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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Top 10 Movies of 2012

So it's been awhile since I made a new post. Lots of stuff has been going on but that's a story for another time, today we look back at the films of 2012. This was an interesting year, lots of good new media in all forms, stuff in my life has been pretty good, just not a lot to really complain about. So lets get into it.

I would like to briefly remind you that this is just a simple opinion piece that I'm quickly throwing together. I promise you you won't agree with my list, and that's ok. Enough blabbing, let's do this thing!

10. The Secret World of Arrietty

If you're not familiar with this particular movie let me get you up to speed. Arrietty is a re imagining of the classic Borrowers story written by Mary Norton. This rendition is brought to us by the Japanese animation studio, Studio Ghibli (My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away) and was distributed by Disney. The story is heart warming and the animation is breath taking. I kinda have a thing for animation, as you will notice from this list. If you haven't seen Arrietty I would highly recommend checking it out.

9.  The Amazing Spider-Man

Spider-Man has always been my favorite super hero but to be honest, I was pretty worried about this movie when the trailers came out. Luckily, I was worrying for nothing. Amazing Spider-Man is a reboot of the Spidey series going back to Parker's highschool days. The film features one of my all time favorite Spidey villains, the Lizard who I always felt sympathy for. The movie also features Emma Stone and that is always a good thing. This movie really showcased what Peter Parker is all about, a relate-able kid who is a smart ass with a  heart of gold.

8. Prometheus 

This is one I may get some arguments from but I don't care, this film blew me away. Prometheus is an Alien prequel that answers some questions and raises some as well. The sets were incredibly detailed and the acting from Fassbender was top notch. I may be a little biased since I love the Alien films but I found the whole movie to be as fascinating as it was thrilling. The final scene in the movie also shows the origin of the Xenomorphs which was probably the best part of the film for me.

7. Looper

Time travel hasn't been invented yet but in about 31 years it will be. Looper revolves around special assassins that deal in eliminating targets sent back to the past from the future. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of these special assassins known as a Looper, he is tasked one day with "closing his loop", meaning he has to kill his future self (Bruce Willis). This sci-fi action movie feels kinda noir inspired and keeps you glued for the entire film. If you missed this one when it was in theaters it just came out on DVD this week, you should make sure you don't miss it again.

6. Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise is the latest film from one of my favorite directors, Wes Anderson. The story focuses on a kid with an old soul and a girl of a similar mind frame. The two children run away together and do their best to avoid their parents and camp counselors. It's a love story unlike anything you've seen before. All star cast, fantastic soundtrack, and gorgeous cinematography. The film may not be for everyone though, Wes Anderson has his own unique style, that's for sure.

5. Dark Knight Rises

BATMAN. CATWOMAN. CATWOMAN'S BUTT. This movie has it all! I will say though that I really preferred the Dark Knight but this was still a fantastic conclusion to the Nolan Batman trilogy. Bane is the star of the show in this one, it's been nearly half a year since the movie came out and I'm still hearing (bad) Bane impressions. If you like Batman, see this. If you don't like Batman, see this.

4. Cabin In The Woods 

Here is another one people are gonna gripe about, and I really don't understand why. This movie was pure brilliance! It took the horror genre and flipped it upside down on it's face and kicked it square in the dick. If you haven't seen Cabin yet then you probably think it's something that it isn't. It's really hard to explain why I love this movie so much without giving away sooooo much. The film parodies the horror genre and reinvents it all at the same time. I also really appreciated the way it ended, it's such a unique movie. Go watch this 16 times, right now.

3. The Avengers

Do I really need to say that much about this? It's Joss Whedon putting together some of the world's favorite super heroes. Also, I'm sure you've already seen it multiple times and love it just as much as I do. Here's hoping Avengers 2 is just as good!

2. Django Unchained

This one just came out so it may be so high on my list due to being fresh in my mind, or it could be because it's Quentin Tarentino being a brilliant crazy bastard. Django focuses on a bounty hunter rescuing a slave named Django to help him find a bounty in return he promises to help Django find his wife. What follows is what can only be described as uniquely Tarentino. A gritty, bloody, dialogue driven revenge and rescue film. Acting is brilliant, scenery and cinematography is gorgeous, soundtrack is fitting and adds to the scenes better than I've seen in years. I really can't recommend this movie enough, in fact there's only one other movie from this year that I would recommend more....

1. ParaNorman

Typically my favorite animated film of the year is put out through either Pixar or Studio Ghibli, this year was different. ParaNorman tells the story of a kid that doesn't fit in too well and is at odds with his family all because he can see and speak with the dead. The film is a stop motion and some of the best I've ever seen. The character design is unparalleled, the score is emotional and fitting, the dialogue is witty and well ... the whole movie makes me want to curl up in a ball and happy cry. Norman is the main character, his crazy uncle (voiced by John Goodman) passes away and tasks Norman with protecting the entire town from a curse, but Norman isn't sure he knows how to. This movie does a lot that I've never seen a children's movie do before, and in the best possible way. I think ParaNorman made it to the top spot on my list mostly because I felt like I related to Norman a lot. ParaNorman in many ways is a movie about an introverted kid for introverts. Even if you're more extroverted, this movie is one you shouldn't pass up.

Honorable Mentions
The Raid: Redemption:
Foreign action movie that drop kicks your brain. I loved this movie so hard.

Brave: Pixar's latest. Very beautiful film that seemed Princess Mononoke influenced to me.

Wreck-It Ralph: This just barely missed making my list. This is a heart warming animated movie about being yourself and also video games.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Back to Middle-Earth! Action packed and gorgeous but I still don't think they should have made it into a trilogy. Even with the Silmarillion they are making things up, should have just been two movies.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Digital Wasteland

War. War never changes. Its 0100 hours and I can see my teammates on the ground below the building I'm holding out in. I have a claymore set up next to the only entrance to this room so no one can sneak up on me. I still can't shake the feeling that someone is close.

Just then I hear my claymore explode. I turn to face my enemy. He is wearing a flack jacket which explains how he made it into the room in the first place. He appears to be barely over 4 feet tall. It's then that I realize he's only seven years old. He points his FAMAS at me. Pulls the trigger. And calls me a “fa*%&t”.

Yes, I'm talking about the digital warfare that is Call of Duty on Xbox Live. I recently jumped on the bandwagon and got online with Black Ops. If you have ever played any Call of Duty or Halo game online you're well aware that they are infested with young children hurling frags and curse words.

Now for those of you that aren't already aware of this, both of the above mentioned games are rated “M”. Rated “M” for “Mature”. These games aren't recommended for any one above the age of 17. So why are parents letting their kids on these games, especially online?

I think most parents either don't care or are unaware just what goes on in these games. Children are not the only ones playing these games online, many teenagers, young adults and even older adults are online. So not only are these young kids annoying everyone else playing the games, they are also hearing a lot of words they probably shouldn't.

I'm not a fan of censorship, I think it's horrible but I'm also not a fan of just letting your kids watch/listen/play whatever they want. Children are very impressionable and should be protected from things not meant for them, not sheltered, protected.

Of course this isn't really that important of an issue when you consider whats going on in the worlds. This is just my opinion on things. Honestly, I'm just tired of getting my ass handed to me by little kids.

Monday, February 14, 2011

20 Love Songs For Valentines Day

A great man once said, “The power of love is a curious thing, make a one man weep, make another man sing”. This statement is as true as the day it was first uttered. Love has treated some of us better than others. When you think of love you may have happy thoughts but some people will have the exact opposite thoughts, it's an incredibly strong emotion, perhaps the strongest.

Seeing as Valentines Day is rapidly approaching I thought I would share some of my favorite love related songs with you. It seemed more productive than moaning about how much I absolutely loath this “holiday”. So below you will find 20 of my favorite love songs, some of them are about the happy times involved with love, some are more so about the not happy times that come with love. One last thing these are not necessarily my all time favorite songs about love, or the best, just ones I feel a special connection to. Trust me, it was pretty difficult getting the list down to just 20. Here we go …

I shuffled the play list with my choices to assure these would not be in any specific order

Bob Dylan – Don't Think Twice It's All Right

This is one of my all time favorite Bob Dylan songs. The song is about the narrator breaking up with his girl and how hard it is for him, but he has to leave her because the relationship just isn't going to work. The song is telling her that even though he wants to stay, she can't do anything to get him to, even though she apparently hasn't shown that much affection to him in the past. One of my favorite lines in the song is “goodbye is too good a word gal, so I'll just say fare thee well”. I also really like Emily Haines cover of the song, for those of you that don't know Emily Haines is the lead singer of the indie rock band, Metric.

The Pixies – La La Love You

La La Love You is such a great song because it's just so simple. It also helps that the drums are so fun and poppy. This song is off of one of my favorite Pixies albums, Doolittle and was also one of my favorite tracks from said album. The lyrics (other than the intro) are just “all I'm saying pretty baby, la la love you don't mean maybe” and the members taking turns saying “I love you”. It's just a simple message. A message of love.

Noah and the Whale – 5 Years Time

Noah and the Whale are a great group but man, some of their songs really get me down in the dumps. But not this one. 5 Years Time tells the tale of a young man and a young woman and how they have fallen in love and everything in the world is just dandy. They go to the zoo and all the animals are smiling, they don't feel like they have to impress each other anymore, they pretty much are living a cheesy romantic comedy. The young man goes on to say though that this is all only in his head, none of it is real. All of these happy moments haven't actually happened … yet. In 5 years time he might not know her, they might not speak, they might not get a long, but he then says, “you might just prove me wrong”.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Think I Wanna Die

Here is a song that is perhaps a little melodramatic, but hey, thats how love is sometimes. As you may have guessed, the song is about how he would rather die than not be with this girl he cares so much for. “Think I wanna die, if you don't stay, drop dead in place you can forget it” little dramatic right? Well thats how you can get when you feel so attached to someone. First few times I heard this song I thought to myself “wow … thats a little much, sounds kind of cheesy” but now I think that this man is just incredibly passionate about this woman.

Wilco – True Love Will Find You In The End

As some of you may already know, this is in fact a cover song. It's a cover of a song by Daniel Johnston. If you don't know of Daniel Johnston then thats a whole 'nother story, I suggest you do some digging. This song just puts a smile on my face and when I feel unlucky in love, it really reassures me. As the title suggests the song talks about how, as long as your looking and doing your part, true love will eventually make it's way to you. My favorite line of the song is “don't be sad I know you will, don't give up until, true love will find you in the end”.

Regina Spektor – Us

If you were to ever ask me what songs I would want played at my wedding, this would easily top that list. This is my favorite Spektor song and also one of the most beautiful songs I think I've ever heard. The song details the relationship between a couple, seemingly a kind of romeo and juliet type of couple. One that others do not approve of and do not wish to happen, or at least thats how I view it and translate it. This couple must have done some amazing things though, seeing as they had a statue built of them and a city named after them.

Cee-Lo Green – Fu&% You

If you haven't heard this song yet, congratulations you probably went deaf around the beginning of last year. So as you can probably tell or already know, this isn't a lovey dovey song, this is an angry song with a great upbeat uhhh … beat. Cee-Lo tells about how he loved this girl so much but she pays him no mind because he's too poor, in other words, this woman is a gold digger. Shes now with another man who is apparently an xbox but Cee-Lo is an atari. Cee-Lo has apparently gotten to the point where he sees this girl for what she really is, and needless to say, he's kind of pissed.

Sam Cooke – You Send Me

An oldie but a goodie, as they say. Cooke, like Cee-Lo just has such a soulful voice, a voice that you don't hear very often. This song doesn't really try to disguise itself with analogies and metaphors, it's just about how this girl he's in love with makes him feel. There isn't a whole lot going on in the song really, at least not compared to todays music, but Cooke's voice and the emotion of the song make it a classic.

Death Cab For Cutie – You Can Do Better Than Me

This is a lovely and honest song. It's also the shortest song on this play list and barely over a minuet and a half, but sometimes thats all the time you need to say how you feel. Gibbard talks about how this relationship has had some hard times but it's obvious that they still love each other. All you have to hear is the line “theres times I think of leaving, but it's something I'll never do, because you can do better than men, but I can't do better than you”. That might not sound so sweet, but I think he means it to.

Stars – Personal

Stars are a great band for love songs, especially the ones that aren't so uplifting. Personal tells the story of two singles that meet on a dating site. They start sending each other messages and pictures and are seemingly hitting it off. But hey, this song wouldn't be so slow and sad sounding if everything was gonna work out in the end, would it? The two singles plan to meet up for a drink. She gets there, she waits, and waits, and waits a little more. He doesn't show up. She tells him in her last message to him that she saw him there, and she knows he saw her too. “I guess we'll never meet now, it wasn't meant to be”.

Wilco – I'm the Man Who Loves You

Wilco is just a great band to look to for love songs and this is one of my personal favorites. This song is just so sweet in my mind because it's a genuine confession of love. The song is so upbeat and happy and it fits the lyrics perfectly, Tweedy talks about how if he could just hold her hand then she would understand that he is the man that loves her, it's simple but sweet. Plus, it's Wilco and they're pretty much amazing!

Jason Lytle – Ghost Of My Old Dog

Jason Lytle is the lead singer of Grandaddy, I realize that probably didn't help you recognize him but maybe it did for someone. This is one of the only songs that actually made me cry the first time I heard it, yeah thats right, guys can cry from a song too. The song is about how Lytle's wife/fiancĂ©e/girl friend is accusing him of being in love with someone else “Don't yell at me, 'cus you can't see, who I am thinking of”. However you soon learn who he is thinking of, “I'm only talking, I'm only laughing, with the ghost of my old dog”. Then the part that gets me every time, “but they're all gone now, to earthen bed”.

They Might Be Giants – New York City (Sorry I could only find lie versions)

Ah, one of my all time favorite cover songs and one of my all time favorite love songs. NYC is originally a song by the all girl punk group, Cub. TMBG being from NYC decided it would be a perfect song to cover. This song is a love song in more than one way, in one way it's a love letter to TMBG's home and then it's also a traditional boy meets girl love song. I can't really pick a favorite line from the song because it's all so great but the opening sets up the song pleasantly, “You called me last night on the telephone, and I was glad to hear from you 'cause I was all alone, you said, 'it's snowing, it's snowing! God, I hate this weather', now I walk through blizzards just to get us back together”. If you like this song I recommend you also check out another TMBG love song called “Another First Kiss”.

Stars – Your Ex-Lover is Dead

Yep, another Stars song. This one is about two ex lovers being introduced at a party. “yes, I believe we've met before”. The song gives off the feeling that this meeting is kind of awkward and tension filled. They chat for a while and both take the same cab and as he sits there silently he says in the song that he wasn't sad, he was just trying to remember her name. Which makes me think he's a jerk. I don't believe that he actually doesn't remember her name, he's just putting on a show that their relationship didn't mean that much to him, when in fact it really did.

Radiohead – All I Need

Of course I couldn't let this list not have any Radiohead on it. All I Need is from their latest album, In Rainbows, and is another great simple love song. I seem to have a thing for simplicity, not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. Thom appears to be telling a woman how much he loves this woman but she simply ignores him, or does not share the same feelings. “I am all the days, that you choose to ignore”. Even though she continues to ignore his feelings he keeps saying “you are all I want, you all I need”. I feel Thom's pain when he says “I'm an animal, trapped in your hot car”. I think everyone can probably relate to this song, which is one of many reasons this is such a great song.

Weird Al – You Don't Love Me Anymore

You gotta keep a good sense of humor about love or else you'll go insane, also, I don't care what anyone says Weird Al is a very talented musician AND lyricist. You Don't Love Me Anymore is the humorous account of a man who is slowly beginning to pick up the HUGE hints his wife/girl friend is leaving that she doesn't love him anymore. The song is a sad ballad and you feel bad for the narrator even though your also laughing a whole lot. “Why did you disconnect the brakes from my car, that kind of thing is hard to ignore, got a funny feeling, you don't love me anymore”.

The Mountain Goats – No Children

The Mountain Goats have a lot of great songs about love, this one is about love, but the utmost darkest part of love. The feelings you have for someone after you have split and you both have NOT made nice, you both loath each other. No Children is about these feeling, it seems to be after a rather bitter divorce. It's a beautiful song in the most depressing way possible. “I hope that our few remaining friends give up on trying to save us, I hope we come up with a fail safe plot to piss off the dumb few that forgave us.” Pretty depressing right? It only gets worse.

Bettye Swann – (My Heart Is) Closed For The Season

Swann was a great soul singer that not a lot of people are aware of. She didn't put out too many albums but this is one of my favorite songs by her. It has the same feeling of I Will Survive, where she is talking about how she won't go back to this man even though he wants her back. He is a apparently someone that gets around though. The song is written as a letter to him telling him that her heart is indeed, closed for the season and it's because of how he treated her. Just that analogy of her heart having a season was enough to get me loving this song.

Art Brut – Emily Kane

Art Brut is an artist that won't be for everybody. His vocal style is one of those were the singer half sings, half speaks. Emily Kane is about one of his first real girl friends and how innocent their relationship was. He's still in love with her and wants to be with her, every girl he's been with since her have just reminded him of her. He has no idea how to contact her or where she lives but he does know the exact time it's been since he last saw her, down to the last second. “I hope this song finds you fame, I want kids on school bus's singing your name”

The Blues Brothers – Everybody Needs Somebody To Love

I couldn't think of a more perfect song to end this list with. Blues Brothers is one of my all time favorite movies and it had a lot of amazing songs, this was one of the last performed in the movie, at the big gig towards the end before the last big police chase. The song has a pretty basic message, we are all human and because of that simple fact we all desire and require love. Whether it be a person that you and all of your friends hate or the person that everyone gets a long with, we all NEED love. Also if you listen to this song and you don't feel like dancing, you might want to check your pulse.

Even though I hate Valentines Day, I hope you have an excellent one.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Review: Sleigh Bells - Treats

I want you to think of the most bad ass music you can think of. Need some more time? Thats fine. ......... Ok, you got it? So what is it? Slayer? Metallica? Black Flag? Well here is your new go to for bad ass music and it is not metal at all. As it turns out the most bad ass album to come out in years is Treats by Sleigh Bells. Yeah you heard right ... this totally bad ass band is called Sleigh Bells.

Sleigh Bells are what is commonly conisdered as "noise pop" which in my brain typically translates as they make a bunch of noise for the sake of making a bunch of noise. This is not the case with this band. While they do create quite a bit of noise, what they're doing dosen't sound messy or unplanned. They are very bass driven with lots of raw guitar licks thrown in. This is just a super fun band guys, I'm super cereal!

One thing that makes these guys so fun is that their songs seemingly aren't really about much at all. For instance one of my favorite songs on the album, Kids, is just about a group of friends spending the day at the beach. Now I usually am one of the first to criticize a song for being shallow and not really about anything of worth. Even though that is my usual stance I do believe that on occasion you just gotta have a meaningless, fun album to just throw on and feel good about. Something you don't really have to think about or pay that much attention to. This is that kind of album.

This is Sleigh Bells first album and I really can't reccomend it enough! I absolutley adored this album and cannot wait to see what this group does next. I see great things in their future. So please, please, please do your ears a favor today and listen to these guys!

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Short Peter, Bjorn and John Review: Gimme Some

You ever hear that song that had those bongos in the background and the chorus went like, "and we don't care about the young folks, talkin' 'bout the young style"? Yeah it was kind of good at first and then got way over played to the point that you hate that song. Well that song is by Peter Bjorn and John and they're actually a really great band, no really!

Gimme Some is the followup to PB&J's 2009 album Living Thing, which was a fantastic album by the way, while Living Thing had a more electronic style Gimme Some is more traditional rock/pop it's also seems to be rather 60's pop influenced. I enjoy the sound of this album but honestly, I feel like the style they went with is begenning to get a little over used in the music industry.

I think PB&J's greatest strength is that they have a gift for wrting extremley catch songs. They have proven it once again with this album, with songs like Tomorrow Has To Wait and Dig A Little Deeper. There are other great catchy songs on the album but I think those two are the catchiest. Overall its a really good album, but it could have been better if you ask me. Living Thing was just so good! I wanted something that would be a great succesor to it, this album however, does not quite make the grade.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Review: Cake - Showroom of Compassion

It's been a long time since we've heard from our good friends Cake. Seven long years, its been seven long years since the last time we had a new Cake album in our hands, but the wait is over and we now have Showroom of Compassion in our dirty little mitts. And you know what? The wait was worth it, because their new album is pretty great, as are most Cake albums. So lets get down to the details on this solar powered record. Oh, by the way, they recorded the whole album using solar power 'cause they're hippies.

This album opens pretty strong with the first two tracks being some of the best on the album, we start things off with the song Federal Funding and right from the beginning of the track you know you're in for a good album. Right after Federal Funding is my favorite track on the entire album, Long Time. The song isn't about how its been a long time since they were relevant but I like to pretend it is when I listen to it, I always have been a bit of a sucker for great returns to greatness.

The rest of the album is just as strong in my opinion. From start to finish I really enjoyed every track on this album, of course I liked some more than others but thats to be expected. One thing I truly appreciated about this album was the return of the Cake instrumental sections (previously seen in Italian Leather Sofa) this time we get an amazing instrumental song entitled, Teenage Pregnancy. Then you have fun almost anthem like songs such as Sick of You. Meaningful but hilarious songs like Italian Guy. The pseudo ballads Cake is famous for, Got To Move. This album really has everything a Cake fan could really want.

John McCrea had said in interviews that this album would be a lot different than previous Cake albums which worried a lot of people. John was half right, this album is different but I would hardly call it “very different”. They did use reverb for the first time along with using an acoustic piano for the first time on a Cake album. Those things along with other minor evolutions does create a bit different sounding album than Cake fans may be used to but this is still a Cake album at it's core, which means that its a great piece of music that will entertain you throughout the rest of the year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Baths - Cerulean



June 22, 2010:


Have you ever came across an album that you just simply adored? An album that brang forth incredible emotion and just made you feel warm and happy and safe? I recently was introduced to just such an album on the way home from a Pavement concert. The album is Cerulean by Baths. Baths is the alias for the musician behind the creation of this glorious album, his name is Will Wiesenfeld.

Baths is similar to Flying Lotus in the way that they both make some truly incredible beats. Thats at the root of Will's music but he also does a lot of sampling in his songs and also sings on many of them, which you don't usually find in a Flying Lotus song. As I said earlier this album really invokes a lot of emotion in me, that's why I feel the name “Baths” is appropriate. When you listen to this album you kind of feel like you're laying in a nice warm bath. You just feel like you're safe and nothing bad is going to happen, as if during the duration of the album you're in a protective warm bubble and you're floating through a dream. Hmm …. that may have sounded a tiny bit cheesy and clichĂ© but its how I honestly feel when listening to this album. All that being said you may have a different experience with this album. Some may interpret the album as a sad one, a lonely one, but I did not.

The songs found here are obviously love songs which is why I say this album can easily be seen in different lights. I suppose it depends where your love life is at the time, or maybe your outlook on your love life. I believe the album is meant to be seen as a happy album and thats how I obviously see it. I'm just not really sure how anyone could listen to the song “Aminals and not feel absolutely joyous and have an ear to ear smile. Then again … I have met some pretty horrible people this week.

I honestly don't understand how it is that I love this album yet can not find more words to say about it. What it comes down to basically is, if you like electronic music of the chill variety then I highly recommend you check out Baths. I had a really hard time choosing which tracks to post but I think the ones I chose below really speak for the album. So check it out and see if it's for you!

Personal favorite tracks:Aminals, Lovely Bloodflow, Rain Smell