Monday, August 31, 2015

I'd Love to Turn You On At the Movies #122 - I Love You to Death (1990, dir. Lawrence Kasdan)

At the age of twelve, I watched reports on the making of I Love You to Death after dinner on Entertainment Tonight as the hosts discussed the controversies surrounding its production. Watching the movie now, it is hard to believe that it could have been the source of any controversies, but that disconnection proves helpful in noting some of the changes in media, entertainment, and perception that have occurred since 1990. Twenty-five years later, I Love You to Death remains an unmistakable product of its time. A highly successful director of the 1980’s, Lawrence Kasdan, guides a diverse and talented cast, including two Oscar winners and two Oscar nominees, through an energetic, dark comedy based on an actual criminal case, wherein a wife tried to kill her husband several times. From its director to its remarkable ensemble cast and the way it handles its subject matter, this movie could not have happened at any other point in recent history.

I Love You to Death follows a string of successes throughout the 1980’s that began with Kasdan penning the screenplays for The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Following these collaborations, Kasdan went on to write and direct some of the biggest critical hits of the decade including Body Heat, The Big Chill, and The Accidental Tourist. A year after this movie in 1991, Kasdan’s Grand Canyon attempted to address and remedy the hangover brought about by the over-indulgences of the 1980’s, but I Love You to Death’s perverse and frenetic atmosphere feels like the last round of drinks shared at end of the party the night before.

As the party guests, this group of actors remains one of my favorite ensemble casts in any movie. Kevin Kline, at the height of his powers, operates in a broadly comic range that he has rarely reached with such zeal or success before or since. Released in the final year of Tracy Ullman’s acclaimed U.S. comedy/variety series, this movie allows Ullman to deliver one of her most natural and nuanced performances. As the emotional heart of the film, River Phoenix’s charisma and generosity as a performer combine to bring out the best from his fellow actors and allow him shine without being the center of attention. As Yugoslavian mechanic grandmother Mama Nadja, Joan Plowright builds a warm and curiously engaging character out of a role that could have been just a plot device or a punchline.

Recently, I realized that William Hurt’s character is a spiritual cousin to Jeff Bridges’ The Dude in The Big Lebowski. As leading men in the 1980’s, both Hurt and Bridges played serious yuppie types, so watching them play bedraggled, middle-aged hippies at the fringes of society creates a jolt of unpredictability that, in this case, creates some of the movie’s most satisfying comedy. For Keanu Reeves’ detractors, the role of a quiet, drug-addled weirdo is right up there with Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure for the list of roles he was born to play. For his defenders, Reeves gives a layered comic performance on par with his later work in films like 2009’s Thumbsucker.

Kasdan and writer John Kostmayer take significant liberties with the actual criminal case to create a propulsive comedic tone that flirts with the darker elements involved, but ultimately keeps the overall mood light and amusing. Within just a few years, cases very similar to the one on which this movie is based became the source of intense media attention. The level of societal and media obsession with cases like John and Lorena Bobbitt, Amy Fisher and Joey Buttafuoco, and, eventually, the O.J. Simpson murder trial created a new kind of entertainment that paved the way for both the ubiquity of the 24 hour news cycle and the dominance of “reality” TV. None of those cases became the source of a movie like I Love You to Death because in a way, they all unraveled in real time as a new kind of mixed-media live theater. Kasdan and Kostmayer thread a timely satire of the violence, tabloid culture, and desire for fame present in modern American life throughout their movie as a possible warning for what was to come. Despite what came after, I Love You to Death survives as a unique and memorable comedy that also offers a snapshot of early stages of the interplay between the news media and mainstream entertainment.

             - John Parsell

Monday, August 24, 2015

I'd Love to Turn You On #136 - Erykah Badu - Mama’s Gun


Only when compared to the massive success of a triple platinum debut album could a platinum sophomore effort appear to be a disappointment, but such is the case for Erykah Badu’s Mama’s Gun. Coupled with how this album established a trend of Badu’s declining commercial success with each subsequent album, the notion of Mama’s Gun as a failure draws out both the problematic nature of the Neo Soul sub-genre as well as the challenges Badu has surmounted in achieving a fruitful and remarkable career as an artist. Baduizm remains an assertive, powerful introduction to a unique artist that bristles with energy and creative branding, but Mama’s Gun survives as Badu’s lasting statement of purpose, serves as template for her following albums, and demonstrates the lasting influence of the creative collective that spawned it.

Neo Soul unfairly silos some of the best music of the last twenty years, arbitrarily differentiates it from the music that inspired it, and diverts from the flow of mainstream R&B/Soul music that was occurring around it simultaneously. At its worst, Neo Soul cursed the music it labeled with unflattering comparisons to both the artistic high points of the golden eras of 1960’s and 70’s Soul as well as the commercial successes of mainstream R&B/Soul of the day. Where the label of Neo Soul constricts with contradiction and sags with ambiguity, the title of a collective of musicians responsible for creating some of the greatest albums of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the Soulquarians, proves useful in drawing the connections among these seemingly distinct works. The Soulquarians included, in addition to Badu, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots, D’Angelo, Common, J Dilla, Pino Palladino, Mos Def, and others. From 1999 to 2002, the Soulquarians produced Mama’s Gun, The Roots’ Things Fall Apart and Phrenology, Common’s Like Water for Chocolate and Electric Circus, and D’Angelo’s Voodoo.

Mama’s Gun and Voodoo can be viewed and as siblings of spirit and style. As products of the Soulquarians, both albums feature many of the same players and represent the collective’s creative power at its peak. Pushing past 70 minutes and right up to the limit of the standard running time for compact discs, Mama’s Gun bears the sprawling, kitchen-sink inclusivity of a classic double album. Opening with a collage of overlapping, hushed excerpts from anxiety-driven inner monologues, “Penitentiary Philosophy” launches a confident, exuberant groove that sets the album’s tone for socially conscious, wide-ranging Soul from what could be the doubts of distraction and writer’s block that confront an artist working on a follow-up to a phenomenally successful debut. “Penitentiary Philosophy” sets the precedent for the kind of funky, organic jams that Badu explores more fully on 2010’s New Amerykah: Part Two (Return of the Ankh).

Although Badu quickly distinguishes Mama’s Gun from its predecessor through providing a more diverse range of styles, wider scope of themes, and a lessened focus on her own iconography, she calls back to Baduizm on the fourth track, “...& On.” By including a direct reference to Baduizm’s breakout single “On & On” as well as the use of singing “Badu” as a kind of tone-setting motif, a signature detail of her debut, Badu provides continuity with her introduction, but places these pieces in a warmer, less self-conspicuous setting. Right in the middle of the album comes “Kiss Me on My Neck,” a dense, simmering workout that balances the seductive with the commanding for its entire running time of five and half minutes. Badu divides the song into two lyrical modes that guide stark shifts in the music’s structure. Alternating between a gently sung, straight-forward request for intimacy and an almost chant-like set of directions for the terms of this intimacy, Badu addresses the complexities of desire within a musical context that contains more mystery, beauty, and appeal than most “sexy” pop songs and rewards repeated listening, as well. “Kiss Me on My Neck” hints at the darkly experimental and thematically nuanced songs that form the heart of 2007’s New Amerykah: Part One (4th World War).

Exploration of Badu’s music should begin with Mama’s Gun, not end there. Sadly, like many of her peers in Neo Soul as well as her fellow members of the Soulquarians, Badu’s music has not received the attention and acclaim it deserves. Also, like her fellow Soulquarians, Badu has aimed her music not for the charts and radio broadcasts of the moment, but for the sound systems and listeners of the years to come. Badu’s mercurial, playful, and dominant personality anchors Mama’s Gun and what she accomplishes on this album has enabled her to progress as an artist like few of her peers of this era or genre. Mama’s Gun is equally deserving of a first listen as it is of a reappraisal.
            - John Parsell  


Monday, August 17, 2015

I'd Love to Turn You On At the Movies #121 - Time After Time (1979, dir. Nicholas Meyer)

When I was teaching at Smoky Hill High School, my favorite class of the day was Science Fiction. It was all juniors and seniors, it was a subject I was personally thrilled with and it gave me the opportunity to push the envelope on subject matter a little bit. We read a lot of cool stuff and saw even cooler movies. The curriculum included Altered States, Alien and Blade Runner among others. For a lot of these suburban kids it was the first time they had pondered ideas like the endlessness of time and space, mortality and the ethics of artificial life. I think it’s safe to say minds were blown. One of the movies that had the biggest impact on the kids however was a sweet, small love story that uses the life of author H.G. Wells and his social and scientific theories as a backdrop. Time After Time stars Malcolm McDowell as the great author H.G. Wells, a social engineer whose beliefs in scientific innovation, women’s liberation and utopian idealism informed his journalism and fiction. Works like War Of The Worlds, The Invisible Man and The Time Machine informed the thematic underpinnings of all Science Fiction to come. Time After Time cleverly weaves the historic facts of Wells’ life along with his own fictional ideas and a modern, romantic twist to create an irresistible, romantic journey through time.

In this version of Wells’ life, he has actually built a time machine himself, yet he doesn’t have the nerve to try it out. His hand is forced when, during a dinner party, his friend, Dr. John Leslie Stevenson, steals it and escapes into the future. It turns out that Dr. Stevenson is, in actuality, Jack The Ripper, and H.G. Wells, a utopian dreamer, has inadvertently unleashed a madman on the future. His hand forced, Wells follows The Ripper into the future to prevent the killer from ruining utopia. Landing in 1979 San Francisco (where the Time Machine is part of a museum display on Wells) the first third of the movie shows the befuddled Wells trying to rectify his utopian hopes about the future with the less than enlightened realities of 1979 America. He is shocked by the callous violence, rampant consumerism and breakneck pace of the modern world. As his hopes for the brave new world fade he is gripped by his need to stop The Ripper from carrying out his murders, which have already started, anew. Using classic detective work he finds The Ripper and at the same time meets a banker (Mary Steenburgen) with whom he begins an affair, while unwittingly setting her up as bait for Dr. Stevenson’s murderous plans. The die is cast and Wells now realizes he personally is responsible for unleashing a terrible danger on all of eternity and at the same time he has imperiled the woman he loves.

Time After Time succeeds on almost every level at providing timeless entertainment. With expert pacing, the movie hurtles to a final confrontation between Wells and Stevenson (played with a perfect mix of intelligence and menace by the great David Warner). McDowell is a fantastic combination of befuddled professor and genius inventor, equal parts world saver and little boy lost as he stumbles his way through the modern world trying to save the past and future. The movie teeters nicely between science fiction themes and romantic overtones. McDowell and Steenburgen were in the middle of a real-life love affair during the making of this movie and the sparks between them feel extremely real. Wells’ growing desperation to find The Ripper, save Steenburgen, and right the balance of history is palpable and thrilling. The students in my Science Fiction class couldn’t wait to see what happened and loved the discussions we would have about the elasticity of time and the consequences of messing with the fabric of history. Without tons of special effects, without any explicit violence or sex and with a deep
quiver of historical and social ideas,
- Paul Epstein


Monday, August 10, 2015

I'd Love to Turn You On #135 - The Fall - This Nation’s Saving Grace


If you’re not familiar with The Fall – and that’s perfectly understandable, given that they have had a grand total of zero albums or singles that have charted on Billboard’s American pop charts in their 38 years and 31 studio albums of existence – their best-regarded album, 1985’s This Nation’s Saving Grace might be the right place to start. But one might also consider before starting it that no fewer than two of my co-workers have expressed disdain for the band, one saying that all the songs sound the same, the other calling them the very “definition of abrasive.” And please note that they’re really not wrong – it’s one of the things the band’s fans like about them. British tastemaker DJ John Peel called them his favorite band of all time and noted: “They are always different; they are always the same.” Also please consider that the band’s career-defining 2004 “hits” collection is entitled 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong (parodying the famous Elvis Presley compilation and dividing his fan base by a factor of a thousand) and it should be clear going in that this group is a very specialized taste.

But those 50,000 fans – and I’m definitely one of them alongside Peel – are a dedicated lot and have chosen this album by consensus as the band’s defining album, a great balance of their art punk impulses with a more accessible edge even if some may slightly prefer the punkier and more abrasive earlier material, or the band’s recent albums since that compilation was released, the last few of which are as solid as anything they’ve released over the decades. This one finds them in a middle period in which their always-experimental ideas are tempered with a more prominent pop element. Most fans call this period “The Brix Years” after guitarist/songwriter Brix Smith, who married the band’s leader Mark E. Smith in 1983, joining the band through several albums in the 80’s until the pair divorced in 1989.

Comparing the pre-Brix years with this album finds the earlier material rawer and harsher, but the approach is the same – the band finds a groove, sometimes rocking, sometimes more jagged, often with a prominent bass line up top, and vamps while Mark E. rants and harangues over the top, and sometimes there are decorations of melody or sound effects (but don’t count on it). Some call his lyrical approach poetry but in reading the lyrics on their own, it’s clear that Smith is less interested in the wordplay of poetry than discrete stream of consciousness ideas, instead evoking an idea without ever really pinning down much in the way of concrete details, dancing around a subject rather than nailing it down. Oh – and repeating. The friend here who said their songs “all sound the same” (like that’s a bad thing!) failed to note that their typical approach includes five or ten or a dozen or a hundred repetitions of an idea, either a musical phrase/riff or a lyrical slogan. The band pounds a riff into your head while Mark E. does the same with a vocal – the song “What You Need” here repeats that phrase forty times in 4:49 and interjects the things you might need around it, including “an oven mitt,” “a bit of Iggy Stooge,” and “slippery shoes for your horrible feet.” In fact, the very first song that kicks off 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong is entitled “Repetition” – talk about truth in advertising!

Elsewhere on the record we have the equally well-titled “Bombast” in which Mark E. states to “those who dare mix real life with politics” that they shall “feel the wrath of my bombast” over the harsh, paired guitars and pounding bass and drums making the very sound he claims. The first half of the record builds towards the great tunes that close out the LP’s first side – “Spoilt Victorian Child,” a rant directed at the person indicated in the title that’s also the catchiest (and punkiest)(and funniest) thing here, and the keyboard-heavy and Brix-hooked “L.A.” in which Mark E. intones the letters of the title for most of the song over a dancy riff before Brix comes in with the mocking, spaced-out sounding phrase “This is my happening and it freaks me out!” The album’s flip side kicks off with one of the all-time great blasts that the band ever generated in “Gut of the Quantifier” which pounds out a relentless and driving rhythm and then repeatedly works in great dynamic builds up to explosive climaxes as the rest of the band kicks back in. It moves through “Paint Work,” which is the strangest thing here – a mellow groove repeatedly disrupted by some kind of flute-like keyboard sounds that feel more like mellotron than actual woodwinds. The story that Mark E. Smith accidentally recorded over portions of the song at home sounds about right. And then the regular part of the album moves toward a close with “I Am Damo Suzuki,” an homage to the German art-rock band Can and their one-time lead singer Suzuki. It’s built out of several pieces of different Can songs – most notably the rhythms from Tago Mago’s “Oh Yeah” – and has Mark E. delivering lines imagining himself as the Japanese singer cut loose in acid-drenched Germany in the 70’s making sense of the music and the culture. It closes out with “To NK Roachment: Yarbles,” a musical bookend to the opening track “Mansion” which adds a lyrics partially copped from Lou Reed to that instrumental intro.

But that’s not all – on CD the band has added in single cuts and stray tracks contemporary to the recording of the album that flesh out (and is several cases, improve) the sound of the record proper. True to the Fall’s non-conformist attitudes, two are inserted in the middle of the record, three at the end. “Vixen” and “Petty (Thief) Lout” don’t make a huge impact, but “Couldn’t Get Ahead” and the Gene Vincent cover “Rollin’ Dany” are both superb and the single A-side that closes the CD, “Cruiser’s Creek” just may be the most accessible and catchy thing on the entire disc – it’s one of their all-time best and most-loved songs.

So if you’re new to the band, try this out. But understand that those hardcore 50K fans could point you to probably a dozen other albums and a hundred other songs you should check out. Note also that fully 8 of these 16 tracks have placed in the top ten items of a poll I’ve run for several years now on Rateyourmusic.com (there are a lot of ties there of course), and that “Gut of the Quantifier” is inexplicably not one of them. Note that Pitchfork listed This Nation's Saving Grace as 13th best album of the 1980s in a 2002 article (two other Fall albums also placed lower in the charts, one Brix-era, one earlier). And note also that if you happen to become their 50,001st fan, you’re likely hooked for life and on the track of buying dozens of albums and for that I apologize and also welcome you to the cult. Of course if you’re one of those 50,000 fans, you already know this.

- Patrick Brown

Monday, August 3, 2015

I'd Love to Turn You On At the Movies #120 - The Triplets of Belleville (2003, dir. Sylvain Chomet)


For this installment of “I’d Love to Turn You On” I have the pleasure of reviewing Sylvain Chomet’s 2003 animated masterpiece The Triplets of Belleville. At first glance this is a very simple story told in a very innovative and eccentric way. However when you dig a little further into this simple and brief tale of mystery, intrigue and love you’ll find that it is quite a rich and very well told tale. Additionally it has some of the best and most interesting animation I have ever had the pleasure of watching and a soundtrack that is as stunning as it is odd. Simply put this is a film that has very few lines of dialogue yet tells a very strange and convoluted but beautiful story.

The first thing that strikes me when watching this movie is just how amazing the art and animation is! In a world that was already evolving into the computer animated, Pixar-obsessed world of today, it is truly a treat to find such a painstakingly and carefully hand animated film. Each character is designed in a unique and particular way, and then given a very specific nuanced movement and personality. Through this animation process the characters come alive in a very special and often forgotten way. It brings to mind the old animated classic cartoons but in a bizarre and extraordinary way that differentiates it from the more crude cartoons of old. While I have now spent a few sentences attempting to the striking animation justice, I am finding myself at a loss. I don’t believe that words are enough to fully describe the magnificence embodied in the aesthetics of this film. The settings, the scenery, the characters and the detail involved in all of these things are simply something that you MUST see and experience in order to fully understand.

The second thing that strikes me when writing this piece is just how bizarre and intriguing the storyline is. Simply put a Grandma is attempting to raise her grandson. She tries her best to find things that will interest him and turn his life around so that he can live a happy and fulfilling life. After a few failed attempts she stumbles upon his journal and discovers that he has a bit of an obsession with bicycles. Ecstatic that she has possibly found the thing that will provide her grandson with lifelong happiness she buys him a bike, and he is elated. Flash forward a decade or so later and the little boy has grown into ‘the Champion’ and is training for the Tour de France with the help of his loving grandma, Madame Souza, and their loyal dog Bruno. However during the race two mysterious rectangle-shaped-sunglass and moustache-clad henchmen kidnap the Champ during the race. Discovering that something is amiss, Madame Souza and Bruno find and follow the rectangular thugs across an ocean to “Belleville” (a sort of American amalgamation). It is here that Souza and Bruno take up with the musical Triplets in order to continue their search for the Champ. Why did the mysterious brutes kidnap the champ? Will Madame Souza and Bruno ever find him? Where do the musical Triplets come into play? All of these questions and more are delightfully answered in this short but constantly entertaining and engaging plot.

The third thing that I find to be particularly amazing is the fact that the film and its rather complex plot are told through very sparing use of dialogue. Instead the film relies very heavily on subtle expressions from the characters and a well-orchestrated and emotive soundtrack, put together by Benoît Charest (alongside Chomet). While this might initially seem to limit the film in its ability to convey a story successfully I assure you that the movie not only develops and tells a beautiful and complex tale but it does so in a way that is amusing and heart wrenching. This is a glorious example of a movie that will make you laugh and cry, humorous and at the same time quite touching. Chomet is even able to execute some sly commentary through the character designs (which is best experienced and not described) and the use of animal personification in the characters and different types of people - the racers are given horse characteristics for example, and the mechanic for the bad guys is given the characteristics of a rodent. All of this just adds to the immense charm of the film.

While I could go on for hours about how amazing this movie is, I suppose that I should get down to brass tacks: why should you take a chance on this film? Because it is a perfect representation of an almost forgotten art (hand animation), because it has an always intriguing and entertaining story line, because it has a fantastic soundtrack, and because it is brilliantly told even with almost non-existent dialogue. This is truly an anomaly of a film and I implore you to take 80 minutes and experience it for yourself. Nothing I can say in words will completely do this idiosyncratic classic complete justice. You simply must see for yourself!

            
- Edward Hill

Monday, July 27, 2015

I'd Love to Turn You On #134 - The Neville Brothers - Yellow Moon


Yellow Moon represents a high point in the careers of both The Neville Brothers and producer Daniel Lanois. For their part The Neville Brothers had made three moderately successful albums since forming in 1976. Their previous albums, especially Fiyo On The Bayou had hinted at something bigger than their funky, New Orleans-centric style of good-time R&B, but anyone who saw them perform in the years leading up to Yellow Moon understood that there was something more to this band: something deep and spiritual. They had also built a powerful touring band with Willie Green on Drums and Brian Stoltz on guitar. Simultaneously, producer Daniel Lanois, riding incredibly high on the mega-successes of Peter Gabriel’s So and U2’s The Joshua Tree, was developing a whole new sound at his home/studio in New Orleans. In the first part of 1989 he had overseen a major career resuscitation of Bob Dylan with Oh Mercy and created a minor-masterpiece with his own début Acadia. His year continued on a high as he smartly kept The Neville Brothers’ potent touring unit intact (with a few deft additions by the likes of Brian Eno and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band) and helped them choose a perfect selection of songs with which to finally realize their potential as recording artists.


Yellow Moon hits all the marks of greatness because it so brilliantly uses The Nevilles’ natural assets - the trance like drums, the Black consciousness, the snaky rhythms and, of course, Aaron’s gift to and from the universe, his voice, and then smothers them in Lanois’ unearthly, modern production style. The combination produces magical results, giving The Nevilles their greatest album and Lanois what might be his most creative year. The album is basically broken into three types of songs, those that deal with political/social issues, those that deal with spiritual matters and those connected in some way to the nebulous but potent spell that the Crescent City places on musicians who fall under its thrall. The political material is usually handled by youngest brother Cyril who offers up his Mardi Gras Indian-meets-Rastaman vision on songs like “Sister Rosa,” “Fire and Brimstone,” “Wake Up” and most effectively on album opener “My Blood,” which offers up a nice preview of the Neville/Lanois union - equal parts funk, jazz, rock, the second-line rhythms of New Orleans, and Lanois’ signature use of reverb, big drums and lots of guitar textures. He doesn’t let up throughout. The entire album throbs with saturated bass and drums that sound like a thousand New Orleans funeral marches. Love him or hate him, Lanois has a unique and recognizable sound. Personally, I love him, and think he has assisted many important artists make their greatest statements. He definitely provided the most sympathetic palette for Aaron’s voice. The core of Yellow Moon are five songs sung by Aaron. The title cut is a Neville classic, all spooky jungle drums and brother Charles’ seductive horn lines. Then Aaron’s voice rises, like some rare flower blooming in the Amazon, both invoking and warning us about the impending yellow moon. It is scary and uplifting at the same time. The first ballad is a complete stunner, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come.” It’s hard to imagine Cooke’s version being bested, but Aaron’s version is literally hair-raising. Lanois manages to surround the voice with thick layers of sound, billowing clouds of echo, yet Aaron’s remarkable instrument shines through it all like a lighthouse cutting through a thick fog. He accomplishes the same on a pair of Dylan classics, “With God On Our Side” and “The Ballad Of Hollis Brown” where he doesn’t so much best the originals as much as create an entirely new beast out of them. They are beautiful versions of already classic songs, essential additions to the Dylan catalog as well as the Neville’s.

The final three songs on Yellow Moon close the album on an uplifting note. First Aaron soothes with a completely appropriate “Will The Circle Be Unbroken,” followed by Charles’ hypnotic instrumental “Healing Chant” and finally a return to earth and New Orleans specifically with the celebratory “Wild Injuns” which leaves the listener breathless and The Neville Brothers where they belong: at the top of the American music scene for the next twenty years.

- Paul Epstein

Monday, July 20, 2015

2015 UMS Band Interviews #3

Again we venture to continue our series of intros, keep checking back with us for more introductory interviews with some of the many talented acts that are playing the Underground Music Showcase (UMS) this year! If you don't already know the UMS is one of the most enjoyable weekends in Denver and hopefully all of our readership comes out to have a good time and support local, and national, music at this amazing festival! 

For everything you need to know about the UMS Click Here

Plum

Saturday July 25th 1:00AM (Late Friday Night)
Hi-Dive

Where/ When are you playing for the UMS?
We headline the Hi-Dive on Friday 1:00am (technically Saturday morning). 

In twenty-five words or less, describe what somebody who has never heard of you/your band might expect from your performance at UMS this year.
Rock & Roll. 

What was the first music you remember using your own money to buy?
Kyle: Led Zeppelin, How The West Was Won
Ty: The Strokes, This Is It
Jake: Outcast, The Love Below/Speakerboxx

Do you have any advice for new bands?
More Guitars, Less Computers.

Have you planned out who you want to see at UMS this year? Who are some of your highlights?
DIIV, Freaky North, Wild High, Sunboy, Flaural.

If you've been to UMS before, what three words would you use to describe it?
You A Mess.

What has been your most memorable experience at UMS to date?
Brett Rowley being in town.

Any tips you'd like to give the novices for making the UMS experience even better?
You’ve got to meet this dude, Brett Rowley (Rebecca Black Sabbath).

Is there any place you're looking forward to eating during UMS?
Illegal Pete’s.

What is your favorite shop on South Broadway?
Buffalo Exchange.

Who is your all time favorite Colorado band?
Gauntlet Hair.

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know?
Yes.



RAH

Will Scheisser - drums
Daniel Greenblatt - guitar
Rebecca Henry - vocals
www.rahband.com
www.facebook.com/listentorah
Saturday July 25th 11:00PM
Hornet Restaurant

Where/ When are you playing for the UMS?
Saturday, 11pm, The Hornet

In twenty-five words or less, describe what somebody who has never heard of you/your band might expect from your performance at UMS this year.
Tight space, sweat, flying members, real people playing real instruments, skin on metal and suspended wood, more sweat, guitar loops, heavy drums, wild lady vocalist.

What was the first music you remember using your own money to buy? 
Will: Boyz 2 Men, CooleyHighHarmony
Daniel: Blink 182, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
Rebecca: Deana Carter, Did I Shave My Legs for This

Do you have any advice for new bands? 
Will: Figure out what you actually do well and then fucking do it, with no pretension and no need for friends or anyone’s approval.
Daniel: Don’t try and sell hippy rocks to me at your shows.
Rebecca: Why are you reading this? Go outside and play!

Have you planned out who you want to see at UMS this year? Who are some of your highlights?
Rowdy Shadehouse, STRFKR, Bollywood Life
Will: Joy Subtraction , Spells, Snubluck, Party Hard, Kitty Crimes, Il Cattivo, I Sank Molly Brown, Gin Doctors performing Green Day’s Dookie, Deer Creek, Accordion Crimes

If you've been to UMS before, what three words would you use to describe it?
Poop salad sandwich!

Any tips you'd like to give the novices for making the UMS experience even better?
Come to The Hornet, Saturday 11pm

Is there any place you're looking forward to eating during UMS?
Sputnik, food trucks

What is your favorite shop on South Broadway?
Music Gear Guys

Who is your all time favorite Colorado band?
Bollywood Life



There's An Ape For That

Sunday July 26th 9:00PM
Sputnik

Where/ When are you playing for the UMS?
the ape will be providing musical entertainment for humans on Sunday July 26th at 9pm. 
the name of the venue is sputnik.

In twenty-five words or less, describe what somebody who has never heard of you/your band might expect from your performance at UMS this year.
the ape djs using bargain-bin and thrift store records, which are then dispersed to the humans to take home.

What was the first music you remember using your own money to buy?
in his youth, the ape saved his pennies to purchase an lp called "disco fever".
it wast twenty-five cents. 
it skipped.
the ape played it anyway.

Do you have any advice for new bands?
do not attempt to fit in. 
be true to yourself, and let others surround you until you fit in naturally.

Have you planned out who you want to see at UMS this year? Who are some of your highlights?
the ape is especially interested in what the human djs will be doing. 
there is always so much to learn.

If you've been to UMS before, what three words would you use to describe it?
well-organized chaos

What has been your most memorable experience at UMS to date?
there was an altercation with the voter-registration robot. 
the ape is not proud of that encounter. 

Any tips you'd like to give the novices for making the UMS experience even better?
form human-human (and human-ape) relationships. 
music festivals should not be passive encounters. 
the performers are reaching out to you - reach back.

Is there any place you're looking forward to eating during UMS?
the ape has yet to find a decent banana smoothie within the confines of the ums.
the search will continue this year.

What is your favorite shop on South Broadway?
the crypt.
perhaps it would be best if you do not question the ape about this further.

Who is your all time favorite Colorado band?
the two colorado artists the ape is most likely to find cheap vinyl by are judy collins and dan fogelberg.

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know?
do not go to machines for entertainment.
there's an ape for that.


I'd Love to Turn You On At the Movies #119 - The Fury (1978, dir. Brian De Palma)


Two years before The Fury came out, director Brian De Palma had released Carrie - not his first film, but certainly his first hit film, raking in great box office and very good reviews on a low budget. Rewarded for his efforts by the studio, he was granted the largest budget he’d ever worked with (bigger even than 1978’s biggest hit film, Grease) and in a typically perverse De Palma move followed up a huge hit with a weird little movie that allowed him to indulge himself a little more. So taking off from Carrie’s telekinetic teen revenge story, what does he do? Ups the ante, naturally – The Fury comes complete with two telekinetic teens, a revenge story, a kidnapping thriller, an espionage thriller, a secret evil government agency, and some lowballing comedy along the way (albeit generally of the sly kind that De Palma favors to soften folks up for the shocks, gore, and suspense he’s about to throw their way). It was a solid success but not a huge hit, so he’d come back strong in a couple years with Dressed to Kill (and then of course follow that with something decidedly more personal and artsy in Blow Out). Does it all work? Not perfectly, but because of De Palma’s sure hand with his material certainly better than would be expected with so many things in the mix, and the set pieces are brilliant throughout the film.

And as always with De Palma’s films, one of the main things that makes it work is the performances. There’s nothing quite as sympathetic as Sissy Spacek’s Oscar-nominated turn as Carrie White here but Kirk Douglas, starring as a man whose telekinetic son Robin (Andrew Stevens) has been kidnapped by a sinister government agency lead by John Cassavetes, creates a solid, believable portrait of a man who wants to get his son back and will go to any lengths to do so. This includes enlisting the help of another teen psychic, Gillian (Amy Irving), to track him down. And though this already seems like enough plotting to make a movie, I’m only scratching the surface here. But again, as the film moves precariously through events that seem absurd and plot twists that in the wrong hands could turn to pure pulp, each of these actors either creates a character we believe in and can go along for the ride with or, as in the case of Cassavetes, has a good time chewing the scenery and making sure he’s the most hateable stock government villain imaginable.

Coming back to De Palma though, all these performances would be for naught if they weren’t being worked into the fabric of the film in the hands of a master. While De Palma often flirts with the outrageous and over the top in his films, his wit, his masterful camera, and his (perhaps surprising, for such a technical director) great way with actors always helps ground even the most absurd flights of fancy and the most implausible plot devices. As Roger Ebert said in his review of De Palma’s Obsession back in 1976, “If you want realism, go to another movie.” It’s helpful advice when you’re watching De Palma, especially with a story like this one, where moments may not work, but the kineticism of the film keeps you on your toes and rarely pauses long enough for you to think about where John Farris’s tight script might have stepped wrong.

And then the set pieces – particularly Gillian’s escape from the Paragon Institute, the penultimate sequence leading to the compound, and most notably, Robin’s angry (you might say furious) revenge against people he thinks were involved in his plight while at an amusement park – are simply great. De Palma masterfully constructs action/suspense within them between his camerawork and the editing of his longtime cohort Paul Hirsch, and as sheer spectacle and as a master class in film craft, they’re impressive every time out. But even between these scenes he invests the rest of the film with a great look, with an experimentation reminiscent of his earlier work, as when Gillian has a psychic vision and suddenly the camera is revolving around her while she is inserted into a playback of past events, or the POV scene of Robin being tested by the government agency which hearkens back to a similar sinister hospital/lab scene in De Palma’s earlier classic Sisters.

The Fury is in some ways a tour de force – Brian De Palma showing off a bit at what he can do, marshalling an unbelievable plot that ranges wildly in tone and style into something coherent that’s acted and shot brilliantly. Is it perfect? No. But is it a ton of fun? Are the set pieces and performances worth it? Absolutely. And for film student nerds like myself, watching De Palma flex his cinematic muscle has its own rewards. The story moves ruthlessly and effectively forward to its abrupt ending. But when it cuts from its (literally) explosive climax directly to the credits, there’s nothing unsatisfactory about it – it’s all been building this way, so what more is left to be said?

-Patrick Brown

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

2015 UMS Band Interviews #2

We continue our series of intros here,  keep checking back with us for more introductory interviews with some of the many talented acts that are playing the Underground Music Showcase (UMS) this year! If you don't already know the UMS is one of the most enjoyable weekends in Denver and hopefully all of our readership comes out to have a good time and support local, and national, music at this amazing festival! 

For everything you need to know about the UMS Click Here

High Plains Honky

Friday July 24th 8:00PM
Skylark Lounge


Where/ When are you playing for the UMS?
We'll be playing Friday, July 24th. 8pm at the famous Skylark Lounge

In twenty-five words or less, describe what somebody who has never heard of you/your band might expect from your performance at UMS this year.
Funky 70s style Country. It'll be a real hoot

What was the first music you remember using your own money to buy? 
Well all in the same first record store run I bought The Beatles' Let it be, The Grateful Dead's Terrapin station, and lifted The Velvet Underground & Nico. 

Do you have any advice for new bands?
Don't worry about what other people are doing, play what you're passionate about.

Have you planned out who you want to see at UMS this year? Who are some of your highlights?
There are loads of acts we want to see this year, namely Casey James Prestwood, Ned Garthe Explosion, Blue Rider, Zebroids, Heira Nova. So much great stuff this year.

If you've been to UMS before, what three words would you use to describe it?
Sweaty, loud, fun

What has been your most memorable experience at UMS to date?
Probably in 2013 when we had just started playing and didn't have a UMS show, we busked on the street and drew in a really good crowd.

Any tips you'd like to give the novices for making the UMS experience even better?
Play then party. UMS is about the long game.

Is there any place you're looking forward to eating during UMS?
The 7-11 at 3rd and Broadway has really excellent taquitos. 

What is your favorite shop on South Broadway?
Peak dispensary treats us well.

Who is your all time favorite Colorado band?
Um, Sugarloaf. Green Eyed Lady is a good jam.



The Polkanauts

Friday July 24th 11:00PM
Gary Lees Motor Club & Grub


Where/ When are you playing for the UMS?
Gary Lees @ 11 PM Friday -7/24
In twenty-five words or less, describe what somebody who has never heard of you/your band might expect from your performance at UMS this year.
Polka, Fear & Destruction- Remember Polka Rules all it surveys! But it’s also prone to being blind drunk so it misses out on some stuff.

What was the first music you remember using your own money to buy?
Judas Priest “Screaming for Vengeance” & Echo & the Bunnymen “Heaven Up Here” on the same trip to the record store.
  
Do you have any advice for new bands?
Don’t take yourselves too seriously. Overall, if it’s more work than it is fun something’s wrong

Have you planned out who you want to see at UMS this year? Who are some of your highlights?
Not planned per say but need to see: Calder’s Revolvers, Sad Star Café, Millicent, In the Whale, Dudebabes to name a few!

If you've been to UMS before, what three words would you use to describe it?
Hot, quick, best!

What has been your most memorable experience at UMS to date?
Packed Irish Rover all bouncing in unison to traditional polka songs @1:30 am

Any tips you'd like to give the novices for making the UMS experience even better?
Wear good shoes. See as many bands as you can – make sure to include a few old favorites and a ton of things you haven’t seen before.

Is there any place you're looking forward to eating during UMS?
We’re partial to finding new places during the UMS.

What is your favorite shop on South Broadway?
Mutiny

Who is your all time favorite Colorado band?
So hard – some of us are old! So give us a few? Cephalic Carnage, The Rumble, Apples in Stereo?

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know?
It’s a privilege to have a festival like this here – take advantage



Wiredogs

Saturday July 25th 5:00PM
Irish Rover
Saturday July 25th 10:00PM
Hi-Dive


Where/ When are you playing for the UMS?
Saturday 5 p.m. at Irish Rover, Saturday 10 p.m. at Hi Dive

In twenty-five words or less, describe what somebody who has never heard of you/your band might expect from your performance at UMS this year.
Our shows are about giving everyone in the room a voice through active, aggressive inclusion. 

What was the first music you remember using your own money to buy?
NOFX

Do you have any advice for new bands?
Write a lot. Play out a lot. Risk a lot. Allow yourself to suck.  

Have you planned out who you want to see at UMS this year? Who are some of your highlights?
Wire Faces and The Gamits  

If you've been to UMS before, what three words would you use to describe it? 
Drunken-melodic-orgy 

What has been your most memorable experience at UMS to date? 
Watching Residual kid at Hi-Dive...2013 I think. 

Any tips you'd like to give the novices for making the UMS experience even better?
Wear sunscreen. Bring your own hula-hoop. 

Is there any place you're looking forward to eating during UMS?
Illegal Pete's. Always. 

What is your favorite shop on South Broadway? 
Meininger's 

Who is your all time favorite Colorado band? 
Slow Caves 

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know? 
Nope

Monday, July 13, 2015

2015 UMS Band Interviews #1

Continue to check back with us for more introductory interviews with some of the many talented acts that are playing the Underground Music Showcase (UMS) this year! If you don't already know the UMS is one of the most enjoyable weekends in Denver and hopefully all of our readership comes out to have a good time and support local, and national, music at this amazing festival! 

For everything you need to know about the UMS Click Here

Jeffrey Dallet

Sunday July 26th 2:00PM
Historians Ale House


Where/ When are you playing for the UMS?
Jeffrey Dallet is playing in the highly coveted, highly trafficked slot of Sunday July 26th 2pm at Historians. 

In twenty-five words or less, describe what somebody who has never heard of you/your band might expect from your performance at UMS this year.
You can expect lyrical play, as well as some killer stories to digest as you wander the sun soaked streets of south Broadway. Put on you thinking caps.

What was the first music you remember using your own money to buy?
I bought the soundtrack for the Disney movie Aladdin on CD.

Do you have any advice for new bands?
Get with the in- crowd. You'll get a lot of gigs that way.

Have you planned out who you want to see at UMS this year? Who are some of your highlights?
I haven't planned it out yet, but I want to see American Blackout and Filthy T.

If you've been to UMS before, what three words would you use to describe it?
Sweaty, Hipsters, Beards  

What has been your most memorable experience at UMS to date?
Dude, if you remember it you weren't there dude...

Any tips you'd like to give the novices for making the UMS experience even better?
100 sunblock, and I'm pretty much a novice so someone can kindly give me some advice.

Is there any place you're looking forward to eating during UMS?
I like eating at Thai Monkey Club 

What is your favorite shop on South Broadway?
Something that's not gentrified.

Who is your all time favorite Colorado band?
The Wallflowers. Oh wait, they're not from Colorado. Hmm...Firefall.

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know?
Come see the Jeffrey Dallet Band...it'll be a radical experience. Thanks in advance.



Edison

Friday July 24th 10:00PM
Illegal Petes


Where/ When are you playing for the UMS?
​We play at Illegal Pete's on Friday, July 24 @ 10PM ​

In twenty-five words or less, describe what somebody who has never heard of you/your band might expect from your performance at UMS this year.
​Our UMS set is going to be our first show out with four members (we recently rounded out the band with Maxwell Hughes). We'll be playing some new music for the first time and have some surprises planned in the set ;) 

What was the first music you remember using your own money to buy?
​Dustin Morris - Motley Crue 
Sarah Slaton - Ace of Base ​
  
Do you have any advice for new bands?
​Work hard at honing in your sound, but give equal dedication to building your bands business plan, creating short/long term goals and building good relationships in your home market. 

Have you planned out who you want to see at UMS this year? Who are some of your highlights?
​Milo Greene, Residual Kid, Wiredogs and far too many more to list off. 

If you've been to UMS before, what three words would you use to describe it?
​INSPIRING. SWEATY. MEMORABLE

What has been your most memorable experience at UMS to date?
​We wound up jumping through the window of our venue in 2013 and proceeded to take the last song out on the sidewalk and wound up singing in a food truck line. ​

Any tips you'd like to give the novices for making the UMS experience even better?
​Catch as many bands as you can don't forget to drink water every three whiskeys. :) ​

Is there any place you're looking forward to eating during UMS?
Illegal Pete's, always 

What is your favorite shop on South Broadway?
Fancy Tiger​

Who is your all time favorite Colorado band?
​Nathaniel Rateliff & The Nightsweats ​

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know?
​n/​a



Millicent

Saturday July 25th 6:00PM
Historians Ale House


Where/ When are you playing for the UMS?
Saturday, July 25th 6pm at Historians Ale House

In twenty-five words or less, describe what somebody who has never heard of you/your band might expect from your performance at UMS this year.
Singer-songwriter lyrics and melodies, in a package of beats and synths designed to make your shoulders move. 

What was the first music you remember using your own money to buy?
I think it was a Switchfoot album! 

Do you have any advice for new bands?
Don't be scared to ask for favors, even if you don't think you deserve them. Obviously that has to be paired with hard work on your end, but I definitely learned that I can't do everything on my own, and people are usually more willing to help you than you'd expect. 

Have you planned out who you want to see at UMS this year? Who are some of your highlights?
I am really excited to see Tennis, I've wanted to seem them play for years and somehow it hasn't happened yet! I'm also prioritizing Force Publique, Jilly.fm, Oko Tygra, Bollywood Life, Coastal Wives and Rose Quartz.   

If you've been to UMS before, what three words would you use to describe it?
Social. Busy. Party.

What has been your most memorable experience at UMS to date?
Seeing Gardens & Villa play the main stage last year. They've been one of my favorite bands for years, and body rolling outside to "Orange Blosoom" was perfect!

Any tips you'd like to give the novices for making the UMS experience even better?
Map out who you want to see and saturate yourself in the experience. Last year I wasn't able to make it to a lot of shows, and I felt like I didn't make the most of what was happening! It's a rare experience to have a festival like this in Colorado, take advantage of it! 

Is there any place you're looking forward to eating during UMS?
SPICY BASIL ALL DAY. 

What is your favorite shop on South Broadway?
I love Steadbrook; I think they've done something so unique in the way they've made their store a social hub. I don't have much reason to be at a menswear store, but between the coffee and company I usually end up there when I'm in Denver!

Who is your all time favorite Colorado band?
I'd have to say Tennis, I just can't help but smile when I listen to their music!

Is there anything we forgot to ask you about the UMS that you think people need to know?
Just encourage people to plug into the social media side of UMS; find them on Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat. I love connecting that way, and it's fun for us bands to see what people are posting about our sets, as well!