Dedicated to classics and hits.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Show Review: Shiva Trash Record Release @ Till Two Club

Show Review
Shiva Trash
Northern Tigers
The Natives
Electric Healing Sound
California 666
@ Till Two Club

   Wasn't going to write a show review for this but I had SUCH a good time last night I felt compelled to offer words of encouragement.  First of all Till Two Club was packed.  Second of all it was a fun crowd.  Third, I had no connection to any of the bands, the venue or the promoter so I was able to just relax and enjoy.  A really welcome feeling.  I made a conscious decision several years ago to avoid trading in gossip, but that doesn't  mean that I'm not privy to the ultra dramatic machinations  sd rock club scene.   The shit that goes on behind the scenes is interesting enough to fuel a reality television show, or a fictionalized version.  I don't think there's anything going on that is specific to San Diego, it's probably similar in every top 20 market in the US.

  But my involvement is always peripheral- I don't own a venue, I don't promote shows, I really just want to go out and have a couple of drinks and a good time without getting caught up, and I was actually able to do that last night and it was sooooo refreshing.  Really, a rejuvenating feeling.  It wasn't about liking a specific band, it was just about the vibe of the scene- it was just fun.

  All credit to the Cholo Punks for putting together such a vibrant, organic scene that functions on a truly local, DIY level.  It's a nice feeling.  I will make sure to keep my readers apprised of future opportunities to explore this dynamic environment.  Last night was certainly a resounding success.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Show Review: Sonny and The Sunsets, The Memories & Teenage Burritos

Sonny of Sonny and the Sunsets

Show Review:
Sonny and The Sunsets,
 The Memories
& Teenage Burritos
@ The Casbah

  Sonny and the Sunsets is a show I had circled on my calendar because this is a guy who is a prolific song writer, is located on the West Coast, and works with a respected, established indie (Polyvinyl.)  I don't know it for a fact, but I don't think he tours very much- I have no memory of seeing a show advertised here in San Diego in the past.  He has had four Pitchfork reviewed LPs since 2010.  Tomorrow is Alright was released in 2010 on Soft Abuse. (1)  Hit After Hit was released by Fat Possum in 2011. (2)  Longrime Companion was released by Polyvinyl in 2012, and Antenna to the Afterworld was released this June. (3)(4)  All except for the 2013 record have been favorably reviewed.

 Unbelievably though Sonny and the Sunsets total number of Last Fm plays is UNDER 100,000.  That number is shockingly low, incredibly low.  Heavy Hawaii, a local band with ONE LP and ZERO Pitchfork reviews has almost 70,000 plays on Last Fm.  Colleen Green has 212k.  It's a discrepancy that points to many of the weaknesses that come with being a non break out, but well reviewed Artist on Pitchfork- just that is not enough to gain you a significant Audience, especially if you aren't an active participant on the US/CAN/UK/EU indie rock touring circuit.

   My observation is that Sonny and the Sunsets hasn't had a break out record- which- four records in to a career is a bit of an issue, but that they still have incredible up side- the live show- I mean there are so many song writing influences and so much stuff going on in the music that it is almost awe inspiring, particularly when you consider the one or two trick ponies that dominate the indie rock club circuit.  To lump Sonny and the Sunsets in with the only stalwarts of the Bay Area Garage Rock scene is misleading and does him a great disservice. Sonny and the Sunsets are much more delicate and have a much deeper repertoire of stylistic influences then the other bands up there, and the fact that they remain essentially undiscovered despite four Pitchfork reviewed LP's makes them an intriguing possibility for the future.
The Memories (includes members of White Fang.)

  The Memories rolled in on the back of a just released LP on Southern California's hottest indie, Burger Records.  Is there anything Burger Records CAN'T Do?  Notably absent last night were any an all Burger Records Bros- a developing Audience that was out in force last Saturday night for the NOBunny show at the Casbah.  The Memories play a louche style of stoner indie (Burger Pop?) that reminded me of an indie band fronted by Danny McBride. I didn't mind it at all, and neither did the crowd.  Their musicianship was competent, and they had a professional and agreeable stage presence.   The Memories share key members with another Portland based act, White Fang, and I gather that is the softer side and White Fang is the harder side.  Whatever, it's worth doing- thematically it fits in with the FIDLAR/Pangea/Wavves "let's get high and fuck" genre of skater punk (and aren't those a bunch of proud Moms?" so you know it can sell.  Plus they've got that Burger Records thing going.
Teenage Burritos, second coming of Bratmobile>
      Here's what I have to say about Teenage Burritos: They are the second coming of Bratmobile.  Before I wrote that sentence I actually went onto Spotify and listened to a couple Bratmobile cuts to confirm the hypothesis.  Seriously, go listen to Bratmobile and tell me I'm wrong.  To me, it means that an Audience exists for a Teenage Burritos, I think you could make the case that the time is nigh for a revival of K Records/Kill Rock Stars indie pop- especially with Kathleen Hannah making her big come back with Julie Ruin.

  One thing that Bratmobile had in spades was punky attitude- a very evident point of view.  I don't see that yet in Teenage Burritos, but seeing a finished LP with artwork would help in that department.

  The crowd last night was tiny- it felt great- I had so much fun last night compared to a relative ordeal last weekend at the Casbah.  There can be no doubt that I prefer a show which is a failure from the promoters point of view- sad but true- my interest basically stands opposed to that of the show promoter and I feel bad about that sometimes.

The 400 Blows (1959) d. François Truffaut

François Truffaut

Movie Review
The 400 Blows (1959)
d. François Truffaut
Criterion Collection #5

  The story I heard about the origin of The 400 Blows by François Truffaut is that Truffaut was a critic writing for the Parisian film criticism journal Cahiers du Cinema in the 1950s, when a film maker essentially challenged him in print by saying, "If you are so smart, why don't you make a movie."  And Truffaut made The 400 Blows in response, which many argue is the greatest movie of all time.

  That's enough to make you the top Artist/Critic cross-over of all time, especially if you include the fact that as a critic, Truffaut was part of the highly influential avant garde French New Wave, and then he became a leading film maker in the movement which followed the criticism... that he wrote.  Godard and Truffaut play an out-size role in the minds of 21st century avant gardes of all nations because they worked in the international medium of film.  The 400 Blows may require sub-titles for a non French teacher, but the cutting edge grammar/composition requires no translation, and The 400 Blows remains as fresh and dynamic today as it must have been in 1959.

  The 400 Blows is the first in a series of films Truffaut made about Antoine Doniel, played here by Jean Pierre Leaud.  Doniel would serve as Truffaut's filmic alter ego, and he figured prominently in a whole series of films which reportedly were inspired by Truffaut's actual life story.  In The 400 Blows it is Doniel as a child, going to school, embarking on a life of petty crime and eventually getting sent away to juvie and having his Mom tell him that she does't love him anymore.

  Although the subject matter is heavy, the film itself is anything but;  Truffaut dazzles with a variety of techniques that give eternal life to his story of a hard knock youth.  It is no wonder that The 400 Blows has such a low spine number within the Criterion Collection.  Indeed, one could say that The 400 Blows is a central reason why the Criterion Collection exists in the first place.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bel Ami by Guy de Maupassant

Robert Pattinson as George Duroy in the 2012 adaption of Bel Ami, Guy de Maupassant's 1885 novel of Bright Lights and the Big City.

Book Review
Bel Ami
by Guy de Maupassante
p. 1885

 If Bel Ami was a Lifetime movie it would be called "Confessions of a Gigolo," because that is what Bel Ami is all about.  The title of Bel Ami is derived from one of the pet names given to the main character, Georges Duroy, who is a charming journalist who gets all the ladies, because I guess journalists were cool in Paris in the 1880s.  Can you imagine a character like that today?  It's laughable.

The idea that Uma Thurman is the right age to play Madeline Forestier in Bel Ami is, to put it mildly, risible.

 Amazingly, Bel Ami was made into a film just last year and it allegedly starred Robert Pattinson, Uma Thurman and Kristin Scott Thomas.  How did I miss that in the theater?  I don't believe that movie actually exists.

 It's interesting that the last three books in order: Against the Grain, Marius the Epicurean and Bel Ami have all moved away from the standard marriage/inheritance plot of the English Victorian novel.  When you include contemporary writers like Zola and the Russians, it is clear that the mid 1880s are a far different scene for literature than the 1870s- a decade of transition, if you will.  Even the marriage plot novels- Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, have a knowing and self aware feel.

  But of course now I get three Thomas Hardy novels in a row.  That guy must have never stopped writing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Against the Grain by Joris-Karl Huymans

Book Review
Against the Grain
by Joris-Karl Huymans
p 1884

 Both Against the Grain and Marius the Epicurean represent a divergence from the themes and forms of the late Victorian novel.  Along with The Temptation of St. Anthony, these three novels represent a step away from the Victorian novel and towards the experimental path of the novel in Modern times.

  The protagonist of Against the Grain is the Duc Jean des Esseintes, the last of his once prodigious and virile line, living in isolation from the world, obsessed with sensuousness and decadence.  Against the Grain has much to recommend itself to modern Aesthetes- Huymans captures the lushness and ennui that was to become synonymous with the modern condition.

   This one is worth a look.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955) d. Hiroshi Inagaki

Kaoru Yachigusa as Otsu

Samurai II: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)
 d. Hiroshi Inagaki
Criterion Collection #15

  Yeah so there is a wikipedia entry for "Samurai cinema."  The Samurai trilogy by Hiroshi Inagaki was a critical part of the initial break out of the 1950s (despite the fact that Samurai films date back to 1925.)  The three films of the Samurai trilogy were 54, 55 and 56.  Kurosawa did Rashoman in 1950, Seven Samurai in 1954, and the Hidden Fortress in 1958.  That is quite a run.  Toshiro Mifune starred as the main character both in Inagaki's Samurai trilogy and most (all?) of Kurosawa's Samurai films.

                 The films of the Samurai trilogy are perhaps not as sophisticated as Kurosawa's, but perhaps it is precisely their conventionality that is the key to their long term value.  Here we are looking at Samurai films that were hugely influential and successful in Japan itself- with everyone- not just film fanatics.  The Samurai trilogy were not brought to the United States until a decade plus later, so Inagaki has nothing on Kurosawa in America.

   Episode two of the trilogy finds Musashi Miyamoto as the noted Samurai,  juggling the affections of two women: Otsu and Akemi and also trying to best Seijuro Yoshioka and meeting his legendary rival Sasaki Kojiro (who is the focus of the third and concluding film.)
      So yeah, sword fights, posturing, women being treated with very little respect and tons and tons and tons of kimonos.  Is there a different word in Japanese for kimono when a dude is wearing one? Because these dudes are wearing kimono.

   Another fun fact about this time period is that the Japanese used small blocks of wood as their pillows.  Yes, they slept on small wooden blocks.  The more you know.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Show Review: Milk Music, Colleen Green, Hannibal Buress & Widows @ The Casbah

Hannibal Buress' surprise set was the highlight for me last night- but the crowd was not feeling it.

Show Review:
 Milk Music,
 Colleen Green,
Hannibal Buress
& Widow @ The Casbah

  One of the benefits of running a record label is that I am spared the existential questions that ought to typically accompany a 37 year old single man who spends a lot of time hanging out in rock clubs.  The flip side of that is that going out isn't typically a leisure time activity but it is a trade off I gladly make.

  Last night was the conclusion of the Art Fag/Impose Three Nights at the Con, and it was the best attended night of the three day event.  Attendance was likely driven by the headliner Nobunny, AKA Justin Champlin.  The strong attendance last night was another exhibit in the brief supporting the proposition that the garage rock/punk scene continues to be a strong- perhaps the strongest- underground rock genre in the United States.  Both last night's bill as well as the recetnt Shannon and the Clams concert were as well attended as any shows I've been to in the last five years.

  With Nobunny, we're talking about an artist who hasn't released an LP in over three years but can still draw 200ish paid on a Saturday night in San Diego.

  Local openers Widow played a sprightly brand of  pop/garage/punk that sounded like it had come out of a time warp from the mid 90s- not a bad thing, and probably a band that could develop a local following- they had friends and fans there last night.

 Hannibal Buress did a surprise set- and the lack of attention from the audience was embarrassing.  In fact, I wasn't even going to review this show but I wanted to just to personally apologize to Hannibal or his Google search reading assistant for the Audience- I'm assuming that all the Eric Andre show fans were at the House of Blues waiting for him to make his scheduled appearance.  I'm a fan of the Eric Andre show, and I'm a fan of Hannibal Buress, and his material last night- while brief- was hilarious- particularly the bit about tough rappers like to brag about being on Molly, which is in fact, a very not-tough substance, "I'm looking at this purple wall and feeling emotions and shit."

So Hannibal- if you are out there- sorry man- that crowd sucked last night and you deserved better.

 Colleen Green was not feeling it last night but she can do no wrong in my eyes. I hope I get another chance to put out another one of her LPs in the future because let me tell you, I would go all out- really treat her like a queen.  I have an abiding conviction that she has a lengthy and productive career in front of her.

 Saw Milk Music for the second time in a couple months.  Last night it was ultra clear that the primary reference point for Milk Music is Wipers.  I'm not even sure that there is another band to compare them to, unless you are talking about other bands that are equally influenced by Wipers.  They certainly have a something that makes them stand out.

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