Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Dutchess & The Duke

The Dutchess & The Duke are comprised of Seattle-ites Kimberly Morrison and Jesse Lortz and are yet another band discovered via Subterranean with their video for "Mary". The song appears to cover the issue of emotional abandonment by a parent, in this case, Mary, from the point of view of the scorned child. The scars caused by a mostly absent parent, pass into the narrator's later life, showing itself in his romantic insecurities. Here is a sampling of lyrics that seems to point at this interpretation:
And all the days I lost track
When you never came back
With my heart in your sack
And you put the fear in my mind
That what I would love would just leave me behind
The song plays warm and hummable and more than a little heartbreaking once you realize the lyrical implications, the final verse kicking in with the harmonious chant "But I ain't gonna say your name no more…" Its wounded message speaks as a loud "Fuck You" to someone you can never really leave behind because they "put the blood in [your] veins"

Upon first listening to their debut disc, She's the Dutchess, He's the Duke, it's impossible to deny the uncanny musical homage to an early Rolling Stones ( I say early, because there is nothing remotely "Has Anybody Seen My Baby" about their sound). From start to finish, their album draws you in with their "campfire punk" sing-along vibe. Folksy, crass, and hauntingly melodic, this group gets major love from this fangirl.

Their newest album, Sunset/Sunrise, dropped just last week and already it's earning its place as a favorite in our musical rotation. The sound is a little darker, less hand clap heavy, with vocal arrangements on "Hands" showing hints of Fleet Foxes, apt since the bands toured together throughout much of 2008. My favorite track may be the reverse title track "Sunrise/Sunset", vocals led by Kimberly Morrison which opens with disembodied moaning, and a deconstructed "Paint It Black"-esque guitar part. LOVE it.

So whatcha waiting for? Go forth and buy or download, however you do. The future of good music depends on you.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blood, Sex & Vampires - Revisited

So I felt that I had to make good on some scathing words I spouted a few months ago. My venom was directed at none other than vampires I slagged off as being "fake" or at least, IMHO, just not up to snuff. WELL WELL WELL. Didn't I have to eat my words just a bit. It started by watching True Blood and dagnabit if I'm not hooked, patiently waiting for the 2nd Season to be released on DVD already so I can watch it all in one clip like I did with Season 1. However, I feel I must make it clear that I believe this show to be about sex first, and vampires second (or third, or maybe fourth, not sure but sex definitely has the #1 slot). The fact that about half the cast is a vampire reads as completely un-shocking when paired with the ridiculous amount of sex being had by most every major character. For those who aren't getting busy, Jason Stackhouse makes up for their lack by bedding a different woman in each episode. Who doesn't have a soft spot in their heart for a slutty dingbat?

After finding considerable enjoyment in True Blood I moved on to my next target, Twilight. So reading Twilight started out well enough, I was really enjoying the build up for introducing Edward as this mysterious, vampire superhero type. How dashing! I'll admit it, I would be completely smitten as well however TOTALLY unrealistic the scenario is from soup to nuts. I thought the initial tension between Edward and Bella was spectacular. I found myself really engaged and couldn’t wait to see how their desire for each other would pan out. And then it did. [insert sigh of disappointment] They started dating and all of a sudden the lustful pursuit which kept me captivated in the beginning, just left me with a cheesy taste in my mouth. I know, gross thought, but if I had to live through it then I'll be damned if you don't! The whole "We must! But we shouldn't…" and "I'm here to protect you! But I'm what you need protection from…" thing grew very tiresome very quickly. I mean, I GET it. He's dead, she's not, the logistical issues are apparent AND I understand that the whole "will they? won't they?" factor makes for greater conflict. Still, I think I would have preferred an abridged version, one with less gooey sentimentalism in every piece of dialogue between the protagonist and her suitor. Like, is it really necessary that Bella be almost COMPLETELY helpless, weak and clumsy ALL THE TIME? Ugh. SO not my idea of a stand-up female role model. Boo! Hiss!

Long story short, I WILL tune in for subsequent seasons of True Blood because I have not had my fill of impassioned cries for "BEEHL!" or "SUKEH!" and likely WON'T bother reading any of the Twilight sequels. I may check out the movie and see if the film adaptation is more tolerable than the text was, you know, as research, not because I'm into sparkly vampires or anything…

Thursday, October 8, 2009

So Funny, It Hurts...

I am a total sucker for funny people. I love when someone can make me cry with their comedy and these dudes do just that aaaaaaaaand they are cute to boot! So for that, I say: BONUS! Give me a geek in glasses with a penchant for self-deprecation and I'm yours…

Andy Samberg

Andy is one of the best reasons to still be watching Saturday Night Live. He is smart, goofy AND ambitious. Together with his childhood friends Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, they are The Lonely Island, responsible for crafting the hilarious Digital Shorts you see on SNL. One of my favorite skits that Andy starred in was "Ras Trent". Andy assumes the role of a white suburban kid who has stumbled onto Rastafarian culture and does an amazing job at completely skewing its message. I can't help but crack up when he refers to himself as a "Rude Boy living in the shanty dorms" or how he tells his "Bumbaclot parents [that] he's switching religions".

His poseur ignorance has me LOL-ing out loud.

Martin Starr

Martin may be best known for his work as Bill in Freaks and Geeks (SUCH an amazing show) but he became more recognizable after he appeared in Knocked Up as the character, get this, Martin, the dude with the beard and pinkeye, or was he just high? He has successfully cultivated his dry, acerbic humor for the masses and usually plays those hopelessly loser-ific characters your heart can't help but break for. He has recently shown off his acting chops in Adventureland (which I have yet to see, g-d it!) and is currently featured in one of my favorite new shows on the tube, Party Down.

Check out this clip of Martin's character, Roman, attempting to mark his territory when threatened by the new guy on the job.

Jemaine Clement

Jemaine is one half of the New Zealand duo known as The Flight of the Conchords. This past season, Jemaine (unsuccessfully) attempted to prostitute himself when he and his cohort Bret fell on tough times and on another occasion (albeit unknowingly) slept with an Australian. Oh, the scandal. Anyway, my true love and devotion really stems from (my favorite recent movie) Eagle VS. Shark. Jemaine plays a doofy, douche-y character named Jarrod (the eagle), a socially awkward man-child with major familial issues and, despite his shortcomings, a devoted love interest, Lily (the shark). His actions are fairly repugnant throughout but his cluelessness and broken little boy back story grants him redemption in the end.

In this clip Jarrod threatens his high school bully over the phone. Have I mentioned I looooove this movie?

James Franco

Ok Ok, so he's more known for being a dreamy dreamboat. Let's give the guy credit where credit is due, he IS, BUT he's also hilarious and mostly because it seems like he's not even trying to be. Another Freaks and Geeks alum, James first caught my eye there playing bad boy Daniel Desario, the 80's answer to Jordan Catalano. Are you swooning yet? In response to his character being told he's completely unreliable he bites back with: "Well, you're certainly reliable, you're always a BITCH!" Funny, right? Really, it's OK to laugh. ANYWAY he convinced the non-believers he could, in fact, be a comic actor when he took on the role of Saul in Pineapple Express playing the loveably clueless dealer and friend to the reluctant Dale.

This scene CRACKS. ME. UP.

Charlie Day

I may have saved the best for last. Charlie stars on It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia where he plays the aptly named Charlie, one of five, mostly reprehensible, characters in charge of running "the worst bar in Philadelphia". The gang, as they are referred to throughout the show, are morally corrupt, ignorant and downright hilarious. Charlie is actually the most redeeming character, at times displaying the show's ONLY source of empathy or decent judgment in the face of the gang's usual duplicitous schemes. Though no angel himself, Charlie has stooped as low as pretending to have cancer in order to score the sympathy of "The Waitress", his unrequited love. If you AREN'T watching this show (for some insane reason), you really need to do yourself a favor and just watch it already.

This is probably my favorite Charlie moment:

The "Sunny" gang are branching out with their talents and recently put on a select city tour of their original musical: The Nightman Cometh which I was lucky enough to see live AND in Philadelphia, no less!

I also scored some pretty sweet footage, thanks to the bee, which you can check out here.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Elvis Perkins

I first discovered Elvis Perkins during an ill-fated move to North Carolina where I spent most of my free time watching TV. One of the few shows still allotted for music videos is Subterranean on MTV. It's had a few time changes in the last few years but for the most part it is 1 hour of new, "indie" music videos played laaaate at night. Apparently actual music must be relegated to the most undesirable time slot for fear the slobbering masses won't get enough reality TV during waking hours. Can someone please tell me WHAT has happened to music television?! Anyway, most of Subterranean ends up getting "bo-booped" through on my Tivo for not being totes my thang but I'll never forget the day I first saw the video for "All The Night Without Love". WOW. It was like being transported back in time. The scene looks like something filmed surreptitiously (by a ceramic Native American?) in the early 70's. The band plays in a room adorned with old furniture and folks heaped upon couches and stairwells, watching with serene pleasure as the band graces them with their percussive reverie. Color me hooked.

Elvis, the son of Anthony Perkins of Psycho fame, bears an uncanny resemblance to his famous father but without a doubt stands on his own with his anachronistic styling and immense musical talent.

His first album, Ash Wednesday brought the melancholia in a big way. It was an emotional album without being sappy or a whine-fest. It is a truly beautiful piece of work, sad and uplifting all at the same time. It has been said that the second half of the album, tracks 7-11, were written in direct response to the untimely death of his mother, Berry Berenson, who perished on 9/11. For more on Elvis' back story, check out the wiki page dedicated to him..

For his second album, entitled Elvis Perkins In Dearland, the backing band became more than featured players, the group honed their craft and boy do they ever deliver. The sound of this album is rich, pounding, ceremonial and haunting. The sadness is still underlying but this time around the mood is mostly joyous.

I was lucky enough to see Elvis TWICE this year, so far, once in NYC and a few months later in Philly and got some cool shots. You can check them out here and here.