Attack the Block:
The following statement is made without any hesitation or reservations whatsoever, a comment made in complete confidence: Attack the Block is the most fun that I've had at the movies this year, and it's not even close. The British Action/Comedy/Sci-Fi mash-up represents the Directorial debut of Scribe/Helmsman Joe Cornish, and based on this evidence, the man is here to stay. Set in the slums of south Britain, ATB stars a group of Five teenaged hood-rats, led by the stoic, powerful Moses (John Boyega). On One crazy night, their town is invaded by a slew of extra-terrestirails, part-wolf/part-bear/wholly-terrifying and vicious, and the pack takes to defending their block (essentially a massive apartment complex), from the beastly intruders with whatever weapons they can find. Part Independence Day, part Die Hard, and part Boyz n the Hood, part Grindhouse/Blaxploitation flick, Attack the Block benefits from producer Edgar Wright's signature wink and nudge, but Cornish's style is a lot more straight-forward. Relying on hilarious interplay between his leads more than any of Wright's wacky and hilarious editing gimmicks, ATB manages to work fully as both an action movie and a comedy, an accomplishment that Wright has yet to add to his mantle. Throw in just a dash of social, racial commentary, and you've got a dizzying, gut-busting mash-up that crams about 20 different genres into heavenly minutes, then gets out while it's still ahead. It's a masterpiece of silliness, and you owe it to yourself to check it out.
The Field: Looping State of Mind
Producer Axel Willner wasn't joking when he named his newest LP Looping State of Mind: The disc is a mere Seven tracks long, each unfolding over no less than Seven and a half minutes, continuously visiting familiar sound regions and repeating melodies into oblivion all sans lyrics. If that doesn't sound like you're cup of tea, then I'd advise you to steer clear altogether. LSOM likely won't bring in any new fans to its long-form, trance-enducing style of instrumental music, but that doesn't mean that its not a wonder to behold for those with the taste for this sort of thing. Each song on the album seems to float around in the air, slowly unfolding, expanding in ways both subtle and profound. One song blurs effortlessly into the next, and for once, you get the feeling that the artist behind the music meant to do just that. Sure, the title track has a bit more bounce than the rest, and Burned Out is perhaps a bit sunnier, but Looping State of Mind was clearly intended to be played in its entirety each time, and that's not a rule I plan on breaking soon.
This year represents a Ten-year anniversary for Two of the most canonical rock and roll albums of the last many, many years, and to celebrate, both SPIN magazine and Stereogum have given us free tribute albums in honor of the occasion. SPIN's contribution comes in the form of Newermind, wherein a collection of artists ranging from The Meat Puppets to Titus Andronicus to Surfer Blood run down each and every track from Nirvana's now-20-years-old classic Nevermind. It's a dingy trip into the past with some newer favorites. On a much glossier subject, Stereogum rounded up the likes of Peter Bjorn and John, The Morning Benders, and even Heems of Das Racist to remake the Strokes' decade-old debut LP Is This It? Highlights include Frankie Rose's straightforward take on Soma, and Owen Pallet's blissfully orchestral touch-up of Hard to Explain. Oh, yeah, and did I mention that they were BOTH FREE?!?! Check 'em out right here, and right here. You can thank me later.