Wednesday, February 25, 2015

This Mornings Playlist

1. Moonlight in Vermont - Frank Sinatra
2. Toxicity - System of a Down
3. Alone Again - Dokken
4. Feel it All Around - Washed Out
5. Confetti - The Lemonheads

Andre 3000 Hits Nail on the Head with Jimi Hendrix Portrayal

I was incredibly excited to see the new Hendrix biopic Jimi: All is By My Side despite the fact that I’ve never really been a huge Jimi Hendrix fan.  The film takes on the musicians early years, from being discovered by Keith Richards girlfriend in a club to signing on with his manager, ex- Animals bassist Chas Chandler.  Taking place entirely between being discovered and when he departs for the Monterey Pop Festival, the film offers an intimate look at the controversial artists early days as he navigates the music world, forms his backing band The Experience, and straddles the stresses of new fame, success, and love.  Many have called the film fictitious largely because of its portrayal of Hendrix’s relationship with girlfriend Kathy Etchingham.  The film often shows Hendrix taking a violent turn and even brutally beating Etchingham in a jealous rage.  Etchingham insists however that their relationship was wonderful and without such incidents.  While the movie lacked any actual Hendrix tunes because of issues with the estate, I felt it almost worked to the films benefit.  We get to view the myth that is Jimi Hendrix before he was anything besides a great guitar player.  His improvisational, bluesy guitar solos and intricate fret work take center stage as Outkast’s Andre 3000 captures the quiet, introverted man in his element long before “Purple Haze” graced the world’s collective eardrums.  Andre’s performance stands out as the brightest part of the film.  Many of the scenes attempt to encapsulate a feeling showing only Hendrix and his guitar alone in a room together as if there is nothing and no one else in the world.  We delve deep into his psyche as the viewer experiences the struggle felt by Jimi as he tries to maintain his opinions of the world and his music while attempting to break into the mainstream; all without sacrificing his creative license.  Showcasing many early live performances, including one attended by Paul McCartney and George Harrison right after the release of Sgt. Pepper in which Hendrix decides to take a risk and play the title track, not two days after the album dropped.  It’s moments like this that the film hits its stride and truly displays the charisma and genius of one of rock’s greatest artists.  History tells us the rest.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Florence is Back!!!

Welsh indie-pop princess Florence Welch is back at it with her band the Machine as the group looks ahead at a new album and plenty of touring throughout 2015.  The new album, a follow up to 2011's "Ceremonials" is still very hush hush but Flo and Co. have recently released a music video for one of the new tracks entitled "How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful".  The band is set to play several large festivals this summer before playing a group of shows in Europe.  Pay attention though because as soon as the album is officially named and announced, you know World Tour dates will pop up shortly after and since garnering so much attention over the last several years tickets will go fast.  For now, check out the video for the new song below.

New Song by Florence and the Machine

Today's Playlist

1. Super Vixen - Garbage
2. Pathetic - Blink 182
3. Dissolve - Classics of Love
4. Time to Pretend - MGMT
5. Yellow Ledbetter - Pearl Jam
6. Imitation of Life - R.E.M.
7. Every Day is a Winding Road - Sheryl Crow
8. Woman - Wolfmother
9. Mermaid - Swearin'
10. City's Full - Savages

Fury - More Character Study than War Film

The new Brad Pitt WWII drama Fury was underwhelming and not what I expected which left me feeling betrayed by its all-star cast.  The film centers on Staff Sergeant Don “Wardaddy” Collier played by Brad Pitt who commands a Sherman tank crew of five members.  They are all hardened war veterans and have been fighting the Germans since the North African campaign.  Now the crew of Fury (the name of their tank) is pushing into Germany during the final days of WWII in 1945.  The beginning of the film sees the addition of a new member to Collier’s squad, a young typist named Norman Ellison who has never seen a tank, let alone a battle.  Ridiculed by the rest of the crew, young Norman faces an uphill battle to earn the respect and acceptance of the war weary soldiers.  This ends up being almost the entirety of the plot which was both surprising and disappointing.  While the realism that director David Ayer tries to achieve is successful, I found myself wanting a more decisive storyline.  The film does a great job showing the brutality and darkness of war.  The crew of Fury has faced so much hardship and yet still has a long way to go as the war winds down.    Their love of each other is matched only by their hatred of the SS.  The crew, particularly Sgt. Collier despises the SS and takes any opportunity afforded him to kill every last one, regardless of whether they have surrendered or not.  In fact one of the earliest lessons Norman is forced to learn is that you don’t hesitate when it comes to killing the Germans.  Hesitation leads to death because in war you either kill or be killed.  This is one of the largest overall themes that is explored throughout the course of the film and calls into question the morality of many of the crew member’s actions.  In a way, the viewer is Norman.  Thrown into this situation suddenly and forced to react.  We have the same feelings he does in the beginning and as the film progresses we start to not only understand why the crew’s actions are necessary, but also why they are the way they are.  After seeing so much death and destruction, it’s difficult to face your enemy and have any sympathy or remorse.  While the film acts as an interesting character study of each of the men, it doesn’t have a whole lot of substance otherwise.  With the exception of taking a small town, fighting an enemy German tank, and the final push to defend a strategic crossroads, the film didn’t have any big WOW moments.  The point is to focus on the men; to try and see through their eyes.  The best part of the film for me was the simple fact that it was about tanks.  You never see WWII movies on the subject.  It’s always airplanes, naval ships or individual soldiers.  Rarely do we have such a detailed look at the lives of tank crewman and that was without a doubt the most interesting aspect of the film. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Five New Artists To Watch This February

If you're ever looking for a fast way to find some brand new music by up and coming artists, SPIN does a great monthly list which gives you a quick snapshot of five new bands releasing new music.  The list offers a brief description of the band/artist and lets you know what they sound like.  It also lists similar artists/sounds/styles to give you a great idea as to how the music will sound.  Of course the best way to find out is to listen for yourself.  Each artist has a link to one of their songs right on the list.  This months choices include an electronic music DJ named Alison Wonderland (great name), an ex-Massachusetts DIY punk rocker who does a fabulous stripped down cover of Blink 182's "M+M's", and a one man folk band with more instruments than fingers.  Rounding out the list is a fuzzed out punk duo from LA with a new tape (that's right tape) out this month entitled "Almost Famous" and an experimental psych rock solo project by ex-Monotonix guitarist Yonatan Gat.  Give all the artists a listen and read more about them in the link below.

Five New Artists - February 2015

Oscar Noms are In!!

It's that time of year again folks.  The month where everyone anxiously awaits the decisions of the esteemed Motion Picture Academy of America as they decide who made the best films of 2014.  While the nominations this year have drawn criticism from many, the lineup is most definitely a strong set of films.  I'm thrilled that Wes Anderson is finally getting his rightful recognition as The Grand Budapest Hotel is tied with Birdman with nine total nominations, more than any other film.  The nods include Best Picture and Best Director.  Other notable films up for awards include The Imitation Game, Richard Linklater's masterpiece Boyhood and the the Stephen Hawking biopic The Theory of Everything among many others.  Check out the full list of nominations in each category below.

2015 Oscar Nominations

Duxbury Native Juliana Hatfield Drops New Music This Month

Local alt-rock goddess Juliana Hatfield has recently reformed her early 90's alternative outfit The Juliana Hatfield Three and it's not just to cash in on a reunion tour.  Following in the footsteps of fellow early 90's rockers Sleater-Kinney, Hatfield and her bandmates Todd Philips and Dean Fisher are releasing a new album this month.  Already slated as one of the most anticipated albums of the first half of 2015, the group has released three songs from the upcoming LP.  Listen to the latest tune "Wood" below.

"Wood" by The Juliana Hatfield Three