2006: Watch Enough Movies?
The Best Music Movies and DVDs of 2006



Another year, another stack of DVDs. Surprising, considering the revolution of internet video. Perhaps an article entailing the great videos, documentaries, and live performances flooding the likes of YouTube, Google, and AOL would be more appropriate. Call me an old codger, but I still prefer the sleek, gleaming, and mesmerizing rainbow of a DVD’s backside to that of streaming video. Sure, I found plenty of uses for internet video sites — I even uncovered and rediscovered some classic videos and performances of old — but the best shit musicians, comedians, and artists had to offer came from a plastic disc. Consider this a guide to future collector’s items once the DVD becomes nothing more than a 21st-century obelisk.
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Best Porno Disguised as a Music Film
Shortbus


A returning category (slightly modified and a slight stretch) from 2005! Shortbus doesn’t compete with the all-out assault of sex that last year’s 9 Songs delivered, but in terms of a quality soundtrack, Shortbus delivers indie-heavy hitters amidst a sea of sexual exploration. While the film itself wasn’t anything memorable, the music makes it so. It effortlessly weaves between scenes of talk and scenes of action. I’m sure we’d all choose a differing soundtrack to our social and sexual escapades, but considering movies about your life likely isn’t in the works, Shortbus should fill the void until you sell that treatment about your high school girlfriend and you.
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Most Disappointing DVD Series
Burn to Shine


What’s particularly disappointing about Burn to Shine doesn’t lie in its paltry Portland line-up, but in its lack of new material. In a year’s time, the series managed to crank out just one new addition, and frankly it feels half-assed at best. The most memorable moment of Burn to Shine’s Portland installment is watching Sleater-Kinney fight their disdain for and disinterest in each other. Coupled with lackluster performances from The Shins, The Thermals, and The Gossip, it’s no wonder Burn to Shine is cautious of handing a demanding public disc number four.
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Best Music Video DVD
Sub Pop Presents: Acquired Taste


What are a few Shins and Iron & Wine videos between friends? Sub Pop delivers indie video goodness with Acquired Taste. Much of the Sub Pop roster is represented throughout 20+ videos, many of which are required viewing. The video for Wolf Parade’s “Shine a Light,” steals the show, but seeing the equally entertaining “Jumpers” from Sleater-Kinney and wildly animated “Clinically Dead” from Chad VanGaalen boosts Acquired Taste into the upper echelon of music video releases. The art of the video isn’t dead (though MTV would have you think differently), and Sub Pop has found the way to give the people what they want without the hassles of VJs and pre-teens screaming for the latest Jo Jo video.
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Best Live Performance (Solo)
Jeff Tweedy – Sunken Treasure: Live in the Pacific Northwest


Having witnessed Tweedy’s solo Seattle show, it was a treat to watch Sunken Treasure and feel a wave of nostalgia rush over me. However, that’s far from the reason that Sunken Treasure receives this particular categorical honor. In fact, much of the performances are the same thing any Wilco and/or Jeff Tweedy fan has seen over and over. What separates Sunken Treasure from piles and piles of solo performance movies comes in the form of candid shots of Tweedy getting ready backstage, working on a book of crossword puzzles, or talking about a bus reeking of microwaved chimichangas. Tweedy is at his best when he’s comfortable talking to the crowd, and Brendan Canty and Christoph Green (perhaps their work on this project hindered the progress of the Burn to Shine series) captures these moments perfectly. Much like the brilliance of Robert Pollard’s stage banter LP Relaxation of the Asshole, Sunken Treasure turns Tweedy from indie rock icon into another every man just earning his living with a guitar and a song.
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Best Live Performance (Duo or Group)
Supersilent – 7 (Runner Up: Wooden Wand & the Vanishing Voice – Moon Void of Course)


Moon Void Of Course may be the most far-out tour documentation I’ve laid eyes upon, but sadly the performances from WWVV are not the best James Toth and company have to offer. Supersilent’s latest album via DVD, however, is some of the most simplistic and beautiful takes on minimalism to be found. 7 is a gorgeous black and white document of Supersilent performing new material to a hungry audience. The atmosphere is ripe with creativity. If only some chain smokers had taken up the front rows, we’d be in for the musical equivalent to Good Night and Good Luck. The throwback to a forgotten time in jazz minimalism paired with a group truly hitting their prime is enough to catapult 7 over the 21st Century Flower Power of Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice/Sky High Band/Omen Bones Band.
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Best 1990s Live Performance from a Major Label Band
Nirvana: Live! Tonight! Sold Out! (Runner Up: U2 – Zoo TV: Live from Sydney)


There’s nothing to really delve into with either of these releases. If you’re a fan of either band, these DVDs document each in the height of popularity and performance. The more interesting take on performance and entertainment occur during Zoo TV, which takes live presentation and Bono’s ego to an untouchable level; however, to piss all over Nirvana’s legacy as a blue-collar touring band done good would be ridiculous. I never worshipped at the altar of Nirvana and all things grunge, but the sheer guts and glory of Live! Tonight! Sold Out! cause me to greatly reconsider.
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Best Animated Musical Catastrophe:
(Tie) Barkley’s Barnyard Critters: Mystery Tail/Paper Rad – Trash Talking


Barkley’s Barnyard Critters is a cautionary tale of egos colliding, popularity getting to heads, and the power of raw musical talent. A combo of animation and green-screened live-action, the 50+ minute cartoon weaves an interesting tale of loss and redemption for the noise set. Now if only we could get noise bands to become major label darlings and take the US charts by storm.

Paper Rad’s Trash Talking, meanwhile, is Saturday morning cartoons on ‘shrooms. It’s the Paul’s Boutique of animation and graphic design. I can’t count how many seizures I avoided by squinting my eyes, but I’m damn sure there’s parts of days I can’t recall after viewing Trash Talking for the first time. Whether watching Garfield watching himself grow older by the second or having an instructional walking blob talk about CD-ROMs and video toasters where the menu should be, Trash Talking appeals to the twisted adolescent in all of us.
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Best DVD Magazine
Wholphin (Runner Up: Stash)


Last year’s DVD magazine stalwart, Stash, must take a back seat to McSweeney’s Wholphinseries. A mess of clips, foreign sitcom interpretations (re-interpreted by comedians and hacks alike), documentaries, and random castoffs make Wholphinan entertaining watch. Where else will you catch a failed Bob Odenkirk pilot featuring Zach Galifianakas, or the Japanese Bewitched and Turkish Jeffersons? How about a Miranda July short film shot just after Me and You and Everyone We Know? Wholphinis the perfect hodge-podge of music, movies, and shorts that YouTube and Google Video will always fail to capture.
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Best Music Film of 2006
Fun From None: Live at the No Fun Fest 2004-2005


There can be no runner-up. Fun From None: Live at the No Fun Fest 2004-2005 is far and away the clear 2006 film of the year. Documenting dozens of performances from some of avant’s best acts, this two-disc set takes noise to a whole new level. It’s shot brilliantly, giving each band a different treatment and setting. No two shots, no two scenes, no two bands are alike. From the opening salvo fired from To Live and Shave in LA to the double drum mayhem of Death Unit and every bleep, screech, and drone in between, Fun From None: Live at the No Fun Fest 2004-2005 will make fans out of those afraid of the avant world and reinforce the love of those suckling on every ounce of energy and creativity from it.

I’m on my knees begging any of you who haven’t done so, to watch this DVD as soon as humanly possible. Honestly, it will change the way you approach—not only noise—but music appreciation in general. It’s rare that a musical film invokes the whirl of emotions Fun from None… does, and it’d be a shame if no one took advantage of it.

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