Hannis Brown Oh Ah Ee

[Self-Released; 2010]

Styles: free-everything, save love (no hippies here)
Others: Polar Bear/Leafcutter John, 12twelve

One of the difficult things about evaluating music is imposing limits on artists/musicians I wouldn’t impose on myself. How is that fair? How can I literally write the most far-out reviews on the planet (seriously, if there’s a bigger weirdo-ripper reviewer out there, I’d like to know his/her name, shake her/his hand, give him/her a “goose”), inventing characters, using words that don’t exist, and likening a song to a sloppy bologna sandwich, and, often in the same fell swoop, tell an artist s/he needs to Focus in order to be all s/he can be?

Links: Hannis Brown - Self-Released

Soul Kitchen Dir. Fatih Akin

[Corazon International; 2009]

Styles: comedy
Others: Head-On, The Edge of Heaven

If the camera is like an eye, and the eyes are the windows to the soul, and the way to man’s heart is through his stomach, then it’s probably okay and even apt to describe “music as food for the soul.” Such is Zinos’ declaration in Soul Kitchen.

Michael Hurley Blue Hills

[Mississippi; 2010]

Styles: folk, blues, pump organ, front porch music
Others: Holy Modal Rounders, Karen Dalton, Beth Orton, Cat Power?

It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say lackadaisical troubadour Michael Hurley has experienced a comeback in the past decade. He’s always flown pretty far below most casual music fans’ radar, and still does for the most part. Heaps of praise and covers by indie songwriters such as Cat Power helped bring him to the attention of a new generation in the late 90s, and the following decade would find him releasing records on Gnomonsong (a label by Devendra Banhart and Andy Cabic) and recording with Tara Jane O’Neil and Ida.

Links: Michael Hurley

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Dir. Edgar Wright

[Universal Pictures; 2010]

Styles: videogamecore action-comedy
Others: Shaun of the Dead, Kick-Ass

The following is the result of a conscious attempt to not solely compare and contrast, point by point, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s beloved graphic novel series, Scott Pilgrim, with its film adaptation, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Even if this does devolve into such an investigation, director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) probably wouldn’t kill me: In a late scene in the movie, we catch a character mutter “comic book’s better than the movie…” as our hero Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) storms by. Meta!

Cairo Time Dir. Ruba Nadda

[IFC Films; 2009]

Styles: romantic travelogue
Others: Before Sunrise, Lost in Translation

There’s a small satisfaction in settling into a movie after its critical early plot point arrives and allows for the rest of the narrative to unfold as it was dreamed up. In Cairo Time, Juliette (Patricia Clarkson) arrives in Cairo, Egypt to vacation with her husband Mark (Tom McCamus). He works for the United Nations and is kept away for who knows how long by a vague political conflict, leaving Juliette to explore the city on her own. In broad daylight on commercial city streets, she’s accosted and aggressively followed by random men.

Eric Copeland Strange Days

[Post Present Medium; 2010]

Styles: tape slice, A.D.D. hypnagogia
Others: Black Dice, James Ferraro, John Oswald

Much has been made in music wonk circles of David Keenan’s 2009 article in The Wire, which attempted to define a new genre he called “hypnagogic pop.” Hypnagogia essentially refers to the borderland state when one is on the precipice of sleep.

Links: Post Present Medium

The Sicilian Girl Dir. Marco Amenta

[Music Box Films; 2010]

Styles: thriller, mafia
Others: Gomorrah, One Girl Against the Mafia

A young, 17-year-old woman turns her back on what is left of her family and the town in which she grew up. Yes, it’s a familiar storyline, but The Sicilian Girl is in fact the true story of Rita Atria (Veronica D’Agostino), who, after the execution of her father by the mafia when she was young, set out to document the criminal brotherhood around her small town of Sicily. A decade later, when her brother is killed and a hit is put out on her, she decides to give all the evidence that she has — diaries, photographs, etc.

Markus Detmer 100 Jahre Einsamkeit: Markus Detmer Plays Staubgold

[Staubgold; 2010]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: experimental electronica, neo-kraut
Others: Mouse On Mars, Oval, Tortoise

Many label retrospectives feature a chief figure exhuming a staid collection of recent highlights that have already worn through their month or two of relative ubiquity. Occasionally, he or she will invite other relevant artists to remix tracks, hoping to regenerate interest but instead ending up with a compilation that merely rehashes weary melodies and rhythms, another anthology of dusty gems. Markus Detmer’s current selection of Staubgold notables, however, is utter genius in comparison.

Links: Markus Detmer - Staubgold

Brotherhood Dir. Nicolo Donato

[Olive Films; 2010]

Styles: drama
Others: Brokeback Mountain, This Is England

To crib a note from Shakespeare, the course of true love rarely ever does run smooth. Sometimes, it’s as simple as he’s just not that into you, albeit much less poetic. It gets a bit more complicated, however, in those situations where he might be that into you, if only you were not both members of the same neo-Nazi gang. In a further step towards challenging traditional notions of masculinity vis-à-vis homosexuality, Nicolo Donato’s Brotherhood (Broderskab) portrays the relationship between a pair of star-crossed right-wing extremists in exurban Denmark.

Twin Stumps Seedbed

[Fan Death; 2010]

Styles: paralyzing blasts of slow-mo terror-punk
Others: Load Records … that’s … that’s all I got, man.

Twin Stumps deal in drudgery and don’t stop pushing until you’re on the floor with yr skull all caved in and your bones ground into fine, stinky sand. I’m sorry to be so graphic (wait — no I’m not) but Seed Bed is to music what that last issue of AdBusters — with the decapitated limbs, half-eaten elephants, and torn-asunder flesh — was to print. Twin STUMPs, indeed. This racket is the closest I’ve heard to Landed since Landed, yet even heavier, even more disjointed, and socially inept.

Links: Twin Stumps - Fan Death

Most Read