She & Him – Volume Two

If nothing else, I have learned something from She & Him’s new album, Volume Two (so original, eh? Who’da thunk up that one after a debut album named Volume One?). I have learned that I really, really, really detest Zooey Deschanel. Really.

Her adorable “quirkiness” is such a fucking marketing ploy. Honestly…what has she ever actually excelled in? Her acting is mediocre at best. She’s as monotonous as Ben Stein but without the humor. And her singing…oh, the singing. Does she fill her mouth with marbles before recording? Does she eat a lot of crackers? What the hell can you even do to make a person sound like that!?

On the other hand, I’m a huge fan of M. Ward’s music, even if he is a pretentious asshole. He won’t even let fans snap pictures at shows anymore. Seriously? Maybe rock star was a poor choice of career for you, buddy. Go hang out with Vampire Weekend.

Well, onto the album. Honestly, I listened to the first minute of every track because that’s all that I could stand. It’s a no good, terrible, very bad album. I can’t give you an honest review because I couldn’t bring myself to listen to it all the way through. Not even once. Not even a little bit.

If Zooey Deschanel doesn’t make you want to blow your brains out, then you might be okay with this album. Hell, if you’re a tasteless hipster, you might even enjoy this album.

I vote for more Him, less She. And to Zooey Deschanel: stop ruining music. Between you, Butch Walker, and Johnny Depp, I won’t have anything left to enjoy!

HI! I'm Zooey Deschanel and I fail at LIFE!
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Truth and Beauty Bombs

Dear Joey Comeau,
I think you’re awesome.
Sincerely,
That Girl With A Blog

Seriously, if you haven’t checked out A Softer World yet, do it. This is one of my particular favorites:

Ooooh, or this one:

Or this one:

Also, Joey Comeau is my hero. Check these out from the site:

“I think the best life would be one that’s lived off the grid. No bills, your name in no government databases. No real proof you’re even who you say you are, aside from, you know, being who you say you are. I don’t mean living in a mountain hut with solar power and drinking well water. I think nature’s beautiful and all, but I don’t have any desire to live in it. I need to live in a city. I need pay as you go cell phones in fake names, wireless access stolen or borrowed from coffee shops and people using old or no encryption on their home networks. Taking knife fighting classes on the weekend! Learning Cantonese and Hindi and how to pick locks. Getting all sorts of skills so that when your mind starts going, and you’re a crazy raving bum, at least you’re picking their pockets while raving in a foreign language at smug college kids on the street. At least you’re always gonna be able to eat.”

Also, he recently just got rid of all of his books and DVDs. If you know me, you know what a huge deal that is.

As Joey says:

“I am moving out, and I don’t want anything weighing me down! What if I want to get a job on an ocean liner? Or bare knuckle boxing in Hong Kong? Will my apartment really need all three Ocean’s Eleven moves? Will I really need two versions of Sleepaway Camp? I suspect not.”

I sigh and remember living out of a backpack. It was…fantastic. Plus, he’s Canadian. w00t w00t for Canada! Is Enid a Canadian thing (read his Live Journal)? Can you answer me this Joey Comeau? Or you, Barenaked Ladies? I love the name Enid. I want to be Canadian.

Besides the website, you can check him out on Myspace, Live Journal, and Twitter. Make sure to check out Overqualified, over on the Softer World site.

I don’t want to leave Emily Horne out either…the other half of A Softer World. She’s awesome, too. And she takes awesome pictures. You can check out her photoblog on the site, I Blame the Sea.

Ooooh, and check this out, too. I followed that story religiously, it kicked so much ass.

Tim Burton’s Alice

It’s actually pretty rare that I see a movie in the theater. I’m just not into paying $15 to sit somewhere that I can’t smoke. Really, that’s my reasoning behind it. Anyway, I promised myself that I would actually go see it in the theater because I was just so damn pumped to see Tim Burton’s Alice.

I have to admit that my excitement greatly dropped after hearing reviews from professionals and friends alike. But still, I thought to myself, “It’s Alice…and Tim Burton…it’s all going to be okay”. And that’s exactly what it was…just okay. It was 109 minutes of absolute eye candy and a storyline that made you want to rip out those eyes. WTF, Burton? I can see where he tried to make it his “own” version, but damn. If you’re going to piss with an already great story, don’t fuck it up, okay?

And what’s up with ruining all of my favorite childhood characters? First Willy Wonka, now The Mad Hatter, this has simply gone too far. What’s next? Will Depp be playing Gobo in the rumored Fraggle Rock movie? Will he be Misfit, Eric Raymond in some rehashed version of Jem? That’s enough. Just…stop. It’s getting painful for everyone.

I really do approve of Burton going for a lesser-known actress for the lead role of Alice. Mia Wasikowska is simply marvelous in her first starring role. She’s been in this and that and here and there, but nowhere anyone would know. She IS Burton’s Alice. Gaunt and melancholy…she’s a real life version of Sally. Helena Bonham-Carter also makes a great Queen. She ends up being somewhat of a combination of the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts. Mad and ruthless are two of Bonham-Carter’s strong points, so why the hell not? One bonus of this movie: Anne Hathaway is SUPER HOT! When the hell did that happen?! Are you sure this is the same chick from The Princess Diaries? I think you’re lying. She pulls off the gaunt look well, playing the delightfully eccentric White Queen. And finally, Alan Rickman. How I love Alan Rickman. He IS Absolum, the Catapillar. Just like he IS Metatron. Just like he IS Severus Snape. Just like he IS Marvin the Paranoid Android. This is what makes Alan Rickman such a fucking badass. Everything he does is simply fantastic. After his role as Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, I was really hoping that he’d do more work with Burton and at least I got that wish.

What the hell is it with Burton? Has he just passed his prime? Has he gotten into a Depp, Bonham-Carter rut? Seriously. I love the shit out of Tim Burton but I’m just finding myself getting less and less thrilled for each movie. I know, people have been saying this for months, years, but I just couldn’t believe it.

Don’t get me wrong, this movie’s not bad, it’s just not nearly as good as it could’ve been. It’s like Baccio Pontelli building the Sistene Chapel out of LEGOs. I mean, we all love LEGOs, but there’s certainly better building materials out there.

This movie was just as great and just as disappointing as I thought it’d be, if that makes any sense. It’s just a shame to see such a great premise go to waste. It still gets a B for my apparently undying love for Tim Burton.

For Constance McMillen!

In case you live under a rock and haven’t heard about this ridiculousness, from Dan Savage, writer of Savage Love:

“I need to ask you to do something. Not for me, but for a teenage lesbian in a small town. Constance McMillen is a senior at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi. When she asked if she could attend prom with her girlfriend, she was told no. When Constance pressed her case, the Itawamba County School Board canceled prom rather than allow Constance to attend with her girlfriend. The school board had to know what would happen next: The other students blamed Constance for getting prom canceled and “ruining senior year.” Constance is now being harassed and bullied.

The school board claims it canceled prom to avoid “distractions.” Now it’s up to us—to decent people everywhere—to make sure that bigotry and discrimination are a much bigger distraction for the Itawamba County School District than inclusion and tolerance ever could’ve been.

E-mail, call, and fax Itawamba Schools superintendent Teresa McNeece (tmcneece@itawamba.k12.ms.us, phone 662-862-2159 ext. 14, fax 662-862-4713) and Itawamba Agricultural principal Trae Wiygul (twiygul@itawamba.k12.ms.us, 662-862-3104). Then join the Facebook page “Let Constance Take Her Girlfriend to Prom.” And, finally, make donations to the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition (www.mssafeschools.org), which is organizing an alternate prom that will welcome all students, and make a larger donation to the ACLU LGBT Project (www.tinyurl.com/yl9mvkb).

Call, write, fax, donate. Constance needs to know that there are people all over the world who are on her side. And, more importantly, Itawamba County Schools needs to know that we’re not going to let them get away with this. Be respectful, but be relentless. Let’s show these bigots what a real distraction looks like. Get ’em.

Seriously? What ridiculousness is that!? I’m sure this girl’s had enough problems, being a lesbian in a small town and now this school district’s given her schoolmates more fuel for the fire. We need less bigots and more tolerance! Like Dan says, “Get ’em!” You can also read more about Constance’s situation over on the ACLU website or over on the SLOG.

Gorillaz – Plastic Beach

What started out as yet another one of Damon Albarn’s side projects has become Gorillaz’ third studio album, Plastic Beach.

Far from tracks like “Feel Good, Inc.”, “DARE”, and “19-2000”, this album is much more low key and quite frankly, doesn’t sound a damn bit like Gorillaz. There is absolutely no discernible, in your face dance track on this album, but it’s full of funky, hip-hop beats and orchestral undertones. You actually hear Albarn very little on this album, only on a few tracks including “Rhinestone Eyes”, “Broken”, and “On Melancholy Hill”. For the rest of the album, he passes the microphone to any number of collaborators including Snoop Dogg, Mos Def, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Lou Reed, and Bobby Womack.

Gorillaz has always been a whirlwind of artistic motions… collaborative efforts of musicians, filmmakers, cartoonists,  and more lend hand to making these albums. Though it may have been primarily produced by Albern, there’s a lot of hands in that pot.

This album is full of cultural references, mostly to do with ecology and consumerism.

From Paul Morley:

“The first time Albarn went to Mali, he was taken to a landfill where he saw people “taking every little bit, a little bit of fabric to the fabric regenerators, or the metal and the cans to the ironsmiths and the aluminum recyclers, and it goes on and by the time you get to the road, they’re selling stuff.” When Albarn went to a landfill outside of London to record the sound of seagulls for the album, he noticed a juxtaposition between the way the two countries dealt with rubbish. “They’ve got more snakes… like adders, grass snakes, slow worms, toads, frogs, newts, all kinds of rodents, all kinds of squirrels, a massive amount of squirrels, a massive amount of foxes, and obviously, seagulls. […] This is part of the new ecology. And for the first time I saw the world in a new way. I’ve always felt, I’m trying to get across on this new record, the idea that plastic, we see it as being against nature but it’s come out of nature. We didn’t create plastic, nature created plastic. And just seeing the snakes like living in the warmth of decomposing plastic bags. They like it. It was a strange kind of optimism that I felt… but trying to get that into pop music is a challenge, anyway. But important.”

So not only has Albarn created yet another amazing Gorillaz album, he’s again filled it with actual meaning and story. There’s always a story. In a world where so much meaningless pop drivel is pumped out, it’s refreshing to see something a little more driven.

Once you get over the fact that this album sounds nothing actually like Gorillaz, it’s a really good album. You can check it out, streaming on their Myspace now. B

“Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach”

Broken Bells – Self Titled

So I know I’m a little late with this and have been a terrible blogger, BUT…

Dear Indie Geeks, rejoice in the knowledge that James Mercer loves you. He loves you SO MUCH.

Ever since I heard about the insane collaboration of The Shins‘ James Mercer and the utterly fantastic Brian “Danger Mouse” Burton, I have been waiting not-so-patiently for their eponymous debut. Oh, how I love Danger Mouse. His collection of works, remixes, and ventures just makes me drool a little. From remixing Neutral Milk Hotel (of all bands) to Jay-Z to Gorillaz to Gnarls Barkley, the guy’s the goddamn Midas of the music industry. Add that to the incredibly talented indie-rock-god, James Mercer and it’s simply sublime.

So many people have been disappointed in this album and I’m really not sure why. Yes, it’s slightly over-produced, but it is James Fucking Mercer (that’s his real middle name in case you didn’t know) and Danger Mouse…what the hell did you expect? For them to make this album in their garage? Sorry, hipsters, that’s just not the way it works.

The blend of hip-hop roots and indie sensibility is just seamless. Who ever thought that that would come out of me? Really. It does seem that Mercer is the main attraction of this album, but you can really hear the themes of the vintage-inspired Burton. From the pop culture friendly “The High Road” to the nearly falsetto “The Ghost Inside” to the 80’s synth beat laden “October”, I love this album.

The only thing that I can possibly find to complain about is the length…at a mere 30 minutes, I just find myself really getting into the groove before the album starts over. Well, there’s rumored to be a new Shin’s album on the way, so perhaps we’ll get a larger James Mercer fix then. In the meantime, definitely take that half hour out of your day to check out this album. Absolutely incredible. B

Check out the complete album over on their Myspace.

“The High Road”

PS: Stay tuned for more ACTUAL blogs this week (I know, right!?) including Gorillaz’ new release, Plastic Beach.