Archive: October, 2008
Freddie Mercury must be smiling in approval on his shiny bicycle in the sky at the sugar-coated vocal harmonies of Spinto Band's "The Black Flag.” These guys, technically are not all the way local being from Delaware, but CP standards state that being reachable by SEPTA makes you an extension of Philly, so I won't argue.
|The Clubber Lang Gang|
|Katie Strzeszewski | myspace.com/clubberlanggang
Crank up the downers, synths and reverb effects for The Clubber Lang Gang's "Thinning Of The Veil," a song that evokes images of stumbling through the desert to a wedding ceremony. Or a funeral march. Appropriately, it's dedicated to broken people everywhere. I hope these Bethlehem-based guys are happier in real life than their music implies.
"Papers from Skyscrapers" — a cute rhyming song title that eerily reminds me of the Twin Towers. The music of Instimatic is upbeat and synths are used effectively to merge a new wave vibe with the proliferation of that modern electronic music that is so darn popular these days. Real instruments are overrated, anyway. Apparently these guys have two synths per member. Reminds me of that line from LCD Soundsystem's "Losing My Edge": "I hear that your band sold their guitars and bought synthesizers/ I hear that your band sold all of their synthesizers and bought guitars.”
A well-rounded combination of rock, down-tempo and electronic has seared East Hundred's "Slow Burning Crimes" into my sub conscious. Kudos to them. I'm looking forward to their upcoming album Passenger, which drops in January '09.
The Ben Wah Torpedos and their blistering track "Debbie's Like London" — it sounds sort of like the blessed love child of the Clash and the Ramones — could've very well been released in 1981.
Prowler come off just as one would expect a more electro Man Man side project sound like, with big batches of quirky, unorthodox sprinklings of sound effects and instruments. Extra points for the stringy bass fills. Oops, I got up to throw something away and the song is over already.
“City Gardens” by The Thirteen is a song I would definitely rock flannel and wave mugs of Kenzinger to.
|The Mural and the Mint|
I'll keep “I Never Knew” by The Mural and The Mint for the next time I have a picnic on a lazy riverfront — or find myselfe jonesing for a convincing homage to our own Dr. Dog. They also draw parallels to U2 and Coldplay, but I won't hold it against them. Did you notice the harp at the end? Such a nice touch.
To end on the classic old-endings-signaling-new-beginnings tip, our beloved A-Sides are no more — but Sun Airway has risen from its ashes. Their first track, "Waiting on You," shows major promise.
The Spinto Band - "The Black Flag" - Moonwink
The Clubber Lang Gang - "Thinning Of The Veil" - Now Hear This
Instamatic - "Papers From Skyscrapers" - mp3
East Hundred - "Slow Burning Crimes" - Passenger
Ben Wah Torpedos - "Debbie's Like London" - Hyped To Death #5 (c)
Prowler - "Pis Pis" - En Garde
The Thirteen - "City Gardens" - The Secret History Of The Thirteen
The Mural & The Mint - "I Never Knew" - Private Pockets
The Mud Pie Sun - "Worrisomer" - S/T
Sun Airway - "Waiting On You" - mp3
Like Moving Insects - "Giant Prices" - Burn Your Bridges
Joe Lentini - "Haley Prog Ladel" - Technicolor Hell (c)
Blood Feathers - "Cat Can Coo Too" - Curse & Praise
Ghosts In The Valley - "On Air" - Figure.1
McRad - "Prevent That Tragedy" - Absence Of Sanity
Panama - "Athletics" - S/T
The Minor White - "Static Redbeard" - Daily Vacation
Prestige - "The Point At" - Brightening
Gogreengo - "Estrellas" - Cdr
|Pantheon, 128 pp., Sept. 30|
Along with the prose memoir, the autobiographical graphic novel has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. It seems as though every illustrator with a compelling life story to tell wants to follow in the footsteps of landmarks like Persepolis and Maus, and share all their deep inner drama with us readers. However, it takes a few key factors to pull this off. First, the author’s life has to be interesting enough to capture our attention; no one wants to read a biography of some random schmuck down the block. Second, it can’t be so foreign from our experience that we can’t relate to the themes in the work. And finally, the art has to be engaging and unique, to separate the work from the wealth of crap out there.
This brings us to David Heatley’s debut effort, My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down. Now, David Heatley has been at this trade for a while, gracing issues of McSweeney’s and Mome with his work. Unfortunately, it doesn’t hold up nearly as well in long form, which is probably why Brain is broken into several subsections, which are broken into several more, which sometimes get reduced to individual panels that serve as vignettes of the episodes in his life. The five main sections are titled “Sex,” “Race,” “Mom,” “Dad” and “Kin,” each one featuring a collection of dreams and anecdotes on each subject. But I just find it really difficult to care that much about most of his stories. The “Race” chapter takes up nearly half the volume, and is essentially a listing of every single black person Heatley has ever known. (I’m still not entirely sure what the point of doing that is.)
The art, meanwhile, is occasionally charming, but offset by the author’s attempt to be “mature” with the graphic sex and violence peppering the sketchbook atmosphere of the work. One of the first pages features a sex dream where Heatley and his wife are buying female genitalia in a deli, which pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the book. It’s an interesting attempt, but ultimately one that falls flat with the choppiness of the narrative (if you can even call it that). I’m tempted to think he ripped all the pages out of his journal, threw them back together in a random order, and illustrated them in the most subversive, cartoony way possible.
Again, this is a first attempt, and Heatley is capable of some truly memorable moments. But as it stands, his work is more effective in bite-size pieces, and hopefully he can figure out how to make his longer work have the same staying power with his audience. Probably he should set his brain right side up for that.
A meta Brain panel from amazon.com is hanging after the jump.
|Photo | Jimmy Viola|
Popularized by a notorious South Park episode, the "brown note" is a mysterious wavelength of such guttural potency that it makes one lose control of his or her bowels upon hearing it. After see drone legends Sunn O))) in concert, I can write with extreme confidence that the brown note is a myth — but the band was able to turn out every other ungodly, dissonant and otherworldly pitch in between.
Adorned in black hoods and sharing a bottle of red merlot on stage, Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson looked like a pair of Poe Toasters, playing Les Pauls in front of a Berlin wall of amplifiers, creating synchronous blasts of distorted energy dragged between ethereal sonic shrieks. There was no speaking. No applause. No silence. The only notable movement on stage occured when Anderson and O'Malley slothfully raised devil horns, mimicking the audience. The evening's songs, taken from the The Grimmrobe Demos, the 10-year-old album Sunn is observing ("celebrating" is too festive a term) through this mini-tour, melted into each other like cities crumbling after a nuclear fallout. There were fleeting moments of extreme disharmony, yet the performance had a zen-like air of oneness, as Sunn's guitars — like the candles lighting the cavernous wall of the Church's sanctuary — radiated into nothingness together.
|Season 5 winner Leanne Marshall
CP fashion platelette Rebecca Grites covered this season of Project Runway right here on CritMass. Check out all her recaps HERE.
The finale episode of Project Runway Season 5 could not have gone better. Not only did the meek-in-attitude/mighty-in-design Leanne Marshall take home the winning title, 100 Gs and a new Saturn — but Kenley lost!
:: doing my victory dance ::
I'm sure those pro-Kenley freaks out there will claim it wasn't a fair fight because Tim Gunn — Bravo's "really hot hottie," as Heidi refers to him — had to step in as guest judge since J. Lo opted out (due to a foot injury?). I don't care how the bitch lost. I'm just glad she did.
The episode in its entirety was pretty uneventful. Only Korto's last-minute decision to create two new looks caused any drama. And I guess that small dog that took a crap about 4 inches from Leanne's clothes caused like .3 seconds of nail-biting. Anyway, Korto pulled it out in the end, and to be honest, I think she deserved to win more than Leanne purely based on diversity, color choice and overall vision. The judges always say Korto's looks are "overworked," but I guess through a television screen, they never appear quite so garish.
Leanne, the newly crowned "petal queen," did produce some gorgeous sustainable couture looks that I'd wear in a heartbeat. Her collection was beyond cohesive, elegant yet modern and just my aesthetic. Kenley's collection was all over the place in vision, color palette and style, and even though it looked like a rainbow was vomiting down the runway, I was still bored. And talk about overworked! OK, whatever, it's cool you painted your own prints — but big blotchy flowers? Didn't D&G do that like 15 years ago? That girl needs a fashion history lesson. I like to call Kenley's collection "'80s impostor chic." Yeah, that sounds right.
So now that my Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. are free again, I guess I'll have to come out of hibernation ... or maybe I'll just tuck in and watch Top Chef New York. Either way, kudos Leanne, Korto and (I guess I have no choice in this matter) Kenley on a job ... well-done.
|Photo | Dianca Potts|
Definitely epic and possibly dangerous, MSTRKRFT should be immortalized for their live prowess alone — the Toronto DJ duo, currently touring in support of their upcoming Fist of God, keeps things hot with fever-inducing turns on the tables. After break-in sets by Canada's Felix Cartel and Italy's Congorock, the TLA crowd was soaked with sweat by the time MSTRKRFT strutted onstage, unleashing themselves on our fair city. Sampling everything from Daft Punk to LCD Soundsystem, Jesse F. Keeler and Al-P tossed out an onslaught of provocative beats, churning the audience into a hedonistic dance frenzy. After subjecting their fans to mix after mind-blowing mix of progressive tech house with that quintessential Euro edge, the MSTRs left fans worn out and well on their way to work-week hangovers.
Christopher Buckley, son of William F. Buckley, the late founder of the former conservative flagship publication "The National Review" (recently superseded in popularity among Right Wingers by "Jugs and Ammo Quarterly"), has resigned from his position at the magazine following the publication of a column he penned for The Daily Beast titled "Sorry, Dad, I'm Voting for Obama".
Here's Buckley, in his own (rather vivid) words, on his decision to walk:
I had gone out of my way in my Beast endorsement to say that I was not doing it in the pages of National Review, where I write the back-page column, because of the experience of my colleague, the lovely Kathleen Parker. Kathleen had written in NRO that she felt Sarah Palin was an embarrassment. (Hardly an alarmist view.) This brought 12,000 livid emails, among them a real charmer suggesting that Kathleen's mother ought to have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a dumpster. I didn't want to put NR in an awkward position.
|David Alan Grier on |
David Alan Grier is one of those guys who should have a better career — he should be at the forefront of television comedy, not wasting away playing bit parts in mediocre movies (David: An American Carol? Really?). Grier's work during In Living Color alone is reason to tune into Chocolate News. But it's not exactly a reason to stay.
Initially sold as a the black counterpart to The Daily Show (covering "anything chocolate"), it's more of a hybrid of The Colbert Report and Chapelle Show — because it's sketch comedy as much as the two comedians shared race and skewering of racial taboos. As host, Grier takes on a character (referred to as Dag), much like Stephen Colbert transforms into his version of the conservative pundit. He opens the first episode with a rant about the state of hip-hop and while there are some funny lines it's understated and feels off, too serious and indignant, never reaching either the Colbert/Chapellian levels of satire. Is this Grier talking, or is it Dag?
Grier is really a character actor and the sketches carry the show. His Maya Angelou is spot-on — with the pitch-perfect vocal cadences and facial gestures. But it's old news if you caught Grier hosting SNL in the mid-'90s, where he had Angelou shill products like Fruit Loops ("We gave you, Toucan Sam, life. You, Toucan Sam, give us loops of fruit") and Butterfingers. But that too never reaches the level of hilarity that it could. Next, Grier becomes Phat Man — a Lil Jon booty rapper — who is hired, and subsequently fired from, writing PSAs for No Child Left Behind. This sketch is what Chocolate News needs to be. It's just ridiculous enough, with back up dancers in tiny school girl outfits gyrating in front of elementary school kids, half of whom are wide-eyed and horrified, the other half titillated and bouncing along. It's here that Grier reaches In Living Color heights.
But with Grier, Comedy Central adds an important weapon to their arsenal, especially if Barack Obama takes the White House in November. In a July piece in the New York Times about how late night comedians, most of whom are white, were having problems dealing with Obama because he is black. In the article, Grier says, "Those guys really can’t go there. It’s just like the gay comic can do gay material. It comes with the territory." They've got the territory covered. Chocolate News just has to keep up.
Chocolate News premieres tonight at 10:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.
|Photo | Michael T. Regan|
Preceded by Detroit punk-soul five-piece the Dirtbombs, TVotR was greeted with an eruption of cheers as frontman Tunde Adebimpe laid out his opening lyrics through the jingling of sleigh bells. Weaving his hands in and out through fabricated smoke and eerie green-blue light, Adebimpe (as well as his bandmates) picked up momentum as the song tally on their set list increased.
|Photo | Michael T. Regan|
"Wolf Like Me," plucked their sophomore release Return to Cookie Mountain, briefly turned sound into a tangible form of religion or redemption, converting TVotR's audience into a frenzy of claps, hollers and stomps. Lauded for their percussive precision, the band's "A Method" succeeded in instilling the same thrill each fan felt the first time they became acquainted with its rhythmic mystery.
From new to old, each song came off both brisk and monumental, striking a multitude of relevant chords all the while. Each and every note came wrapped in visible emotion. The crowd's ravenous reaction to TVotR's set ender gave way to a satiating four-song encore (punctuated by "Staring at the Sun") before the band politely thanked fans and called it a night.
Philly, get ready to fall in love with Gayle Quinnell of Shakopee, MN. Gayle is the Reality-Challenged 75-year-old woman who, last Friday at a McCain rally, insisted that Barack Obama was an Arab. John McCain patiently explained that this was not correct, and Gayle quietly sat down.
So does Gayle still believe that Obama is a secret A-rab? Oh, you betcha!
And where did she learn about baby-eating-cyborg Obama's secret life? At her local McCain Headquaters, of course!
Gird your loins for the best "He's still got Muslim in him" interview ever!
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