Welcome to the DFL's new go to blog about music and movies! Here at the Duxbury Free Library we have a wide array of movies in all genres from Action and Adventure to Comedy and Horror. We also have a ton of television shows including new seasons of True Blood, Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and of course Downton Abbey. So if anyone is like me and is saddened by the demise of movie rental stores, fear not! The DFL is the place for all your video rental needs. As if a great selection of DVD's wasn't enough, the DFL also has a fantastic selection of CD's covering all styles of music from all eras. Be sure to check in and see reviews and write ups on some of the best music and movies, new and old, that the DFL has just waiting for you to take out

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Guardians of the Galaxy Failed to Live Up to the Hype

Marvels latest film Guardians of the Galaxy was a jumbled overload of characters which when combined with a basic plotline left me wanting more.  After all the hype surrounding this film, I was anxious to finally see it.  Of the countless characters, worlds, gods, and ships that get tossed around my favorite character inronically ended up being the one I was most skeptical about from the first time I saw the trailer, the raccoon.  But we’ll get to that.  The film centers on Peter Quill, AKA Star Lord who is abducted in 1988 by a group of space pirates.  Years later we find Quill exploring an alien world and recovering a mysterious orb which he intends to sell.  The orb is sought after by the evil Ronan, a member of the Kree who is working with a galactic super being named Thanos in an attempt to destroy planets.  After Thanos’ adopted daughter Gamora is sent to intercept Quill, the two end up colliding with a pair of bounty hunters, the genetically modified raccoon Rocket and his towering humanoid tree Groot.  The whole group is promptly arrested and imprisoned where after meeting the final member of their  band of misfit toys, they decide to work together in an attempt to sell the orb and take down Ronan in the process.  The film had plenty of laugh out loud moments as the viewer sympathizes with the awkward fish out of water character of Star Lord who is portrayed by Parks and Recreations Chris Pratt.  However, the movie couldn’t quite decide which demographic it wanted to cater to which was a detrement to the acting and story.  The visual effects were out of this world, not to be cliché and there was plently to keep your eyes busy between epic space battles, daring escapes, countless large explosions and plenty of different colored aliens.  Still, despite its successes I was looking for more from a film many hailed as the best Marvel movie yet.  As this was clearly just the start of a new franchise which will see this awkward gang going on more adventures, I’ll just have to wait and see if its follow up trumps this new addition to the Marvel family.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Today, More Than Any Other Day...Is the BEST Day to Listen to Ought

I realized recently that I never reviewed my #2 pick for the top albums of 2014 and that is something that needs rectifying because the release is one of a kind and sounds NOTHING like any other music coming out these years.  I say years and not days because it is truly one of the most unique musical experiences I’ve had in a long time.  More than Any Other Day by Canadian alt-punk band Ought is stunningly imaginative and incorporates a diverse range of vocal and instrumental influences to craft a musical style which defies categorization.  The albums eight tracks are almost all over five minutes long allowing for compositions which change tempo, volume, and style several times throughout while allowing for the disassembling of traditional song structure in favor of an artistic, often spoken and chunky aesthetic that devolves into captivating guitar solos and steady rhythm sections.  Lead in track “Pleasant Heart” starts things off with a steady guitar driven tune which crashes into atonal static and feedback at the 3 minute mark before picking up at the end.  Title track “Today, More Than Any Other Day” is my favorite on the album.  Starting off slow and steady with a simple drum beat and casually plucked discordant guitar strings, the songs breaks open with a burst of energy at the 2:00 mark as lead singer Tim Beeler repeats “We’re sinking deeper…” pulling in the listener before launching into a David Byrne style vocal explosion of clearly stated lyrics which state simple positive exclamations like “Today! More than any other day, I am excited to stare into the eyes of the old man sitting across from me on the train and say, everything is going to be ok”  With a chorus of “Today, together, today, together, today, together, we’re OK” its hard not to jump up and down and smile during this song as you’re filled with positive energy.  The chunky, base driven “Habit” comes next and sees more Byrne style vocals as the song starts out as more of a spoken word piece.  Matt May’s keyboards come through heavily on  “The Weather Song” which sounds the poppiest of all the tracks with a fantastic chorus of “I! Just wanna revel in your lies”.  Slow and haunting  “Forgiveness” sounds straight out of Sunday Mass and takes several minutes to build up slowly with discordant feedback  before the first word is even spoken.  The song ends up recalling Pavement with a slower temp.  “Around Again” brings the keyboards back into the rhythm section in a big way as a smooth baseline keeps everything on track before  the song closes it’s last few minutes with a sharply repeated set of chords and Beeler repeating “We have reached the intermission, we can ask him all our questions….like are we there yet? Or are we lost forever?”  You’re left with an uncomfortable feeling while accepting that that song just reached new levels of ingenuity and thought provoking lyricism.  “Clarity” follows the one aspect of form which can be said applies to most of Ought’s songs in which a slow beginning gives way to a loud and more traditional song structure towards the end with the singer yelling “Did you get what you wanted?!”  Closing track “Gemini” finishes with another spoken word style banger with Beeler stating “I retain the right…” followed by a series of feelings and actions accompanied by chaotic guitar and drums alongside Ben Stidworthy’s steady bass lines which drive Ought’s explosions of expression.  At the end, “Gemini” sounds like Beeler’s last breath as he finishes an already strong album with a powerful and pulse driving closer which ends so abruptly it leaves you begging for more.  Luckily, Ought responded to that feeling and delivered an equally impressive follow up months later with Once More With Feeling.  Check out both albums, I promise they’re unlike anything you’ve heard.

Today's Playlist

1. Forward - Free Pizza
2. Drown (demo) - Hunters
3. Sick Mind - King Tuff
4. Displaced - Paths
5. Battle of Evermore - Led Zeppelin
6. Worriers - Worriers
7. Back Where I Belong - Rancid
8. Out of Vogue - Middle Class
9. Old Timers - Stymie
10. These Times They Are a-Changin' - Bob Dylan

A Dame to Kill For Can't Stand Up to 2005's Sin CIty

After watching Frank Miller’s follow up to 2005’s out of this world Sin City, an adaptation of one of Miller’s graphic novels, it became clear why it suffered in the box office.  Despite its all-star cast and breathtaking effects and imagery, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For didn’t deliver the kind of cohesive plot line that made its predecessor such a successful film.  With several storylines in play, some of which take place before the events of the first film and several which take place after, the timeline is not just hard to follow, it’s non-existent.  The film is really just a series of vignettes from the world of Sin City incorporating characters already established in the first film nearly ten years ago.  There are three core plotlines to follow with one unifying factor, the character of Marv played by Mickey Rourke.  The first is simple and clear cut.  Formally called “Just Another Saturday Night” the film starts with Marv awaking from unconsciousness surrounded by a car wreck and several dead frat boys.  He retraces his steps to figure out what happened and crosses paths with several of our other characters at Kadie’s Saloon, a central location which acts as a hub for several plot lines.  The meat of the movie comes in the form of its two central plotlines, “The Long Bad Night” parts one and two which sees new comer Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as a cocky gambler named Johnny who gets the better of evil crime lord Senator Roark, the father of the yellow villain dispatched by Detective Hartigan in the original film.  In between parts one and two of “The Long Bad Night” we get the title sequence “A Dame to Kill For” which sees the return of several characters including Gail, Miho and the other girls of Old Town as well as Dwight McCarthy.  Dwight’s character was one of the best in the original film and to get a little more back story was exciting.  However, Josh Brolin’s portrayal of the character couldn’t stand up to the phenomenal performance by Clive Owen who played him in the 2005 film.  We learn about his relationship with temptress Ava (played by Eva Green) and the results of said relationship which turn out to be less than favorable for Dwight and Marv who he drags in to the scenario for help.  The film closes with a seemingly random storyline which takes place years after the events of the first film and finds Jessica Alba’s Nancy Callahan plagued with guilt over the suicide of her beloved Detective Hartigan as a result of the violence of the Roark family.  This whole story seemed forced and more of an excuse to give Bruce Willis a strange cameo as the ghost of Hartigan who helps Nancy inadvertently in her quest for vengeance.  Did you follow all that?  For the die-hard Frank Miller fan, the film probably makes more sense.  But to the average movie goer, it is a jumbled mix of short stories loosely intertwined and masquerading as a cohesive story which it is not.  That being said, I definitely believe the film is worth checking out.  The visuals are as stunning as the first film and the acting is top notch. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2015

The inductees have been announced and it's another big year for music in all genres.  Amazingly, So-Cal punks Green Day have been chosen in their first year of eligibility sparking furious debates all over the interwebs.  Also selected were Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (how she never made it in before now is beyond me) and blues rock aficionados Stevie Ray Vaughn and Double Trouble.  The late great Lou Reed will also be inducted.  Already in as a member of the Velvet Underground, it's sad that Reed didn't make it long enough to see his solo work recognized in such a way.  Several artists which I'm sure many fans believed were shoe-ins were left off the list dashing their hopes until next year.  Bands that missed the mark include The Smiths, Nine Inch Nails, and N.W.A.  Many have argued that bands as influential to modern music as The Smiths should have been picked long before Billy Joe and co. but clearly those people have never heard "Jesus of Suburbia" or "Longview".

Tracks from Today's Playlist

1. Lights Out - Screaming Females
2. Medical Envy - NICE GUYS
3. Every Day is a Winding Road - Sheryl Crow
4. Magnets Pt. 1 - Slothrust
5. Angel's Wings - Social Distortion
6. Price to Pay - Miami Dorritos
7. Fresh Pond - Krill
8. Nic Fit - Sonic Youth (Untouchables cover)
9. In the Meantime - Spacehog
10. In the Evening - Led Zeppelin

The Giver: Finally a YA Novel Adaptation I Can Get Behind

For some reason I missed out on The Giver by Lois Lowry.  It seems everyone read that book besides me.  I can remember younger grades reading it in high school so perhaps I missed the mark by a couple years.  The point is that I went into the film with clear eyes and very little idea of what the concept was besides the fact that it was another teen dystopian flick to throw on top of the pile.  2014 has been the year of the YA novel adaptation and The Giver directed by Phillip Noyce is a good way to round out such a year.  With less of a focus on romance, the film takes on larger, more existential questions in that the society in which protagonist Jonas lives is devoid of color and feeling.  In the year 2048, society has rebuilt itself after a devastating event which we know nothing about.  Now, human beings live high on a plateau where their self-sustaining society survives by eliminating all feelings like anger, jealously, and other negative actions and emotions as well as love, joy and hope.  In every sense of the word, their world is a utopia which basically survives on the idea that no one knows any different.  Everyone is equal and is assigned a job for life upon turning 18.  When young Jonas is left out of the selection process it is revealed that he has been chosen to be the new “Receiver”, the person charged with experiencing the past and history of the human race so that he may preserve it for future generations.  Jonas is sent to the edge of the community to work with the Giver, the old Receiver who is tasked with teaching Jonas about what it truly means to be human.  While certain things inspire Jonas like hope and love, others like war, violence, and fear confuse and frighten him.  As Jonas’ training progresses he starts to discover the lies underneath the surface of their picturesque society and seeks a way to change everything.  The Giver was a success in that it showcases what it means to be human.  Part of what makes us who we are is our ability to feel and though that sometimes leads to horrific outcomes, life just isn’t worth living without it.  In the end, love is the most important thing and once someone experiences that, there truly is no going back.  Managing to focus on love without getting too heavily into romance is difficult, especially in the YA genre and yet The Giver manages to draw a distinction between the two which I was overjoyed to see.  In this way the film was significantly better than other adaptations this year like The Mortal Instruments and Divergent whose plots center almost entirely on the young female protagonist’s new love interest.  Overall, I would recommend the film.  It’s a decent sci-fi story and has some great actors including Jeff Bridges as the Giver and Meryl Streep as the stone faced Chief Elder; definitely a good way to round out the years other dystopian flops.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

My Year End List - Top 10 Albums of 2014

Every single publication that has anything to do with music in any capacity is currently partaking in the time honored tradition of the Year End list right now so I figured I’d jump on the proverbial bandwagon and put together my own.  Year End lists are interesting because so many people have so many opinions and everywhere you look someone has picked something different for their number one album or song of the year.  AV Club picked Angel Olsen’s Burn Your Fire for No Witness as their number one record of the year and it didn’t even make Rolling Stone’s Top 40 Albums (thought their list is questionable at best considering their pick for number one was U2’s “excuse me while I shove this down your throat” Songs of Innocence LP).  The point is that everyone has their own picks and these happen to be mine.

10. Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright in the End: Weezer has had a tough few years but those pent up anxieties and emotions present themselves in a subtle way on their new album.  Frontman Rivers Cuomo manages to walk the line between sincerity and fun, catchy tunes while the rest of the band follows suit returning to Weezer’s geeky, alt rock roots making longtime fans of The Blue Album happy for the first time in a while.
9. White Lung – Deep Fantasy: Lead singer Mish Way delivers howling squeals and guttural belts fronting the visceral hardcore band White Lung whose third LP this year blended classic thrash with modern punk to create an adrenaline fueled thrill ride which I found myself getting in line to listen to over and over and over again.
8. Eagulls – Eagulls: The debut eponymous LP from the UK’s Eagulls proved that underground 80’s alternative is alive and well.  Each of the albums tracks oozes with manic depressive earnestness and creates a haunting atmosphere which harkens back to early Echo and the Bunnymen with a hardcore punk twist.
7. Parquet Courts – Sunbathing Animal: Brooklyn’s Parquet Courts have been busy the last 18 months churning out several releases the most recent being Sunbathing Animal .  The albums 46 minutes of punk charged art rock see the band pushing the limits of the sound nurtured on last year’s Light Up Gold.  With several songs devolving into Sonic Youth-esqe fuzzy guitar solos, the band has clearly demonstrated that while maintaining a cohesive style, they’re not afraid to take things to the next level.
6. Cloud Nothings – Here and Nowhere Else: Speaking of bands that push the boundaries, Cleveland’s Cloud Nothings released a phenomenal follow up to 2012’s Attack on Memory which proves that lead singer Dylan Baldi who started the band as a solo project in his bedroom has graduated to full on rock star status.  The albums tracks bring the same alternative intensity as their previous release while still showing evolutionary growth.
5. Bob Mould – Beauty and Ruin: The former Husker Du frontman created one of the best rock and roll records of year…hands down.  The album is full of thunderous drums, heavy hooks, raging riffs, and punky beats ranging from radio friendly sing-alongs to full on alternative hailstorms.  There’s a reason this album made my list and not the Foo’s Sonic Highways
4. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire for No Witness: AV Club’s pick for album of the year, Angel Olsen’s haunting and mesmerizing LP is an astounding piece of modern alterna-folk.  Drawing from an eclectic mix of influences the songs offer up Olsen’s unique and powerful voice as the focal point crafting dreamy, simple, yet heavy compositions around her incredible lyrics.  This album is A MUST for any year end list.
3. Alvvays – Alvvays: Canadian dream pop band Alvvays put together an out of this world debut album this year utilizing ethereal vocals, simple and catchy drumbeats and poppy hooks which when combined create the best “indie” album of the year.  Sounding like a softer version of the Dum Dum Girls with wayyyy less black leather, Alvvays has set the bar high for their follow up but if it’s half as good as their debut, it’ll still be a chart topper in my book.
2. Ought – More Than Any Other Day: WOW is the best way to describe Ought.  The third Canadian group on my list (way to go eh) this punk quartet is the only band to make my brow furrow this year, in a good way!  I was so confused when I first heard their album that I didn’t know whether to jump for joy or question humanity itself.  The albums songs combine the raw power of the Talking Heads with heavy guitars and CRAZY time signatures and tempo changes that both put you in a trance and make your heart explode.  Listen.to.this.record.

1.  Tacocat – NVM:  My number one album of the year emerged like a brilliant ray of sunshine from the dreary, rain saturated forests of the Pacific Northwest.  Tacocat’s debut NVM has everything I’m looking for in an alternative rock record.  All the songs are superb combining lyrics that are lighthearted and funny on songs like “This is Anarchy” and perfect social commentary on tracks like “Hey Girl”.  The band rocks, in sound, subject matter, appearance, and attitude.  All the members are involved in side project’s one of which deserves an honorable mention on my list.  Bree McKenna’s band CHILDBIRTH also released a debut this year entitled It’s a Girl! which exemplifies what’s so great about punk rock.  The album is over in less than 15 minutes but in that short amount of time crafts a raw, lo-fi sound which is grittier and heavier than most other albums released this year across all genres, no ifs ands or buts about it. End of discussion.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Songs from this Morning

1. The Charles Mansion - Idiot Genes
2. Virtual Insanity - Jamiroquai
3. The Way - Fastball
4. Something Must Break - Jawbox
5. Nightmare - The Faith

Year End Lists Have Begun!!!

It's that time of year again folks.  Everyone is stuffed full of turkey and staring down the holiday season that lies before us.  Shopping, family, food, gift giving, just some of the many things that make this time of year so magical.  It's also the time that every musical blog, magazine, publication, or whatever begins the time honored tradition of the year end list.  Best Artists, Best Albums, Best Songs, Biggest Surprises, Best New Acts, I could go on and on.  In keeping with the spirit I've decided to put together my own, albeit much briefer Best Albums of 2014 list.  Look for it next week and in the meantime, check out Rolling Stone's list of the 50 Best Albums of 2014 below.

Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums of 2014