Monday, January 30, 2017

I’d Love To Turn You On At The Movies #158 – Kes (1969, dir. Ken Loach)

In the late 1960s in England there was a film movement known as British New Wave, which focused on middle and working class characters rather than the upper crust British subjects who had largely dominated the country’s cinema. Director Ken Loach and his producing partner Tony Garnett, who’d been making topical dramas for the BBC, felt like even the British New Wave films that were being made avoided the harsher realities of working class concerns, and set about raising money to adapt a recent novel by author Barry Hines, A Kestrel for a Knave, to the screen for their feature film debut.

The book is set in (unnamed) Barnsley, a depressed coal mining city in the northern Yorkshire region of England where Hines was raised, and focuses on a young man, Billy Casper, who’s shy, withdrawn, and picked on at school and at home. He has an interest in training falcons and, upon finding a nest, decides to train one himself. Loach and Garnett worked with Hines to adapt his novel to a screenplay, found the money to shoot a low budget adaptation and began casting. For this, they largely drew on locals and schoolchildren who were attending the schools that Hines himself had attended growing up in the region, lending the film an air of authenticity to the point that it can at times almost be mistaken for a documentary. This, in addition to hiring a cinematographer who had largely worked in documentaries, was a conscious decision on the part of Loach and Garnett to give it the appropriate feel.

Cast in the lead role, 15 year-old David Bradley is remarkable as Billy, bringing his own personal experiences of a troubled family life and living in a city with few prospects for young people to bear on his performance. There’s never a moment where you don’t believe him, where the seams of Acting show through to take you out of the moment. So when he’s killing time after school, wandering through the woods and doing nothing in particular, it’s dead-on, drawing the interior life of this young boy who has clearly spent more time in his head than out playing with friends. This gets him into trouble at school, where he’s often busy daydreaming and not listening in class. But in the tender scenes where he’s found his kestrel and begun training it, a film that could have been a deadening experience shows that his interior life is something fascinating; and Billy himself comes to life on screen when halfway through the film Mr. Farthing, the solitary teacher at his school who is portrayed as sympathetic to him, asks him to tell the class about his falcon and he becomes a subject of interest to the class rather than an outsider to be mocked. Things are still rough for him though – his father is absent, his brother is abusive and alcoholic, his mother indifferent and too caught up in her own life to lend the necessary support to the boy she refers to as a “hopeless case.” Teachers and fellow students alike pick on him and isolate him for being poor, for daydreaming in class, for not fitting in. In some respects it’s a tough film, but like everything Loach does, it’s keyed on respect for its working class heroes, however downtrodden they may be.

The film is a beautiful portrait of youth in difficult circumstances, filled with a love for its central character that spills over into larger concerns about fostering the interests of youth rather than discarding them when they don’t fit a certain mold. The heavy accents of the locals may require for some viewing the film with subtitles – as in several Loach films, he doesn’t generally try to “clean up” the accents of his characters for mass distribution and there’s a story that when the film was screened for American film executives at United Artists they left the screening stating that they could understand Hungarian better than the accents here. Still, the film’s ideas are universal, and the film itself has only gained in stature since its release, currently ranking seventh in the British Film Institute’s Top Ten British Films. And Loach has continued his working class concerns throughout his career, from his BBC films that tackled hot button issues like abortion (Up the Junction) and homelessness (the excellent Cathy Come Home, included in this DVD set), up through his Palme d’Or winning films The Wind That Shakes the Barley and last year’s I, Daniel Blake. He’s one of the giants of British film, and his debut is as good a place as any to start exploring his work.

-         Patrick Brown

Monday, January 23, 2017

I'd Love to Turn You On #171 - Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime

I chose to write about this album because I wish someone had turned me on to it when I first began exploring punk music. I was a freshman in high school in the fall of 1991 when Nirvana’s Nevermind busted open my expectations about music and set me on the course of discovering what else was out there. If I had found Double Nickels on the Dime by The Minutemen when I was fourteen, it would probably be one of my top five all-time favorite records. Instead, I came across this album the year I turned thirty and it prompted me to reassess what great music I had missed up until that point. When the Minutemen released Double Nickels on the Dime in 1984, they created a classic album in American independent music, a testament to a beautiful friendship, and a blueprint for how a few regular people can come together and make something extraordinary.

When I first went looking for punk music, I gravitated toward the two American punk bands that people around me talked about the most: Black Flag and Minor Threat. In each band’s music, I found elements that I liked, but neither one felt like something that really included someone like me. When I eventually heard Double Nickels on the Dime, I found myself in this album in a way I had never experienced with a punk band. When I listened to his album, I recognized core elements of myself that didn’t always seem at home in punk music like goofiness, thoughtfulness, weirdness, and idealism. Guitarist and singer D. Boon, bassist Mike Watt, and drummer George Hurley grew up in working class San Pedro, California and formed the Minutemen as an alternative to the bleak prospects of their hometown. All three band members were close and shared chemistry as musicians, but D. Boon and Mike Watt were lifelong friends whose bond informed nearly every meaningful aspect of the Minutemen’s existence. On “History Lesson, Pt. 2,” one of the best songs on Double Nickels on the Dime, D. Boon simply tells the story of two friends discovering punk music and learning how to do it for and by themselves. This album of more than forty songs documents a fiercely unique, independent band at the height of their powers taking on as much as they possibly could. Double Nickels on the Dime remains the Minutemen’s greatest achievement and its influence can be traced throughout a prominent branch of indie rock including one of 2016’s best albums, Human Performance by Parquet Courts.

When D. Boon died in 1985, the Minutemen ended, but the band’s legacy grew consistently over the following decades. In 2001, Minutemen figured prominently in Michael Azerrad’s indispensable book, Our Band Could Be Your Life. Azerrad featured Minutemen as the second profile in the book, derived the title from a lyric in “History Lesson, Pt. 2,” and dedicated the book, in part, to D. Boon. In 2005, Tim Irwin’s great documentary, We Jam Econo: The Story of The Minutemen, brought the band’s story to an even larger audience. The band’s music, especially Double Nickels on the Dime, became a touchstone for the expanding world of indie rock. Eclectic indie rock band Calexico established a rousing cover of “Corona” as part of their live shows before recording it for their 2004 EP, Convict Pool. In 2006, indie folk singer Bonnie “Prince” Billy and post-rock instrumentalists Tortoise released a covers album, The Brave and the Bold, and offered up a monolithic, but faithful rendition of “It’s Expected I’m Gone.” As I’ve learned, it’s never too late to get started with an album as essential as Double Nickels on the Dime, but for your sake I recommend that you start soon.

-         John Parsell

Monday, January 16, 2017

I’d Love To Turn You On At The Movies #157 – Munich (2005, dir. Steven Spielberg)

Controversies surrounding films can swirl up like clouds of dust and debris obscuring a film’s content from its potential audience. Munich, Steven Spielberg’s account of the impact of the terror attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games, prompted a flurry of contradictory reports about the film’s highly incendiary topic. Unfortunately, this storm of confusion and hearsay as well as Steven Spielberg’s avoidance of promotion and interviews stifled Munich’s box office performance and critical reception. Over eleven years later, now that the debates attending its release have subsided, Munich reveals itself as one the most powerful and nuanced films about terrorism since the September 11th attacks, a profound reflection on the consequences of revenge, and Steven Spielberg’s greatest film of the last twenty years.

In the fall of 2005, within the formative years of George W. Bush’s War on Terror, Steven Spielberg adapted a novel about the Israeli government’s alleged covert operation to target and assassinate members of the Palestinian terrorist organization, Black September, responsible for planning the murder of eleven Israeli athletes participating in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany. Opening the film with the first of four segments documenting the Black September massacre, Spielberg masterfully blends a heart-pounding reconstruction of the ambush on the Israeli dormitory with a montage of people all over the world observing the events unfold on live television. During a meeting among Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir and her advisors following the Munich attack, she sanctions a secret retaliation mission by announcing, “Every civilization finds it necessary to negotiate compromises with its own values.” Eric Bana portrays Avner, a member of the Israeli secret service, Mossad, and Meir’s former bodyguard in a performance that should have propelled him into mainstream success. Meir and her advisors select Avner to lead a small group of covert operatives who will carry out assassinations on Black September targets living in Western Europe. Geoffrey Rush plays Ephraim, Avner’s contact within the Israeli government, and tucks a dry, cynical humor into his efficient explanation and analysis of Avner’s task. Spielberg draws out themes of family and community with multiple scenes of meals shared among Avner, his team, and his contacts. The film swells with a warm, delicate intimacy that belies the deadly nature of Avner’s mission. As an audience we face both the calculated brutality of the attack on the Israeli athletes as well as the methodical assassinations of Black September operatives. Through the actions of Avner’s team and the resulting consequences of those actions, we witness the true price of a life lived in the service of revenge.

With Munich, Spielberg confidently tackles a sprawling epic focusing on the geopolitical realities of a pivotal moment in the twentieth century, but enriches his story with a loving and cautious eye for the details that make our families, homes, and values worth living and dying for. A bracing vitality pushes through Munich as Spielberg operates at the top of his game and delivers a film of consequence that manages to be both deeply personal and searingly relevant to the state of the world. A prominent Jewish American director broaching the topic of the Israel/Palestine conflict and framing a story around a very real terrorist attack and an unconfirmed retaliation plot may have been a tough sell for audiences and critics in 2005, but in taking on this project, Spielberg allows us the opportunity to reflect on what happens when we compromise the values that define us as a people.

- John Parsell

Friday, January 13, 2017

2016 Best ofs from friends of Twist & Shout Part 9

MC/Beats, Wheelchair Sports Camp

Top 10 albums (no order):
Frank Ocean - Blond
Warpaint - Heads Up
Beyonce - Lemonade
James Blake - The Colour in Anything
Radiohead - A Moon Shaped Pool
Solange - A Seat at the Table
Rihanna - Anti
Anderson Paak - Malibu
Drake - Views
Tribe Called Quest - We got it from Here... Thank You 4 Your Service

Fav shows of the year (no order)
The Other Black @ Syntax
Santigold @ Ogden
Erykah @ Ogden 
Warpaint @ Gothic
Coco Rosie + Milk Blossoms @ Gothic
Nao @ Gothic
Chicharra @ Titwrench
Alabama Shakes in Taos
Gaslamp Killer @ Cervantes
The Librarian @ Cervantes 
Sango @ Cervantes
Drake @ Pepsi Center
Sierra Leon in Tijuana
LCD Soundsystem @ Red Rocks
Mangchi @ meow wolf

of The Kissing Party

Here's my top 10 2016 releases I bought:
Planes Mistaken For Stars - "Prey"
Neurosis - "Fires Within Fires"
Mogwai - "Atomic"
Trap Them - "Crown Feral"
Explosions in the Sky - "The Wilderness"
Deftones - "Gore"
Mono - "Requiem For Hell
Batman vs Superman Soundtrack (What? Hans Zimmer is awesome!)
Radiohead - "A Moon Shaped Pool"

Russian Circles - "Guidance"

Michael Bunnell
Executive Director Think Indie

Owner Of The Record Exchange

1105 W Idaho St
Boise, Idaho

Leonard Cohen- You Want It Darker
Hayes Carll- Lovers & Leavers
David Bowie- Blackstar
Parquet Courts- Human Performance
Alejandro Escovedo- Burn Something Beautiful
Paul Simon- Stranger to Stranger
Rokia Traore- Ne So
Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau- Nearness
Black Mountain- IV
Margaret Glaspy- Emotions and Math

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Best ofs from friends of Twist & Shout Part 8

Orlandez Lewis
Marketing & Promotions, Vintage Vinyl

6610 Delmar Blvd.
University City, MO 63130

Orlandez Lewis from Vintage Vinyl here!

Here's my list of favorites from the year!

​1. "Yes Lawd!" - Nxworries
2. "Blackstar" - David Bowie
3. "We Got It From Here... Thank You 4 Your Service" - A Tribe Called Quest
4. "Lemonade" - Beyonce
5. "Malibu" - Anderson Paak
6. "99.9%" - Kaytranada
7. "Untitled. Unmastered" - Kendrick Lamar
8. "A Seat at the Table" - Solange
9. "Heads Up" - Warpaint
10. "Blonde" - Frank Ocean

Storm Gloor
Music Business Professor at CU Denver, Twitter Account

Well, here ya go.. (in no particular order):

Anything But Words - Banks & Steelz
Blackstar - David Bowie
A Moon Shaped Pool - Radiohead
Freetown Sound - Blood Orange
Midwest Farmer’s Daughter - Margo Price
True Sadness - Avett Brothers
Day Breaks - Norah Jones
57th & 9th - Sting
Soundtrack - Suicide Squad

Signs of Light - The Head and the Heart

Adam Baumeister
of Meep Records Denver, CO

Y La Bamba - Ojos Del Sol 
So beautiful my favorite new record this year 
The Breadth of this is mind-blowing collaborative effort on artwork w/ Milton Melvin Croissant III welcome to the future -

Mary Halvorson Octet - Away With You
Not very often and I sucked in at first listen - but with Mary I was. The pedal steel player in the group Susan Alcorn is amazing as well.

A Tribe Called Quest - We Got it From Here... 
So refreshing - So current. Made me feel like I was a 10 year old white kid from the suburbs hearing Public Enemy for the first time.

Esme Patterson - We Were Wild Rocking Esme is my favorite Esme. Miss you boo.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree
I can't write about this now - it's been a rough year - just listen.

Beyonce - Lemonade 
It took me awhile to get around to this - but yes everyone was right - it's completely amazing.

Joe Sampson - Chansons de Parade
New EP from one of the best - this - song -  kills - me

Wilco - Schmilco 

New rock record by 20 year old "indie" band usually means I will automatically dismiss it - Wilco always gets me though - especially this one - so weird.

Hippies Wearing Muzzles - Animist Pools
Really Good Modular synth stuff when the world is too heavy and you just want to lay back and read Neuromancer for the 5th time.

Monday, January 9, 2017

I'd Love to Turn You On #170 - Mekons – Fear and Whiskey

Noted rock critic Lester Bangs, who’s prone to hyperbole but also often correct, once called the Mekons “…the most revolutionary group in rock ‘n’ roll.” He may be wrong, but I can’t think of another group that better fits the bill. The Mekons are not a band, not really anyway – they’re more an anarchic collective who’ve now hung around together long enough that you can call them a band whether they like it or not (and really, I don’t think they mind). Luckily, band or no, they have continued to record and release albums from 1979 until now. Well, there was that time around 1982 when they called it quits as a group (or collective, or whatever) but they wisely decided to push through it, rediscovered their roots, and came back strong in ’85 with Fear And Whiskey, probably the best of their many good-to-great albums. And to hear about their legend, hear about the ramshackle nature of their music, hear fans calling Fear and Whiskey a masterpiece, or the album that created alt-country – and there are many people who will say those things – and then to hear the record, well, that’s a different story.

The first half/side makes you understand in just over 20 minutes that the band has little interest in creating “punk” music per se, or “country” either. None of the songs really resemble each other except in their loosely amateurish approach, the sawed violin (“fiddle,” if you prefer) of Susie Honeyman cutting through the clamor regularly to mark them, and perhaps how high the pounding drums are in the mix, leaving the normal rock leads of vocals and guitar considerably further back. But there’s something interesting in this stew, something that keeps bubbling up to the ear in every song – a nagging riff here; some guitar noise over there; the dark resignation of lines like "I was out the other night, fear and whiskey kept me going," or “darkness and doubt just followed me about” or “it’s hard to be human again;” the song that takes over a minute to fall apart at the end; the eccentric spoken-word pieces that seem to wander around an idea rather than tell a story – all of these find their way to the front of the mind and then recede into the album’s mix to be confronted next time ‘round.

The second half, which is more uniform in sound (but not necessarily better and certainly no more professional-sounding) kicks off with the rousing waltz called “Flitcraft,” which makes the country influence more palpable than anywhere in the first half. But rather than trying to sound like the finely-honed American version of country music, they’re more channeling the spirit of its classic practitioners. During their hiatus they began to fully comprehend the class-conscious rootedness of both American country and English folk, connected their directness and simplicity to the punk rock scene they were involved in and voila – out came this album. So when the next one, called “Country,” starts with “We know that for many years there's been no country here, Nothing here but the war” and says “I’m not ready for this, I am not ready for this” and the one after that is about a failed miners’ strike, they marry country music’s working class themes with punk’s bitterness and politics, both filtered through their own weathered, melancholic sensibilities that really go out on the album’s two final tunes. “Last Dance” is perhaps the album’s masterstroke, in which a night at a dance hall ends at last call with hope, resignation, drunkenness, desperation, and beauty all rolled into one perfectly sloppy/loose/ramshackle faux-country punk tune, and then there’s a spot-on cover of “Lost Highway,” which Hank Williams popularized – and he knew all about hope, resignation, drunkenness, desperation and beauty and sang about them all three decades before the Mekons did, which is why they connect to him.

So it’s country punk, sure, but it’s neither country nor punk. Or it’s both country and punk, but not alt-country. Or it’s alt-country, but not like that boring stuff that came later because of the punk connection, because they looked outward toward the problems of the world and not just their own heartaches (though those factor in, of course). Or as singer Tom Greenhalgh said in an interview with Rebel Route Spring in 1998: "We weren't a directly sloganizing, political band because we had a bit of a problem with that whole slogan-type thing. You know, it runs into other problems. It's kind of more like politics in the sense of everyday politics, or everything-is-politics, so sometimes that actually does merge with the bigger picture. A political view of everything rather than Political with a big “P” and party-politics and everything." To me, that’s country and that’s punk as fuck, all at once. They hit that idea throughout their career, lots of times knocking it out of the park, but this was the first time they did it, and still maybe the best.

-Patrick Brown

Monday, January 2, 2017

I’d Love To Turn You On At The Movies #156 – Silent Running (1972, dir. Douglas Trumbull)

I’m going to give you a number of good reasons to watch Douglas Trumbull’s 1972 science fiction epic/environmental cautionary tale Silent Running, and then I’m going to give you one reason to avoid it. The reason to avoid it is easily remedied, so read on. Douglas Trumbull’s name may sound familiar to you, and if so, you may be a fan of either 2001: A Space Odyssey or Star Wars, because Trumbull was one of the main special effects wizards on both those landmark films. Reason one to see this film: many of the special effects Trumbull utilized in Star Wars are seen in Silent Running. Thus if you love Star Wars, Silent Running is essential viewing. Aside from a young and alarmingly handsome Bruce Dern, the main characters in the film are a pair of droids called Huey and Dewey (Louie gets lost in space early on) who bear a remarkable resemblance to R2D2. They are totally humanoid and adorable and would be the subject of intense crossover marketing efforts in today’s world. In addition the general feel of the space ships and the outer space scenes are reminiscent of things we would see five years later in Star Wars (or vice-versa as the case may be).
The plot, on the other hand, is an entirely different matter. It involves a mission in the future (!?) to save the last specimens of flora and fauna that once populated the earth, by sending them into
space in what amounts to gigantic greenhouses. The Earth has become overrun with man’s presence and the only forests left are shot into space with a small crew to care for them. Unfortunately the crew soon get the word that it has been decided to destroy the remaining forests and return the giant spaceships to industrial use. The small crew callously begin the atomic detonation, when the ship’s lone scientist Freeman Lowell, played with chest-thumping idealism by Bruce Dern, decides he cannot allow this to happen. In a moment of clarity he kills his crew mates, hijacks the last forest and heads off to the far side of Saturn. The second great reason to watch Silent Running is the deadly serious environmental warning. It seemed earnest in a “save the whales” kind of way in 1972, but with the reality of Global Warming as we understand it now, as well as the rapid diminution of species from our global roster, the message is painfully relevant and prescient.
Reason three for loving Silent Running is Bruce Dern’s amazing performance. Falling early in his history as a leading man, Dern, who had toiled for over a decade as a bit player in low-budget movies, seems to squirm a bit with the weight of the film squarely on his shoulders, yet he performs admirably within the confines of a script that doesn’t always hold water. We do believe in his love for the environment and in his conflicted feelings at having dispatched his fellow astronauts. In a career that has had many fits and starts, Silent Running is one of the clear highlights for Dern. He is the sole human star, and the camera is rarely off his face. His character shows an interesting arc of growth, from ideologue to self-doubting loner, finally to a man resigned to his own failures, yet slightly optimistic for the future.
Reason Four is the wonderful ending, where Dern, back in contact with humanity, realizes he must send the last forest off into space without him, and we are left with a touching scene of the last remaining droid caring for the last remaining plants and animals as the last remaining dome floats off into space and Joan Baez intones a lovely, environmentally themed ballad which SCREEEEEECH!!!!!! Did I forget to mention Joan Baez? I feel I can’t honestly recommend this movie without mentioning the role Joan Baez plays in the soundtrack. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Joan Baez and think her place in music history is cemented ten times over. However, at three points in this movie she invades the soundtrack with some syrupy, overly-earnest balladry that unfortunately acts as a total nails-on-chalkboard moment in the film. It stops the action and nearly derails the entire thing. It’s hard to imagine what they could have been thinking, but it goes to prove the fragility of cultural temperament. Something that once seemed so righteous and appropriate is capable of literally stopping the forward movement of the plot and dating a movie beyond retribution. That is the one thing that might keep you away from the movie.
Silent Running isn’t one of “the great” movies, or even one of “the great Science Fiction movies.” However, it is without question an important link in the chain of Science Fiction movie history. If you want to fully grasp the link between 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars you must see Silent Running.

-          Paul Epstein