January 2010

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They formed in New York, named themselves after a Canadian province, recorded in Austin, and are led by a couple of Brits. Maybe that’s why their sound is hard to pin down. Alberta Cross released their first album last year, and it’s a great mix of influences and styles.
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Have y’all picked up on the fact that I like Quentin Tarantino’s movies yet? I do. I also like old movie posters. So when I came across Ibraheem Youssef’s Flickr stream where he re-imagined the posters for Tarantino’s movies I was pretty psyched. Youssef managed to boil down each of the films into a single scene or image that best represents the film, and present those images in the style of a 60s or 70s minimalist poster. They almost look like old jazz album covers. Here’s the one for Kill Bill vol 1, showing The Bride’s fight with the Crazy 88s. Brilliant.

Do yourself a favor and go check out the rest of the posters. They’re all good.

I’m kind of ashamed to admit that, before tonight, I had never seen Jonathan Demme’s classic concert film Stop Making Sense. The films shows The Talking Heads at their eclectic peak, working their way through classic songs like “Psycho Killer”, “Life During Wartime”, and “Once in a Lifetime”. Frontman (and under-appreciated musical genius) David Byrne excels at his role of quirky anti-rock-star. Demme focuses his camera on the band, rarely showing even the slightest glimpse of the crowd, and makes you feel like you’re actually watching the show live. The whole film is great, but the highlight is undoubtedly the scorching rendition of “Burning Down the House”:

If you’re a music fan and you haven’t seen Stop Making Sense, repent and go watch it now. You won’t be sorry.

RIP J.D. Salinger

Author J.D. Salinger, possibly the world’s most famous recluse, has died at age 91. Despite the fact that he only published one novel, a few novellas, and a few dozen short stories, Salinger was one of the most respected and revered American writers in history. His novel, 1951’s The Catcher in the Rye, is widely considered a masterpiece, the quintessential story of the isolation of adolescence. It’s one of the most-widely banned books in schools and libraries around the country, not only for the one instance of “Fuck”, but for its anti-establishment themes. It’s also highly overrated.

I’m fairly convinced that the primary reason for the cult of Salinger, with members ranging from hippie English professors to would-be assassins, is not the quality of his work, but rather his self-imposed exile. Salinger stopped publishing in 1965 and rarely granted interviews. The lack of information coming from the man himself led people to fill in their own meanings to his work, attributing depth and meaning where it may or may not be present. In my mind his greatest contribution to culture is nothing he wrote, but simply serving as the model for the character of Terence Mann in Field of Dreams (don’t believe he was the model? In the book Shoeless Joe, on which the movie is based, the reclusive author Ray meets is Salinger, not Terence Mann).

Josh Ritter
Regular readers know well my appreciation of Josh Ritter. He’s a great songwriter, but sometimes his covers can be even better. This segment has already featured him covering Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, and Gene Austin. This week he takes on Modest Mouse with a relatively faithful cover of “Blame it on the Tetons”. Faithful it may be, but Ritter is a better singer than Isaac Brock, so there’s an instant upgrade. Check it out, along with the original:

Josh Ritter

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Modest Mouse

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via Cover Lay Down

The soundtrack for Iron Man 2 is going to be a little different than the normal blockbuster. Instead of gathering together songs from a bunch of hot bands, fronted by a single that doesn’t really seem to fit the movie but plays over the end credits anyway, the folks at Marvel have decided to fill it with high-octane hits from just one band: AC/DC. Director Jon Favreau felt that the band’s music perfectly matched the film, and that’s just fine by me. I’ve probably listened to Back in Black 200 times, so you won’t hear me complain.

The studio has released a video for AC/DC’s classic “Shoot to Thrill”, and it features a bunch of footage from the trailer, plus a few new shots. And it shows just how old the band has gotten. Hey Angus, can you go ahead and put a hat on for us buddy? And a shirt? Thanks.

via SlashFilm

Get ready Lost fans. We’re just over a week away from the show’s final season, where hopefully we’ll find out the answers to all of our big questions (like “what the hell is the smoke monster?” and “how the hell could you kill off a badass like Mr. Eko?”). Here’s a little something to whet your appetite.

YouTube user pyram1dhead has put together a 24-style video that lays out the events of the crash of Oceanic 815 in real-time, as they happen. It splices together what’s going on in Othertown, with Desmond and Kelvin, and on the plane itself. It’s got some clips I completely forgot about, and it’s really cool to see them all presented like this. Check it out:

I know I featured OK Go in this slot last week, and normally I wouldn’t dream of putting the same band in two weeks in a row, but this new video is just too good to pass up. Plus it comes with an articulate summation of the economics of modern music videos, straight from the band. The video is for “This Too Shall Pass”, from their new album Of the Blue Colour of the Sky. It features the band performing as part of the Notre Dame marching band, and it’s recorded live. Maybe it’s just the fact that I spent 9 years in marching bands that makes me love this, or maybe it’s because the band isn’t afraid to try new and original things. But love it I do. Check it out:

Most of the time I try to pick obscure, odd, or off-the-wall covers for this feature, but tonight I’m feeling like a classic. It’s a cover that matches the tone of the song so much better than the original that the original artist now plays it the imitator’s way. Ladies and gentlemen, Jimi Hendrix:

Bruce Campbell in My Name is Bruce
If you’re a Bruce Campbell fan this is big news, and if you’re not I’m not sure I care what you think. Bruce is making a sequel to 2008’s psuedo-autobiographical My Name is Bruce. It’s called Bruce vs. Frankenstein, and it’s set to start filming this fall. Awe-freaking-some. Or, as Bruce would say, “Groovy”. That’s really all the information we have at this point, but it’s good enough for me.

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