25Aug2010 1815: Intertextual
It is now painfully clear that Scott Pilgrim was dead on arrival, so it's appropriate to perform a post-mortem. This movie is probably the only way to adapt the source material and is, in a vacuum, a quite exceptional movie. It leaves out a couple things I liked in the first couple of books and improves massively over the content in the last book. It also does things with text and action that we've never seen in a movie before.
Except...that's not accurate. The more I thought about Scott Pilgrim, picking apart the effects and the pacing, the more I realized I had seen this before. I've seen all sorts of reviews comparing this to Watchmen or especially Kick-Ass. Those are the facile comic comparisons; Scott Pilgrim doesn't resemble either of those. Scott is not about deconstruction or satire, it is about celebration. It revels in slackers, indie rock, hipsters, and video games -- even while telling our generation it's maybe time to settle down. No, we've seen these visual tricks before...in Nightwatch.
Did I just blow your mind?
I speak specifically of the theatrical subtitled version. I'm not sure if the DVD versions use standard subtitles, but the film I saw had tender loving care applied to the text. Words leapt and pulsed across the screen, dissolving and shattering and passing behind foreground elements. The subs were an integral part of the experience, more than just a translation. Coupled with the frequently cartoony action and general weirdness, I think Nightwatch is the most proper analogue for Scott Pilgrim. Nightwatch didn't have bass guitar shootouts or life bars, but it did have a cursed owl-lady. Call it a wash. And call it a great movie.
[Paty Cantu - Afortunadamente No Eres Tu] is a mouthful for sure. Paty appears to trade in what I consider Euro-pop, a fast-paced dancy kind of fluff song. This is despite all the hours of high school taken up by Gina G's "Ooh Aah" radio assault; the form is firmly associated with the Old World in my mind. And Paty Cantu doesn't come close to being an innovator in the genre, just three minutes of solid Euro pop.
[Chromeo - Don't Turn the Lights On] is the video this week. As much as their music wants to enfold you in a comforting 80s blanket, their video is here to freak you the fuck out. One part Thompson Twins, one part glowing eye mob. EYEBALLS.
[Stuttgarter Kammerorchester & Karl Munchinger - Canon in D] delivers another rendition of the Might & Magic theme song.
[Hey Monday - I Don't Wanna Dance] is another example of the heavily-vocoded girl-faux-punk that Avril Lavigne helped inflict on America. It is the worst of us, laid bare and accompanied by robotic close harmonies.
I guess that means the best song of the week, for two weeks running, is [The Clash at Demonhead - Black Sheep].
18Aug2010 1800: Fangs
Have I mentioned here that I watch True Blood? I guess I have. Well I just wanted to say yet again that True Blood the books were terrible textual abortions and that True Blood the show is an amazing clusterfuck of insanity. It also has a pleasing IMDB URL with its four 4s. I am saying it again this week because the episode that just aired, Season 3 Episode 9, "Everything is Broken", comma, was the best episode of anything I've watched this year.
No, I take that back. I re-watched Airbender on Netflix this year, so "The Drill" is the best episode I've seen this year.
But. And I am not spoiling anything specifically because (a) our Saturday group hasn't seen it yet and (b) I'm a dirty book-reader so I know where it's (probably) leading. But. This season we have had a great A plotline, and all the B plotlines have been setting up the only parts I remember fondly from the book series. And this episode had the greatest ending of any True Blood episode ever made -- in a series known for doing something insane and then smash-to-black-roll-credits, this was their masterpiece. I actually thought they had done their crazy ending, but suddenly another scene started and there were even five whole minutes left, and I had time to think "wha--" and then BAM.
Because vampires are not your bitch, and they do not sparkle, and they do not drown, and sometimes they eat werewolves under a full moon. What are you going to do about it, werewolves? Nothing, that's what.
[New Politics - Yeah Yeah Yeah] is Zebrahead crossed with Flickerstick, which is to say I feel like a frat boy just by proximity to this song. If you packed your summer-outdoor-grilling playlist with songs you really liked and that really embodied the spirit of summer and then threw this song in the middle, it wouldn't stick out at the time but you'd probably remember it as the low point of the day.
[Polock - Fireworks] is just as insubstantial, but trades in the bro-rock for indie rock. I dunno, it just felt like Modest Mouse in double time, which isn't necessarily a bad thing to be but it also didn't do a damn thing for me.
[The JaneDear Girls - Wildflower] is country, if you couldn't tell from the title. It's also an exemplar of vapid teen-girl pop, all "hooray I like to party and borrow dresses". Throughout the video the JaneDear Girls vamp at the camera and play guitars in a farm field and wash a pickup truck and holy shit who would make this music on purpose?
[Stacy Clark - White Lies] brings some much-needed piano singer/songwriter to this week's haul. It's ultimately just as shallow as the other songs, but it's presented in a way that doesn't repel me. Still going to delete it.
Man, that was a lame crop of songs. It's too bad they all have to compete with [The Clash at Demonhead - Black Sheep], which contains spoilers for Scott Pilgrim but if you haven't seen it yet you're part of the problem.
11Aug2010 1900: Scott Pilgrim
Scott Pilgrim is this week! It's nearly here! Two more days! I even stayed slightly late today to ensure I could skip out early on Friday. That's like extra work, and I hate extra work!
I was trying to work up a whole post about how this fall was bringing back the network fad battle, of a kind not seen since the year of Threshold-Invasion-Surface. Remember those? After Lost blew up and everybody scrambled to get their own slightly-sci-fi mystery show? That was a relatively good year. Anyway, I thought it was coming back again with superheros, but when I went to put together the list I only found No Ordinary Family (NBC) and The Cape (ABC). I guess CBS is sitting this one out, although I suppose they could make a supervillain season arc in NCIS. I've been remembering No Ordinary Family in my head as two different shows.
[Brad - Rush Hour] sucks, not to be confused with Brad Sucks, which is good. I really couldn't say why it peeved me so; it's certainly positioned somewhere near Coldplay on the rock spectrum which should make it largely inoffensive. Maybe it's the guitar riff that I swear they're biting from [Pearl Jam - Alive]. Maybe it's the feeling that I should be listening to Radiohead instead.
BREAKING NEWS oh shit a mozzarella-stick melt sandwich!
[Love Star - Felicidad] is our Spanish infusion for the week and I like it. Where Brad had some generic 00s rock, this is some generic 80s rock. Bouncy synth, some thin female vocals, but inexplicably real drums.
[Eli 'Paperboy' Reed - Come and Get It] marks how long it takes for the white man to steal the black man's sound, in this case, Raphael Saadiq's. Boy, I know when I want that Motown funk I put a rasta on drums and the babyface white guy up front. This is the rare song that would be best served by not being a video; just close your eyes and pretend it's not a boy-band reject pompadouring in your face.
After the bouncy fun of Come and Get It, [The Virginmarys - Bang Bang Bang] gets in your face with doom bells and a more-than-vaguely-AC/DC aesthetic. Like AC/DC informed by the minimalist success of The White Stripes.
04Aug2010 1800: Surfeit of Sound
Remember last month when I told you about the free Amazon music? After last month's record haul of good stuff, Amazon has finally unveiled their master plan: holy shit 1272 $5 albums in August. That's not exactly what their marketing department calls it, but that is the intent. I have fully nine albums on the Must Buy window of Chrome, and that's after weeding out the close ones like [Mirah - (A)spera] or [Neutral Milk Hotel - On Avery Island]. Also, if I didn't already own it I would buy it, but there's no longer any excuse not to own one of the finest albums ever made.
With all the good comes the bad, and -- I risk my Amazon recommendations forever just to show this to you -- the worst is not one of the multiple yoga soundtracks. Or any of the classical compilations. Or even the best of Kidz Bop, although that's close. No, the worst $5 album this month has to be Disney Reggae Club. Let that sink in. Disney. Reggae. CLUB, as in there are more than one Disney Reggaes.
On top of this aural assault, Starcraft 2 released last week. I plan to deal with this Starcraft as I did the last -- namely to wait several years until a cheap collected copy is available. That doesn't mean it has escaped my love of watching other people play video games. Day in particular always has informative and entertaining streams. I've never built a proxy pylon, but by gord I understand their use.
[Delorean - Stay Close] starts off with an ambient eurobeat like you'd hear in a Volvo commercial, builds into an ambient eurobeat like you'd hear in a Caribbean cruiseline commercial, then brings in vocals to seal the deal. Well, not seal. That's a little too aggressive. This song is content merely to exist at the edges of your hearing.
[Audrey Assad - The House You're Building] is pretty cute, but unfortunately this isn't the video this week. No, it's a song in the vein of that mid-90s era where Natalie Merchant and Shawn Colvin rampaged across the radio. The 90s might have replaced the backing drum machine with more piano or bass guitar, but otherwise this is soothing top 40 90s.
[Hwood - Could It Be You (Punk Rock Chick)] is the cruelest self-fake-out of recent months. I couldn't really make out what was going on in the video thumbnail, but I'm always ready for another song about punk rock girls. I was wholly unprepared for what happened, which was some black rap dude started spilling beats out my iTunes. With that goddamn vocoder I hate. I admit I haven't kept up with the state-of-the-art in punk, but do punk rock chicks really "wear their hair like Rihanna"? I submit that no, they do not. Either Hwood or I is confused on what exactly constitutes punk rock.
I think RyanStar is the name of the robot that you get when the Counting Crows combine at the end of each episode. [Ryan Star - Breathe] is very much like Coldplay or Snow Patrol without all that pesky name recognition. Every high school senior class needs their own batch of bands like this, so I can't complain too loudly.