Saturday, May 23, 2009

Music: Silversun Pickups - Swoon: C

I totally enjoyed their previous album - Carnavas. It was a great mix of shoegazer, pop, and rock. Very similar to the Smashing Pumpkins. Unfortunately Swoon completely disappointed me. Sure, it opens great with the driving "There's No Secrets This Year". And "Substitution" is easily the best on the album with a great live guitar. It's a great rock/pop song that hooks into you. But the hit song "Panic Switch" middling at best and has completely useless lyrics. The rest of the album gets too brooding and somber. The whole album sounds very over produced. I can't imagine the band playing this stuff live. It's too mechanical, overdubbed, and completely perfectly on the beat. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if much of the bass lines were actually a synth and sequenced.

The one shining person in the band is the drummer. His beats are live and at times raucus. Too bad he's playing infront of robots. Hopefully the band gets back a bit to a more lively sound with less studio magicry. Otherwise Silversun Pickups should be "waiting and fading and floating away."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Movie: Let the Right One In: A

Out of Norway comes a fantastic little vampire movie. Centered around a outcast 12 year old, he befriends a 12 year old vampiric girl. Most of the movie is a very close and personal movie about the boy and his struggles with bullies, divorced parents, and having no friends. In between are scenes of the vampire, the building friendship, and ultimate resolution. The story is rather predictable, but it's done so well that you don't mind. It's more suspenseful than horror, but there are a few bloody scenes that keep the pacing. Not often can a vampire horror movie be considered charming. And that's what makes this movie special.

There is a bit of controvesy over the subtitles. Apparently the distributor dumbed down the dialog for the US release. But they are releasing a new version with the original subtitles. Without seeing the new version, I can say that the current subtitles are servicable and don't detract from the movie at all. And stay away from the dubbing. It is horrible.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Music: American Princes - Other People: B

American Princes - Other People, remind me of 80s pop with more of an edge. Their opening track "Auditorium" has a great Spy Hunter-eque riff that really gets its hooks into you. "Watch as the Go" reminds of me of A-Ha! Many of the other tracks are catchy and fun. What I don't like are the poor lyrics sung unclearly. The actual vocals lines are good but what he is saying is from forgettable to just bad. If the American Princes can sharpen their pencil a bit, this band would deserve some mainstream attention.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Music: AC Newman - Get Guilty: D

AC Newman from New Pornographer fame releases another solo album. Unfortunately, he stays very close to his source NP material but without the collaboration of other extremely talented musicians. So instead of greatness, AC gives us pop without substance. Music without interest. Pretty much every song is forgettable. AC should really look to exploring other areas of his musical abilities and interests and therefore won't compare himself to his much better side in the New Pornographers.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Steffen Schackinger - ElectriGuitartristry: C+

Steffen is no doubt a master at the guitar as he deftly shows in his debut instrumental album. Watching a video of him playing guitar is something to behold. He borrows a bit from Satriani to Stanley Jordan in a mix of rock to jazz. But playing great guitar doesn't make you a great songwriter. And that's where Steffen falls short. He's got a few good tunes on here that are solid from start to finish. But the rest are mind numbing tunes that are void of hooks or melodies to sink your brain into. The album is best when playing in the background. Otherwise it generally is hard to follow. There is one outstanding song "The Dixieland" which is electric guitar and fiddle duet with Jane Clark. Jane and Steffen mimic and exhange riffs in a fabulous piece of music. That song alone is worth the album. Otherwise, let's hope Steffen practices a bit more songwriting before his next venture.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Movie: 28 Weeks Later: A+

The prequel 28 Days Later was a horror masterpiece. Being a "small" movie in close quarters with limited "infected", it excelled at keeping the suspense up and frights absolutely terrifying. With 28 Weeks Later, the set is much larger expanding to all of London with at times thousands of infected. I was worried that this larger scale would turn this movie into more of an action horror and not living up to the first. I was totally wrong. This movie put a vice around me and held me down for the entire duration. Every scene is masterfully done. At times the suspense is in the background where I could see maybe something going wrong, but usually doesn't. At other times I had my fists and jaw clenched tightly as the horror unfolded. I often wanted the movie to end so I could get the hell out of there. The intensity is unbelievable. The gore is usually brief but brutal. And the "oh god don't go into the dark subway" made me want to scream. But what else can you with the Army right behind you trying to exterminate you? I'd put this in the top 10 of horror movies of all time. Really. Perfection.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sloan - Parallel Play: B+

Music: 9/10 Vocal: 4/5 Lyrics: 4/5 Production: 4/5
Total: 21/25 = B+

Sloan is a blast from the 70's pop past with a hint of early punk. Many songs sound familiar but alas are not derivatives of earlier music. Instead Parallel Play is refreshing and great on the ears. It will keep you humming, clapping, and singing along. Personally, I felt guilty enjoying such power pop fare especially such infectious songs like "Witch's Wand" and "I'm not a Kid Anymore". But I know I'll keep listening.