Friday, May 27, 2005

The Suitcase Summer Movie Preview

My preview will be pretty short.....


Now that Star Wars is over and done with, I can't think of one other interesting movie coming out this summer. Oh and has anybody noticed a trend of unoriginality in Hollywood? This summer they are taking it to new heights. Almost every big movie this summer is a remake! Let's see, we have:

-Charlie & the Chocolate Factory
-War of the Worlds
-The Longest Yard (Eddie Albert died today. He was in the original. I guess he knew this one was garbage.)
-Dukes of Hazzard (man this looks like a train wreck)
-Herbie: Fully Loaded (yeah cause the public was just clamoring for another Herbie movie)

I'm sure I'm missing something else. Plus I read last night that "Back to School" is being remade with Cedric the Entertainer. Dear God no!! No more remakes, please! Come up with something new!!

It seems this started with the remake of "Psycho." After that I lost all respect for Gus Van Sant. Why bother remaking one of the greatest films of all time? Especially shot-for-shot? Was there something missing in the original? I'm sorry but Van Sant cannot improve on Hitchcock, so don't bother.

Now a couple of the most talented directors out there are caught in this trap. Spielberg is remaking another of my favorite films, "War of the Worlds." Tim Burton is really pushing my buttons by remaking "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." It is unnecessary. Burton is one of my favorite directors, but two of his last three were remakes.....well I guess "Planet of the Apes" was more of an adaptation, but still.

This trend has really irked me, if you can't tell. I'm such a movie buff, but now very rarely watch any Hollywood movies. In fact before Episode III the last movie I saw at the theaters was the last Lord of the Rings. I've just become so cynical that I now refuse to see most movies.

In summary, my summer movie preview is to save your money because I'm tired of this garbage.

(Cue closing music: "Sunless Suitcase's Recliner of Rage!!")

Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Few of My Favorite Things, Pt. 2

Okay I'll finish up what I started earlier with a couple of album reviews.....

...but first, did anybody catch last night's "Lost" season finale? God I love that show!! I'm so glad that they didn't answer too many questions. Usually I get frustrated with shows that constantly leave on cliffhangers, but this one does a great job of keeping your interest without frustrating. It's the perfect show! I haven't been this obsessed with a TV show since I learned of Dr. Who reruns in high school.

Gorillaz "Demon Days"
One of two killer CD's I purchased on Tuesday. I was so excited for this one because I'm a huge Gorillaz/Blur fan. I'm glad to report I am not disappointed in any way. It's just as great as their debut. It's not quite the same, but it retains their quirkiness. This one seems cleaner, more produced and maybe a little more serious. I love it for what it is. I loved Dan the Automator's production on the last one and I love DJ Danger Mouse's production on this one. There are some daring parts (strings and choirs on more than one song) and they really pay off. No, I won't choose between this one and the last one. Both are just killer albums with awesome cameos. The best cameos on "Demon Days" are from De La Soul, Ike Turner (killer piano solo), and Dennis Hopper's weird spoken word.

The standouts for me are:
"Dirty Harry" (my fav)
"Feel Good Inc."
"Every Planet We Reach is Dead"
"All Alone"
"Fire Coming Out of the Monkey's Head"

Sufjan Steven "Seven Swans"
The other purchase from Tuesday. First my backstory:

I didn't know too much about Sufjan Stevens, but kept seeing his name pop up on my Amazon recommendations. I usually ignore those, but he was EVERYWHERE on there. I finally decided to read a few reviews on several sites and figured he was worth a look. Tuesday at Hastings I was sifting around and came across "Seven Swans" used for only $6, so I picked it up too. Now let me say.....This album is amazing!! If you like Iron & Wine, you need to check this dude out, but it's a bit more contemporary than Iron & Wine.

I mentioned some daring moments in the new Gorillaz, but this album is full of boldness. Firstly, the primary instrument on most of it is a banjo. Usually it's used as a filler or as a solo, but he's strumming it as a lead part. Secondly, Sufjan really wears his Christian faith on his sleeve. It shouldn't be a daring move, but very often religion is taboo or vilified in indie music. Now, it's not preaching, but mostly Biblical retellings....and they are beautiful, intense, and very endearing. The most intense point is the album's climax on the self-titled track. The choir of voices that close that song just makes my heart feel like it's going to jump out of my chest. That song leads into "The Transfiguration" to close out the album. It is impossible not to smile while listening to that song. It's just so bubbly and quirky. The whole album is an incredible experience. I highly suggest picking it up.

A Few of My Favorite Things, Pt. 1

It's been over a week since I posted last, and I am sorry. Things have been pretty busy for me.

I'll catch everybody up with a few of my favorite things right now.

Weezer "Make Believe"
Nothing great, but who cares? It's Weezer and that's all that matters. Definitely not their best effort. Very lackluster lyrically, but all I care is that I get to hear it. I found myself over-analysing it at first listen. Then I realized that I shouldn't be doing that. Weezer isn't as complicated as some make them out to be. It's just good music and that's all I ever really expect from them.

Maria Taylor "11:11"
Very good, but not the best thing she's ever done. I always say this and will again: Go get Azure Ray's "November!" That's the best way to get into them. If you do not like it, then don't get this album. If you do not like it, there is no hope for you anyways. I'm pretty excited because Orenda Fink (the other half of Azure Ray) will be releasing her so debut later this year.

Star Wars, Episode III
Okay that being said, I loved it!! It was so dark and tragic, just like it should be. The battles were fantastic and the ending really does a great job of filling gaps.

My problems:
The Wookie battle should've been longer.
The Anakin/Obi-Wan duel should've been longer.
The whole damn movie should've been longer.
The Jedi got slaughtered pretty easily and so did Dooku.
Vader's Frankenstein scream was kinda corny.

Other than that, it was amazing. I feel complete now. I've waited my whole life for this and it was worth it.

Okay, that's a few things I'm going nuts on right now, but I have to get back to work. I'll try to finish it off Pt. 2 tonight.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Nerd Alert! Nerd Alert!

It's a big week for nerds, such as myself. Firstly because of Star Wars. Secondly because of E3. And with E3 comes some big news....

Just look at that picture above. THAT is what I want.

Monday was the official Sony unveiling of the Playstation 3....and it couldn't have been cooler. That machine is just going to be the sweetest thing on Earth when it's released next year. Just check out the specs in that link.

....and of course, there in lies the problem.

You see, the PS3 is going to be so complex that it'll likely cost a fortune. Just the video card alone has a value of around $1000. The good news is that Sony surely knows that to sell a console for that much money would be suicide. Especially when the X-Box 360 will reportedly cost $300. Thankfully it's rumored today to have a release cost of $500 or less. That's still a ton of money, but not as scary as it could be. I may as well start saving now. I'm a Playstation guy and refuse to switch over to Microsoft. It may hit me in the wallet in a year, but from what I've heard the PS3 is so far way more impressive than the new X-Box.

I wish I can say I'll put my current nerdiness on hold until next spring when the PS3 is released, but unfortunatly for those around me I'm going on Saturday to see Star Wars. Yeah, I'm pretty nerded out right now.

Monday, May 16, 2005


I mentioned how cool I think the new Spoon album cover is. Have you seen the new White Stripes cover?

Oh mamma, that's killer!

Three more weeks!

Monday, May 09, 2005

Stream of Consciousness Spoon Review

I've been staring at this cover since I opened it. I've got to say it's one of my favorite covers. It's so simple, but just beautiful. Looking in the booklet, I see that it's supposed to be like Little Red Riding Hood, but all I see is those Imperial Guards from "Return of the Jedi."

Since I'm so excited about this CD, I figure I'll just review it as I listen to it.

The Beast and Dragon, Adored
One of the three I had heard before. Oh so dark! That piano just puts chills down my spine. Man this song sounds like Bowie.

The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine
Sounds like a great mix of "Girls Can Tell" and "Kill the Moonlight"....with strings? That's different. Typical Spoon sickening catchiness.

I Turn My Camera On
Disco/rock/Blondie beat with Michael Jackson singing. I love the Britt Daniel falsetto, and he's taking it to the max on this one. Very cool.

My Mathematical Mind
Sounds very familiar right away, but I don't know where I've heard it before. You know, I loved the piano in "Kill the Moonlight" and I'm loving it even more on this album. This song has so much drive behind it. That's my favorite side of Spoon. Plus this is the first song with Josh Zarbo playing. Kind of like how "KTM" barely had any guitar before "Jonathon Fisk" hit. Might be the first 5 minute Spoon song I can think of, but at least they fill it very well. My favorite so far.

The Delicate Place
That electric guitar fill is some strange stuff. Definitely the simplest song so but it's getting far more complicated. Insane crescendo that just dies...I love that. I didn't think I'd like that one at first, but it really made up for it in the end.

Sister Jack
The second of the three I'd heard before....but not like this. Very radio friendly and almost pop. Kind of sounds like Guided By Voices meets Wilco.

I Summon You
The last song I'd heard before. Britt played it solo when I saw them last June. Sounds about the same, but with far more instruments. It's funny how Britt has two different types of voices (raspy/throaty and forced falsetto). I love hearing him drift back and forth between the two on this one. Here's a strange comparison: it sounds almost Billy Joel-like.

The Infinite Pet
Um, wow. I don't know how to describe this one. You just have to hear it. There's more sound to this one than I've ever heard in a Spoon song. It's almost electronic. Pounding drums and the mix between the piano and fuzzy organ it just so cool.

Was It You?
Even more electronic-sounding drumming. Sounds like Beck? Weird. Yeah definitely sounds like Beck.

They Never Got You
I thought it was Hall & Oates when it first hit. Hey it's about as catchy as "Maneater" (as in, very catchy). Very typically vintage sound. Very memorable song....maybe it's the constant pounding rhythm. A little different than an earworm. This one just pounds and pounds until it's painful.

Merchants of Soul
The whole time I'm listening to this song, I'm thinking that it doesn't sound like a closing track. Then the track just ended. Oh Britt, you tricky bastard!


All-in-all? I love it. It'll take me a few more listens to truly say it's their best, but it may be. Still very derivative. They do derivative rock way better than the Dandy Warhols. It's great....go get it.

Gimme Gimme Gimme Fiction!!

Oh boy I am just giddy right now! I totally was not expecting to get my preorder of the new Spoon today. Sure enough, though, there it was sitting in my mailbox just now. I am so excited!! This is the one release that I was really anticipating. Plus it came with a killer huge poster.

New Weezer tomorrow and this is going to be a great week. If my Maria Taylor preorder comes in this week too, I seriously might die from excitement. Seriously.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Chock Full o' Reviews.

I'm going CD crazy right now. I've already mentioned this week's purchases and haven't had a chance to review yet. I'll start with the easy:

Arcade Fire-"Funeral"
I love it, but I don't want to hear anything more about them. I've heard enough. I know I'm supposed to love them, and I do. Now leave me alone. I'd love to be really ironic and say I hate it just to stick it to their popularity, but I can't. I love it. It's reminds me of Modest Mouse meets Neutral Milk Hotel meets the Talking Heads.

Ryan Adams & the Cardinals-"Cold Roses"
Geez what else can I say about Ryan Adams. He's great live and has had projected moments of brilliance in the past, but God do I hate him. Dunn and I used to joke that we'd be kicking his ass and saying "I really loved Gold" at the same time. He's just too frustrating for me. Let's recap.....
Rock n' Roll-meh...okay, interesting
Love is Hell-I still don't know what to think of this one
Cold Roses-OVERKILL!!!
It's a step backwards, which for him is a step forwards. Very reminiscent of Whiskeytown and Heartbreaker, which is good, but jeez do we really need this much material at once?? It's like 80 minutes of mostly the same song. Hey it's good. I love the twang, but just getting the motivation to listen to this thing is very daunting. Plus I have to buy two more Ryan Adams CD's by the end of the year? Still I'll never regret buying it. It's a good deal. Did I just recommend this album? I have no idea. Just go get it and judge for yourself.

(Right now there are fireworks launching outside. I have no idea why.)

Now to the meat......

Buy this album now!!

Just do it, trust me. You'll never regret it.

I can't remember the last time that I have been this emotionally attached to a CD. It's funny too. John Darnielle has typically written fiction. This is his first major spurt of autobiography largely involving his abusive stepfather. I wasn't abused as a child. And I'm the one that's attached? Lyrically this is one of the most brilliantly emotional things I've ever heard. It's so interesting to hear too. Take "Broom People" for instance. John lets his typically long-winded imagery cover 99% of the song with only one or two lines of action. However, that line or two will just kill you inside. After so much deep imagery, it's hard not to become attached. That's payoff, my friends. I swear he can sit in my shed out back for a half hour and write something fascinating about my lawnmower.

From the nostalgic longing of "You or Your Memory," to the primal "Dilaudid," to the bouncy "Dance Music," to the oh-so-sad ode "Song for Dennis Brown," everything is just right. So many heavy themes, but there is this distinctive positivity that follows throughout. As depressing as these songs can get, there is always a silver lining. It never goes overboard. He'll take you to the depths of despair in every song, but always brings you back up in the big picture. Listen, take a big deep breath, and listen again. Beauty, thy name is John Darnielle.

Now I have to get to sleep. I've got to leave at 6am for a 5K...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

A Complement? For Shame!

When I post about Hastings, typically it is out of hatred. Today I'm actually going to offer a complement to our much maligned entertainment store. Usually I go to shop, but end up just checking up on things....making sure they have the selection they should have. Most often, however, I go home empty-handed and angry.

A couple weeks ago on a day off, I was feeling a tad bored and decided to take my monthly trip to Hastings. I was rather surprised to see that they had BOTH Magnolia Electric Co. albums. Further searching unveiled my eventual purchase: the new Bonnie "Prince" Billy. I was shocked to see something so obscure on their shelves.

Yesterday I found a couple extra bucks in my wallet before payday so I went to see if they had the new Eels. They did, only one copy so I left it for my friend, but right next on the display was the new Mountain Goats. "What the hell is that doing in this store?!" I bought likely coming tonight.

Today I traded in a couple of old PS2 games for store credit. No more Eels in stock, but I picked up the new Ryan Adams and the Arcade Fire for $12 a pop. (OT: I know, I finally got the Arcade Fire...lay off...oh and sorry Wajda, I love it). I ended up paying only $3 out of my pocket for both releases. That was the first time in possibly more than a year that I left Hastings happy......

.....then I noticed they had the new Decemberists marked at $18. That made me angry. Why again does the sign outside say "Discount?" (By the way, notice the price listed on that link I found.)