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Monday, September 5, 2011

Leftovers: August 2011

Leftover Albums:
Moonface: Organ Music Not Vibraphone Like I'd Hoped
        In case this fact has somehow escaped you, I harbor a pretty big bias in favor of all things Wolf Parade. That being said, I'm almost always interested in the projects of co-frontmen Spencer Krug and Dan Boeckner, but I also can't help but pine for the days in which they would rock as One (WP is on indefinite Hiatus). This disposition likely prevented me from enjoying this June's Sound Kapital, the new disc by Boeckner-led outfit Handsome Furs, as much as the next guy, but it has done nothing at all to diminish my affections towards Krug's solo debut under the alias Moonface. The album title listed above is entirely true: Krug had initially planned to record an album of nothing but looped Vibraphone, but finally decided the concept would be better served with organ sounds. The lack of other instruments does make for a smaller sonic world to play in, but Krug populates each song with a swirling, enveloping beat, nearly hypnotizing you mid-listen. The album is only Five tracks long, none shorter than Seven Minutes, but Organ Music still manages to feel like a full musical meal, the bright and shimmering Fast Peter, and the zombie-disco of Shit-Hawk in the Snow proving particular highlights. There's little doubt that this is a One-off: That I am aware of, no one has tried to craft a disc exclusively out of looping this particular instrument before, and I can't really imagine Krug making a habit out of it. Organ Music is as strange and singular as it is inviting and fun, and you should give it a listen today.

The War on Drugs: Slave Ambient
        You've heard this style of music before: A vaguely hazy sound lent to apathetic singing and gorgeous and casual guitar playing. Washed Out already released such a disc earlier this year, with Neon Indian's new set fast approaching (my review will be up this Friday), and here arrives the deliciously fuzzy debut LP of The War on Drugs, entitled Slave Ambient. As the name might suggest, there's little to no edge on the thing, not ideal for a house party, but perfect for a late-summer porch sit. Frontman Adam Granduciel sounds more than a little like 2011-breakout-artist Kurt Vile, a musician whose music I've always wanted to hear with a backing band. The War on Drugs provides me with just that (not to mention a hefty helping of Tom Petty-vibes) on tunes like trance/bliss inducing opener Best Night, and the echo-laden, percussion-heavy Come to the City. One of the most accomplished first full-lengths of the year.

Leftover Movies:
Life in a Day
        I don't review documentaries on this site, and I likely never will. I apologize if that makes me seem short-sighted, but I simply view them as a completely different art form, One with which I have minimal experience, and am thus an unfit judge. But I suppose it wouldn't exactly hurt me to point a good One out every once in a while, and Life in a Day marks just such an occasion. Comprised entirely of amateur footage submitted to Youtube on July 24th, 2010, Life is as beautiful, hilarious, terrifying, and awe-inspiring as an hour-and-a-half summation of the human experience should be. Being sure to frame the project from a global perspective, Director Kevin McDonald includes clips from all over the world, encompassing moments as elating as sky-diving, as stirring as a no-holds-barred clip of a cattle-gun in use, and as mundane as a young man's first shave. I walked out of this movie feeling vivacious and alive, and you will too.

        This year has already seen a variety of Independent Film triumphs, as well as a bold and assured directorial debut or Two, but Bellflower stands out as the flick most emblematic of the audacity of the micro-budget American Indie. Somehow strung together on a budget of just $17,000 (or .0001888% of Conan the Barbarian's 90 Million, if you will) Bellflower is the debut feature of Writer/Director/Producer/Star Evan Glodell, and it makes quite the impression. The story follows the life of Woodrow (Glodell), a Twenty-something who spends his days building flame-throwers and making Mad Max references with his BFF Aiden (Tyler Dawson). Into his perpetual state of youth stumbles Milly (Jessie Wiseman), a free spirit for whom Woodrow falls for immediately. To the surprise of no one, things don't work out perfectly, and Bellflower makes a mid-movie detour from endearing romance to deranged grief. Shot on custom-designed cameras built by Glodell himself, Bellflower is rendered in a yellow-y soft-focus that brings both the nostalgic and hallucinatory elements of the film to the forefront. The movie is nothing if not daring, making One bold and divisive move after another, but there's never a doubt that it is the work of a true talent with a belly full of fiery ambition. Though not at all for the easily-shaken, Bellflower is the announcement of Glodell as a talent to be reckoned with, not to mention a great movie in and of itself.

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