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Archive for June, 2010

10. Zero 7 – In The Waiting Line

Zero 7’s Simple Things released in 2001 is sometimes too saccharine for my taste. It blurred the line between trip hop and straight up pop music, and while it gave rose to many superfluous moments, it also had a few hummable gems in there. Tracks like this one, with its seductively sad vocals, bursts of soft elecronica and ridiculously simple song structures, make me want to call up Nick Hornby. “You can’t be miserable listening to great pop music, my man.”

9. Patrick Williams – Tears Of Julian Po (Download)

Don’t “hey, this isn’t a song” me now. This gorgeous arrangement of strings accompanies the climax of Alan Wade’s Julian Po in which Christian Slater puts the ocean in his pipe and smokes it. Branimir Scepanovic’s pensive words, as spoken by the protagonist, collide with fragments of dreamy gospel laments to great effect. One of those rare opportunities for us to rekindle love affair with our headphones and make movie scenes out of our lives. You have a nice day too, Mr. Patrick Williams.

8. Paul Cantelon – River Of Collections

Contemporary classicist Paul Cantelon must have had a field day composing Everything Is Illuminated’s soundtrack because his tunes sound like they’ve stretched themselves on a sunflower patch, chewing stems and dreaming about stolen nectar. A tantalizing mix of melancholy, beauty and penance. Yup, penance. A lot of characters come to terms with difficult parts of their lives in Live Schrieber’s film to find solace. Cantelon’s music pays tribute to such eventualities and sort of drifts away into ethereal heights.

7. White Zombie – Blood, Milk And Sky (Download)

Named after a Béla Lugosi classic, White Zombie, fronted by the one they call Rob, has the exact opposite effect on people as a breath of fresh air, which is overrated anyway considering that it isn’t too different from mild flatulence. Blood-curdling industrial metal this also isn’t. Their music is far more graceful in its intent towards brutality. Behind every slab of thundering riffing there is a unicorn winking back at us…no wait, I meant, a gushing of warm melody. This track from their Astro-Creep 2000 album sounds like Pink Floyd jamming with Toni Iommi and Peter Steele on a song written by Prince in a very, very bad mood.

6. Elysian Fields – Black Acres (Download)

NYC dream poppers/rockers Elysian Fields create music that moves from sensuality to disturbance. They call to mind the spookiest moments of Tori Amos, with richly-textured modern folk arrangements to wash it all down with. UK music critic Nick Kent once described their sound being “as sensual as a sleepwalker’s wet dream” and most of the tracks on their Queen of the Meadow album song testify to this. Black Acres has a harmony section so wistfully fragile that you almost fear for the mp3’s safety from malware threats. Singer / chanteuse Jennifer Charles sounds like exactly how a depressed 14-year-old shouldn’t. Of course, she isn’t, so it’s all very exciting and velveteen.

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Do the bunny hop

Back in the day, we called her the badly-edited bunny. Her words hop,skip and jump over most of the stuff we get to read in newspapers or blogs these days.

Try it.

http://thecomedyofmirrors.wordpress.com/

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19. The Tallest Man On Earth –Troubles Will Be Gone

Singer Kristian Matsson’s folksy laments sound like they have been filtered through Bob Dylan’s wounded larynx. Either the Swede has had too much lighter fluid go down his throat or the honeyed sandpaper-grating vocals come naturally to him. I can picture flower children huddling up and wailing about stuff that Papa Roach would base their music upon several cultures later, as The Tallest Man On Earth’s The Wild Hunt album plays in the background. Being free-spirited and lonesome at the same time would have been too much of an effort for those goddam hippies.

18. Feist & Ben Gibbard – The Train Song

Ben Gibbard, vocalist for Death Cab For A Cutie, and Canadian singer Leslie Feist, came together to create this featherweight alt ballad for Dark Was the Night – a compilation release supporting the Red Hot Organization. Their dueling vocals create the sort of chill that bites through our cheeks during those cold nights, backed by lovely mellow acoustic breeze. Highly recommended for corporate cabin-dwellers to help daydream about lonesome trains whistling through dusky meadows.

17. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Suddenly

Bands like these, I tell you, they come, do their thing and bow out. No one pimps their ride, we don’t see their cribs, and we haven’t a clue what happens backstage at their concerts. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club play spaced-out garage rock. And how. On the 2003 album Take Them On, On Your Own, their music felt darker and more strung out than ever before, as evidenced by this sweaty mantra that drips of some serious psychedelia.

16. Mudville – Hero Of The World

Marilyn Carino and Benny Cha Cha comprise the Manhattan-based Mudville. They make a delicious cocktail of neo soul, jazz rock, minimalist pop and lucid trip hop. Their 2005 The Glory of Man is Not in Vogue album is chockfull of enchanting electronica. Carino’s impressive vocals that harkens back to the glory days of Memphis soul is a perfect bedmate to Benny’s brooding instrumentation, especially on drawling moments such as this one.

15. Orphans and Vandals – Metropes

“It’s been quite a while since indie music has drawn me with such allure. Imagine ‘American Pie’ explosively rewritten by Liam Gallagher and sung by a younger, fitter Lou Reed piss drunk on malt whiskey. If you prefer not to, then you should know that Metropes is a fantastic piece of rock n’ roll storytelling.” Orphans and Vandals, ladies and germs.

14. Blu and Exile – Soul Amazing

MC Blu’s silky smooth flow sticks to DJ Exile’s über-swank production like a George Bush glance towards something shiny and useless. Nearly every track in their debut Below The Heavens is a great example of how much hip hop has evolved and turned from a form of social protest into a channel of cultural communication. This is, as some audiophiles refer to, all killer no filler.

13. Gnarls Barkley – Smiley Faces

The insane popularity of Gnarls Barkley’s debut St. Elsewhere was one of those rare instances where the masses took kindly to clever pop music as the industry credited its musicians for defying categorization. Fittingly, the music video for this track has Danger Mouse and Cee Lo randomly popping in during pivotal moments in the history of pop culture. The song too is a collage of sounds that could have made waves during different periods of time. Heck, in all of them, probably.

12. Moneybrother – Born Under A Broken Sign

Former Monster vocalist Anders Wendin is the brains behind Moneybrother, a band that blurs the line between Sixties garage pop and Nineties’ indie punk. The glorious lalalaaas that greet us during the first 15 seconds quickly settle down and burst into a soulful funky groove as Wendin sighs, “I’ve been born under a badly broken sign. He’s also a Grammy award winner…in Sweden that is. Great song to drive your car into a lamppost and sheepishly crawl out with a smile on your face. Yes, that happened.

11. Jo Yeong-Wook – The Last Waltz (Download)

South Korean composer Jo Yeong-Wook, a longtime collaborator with director Park Chan-Wook, strings together pieces of passing beauty and gets them high on classical jazz and film noir tunes. The final scene in Park Chan’s Oldboy with its protagonist Dae-su Oh vacantly smiling at the screen, with snow falling like a famous portrait beckoned it to, is made even more memorable through this exquisite composition.

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Patton Oswalt is a stand up comedian extraordinaire and one of those actors who tries really hard to bring in as much originality, finesse and pure unadulterated awesomeness. As a stand-up, he’s dynamite on the microphone (and not just because he resembles a tub of nitroglycerin); explosively funny in delivery, brilliant in content and just under six feet of raging, scatterbrained intellect. Small town America’s repressed comedians turning into Dubya-hatin’, independent art-lovin’, under appreciated, over informed smartass social misanthropists is somewhat of a cliché but the ferocity of his commitment for original humour is something else. He’s great for the same reasons men like Lenny Bruce and Bill Hicks once were. They say it like they see it, without a filter, and secretly nurse a grudge with the world (or at least the 2% which appreciates good comedy) for laughing along with them.

After watching him in Robert Siegel’s Big Fan, I’m also convinced that soon we are going to watch this man receive a ‘best supporting actor’ Oscar statuette, nervously adjusting a ridiculous bowtie in a tasteless suit while sweating profusely and thanking his best friend, Toby the potted plant, for encouraging him through the journey. Then he’d spit at Meryl Streep and ask the Weinstein brothers if they’d like to kiss his ass for 3$ a cheek only to be escorted outside by security and never to be seen on television ever again.

It wouldn’t matter though since Patton Oswalt is one of the funniest fuckers around whether you’ve heard of him or not. Here’s a list of his cameos, movie roles, comedy tours and documentaries I’ve seen.

Down Periscope: Patton Oswalt made his feature film debut in David Ward’s comedy about a goofy submarine crew doing goofy stuff with their super serial Lt. Commander played by Kelsey Grammar. Patton barely gets any screen time as Stingray Radioman and the movie isn’t very good either except for this scene. Moving along.

Magnolia: In Paul Thomas Anderson’s 188 minutes of mindfuck of a movie, he plays Delmer Darion, a blackjack dealer stricken by fate in one of the opening montages. For what it’s worth, he makes a really mean and scurvy face after being accidentally scooped up by a firefighting airplane while scuba diving. Great performances by Julianne Moore, William H. Macy and John C. Reilly too.

Man On The Moon: He has a ridiculously short cameo in Milos Forman’s Andy Kaufman biopic as Blue Collar Guy, a sheepish-looking fellow. Nothing much to say here. Instead of moving along, maybe we could take this opportunity to discuss you, my dear minion. Tell me a bit about yourself. Did the cool kids treat you badly in high school? Do you miss listening to audio cassettes?

Zoolander: Not that it is anything to write home about, but he beats Ben Stiller (Zoolander) silly in the absurdity quotient as the Monkey Photographer. Once again he does his shtick for a few seconds and makes us giggle. I think Will Ferrell’s a barrel of hoots, but still I would have much rather had Patton Oswalt play Mugatu.

Run Ronnie Run: Troy Miller’s trailer park comedy stars a lot of people making idiots out of themselves. Considering David Cross and Brian Posehn co-wrote the script, this film’s excessive gross-out content was really disappointing…and I don’t seem to remember much of Patton did here. IMDB says he played Dozer – Editor #1. Sounds about right Oh Jeff Goldblum almost saves this film with his killer delivery of one-liners.

Calendar Girls: Nigel Cole’s 2003 comedy about none-too-desperate housewives posing nude to raise money for local hospital’s fundraiser is vaguely amusing, especially when Ciarán Hinds and Julie Walters are on-screen. The vendible valetudinarian from Virginia is barely noticeable as Larry in this, and for a wee moment, pops in and out.

Starsky & Hutch: Apparently Ben Stiller is a big fan of Patton. I bet Stiller walked up to director Todd Phillips and said, “Patton friggin Oswalt as a 80s disco jockey, man…call me when it sounds like a good idea to you?” Thank god he called. Patton and his swanky disco suit make a memorable appearance in this film and stage a douchebag dancing contest between a coked-out cop and a man child.

Blade Trinity: This was Patton Oswalt’s initiation into cinema. While his foreskin wasn’t grated and served back to him with a side order of chilli chips, he was expected to act in a truly horrendous film starring Wesley Snipes and stop it plummeting into the abyss. In David Goyer’s crapfest of a comic book adaptation, he plays Hedges – a socially challenged tech geek, which is spectacularly convenient considering Patton in real life is a socially challenged comic book geek. All sorts of Grecian justices were done here.

Reno 911 Miami: Read review here.

Ratatouille: It’d be easy to say that Patton Oswalt sold his soul by starring in a Pixar film, so you can go ahead and say it to your heart’s content. I actually liked the darn film. As irony would have it, he had the least interesting character (lead, but still) in this film but I’m at least glad to know he didn’t do anything stupid with the money like lose weight or star in another Pixar film. Just to remind you, Peter O Toole gives a glorious speech in Ratatouille as Anton Ego, the food critic.

Balls Of Fury: Robert Ben Garant’s kooky caper features one of his funniest cameos. He plays Hammer – a local table tennis prima donna looking to derail Randy Daytona’s (the film protagonist) path to greatness and awe-inspiring good ol’ American heroism. He’s barely on our screen for a couple of minutes but is hilarious enough for us to want more. Much more. The absurd cockiness with which he struts about the ping pong table makes me want to see him play a super villain. Are you listening, Nolan? You have the best man to play either The Penguin or The Ventriloquist right here.

All Roads Lead Home: So finally Patton moves up Hollywood’s ladder and ends up in the ‘main character’s best friend’ rung. Dennis Fallon’s 2008 family drama about broken hearts and sad puppies    (no, really) has the world’s smallest violin playing a stirring version of Iron Butterfly’s Inna Gadda Da Vidda (yes, kidding) halfway through the film. Patton Oswalt as Milo – a sensitive animal shelter worker and Peter Boyle (in his final film appearance), who plays a Clint Eastwood-like grandpa, give us reasons to go slow on the ‘skip’ button. Milo is sometimes sappy, but never annoying, and he’s constantly surrounded by cute puppies. Uh Oh.

Big Fan: Read review here.

Observe and Report: Read review here.

The Informant: Steven Soderbergh has a discernable talent. He hires A-list actors, gives them vaguely quirky characters and makes them behave like they took a crash course in existentialism. Credit to Matt Damon for not letting it bother him; he is surprisingly good in this film. As for the portly and paludicolous possum (don’t ask) from Portsmouth, he plays Ed Berst – one of the company lawyers out to prove Mark Whitacre (Damon) wrong. He sports a great facial expression when Whitacre unrelentingly bullshits in the conference room.

No Reason To Complain / Werewolves and Lollipops / My Weakness is Strong: He hates Republicans, hippies, bigotry, glam rock, Steven Spielberg, and politics, loves indie music, comic books, action figurines and the cleansing aura of nihilism. Plus, he’s tremendously funny. In the Werewolves and Lollipops TV special, he even gives a State Of The Urinal address, urging people not to pee on other people because it’s just not nice at all.  Yes, somebody actually peed on another person during one of his shows in Austin, Texas and yes, he’s that funny. Now I’m going to try and see of he’ll be my pen pal.

The Comedians of Comedy: This is, as Generation X and Y have so lovingly coined, the shit. In 2004, some funny people – Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Brian Posehn and Maria Bamford – filmed one of their erstwhile stand-up tours and, with the help of Netflix, shot a documentary feature called The Comedians of Comedy. This is no Werner Herzog documentary where a collage of sounds, colours and ideas explodes in front our eyes, leaving them breathless and shivering. No need to fret about editing, the camerawork and sound-mixing either. They barely delve deep enough into their psyche to give Oprah a chance to even consider giving an itsy bitsy teenie weenie yellow polka dotted fuck. This is about four eccentric comedians trying to hustle some interest for their Gregg Turkington-influenced stand-up tour that features them performing at smaller indie rock venues instead of comedy clubs, and to bring the funnies, fast and furious.

Patton’s in usual form, transitioning from psychotic post-modern preacher mode to ‘funniest dude from college’ mode with ease. He makes Dane Cook’s jokes about society sound like Mickey Mouse’s farts against a cellophane sheet. Zach Galifianakis seems a bit like Jack Black, but not nearly as annoying. But he doesn’t get funnier after the first few minutes he’s in. I’m not a fan of pairing music with comedy either, so his song-style skits didn’t do much for me. As for Maria Bamford, she does great impersonations of people, both living and fictitious, and cute jokes about her dysfunctional family. I really liked the bits when wasn’t on stage and just chilling in front of the camera; also, she should start acting in indie movies since she has a fantastically dreary Hope Davis-like look.

Brian Posehn, for me, is the highlight of the documentary. You might know him as this guy from the sitcom Just Shoot Me, which incidentally makes you want to do just that. He is also a regular on the Sarah Silverman Program. As goes for most people who look like they skin city folks in a lonesome cabin by the hills and eat the rats that try feasting on the remains because mommy didn’t love them enough, Posehn has a great personality. While his jokes are mostly self-derogatory, the punchlines are so sharp and vicious that you never get tired of them. Plus, his uber geekdom towards comic books and arcade games are both creepy and adorable. There’s even a half of minute of proper cinematic goodness when he awkwardly hugs his wife before hitting the road with Patton.

I hope a special place is reserved for me in hell because I’m going to have to say, these guys are truly the comedians of comedy.

One more thing. Support independent musicians, film-makers and comedians. Given all the torrent-ing and thieving that happens, and will continue to do so, we should pledge our allegiance to them any way we can. So go on, order an album from Amazon, buy a DVD of eBay and more importantly, move your butts and watch them perform live.

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29. Zwan – The Number Of The Beast

Some days you wake up wondering how many straight punches to the face you can unflinchingly take before your instinct kicks in and you crumble to the floor like a sack of anemic tomatoes. Then you get all confused trying to figure out which option hurts a whole lot less and you’d probably sink in the armchair, desperately holding on to a cigarette. At that time you’d be well advised to play this track; the fact that it is a cover of an Iron Maiden classic only adds to the cruelty of life that Zwan’s version briefly soothes.

28. Super Furry Animals – The Man Don’t Give A Fuck

I sometimes wonder if I scourge the web for bands with ridiculous monikers and force myself to appreciate their music. Rhys, Bunford, Pryce, Ciaran and Ieuan (Super Furry Animals) laugh uproariously at such contrived pop psychology with this amazing track released on Out Spaced, a collection of their B-sides and rarities. It even boasts of a grand chorus that samples Steely Dan’s Showbiz Kids. One of those precious moments during the Nineties when quasi-juvenility lent itself to a mean artistic streak. Isn’t it remarkable how everybody takes any side but that of the censorship board? Makes me want to have faith in humanity and stuff.

27. Belleruche – It’ll Come

Belleruche lovingly evolves Nineties blue-eyed soul into something funkier and far more soulful. In 2007 Kathrin deBoer, Ricky Fabulous and DJ Modest put out possibly the best album in their label Tru Thoughts’ brief history. You should go out of way to pick up their album – Turntable Soul Music. Matter of fact send them an email or give them a shout-out on Facebook and tell them how awesome they are. I bet they’d be all “ah shucks, thanks…do you want a free CD?” but you should refuse and pay for it anyway.

26. Tricky & Martina Topley Bird – Hell Is Around The Corner

The coolness of Tricky’s deeply breathed poetry has found an irresistible bedmate in Martina Bird’s sweaty and sultry cooing. Go back to when Don Henley paired up with Patty Smyth in 1992 to sing about how sometimes love just isn’t enough. Remember how unholy and irritating that was? This has the exact opposite effect. Great video too.

25. Solace – Mother Godzilla (Download)

Just so you know, New Mexico-based MeteorCity Records is home to plenty of great stoner rock bands. Now, Solace comprises a bunch of unruly guys from Jersey Shore who pay proper respect to the almighty riff. Their sound is gargantuan with downtuned rhythm sections exploding like heavy metal shrapnel over fiery solos. Mother Godzilla, from the ultra cool Destroysall (A Tribute To Godzilla) album, wakes from its fuzzy slumber around the 1:15 min mark and launches itself into a superlative free metal jam that haunts as much as it rocks.

24. Broken Bells – Mall and Misery

Broken Bells is all that and then some. The talents of Brian J. Burton a.k.a Danger Mouse and James Mercer (The Shins) mix like green candles and decent sex. Dueling vocals effortlessly, one sulky and the other cherubic, drip through a bubbling canvas of warm snares and quirky electronics on this track; and once again, my minions, we stand a good chance of getting our ears wetted by sticky sweet pop goodness.

23. Dead Can Dance – Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove (Live in Hague)

Singer/composer Lisa Gerrard and multi-instrumentalist Brendan Perry were the purveyors of neo-classical medieval pop exotica that caused the wind chill to bite through a large chunk of underground goth clubs during the Nineties. In this 2005 live version of a Dead Can Dance classic, Brendan and Lisa revisit those incredible double reed instruments, tripped-out percussion arrangements and ethereal vocals that reach such heights it’s a wonder how Enya could sleep at night knowing she was making more money than these guys.

22. Soulfly & Tom Araya – Terrorist

If I was a super villain with access to thousands of vicious flying monkeys, I’d watch them wreak havoc on the general populace while listening to this. Max Cavalera and Tom Araya were once Ares and Hephaestus of the thrash metal scene and they have proudly shown it off in Soulfly’s Primitive album. They shred their throats dry over Roy Mayorga’s apocalyptic percussion blasts and frenzied four-stringed riffing to create an atmosphere so brutal that the least you should do after the track ends is watch a Kim Ki-Duk film. Fly, my monkeys, fly.

21. Air – Playground Love

Air’s possibly one of the underrated electronic duos out there; problem being when they’re ordinary, they sound truly horrendous, but when in form they sound like a distant male cousin of Cocteau Twins with a voracious appetite for trespassing uncommon grounds in the electronica genre. They were in spectacular form during the recording for the Virgin Suicides’ soundtrack and it shows in this moody gem with its sleepy-eyed saxophone licks coaxing us to beg for more. You can move on to Cherry Blossom Girl and Alone In Kyoto after this.

20. The Deftones & Maynard James Keenan – Passenger

Barring the ferocity of My Own Summer, The Deftones never sounded as compelling as they did on the 2001 album – White Pony. This had so many fantastic tunes that picking just of the lot should rightfully be both insidious and misleading…if it weren’t for Maynard James Keenan absolutely tearing the goddam roof off with a jaw dropping vocal performance on this , of course. “Ahhhhhhhh I’m your passsssengerrrrr”.

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