Wednesday, October 30, 2013

actors roundtable

Great interview with actors--Jake Gyllenhaal, Forest Whitaker, Matthew McConaughey, Jared Leto, Josh Brolin and Michael B. Jordan--from The Hollywood Reporter.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


One of my favorite singles of the year "Paint a Smile on Me" by Black Yaya just got this groovy remix by Breakbot...

Also check out the one by Zimmer...


Sexy socialite...


Love Jones (sample Eddie Kendrick's 1973 hit "Keep on Truckin'")...

Real Slow (remixed by Plastic Plates)...

Without You...

Arches mixes up The Magician...

Disclosure drops a track...

NY Theme y'all...

'Tis the season for these tracks:

MJ's thriller mashed up with Darkside...

Who you gonna... ?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

all is lost

After the babbling economic collapse pastiche Margin Call, director / writer J.C. Chandor returns with the basically wordless All is Lost.  Robert Redford plays a man alone on a yacht that hits a shipping container and then a major storm, leaving him out to sea with little hope.  This is an experiment for Chandor who nimbly executes his piece. But it's also sort of a boring and wonky movie about pragmatic decisions in perilous oceanic situations and Redford's face.  There are some undeniably beautiful shots throughout, exquisite editing and sound design, and a pretty score by Alex Ebert (of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes). Quietly expressive, Redford carries the pic solidly, quite fit and able for his near 80 years in a physically demanding role. He is also someone the average indie film goer (pretty much the audience for this flick) automatically cares about since he is primarily responsible for shaping American independent cinema today. But I found him slightly better in the recent mixed-bag The Company You Keep where I sensed a glimmer of nostalgia and pathos for him.  It doesn't help that this year (and this week) also offers mayhem-at-sea thriller Captain Phillips with a super showy comeback for Tom Hanks and the similarly-plotted survivalist tale Gravity which is a space barn-burner and a visual effects stunner; as flimsy as the script in Gravity is, at least it kind of attempts to characterize its heroine. Critics have heaped praise upon Chandor and Redford's work as meditative and "somberly spectacular" but in the end I found it too slight.  **1/2

-Jeffery Berg

Friday, October 25, 2013

space me out

Music video for Lithuanian duo Downtown Party Network's single "Space Me Out" featuring a lovely vocal by Eglė Sirvydytė.

I want a disco ball for a head.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

god hates 'the lords of salem' by justin lockwood

I’ve always been a champion of Rob Zombie, despite his movies garnering mixed reviews from critics and fans, to say the least.  I dig his bold visual style and enjoy his trashy dialogue and characters.  His movies are idiosyncratic and wholly his own.  Even if they’re not scary, and sometimes they aren’t, they’re always interesting.

His latest film, The Lords of Salem, gained a lot from a second viewing.  It’s not as gory or profane as any of his previous movies, but in some ways it’s less accessible to mainstream audiences.  It’s all about mood and slow building creepiness, and requires maybe a little too much patience for most people.  But with each movie Zombie grows more visually accomplished, and this one’s no exception.  The swinging light bulbs in a blue-gray hallway; the grey expanse of a leaf strewn cemetery; the blinding red light of a crucifix appearing inexplicably in a vacant apartment—all are rendered simply and strikingly.

The fact that Sheri Moon Zombie, the director’s wife, appears in all of his movies and is the lead of this one is a particular bone of contention for a lot of people.  She’s not a great actress, and many insist her continued presence is bald nepotism with no redeeming value.  I disagree.  For one, Zombie is the auteur here, and it’s his right to cast whoever the hell he wants, including his wife.  For another, one of his major focuses, especially as his movies have gotten more polished, is visuals.  Sheri is a stunning looking woman, and Zombie puts her beauty to good use.  In one of her first scenes, she’s shown prone on her stomach, naked, as the alarm jars her from sleep.  Simply put, she’s got a great body, and it makes for a lovely image.  Zombie also gave her a mane of dreadlocked hair in The Lords of Salem, a bold choice that seems to serve two purposes: to quickly establish character—her Heidi LaRoc is a radio DJ and recovering drug addict—and to allow him to filter light through the long withering locks of her hair.  Zombie seems to understand her limitations as an actress and to make the most of her attributes and appeal.

He also surrounds her with a cast of capable and interesting actors.  Meg Foster is terrifying as the maniacal witch, Margret Moran; Judy Geeson, Patricia Quinn, and Dee Wallace are all terrific as the trio of women whose friendliness towards Heidi masks nefarious intentions; and Bruce Davison is grounded and real as a historian and would-be savior.  Of the modern day coven, Geeson in particular gives her character an authentic, lived-in quality that pays off as she transitions from maternal to threatening, and Wallace, a genre favorite, imbues her ironically named “Sunny” with considerable ass kicking intensity.  Jeff Daniel Phillips is an impassioned, if typically shaggy and shlubby looking, Zombie dude in love with Heidi; Zombie regular Ken Foree, though, is pretty much wasted as a fellow DJ with an unfortunate toupee.

Character is secondary to the mood and look of the movie, which the director describes as “if Ken Russell directed The Shining”; it’s filled with long, sustained shots and ghoulish, sudden visions of spectrous witches and hovering, troll like demonoids.  Unlike the eclectic rock soundtracks that filled his previous movies, Zombie here mostly uses John 5 and Griffin Boice’s effective instrumentals and some classical music pieces, which give the film a quieter, subtler quality.  Even his source music, notably two well-chosen Velvet Underground tracks, tends to provide accompaniment to restrained or wordless sequences.  The “Lords theme” that Heidi receives on a mysterious record perhaps captures the essence of what Zombie is trying to do here, with weird, disjointed sounds creating an unnerving tonality without being in-your-face.

Filming on location in Salem was a smart move.  It gives the movie a realism to contrast with the surreal and dreamy imagery, and provides evocative tableaus for Zombie to work with.  It also lends credence to a movie that plays fast and loose with actual history, at one point acknowledging the non-supernatural real life hysteria before launching into its own invented backstory.  (A cameo by the town’s Bewitched statue early on slyly winks at the confluence of Puritan grimness and pop culture Halloween overkill that has transformed this small town over the decades.)

On first viewing, The Lords of Salem seemed like a minor if unusual effort from Rob Zombie, a first chance to flex creative muscle after years toiling on the rebooted Halloween franchise.  But further inquiry reveals a rewarding, fascinating movie that both stands alone and bodes well for the director’s ability to explore new and better things as he continues to hone his craft.

-Justin Lockwood

we are explorers & take me higher

New Cut Copy... time to jump in the air!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

cmj tu(n)esday! by melissa presti

After 5 sleepless nights of the 2013 CMJ Music Marathon came to an end on Saturday, I have a ton of new music to share (and some old favorites who continued to impress me)! Here are my highlights:

Lucius - Turn It Around

I heard these Brooklyn ladies were a local favorite, and they killed it!

James Bay - Move Together

The British singer-songwriter had an incredible acoustic set, and he was easily one of my favorites of the week.

Prides - Out of the Blue

The synthpop Glasgow group Prides kicked off a UK music showcase (basically my fantasy), and their very first single "Out of the Blue" is a preview of the amazing dance tunes.

Duologue - Gift Horse

Beautiful things happening with their experimental beats and ethereal sound.

Strange Talk - Climbing Walls

Electro-pop Aussies. Feels like they've fused Two Door Cinema Club and Phoenix together.

The Stationary Set - Close Enough

I stumbled into Rockwood Music Hall (possibly after too many drinks) and The Stationary Set was the next band up. 2 songs in and I was wondering HOW was it possible to stumble upon this much awesome?

Panama Wedding - All of the People

I got a double dose of Panama Wedding at two different showcases, and their tropical indie rock was such a crowd pleaser. I discovered they have only released one song, and it doesn't even begin to show how great they are live. Ready for more!

Claire - Games

A German dance-pop band with a ton of energy and eclectic beats.

NONONO - Like the Wind

From Stockholm, this group is YESYESYES (see what I did there? I'm sorry.)

Betty Who - High Society

The entire band wore matching letter jackets while Betty Who skipped around on stage. Amazingness.

Ghost Beach - Miracle

I saw these local New York guys open up for Imagine Dragons a year ago, and they've been my dance jam ever since. Totally deserving of the night's headline.

Half Moon Run - Unofferable

My favorite Canadians closed out the week at 1am on Saturday, and after so many loud dance parties, this was the perfect note to end on.

-Melissa Presti