James Blake: James Blake
Shame on me for not checking this one out right away. Blake, a 22-year-old Brit, has always had quite the buzz swirling around him, but his sample-heavy dub step offerings like CMYK have always been easier for me to appreciate than enjoy. Imagine my surprise when Blake's self-titled debut turned out to be one of the greatest singer-songwriter albums to come out for quite some time. The white boy has soul, the achingly true feeling of his vocal delivery bolstered by a variety of auto-tune stylings, his soaring falsetto flying high above each track's minimal, hypnotizing beat. The album as a whole sounds something like if Bon Iver's Justin Vernon lent his vocals to the sparse, night-time instrumentation of The XX, all cycled through the lap-top beats of Thom Yorke's The Eraser. If that sounds like excessive praise, then you probably haven't heard the album yet. It's pretty easily my favorite of the young 2011.
Smith Westerns: Dye it Blonde
Smith Westerens don't need as lengthy a description as many of the bands that I write about, but that's just because their sound is much more familiar. They write classic rock ballads, not the devil-may-care epics of someone like Led Zeppelin, but something smaller, woodsier, and more intimate. Dye it Blonde is an album chuck full of terrific guitar licks, down-tempo builders, and one great sing along after another. I'm struggling to find their exact comparison, because I know there is one, but for now I'll settle on a cross between The Grateful Dead and Cream. Yeah... It's pretty awesome.
Netflix Instant Watch Movie(s) of the Month:
Enter The Void
It's coming up on a week since I first watched Enter the Void on Netflix Instant Watch (Where it is still available *cough cough*), and I still have yet to decide how exactly I feel about it. To be frank, there are any number of things that I could trash the movie for right off the bat: the acting is uninspired, the dialogue is often flat, the movie is far too long and repetitive, and full of underdeveloped Freudian Psychology. So what's there to like in all of that, you wonder? Well, as it turns out, ETV is a technical masterpiece, taking its viewers places, and making them feel ways that movies almost never try, and are generally disallowed. The movie follows Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), and American drug dealer living in downtown Tokyo, and is filmed exclusively in either first person, or is strange, flying shots that weave in and out of the neon city. Being in this kids head as he does drugs, stumbles around, trips out, and experiences the visual splendor of directer Gasper Noé's vision of Tokyo is often times an unenjoyable experience, but its one of unspeakable power. Similar to something like David Lynch's Mulholland Drive, Enter the Void is more of an experience than a movie, the physical affect of watching it almost impossible to recreate. I can't promise you'll like it, and if you're in the least turned off by an NC-17 rating (I think this one's unrated, but... yeah... it's NC-17), then I would stay the hell away. For anyone interested in the pure power of cinema, and what spells certain film-makers have the ability to cast, this one is a must, even if you squirm through the whole thing like I did.
Two Amazing, Amazing, AMAZING things happened in the world of music within 12 Hours of one another:
Alright, so I didn't exactly miss these two things, but I'm sure you'll forgive my category fraud when you hear what they are. In case you missed it, last night at the Grammy Awards, Arcade Fire's The Suburbs won album of the year, defeating the likes of Eminem, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga. To be honest, I've never watched the Grammys, and I don't think that anyone really believes them to be a very accurate indicator of the best music being made today, but none of that changes the fact that Arcade Fire, the indie darling loved by millions of snobs (and smart people) the world over took home the top prize on music's biggest stage. Pretty cool, I would have to say.
The other thing is... Oh well, maybe you won't be interested. You really want me to tell you? Really? Oh, all right, here it is: There's a new Radiohead Album (Get ready for it...) coming out THIS SATURDAY!!! These guys have always been in favor of surprises, but holy moly, Batman, you only told us six days in advance? The album, entitled The King Of Limbs, will be available for digital download this Saturday, with the physical version following on May 9th. So, yeah, no picking your price, but on the bright side, IT'S A NEW RADIOHEAD ALBUM COMING OUT IN 6 DAYS!!! It may be a short one, but I still just might make that paper chain anyways. It's going to be a long week.