Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Movie Review: Pauly Shore’s: The Notebook **Warning: Spoilers**

Face of the lobotomized generation
Pauly Shore is one of the greatest film directors the world has ever seen. Besides directing such timeless classics as “Pauly Shore’s ‘Adopted” and “My Big Fat Independent Movie”, he’s also focused on his own mortality. “Pauly Shore is Dead” focuses on his death as a way of jump-starting his stalled career. A career which gave us such touching films like “Bio-Dome” and the lush beauty of “In the Army Now” which comments heavily on America’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

Anyway, Pauly explains in countless interviews about his latest film: “The Notebook”. In this he tries to tell a story about two lovers and their journey to become one. Much of the film is based off of his own experiences, making it the most personal film he’s ever written. Parts of the movie will make you feel, Pauly assures us. Below is a synopsis of the plot, so if you want to protect yourself against spoilers, skip the below.

The movie begins with an elderly man reading a story on an ancient IPAD to a brain in a jar. Slowly the scene fades away to a time long ago, in the year 3187 on the planet Zybex. Back then the brain actually had a body and it belonged in a woman, a ravishing woman who played softball in her spare time. Jill Albright’s compassion towards others was legendary in the Van Dyke galaxy. Played with stunning gusto by Lindsay Lohan, she longs for someone to help her get off of the planet, which is soon going to be invaded by the Empire.

Pauly Shore plays the benevolent goofball Jack Corazza, a young recruit in the green Infantry. Answering the call of duty as set forth by the planet’s leader Ralph Nader (played by Christopher Walken), Jack is determined to save his planet from the invading hordes of the Empire’s armies. Collecting water on the top of a large hill along with Jill, Jack and Jill really hit it off. We see through flashbacks that they attended the same High School, but back then Jack and Jill were merely friends with benefits. Happy at the prospect of having their first true love, Jack and Jill roll down the hill and are about to hit the ground hard. 

Instead of falling down and breaking their crowns, they aim to hit the ground softly and miss. Together the two fly above into the planet’s atmosphere. Worried about a lack of oxygen at such a high altitude, the power of their love encases them in a protective shell. Looking forward, they see the giant battleships of the Empire rapidly heading towards their planet.

A long take shows off the size and might of the ships. You finally get to see the evil overlord whose armies have been taking over vast chunks of the universe. The Dark Lord is a bloodthirsty, deviant and emotionally stunted great man played by Jason Schwartzman. Jason Schwartzman’s performance is similar to his role as Max Fisher, except that he’s a vicious master trying to work through Daddy issues. His top general Kurt Wagner (played by Jackie Chan) informs them of the provisions needed for the troops. So that means they’ll have to make a stop in the Whole Foods planet first. Also, Kurt informs the Dark Lord of dangerously low supplies of reduced fat sun chips.

Jack and Jill land on the robot planet. They are both distraught and worried about their loved ones, their friends, their families who are right in harm’s way. While exploring the planet, searching for a quiet, low-key bar or bowling alley to hang out in, they meet Optimus Prime (played by Steve Buscemi). As they wish they could be big and strong like Optimus, Optimus tells them otherwise. Optimus explains how as robots they can’t experience love, and how he would gladly trade his body for just a mere day as being a human. Bubblebee (played by Bjork) comes along and agrees with him. Together Jack and Jill undergo an experimental procedure to obtain their robotic bodies.

Flying back to their home planet, they realize all is not lost. Seeing how the Empire is at the local Whole Foods planet, a showdown occurs. But the quick-witted Jack and Jill use Kombucha bottles as weapons. By shaking them really hard, they explode in the troop’s faces, temporarily blinding them. Using that short amount of time, they blast away most of the army. Defeated, the Dark Lord heads back to his native planet of San Francisco to ban plastic bags and happy meals.

Back to the hospital room, we see the brain in the jar placed into a new, beautiful, young woman’s body. The old man has his brain sucked out by a vacuum cleaner and placed into a virile young man’s body. What Pauly is telling us in this scene is that love is eternal and knows no physical bonds, since in the future we can place our brains into new bodies. 

Hopefully Pauly Shore will continue to bring enlightenment to the movie-going masses. Think of him as the Martin Scorsese of the lobotomized generation.

Mark Fell – Multistability 8.5

Maybe I enjoyed SND’s little EP offering this year, but I’m really into Mark Fell’s solo stuff lately. With this, he basically gives his music the greater edge I knew it could have. Previously he did his release of “Ten Types of Elsewhere” on L-NE, and keeping in sync with that label’s aesthetic, it felt brittle. Sure, there were tender moments on it, but overall it felt a tad bit distant. 

His “Multistability” changes that. This is a work absolutely brimming with life. If you didn’t read the cover, you might think it was SND’s follow-up to their album from last year. Similarities do exist between the two of them. For one, the kinetic, almost origami-like beat structures are in place. But what is slightly different is the chords structures and synth pads used.

The real meat and potatoes of the album lie in its heart. “10-A” begins with some truly smooth sounds as the claps and beats frantically lose their mind. As the piece progresses, you realize that all the chaos he throws over that lush sound won’t faze it in the least. Perhaps this is Mark’s intention. 

While writing about his work, he stated that this was supposed to be an aural illusion. You the listener could have two dramatically different ways of interpreting the piece, either as the beat workout or as the lusher sounds going on beneath all of it. That you could see the sounds as a form of noise or acknowledge its near-accidental funkiness.

Honestly, the sounds are more reminiscent of Tender Love’s style than of their newer stuff. Those glistening sounds that seemed to shimmer around are back in full force. “1-B” even offers the heavier side of sounds that he has been neglecting of late.

I’m surprised by the approach. Since this is Mark Fell we’re talking about, this album isn’t some radical re-invention of the wheel. Rather, he continues to refine his process and move forward with his work. Raster Noton did us all a favor by releasing this and this release only confirms their subtle shift towards more emotive experimentation.

Monday, November 29, 2010

SND Week

Yeah, that looks pretty cool.
SND remain a true favorite. When other artists ‘jump the shark’ SND has stayed tried and true to its roots. If they felt that the scene they worked in had grown too overbearing, they simply dropped off the planet. In 2002 they did this and came back about six years later to basically start right back up.

This week I’ll be reviewing almost everything SND-related. Whether that is Mark Fell’s solo work or Mark Fell’s work with other musicians, they are all fair game. As I sorted through the various projects, I noticed how little information exists about what Mat Steel does in the duo. I know they specialize in minimalism, but he takes it to a new extreme. No actual side project or writing from him. Anytime there’s an interview, Mark handles it. Mat’s job might be the ‘weaker link’ of the duo.

Mat: Hey Mark, I added a single beat on that last track. You like it?

Mark: Yes, I mean, there’s about 597 different beats on there, but yours really sounded great in that particular section.

Mat: Anything else I can help with? Perhaps I might assist you with some of the programming?

Mark: While that does sound helpful, you could help me out in other ways. Remember art school? Man that was fun. How about you go downstairs and get me a beer and we’ll talk about it some more.

Mat: Sure thing!

                I’m assuming that their average recording sessions go something like this. But that’s all irrelevant who contributes the most to the music. What their music focuses on is as much what’s there as what isn’t.

                If anyone needed a light introduction into electronic minimalism, they could do worse than this. Containing the same muscle as Autechre without the ornate imagery, they incorporate influences of garage, techno, hip-hop and glitch. I don’t mean glitch in a “aw, how sweet” sense which a lot of musicians use. Rather, it is meant as an easier way to get into the chance rhythms offered up by the experimental musician Yasunao Tone (indeed, that’s what Mark Fell stated inspired his latest album ‘Multistability’).

                 SND in general appears to be in full swing after such a hiatus. Having released an album on the prestigious Raster Noton label last year, they released an EP this year. Solo work-wise, Mark has been busy. Not one, but two full lengths are expected, with the first one on Raster Noton just dropped about a week ago. Then, and hold onto your hats here, there’s another one in December on Editions Mego. Most likely that one will be the harsher, more abstract of the two, but lately Mego’s been harder to predict.

                Yes, I know how infinitely nerdy this duo is. But consider it a testament to the inner nerd that lives in us all.


On Mon, Nov 29, 2010 at 4:54 AM, Happiness Love wrote:
How are you today, Hope all is well with you and your family? My name is Miss Happiness However it really pleases me to write you for a lovely and sincere friendship even if we haven’t met or seen each other before. I will be so much appreciate to see your reply soon so that I can give you my picture for you to know who i am
I shall appreciate an urgent response from you.
With lots of love from your new friend Happiness

Whoa, that's a really weird name.  I've never seen a picture of a spam-bot before, I wonder what they look like.

Les Georges Leningrad - Deux Hot Dogs Moutarde Chou 7.3

These guys turn trashiness into an art form. When I was lucky enough to see them perform live at the Knitting Factory (when it was downtown, before it moved to cheaper pastures) they wore bizarre outfits. It felt like pirate punk rock, with paper mache heads.  

It is dirty, noisy, kind of gross music. Of course I mean this in the most flattering way possible. All the right references are here: from the junk rock of Royal Trux to the fractured fuck-up of the early Residents. In case neither one of these things are your bag, they also do very odd dance punk.

Actually, it is the dance pop that you won’t be able to let leave your head. “Fast and Bulbous” that description penned by the great Captain Beefheart, would definitely apply to “George V”. I can’t even begin to describe why this song is so great, but I’ll try. The simplest bass comes in with a simple chord banged over and over again. Some French Canadian female sings incoherently into the microphone occasionally accompanied by an even more French Canadian male. Instead of a musical breakdown, you get that repetitive drum machine playing over random radio station scanning as the singer approximates what sounds like vomiting into the microphone. I love this song with all my heart.

Not every song works out so well. For each good song, there’s sometimes the following aimless meandering. They really do work as a bit more high energy; otherwise the heavy weirdness comes off as a little silly. “Didi Extra” has a more traditional getup than say “George V”. I think the refrain is something about a “big cock” but then part of the joy is having no idea what’s going on at all.

Overall, I prefer this to their much more dance orientated second release. This one just has way more fun in it. And although it is a bit indulgent, the obsessive weirdness makes up for it.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Breaking News: Bebe Zeva’s first feature film.

MDMA films is a film production company founded by Tao Lin and Megan Boyle. Up to this point, they had focused exclusively on themselves wandering about ingesting drugs. Usually done in one take, they offer two opportunities, one for you the viewer and the other for the production team. As a viewer, you get to learn and discover who Megan Boyle is, because I never heard of her before. Besides this obvious benefit (she is genetically pre-disposed to being adorable, a condition that she shares with Tao Lin) you learn about how writers act when on a various controlled substance. They earn the sweet money cake, and have started to do so with huge sums of money they procured from the Wall Street Journal (choosing a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch and increases readership, brilliant!).

                Today all of that changed. Bebe Zeva’s documentary is due out on January 11th, 2011. For those of you not in the know, Bebe was the first Hipster Runoff girl. She wooed Carles and he responded in kind by writing articles professing how much he cared about her. While the attention she received wasn’t universally positive (some called her ‘entry-level’) it gave her the confidence needed to propel her into the blogosphere, where she currently lives.

                Now she maintains a tumblr and twitter presence. Her main focus appears to be fashion and music, and she’s been interviewed countless times over the internet. Now, by having her documentary, she can be propelled into the ‘real-life-o-sphere’. In this area, normal people may learn about her, besides those living on the bleeding edge of internet hipster culture.

                However, Tao Lin’s decision to do this may have unintended consequences. Sure, Bebe is definitely AN HRO girl, but she isn’t the only one anymore. Carles in his infinite wisdom sought new members to enhance his online brand. Now the clever and delightful Catholic School girl (riding the Catholic School wave) Allie Teilz has become a permanent fixture on the HRO circuit, in fact garnering more attention from Carles as of late. So maybe Tao Lin ought to do a documentary on Allie as well in order to remain impartial on the Bebe/Allie debate raging throughout the HRO community.

                Both of them should have their own specific documentaries on the MDMA films project. Why not? Tao and Megan appear to desperately need money, since those drugs they enthusiastically consume do not come for free. Having additional offerings to the public would not only expose Tao Lin’s work, but HRO’s work in the online hipster scene. All of these things could be easily tied together. Failing to do so may cause friction between some of the most influential figures Generation Y has produced as of now. 

                Probably the film I would most want to purchase would be the “Snacks the Cat” documentary. Carles had her crowned as the winner of the Halloween contest, yet painfully little is known about this person. Lacking any sort of online presence, she exists in that strange bizarre place known as real life. Without a tumblr or even a mere twitter, she has captivated the audience on HRO. Is she even a real person? All we know is that she is from Idaho and very meme-able. Using inferred logic, we can only conclude that she may be Mormon, since Mormons are very meme-able (via ‘Big Love’, Mitt Romney, not drinking caffeine, etc.). Her documentary would focus on how she grew up on a small cabin, pulling potatoes out of the ground and learning how to make a mean potato chip. 

                I like all three of these internet personalities and want all of them to expand their personal brand. I want all three of these people to come together, like how those transformers combined into one giant robot, to overtake the entire meme-i-verse. Certainly I hope they become BFFs in both internet and even real life. But my important question to you is what team are you on? In the space below, please choose your favorite:

1.       Team Zeva 

2.       Team Teilz

3.       Or the third party candidate, Team Snacks the Cat (She lacks the following/financial clout of the other two, hence she’s the third party.)

4.       All of the above (via the ‘not rocking the boat’ strategy)

Tamion 12 Inch – Let’s Suffer 5.8

Signed onto ADULT’s “Ersatz Audio” label, I expected big things from these guys. Their initial offering to the public of a very twisted EP signaled big things. However, upon actually receiving the album, I ended up feeling a bit empty.

A stripped down version of ADULT’s already minimal style appealed to me, a young child thoroughly disillusioned. Most of this feels like second rate cuts from ADULT’s album. Then there’s the problem of songs that really outstay their welcome “Sisters” in particular coming to mind. I guess a piano solo would be cool in a band like Ben Folds, but this is electro-clash, we didn’t come here for that.

Now, don’t be fooled, there are some decent songs on here. “The Devil was Right Pt.2” and “Mix Mix Mix” work for their immediate impact and actual hooks. What bothers me is how much of these songs act more like mood pieces rather than visceral, living, breathing songs. 

Ultimately, if there were more songs of quality, I might be able to tolerate a second-rate version of ADULT.  But so much of this is so forgettable, even the better parts don’t merit more than an once-over.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Liminanas – The Liminanas 6.7

For those who miss Stereolab’s take on 60s French pop, these guys have helped fill the gap. Unlike Stereolab, their sound tends to be a little rougher around the edges. They subscribe to a more retro sound than Stereolab’s ultra-polished pieces.

Sonically, the approach is similar to that of Royal Baths. Velvet Underground references in this sort of music are inevitable. Upon the first song “The Darkside” you immediately are introduced to the approach: short songs, sing/speaking in French, and a certain degree of smoky coolness. 

“Down Underground” does a pretty good job of mixing these two influences, sounding like an early Stereolab outtake. It doesn’t hurt that the vocalist bears more than a passing resemble to Laetita’s voice. 

Oddly enough, with all their darkness, I enjoy the lighter songs the most. Songs like “Chocolate in my Milk” and “Berc¸euse pour Clive” show off their own unique personality the best. Little flourishes like small melodies and relaxed guitars show another side of the band. A side that sounds more certain of itself. 

I sort of wish that they had explored that side of their art. It isn't particularly terrible by any means (they certainly listened to their influences closely) but it would have been nice to hear a bit more of originality.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wham – Last Christmas Review (Christmas Edition)

**Side Note**
I wanted to originally post this for the holiday season. Seeing how this is Black Friday and all, I figure this might be an appropriate time to ease into the Christmas standard. So as you’re busy shoving your way through various lines and other difficulties, you can be prepared for the themed music which will dig itself down into your very soul. Enjoy!

I’m sure you’re probably more aware of this song than you want to be. Maybe this year you’d like to share this song with someone special. But a hallmark of the holiday season since the 80s deserves some sort of recognition. The amount of joyous fun I’ve had with this song, at Karaoke’s, driving down the highway a bit too late at night, or just hanging out in an ironic mood is just too great to count. Yet I bizarrely had never seen the actual music video for this. That is, until NOW.

The video’s beginning got me a little worried. For the first few seconds, I see a Jeep and a long Van come up a snowy mountain. I wonder whether or not this is the true music video for the song, or if I had in fact stumbled across the most ironic militia’s recruitment video ever. Around the 15 second mark, I’m assured that haircuts that bad and acting that poor cannot be good recruiting tools. Yet if you edited the clip very slightly it could give the viewer the impression that people with bad hair cuts were practicing in the mountains for the overthrow of our beloved US government. 

Acting quality is about is good as the phenomenal composing skills Wham! possessed. Immediately you are taken into a world of hinted upon hurt between the immaculately well groomed man and his gravity-defying former girlfriend’s haircut (she looks like Alice from Dilbert). Both of them are thrust into a winter wonderland where their hearts have frozen over.

George Michael belts out “I keep my distance, but you still catch my eye” as the dinner is set. Tinsel is dropped, and we witness an uncomfortable moment between the two former lovers. I guess this sort of reminds me how you couldn’t express in the 80s. Either that or people really were that corny. Perhaps he should have been collecting firewood instead of pathetically decorating a flaccid Christmas tree that made Charlie Brown’s look positively robust. 

Snowball fighting begins. Here it looks again like a militia recruitment video like the free-spirited nature of bringing down the government to mark a new order. It would work, if we didn’t have that cheesy close up. Though the close up might work as a “we’re fed up with the system” sort of style.

Dinner feels like the last supper with the 12 apostles, except they all appear to be self-absorbed shitheads who don’t want to contribute anything but disdain for society. 

“A crowded room/Friends with tired eyes” is depicted, word for word. We see the emotional “heart” of the piece. The camera brings us back to the happier times the two protagonists shared. Her piece of garbage jewelry apparently cost him a lot more than money, it cost him his heart, which still yearns deeply for her love and affection. But he’s there, watching her with another man, and feeling upset about his unfortunate loss of such a lovely woman.  

Sadly, by watching the video, you get the abridged version. You miss out on his tender screams out to no one in particular. That improvised instrumental at the end seals the deal for me. Listen to this with loved ones. Get vulnerable.