or maybe something completely different?

This sense of giddy, confused anticipation resulted in a mental tangent & I started thinking about the last album release that I was really excited for. Sure, there was Sparklehorse's latest, and being a huge Dylan fan, it was a thrill when "Time Out of Mind" was released (and it didn't sound like a huge piece of crap like most of his albums from the 80's and 90's). But the album that immediately sprang to mind, where I literally counted down the days until its release, was Radiohead's "Kid A".

I got into Radiohead a bit late. It was early October 1997 in an Erie, PA record store in a shopping mall (during my freshman year of college). I went, coincidentally, to pick up the new Dylan album and I saw one of the most fascinating album covers I had ever seen. The album, of course, was OK Computer. The little sticker on the front mentioned a 5-star review from Rolling Stone (in time I would learn how little and how much that meant) so I figured I'd take a listen.

Keep in mind that my musical tastes at this time were incredibly different than most people my age. And I'm not saying that in the conceited "I had ecclectic tastes that were ahead of my time" kind of way. I was really a narrow-minded dork, big into jazz (Davis, Monk, Coltrane, Louis Armstrong), Motown, Bob Dylan & classical (Schubert, Mahler, and some experimental composer like John Cageand Steven Reich). I was completely disillusioned with modern music at the time, mostly because I wasn't willing to take off my blinders and explore what was going on under the surface.

I didn't listen to OK Computer for a couple of days after I bought it. Instead I just had "Time Out of Mind" on repeat, over and over again, getting lost in Dylan's cryptic lyrics & Daniel Lanois' haunting production. It's a great album, still one of my favorities, and it was worth the attention. However, there was an even greater masterpiece that was sitting on my dresser, still shrink-wrapped.

I finally got around the taking "OK Computer" out of the wrapper on a cold & rainy autumn Saturday afternoon. I popped the disc (with its cute & tragic little stick figures shaking hands) into my cheap Sony portable CD player, grabbed a cup of peppermint tea & put on a pair of headphones. What I heard blew me away. Although it had a noticeable Pink Floydinfluence, everything else about the music seemed completely foreign to me, adding to the sense of alienation and distance implied in the lyrics and phased, delayed guitar riffs. It was an album in limbo, an album of adrift in the cosmos. In my first year of college, away from home for the first time in a strange town with no car & few friends, I could relate entirely. Every song was like an anthem for the angst I was going through.

After this first listen, "OK Computer" quickly took over the Dylan album's place in heavy rotation and stayed there for nearly a year. I also went through Radiohead's (albeit small) back-catalogue and explored the Good ("The Bends","My Iron Lung" EP, "Airbag" EP), the Bad ("Pablo Honey") and the Ugly (every half-assed b-side I could find). I taught myself how to play dozens of Radiohead songs on my guitar, and became a regular visitor to Green Plastic Radiohead and At Ease.

A few years passed since the release of "OK Computer". I changed campuses (now attending the Penn State main campus in State College, PA), I was beginning my film courses and discovering experimental film. My musical tastes were also becoming much more diverse, and I was beginning to explore everything from Autechre to Zappa. Meanwhile, I eager awaited the follow-up to what had become my favorite album.

Rumors began to circulate early on. There was word about a new Radiohead album that was heavily IDM-influenced, something like Aphex Twinbut more avant-garde. Thom Yorkesaid it would be more like "The Bends". It turned out to be something in the middle. It was all very intriguing. Over the months that followed, some of the new songs turned up in shoddy bootleg recordings from live shows, the songs only skeletons of what they would eventually become. I downloaded every one, trying to imagine what they would sound like on the CD.

Finally, the release date came. It was announced that a few local music stores would be having midnight release parties. My roomate Ed and our friend Rob waited in line at the Mike's Movies and Music on Vairo Boulevard and shortly after midnight, we each had our copies. THe crude landscape on the cover had more complexity than I had seen in the low-rez JPEGs leaked online. It was as much of an evolution for Stanley Donwood's artwork as it was for the band. We rushed home to listen to "Kid A".

When we got back to the apartment, I unwrapped my copy of the album & put it in the CD player in the living room & turned the amp up loud. We all lied on the floor of our living, closed our eyes & listened as the sound waves from the first synth notes of "Everything In Is Right Place" washed over our bodies and Yorke's vocals became warped and looped (with the aid of a Korg Kaoss Pad, as I later learned), somehow becoming more beautiful through artifical manipulation than they ever were on the plaintive, ethereal analogue wails on OK Computer. Then the avant-garde trip of "Kid A", the ecstatic energy and manic horns of "The National Anthem", and the beautiful, whale-like E-bow moans of "How To Disappear Completely". By the time "Idioteque" came on, I really felt like I was hearing something magical.

We listened to the whole album, down to the final notes of "Motion Picture Soundtrack" (I still liked Yorke'ssolo acoustic versions better, but I was too blown away by the majesty of the rest of the album to care). We all sat in silence for a few minutes before one of us muttered a simple "Wow" and the rest of us answered "Yeah". It was well worth the wait for such a magical experience.

So.....what's the last album release you got really excited about?

Just when I thought Higher Ground's lineup for the next couple months couldn't get any more interesting (or ecclectic)....suddenly they sign on Clipse for an April 2nd show!

In case you haven't heard about them, Clipse is the 2006 Recipient of the "Digital Underground Award" (for best new hip-hop band according to white hipster critics). They combine Neptunes backing tracks with lyrics about selling crack cocaine. I can't identify with it in anyway whatsoever, but I still want to play it loud on my car stereo.

See you there!

Saturday, February 03, 2007


It was tough narrowing down a "Top Ten Favorite Films" list. Here are the notable notables that didn't quite make it, but are still very special to me nonetheless--

Abbas Kiarostami: Taste of Cherry

Akira Kurosawa: Ikiru; High and Low

Alain Renais: Hiroshima, Mon Amour; Last Year at Marienbad; Night and Fog

Alejandro Jodorowsky: Santa Sangre

Andrei Tarkovsky: Andrei Rublev; Solaris

Andrew Bujalski: Mutual Appreciation; Funny Ha Ha

Andrzej Wajda: Ashes and Diamonds

Andy Warhol/Paul Morrisey: Heat; Trash; Flesh

Anne Ramsay: Ratcatcher

Barbet Schroder: Barfly

Bela Tarr: Werckmeister Harmonies; Damnation

Ben Wolfinsohn: Friends Forever

Carl Theodore Dreyer: Ordet; The Passion of Joan of Arc

Carol Reed: The Third Man

Chris Smith: American Movie

Chris Wedge: Ice Age

Claude Chabrol: Les Biches

Conrad Rooks: Chappaqua

Dardennes Brothers: The Son

David Fincher: Seven

David Lynch: Eraserhead; Blue Velvet; The Elephant Man

Dennis Hopper: Easy Rider

Dziga Vertov: Man With a Movie Camera

Errol Morris: The Thin Blue Line

Federico Fellini: Amarcord; Juliet of the Spirits; La Strada

Fenton Bailey: Party Monster

Francois Truffaut: The 400 Blows; Jules and Jim

Frederick Wiseman: Titticut Follies

Gaspar Noe: Irreversible; I Stand Alone

Godfrey Reggio: Koyaanisqatsi

Grant Gee: Meeting People Is Easy

Gus Van Sant: Drugstore Cowboy; My Own Private Idaho; Gerry

Guy Debord: The Society of the Spectacle

Harmony Korine: Julien Donkey-Boy; Gummo
Henry Chalfant: Style Wars

Hong Sang-Soo: The Day the Pig Fell In the Well

Hou Hsiao-Hsien: Flowers of Shanghai; Millenium Mambo

Ingmar Bergman: Sawdust and Tinsel; Hour of the Wolf; Shame; The Passion of Anna; Fanny and Alexander; Cries and Whispers; Through A Glass Darkly

Jayne Loader: The Atomic Café

Jean Cocteau: Orpheus; Blood of a Poet

Jean Renoir: Grand Illusion; Rules of the Game

Jean-Luc Godard: Contempt; Masculine-Feminine; Numero Deux; Ma Vivre Sa Vie; Tout Va Bien; Alphaville

Jeff Feuerzeig: The Devil and Daniel Johnston

Jem Cohen: Instrument; Benjamin Smoke

Jim Jarmusch: Down By Law; Dead Man

Joe Berlinger: Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills

John Cassavettes: Husbands; The Killing of a Chinese Bookie; A Woman Under the Influence

John Dullaghan: Born Into This

John Waters: Pink Flamingos; Serial Mom

Jonathan Demme: The Silence of the Lambs; Stop Making Sense

Julien Temple: The Filth and the Fury

Kenneth Anger: Invocation of My Demon Brother; Rabbit Moon

Luis Bunuel: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie; Un Chien Andalou

Marcel Carne: Children of Paradise

Mary Harron: American Psycho

Masanori Hata: Milo and Otis

Maya Deren: Meshes of the Afternoon

Maysles Brothers: Grey Gardens; Gimme Shelter

Michael Haneke : The Piano Teacher

Michael Moore: Roger and Me; Bowling For Columbine

Michel Gondry: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Michelangelo Antonioni: L’Avventura; L’Eclisse; Blow-Up

Nick Parks: Wallace and Grommit Films

Orson Welles: F is For Fake; Citizen Kane; Touch of Evil

Pen-Ek Pentanurang: Last Life In the Universe

Peter Davis: Hearts and Minds

Pier Paolo Passolini: Salo

Quentin Tarrantino: Pulp Fiction

Rainer Werner Fassbinder: Ali: Fear Eats Soul; The Marriage of Maria Braun

Remy Belvaux: Man Bites Dog

Richard Linklater: Slacker; Dazed and Confused

Rob Reiner: This Is Spinal Tap

Roman Polanski: Chinatown; Repulsion

Ross McElwee: Sherman’s March

Scott Kalvert: The Basketball Diaries

Sergei Eisenstein: Alexander Nevsky ; Battleship Potemkin

Shunji Iwai: All About Lily-Chou Chou

Spike Lee: Do The Right Thing; Four Little Girls; The 25th Hour

Stan Brakhage: Dog Star Man; Mothlight; Text of Light; Kindering

Stanley Donen: Singing In the Rain

Stanley Kubrick: Dr. Strangelove; 2001; The Shining

Stephen Soderberg: Schizopolis

Takashi Miike: Ichi The Killer

Terry Gilliam: Brazil; Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Terry Zwigoff: Crumb

Tom Gries: Helter Skelter

Tsai Ming-Liang: The River; What Time Is it There?; The Hole; Vive L'Amour; Goodbye, Dragon Inn

Vittorio De Sica: Umberto D; The Garden of Finzi-Continis

Voker Schlondorff: The Tin Drum

Wayne Ewing: Breakfast With Hunter

Werner Herzog: Aquirre, Wrath of God

Wes Anderson: Rushmore; The Royal Tennenbaums

Wong Kar-Wai: In The Mood For Love; 2046; Fallen Angels

Woody Allen: Hannah and Her Sisters; Husbands and Wives; Manhattan

Yasujiro Ozu: Floating Weeds

Friday, February 02, 2007


Some big concerts coming up--

CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH on April 12th (on sale 02/09)

PUBLIC ENEMY on March 12th

KID KOALA on April 23rd.