Friday, February 27, 2009
The Ravishers, are a sigh of relief from quite a few bland performances I’ve seen. They put on a great show. Whether you were following them from the Rock Savant days, or just being introduced, all spectators were exceptionally entertained.
Each member has a personality on stage that melds well together. Beyond having fun, it really did just seem that they were in their element, a vibe forwarded onto the audience. The Ravishers seem to have a handle on the show while working the stage, and just go with the flow. In the end, their performance was much like their music, keeping it simple so that the song can catch you up with it.
And that was really their greatest selling point. While The Ravishers appear fun, easy going and comfortable, it is their music that sets the foundation for a live show. A trait many live bands can learn from. There is nothing more annoying than a band that loves to jerk-off to themselves on stage, with forced poses, half-tolerable sound experimentation and awkward banter with the crowd.
With their own approach of indie-rock dabbling in the pop realm, they remind you of Phantom Planet’s early energy, and gives you the feel of bands such as the Lemonheads or a pinch Elvis Costello, that predate the gimmicky trend of indie-alternative riding the radio waves today.
There should be more shows to follow, so leave your dorm, house or back-alley cardboard box to support a local band that is one to watch, and won’t leave you disappointed.
Though bearing their former name of the Rock Savants, this video is of The Ravishers performing their song "Keep You Around."
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Villareal "Multiverse" National Gallery of Art, Washington DC from Walter Patrick Smith on Vimeo.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Why is this, you ask? Well I'll tell you, it's because they keep doing batshit insane things like running full features on such fascinating American institutions as "Pimp This Bum."
This seriously sounds like a Saturday Night Live sketch. But it's not, it's one of America's foremost news institutions. Wow.
Monday, February 23, 2009
How's this for truly bizarre career decisions:
James Iha (late of A Perfect Circle and The Smashing Pumpkins) has started a band called Tinted Windows that apparently consists of himself and several other 30/40-somethings dressing like they raided the Jonas Brothers' dressing room and slamming out power pop of a style so aggregious that it might make Miley Cyrus blush (Hannah Montana, on the other hand, would remain quite composed.)
Seriously though, Tinted Windows sounds an awful lot like something you'd hear on Radio Disney.
OBVIOUS PRESCIENT QUESTION FOR THIS BLOG POST:
Is this an actual band or some kind of bizarre meta-joke?
No one seems to know, but given the group's presentation it seems like this one is for real.
Whether that is the case or not, you can be sure as shit that I'll be lip-synching these hypnotically catchy tunes into a shampoo bottle for at least the next few months.
Seriously, what the frak is going on here?
Although Ra Ra Riot at first seemed to defy this trend (they're good but they're not great) the group has been steadily growing on me. They manage to make a string section sound chipper rather than melodramatic and it is hard to argue with those hooks once they really sink in.
Check them out at the Doug Fir tomorrow night for a more thorough investigation.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
But n+1, a literary mag out of New York, took a different approach. They pretty much hate everything, it seems, only not really. That's a worldview I can get behind.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
In a series of bad dreams, Brad Pitt combines with Forrest Gump, E.T., Oliver from The Brady Bunch, the baby from Eraserhead, Tom Waits album covers, Dr. Zhivago, Dick Cheney/Donald Rumsfeld, on and on, like robot locusts eating the inside of the movie theater in three hours."
Link: n+1 magazine
Monday, February 16, 2009
Oh, then came the videos. First the Las Vegas shots of him floundering about on stage, eventually falling off. Then his charismatic presence on Letterman caught all of our attention. It seems Phoenix is pushing the weirdness factor a bit more the further he goes.
Though word on the street is that we all might be victims of a well played hoax. You see Phoenix's brother-in-law Casey Affleck anounced his directorial debut recently for a documentary he was filming. The subject of said documentary, you guessed it, Phoenix's hip-hop career. A few hollywood lightbulbs went on over the heads of critics, bloggers and other folks who generally don't have much of a life. Could Phoenix's crazy antics be at the expense of a mockumentary in the making? I guess we will all just have to wait and see.
So what do you think? Has Joaquin Phoenix boarded the crazy train or are we all falling for perhaps one of the greatest jokes in hollywood history?
You said it token stoner dude.
I saw Friday the 13th last weekend on Friday the 14. Yeah that’s right, my lady is awesome. However, as most would expect, the film did not meet up to any of even the smallest of expectations, and produced a series of crimes that horror movie fans will be bringing the gavel down upon.
The film strays so far from the original’s feel, only borrowing the concept of a scary guy in a hockey mask, that fans of the original will be disappointed as it fails to hold up to its 1980 counterpart. All in all, this remake is a mix of first two Friday the 13ths. For those who are in-the-know, they should be able to spot a few nostalgic moments such as Jason’s bag mask as well as others.
But the sprinkling of nostalgia doesn’t carry the film through an array of poor film-making choices. Granted, the initial flick helped to establish some time honored horror movie clichés, but the remake takes these clichés to an embarrassing level, where there is no decent script, twists or turns, or inventive characters. Granted it is hard to pull off a remake, especially when it is of a well-loved franchise, but this remake gave me the feeling that they didn’t even try to create anything successful and banked on the curiosity of fans to garner ticket sales (big surprise).
The movie comes stock with all the drugs, sex and token characters as any other film. So much that it removes any of the original’s feel, yet still leaves the viewer with a sense that they have seen this all before, in the hundreds of horror movies to come since the original in 1980. You don’t have to make some novel work of art, but at least put some creative and innovative thought into it, especially while handling the re-imaging of a delicate classic.
Lastly, on a personal level, the star of the film, Jared Padelecki, appears to be quite a tall drink of water, and not only do you got him on a little Royal Enfield motorcycle, you dubbed over the bike, making it sound like a beefed up Harley. Come on! Couldn’t you just fork up the dough and got the guy on a Triumph? Padelecki looks like a circus clown on a scooter.
Interesting tidbit: Over the past four years Jared Padelecki and Jensen Ackles have come into homes across America each week via the television show Supernatural. To be honest, I do like the show and how each episode is like a mini horror movie. I was therefore intrigued when both actors would be coming to the big screen this year. Coincidentally, both actors were cast in remakes of classic ‘80s horror movies, My Bloody Valentine and Friday the 13th. And not only that, though Ackle’s Bloody Valentine remake came out first, Padelicki’s remake came out on Valentine’s Day! Whoa …
Saturday, February 14, 2009
First, the collection of classical music nerds starts getting street cred by playing with local indie artists, then they become a completely unlikely musical force in their own right and now they are (to my knowledge) the first "band" of their kind to sign to Kill Rock Stars. It's unlikely, to be sure, but the Cello Project's entire history has been anything but predictable up to this point and I can't think of a more deservedly talented group to join the roster of one of the region's finest labels.
With the forces of Slim Moon and the coolest classical music ensemble in the known world combined the sky is the limit.
Builders and The Butchers with The Portland Cello Project: "Bottom of the Lake" from Douglas Jenkins on Vimeo.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
OK, this squirrel isn't from Portland, but DAMN. She's got some moves.
Click the picture for all the images.
More awesome weird shit @ http://www.kontraband.co.uk/
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
The words "hack" and "genius" had better appear at least once in the comments for this one.
Sarah Hutchins' interview with Deborah Gwartney in today's Vanguard was interesting and (unfortunately) too long for our print edition so here's the full version in all its literary glory.-Editor
Running away was decriminalized in 1974 in the United States.
This is not a widely known fact but one that Portland State Professor Debra Gwartney is only too familiar with. About a decade ago, her two oldest teenage daughters ran away from their home in Eugene. They jumped on freight trains, traveling to Portland, San Francisco and other major cities. They mingled with a subculture formed by other runaway youths living on the street. Live Through This: A Mother’s Memoir of Runaway Daughters and Reclaimed Love is Gwartney’s story of how she coped through this period of her life, continued raising her two younger daughters while trying to help her two older daughters and how her family was finally reunited.
Sarah Hutchins: A lot of people are likening your book to David Schef’s A Beautiful Boy. Is either of your daughters, Stephanie or Amanda, thinking about writing a memoir from their perspective?
Debra Gwartney: They’ve talked about it but there’s nothing in the works right now. The whole being part of the book’s publication has made them think about stories in a new way about what they went through. I of course tried really hard not to tell their story. They have their own stories. And I wasn’t there. I didn’t see it. I hope that they write about it. I think that would just be wonderful. It would be way different than Nic Shef’s book (Tweak) just because they had a much different experience. Drugs were involved but it wasn’t such as drug oriented story as his was, which good for him about it for writing it. That was very brave but theirs is more of a traveling story of jumping on trains. I just don’t think that story is told very often. People probably don’t even know that kids jump on trains and travel around the country and I think that there are quite a few of them that do it.
SH: What made you decide to write the memoir?
DG: I didn’t just wake up one day and decide I’m going to write about this. We’d been through this very difficult time and I knew that I wanted to write about it but I didn’t know what shape it was going to be or even what genre. I never seriously thought about writing fiction but it crossed my mind. I wrote just a very small piece about looking for Stephanie, the second daughter, in San Francisco, in the Tenderloin District and it helped me sort out a lot of my own feelings about what had happened. It was good in both the sense that I could practice what I want to do, which is to write nonfiction, and also just confront some of the unsolved emotions around that whole time. So I wrote that piece and I published it in a literary journal called Creative Nonfiction. It got quite a bit of attention and just made me start thinking maybe something bigger is here so then I wrote another piece for Salon and then I wrote another for a journal called Fourth Genre and several other pieces. I wrote a longer piece about the wilderness therapy for The Oregonian. They all just kept adding up so I thought maybe I could start putting them together in a book, which was not anywhere as easy as just compiling them as I thought it would be because then the book had to be shaped and shaped and reshaped and that took years. It’s been a long process but there was never one moment where I thought, “I’m going to write a book.” It just kind of evolved that way.
SH: Did you start writing because it’s therapeutic to write?
DG: I didn’t start writing because it was therapeutic to write but it turned out that it was therapeutic to write. I wrote because I felt like I had a story to tell and I wanted to tell it and see how well I could tell it. I wrote more out of a writer’s aims than a therapy aim but in the end it was helpful.
SH: Do you think that your book will help moms that may be going through something similar?
DG: Well, I hope so. Of course I hope that but I don’t know. I’ve heard from a few people who saw early reader copies that they found it helpful just to see how someone else had gone through it but I didn’t write it for that intention either. I hope that’s something that happens but I didn’t go into it thinking, “I’m going to help other people figure this out” because my story is only my story and their stories are completely different. Hopefully people who read it will feel less alone maybe that’s kind of presumptuous for me to say but it is nice to hear that someone else had a traumatic experience that maybe bears some similarity to yours.
SH: When I went to Powell’s I was surprised to see the book not only in the memoir section but also under parenting.
DG: Yeah, it should be under parenting. I hope it’s under memoirs, too, but it is a book about parenting for sure. I’m glad that they put it there.
SH: How is your relationship with your daughter’s today?
DG: Great. Really good. Very positive. I do think that the actual writing of the book and showing them the different versions as I was writing it really opened up this whole new realm of communication among us. We talked out a lot of things that we hadn’t talked out before. And there are still little pockets of resentment and fear and sadness and all those things but mostly we’re just really good friends now. They’re well into adulthood. They have their own lives and they’re doing very well so it’s just been great. They have their heads together in ways that I think maybe they wouldn’t if they hadn’t had this early experience of tremendous self-reliance. Now they are both, well all four of them, focused and super responsible.
SH: Do you think that they ran away due to the constraints of society?
DG: There were very personal reasons in our family that made them decide to run away. But I do think that they felt that constraint. They talked a lot when they were younger about the rich kids at school who had a lot of privilege and entitlement. It was difficult for them at that middle school and high school setting. There does seem to be a kind of class hierarchy that some kids struggle against and just the mainstream expectations where not a lot of creativity is allowed in. I think that they were revolting against that in some ways. I don’t know if it was conscious for them at the time but they were very angry about it. They were really well read. We talked a lot about politics and human rights and things like that in our household and suddenly they felt that they were the ones being held back from what they wanted to do. It was all very complicated.
SH: What do you think of the subculture of kids living on the street? Do you think that it gives them more independence or is it a tragedy of our society?
DG: I think it’s horrendous. We need to have much better solutions. I just recently read another report about runaway kids and there are 2.8 million teenagers living on the streets. That’s more than Portland’s population living on the streets in the US. That’s not worldwide. There are 2.8 million homeless kids in this country. It just seems like a population that we never talk about, that we never think about. Bush signed a bill in October, not long before he left office, that I have some real problems with because it doesn’t support parents. It more supports runaway youth shelters and education on the streets, which I think is all good, but I also think that we need to start paying attention to bring families back together. Those kids out there on the streets are angry at their parents but a lot of times it’s because they have a curfew or they’re not allowed to drink in the house or they can’t stay out all night, things that parents should be able to say, “Don’t do this.” It’s just too easy for a kid to walk out the door, go downtown and find someone who will teach them how to jump on a train. I’m very concerned about it but I don’t want to become some kind of runaway youth advocate. That’s not what my life’s mission is about but I do hope that it opens up some type of dialogue about it.
SH: How does teaching affect your writing?
DG: Teaching is great for my writing, actually. It takes away time for writing but there’s never been a class where I haven’t learned along with the students. I’m challenged to think about my writing in a different way or I see a kind of technique or style or craft element that I can improve in my own work by talking about it with the class. So, it’s hugely helpful. I read a lot of manuscripts from students and I see a lot of the same problems cropping up over and over and over again so it reminds me to watch for those things in my own work. And I just like talking about writing. It’s a subject that’s very much alive for me.
SH: What are your current writing projects?
DG: I have a big project going but I’ve put it on the back burner while the book’s being published because I’m going to be gone so much on book tour but I’ve been writing a lot of individual essays for magazines. I just want to keep my work out there so I have a bunch of pieces coming out. I wrote an essay for Modern Bride about helping my daughter chose her wedding gown and I have a piece coming out in Hallmark Magazine, which is a women’s magazine and one coming out in Modern Love in The New York Times. But I’ll go back to the other big project that I’m working on in the summer, I hope.
SH: What is the big project?
DG: It’s a memoir more about my growing up years, my youth growing up in Idaho. I don’t really know the shape of it yet but I’ve been working on it for a year or so. Hopefully it will progress. More hard work ahead.
Debra Gwartney will be reading from her book Thursday, February 12, 2009 07:30 PM at Powell's City of Books on Burnside.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
In addition to his top notch interviews with Neil Gaiman and Henry Selick at this past week's premier of Coraline (check out today's Vanguard to read 'em), Jeff Hammond also got to chat with one Dakota Fanning about her role as Coraline's title character and other such shenanigans. Read on...
Vanguard: So when did you initially record your lines for Coraline?
Dakota Fanning (DF): I've been working on this for like five years so I've had a lot of recording sessions.
VG: Did you get to visit the set at all?
DF: I did, yeah it was fascinating to be able to see the models and the clothes that are on the models and the sets, which are so real … they're made out of, I don't know what the material actually is, but it’s different faces and they take them on and off and they move the faces, it's really incredible.
VG: When you were recording your lines, were you given something you could look at to get an idea of what your character was experiencing?
DF: They brought some of the models so I could see what some of the other characters looked like … when I did my first recording session, they hadn't even started filming yet, they were still building everything. So I didn't really have a lot to go off of but it really didn't matter I don't think, because Henry (Selick, Director) is so descriptive…
VG: When you were working in the recording booth, was Henry there the whole time to sort of coach you?
DF: He was there every time and when he couldn't be there he was on the TV in his office … which was so helpful because he is so specific and he knows exactly what he wants, and it's great to have him there to be able to describe that.
VG: Did you get to meet any of the other cast members before hand to talk about the film?
DF: No, never. The only cast member I’ve met is Teri Hatcher and I have never met her at anything to do with Coraline, I met her at a charity event actually.
VG: When you watch films you do, particularly with animation, how easy is it to detach yourself from watching yourself, is it easier with an animated film?
DF: Maybe, yeah. 'Cause you’re not really looking at yourself, you know? For me when I'm watching movies I’m in or my voice is in, I just kind of watch it as a movie and kind of forget that I’m in it sometimes.
VG: Going off on a bit of a tangent, there have been a lot of rumors going around about you being in New Moon. Have they actually offered you the part already?
DF: Yeah, I definitely hope that it does work out, I would love to be a part of it, I'm a huge, huge fan, so I really hope that I get to play Jane so we'll see … definitely looking forward to it working out, so we'll see, I'm sure everyone will know soon.
VG: So you've also got Push coming out tomorrow right?
DF: I do.
VG: So you filmed a lot in Hong Kong?
DF: The whole thing. I was there for almost three months … I loved it, I really could have stayed for a lot longer, I really enjoyed it.
VG: Since you've got Push and Coraline opening tomorrow, that's two big movies on one day, are you more excited for one or the other?
DF: I'm not you know, I think that they're both kind of geared toward different people so I hope that people enjoy both of them. So much work has gone into both of them, a lot longer has been spent on Coraline, but it's ironic that they're coming out on the same day.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Last night was the 2009 Grammy Awards. Here's a brief list of results. Follow this link to see complete results (featuring awards like Best Surround Sound Album and Best Polka Album) along with nominees and winners.
Record Of The Year
"Please Read The Letter"
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Album Of The Year
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
Song Of The Year
"Viva La Vida"
Written and performed by Coldplay.
Best New Artist
Best Dance Recording
"Harder Better Faster Stronger"
Best Electronic/Dance Album
Best Pop Vocal Album
Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album
Best Rock Song
"Girls In Their Summer Clothes"
Written and performed by Bruce Springsteen.
Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends
Best Alternative Music Album
Best R&B Song
Written by Mikkel S. Eriksen, T.E. Hermansen & S. Smith. Performed by Ne-Yo.
Best R&B Album
Best Contemporary R&B Album
Mary J. Blige
Best Rap Song
Written by D. Carter, S. Garrett, D. Harrison, J. Scheffer & R. Zamor. Performed by Lil Wayne Featuring Static Major.
Best Rap Album
Tha Carter III
Best Country Song
Written by Jennifer Nettles. Performed by Sugarland.
Best Country Album
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The Arcade Fire track is classic Arcade Fire and while very good in its own right, it is easily overshadowed by the epic "holy-fucked-ness" of "You are the Blood." Listen to that sucker, Sufjan really let loose his inner editor on this one and the results are beyond epic.
How's this for the latest chapter in Ticketmaster's horrible, shameful legacy (via the ever-lovely AV club):
A bunch of Bruce Springsteen fans tried to buy tickets for an upcoming show at the Meadowlands through the Ticketmaster website. They were taken to a screen that claimed that tickets weren’t available from Ticketmaster, but could be purchased for many times their face value from TicketsNow, a ticket resell outfit currently owned by Ticketmaster. In response to fan outrage, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell of New Jersey is lobbying for the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department to look into a possible conflict of interest. For its part, the company said through a spokesman that only a few fans reported problems.
Whether this is a mistake or not (my money's on not) it's just gross of Ticketmaster to contemplate ripping off their customers to such a horrific degree. Having worked for a Ticketmaster outlet in the past I can say with absolute certainty that the company is about as blatantly unethical as you can get (old news, I know) and I'm surprised that both the US people and US government have failed to rise up and depose it at some point in the past.
Maybe this will finally push things in that direction...
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
In the mean time here are a few videos of Portland's foremost chanteuse:
With Colin Meloy:
All on her lonesome:
and on top of construction equipment (thanks to Live from the Wreckage!):