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In review: Videocracy (2009)

June 6, 2010 1 comment

There’s a scene about 15 minutes into” Videocracy” that sums up the whole movie and both the media landscape and country it’s about. Around 15 to 20 dames from some Italian provincial town are auditioning to be “veline”, the uniquely Italian showgirl variant hired to perform short dances to link scenes on entertainment shows and never talk. So they’re getting their grind on, humping the air, showing off their tramp stamps and looking for all the world like they’re about to fall onto Antonio Cassano’s cock at any given moment. Except they’re not doing this in a closed-off TV studio, they’re doing it in public, in a run-down shopping mall where the crowd consists mainly of four-year-olds and dudes that look like Alisher Usmanov salivating. Read more…

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In Review: Bandslam (2009)

The recent wave of bored middle-aged American music critics, fresh from being an integral part of the destruction of print media over the past few years, deciding to pretend that Disney pop is worth talking about has sadly passed me by. Possibly because I don’t live in my parents’ basement.
Anyway, two of the “names” coughed up by this movement are in Bandslam: Vanessa Hudgens, who (sub-editors please put unfunny gag about naked cameraphone photos here, thanks) and Alyson “Aly” Michalka who, with her sister AJ, formerly made up the band Prussian Blue.
Bandslam is a confused, if not confusing, film. It’s an attempt at a Disneyfied “indie” movie (not an independent movie, they’re different things). So we get armbreakingly “hip” soundtracks, unrealistic dialogue, and credits and logos drawn in the flickering style of an overly precocious child.
Within three minutes of the film opening, in lieu of developing his character, we’ve had close-ups of protagonist Will Burton’s Bloc Party posters and Belle & Sebastian CD collection. He then goes on to reference the Eels. Later on in the movie, “Blister In The Sun” is used as a “everyone will recognise this” reference point. You have to remember here that this movie is aimed at folks who were still breastefeeding when “Novocaine For The Soul” dropped, and hadn’t started attending school by the release of “Legal Man”. Holy fuck our generation is close to death.
Hudgens plays a Sheedy-in-The-Breakfast-Club stand-in, called “Sa5m, the 5 is silent”. Just to reiterate, a film aimed at 14-year-olds is directly referencing An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer.
How much of this film is supposed to be taken seriously? Are we meant to take, without irony, two characters breaking into a deserted, decrepit CBGBs and having “a moment”? Characters going “Evil Dead 2 is my favourite movie, you should see it with me”? Characters apologising to other characters for not going to see Evil Dead 2 by making a video compilation of their favourite things soundtracked by “Young Folks”? God knows.
The plot is wafer-thin: Will’s dad killed someone in a car accident, he was an outcast at his old school, so he moves to Jersey with his mother, Lisa Kudrow with the most botoxed forehead of the year. In New Jersey, will discovers there are Kids Like Him, makes friends with try-too-hard ex-cheerleader Aly and Hudgens-in-black-nail-varnish, and forms a band called I Can’t Go On, I Will Go On (quoth Will: “It’s a name like Get Cape Wear Cape Fly or Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, who are both awesome bands”). They win a recording contract after David Bowie enjoys them covering “Everything I Own” in a ska-pop style at a talent show. I know, right?
I want Bandslam to been teen flick canon. It’s the first film that’s felt worthy of such since Mean Girls, and it’s probably the best bad teen film since A Cinderella Story. Nothing here makes sense, subplots are skipped over rapidly without finish, all Asian characters are depicted as slinty-eyed punchlines, Hudgens would be more convincing as WG Grace than an emo girl, Will Burton has the dead eyes of a serial killer (and at one point he says “Without punk there would be no The Killers”, again without irony), and the scenes with his mother are full of heavily awkward sexual tension that I don’t think the director intended. This film needs to be cult, now.

Also, Elvy Yost, who plays the movie’s uptight cellist, needs to holler at your boy asap, so I can pour espresso martinis down her throat.

Bandslam

The recent wave of bored middle-aged American music critics, fresh from being an integral part of the destruction of print media over the past few years, deciding to pretend that Disney pop is worth talking about has sadly passed me by. Possibly because I don’t live in my parents’ basement. Read more…

The rebel, I make more noise than heavy metal

June 29, 2009 1 comment

dimebag_rip

I don’t think male metal fans understand how privileged there are. Let me explain. Conjure up a mental picture of your average common-or-garden I AM SO FUCKIN’ METAL female listener. Now, if we ignore the Avril nail varnish job, the Baby-Spice-in-97 platform heels and that weird shit they do where they seemingly take the inner tubing from washing machines, dye them purple, and weave them into their hair. If you ignore that, on the wholeal broads are usually pretty hot pieces of ass. Read more…

In review: Playboy Tre – “Liquor Store Mascot”

June 1, 2009 4 comments
Have Pitchfork got around to reviewing this yet? I dunno, I haven’t bothered reading it since Nick Sylvester got sent down for a ten stretch. If they have, or if they eventually get round to it, however, you can probably set up an in-office sweepstake amongst your co-workers for how many paragraphs into the review it will take Ian Cohen or whoeverthefuck to get around to describing Playboy Tre as “the Craig Finn of rap”. Awwwwwkkkkwwwwaaarrrrdddd.
I mean, the argument can be made, sure: like the best of The Hold Steady’s material, “Liquor Store Mascot” flits back and forth between being thinking man’s drinking music and drinking man’s thinking music. The album touches on moments of braggadocio, self-doubt, righteous anger, confusion, frustration, attempts to set the world right, thoughts of dead relatives, God, Jesus, and weed: so technically, that is what the two have in common. But then again, any good 12-hour long drinking session will also flag those topics up as well, especially if your local Wetherspoons’ has Peroni on tap. That’s some good summer drinking right there, imo.
Playboy Tre then: a lot of the resignation and blue-collarness that comes across on this album has to be as a result of the hours the man’s put in the rap game: well over a decade, from his late 90s conscious rap backpacker period, through to his time spent as a reserve team standout for the crunk (ask your grandparents) movement, through to his current position as maybe the only man capable of making the Zshare rap movement palatable. Although don’t think there’s anything XXL cover about this guy: despite the fact that dude is clearly an intelligent and perceptive cat, he lives and dies by his hooks. Indeed, he’s eked out coin over the past few years by writing hooks for major label rappers, and “Liquor Store Mascot” has more hooks than a Family Fortunes survey asking 100 people to name their least favourite Bob Hoskins movie.
So much greatness though. The title track where he sets his stall out perfectly (“I do it for the have-nots and keep an ice cold beer like the liquor store mascot”) over plinky strings and anthemic stabs. “Living In The Bottle” incorporates a Gil Scott-Heron sample as smooth as Long Island Ice Teas over a tale of alcohol dependency rougher than potcheen. “Moving Dem Keys” does the “key can mean a number of different things” thesauruscore that Pusha T and Malice have made a career out of post-“Lord Willin’”, and yet still manages to make a line like “When I spit, keys move like Alicia’s fingers” seem utterly essential. “Oh My Lord Freestyle” is even prefaced with an apology to his grandmother for what he’s about to do: he then goes on to spit fuck bitches drink 40s rhymes over a gospel choir. I mean, really, the only place this goes wrong is when for some reason he decides that what his tale of ghostly revenge and racist murder (“Remember Me”) needs is an Evanescence sample. I know, right?
So anyway. “Liquor Store Mascot” is something truly amazing, a mixtape that honestly works as a straight-up album on all identifiable levels, a great piece of work from a truly talented artist, something different in what’s rapidly becoming one of the worst times for breakthrough rappers in history, and maybe if I listen to it enough I’ll eventually learn to stop spelling it as “Liqour”. Good work all round.playboy-tre-liquor-store-mascot-front-cover

playboy-tre-liquor-store-mascot-front-cover

Have Pitchfork got around to reviewing this yet? I dunno, I haven’t bothered reading it since Nick Sylvester got sent down for a ten stretch. If they have, or if they eventually get round to it, however, you can probably set up an in-office sweepstake amongst your co-workers for how many paragraphs into the review it will take Ian Cohen or whoeverthefuck to get around to describing Playboy Tre as “the Craig Finn of rap”. Awwwwwkkkkwwwwaaarrrrdddd. Read more…

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In review: Notorious (2009)

February 19, 2009 3 comments

Biggie_Jamal_Woolard_Notorious

As a rapper, Christopher Wallace was always a man with a message to deliver to his audience, whether it was about the emotion effect that a woman’s breast cancer can have on her son, or the benefits of grabbin’ yo dick. Accordingly, Notorious is a movie that contains three explicit messages. Here they are, in ascending order of screen time afforded them:

1) Irrespective of whether you’ve been cheating on your girl or just going Chris Brown on her ass, all you need to do is beatbox to win your lady’s heart back
2) Despite heaps of circumstantial evidence, rumour, industry supposition, and that one song Papoose did, Sean Combs had no role or implication in the jacking or murder of Tupac Shakur, or the latter murder of his friend and employee The Notorious BIG
3) Lil Kim is a cunt

Read more…

Royce Da 5’9 – Part Of Me

February 17, 2009 Leave a comment

 

If I was the worst kind of blogtard I’d say something like “Hat tip to deej from So Many Shrimp” on this one, but while I did first hear about this track from there I didn’t actually listen to it until it came up while I was scouting Youtube for lesbian nurse cosplay. Read more…

In review: Emmy the Great – First Love

February 4, 2009 Leave a comment

small_emmy_vp

I don’t really spend much time networking with the doyens of the London indie scene, but I have spent some brief time in the company of Emmy the Great: she was waitressing at some 50s revivalist kitsch-ass neo-burlesque bullshit I was dragged along to once. And being completely unmoved by a load of people who spend a week’s wages on charity shop clothing dancing to the fucking Andrews Sisters, I became struck with exactly the same thought every time I saw Emmy TG, as she scooted around in rollerskates doling out Earl Grey and fairy cakes: that girl has a harelip. The people I was with assured me it was just smeared lipstick, but why smear in the middle of the mouth and not the corners? Every time I’ve brought it up with the movers and shakes of the British music journalism scene since (read: I once mentioned it to a guy who wrote for The Fly), I get blank looks. Google does nothing to help. And as for staring at promo images… well, if Jesse Jackson and Joaquin Phoenix, two men who look like they’d struggle to navigate their way around a makeup box, can disguise their cleft palettes, I’m sure an arty Londoner in her early 20s could. So I therefore conclude that Emmy the Great has a harelip. Regardless of deformity: I worry this album has come too late. The girl was releasing singles three years ago and making MP3 blog radar noises in late 2005. There’s no real justification for taking four whole years to drop product unless there were major label dickmoves involved or, like Vincent and the Villains, you wanted to end up as a good old fashioned industry punchline upon your LP dropping. It… may have been worth the wait. I’m not entirely sure. Don’t expect revolution here: this is by the numbers “girl and her guitar”, couple of songs about relationships, couple of wailing songs, couple of kooky numbers, all put together with a presentable but female-friendly face. The main reference point for Emmy’s voice seems to be English folk music: there’s something every so slightly “hey nonny nonny” village fete about her vocals, high pitches without ever being too girly, and there’s even some strings thrown in there to exacerbate the sensation. Album opener “Absentee” would even work for a Morris dancing display on Strictly Come Dancing, before it turns the heat up with a pretty good “Haha, I bet you thought ‘Hallelujah’ was by Jeff Buckley originally” gag. Is this type of stuff still called “urban folk” these days, or did Jamie T ruin that name? Regardless, “We Almost Had A Baby” spends 50% of its time coming across as unexpectedly ambushed by emotion as a woman reading Take A Break in a doctor’s surgery, and 50% shimmering like spotlights in those 40s teadance halls. “MIA” is probably the first ever song about every hipster’s favourite apologist for suicide bombing civilians, while “City Song” wraps everything up as delicately and frustrated as everything else on here. This is probably a good album. ILB has stanned hard for Hello Saferide in the past, and there’s probably a good shout at a direct comparison here: HS is clearly more “lyrical” while ETG is more “pretty”, they both decided to make their lead single of their most recent album about babies that never existed, and they both make enjoyable music. I just worry that the latter falls short in comparison to the former. Still, to have made it this far in life with a harelip is a stunning achievement, and one you have to take your hat off to.

SPECIAL BONUS MATERIAL

Emmy the Great – MIA

Emmy the Great – Edward Is Dedward (not on album)