Monday, November 03, 2008

Early November Pop Notes

SB asked me recently, "don't you have to write about the TV on the Radio show on your blog?" Truth is, I wasn't really planning on it. I just didn't feel like I needed to pile on them again after my Dear Science review. As I mentioned to Parowpyro over email, I can't think of another band I like as much as TVotR that's left me as resoundingly underwhelmed as they have recently (aside from perhaps Bloc Party--I could barely get through Intimacy). I'm glad I finally had a chance to see them live and all, but the show did absolutely nothing for me. Unlike a lot of folks, I actively enjoy Sitek's overstuffed production aesthetic, so the songs, translated live, were missing quite a bit of oomph for me, even when they brought a whole shitload of people onstage for a percussion jam and sent the horn section up into one of the boxes. I swear, I'm not trying to be stubborn or contrarian or whatevs, I just wasn't feeling it.

Openers the Dirtbombs fell a little bit to one side of the too-loud/too-heavy spectrum for my taste to make me want to listen to their stuff on a regular basis, but they were enjoyable enough live. The one thing that really endeared them to me, though, was the way they utilized what's usually just dead-air space after their set: their lead singer/guitarist and one of their drummers (yes, sigh, one of their drummers) started to unplug and pack up their gear as the lights came up, while the other guitar player, the other drummer, and the bassist continued to vamp on a nice little groove. As the bassist, and then the guitar player, began to drop out, splinter off, and pack up, the drummer kept his backbeat steady, even as the roadies began to disassemble the drum kit out from underneath him, until he was just banging on the side of the kick drum. It was a highly amusing use of that transitional time, and a fun challenge to see how long they could keep it going. I cheered way louder for that stunt that I did for any of their other songs that night. I just appreciated that extra little bit of silliness and playing with the form of "rock show opening set."

Movie-wise, I made damn sure to get my ass out to see Rachel Getting Married and loved it, loved it, loved it. I don't know if it's just because I've been to four weddings this year since mid-August (with a fifth coming up this weekend!), but it just totally wrecked me. A handful of the people I've talked to about the film have complained about the meandering pace and the ridiculously idealized/utopian vision of the attendees, the music and other entertainment at the reception, and of course the wedding itself. Aside from the fact that I have an inherent soft spot for these kinds of movies where so much of the pleasure of the piece is derived from watching beautiful, talented people give of their beauty and talent in what feels like real time (it reminded me a lot of sentimental fave The Anniversary Party), I think it's precisely those elements that are key to the film's success. You need them to be able to breathe a bit, to unwind from all the horrifyingly tense scenes of family drama. It would just be too relentlessly unpleasant, claustrophobic, and even melodramatic otherwise. I just felt like it was extraordinarily well paced, both from scene to scene and from front to back, especially as information about Rachel gets parceled out. The right to happiness you see she's earned so dearly by the time she's ready to walk down the aisle absolutely destroyed me. It just hit me in a deeply personal place. Seriously, I was a mess there in the theater. I wouldn't say that Anne Hathaway is brilliant, though she's used extremely effectively and certainly has scenes of brilliance (the cringe-inducing speech at the rehearsal dinner stands out especially). Kudos to the ever-enjoyable Bill Irwin for elevating what could have been a boring patriarch character (the malaprop "hungabungas" for "hamburgers"--whether improvised or appearing in the actual script--made me want to barf with glee, it was such a perfectly dead-on one-word encapsulation of his genial suburban dad attitude), and, all my recent carping about TVotR to one side, I thought the casting of Tunde Adebimpe was inspired. He's clearly very attractive, but not in an over-the-top kind of way (imagine if the part had been played by Taye Diggs or whoever--egad), and he's got such a quiet, gentle strength in his onscreen presence that was absolutely necessary for getting you to connect with the otherwise underwritten character. I'm not necessarily recommending this movie to you--if your expectations are too high from all the glowing write-ups it's received already, I don't want to contribute to the disappointment they'll probably engender in you if/when you eventually see it. Plus, I'm just not in the mood to fight about it too much, because, as I said, I loved it, full stop, and just kind of want to keep my warm feelings about it for a little while longer.

I also had a chance to catch up with Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, which I'd been hoping would be a teenage, indie rock Before Sunrise set in New York, but ended up being more like a millennial indie rock Adventures in Babysitting set in New York without the urban scariness (the city is definitely a benevolent presence throughout in that by-now cliched "the city is another character!" kind of way). Not that that's entirely a bad thing, but...expectation management and all. Cera's charm, while not exactly wearing thin quite yet, could just use a fresher environment to flourish in; I'll be eager, for obvious reasons, to see how he fares in the Scott Pilgrim movie.

I just can't get enough of the Sea and Cake's new one. Honestly, I now think a lot of my indie rock fatigue from last month was really just disappointment that none of those new releases was Car Alarm. After growing to love Everybody so much last year, I didn't really realize how much I was looking forward to the follow-up. It's dandy. Just really easy on the ears--and I mean that as the highest possible compliment. My dad and a fellow musician friend of his always used to say of their favorite jazz soloists "they play it the way you want to hear it played," and I think the same is eminently true of the Sea and Cake in general.

Juana Molina's Un Dia has also gotten quite a bit of play recently. Kittens, this is music to blow the remaining autumn leaves right off the treetops. Either that or to keep those lonely ones left over plastered right where they are, melancholy but vibrant, lit from inside with a dying fire, in perpetuity. Everything I've ever read about Molina has led me to believe I'd respond really well to her work, and I'm happy not to have been wrong in that assumption.

"And then, he DJ'ed the afterparty." Hallelujah. Bring it.

1 comment:

parowpyro said...

jump tomorrow is also enjoyable if you enjoy mr adebimpe's acting style...he's soooo much more preferable than those pacino angry = acting types.