Sunday, December 19, 2010

Deerhunter Revisited

Most musicians start at point A, go to point B, to point C, and continue to develop a sound that could have only evolved from all previous efforts. With Deerhunter, it seems the band has gone from point A (Cryptograms) to point B (Microcastle/Weird Era), but instead of going to C they went back, to somewhere in between points A and B with Halcyon Digest. This is not to debase the success of their latest record, as it is likely the perfect blend of the true Deerhunter sound- light at heart but also incredibly dense in scope.

The most underrated track of the Deerhunter discography...
Spring Hall Convert by olddusty

Cryptograms was a complex, mostly instrumental equation that introduced the band's more haunting capabilities; while Microcastle/Weird Era was almost the polar opposite. Though extremely drawn-out at 25-tracks long, Microcastle/Weird Era was much more direct; it did not explore the psychedelic compass of the previous record but instead ventured into more vocal pop tunes. Halcyon Digest has found its place somewhere between the broad electronic spectrum and radio-friendly appeal. Considering that Cryptograms' intrigue derived from its almost total inaccessibility, it is nice to hear Deerhunter return to these unique roots while also maintaining the likability that was achieved with Microcastle/Weird Era.

Halcyon Digest often works very independently from itself as the tracks go back-and-forth in tone and atmosphere, some remembering identically the music of two very different albums. In fact, Halcyon Digest almost functions like a greatest-hits record instead of one comprehensive piece. This hints that the band has room to develop a record that can intertwine all of their capabilities on a total album, not just individual tracks. But, with Halcyon Digest, it does appear that Deerhunter is coming into their own, with a sound that both the band and their fans are in comfortable bliss.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

True Romance

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Quentin Tarantino wrote this stylish dark comedy. True Romance is one of the most creative screenplays, which is mostly owed to its downright existential nature. As unrealistic as Tarantino's storyline usually is, this does not take away from the movie's freewheeling excitement.

The cast alone reveals this film's credibility: Dennis Hopper, Patricia Arquette, Christian Slater, James Gandolfini, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, and Val Kilmer. Ironically enough, the two stars of the film, Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, are probably the least distinguished of the bunch; however, their performances are simply outstanding for their blunt honesty. Arquette is spot-on with her portrayal of Alabama Whitman, a dim-wit former call-girl, and Slater as Clarence Worley, using his brooding voice to convince viewers that he is a schizo envisioning "Elvis" as his guardian of sorts.

Of course, it's no wonder, the best scene in the film comes from Dennis Hopper, as Clarence's father, and Christopher Walken, as a drug dealer that just got ripped off by a couple of clueless kids. The film's cinematic appeal comes from its brilliant comic relief, and this scene is no exception. True Romance is possibly one of the most mistakenly underrated works in movie history.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Low End Theory

It's pretty clear with this post and the previous, that I have been obsessing over Alternative Rap lately. Not many artists have supported Hip-Hop from a critically-acclaimed standpoint, but the majority that did were part of its sub-genre Alternative Rap. From hippies like De La Soul and PM Dawn to brilliant weirdos like Missy Elliott and Busta Rhymes- they have influenced so many, yet their enigmaticness makes it nearly impossible for followers to imitate. Alternative Rap, by nature, has a translucence and free-flowing essence that is addicting and unsatisfying at the same time, only because it wants more. The true gems are unforgettable for their coolness and ease, meaning the subgenre title is misleading because Alternative Rap is in fact listenable and accessible for all music lovers- even if they have never heard anything like it before.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Cashmere Thoughts

Considering that Hip-Hop is one of the most successful genres in music history, it is surprising that it is one of the least referenced in the world of high fashion. Though its true form is a bit unpolished, there have been other genres that inspired superb street style. Think about Grunge, it was founded as a sort of working-class wear and later interpreted into expensive designer styling, courtesy of Marc Jacobs at Perry Ellis. Then there is the Hippie movement, again a slightly rough-around-the-edges style that went straight to the catwalks of Etro and Missoni.

So, why are most great designers so reluctant to design a more urban and aggressive look? Especially since the genre is almost solely based on the search for the cool and luxurious...

Fashion made very few strides during Hip-Hop's Golden Age (Isaac Mizrahi and Chanel) and even fewer in its present most popular era (Tommy Hilfiger and Alexander Wang). Relevant designers everywhere should be inspired by the colorful and unique essence of genuine Hip-Hop style and finally mold it into its deserving form- a rich and tasteful aesthetic.

De La Soul, The Fugees, Lil Kim, Grandmaster Flash, M.I.A, Outkast, Missy Elliott, Eric B. and Rakim, Aaliyah, & Tribe Called Quest

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Last Romantic

When I first heard Grace, I dismissed it as an overblown studio production, using a guy with good looks to get a few hits. What I didn't know then, is how often I would return to the album time and time again for its clarity and unique beauty. As hard as it is to realize, there are not many rock records that embrace the passion, vulnerability and insecurity that often comes with romance- at least none that have ever put it as eloquently as Grace. Sure there are singles- "Nothing Compares 2 U" or "Love Will Tear Us Apart" or "How Soon Is Now?"- but no cohesive album has ever measured up to Buckley's debut in its consistent yearning and heart.

Once again, I have returned to Grace and find myself discovering more with each listen. One thing being that, while this is album is about love, it is more about heartbreak and hope. Maybe it's more obvious than I initially thought, but I understood the crashing chords and soothing melodies as new found love without ever really hearing the lyrics. Now, Jeff Buckley's brooding message and climaxing chords nearly bring about tears. Take "Lover, You Should Have Come Over":

Lover You Should Have Come Over by luxataltpress

Lonely is the room, the bed is made, the open window lets the rain in
Burning in the corner is the only one who dreams he had you with him
My body turns and yearns for a sleep that will never come

It's never over, my kingdom for a kiss upon her shoulder
It's never over, all my riches for her smiles when i slept so soft against her
It's never over, all my blood for the sweetness of her laughter
It's never over, she's the tear that hangs inside my soul forever

Well maybe i'm just too young
To keep good love from going wrong

Oh... lover, you should've come over

Jeff Buckley could make listeners feel the pain and anguish in his writing, amongst good company like Leonard Cohen, Nina Simone, Lauryn Hill, and Morrissey. His talent and presence was certainly lost far too early.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cherry Bomb

The color red is really starting to come out, and I predict that it only becomes more relevant next season. My favorite shade of the passion color is that cherry red that was seen at Givenchy... Ah, LOVE!

AND I am loving Rihanna's latest colorful video...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dazed and Confused

Androgyny, celibacy, and outright gender confusion are no strangers to some of music's most memorable lyrics... Here's a listen back at some that are hard to forget.

This classic pretty much embodies the post theme... As mentioned on a previous post, in a nut shell, the New York Dolls created glam and everything that came with it. For the first time in media they brought attention to cross-dressing, trashiness, and sexual confusion, and "Personality Crisis" is one of the most comprehensive song's on the subject.

Again, another classic about gender confusion... "Walk on the Wild Side" is arguably Lou Reed's most poignant solo work. The song helped lift awareness about the often experimental 70's.

Blur - Girls And Boys
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Probably the best and most confusing sexually-confused song, "Girls and Boys" addressed how open society was becoming about sexual experimentation.

It doesn't take long to discover the androgyny here... Black Kids frontman Reggie Youngblood cries "You are the girl that I've been dreaming of, ever since I was a little girl" with vocals that add even more confusion to the subject's sexuality.