Monday, November 02, 2015

November Reviews

Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, and Mark Ruffalo in Spotlight.
These are 
the reviews 
and other 
pieces I'm 
working on 
this month.

The Stranger Film Openings: Sex, Lies, and the Catholic Church in Tom McCarthy's Spotlight, Even a Little Kink Can’t Save Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea, The Danish Girl, and Joy.

Slog/Film Opening count: 631 posts/reviews since 2011.

The Stranger Music Things to Do: Micachu & the Shapes,
Yo La Tengo and Dave Schramm, Mike Krol, Rupert Angeleyes, and Acapulco Lips, and Okkervil River. 

Video Librarian: Pat Metheny - The Unity Sessions [Blu-ray], Sisters - Seasons One & Two [seven-disc set], Soul Boys of the Western World--Spandau Ballet: The Film, Tu dors Nicole [Blu-ray], What’s Going On--Taste Live at the Isle of Wight [Blu-ray], Barefoot in the Kitchen, A Courtship, Love between the Covers, The Placebo Effect, The Polygon, Private Violence, Resistance, Tap or Die, Unslut, The Year We Thought About Love, The 1955 Rock 'n Roll Revue and Rhythm and Blues Revue [two-disc set], Nazareth - No Means of Escape [Blu-ray], Rage Against the Machine - Live at Finsbury Park [Blu-ray], Giving Up the Ghosts - Closing Time at Doc’s Music Hall [Blu-ray], Gone with the Wind - The Remarkable Rise and Tragic Fall of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Just Let Go - Lenny Kravitz Live, Kurt Cobain - Montage of Heck [Blu-ray], Katy Perry - The Prismatic World Tour Live [Blu-ray], Black Stone Cherry - Thank You, Livin’ Live Birmingham UK [Blu-ray + CD], The Color of Noise, and Rebel Scum.

Endnote: Image from Open Road Films. 

Friday, October 09, 2015

October Reviews

Guy Maddin and Evan Johnson's The Forbidden Room.
These are the reviews and other pieces I'm working on this month.

The Factual Opinion: three-part Beat Connection podcast in which 
I join Nate Patrin and Marty Brown to look at music documentaries. Part Two - Underdog Films and Part Three - Movement Overviews.

The Stranger Film Openings: The Walk Isn't Perfect, but It's Thrilling and The Forbidden Room Is Like Guy Maddin’s Greatest Hits.

Slog/Film Opening count: 629 posts/reviews since 2011.

The Stranger Music Things to Do: Destroyer and Frog Eyes, Atlas Sound and Deerhunter, and Shannon and the Clams, Shopping, Gazebos, Nail Polish, and Underworld Scum.

Video Librarian: Black and Cuba, Finding Home - Sophorn's 
Story, Perfect Strangers, Six Days - Three Activists, Three Wars, One 
Dream, Walking with Life - The Birth of a Human Rights Movement 
in Africa, George Strait - The Cowboy Rides Away, Life after Death 
from Above 1979, Aerosmith Rocks Donington 2014 [Blu-ray/two-
CD set], and Jeff Lynne’s ELO - Live in Hyde Park [Blu-ray].

Endnote: Image from Kino Lorber.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

September Reviews

Poster for John Magary's The Mend.
These are the reviews and other 
pieces I'm working on this month.

The Factual Opinion: Beat Connection podcast 011-1 in which I join Nate Patrin and Marty Brown to look at music documentaries. Part One - Legacy Films. Part Two (un-
derdog films and movement overviews) to come. 

Fandor: A Seattle Childhood - The Sting Remains (a review of Bret Fetzer and Matt Smith's My Last Year with the Nuns).

The Stranger Film Openings: Ben Kingsley Meets the Ultimate
WASP in Learning to Drive
, What A Walk in the Woods Tells Us About Robert Redford, The Son of a Liberation Fighter Refuses to Take Sides in Borrowed Identity, The Mend Is a Wonderful Psychodrama, Sleep
ing with Other People
Is More Amusing Than Sexy
, The Mystery of Korla Pandit's Race Is Examined in Korla, and Gabo: The Creation of Gabriel García Márquez Could Use a Little More Magical Realism.

Slog/Film Opening count: 627 posts/reviews since 2011.

The Stranger Music Things to Do (formerly Up & Comings): A Place to Bury Strangers, Grooms, and Depth and Current, Moon Duo, Kinski, and Shitty Person (Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy), Lætitia Sadier and Deradoorian, Shamir and Allie X, and Angel Olsen and Alex Cameron.

Video Librarian: Harlem Street Singer - The Reverend Gary 
Davis Story, I Dream of Wires, Judith - Portrait of a Street Vendor,  
Queens & Cowboys - A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo, No Evidence 
of Disease, Alto, Grey’s Anatomy - Season 11 [six-disc set], and The 
Goldbergs - The Complete Second Season [three-disc set].


Endnote: Poster image from Cinelicious Pics.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

August Reviews

Greta Gerwig and Lola Kirke in Mistress America.
These are
the reviews
and other
pieces I'm
working on
this month.

Portland Mercury (The Stranger's sister paper): Noah Baum-
bach and Greta Gerwig's Mistress America Is Cleverly Self-Critical

The Stranger Film Openings: The Look of Silence Looks at Genocide from the View of an Optometrist, A Holocaust Survivor Returns from the Dead to Haunt Her Gentile Husband in Phoenix, Listen to Me Marlon Offers a Privileged View of a Legend's Thoughts, Noah Baum-
bach and Greta Gerwig's Mistress America Is Cleverly Self-Critical
, and Orlando Bloom Has Other Things on His Mind in Digging for Fire.

Slog/Film Opening count: 620 posts/reviews since 2011. 

The Stranger Up & Comings: Circuit des Yeux, Marisa
Anderson, somesurprises, and Josh Medina & Paurl Walsh

and Thee Oh Sees, SSDD, Smiling, and Guests.

Video Librarian: Ghosts of Amistad - In the Footsteps of the 
Rebels, Hafu, Out in the Lineup, They Are We, Revenge of the 
Mekons, Zero Motivation, Black Veil Brides - Alive and Burn-
ing [Blu-ray], Glen Campbell - I’ll Be Me, Can’t Stand Losing  
You - Surviving the Police [Blu-ray], I Am Femen, Baby It's You  
[Blu-ray], Heaven Adores You [Blu-ray], and Soaked in Bleach.

Endnote: Mistress America image from Fox Searchlight Pictures. 

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

July Reviews

Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy's The Tribe
These are 
the reviews 
and other 
pieces I'm 
working on 
this month.

The Stranger Film Openings: Aloft Is Drama with a Capital D, Attention Must Be Paid to The Tribe, Ian McKellen Shines in Mr. Holmes, A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence Is Bas-
ically a Live-Action Comic Strip About the Absurdity of Modern
, Two Unplanned Pregnancies in Unexpected, and Robin
Williams Gives a Nuanced Performance in Boulevard

Slog/Film Opening count: 615 posts/reviews since 2011. 

The Stranger Up & Comings: CROSSS, Gutless,
Homebody, and Big Priest
, Vetiver and Sam Ami-
, and Royal Headache, Dude York, and VHS.

For some reason, my Protomartyr U&C didn't make it to print:

Detroit quartet Protomartyr's Hardly Art debut, Under Color of Official Right, wasn't their first record, but it introduced them to their widest audience yet. Between Joe Casey's incantatory yelp and the band's post-hardcore attack, they recall the days when Midwestern giants like Hüsker Dü stalked the land (just add a little Gang of Four angularity to the equation). Though Greg Ahee, Scott Davidson, and Alex Leonard have what it takes to blow out your eardrums, they excel when they rein in that fury as on "Scum, Rise!," which threatens to explode, but never does, generating enough tension to power a stadium. Over the past year, they've recorded a split single with Kelley Deal’s R. Ring and a third album set for release this fall. Bring industrial-strength earplugs.

Video Librarian: Lost Songs - The Basement Tapes Contin-
ued [Blu-ray], Call the Midwife - Season Four [three-disc set],  
Finding Tatanka, Slash - Live at the Roxy 9.25.14 [Blu-ray],  
First Peoples - Americas, Béla Fleck - How to Write a Ban-
jo Concerto, My Prairie Home, Self Inflected, and Still.

Endnote: The Tribe image from Drafthouse Films.

Friday, June 05, 2015

June Reviews

Mia Wasikowska in Sophie Barthes's Madame Bovary.
These are 
the reviews 
and other 
pieces I'm 
working on 
this month.

The Stranger Film Openings: The Kidnapping of Michel Houelle-
Is Stranger Than Fiction
, The Film Critic: Cynical Writer Meets Beautiful Kleptomaniac, Madame Bovary: Light Gradually Giving Way to Shadow, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl: Cancer, Friendship, and Art, and The Wolfpack: A Bizarre Family, Candidly Captured

Slog/Film Opening count: 609 posts/reviews since 2011. 

The Stranger Up & Comings: Rhett Miller and
Annalisa Tornfelt
and Jacco Gardner and Calvin Love

Video Librarian: Deported, Once My Mother, A River
Changes Course, 2e - Twice Exceptional, Days of Grace, Ma-
hogany, When Calls the Heart - Trials of the Heart, Know
How, She Must Be Seeing Things, and Of Girls and Horses.

Endnote: Image from Millennium Entertainment.    

Saturday, May 02, 2015

May Reviews

R.J. Cyler and Thomas Mann in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl.
These are 
the reviews 
and other
 pieces I'm 
working on 
this month.

SIFFBlog: SIFF 2015 Documentaries Take on Music Stores,
Drum Machines, Dueling Pundits, and More!
and SIFF 2015
Guests Include Jemaine Clement, Star of People, Places, Things,
and Marah Strauch, Director of Sunshine Superman

The Stranger Film Openings: Rich Iris Apfel Believes Fashion
Lives Everywhere, Even Dollar Stores
and Good Kill Shows What
Can Happen When Humans Put Too Much Faith in Machines

Slog/Film Opening count: 604 posts/reviews since 2011.

The Stranger SIFF Notes: Spy, Banana, For Grace, Me and
Earl and the Dying Girl
, Sleeping with Other People, I'll See
You in My Dreams
, and Mr. Holmes. They used Angela Garbes's capsule of For Grace instead of mine. Here's what I wrote:

Documentaries about famous chefs, like Paul Liebrandt (A Matter of Taste) and 
Michel Bras (Entre les Bras), tend to play like promotional videos by showcasing 
restaurants as much as their founders. This one centers on photogenic Grace 
founder Curtis Duffy, who has a surprisingly grim back story, but the more 
charismatic subject is his business partner, Michael Muser, a burly Danny 
McBride character as imagined by David Mamet. (KATHY FENNESSY)


The Stranger Slog: A Unique Look at Beach Boy Brian
Wilson and Other Weekend Options
and SIFF 2015 Week-
end in Review: There's More to Australia Than
Mad Max.

The Stranger Up & Comings: The Rezillos and Kid Congo
Powers & the Pink Monkey Birds
, Vaadat Charigim, Speedy
Ortiz, Alex G., Broken Water
, and Amen Dunes & Ryley Walker.

Video Librarian: Don't Think I've Forgotten - Cambodia's 
Lost Rock and Roll, Hepatitis C - Causes, Symptoms, Pre-
vention, Treatment, The Milky Way, Mujeres con Pelotas, 
Kill Me Three Times, Shania - Still the One: Live from Las 
Vegas [Blu-ray], Boy Meets Girl, God's Slave, The Nun, 
and Transatlantic Sessions - The Best of Folk.  

Endnote: Me and Earl image from Indian Paintbrush.  

Sunday, April 05, 2015

April Reviews

Ben Stiller, Dree Hemingway, Naomi Watts, and Adam Driver in While We're Young.
These are the reviews and other pieces I'm working on this month.

The Stranger Film Openings: Call the Midlife—Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts Crush Out on Youth in Noah Baumbach's Painful, Funny While We're Young, Effie Gray Stars a Very Sad and Un-
loved Dakota Fanning
, Rabbinical Court Rules No Infidelity Then No Divorce for Long-Suffering Woman in Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem, Brazilian Actress Shines in New Coen Brothers-Inspired Crime Thriller Kill Me Three Times, Wim Wenders Documentary The Salt of the Earth Is About Photographer Sebastião Salgado, Melanie Griffith, Her Parents, and Her Siblings Deal with Some Badass Big Cats in Roar, Adult Beginners Says It's Time to Grow Up, Misery Loves Comedy Asks if Happy People Can Be Funny.

Slog/Film Opening count: 602 posts/reviews since 2011.

The Seattle International Film Festival: Work continues
on the 2015 program guide (I wrote five blurbs altogether). 


The Stranger Up & Comings: Disappears, Leon Russell, The
Soft Moon and Girl Tears, Lady Lamb, and Sleater-Kinney.

Video Librarian: Irreplaceable, The Red Tent, Low Down, Bob Marley & the Wailers - Easy Skanking in Boston 1978, Penton - The John Penton Story, Bill Maher - Live from DC, Love Hunter, She's Beautiful When She's Angry, A Borrowed Identity, Breakin'-
Breakin’ 2 - Electric Boogaloo [Blu-ray], and Whitney.

Endnote: While We're Young image from A24.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

March Reviews

Jack O'Connell in Yann Demange's '71.
These are 
the reviews 
and other 
pieces I'm 
working on 
this month.

The Stranger Film Op-
enings: Wild Canaries: Brooklyn Screwball Thriller, Featured in this Year’s Seattle Jewish Film
Festival Is A Borrowed Identity, a Film About the Complex Iden-
tity of an Arab Israeli
, You’re Unlikely to See a Better Thriller
This Year than Yann Demange’s ’71
, After Watching It Follows,
You'll Feel Like You're Being Followed
, The Worlds of J.D. Salin-
ger and Jonathan Safran Foer Meet in Like Sunday, Like Rain
and The Movie That Gave the Scottish Band Belle and Sebas-
tian Its Name Has Dead Animals and Drunk Grandfathers

Slog/Film Opening count: 594 posts/reviews since 2011. 

The Seattle International Film Festival: I started working
on the 2015 program guide. This is my 14th year as a contribu-
tor, and I've written three blurbs so far. Titles to come in May. 

The Stranger Up & Comings: The Dodos and Springtime
, Hurray for the Riff Raff and Adia Victoria, Pub-
lic Service Broadcasting, Twerps, Lures, and Zebra Hunt

Video Librarian: Exposed, Through a Lens Darkly - Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, Captive Hearts, Disease and Treatment - Developing a Vaccine: Rotavirus and Treating Cancer: Radiation Therapy, Fifty Shades Uncovered,
Fight Like a Girl, K2 Spice - A Nightmare without End, Letters
from Pyongyang, Reel Herstory - The Real Story of Reel Wom-
en, Give Me Shelter, This Ain’t No Mouse Music!, and Song One.

Endnote: Image from Studio Canal/Roadside Attractions. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Movies for Music Lovers: 2014 Edition

Conner Chapman in The Selfish Giant.
Click here 
for the 2012 

This list is a work in progress.
I began compiling it several months ago, but then the draft disappeared without a trace, so I started to recreate it last week (the original post disappeared while I was working on a new one). This is what I've come up with so far. Links lead to my reviews for The Stranger, Slog, and SIFFBlog.

The Tops:
1. The Selfish Giant (Clio Barnard)
2. Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer)
3. Miss Zombie (Sabu)
4. Boyhood (Richard Linklater)
5. Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho)
6. Ida (Pawel Pawlikowski)
7. Whiplash (Damien Chazelle)
8. The Babadook (Jennifer Kent)
9. A Field in England (Ben Wheatley)
10. Selma (Ava DuVernay) 


11. Dear White People (Justin Simien)
12. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson)
13. Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch)
14. Love Is Strange (Ira Sachs)
15. Tracks (John Curran)
16. Edge of Tomorrow (Doug Liman)
17. White Bird in a Blizzard (Gregg Araki)
18. Obvious Child (Gillian Robespierre)
19. Frank (Lenny Abrahamson)
20. Low Down (Jeff Preiss)

Second Runners-up:
1. The Past (Asghar Farhadi)
2. Wild (Jean-Marc Vallée)
3. The Skeleton Twins (Craig Johnson)
4. Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh)
5. Diplomacy (Volker Schlondorff)
6. Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy)
7. Top Five (Chris Rock)
8. Pride (Matthew Warchus)
9. Wetlands (David Wnendt)
10. Abuse of Weakness (Catherine Breillat)

Here's my review of The Past, the last one I ever wrote for Amazon as all film freelancers were let go in 2014. It was a great gig for 15 years, and I miss it. To add insult to injury: this piece was never posted. 


Asghar Farhadi’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning film, The Separation, takes the procedural approach to two interlocking relationships. When Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa, who learned French for the role) travels from Tehran to Paris, he expects to finalize his divorce from Marie (The Artist’s Bérénice Bejo), so that she can marry Samir (The Prophet’s Tahar Rahim), but he finds a chaotic domestic scenario: Samir’s wife, Céline, is in a coma after a failed suicide attempt; their young son, Fouad (Elyes Aguis), has become difficult; and Marie’s teenage daughter, Lucie (Pauline Burlet), won’t speak to her. She assumes it’s because Lucie can’t stand Samir, but she’s actually keeping a secret that’s eating her up inside. With Samir’s help, Marie has also been repainting the walls of her dilapidated house, which represent the havoc within. 

Like a cross between a counselor and a detective, Ahmad starts putting the pieces together by trying to get Lucie to open up. He may not be her birth father, but she feels more comfortable talking to him than anyone else. As he discovers, most everyone has been withholding information about the day Céline attempted to take her life. 

By the conclusion, an undocumented worker and a restaurant owner get caught up in this absorbing, unpredictable drama, but if Mosaffa and Burlet are particularly good, Bejo and Tahar play more exasperating characters--Marie is high-strung and Samir is moody--though it’s to the director’s credit that he would prefer to create characters that are more intriguing than loveable. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Top Documentaries:
1. Jodorowsky's Dune (Frank Pavich)
2. No No - A Dockumentary (Jeff Radice)
3. The Dog (Allison Berg and Frank Keraudren)
4. Actress (Robert Greene)
5. Regarding Susan Sontag (Nancy Kates)
6. 20,000 Days on Earth (Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard)
7. Elena (Petra Costa)
8. PULP - A Film About Supermarkets (Florian Habicht)
9. The Case Against 8 (Ben Cotner and Ryan White)  
10. The Great Flood of 1927 (Bill Morrison)

Reissues: Careful, He Might Hear You (Carl Schultz), Je t'aime, je t'aime (Alain Resnais), Level Five (Chris Marker), A Summer's Tale (Eric Rohmer), and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (Tobe Hooper).

Worthy of note (includes video debuts): Alien Boy, An-
tarctica - A Year on Ice
, Bad Hair, Birdman, Cannibal, Cold in July, The Dance of Reality, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, The Drop, The Double, The Dune, Enemy, Filth, Finding Fela, Follow Me Down - Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians, For a Wo-
man, Foxcatcher, Get on Up, Gone Girl, Goodbye to Language, Grand Central, Grisgris, Guardians of the Galaxy, How I Live Now, The Imitation Game, Inherent Vice, The Invisible Woman, Jobriath A.D., Life after Beth, Life Feels Good, Lilting, Locke, Lucy, The Master Builder, Medeas, Moebius, Muscle Shoals, My Last Year with the Nuns, Night Moves, Non-Stop, Nuit #1, Pacific Aggression, Pussy Riot - A Punk Prayer, Red Knot, The Rover, Run and Jump, Sister, The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears, Suitcase of Love and Shame, Tanaquil Le Clercq - Afternoon of a Faun, Teenage, The Theory of Everything, To Be Takei, The Two Faces of January, Very Extremely Dangerous, A Walk Among the Tombstones, When I Walk, Willow Creek, Young Ones, The Zero Theorem.

Haven't seen: American Sniper, Beyond the Lights, Bird 
People, Citizenfour, Elaine Stritch - Shoot Me, Finding Vivian Maier, Force Majeure, Gloria, The Hobbit - The Battle of the Five Armies, The Hunger Games - Mockingjay, Part 1, Interstellar, Keep on Keepin' On, Land Ho!, Last Days in Vietnam, Leviathan, Life Itself, Listen Up, Philip*, Manakamana, A Most Violent Year, National Gallery, Red Army, The Salt of the Earth, Stand Clear
of the Closing Doors, St. Vincent, Timbuktu, 2 Days, 1 Night, Violette, Virunga, We Are the Best!, and Wild Tales.

* I caught up with Listen Up, Philip in March. I liked it.  

Endnote: The Selfish Giant image from IFC Films.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

February Reviews

Ariel Pink, née Ariel Rosenberg.
These are 
 the reviews  
and other  
pieces I'm  
working on  
this month.

The Stranger Film Op-
enings: The Duke of Burgun-
: Let's Play 
Master and Servant, Monk with a Camera: A Documentary Had
to Be [Made] About a White Man Who Gives Up His Riches for a Spiritual Life
, Hard to Be a God: A Science-Fiction Film Set in the Middle Ages, A Fuller Life: The Life of Filmmaker Sam Fuller, and Song of the Sea: Rock Fairies, Owl Witches, Celtic Mythology.

Slog/Film Opening count: 588 posts/reviews since 2011. 

The Stranger Up & Comings: Ariel Pink and Jack Name,
Jessica Lea Mayfield, Howlin Rain and the Blank Tapes,
and Michael Rault, Globelamp, and Guests

Video Librarian: Come Worry With Us!, Hitmakers - Changing
Face of the Music Business, Whole Gritty City, Girlhood, Traitors.

Endnote: Ariel Pink image from Pretty Much Amazing.  

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

January Reviews

John Doe, Bill Bateman, Dave Alvin, Chris D, and Steve Berlin.
These are
the reviews
and other
pieces I'm
working on
this month.

The Stranger Film Openings: Life Partners: A Star of The O.C. Meets a Star of Gossip Girl in a Scenario That’s Like Obvious Child, She's Beautiful When She's Angry: A Look at the Women's Liberation Movement, A Tale of Winter: Lovers Lost, Song One: A Contemplative, Heart-on-Its-Sleeve Affair, and When Evening Falls on Bucharest or Metabolism: A Battle of Wills.

Slog/Film Opening count: 583 posts/reviews since 2011. 

The Stranger Up & Comings: Flesh Eaters and
Mudhoney and The Vaselines and Loch Lomond.

Video Librarian: Angel Azul, Bastards - Outcast in Morocco,
Jeff Beck - Live in Tokyo [Blu-ray], The Doors - Feast of Friends [Blu-ray], From Naughty to Nice, Lucky, Bob Marley - Uprising 
Live!, Vulva 3.0, Trace Adkins - Live Country! [Blu-ray], The Fix, Genesis - Sum of the Parts [Blu-ray], Happy End, Rye Coalition -
The Story of the Hard Luck 5, Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, Boys,
Life Partners, and Rudderless with Billy Crudup.  

Endnote: Flesh Eaters image from Adios Lounge

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Songs for Cineastes: 2014 Edition

Neneh Cherry as seen by Kim Hiorthoy.
Click here for the 2012 edition.

The following list represents the best music I heard in 2014, and I heard a lot, but I didn't hear everything, so if you know my taste and you think something's missing, feel free to let me know. There's a good chance I simply didn't hear it. Due to income constraints--one longtime freelance gig came to an end and two other employers reduced hours and/or assignments--I was limited, for the most part, to music that labels sent to me (almost exclusively via stream and download). Now that I'm not reviewing music on a regular basis, since Line Out came to an end, it's possible that I'll be receiving even less in 2015, though I'm still writing concert previews ("Up & Comings") for The Stranger, so who's to say. One way or the other, though, I'll continue to make every effort to listen to as much new music as I can. That will never change.

Because I didn't hear many reissues and because I don't pay much attention to singles, I've eliminated separate lists for those formats. Also, I have no interest in major labels. Never have, never will. Other than D'Angelo's long-awaited album on RCA, these increasingly irrelevant dinosaurs did nothing in 2014 to change my mind. Furthermore, major label artists will always have an easier time generating free publicity from writers like myself. I would rather show support for the minimally-funded artists who need it most. And if any of those artists should sign to a major, I will continue to support their efforts as long as they continue to make music I enjoy. That doesn't happen as often as I would like, but there are always exceptions, and I'm grateful for that. Musicians deserve to eat, to pay their rent, and to live, as much as possible, like normal human beings. Here's to them for making our lives much richer than they would be otherwise.  

Note: This post is a work in progress. I reserve the right to make minor changes as I catch up on more of the 2014 music I missed. Due to a hard drive crash in November 2013, I didn't compile a list for that year. Links lead to my reviews for Line Out and Slog.

The Tops
1. Neneh Cherry - The Blank Project (Smalltown Supersound)
Total Control - Typical System (Iron Lung)
3. Mike Cooper - Trout Steel, Places I Know, and The Machine Gun Co. with Mike Cooper (Paradise of Bachelors) [reissues]
4. The Coathangers - Suck My Shirt (Suicide Squeeze)
5. Meatbodies - Meatbodies (In the Red)
6. Ty Segall - Manipulator (Drag City)
7. Robert Wyatt - Different Every Time (Domino)
8. King Tuff - Black Moon Spell (Sub Pop)
9. Morgan Delt - Morgan Delt (Trouble in Mind)
10. Perfume Genius - Too Bright (Matador)

11. D'Angelo and the Vanguard - Black Messiah (RCA)
12. Quilt - Held in Splendor (Mexican Summer)
13. Stone Jack Jones - Ancestor (Western Vinyl)
14. Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire for No Witness (Jagjaguwar)
15. Habibi - Habibi (Burger)
16. Boozoo Bajou - 4 (Apollo Records)
17. Todd Terje - It's Album Time (Olsen Records)
18. Ghetto Ghouls - Ghetto Ghouls (Monofonus Press)
19. Bitchin Bajas - Bitchin Bajas (Drag City)
20. Roll the Dice - Until Silence (The Leaf Label)

Second Runners-up
21. White Fence - For the Recently Found Innocent (Drag City)
22. The Aislers Set - Terrible Things Happen, The Last Match, and How I Learned to Write Backwards (Slumberland/Suicide Squeeze) [reissues]
23. Woods - With Light and With Love (Woodsist)
24. The Body - I Shall Die Here (RVNG Intl.)
25. Ex Hex - Rips (Merge)
26. K. Leimer - A Period of Review (Original Recordings: 1975 - 1983) (RVNG Intl.)
27. New Bums - Voices in a Rented Room (Drag City)
28. Craig Leon - Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1 (RVNG Intl.)
29. Polar Bear - In Each and Every One (The Leaf Label)
30. Paul White - Shaker Notes (R&S)

Also worthy of note: ARP - "Pulsars e Quasars" (Mexican Summer), Cave - Release (Drag City), Cold Beat - Over Me (Crime on the Moon), The Dead Space - Faker (12XU), Amen Dunes - Love (Sacred Bones), The Flesh Eaters - A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die (Superior Viaduct) [reissue], FRKWYS Vol. 11: Steve Gunn & Mike Cooper - Cantos de Lisboa (RVNG Intl.), Gulp - Season Sun (Everloving), Steve Gunn - Way Out Weather (Paradise of Bachelors), Charlie Haden and Jim Hall - Charlie Haden-Jim Hall (Impulse!-Blue Note) [new release; 1990 engagement], Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks - Wig Out at Jagbags (Matador), Montibus Communitas - The Pilgrim to the Absolute (Beyond Beyond is Beyond), Mutual Benefit - "The Cowboy's Prayer" EP (Other Music Recording Co), Jack Name - Light Show (God?-Drag City), Meshell Ndegeocello - Comet, Come to Me (Naïve), Parquet Courts - Sunbathing Animal and Parkay Quarts - Content Nausea (What's Your Rupture), Protomartyr - Under Color of Official Right (Hardly Art), Brian Reitzell - Auto Music (Smalltown Supersound), September Girls - Cursing the Sea (Fortuna POP!), Shabazz Palaces - Lese Majesty (Sub Pop), She Keeps Bees - Eight Houses (Future Gods), Soft Walls - No Time (Trouble in Mind), Trans Upper Egypt - Trans Upper Egypt (Monofonus Press), Turn to Crime - Can't Love (Mugg and Bopp), Doug Tuttle - Doug Tuttle (Trouble in Mind), Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting (Trouble in Mind), Chad VanGaalen - Shrink Dust (Sub Pop), Noah Wall - Print the Legend (Driftless Recordings), Web of Sunsets - Room of Monsters (End of Time), Wyrd Visions - Half-Eaten Guitar (P.W. Elverum & Sun) [reissue], and Yo La Tengo - Extra Painful (Matador) [reissue].

Like what I've heard (need to hear more): Willis Earl Beal - Experiments in Time (No Label), Black Lips - Underneath the Rainbow (Vice), Budos Band - Burnt Offering (Daptone), Vashti Bunyan - Heartleap (Fat Cat/Dicristina), Cody ChesnuTT - Landing on a Hundred: B-Sides & Remixes (Vibration Vineyard), Elysian Fields - For House Cats and Sea Fans (Diluvian/Ojet), Andy Haas - Taballah (No Label), Klaus Johann Grobe - Im Sinne der Zeit (Trouble in Mind), Mogwai - Rave Tapes (Sub Pop), Ninos du Brasil - Novos Misterios (Hospital), The Notwist - Close to the Glass (Sub Pop), Soundcarriers - Entropicalia (Ghost Box), and Tele Novella - Umbrellas at the Station (American Laundromat).

Endnote: More images, videos, etc. to come.  

Monday, December 08, 2014

December Reviews

These are the 
reviews and  
other pieces 
I'm working 
on this month.

The Stranger Film Openings: Antarctica: A Year on Ice: Strange Harmony in a Harsh World, Wild: A 1,100-Mile Journey from Rock Bottom, and Elsa & Fred: Unconvincing Sentimentality.

Slog/Film Opening count: 578 posts/reviews since 2011.  

The Stranger Up & Comings: The Meat Puppets and
Cass McCombs
, tUnE-yArDs and Cibo Matto, The Dusty
45s and Jessica Hernandez & the Deltas
, and Young Fresh
Fellows, the Fucking Eagles, and Less Than Equals

Video Librarian: Eric Clapton - Planes, Trains & Eric 
[Blu-ray], Southern Baptist Sissies, Very Extremely Danger-
ous, East Nashville Tonight, Jimi - All Is by My Side, Billy 
Joel - The Last Play at Shea [Blu-ray], The Skeleton Twins,  
The Two Faces of January, and White Bird in a Blizzard.

Endnote: Wild image from Fox Searchlight Pictures.

Monday, November 10, 2014

November Reviews

Cover art from Meatbodies' In the Red debut
These are the
reviews and
other pieces
I'm working
on this month.

The Stranger Film Openings: Diplomacy: What It Takes to Convince a Nazi Not to Blow Up Paris, The Theory of Everything: Biopic of Stephen Hawking Plays It Safe, Too Safe, and Pulp: A Doc About a Britpop Band That’s Better Than Blur.

Slog/Film Opening count: 575 posts/reviews since 2011. 

The Stranger Up & Comings: Frankie Rose/Cold Beat/Ephra-
, Gruff Rhys/Willis Earl Beal, and Twin Peaks/Meatbodies.

Video Librarian: Boobs, Breastmilk, Finding Fela, Inher-
itance, Me, the Vinyl and the Rest of the World, Ocean Keep-
er, When I Walk, Alabama & Friends at the Ryman, The Lan-
guage of the Unknown - A Film About the Wayne Shorter 
Quartet, Lilting, Wetlands, and Abuse of Weakness.

Endnote: Image from In the Red. Art by Tatiana Kartomten.