Dollhouse 1×10: “Haunted”

Dollhouse brings the funny in this episode that is a combination of Death at a Funeral (the good one) and Murder She Wrote.  Echo is imprinted with a recently deceased friend of DeWitt who attends her own funeral and tries to solve her own murder.  The story line itself is interesting, though by no means mind blowing, but the idea of attending your own funeral and mourning is nicely played out.  We also see a very new and creative use of the Dollhouse technology.

My favourite quote comes from the drunk brother of the deceased speaking with her two children (his niece and nephew):

Yes, Margaret could be awful, but so can I.  And from what I can gauge, the two of you are hideous.

Read more of this post

Review: Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

The reason this is a great album is Same But Different.  The most engaging artists always have a unique, identifiable sounds such that you can pick them out immediately.  But that does not mean that every song and album sound the same.  To the contrary, the best bands stretch their musical muscle from album to album, applying their uniqueness in different ways.

The Arcade Fire is one of these bands and The Suburbs sounds very different and at the same time very the same.  The Suburbs leans more towards the pop/rock side of things than we have seen on previous records.  Less dense with more hooks.

Modern Man has a beat and guitar line that oozes 80’s radio rock goodness.  Month of May takes this idea to the next level, fuzzing up the guitar and picking up the pace.  It makes me think of Your Hands (Together) off of the latest New Pornographers album, which also caught me off guard with it’s overt guitar riff basis.

The frenetically paced  Empty Room sounds as though the strings and drums are in a race to the finish.
Subtler, more stripped down songs such as Wasted Hours and Sprawl are welcome breaks in the album, letting things breath a little.

I love the Spoon-esque percussive piano on We Used to Wait.

Unfortunately I will be forced to remove Rococo from my iPhone.  I know it is the name of the song, but please stop saying Rococo.  Forever.

    Head on over the The Arcade Fire website or Merge Records as they are offering up a digital version of the album with all sorts of coolness embedded inside.  I love to see this sort of creativity taking the music industry into the future.

    All in all The Suburbs give you all the greatness you expect from an Arcade Fire album and adds in enough variation to keep things fresh and interesting.  I expect this album will still be at the front of my playlist a year from now and I will still be discovering new layers.

    Date Night + District 9 = Fun!!

    A rare occurrence in my life happened this weekend.  I got to watch 2 movies!  And they were both really good!!

    I’m not much for movie reviews, but her are a few tidbits on what I enjoyed.

    I had kind of low expectations on this one, given all the inconsistent reviews.  My wife and I really enjoyed all the “parental humour” which gave a unique flavour to what could have been a pretty standard wacky date movie.  It was nicely peppered in there without taking over focus.  Steve Carell and Tina Fey were both great, being very funny but not over playing the characters.  Way more enjoyable than Hot Tub Time Machine.

    It took me a while to get to this as I was waiting for its turn on my Ziplist.  I was not totally excited when I put this in last night, simply because I have been waiting so long to watch this and hearing so much in the mean time, it was almost as if I had already experienced it.  I really, really enjoyed this movie.  It is by no means perfect, but it is so nice to watch a solid, inventive movie that is not overrun with Hollywood.  You can make a great movie without a famous American actor pretending to be something else.  Refreshing and fun.

    The Rural Alberta Advantage

    I came across the band The Rural Alberta Advantage last year thanks to Exclaim magazine.  After listening/watching a few things online I immediately bought their album, Hometowns.  I have not listened to an album so dripping with passion and emotion in ages and the energy of their live performance (as seen online, at least) is incomparable.  These guys (and girl) bring it.

    Read more of this post

    Armond White, Get Your Stethoscope

    I have read a few articles about Armond White’s comments that “Robert Ebert destroyed film criticism” (on the /Film podcast) and I agree with the general distaste for Armond’s approach.  What really jumps out at me, though, is the terminology Armond uses and the emphasis he puts on titles and credentials.

    The idea that anyone with formal training is immediately to be assumed to be more valuable is elitist and archaic, but perhaps the assertion that Roger Ebert has done a poor job is not completely off-base if you put it within the right context.

    Let’s take the job “Film Critic” and truly formalize it.  Create a regulatory board, control certification, restrict the job to professionals.  Basically elevate it to the level of medical doctor.  Armond White, here are your scrubs.  Everyone now views you as you view yourself.

    So if we give credence to White’s argument we have now turned Roger Ebert into Frank Abagnale, Jr..

    Where does that really leave Roger Ebert and the rest of the film reviewing world?  Nothing changes.  Roger Ebert still does what he does, and does it well, and the rest of the world pays attention and enjoys it.  If the world doesn’t want formalized, professional film critiques you cannot force it upon them.  So what if you can’t call what Ebert did on television “criticism”.  Call it whatever you like but the reality is that he did what people wanted, and what people didn’t want was “proper film criticism” televised.

    This also does not invalidate what White does.  White provides something that people enjoy and find value in, which is why he has a job.  White and Ebert are doing different things, and that is a good thing.  There is nothing wrong with White’s views on movies, or his views on criticism or his formalized training.  It’s the fact that White is so concerned with sharing the title of Film Critic with the common man that makes him an ass.  Get over yourself.

    Oh man, I said I wasn’t going to swear.

    Review: Sleigh Bells – Treats

    In the movie Sliding Doors the character played by Gwyneth Paltrow is running to catch a train.  The screen splits; on one screen she makes the train and on the other the sliding doors of the train close just before she gets there.  The rest of the movie shows her two different paths through life.

    Now image if, instead of Gwyneth, it was the Yeah Yeah Yeahs circa Fever to Tell running towards the train of inspiration (ug).  The Yeah Yeah Yeahs made that train and got off at the It’s Blitz station.  But oh no, they left the fuzz and crunch and noise of Man and Cold Light on the train!  Oh well, they still have enough elements to make slick, polished, amazing music.

    Read more of this post

    Review: Black Francis – NonStopErotik

    When Frank Black started recording again as Black Francis it was an exciting concept.  The Pixies had reunited for a few tours, and though rumours of a possible new album just continue to be rumours, work by  Black Francis seemed to be one step closer to that possibility.  NonStopErotik, however, feels nothing like the Pixies (not that it should).  If feels more like a singles collection.

    Given how prolific Black is it is easy to match songs to the various styles of his past works.  Six Legged Man fits easily with Black Francis’ early solo stuff, like Cult of Ray.  Dead Man’s Curve would have fit perfectly on Dog in the Sand by Frank Black and the Catholics.  Wild Son is a well polished C-side to Pixies B-sides like Weird at My School or Dancing the Manta Ray.

    There is an excess of falsetto going on in songs like Oh My Tidy Sum and Rabbits.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a falsetto hater.  Mac McCaughan (Superchunk, Portastatic) is one of my favourite artists.  But when Black sings entire songs in falsetto it just doesn’t feel authentic, but rather like he said “let’s do this one slow and high pitched, ’cause we haven’t done that yet on this album”.  Perhaps that feeling is informed by how fast and furiously Black tends to pump out the albums.

    In contrast, Corrina‘s rockin’ pace drives Black’s voice up to a high pitch in a natural way that brings an enjoyable energy and life to the song.

    Title track Nonstoperotik and When I Go Down on You are baffling tracks with overtly? sexual lyrics.  Lines like “I don’t need to have someone new when I go down on you” and “I want to be inside / that’s my intention / inside of you / all the way” stand out in all the wrong ways in songs that musically are more piano-driven love ballads than anything else.  I get that there are more to the lyrics than what is on the surface, but not being in on the winking I just can’t warm up to the songs.  I think these could have been tracks 13 and 14 on Ween’s 12 Golden Country Greats.

    Regardless of which post-Pixies moniker Black releases under, each new album is likely to have a couple of gems and a lot of non-standouts.  This is the curse of Black’s song writing style: there is a lot of quantity and within that there is some very high quality, but often the impact is diluted by the mediocrity of the rest of the songs.  Unfortunately NonStopErotik feels like a collection of throw-aways from other albums.  There are some decent tunes here, but nothing to add to the “best of” collection.