Caribou goes by many names, the other most famous being Daphni, but it is under this moniker that Canadian-born Daniel Snaith is always at his best. His eighth studio album, Our Love, is a dynamic addition to his already impressive canon.

Album cover for Our Love

Album cover for Our Love

Opening with the atmospheric "Can't Do Without You," Caribou repeats, "I can't do without you," throughout the duration, which certainly does plenty to welcome the listener. "Silver" is an ambient track with soft vocals crooning inaudibly, "I guess I don't need her/It doesn't mean I can't get over her." Following is "All I Ever Need," which features a frenetic, soulful beat that overpowers Caribou's lyrics as he laments, "I can't take it/The way you treat me wrong/It's not right girl/People treat me bad/But my next love will be the best I ever had." Clearly, Caribou is exorcising some demons with this album.

The title track, "Our Love," features a tone and beat that continues to build as the song progresses, as though wanting desperately to break out if its own shell--which it eventually does, crescendoing to an energetic melange of sounds that dares you not to get your ass on the dance floor. "Dive" echoes the trip hop genre that fell out of fashion so long ago, but is somehow effortlessly resuscitated by Caribou. Making unintelligible sounds throughout, Caribou lulls you into his submission like some sort of snake charmer.

Caribou

Caribou

"Second Chance" features exuberant female vocals that insist, "I really wanna show you now/Nothing you could say I don't already know/I don't get the second chance, baby/Yeah, you know I'll just keep on waiting." The notion of waiting and disappointment is a prevalent one throughout Our Love, themes that are somewhat contrasted by Caribou's musical stylings. Case in point is, "Julia Brightly," which continues the tone of jubilance that pervaded "Second Chance" with more unintelligible noises against a beat that can't be ignored.

The appropriately titled "Mars" includes a flute that punctuates the entire song. Indeed, it is exactly what one would picture to be playing if you landed there. "Back Home" segues seamlessly from "Mars," building slowly with a faint volume that allows Caribou's vocals to really shine through more than they have at any other point on this album.

Bursting with vibrancy

Bursting with vibrancy

"Love Will Set You Free" concludes Our Love with Caribou's most assured musical arrangements. It's a methodical collection of sonic bursts punctuated by the simple message: "your love will set you free." Apparently, Caribou's has, and in turn, we've all benefited.

Donald Glover a.k.a. Childish Gambino when referring to his music career, has always remained consistent with his release of surprising and unexpected albums. Although generally labeled as a writer (he got his start writing for 30 Rock) or actor (on Community and, tragically, Girls), it is Glover's musical stylings that set him apart more than any of his other talents. His new mixtape/EP, STN MTN / Kauai, proves that he's capable of even more than we thought.

Album cover for Kauai

Album cover for Kauai

Opening with the instantly catchy "Sober," Childish Gambino lures us in with his sultry vocals and resonant lyrics, asserting, "And now that it's over, I'll never be sober." "Pop Thieves (Make It Feel Good)" acts as some sort of bizarre song lovechild of Kevin Lyttle and Rihanna with its romantic, fanciful vibe. Plus, it features Jaden Smith. The third track, "Retro (Rough)" alternates between pure hip hop and semi-ballad with its lascivious confidence as Gambino croons, "We can get there, we can do it if we try."

"The Palisades" is one of the richest songs on the EP, complemented by the vocals of Christian Rich, an N.E.R.D. protege. Expressing a somewhat cynical/aloof sentiment toward relationships, Gambino sings, "If we could be together would that make you happy? And if it wouldn't tell your girlfriend to get at me/Love don't really happen." Following is "Poke," an appropriate song for an October release when considering the lament, "Those summer days never fade away, they just stay the same in my mind."

Performing bombastically

Performing bombastically

"Late Night in Kauai" also features Jaden Smith (clearly Gambino's new favorite). Evoking the beat poetry style, the song is nothing but bongo drums and bizarre reminiscences like, "I remember that first night you were wearing a Power Ranger t-shirt. So was I." The concluding track is also the best one. "3005 (Beach Picnic Version)" includes Minnie Mouse-pitch vocals that assure, "No matter what you say or what you do, I'll be right by your side till three thousand and five." It's the perfect way to end an EP that you didn't think could possibly get any more endearing.

Gregg Araki has always been known for making avant-garde or at least mildly offensive films (see: The Doom Generation, Mysterious Skin and Smiley Face). His latest offering, White Bird in a Blizzard, however, is somewhat on the tamer side by Araki standards. Adapted from Laura Kasischke's 1999 novel of the same name, Araki shows us the bland, desolate life of San Bernardino housewife Eve Connor (Eva Green, always great for playing non-maternal roles). Though she's always displayed signs of dissatisfaction, her behavior of late has seemed particularly neurotic to her 17-year-old daughter, Kat (Shailene Woodley, revealing a surprising comfortableness with nudity throughout the film).

Over the housewife scene

Over the housewife scene

Regardless of how outlandish her mother acts, Kat is immune to her tantrums, more concerned with her boyfriend/next door neighbor, Phil (Shiloh Fernandez), and their waning sex life. It's around the time that Kat becomes more focused on her libido that her mother starts lashing out at her in a way that indicates jealousy over Kat's youth and general desirability. Lamenting the loss of her own life and the living out of days making dinner and washing dishes, Eve grows more contemptuous by the day.

Kat and her boyfriend, Phil

Kat and her boyfriend, Phil

Right around the time Eve's fury reaches some sort of plateau/zenith/crescendo, she simply disappears. The cop in charge of the case, Detective Scieziesciez (Thomas Jane), serves not only as the man trying to find Kat's mother, but also as the man who ends up fucking her pain away, much to the delighted startlement of her best friends, Beth (Gabourey Sidibe a.k.a. Precious) and Mickey (Mark Indelicato a.k.a. Betty's little brother on Ugly Betty). Although Kat appears nonchalant about her mother's vanishing, especially to her therapist, Dr. Thaler (Angela Bassett, proving Araki loves to dig up those we thought we had lost), her series of dreams/nightmares about being caught in a blizzard and searching for Eve indicate an undeniable trauma. 

Determined to move on with her life, Kat suppresses the memories of 1988 (this is the year her mother leaves them) and carries on in a totally well-adjusted manner by the time 1991 rolls around and she's attending UC Berkeley. Unfortunately for Kat, a trip back home for a break leads her to uncover revelations she wasn't prepared for (plus, Sheryl Lee enters into the mix, giving us a slight preview of Twin Peaks). Although the story contains plenty of intrigue and a plotline that always holds your interest, there is something about the disinterested way in which Araki reveals the final twist that makes White Bird in a Blizzard somehow lesser when compared to his other works. Nonetheless, as can always be counted on with an Araki film, the soundtrack is primo (even though he features the requisite playing of New Order because part of the movie takes place in the 80s).

It isn't often that you get a parody movie that isn't part of the Scary Movie franchise. At long last, this has been remedied. The incongruousness of romantic comedies in general--especially of late--makes They Came Together one of those timely sort of movies that hits right for the jugular at a moment when the rom-com needs to be turned on its ear. Extrapolating every cliche from pretty much every classic Meg Ryan movie ever made, They Came Together opens with Molly (Amy Poehler) and Joel (Paul Rudd) at dinner with some friends (played by Bill Hader and Ellie Kemper) who ask how the two of them met, resulting in a parodic re-telling of the formulaic way in which "they came" into each other's lives.

Even the title of the film alone, directed by David Wain and co-written with Michael Showalter (the brilliant minds who brought you Wet Hot American Summer and Stella), is rife with the implications of its over the top comedic leanings. As it toes the line between being a believable rom-com and a completely absurdist work, They Came Together is at its best when it pushes the boundaries of campiness (e.g. when Molly takes Joel home to meet his parents and finds out they're white supremacists). 

Promotional poster for They Came Together

Promotional poster for They Came Together

In keeping with the standard blueprints of the rom-com, Molly and Joel face the obstacle of Joel working for Candy Systems & Research (a deliberately and strangely generic corporate name), a candy empire that's about to put Molly's indie candy shop, Upper Sweet Side, out of business. It smacks of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail. And then there's the actual wielding of the line, "I'll have what she's having," to drive home the When Harry Met Sally angle.

Cliche rom-com scen

Cliche rom-com scen

Of course, regardless of all that's standing in their way, Molly and Joel end up falling in love and then having their romance marred by the return of Joel's ex-girlfriend, Tiffany (Cobie Smulders), who previously cheated on him with his co-worker, Trevor (Michael Ian Black--because where there's Wain and Showalter, there's Black). Their reunion features a preposterous sex scene reminiscent of another parody movie, Fatal Instinct.

All of the conventions of rom-com must be adhered to, however, ultimately leading to Molly and Joel's wedding in the third act. But it wouldn't be a parody movie without a humorous twist--and so, at the end, we learn that Molly and Joel are actually divorced as they tell this story. The lampoon is complete, presenting future romantic comedies with a challenge they might never have considered: be more original.





Something about the fall brings on at least one requisite film about family dysfunction (see: Home For the Holidays). Craig Johnson's visually sparse, emotionally wrought The Skeleton Twins is no exception. Wasting no time in getting right to the suicidal point, the film opens in an L.A. apartment with Milo (Bill Hader) listening to "Denis" by Blondie as he writes a disinterested farewell note.

Promotional poster for The Skeleton Twins

Promotional poster for The Skeleton Twins

On the other side of the U.S., Milo's sister, Maggie (Kristen Wiig), contemplates her own demise as she stares at a handful of pills on which to overdose. As she gazes at them in her hand, her cell phone rings with the caller ID listed under "Unknown," an apropos complement to her other hand, filled with life-ending potential. She decides to answer, stunned to learn that Milo has just failed in his own attempt. 

Bleeding out

Bleeding out

After ten years of estrangement (the reason for which is never addressed), Maggie and Milo are reunited in Milo's hospital room, where he tells her she should leave. The next day, however, she offers him the guest room in her and her husband, Lance's (Luke Wilson), house. Considering his recent breakup that spurred him to try to kill himself, Milo takes her up on the invitation. 

Urging Milo to come back to New York with her

Urging Milo to come back to New York with her

The adroitness with which The Skeleton Twins acknowledges how a connection between siblings can usually always be rekindled, even after a significant amount of time spent apart, is what makes it so effective on an emotional level. Regardless of Maggie and Milo knowing so little about the other's current state of existence, they still feel compelled to tell each other the things they could never tell anyone else. 

Bonding

Bonding

For instance, after repeated bouts of drunkenness, one of which finds Milo on a rooftop and then escorted by the police back to Maggie's, Milo confesses, "I get depressed about my life sometimes and do stupid shit." Maggie gives the even realer reply: "We're all just walking around trying not to be disappointed with the way things turned out." The fact that their father committed suicide lends an added element of tragedy and sense of impending doom for both of them throughout the narrative. But, as the Starship song they seem to love so much insists, "Let them say they're crazy, they don't care about that." And indeed, they don't--so long as they've got each other. Plus, Bill Hader as a gay man is, as usual, everything. Think Stefan, but more nuanced. 


Sometimes, a film comes along that makes people "feel good" enough to ignore some its more glaring flaws. Jon Favreau's Chef is just such an example. Teetering on overly trite, the narrative explores the travails of Carl Casper, a renowned Los Angeles chef who struggles with the comfortableness of his job at a premier restaurant called Gauloise stifling his culinary creativity. 

Promotional poster for Chef

Promotional poster for Chef

Change foists itself upon Carl when an illustrious food blogger named Ramsey Michael (Oliver Platt) comes to review the menu. Carl wants to shake it up with some new cuisine while his somewhat tyrannical boss, Riva (Dustin Hoffman, in a strange, somewhat esoteric role for someone of his caliber), insists that he "play his hits" (per a Rolling Stones analogy he made earlier). With a heavy heart, Carl chooses to swallow shit and oblige the request. The result is, of course, a scathing review of Carl's chefly abilities. Wounded by the tirade, Carl seeks comfort from his current girlfriend, Molly (Scarlett Johnansson, also in a limiting role), the hostess at the restaurant, and his best friends and co-workers, Martin (John Leguizamo) and Tony (Bobby Cannvale). They all tell him to let it blow over, but the review magically ends up going viral on Twitter (what is it with the prevalence of Twitter in movies these days?).

Attempting to be more creative

Attempting to be more creative

Wanting to take action, Carl asks his son, Percy (Emjay Anthony), to help him set up a Twitter account to respond to Ramsey. Thinking he's sending him a direct message, Carl tweets, "You wouldn't know a good meal if it sat on your face asshole." This, too, goes viral and leads Carl to challenge Ramsey to eating another one of his meals. Unfortunately, Riva ends up forbidding him to do so, inciting Carl to walk out of the job, 

Wanting to take action, Carl asks his son, Percy (Emjay Anthony), to help him set up a Twitter account to respond to Ramsey. Thinking he's sending him a direct message, Carl tweets, "You wouldn't know a good meal if it sat on your face asshole." This, too, goes viral and leads Carl to challenge Ramsey to eating another one of his meals. Unfortunately, Riva ends up forbidding him to do so, inciting Carl to walk out of the job, 

With zero prospects and a lot of publicity, Carl gets advice from his ex-wife, Inez (Sofia Vergara), who continues to insist, as she always has, that he open up a food truck. It isn't until Carl goes to Miami (where he originally hails from) with her and their son and takes a bite out of an authentic Cuban sandwich that he finally feels inspired to do so. It's all very convenient. 

Naturally, Carl is able to secure some money for a food truck from Inez's ex-husband, Marvin (Robert Downey Jr., occupying yet another rando role for someone of his celebrity status) and of course he is able to unwittingly wrangle Martin to come to Miami so they can start an instant sensation of a business. The neatly bow-tie wrapped plot concludes with Ramsey offering him financial backing for his own restaurant and Carl remarrying Inez. It is, indeed, a far cry from the ambiguity of Favreau's opus, Swingers. But wait, now I'm starting to sound as snarky as Ramsey.  





The desire to "be in a band" in the twenty-first century is rife with the implications that one must cultivate the perfect gimmicky image before he can even dream of his music being heard with any level of auditory discernment. Lenny Abrahamson's fourth feature, Frank, explores this notion with equal parts deftness and semi-satiricalness. 

Promotional poster for Frank

Promotional poster for Frank

Following the musical aspirations of the hapless, rather talentless Jon (Domhnall Gleeson), we're given a glimpse into disparate spectrums of the musician's mindset: the side that seeks fame without acknowledging a lack of aptitude and the side that is neutral about fame and would prefer simply to make music. Frank (Michael Fassbender), a mysterious musical prodigy who invites Jon to join his band, Soronprfbs,  after their keyboard player commits suicide, falls into the latter side of the spectrum. 

Frank playing guitar

Frank playing guitar

The other members in Frank's band, Clara (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Nana (Carla Azar) and Baraque (François Civil), are eccentric, to say the least, though not nearly as bizarre as Frank, who Abrahamson has stated is a combination of Frank Sidebottom (a.k.a. Chris Sievey), Daniel Johnston and Captain Beefheart. Determined to lock themselves away and record a masterpiece of an album, Soronprfbs is temporarily foiled by the fact that they don't have enough money to keep renting out their secluded space in Ireland. Wanting desperately to be a part of something legendary, Jon offers them up his "nest egg" to continue recording. 

Although none of his music is used for the album, Jon still enthusiastically tweets (ugh, Twitter) and records videos to his followers to keep them interested, resulting in a spike in the band's number of fans that ultimately leads them to be invited to SXSW. While Jon is ecstatic about this offer, the other band members are extremely reluctant. Frank is ultimately cajoled into going, leading Clara to threaten Jon, "If you fuck things up in America, I will stab you." Her threat becomes real after the pressure and anticipation weighs heavily on Frank once they get to Austin.

After Clara is arrested, the other members of the band refuse to play without her. All the while, Jon continues to tweet and record what's been going with the band, leading everyone to believe it's all some sort of publicity stunt. The night of their performance--with the band down to just Frank and Jon--Frank has a breakdown onstage and ultimately goes into hiding. It suddenly dawns on Jon that his lust for recognition came at the cost of the music, which he was never really a part of to begin with. This revelation forces him to realize, once and for all, that musicians who are pure of heart can never really handle the fame that goes with their talent. 


"The passion in the beginning is always going to be the best part of it." So begins the brief intro track to Tove Lo's debut album, Queen of the Clouds." "The Sex" then transitions into the Rihanna-esque "My Gun," in which Tove Lo establishes her vocal strengths and predilection for dance pop. 

The expressive nature of Tove Lo

The expressive nature of Tove Lo

"Like 'Em Young" proves that only women can get away with talking about enjoying the attraction to a less mature ilk as Tove Lo defends, "Hey girl, why you judgin' me, when your guy's turnin' 53?" The lively beat continues the effervescence set forth by the album, with Tove Lo proving she can keep up with the youngest of them. "Talking Body" slows down the pace somewhat, with a slow build that you can feel wanting to burst through, which, of course, it eventually does or it wouldn't be Swedish pop. Tove Lo sings, "Now if we're talking body, you've got the perfect one so put it on me," persisting, perhaps, in her penchant for youthful men.

Single cover for the single, "Habits"

Single cover for the single, "Habits"

"Timebomb" again finds Tove Lo wanting to show off her more ballad-y side, but finding that she can't quite give in fully as the backbeat elevates to a crescendo while she sings, "We're not forever/You're not the one/I'm not forever/You're not the one."  "The Love (Interlude)" is five seconds of Tove Lo channeling Taylor Swift as she says, "You freak out 'cause suddenly you need this person." This transitions into "Moments," which finds her getting a little too comfortable with her whiteness as she admits,  "I grew up with a lot of green, I was safe, I was fine" and "I'm not the prettiest one you've ever seen, but I have my moments."

"The Way That I Am" (not to be confused with the similarly titled Eminem song) has a wistful opening and finds Tove Lo doing her best imitation of Katy Perry as she wails, "You can't point fingers all you want/I don't care/I love you anyway." She clinches the Russell Brand-era Perry by adding, "Falling in love and I hope that you want me the way that I am." Next up is "Got Love," carrying on her use of a tropical sounding beat as Tove Lo jubilantly announces, "We got love." It's a very Scandinavian declaration.

"Not On Drugs" begins Tove Lo's decidedly overt enjoyment of comparing being in love to being on drugs as she asserts, "Baby listen please, I'm not on drugs, I'm just in love." The comedown from this sentiment is further explored on "Habits (Stay High)." But before that, there's "The Pain (Interlude)," allowing her to transition into the aftermath of love as she states, "And then there's no good way to end things, 'cause it's ending, you know?" This leads into "Thousand Miles," her first real slow jam of the album. Her earnestness shines through in lyrics like, "Back and forth forever, is that how it's gonna be?" Naturally, as with so many songs, running or walking a thousand miles is bandied about to show how much one person can love another.

"Habits (Stay High)," easily her best song, succeeds "Thousand Miles," expressing a distinct form of pain that can only be experienced through the heartache caused by withdrawals from the one you used to love (or used to love you). "This Time Around" explores the unraveling of a relationship through the loss of interest on the part of another. Tove Lo laments, "I used to take your breath away/I used to make you laugh about anything..." The beat picks back up again, however, with "Run On Love"--though the theme of love lost goes on, with Tove Lo insisting, "We can run on love till it dies." 

For those with the bonus track version, a remix of "Habits (Stay High)" serves as the next track, with "Love Ballad" following. Antithetical to the title, this track is an upbeat announcement of all the things Tove Lo would do for the one she loves, including "Jump off a cliff/give you my last spliff." Again with the drug references, "Crave" is the second to last song on the deluxe edition of the album. Slower and more controlled, Tove Lo drones, "Cravin' I'm cravin'/I crave you." And if you're not in a k-hole by the end of this song there's one more remix of "Not On Drugs" to keep you as doped up as possible until you re-play the album. 

Michaël R. Roskam's The Drop may come across as just another gangster movie, but there's far more complexity to it than that. Not only does James Gandolfini's final posthumous film (following Enough Said) lend the often typecast actor plenty of justice, but it also serves as the perfect vehicle for Tom Hardy (with his weird British interpretation of a Brooklyn accent and all) to show off his frequently underrated acting chops.

Based on Dennis Lehane's (who also adapted the screenplay) story, Animal Rescue, The Drop is an enigmatic glimpse into the underworld of Brooklyn crime, consistently posing the moral dilemma of right versus wrong and the fine line that always seems to blur these two opposing concepts. Bob Saginowski (Hardy), the bartender at Cousin Marv's Bar, finds himself in the difficult position of being Marv's (Gandolfini) cousin. As such, he tends to fall into the role of Marv's "boy" rather easily, particularly since the bar is run by Chechnyan thugs that use the establishment as drop-off point for their illicit money.

Tom Hardy as Bob in The Drop

Tom Hardy as Bob in The Drop

As if dealing with the recent robbery of Marv's drop money isn't enough, Bob also finds himself caring for a pitbull he names Rocco after finding him in the trash can of a woman named Nadia (Noomi Rapace) while walking home from the bar one night. His affectionate and protective side shines through as he comes to view Rocco as more of a friend than a pet. Unfortunately, a local loony gangster, Eric Deeds (Matthias Schoenaerts), claims to be the rightful owner of Rocco, badgering Bob to the point of coming to his house either unannounced or while he's not there in order to scare the shit out of him. 

A proud (and uncertain) new pet owner

A proud (and uncertain) new pet owner

As Bob worries about how to juggle his lust for Nadia with his watchfulness over Rocco, Marv has schemes and dreams of his own--all involving selling Bob down the river for a quick escape. However, all isn't as it appears with Bob (considering most Bobs have to be at least somewhat evil thanks to the precedent set by Twin Peaks). The Drop's exploration of redemption and the notion of whether or not a person can come back from sin is extremely poignant, revealing that nothing is ever truly fixed with matters of atonement. And all you really need is one person to forgive you, allowing you to believe in yourself (and your penchant for goodness) again. 

When it comes to movies starring Jennifer Aniston, the term "hit or miss" is something of an understatement. But add Yaslin Bay a.k.a. Mos Def, Will Forte and Tim Robbins to the mix and you've got yourself some undeniable possibilities for goodness. Such is the case with Daniel Schechter's latest film, Life of Crime. Set in the 1970s and based on Elmore Leonard's The Switch (also, incidentally, the name of a Jennifer Aniston movie), the film centers around a kidnapping under the false assumption that Mickey Dawson (Aniston) is given a shit about by her alcoholic husband, Frank Dawson (Robbins), a wealthy, thieving landlord with a penchant for affairs.

promotional poster for Life of Crime

promotional poster for Life of Crime

Mickey, very much the martyred housewife, goes through the motions of acting interested in her husband's social life, attending parties and country clubs, all the while only in it for her son's sake. The relationship she has with Frank is strained at best and abusive at worst. Her son, Bo (Charlie Tahan), also has nothing positive to say about the man, remarking, "He doesn't know shit." But even the offer of an affair by fellow country club-goer Marshall Taylor (Will Forte) doesn't make her feel any sort of excitement. If anything, it leaves her revolted.

Doing the blonde thing

Doing the blonde thing

And so, when she's kidnapped by two ex-cons named Ordell Robbie (Mos Def) and Louis Gara (John Hawkes), her reaction is understandably somewhat disturbed, yet also utterly zen. Knowing that her husband doesn't love her, Mickey laughs when Louis--who she strikes up something of a romantic rapport with--tells her they're asking for a million dollars (of which Frank swindled by skimping on the cost of his appliances in his apartments). 

Doing the aloof thing

Doing the aloof thing

The true apple of Frank's eye is Melanie (Isla Fisher), a buxom redhead with a lax attitude about everything, that is, until Ordell comes to find her and Frank in the Bahamas to personally extort his money. This results in Melanie using her charms on him to talk down his asking price and throw in offing Mickey for good measure (she can't have Frank feeling suddenly guilty and retracting his divorce papers, after all). 

Doing the terrified thing

Doing the terrified thing

In the meantime, Mickey must stave off the perverted actions of Richard (Mark Boone Jr.), the Nazi sympathizer/paraphernalia collector whose house she's being held captive in. Ultimately, Louis saves her from his raping clutches and takes her back to his apartment where they, surprisingly, don't consummate their relationship. In fact, it is this strange plot twist, for lack of a better term, that makes Life of Crime so interesting and so telling of the decade that was the 1970s. Rather than being an era of cliches, it was a time that emphasized change and revolution (albeit not quite to the same extreme as the 60s). Rather than allow herself to jump from one form of monogamy to another, Mickey merely seeks friendship from her former captors, who seems to know much more about living a life of excitement than she does.  


Posted
AuthorGenna Rivieccio
CategoriesMovie Reviews

In spite of Karen O's somewhat vexatious methods for promoting her latest album, Crush Songs, there is an undeniable charm and honesty about the theme of her first solo work. Whether focusing on all of her sources of heartache is a gimmick or a genuine way to relate to her audience, the fifteen-track record offers a smattering of O's unbridled emotions when it comes to matters of love (and love lost or unrequited). The brevity of each song makes the run time top out at just over twenty-five minutes, which is rather impressive when you consider how quickly, yet in-depth she manages to cover the gamut of romantic relationships. Lost in love--like the rest of us

"Ooo" has the moody vocals of a Loretta Lynn and mirrors the tone of an old country song in terms of Karen O defending her man by asserting, "Don't tell me that they're all the same/'Cause even the sound of his name carries me over their reach back to some golden beach where only he remains." The first single from the album, "Rapt," is one of the longest (which is presumably one of the reasons it made the cut for single material--that, and it sounds most like a Yeah Yeah Yeahs song) and illuminates the dichotomous pleasure and pain of love with the lyrics, "Love is soft, love's a fucking bitch. Do I really need another habit like you?"

http://youtu.be/oTvqMfvVWYQ

"Visits" sounds vaguely like the backbeat to Lorde's "Royals," but, this flaw aside, it has a special place on Crush Songs for its particular breed of fastness. It has one of the most jubilant-sounding versions of Karen O, in spite of her noting "I can't hold any soul." Channeling Lana Del Rey on "Beasts," Karen O evokes her darkest, most forlorn vibe on a song that laments, "My heart was never interested in lasting... Did you really love?" Surrendering to the beast that is love, O paints a grim portrait of vulnerability's consequences.

Album cover for Crush Songs

"Comes the Night" continues a sinister aural motif, with light baritone guitar strums that complement Karen O's aching voice. Just when you start to become enthralled by her tale, the song ends at a minute and six seconds. And, of course, as the lead singer of one of the most New York bands, it wouldn't be a Karen O album without a song called "NYC Baby." A sweet, nostalgic sort of track, O croons, "Left my baby in New York City/Oh what a pity he's in New York City/Rather have my baby much much closer to me lately than he's been."

Album cover for Crush Songs

"Other Side" finds Karen O hitting her lo-fi stride, with the distinct homemade sound of the record reaching one of its pinnacles--background noise and all. Though, let's get one thing straight: Julie Ruin by Kathleen Hanna this is not. "Come with me to the other side," O urges, whether as a lure to the object of her affection or a means to wear down someone she's already got in her clutches. Following is "So Far," another twangy sort of track that elicits comparisons to some sort of new-fangled Patsy Cline. The lyrics focus on post-breakup era sentiments as O gives the pep talk, "Hold your head high, leave your bed."

A triumphant solo artist

Once again, Karen O has a decidedly Lana Del Rey feel on "Day Go By," with a guitar riff that sounds faintly like "Brooklyn Baby." As the most obvious choice for single material after "Rapt," "Day Go By" has a less pronounced low-budget sound than some of the other songs and features lyrics that err on the more feel-good side (hear: "Gotta call the doctor doctor, gotta tell him that my pain is gone"). "Body," possibly the best offering on Crush Songs, explores the lovely, somewhat impossible notion of not settling for anyone less than what you're looking for with the assurance: "If you love somebody, anybody/There will always be someone else/So make it right for yourself."

Mourning love

"King" is one of the more anomalous songs on the album, referencing none other than Michael Jackson, which I guess counts as a form of love. Over the course of a minute and twenty-three seconds, Karen O explains, "King of pop is dead and gone away, no one will ever take his place/He's in his castle in the sky watching over you and I/And with his single sparkling glove/He blows us kisses to show us love/Is he walking on the moon?/I hope I don't find out too soon." "Indian Summer" possesses a slower than usual tempo and alludes to that strange time when one is more susceptible to falling in love: Indian summer.

Karen O's Crush Songs manifesto

"Sunset Sun" finds Karen O comparing sunsets and sunrises to relationships ending and beginning anew, promising, "Night has come, it's done.../Someday you'll know the one." "Native Korean Rock" changes the vibe altogether, with a pronounced rock-oriented feel akin to early Rilo Kiley. As a more empowering song than most of the others, Karen O practically screams, "You'll be fine, fine, fine." Especially if you listen to this album post-breakup.

Single cover for "Rapt"

"Singalong" closes out Crush Songs in a spirited campfire kind of manner, with whistling and other harmonies involved. An uplifting way to conclude an album about the peaks and valleys of love, Karen O shows us that she's capable of accomplishing what so many other solo artists who break away from their bands aren't: Establishing her own unique sound (see: Morrissey, Damon Albarn).

 

 

Sequels are always a delicate thing. On the one hand, everyone wants to see more of a good movie (e.g. The Godfather: Part II and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle), but on the other, a part of you knows that you're likely to be somehow dissatisfied with the result. Robert Rodriguez's follow-up to 2005's (was it really all those years ago?) Sin City, Sin City 2: A Dame to Kill For, follows the same formula and features the same aesthetic, and yet, it seems to be lacking the same magic. Promotional poster for Sin City 2

Who is the dame to kill for, you may be wondering? Why Eva Green, of course. In the role of Ava Lord, a real Circe type, Green makes the most of showing off her body with what essentially amounts to non-stop nudity. After awhile, you stop even noticing those two nipples staring right at you. The film, in fact, centers mostly around her story line, as she reels Dwight back in to supposedly save her from her evil husband. With the sick minds of Rodriguez and writer Frank Miller joining together again, one would have hoped for some even more sadistic shit, but the sequel is decidedly short on disgusting and repulsive imagery (not counting Joseph Gordon-Levitt's fingers getting rearranged). More than that, Clive Owen is noticeably missing in the role of Dwight. Are we really just supposed to go along with Josh Brolin as his replacement? I don't fucking think so.

Eva Green as Ava Lord: a dame people kill for

Among other plotlines, Marv (Mickey Rourke) returns to start fights whenever possible, as beating the shit out of people is his primary passion in life. Plus, what else is there to do in Sin City if you're not bashing someone's face in out of frustration? Joining forces with Dwight and Nancy (Jessica Alba, also reprising her role) at different points in the story, Marv seems to serve more as the muscle in the script rather than someone with a worthwhile personal journey of his own (guess they gave that to him enough in the first film). The character of Johnny, however (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), presents one of the most intriguing tales and gets one of the more minimal amounts of screen time. As the bastard child of Senator Roarke (Powers Booth), Johnny has a gift for gambling that he uses against Roarke in a private poker game. Winning the game ends up costing him a few good limbs--and one good dame.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the beleaguered Johnny

Though Johnny isn't the only new character introduced into the mix, the other ones, like Joey (Ray Liotta) and Sally (Juno Temple) or Mort (Christopher Maloney) and Bob (Jeremy Piven), have such marginal, brief vignettes within the larger picture that there's nothing really compelling about watching them. Even a cameo from Lady Gaga, which should be, if nothing else, mildly entertaining, errs on the side of dull and inane.

Jessica Alba in a look inspired by Edward Scissorhands

While the pacing of Sin City 2 is definitely slower than its predecessor, it still feels like it has the high-octane energy you would find from a Quentin Tarantino movie--but it simply doesn't have the conviction. Whether it's because too much time has passed since the first one or it just doesn't have the charisma that Clive Owen brings to every film, Sin City 2 fails to achieve the same level of awe-inspiring reverence. Yeah, it's good and yeah there's still tits and violence galore--which is what we demand from Rodriguez and in general--but that's really about all you can say about it.

 

 

It's difficult to live in Los Angeles and not succumb to that disease known as narcissism, particularly as a gay man whose ego has been fed on a steady diet of prospective fucks. In Eric Casaccio's short film, aptly titled Narcissist, the psychosis of the typical vain bear is explored with the dexterous ease of someone who's all too familiar with the tale. Rob and Evan, a shattered relationship

In the opening scene, we meet Evan (Hunter Lee Hughes), an affable man who is blind-sided when his long-term boyfriend, Rob (Brionne Davis), breaks up with him over video chat--or rather, Rob's new boyfriend breaks up with Evan over video chat. Feeling vulnerable and depressed after such an unexpected blow (no pun intended), Evan begins to reminisce about the past, when things between Rob and him were at their peak. In sharp contrast to the callous version of Rob presented at the outset, in which he coldly states, "What constitutes a fuck is when I sweat," in reference to Evan being able to satisfy him. With such a derisive line, we see that there's a clear pattern with this particular narcissist. He acquires pleasure from building his boyfriends (a laundry list of them, summed up by all the photos he collects of himself and the boy du jour in the same exact location) up and then tearing them down. It's a perverse way to boost his own ego.

Film poster for Narcissist

Rob's fate as a lonely, middle-aged cipher trolling Grindr for fulfillment seems like a more than fitting vengeance for Evan, who goes on to find true happiness with someone who doesn't condemn him for his aesthetic or in the bedroom preferences. As the third short directed by Casaccio, Behind the Hype is more than ready to see what he's capable of doing with a feature length film. Considering the depth with which he's able to explore the theme of his choosing within such a short time frame (Narcissist clocks in at about 17 minutes), it's easy to imagine the impact he could have with the 90-minute realm.

Charlie McDowell's debut feature, The One I Love, views like a combination of The Stepford Wives, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Rosemary's Baby. One, in fact, wonders if this was one of the initial elevator pitches when McDowell was initially trying to get funding (though, of course, when you're working with Mark Duplass, you come to realize that outside funding is unnecessary). After struggling to overcome the obstacle of infidelity in their relationship, married couple Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss) decide to take the advice of their nameless counselor (played by Ted Danson) and head for a weekend getaway at a remote, picturesque house recommended specifically by said therapist. The result turns quickly sinister, unexpected and unnerving. Promotional poster for The One I Love

McDowell's deftness in unraveling the bizarre plot twist of the story early on in the film serves to reel us in and keep us hooked for the entirety of the narrative--no matter how macabre things get. At first, the weekend starts out normally enough, with Ethan and Sophie playing nice with one another in spite of the trust issues Sophie has with him after his committing of adultery. To loosen up a bit, the two smoke some pot and drink as though their marriage depends on it. When Sophie meanders into the guest room later that night, she finds a seemingly alternate version of Ethan: a cooler, more romantic, more attentive one.

http://youtu.be/_4AUBoIgsvc

Ethan urges her to spend the night in the guest house with him, leading her to return to the main property to collect her things. It's there that she sees Ethan sleeping on the couch as though he'd never left. Creeped out by how quickly he seemed to have returned to the house, Sophie asks how he got back before her. It is at this point that they get into an argument about the events that have happened over the past few hours. Confused by Sophie's anger, Ethan goes into the guest house to continue sleeping on a different couch, where he awakens to a very different wife, though she appears to look exactly the same. When Sophie and Ethan have the epiphany that they're co-existing with two doppelgangers of themselves, they both have very opposing reactions. Sophie, enamored of the more dashing incarnation of Ethan, wishes to stay and "explore" the possibilities, while Ethan is entirely averse to continuing with the trip.

Revelations on a weekend getaway

The implications of The One I Love are centered around two contrasting viewpoints of love and its evolution. On the one hand, you can be satisfied with the flaws and the complications, taking them as a part of the reason for loving the person you do, and, on the other, you can see it as a statement on never being satisfied after the so-called honeymoon period has ended. For Sophie, it's the former, as she can't help but be allured by "the other" Ethan and his charms. But, as is usually the case, one always presents their best form during the beginning stages. The real Ethan knows better, not exhibiting the slight bit of interest in "the other" Sophie, especially after she weirds him out by offering him bacon for breakfast--something the real Sophie would never do.

The creepy pull of the guest house

While McDowell's film has its occasional, mainly suspension of disbelief kinks, the admirability of him deciding to deviate so far from the norm of what a typical romantic comedy entails more than makes up for it. After all, we've long ago left the Golden Era of 90s rom-coms like My Best Friend's Wedding and Notting Hill (maybe it has to do with Julia Roberts aging). And with this acknowledgement comes the need for somebody besides Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze to stray from the prototypical formula of the boy loses girl storyline. Thank god we have  the dynamic duo of Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss, breaking out from her Peggy Olson mold, to help pioneer this new genre.

Michel Gondry holds the distinctive cachet of a director like Wes Anderson. Everything he does is fraught with whimsy, and the characteristics of an auteur. Thus, it can be difficult for a fan to admit when Gondry has ventured too far out of his ordinary wheelhouse, which is the case with his latest film, Mood Indigo (or L'Écume des jours in French, meaning Froth on the Daydream, also the title of the Boris Vian novel on which it is based). Like The Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind, Mood Indigo favors the fantastical in terms of special effects, layering them on much more thickly than the aforementioned films. Promotional poster for Mood Indigo

Gondry and co-writer Luc Bossi remain largely faithful to the premise of the book, which focuses on the affluent Colin (Romain Duris, of The Spanish Apartment and Russian Dolls). Colin's wealth mercifully keeps him from working, as he concentrates on more important things like playing a rare instrument, called the pianocktail, that makes cocktails while you play it. His friendship with Chick (Gad Elmaleh), a literary fanatic obsessed specifically with the works of Jean-Sol Partre (yes, a spoonerism for Jean-Paul Sartre--and how often do you get to use the word "spoonerism," by the way?), begins to shift when Chick meets a woman, Alise (Aïssa Maïga), with his shared passion for Partre.

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Alise, who also happens to be the niece of Colin's servant, Nicolas (Omar Sy), helps nudge Colin toward the woman of his own fancy at a party. Chloé (Audrey Tautou, who, for some strange reason seems to be having trouble making a comeback), instantly allures Colin, though he feels tongue-tied and awkward upon their first encounter. Before going to the party, Colin specifically practices a dance to Duke Ellington's "Chloé." Incidentally, "Mood Indigo" is also the title of another Ellington song. Once the two start dancing together, their love is cemented, quickly leading to marriage and even more rapidly leading to Chloé contracting a strange illness while on their honeymoon. This illness involves a water lily growing inside of her, wreaking havoc on her lung. Colin goes bankrupt trying to give her the best medical care, only to lose her in the end anyway.

Awkward love

With a mood that shifts between light-hearted and utterly depressing, the severe contrast in tone doesn't quite carry off when viewing the movie as a whole. Of course, the cinematography, music and effects are what manages to salvage what the story lacks. As Gondry's seventh film, one would expect a bit more in the way of cohesion. However, it could be that adaptations are not what works for him. With Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as the benchmark for what he's capable of directorially, Mood Indigo falls noticeably short.

 

Growing up is neither easy nor enjoyable most of the time, particularly as a boy at the dawning of the twenty-first century. Richard Linklater quite literally documents this experience in his latest feature, Boyhood, an epic twelve years in the making. Although some might be inclined to think that a film that uses the same children as they grow into adolescence errs on the side of gimmicky, Linklater's story, attention to pop culture detail and distinctive dialogue style proves that this film is anything but artifice. Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) as a boy with his father, Mason (Ethan Hawke), and sister, Samantha (Lorelai Linklater)

Following the travails of Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane), a boy from a broken home, as he grows up in the strange time that was the early 00s, Linklater unfolds a plot that is mundane in theory, but layered with richness and relatability as you become increasingly invested in Mason's character and his interactions with other people in his life as he grows up (often times, sooner than he should as a result of being exposed to his mother's series of replacement husbands). Olivia (Patricia Arquette) tries her best to deal with the unexpected punches life throws her way, navigating the waters of parenthood on her own for most of her children's early life. Mason's sister, Samantha (Lorelai Linklater, Richard Linklater's daughter and no stranger to being in his films if you've ever seen Waking Life), has her own set of issues to deal with, though often serves as a constant source of annoyance to her brother.

http://youtu.be/Y0oX0xiwOv8

After Olivia re-locates their family to Houston to be closer to her mother and go back to school, she quickly re-marries to her college professor, Bill Welbrock (Marco Perella), as a means to form an intact family. Combining her two kids with Bill's boy and girl, the couple seems happy for awhile, until Bill shows his true colors as a violent alcoholic. The trauma of plucking Mason and Samantha from a living situation they had become so used to causes emotional upheaval in their existence that they thought they had finally evaded. Transferring to different schools, the brother and sister start over again, while still remaining in close contact with their father, Mason Sr. (Linklater favorite Ethan Hawke). Many of the cultural references in Boyhood stem from conversations Mason and Samantha have with him, especially as he discusses politics pertaining to the hotbed issues of the moment: Bush's shittiness as a leader, the conspiracy behind the war in Iraq, etc.

Entering teenhood

Other pop culture moments with pronounced attention to detail include Sam singing "Oops... I Did It Again" at the top of her lungs much to Mason's annoyance and Mason watching this once viral Funny or Die video. And, in many ways, this is what makes Boyhood most interesting to watch: Seeing the events of the 00s unfold and their subconscious effect on Mason's development. It is particularly resonant for those who are actually Mason's age at the end of the movie. The fanfare surrounding the release of the movie is, in most respects, deserved, though it does show a very specific (read: white) experience in American youth culture. And that might not necessarily appeal to everyone who didn't grow up with a white middle class background. Other than that, however, the film is worth your near three hours of time, serving almost as a cautionary tale about investing too many emotions in your children (as evidenced by the scene in which Olivia sobs as Mason leaves for college and says, "I thought there would be more").

 

August 5th at The Roxy Theater in Hollywood, Beardyman will be performing in his own crazy or self described "silly"  way. I spoke with him earlier this week about his upcoming tour and it seems that every minute is planned! He is very much looking forward to returning to the States and performing on the Roxy stage. It's the little things in life tough too! He is looking forward to the split pea soup at his favorite spot just north of LA.

Pea soup aside, he will be bringing out his incredibly customized synthesizer (a word which he says does not quite do it justice) and using only his voice and the manipulation in the synth without any pre-recorded sounds or vocalizations.

The shows tend to be very improvised and very electronically based. After the show at The Roxy, he will be staying in Los Angeles to record an album in an hour with audience input. With crowd input and his improvisation, the album's sound is yet to be heard as it will rely on spurt of the moment creativity and inspiration. Wednesday at the Comedy Central stage at the Hudson on Santa Monica Blvd he will be performing his one album per hour showcase.

I first heard of Beardyman from a TED talk he gave (watch the video below) and I was blown away and I was so happy to be able to talk to him about his music. He started at 5 years old trying to make new sounds and accurately make sounds that he had heard in the world.

He has since created this magical device that I will be happy to see live at The Roxy. To get your tickets visit The Roxy/ Ticket fly

 

 

Cheers Behind The Hype. I am Ohio for the last time. Enjoy the shows and find me at
Instagram: @Tameaa
~Tamea
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AuthorOhio
CategoriesConcerts