After watching Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), three things were clear for me. First, The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of Wes Anderson’s best films. Second, Willem Dafoe should be in every movie. Third: Alexandre Desplat is a genius. Now, it’s not like the name sounded exactly foreign to me or that I hadn’t heard and enjoyed anything he had previously composed, but his score for The Grand Budapest Hotel just elevates the film to a whole new level. Continue reading
Ever since MTV stopped playing music (making you question the M in MTV), my annual video clip watch has dropped significantly. I mostly check out the artists I like or the latest commercial hits on YouTube out of curiosity. Every year however there’s still one music video that really stands out and resonates with me. In 2013 I started getting into KPOP, as a function of my fascination with South Korean cinema and youth culture. As a marketing student I’ve always been fascinated by bands that are conceived like commercial products, though I think they’re never without artistic merits (in their own ways). Continue reading
Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac) is a young folk singer living pretty much with anyone who owns a couch in Greenwich Village. The year is 1961 and record labels and executives are beginning to think that maybe folk music isn’t so hot anymore. Meanwhile poor Davis is freezing his butt off, wandering around the gelid streets of New York with (Academy Award Nominee ®) Ulysses, a red cat. He’s broke, his “ex”, Jean (Carey Mulligan) is pregnant, his dad isn’t talking to him and did I mention how cold it is? Davis drifts through the States in search of something better, but ends up in the same place where he started. Continue reading
The Status Quo are rockin’ all over the world, like they’ve been doing for more than fifty years. Next stop: Fiji! After the first concert on the island, Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt, the historic band leaders, decide to go out for a drink. A couple of drinks later nature calls and they both have to contemporarily go use the lo. Then for some reason they decide to follow a group of people who all gather in the back for some good old-fashioned Russian roulette. Scared to look death in the eye they decide to film the scene on their phone instead. Unfortunately, they have been filmed also and now wanted by a local mobster who’s blackmailing them to get back the footage that caught him red handed. Continue reading
Sorry if the title is confusing, but let me explain. This is a review of KPOP artist 4Minute, an all girl band composed by five members (Nam Ji-hyun, Heo Ga-yoon, Jeon Ji-yoon, Kim Hyun-a, Kwon So-hyun). Their 4th mini-album happens to be called Name is 4Minute. So when you combine all those things together there’s a lot of fours and minutes and that’s why it might get a bit difficult to keep up. Oddly enough even though they’re called 4Minute none of their songs actually lasts exactly four minutes (yes, I looked it up) and they’re a five piece formation, so the name remains a mystery to me. However the lovely ladies you can see in the pretty picture above are one of the hottest bands in South Korea right now, getting a lot of attention and selling a lot of records. Don’t let that picture fool you, they might look sweet and innocent, but most of their videos are very sexy and not just for Korean standards. Continue reading
Get Wet is the début album by Chicago based electronic dance music group Krewella. The record sounds like an uncut version of their Play Hard EP, in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the label wouldn’t let them release a full LP, so they just held on to the songs only to release them a year later. Usually, even if the band wants to keep the exact same sound their new work always sounds slightly different and updated. In the case of Get Wet there is no noticeable difference. Nothing’s new in terms of sound or lyrics, which only seems to confirm my theory. Much like their previous work Get Wet is about partying and enjoying life while it lasts. By that they mean: drink and fuck, while you’re young. While this may sound beyond superficial, it’s an interesting and equally valid lifestyle or worldview.
However accidental these existentialist tones may actually be, the musical influences from dub-step legend Sonny Moore aka Skrillex are more than obvious. Notably Krewella’s vocals on an already great track by Skrillex (Summit), made the song Breathe fantastic, almost an orgasm for the ears (eargasm?). That’s also how I found out about Krewella. Being a huge Skrillex fanatic, I have found that many try to imitate his unique style, but not many succeed. Even if Krewella’s sound isn’t exactly original and their lyrics are hardly profound, they still posses something indescribable, a spark that makes them somewhat unique. To me it’s probably the vocals and the upbeat melodies.
The album kicks off with Live for the Night which is a great party track, that sets the tone for the other thirteen tracks that follow. The song is immediately followed by what’s possibly my favorite track on the record We Go Down. Little touches like remixing and auto-tuning single words or sounds (by-by-by-bye), typical Skrillex bass drops and extreme distortions.
After a standard Krewella track, Come & Get it, comes one of the quieter, almost introspective songs with Enjoy the Ride. The song is also featured as an acoustic version at the end of the album. Once again, this song is about hedonism and enjoying life while it lasts. Personally, I think the lyrics perfectly capture the way this generation thinks, but actually, how people think in general.
We Are One is another filler, while Dancing with the Devil features vocals by Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump and sick drums by Travis Barker (Blink-182, Transplants).
Alive from the Play Hard EP was included sans changes, which is a good thing, most of the time artists feel they need to “update” or touch-up their songs a little bit to make them more current. Usually that just leads to them ruining their own songs, which were already fine, so I’m glad they left it it untouched.
Pass the Love Around is a very picturesque, slightly melancholic song about the life after the party or more precisely the moment you realize the party is going to end. Since I mostly think in terms of movies, I thought of Federico Fellini’s I Vitelloni, which seems to capture the same feeling.
Ring of Fire used to be one of my least favorite, but then after listening to the album multiple times I sort of warmed up to it. Same goes for Human, which I dismissed as shallow and badly written, but is now actually one of my most listened to. I like it because while most Krewella songs are about wild partying and sex, this one is vulnerable even though the line “I could use a hand sometimes” could be hiding a double meaning or maybe I just have a dirty mind.
Killin’ it is another song from the Play Hard EP, I like it, but it’s a bit repetitive after a while.
This is Not the End has a very positive, if simple, message: Live the moment, live now (“for today”). Even if bad things happen to you “this is not the end”. Take one step at the time, look back sometimes (“wait…”) and see the bigger picture.
The album’s last song, before the acoustic version of Enjoy the Ride is Lights & Thunder. I like this song right up until that useless rap bit, which kind of spoils it for me. This song should be the culmination of the album. Like the song says, we’ve been waiting for this moment: “Every second wanting more it’s a calm before the storm”. The song is called “lights & thunder”, could it be more obvious? When there’s lightnings and thunders it means there’s a storm, it means it rains, it means you get wet. It’s also a not-so-subtle metaphor for getting an orgasm, but sadly it doesn’t feel like a climatic track.
To sum up my thoughts on Get Wet I mostly enjoy this album. Yes, there are a couple fillers and tracks we’ve heard before. Yes, it sounds a lot like Skrillex and even the band’s logo design is reminiscent of the maestro’s iconic brand. At the end of the day though this is a very enjoyable, melodic and easy to listen to album that will get you pumped up, energized and positive. If music is also about feeling well, and music-therapy certainly seems to be working in that direction, Krewella do a fine job of making you feel somewhat carefree and careless for fifty-two minutes.
Rating after repeat listenings
(mostly on my iPod)
7 out of 10
This weekend Metallica Through the Never gets a wide release, so what better time to mention a couple of my favorite films revolving around music or where music is an integral part of the story? No better time! Wow, did I really need to answer that? Guess not. Anyways, as always these are just five of many films about music I love and appreciate, I didn’t rank them because I don’t like that: Bla bla bla, the usual stuff. Also: No, I couldn’t make a list of favorite astronaut movies if I tried, sorry Gravity fans. Back to music!
5. The Double Life of Veronique (1991, Krzysztof Kieslowski)
Actually, I prefer Three Colors: Blue as far as Kieslowski films about music go, but I’ve recently mentioned the film when discussing my five favorite trilogies, so I don’t want to repeat myself too much. Also, I just really want to give a shout out to this film which is not as talked about. La double vie de Veronique (original title) is a stunning piece, a delight to look at (much like Irène Jacobs’ lovely face) and a pleasure for the ears. Composer Zbigniew Preisner outdoes himself once more if you can believe it. The story is not exactly new with the whole doppelgänger thing, but when it was released Hollywood hadn’t caught on to it yet, so I can imagine the concept being fresh at the time. I wish I could have seen it then, but still this is a great film with fantastic photography, stellar performances and of course great music.
4. The Last Days of Disco (1998, Whit Stillman)
This is my favorite Whit Stillman film. Yes, it’s about music and disco, but at the end of the day like all of his films it’s about bourgeois kids, bohemian girls and dandies. The best scene of the film is when Josh (Matt Keeslar) makes an incredibly heartfelt speech about how disco will never die. I also love Chloë Sevigny and Kate Beckinsale as the two leading ladies. However the best part of course is the Whit Stillman’s witty dialogue and his quirky humor, the character’s little idiosyncrasies and the small intimate moments they share with each other. Plot and story are really secondary in a film like this one, still the fact that I don’t remember much of it means that it’s due for a re-watch.
3. Last Days (2005, Gus Van Sant)
As a big fan of Gus Van Sant’s work, I feel that this is one of his most under-appreciated films. Why might that be? Gee, I wonder. No, actually it’s very simple. People have increasingly short attention spans, myself included, so whenever a “slower paced” film comes along it sadly goes unnoticed (like Sofia Coppola’s Somwhere). Anyways, Last Days is about Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain’s last days, even if officially it’s about some guy named “Blake”. Michael Pitt stars as “Blake” and easily delivers a career best performance. It’s also worth noticing that the film was shot by Harris Savides (RIP), who collaborated with Van Sant on several pictures and is a particularly fitting choice here since the film needed an almost documentarist approach. All in all a very depressing, but extremely rewarding experience.
2. Jennifer’s Body (2009, Karyn Kusama)
Now, this might seem like an odd choice, but bear with me. Produced by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, Jennifer’s Body is a stylish horror/comedy film about a young girl (Megan Fox) who is sacrificed to the devil by a band hoping to achieve commercial success. Unfortunately for the guys the girl for the sacrifice needs to be a virgin, which Megan Fox’ character hasn’t been in a while. This is one of my favorite horror films and the music in it is very catchy, the writing is sharp and funny and the performances are better than you’d think. The film is very much about music and the notion that certain bands claim to have made a “deal with the devil” to sell a lot of records. The film’s biggest feat is that it manages to balance horror and comedy, which is not an easy task, like at all.
1. The Runaways (2010, Floria Sigismondi)
Another odd pick. Seemingly. At first. Maybe. The Runaways is about the homonymous first all female punk band in California, their rise and fall to success. Kirsten Stewart and Dakota Fanning play the two women who formed the band, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie and they do a fantastic job. As far as biopics go, this is definitely one of the best, because it’s also a coming-of-age story and a story about friendship and all that. So in this case as well, it’s more than just the music and paradoxically that’s the key to making a good film about music. The lovely young actresses also did their own singing and comparing it to the original recordings I have to say that it is most impressive. A good film I felt is worth mentioning because not many people have seen it or know about it: The Runaways.
I recently discovered the live version of Sonny Moore’s song called Moss. Much to my surprise I couldn’t find it on YouTube.
What’s special about this song is that it features a piano track that isn’t on the original. Sonny’s voice sounds as beautiful and crystal clear as it does in the studio, so this is well worth checking out!