Saturday, May 9, 2009

Writing Recap: New Athens Blur, O+S, Matt Boynton

 Issue 7 already? | Cover image courtesy Athens Blur
Hooray! Another new issue of Athens Blur! If you live out in the Athens area, be sure to pick up a copy while you're out and about. I wrote two music spotlights for this issue, one on Roxy Epoxy and one on pop group Tinted Windows.  Have you seen their lineup yet? Taylor Hanson (Hanson), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), and Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick) all in one band. It kind of hurts the brain, doesn't it? Schlesinger was a bit weary of talking about the bizarro lineup, but after talking to him it all makes sense. Pick up the new mag to find out how.

It was also great catching up with Roxy Epoxy. I caught her former band, The Epoxies, at the 40 Watt back in 2005 with Against Me! on the Fat Tour and, boy, did they know how to put on a show. She's a super awesome chick and was a blast to speak with. I was sicker than a dog when I did the interview, but she made it a fun experience nonetheless. The album with her new band, the rebound, entitled Band-aids On Bullet Holes is out now. 
Oh, and if you haven't seen it yet, Athens Blur has a new blog. Check it out! 

O+S | Photo courtesy Saddle Creek 

In other news, my interview with Orenda Fink of O+S is now live on Stereo Subversion.  I am near-obsessed with this album. When I was presented with this assignment, I wasn't sure what to expect but I was blown away. The premise is this: originally an art project, Fink collected massive amounts of field recordings from all over.  The field recordings were then sorted through and turned into loops that songs were constructed on top of. The results are fabulous. A lush, haunting effort, this album is definitely on my "Best of 2009" list so far. 

I also recently interviewed my first producer, and that was a really cool experience. I spoke with Matt Boynton from Vacation Island Studios (formerly of the Magic Shop) for the April editon of the Sound Bites Dog E-zine. His reputation is that he's both hilarious and knowledgable, and he definitely was. Ever wonder what it's like to hold the Rolling Stones' master tapes in your hand? This guy knows.

That's it for now, kids. I have some super-great things in the works, especially an in-depth piece on the U.S. Air Guitar Championships! Heck yes!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A "Special" Movie

Special is not a comedy. It's not a super hero movie. It's not the typical goofy fluff that the basic plot could've easily devolved into. The story of a man convinced he has developed super powers, Special merely uses this premise as a jumping off point for a beautiful, poignant, heartbreaking and occasionally humorous look at life, and the role we play in it.

After seeing him in the dreaded and, thankfully, doomed Fox sitcom "The War at Home," Michael Rapaport has often been a deterrent for me. But I recant any Rapaport-related naysaying after seeing his performance in this film (though, I stand by my opinion that "The War at Home" was an abomination). He completely consumes the character of Les, an average, mistreated, easily manipulated parking cop who, upon entering into an experimental drug trial to shake up his "happy" life, becomes "Special". He believes that he has super powers with such conviction, that, regardless of how unbalanced his mental state becomes, we still root for him. We want him to have the powers he so desperately believes that he has. It's a performance that, had it been in a larger, more well known film, may have seen Rapaport nominated for some of Hollywood's biggest honors.

The symbolism is a wee bit overstated, (He's stalked and beat up by men in suits, and this isn't the Matrix)  but the great thing about this film is that it, ultimately, triumphs all of us who aren't "special", the non "suits" of the world who believe in or are living a life far different from the status quo. Although the DVD cover may claim otherwise,  Special is a deeply emotional film that gives a unique glimpse at the human spirit, and just how much it can take.

 It may not have been what we were expecting when we walked out of Blockbuster, but no complaints here.

Watch the trailer:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

CheshireNat Designs

So much duct tape! |
For those of you who don't know me well, in addition to being a music junkie and writer, I'm also an avid crafter. I've been sewing and gluing and taping as long as I can remember with projects ranging from a teddy bear made from carpet samples to purses made from old t-shirts and my own variant on duct tape wallets.

After years of being told by friends and strangers to put my stuff up for sale, I've actually taken the plunge.  Please check it out and let me know what you think!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Songs to Obsess Over, Case File #2: The Decemberists - "The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid"

They seem at home here, don't they? | Photo by Autumn DeWilde
It's almost halfway through 2009 and The Decemberists have runaway with my favorite album of the year. Their folk-rock opera The Hazards of Love runs the gamut from country twang to metal riffs while telling its tale, which involves a rake, an evil forest queen, a charming girl named Margaret, some dead children, and an ill-fated hero. As I said in my bit for the Internal Debate at Stereo Subversion on this album, it feels like the album The Decemberists were destined to make.

The best track on this album, though, is easily the 6:26 epic "The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid". The pivot point of the narrative, where the plot goes from sleepy fairytale love story to complicated disaster, "The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid" is a dialogue between the hero, sung by Decemberists ringleader Colin Meloy, and the forest queen, sung by Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond). Part folk ballad, part metal bombast the track tugs between the two moods with suspense that heightens down to the last second. Arcade Fire approved "Oooohs" and supreme vocal performances are only part of the over-the-top, sonically delicious madness that ensues here. The entire album is superb from start to finish, but this is the track that really holds everything together.

In other Decemberists news, Meloy will be back on The Colbert Report for a remach April 27th. Too much awesomeness in one show! My TV may implode.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Great Twitter Punk

I've seen worse. | Photo via Advertising Age
So, as many of you have noticed via this blog, I have become madly obsessed with Twitter. It's quick, easy and a fun way to interact with others throughout the day that is way less demanding, immediate or intrusive than an IM (which can be my death when swamped with articles and projects. Damn you, Facebook!).

But recently the social-networking, blog-ish interweb whatchamacallit sparked a furious battle between two very unlikely adversaries: television news juggernaut CNN and film and television star and entrepreneur Ashton Kutcher.

I follow  neither, as both don't really fall within my need-to-know-ASAP radar (though Colin Meloy's love of Cilantro does, so what does that tell you?), however it has come to light that Kutcher's "win" was impacted by Lamar's donation of billboards in major population centers. Critics are claiming that this makes Kutcher's win entirely inauthentic, even questioning if he should be disqualified.

Publicity stunt or not, the outcome would have been positive regardless of who won as both parties had pledged to donate significantly to malaria relief in Africa. The only major change is bragging rights. So before getting uptight about some donated billboards, just be glad that the charity is winning out in the end, anyway. 

As Kutcher continues his lead over CNN (numbers are Kutcher: 1,149,454, CNN: 1,060,023, currently), people should be far less concerned with the role these advertisements played in the battle (CNN is a 24-hour news network--how often did they mention daily to follow them?), and more concerned that people are more interested in what the guy who created PUNK'D is up to  than keeping up with what's happening in the world. CNN is hardly the end-all, be-all of news, but if the choice is between staying informed and keeping abreast of what the guy from That 70s Show has to say to Perez Hilton...well, shouldn't the answer there be obvious?

For all you twitterers here's a shameless plug, follow me @CheshireNat

Friday, April 17, 2009

Back to the Future

This makes me want a Delorean almost as much as the Neon Neon album did. Maybe more.

I love you, Oxford Comics.

Athens is still a 'Blur'

Best photo of BK ever? Yes!
Did anybody miss the latest issue of Athens Blur? Don't live in the Classic City? Never fear! You can download it here

Issue 6 has my article on A.C. "Carl" Newman of the New Pornographers and a feature story I wrote on the new trend of Fan Funded albums. There are also fabulous stories on The Vinyl Revival and a spotlight on Adele, so check those out as well. 

In other Athens Blur news, I recently interviewed Roxy Epoxy and bizarro supergroup Tinted Windows for the next issue. Can't wait to see it!