Saturday, August 31, 2013

Boston's Middle East Comes in at #19

I’ve always preferred small, intimate venues over large stadiums so I’m thrilled that Boston’s Middle East made the list of Rolling Stones Top 20 Best Rock Clubs. That being said, I’ve actually never been to the downstairs club portion of the popular Lebanese restaurant. Hosting many rock, punk, alternative, and indie bands, the club is a mainstay in Boston’s music scene. Having been to other rock clubs in Boston including The Paradise and the Avalon (now House of Blues) suffice it to say there are many options to see bigger bands come through town. Many of my friends have been to the Middle East before and all enjoy the small, hole in the wall feel of the club. The list has write ups on many other notable venues across the country in cities such as Portland, New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle which have played host to many great acts over the years. Have you been to any on the list?

Rolling Stone's Top 20 Best Rock Clubs

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Songs From Today's Playlist

A few songs from this morning's commute.

1. Sweet Jane - Velvet Underground
2. Cut Your Hair - Pavement
3. Warble Factor - The Evens
4. We Will Fall Together - Streetlight Manifesto
5. Recovery - Frank Turner

Olympus Has Fallen - Decent Action Flick

      Olympus Has Fallen was a good action movie.  Was it mind blowing?  No.  Was it so bad I wanted to turn in off?  No.  It fell right in the middle those two.  Gerard Butler has emerged as a modern day “action movie hero” in the same vein as the Sylvester Stallone’s and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s of the 1980’s.  The film is a “what if” centered on a team of North Korean terrorists who manage to take over the white house and hold the president and his staff hostage.  Butler plays the President’s former top secret service agent who in recent months has been reduced to a desk job for reasons revealed in the first 10 minutes of the film.  After the initial attack on the white house, Butler moves in to save the day and rescue the hostages while simultaneously taking out all the bad guys.  The movie is filled with explosions and gun battles, and is a non-stop thrill ride (for lack of a better cliché).  Supporting roles by Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House and Aaron Eckhart as the President are great, but surprisingly small roles, especially for Freeman.  Overall the film kept me entertained for the duration of its two hour run time and at the end of the day, that’s really all one can hope for in an action movie like this.  Would I see it again? Probably.  Would I go out and buy it? Probably not.

The Evens - "Music Is for Everybody"

      The Evens are a band that truly stand for what music is all about.  This Washington D.C. based two piece is made up of Amy Farina (formerly of The Warmers) on drums and Ian MacKaye on baritone guitar.  MacKaye has been a seminal figure in the underground music scene in Washington D.C. since 1978 as a founding member of the Teen Idles and Minor Threat, considered to be one of the very first hardcore punk bands.  MacKaye is also one of the founding members of Dischord Records, and would later found Fugazi, who would go on to become one of the biggest bands the underground has ever seen selling albums in the millions, numbers unheard of by most other independent label bands.  As the creator of the “straight edge” movement, MacKaye has always taken a firm stance against the abuse of drugs and alcohol and has continuously pushed for low ticket prices and all ages policies at his shows.  MacKaye’s desire for all ages shows stems from his belief that music is for everyone.  The same is true for The Evens.  Their latest CD “The Odds” continues in the same vein as their previous releases; Farina’s drumming and singing are perfectly timed and her beats are ferocious on tracks like King of Kings and Warble Factor.  MacKaye’s guitar playing is haunting and slow at times and then erupts into the same ferocity seen in his former bands.  While most of the tracks are sung by Farina with MacKaye doing backing vocals, some songs like Wanted Criminals see MacKaye singing lead and truly harken back to the days of Fugazi.  Every track on the album is fantastic and that doesn’t happen often.  The Evens continue to only charge $5.00 at the door for their shows and play at nontraditional venues such as libraries, book stores, bike shops, cafes, really anywhere.  With the current trends in the music industry it’s nice to see a band that not only sticks to its values but fights for them.  Music is an art form; it’s not about selling a product, or making as much money as possible, it’s about expressing yourself and The Evens exemplify this.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Today's Playlist

I put on a mix I made months ago for the first time in awhile and these were the first tracks that played:

1. Deep - Pearl Jam
2. Sidewalk - Built to Spill
3. Angel's Wings - Social Distortion
4. Bent - Matchbox Twenty
5. Love Buzz - Nirvana

What was on your playlist today?

UPDATE: Comment Away!!

I have recently changed some settings on the blog to allow anyone and everyone to comment on the posts.  I strongly encourage commenting as my hope for this blog is to facilitate discussions about movies and music.  So any readers out there who want to get involved and tell me what they think, please do!!  I look forward to hearing from people!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Today's Playlist

In addition to my regular posts, I want to start posting a list of whatever I am listening to that day.  Just a few tracks as another way of exploring new music.  I won't list genres, styles, or albums, just the song and the artist.  You'll just have to listen!

1. Across the Universe - The Beatles
2. Hazel Eyes - The Darkness
3. Waiting Room - Fugazi
4. Free Money - Patti Smith
5. Allison - Pixies

Pirate Radio: Peace, Love, and Rock n' Roll

      After watching Pirate Radio I wanted to jump in the car and either drive off the pier, radio ablaze in an attempt to start my own rebellious rock station, or head to Best Buy to purchase the film.  After an intense internal struggle I went with option B.  The film…was…SPECTACULAR!  With an ensemble cast including Bill Nighy, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Nick Frost, and many others, the film is a veritable cornucopia of talent.  With a dry, witty, sarcastic tone throughout, the film gives you the same feeling as Monty Python or Shaun of the Dead (another great Nick Frost film).  The premise centers around a group of misfits operating a pirate radio station on a boat off the coast of Great Britain in 1966.  Much to the dismay of the British authorities, the ship continuously broadcasts whatever music it likes, safe in international waters.  The film is to a small extent a classic coming of age tale focusing on the experiences of Carl, the seventeen year old godson of Quentin (Bill Nighy) who runs the station.  Following around his favorite disc jockey, The Count (Philip Seymour Hoffman), Carl comes to realize that there are much more important things in life than growing up.  A phenomenal soundtrack only helps to further catapult this film into my top five favorite movies of all time.  Songs by The Kinks, The Who, The Beach Boys, Jeff Beck, Martha Reeves and the Vandellas, and many others coupled with classic 60’s fashion help to give the film a real sense of nostalgia and transport the viewer right back to the flower power decade.  Peace, love and rock n’ roll…what else is there?   

UPDATE - "Weatherman" by Dead Sara: Free Download!!

Rolling Stone has Dead Sara's single "Weatherman" available for free download!  Be sure to read my write up on the bands album below and download the song to add to your playlist!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Man with the Iron Fists - Great Action, Sub-Par Story

      I wasn’t sure how I felt after I finished watching “The Man with the Iron Fists” but disappointed was certainly a word that crossed my mind.  Visually the film is beautiful with incredible costumes and environments.  Performances by Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu are top notch and help to move the story line forward during times of poor writing and a lack of plot direction.  I think overall I just expected more out of this movie.  With Eli Roth as a co-writer I definitely expected WAY more out of the script.  Having loved the Hostel movies and many other examples of Roth’s work, the lack of a compelling story was difficult to overlook.  However, the martial arts are great and the film accomplishes its goal of acting as an homage to classic kung fu movies (to an extent).  The film has many similarities to the Mortal Kombat movies and franchise, focusing on elaborate fantasy characters fighting it out to the death for honor, glory, and  love.  If martial arts are your thing and you happen to be a huge Russell Crowe fan then this could be your new favorite movie.  But if you’re a classic kung fu movie aficionado then you will probably end up on the disappointed end of the spectrum because trust me when I say, it’s no Enter the Dragon.    

Dead Sara - Some Serious Hard Rock

      Dead Sara is a band that will knock you backwards one second and soothe your soul the next.  Since the release of their eponymous album in 2012 the band has begun to rocket into the mainstream with performances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and award nods from all over the world.  Their hit single “Weatherman” has blown up in the last year and has led to tours with many notable rock and alternative bands including Muse, Neon Trees, and The Used.  I had the privilege of seeing them live on tour with The Offspring at the House of Blues in Boston last year and was pleasantly surprised by the band.  Their stage presence is intense to put it lightly with lead singer Emily Armstrong screeching the lyrics as if it were her last time on stage.  Bouncing all over the place and jumping off of amps and speakers, Armstrong and lead guitarist Siouxsie Medley feed off each other extremely well and are a tight knit team backed up by an exceedingly strong rhythm section.  Their music is unique in that it sounds so different from track to track.  While songs like “Weatherman” and “Lemon Scent” are destined to become unforgettable hard rock songs, others like “Dear Love” and “We are What You Say” have much more poppy rhythms and could be called decidedly more “mainstream”.  The differences between each track however just keep the album fresh and interesting.  I would predict that we will be hearing a lot more about Dead Sara in the future.