Showing posts from June, 2012

Sometimes I Feel Like The Dude: Oh, To Be a White Russian Swilling Anti-Hero

My relationship with the Coen Brothers' films is somewhat tumultuous. It seems like for every excellent movie they make, there are two that leave me with reservations.This applies to their entire filmography because I find myself loving certain movies like Barton Fink and Miller's Crossing, yet am completely disappointed with others like Raising Arizona and The Lady Killers. I admit that I probably should delve more deeply into their later films; I've barely given them the chance. In my teenage years, I was something of a indie film snob; I stayed up late at night to watch Bravo and any independent film on Showtime or HBO. I was there for the everything from Floundering and Spanking the Monkey to Clerks and Pulp Fiction. The first time I saw Fargo was on Showtime when they were counting down the best independent films of 1996. My taste at the time wasn't so refined; I remember thinking that Swingers should win -- I had an early, cloying fascination with the swing re…

Cory Branan's Mutt

From the first notes of "The Corner" on his new record, Mutt, one is drawn into a contagious world of revery, booze, and fun, filtered through Cory Branan's personal vision that makes even his saddest songs joyful. Branan has been road testing many of these songs for years. His last album, 12 Songs, came out in 2006 and a split with Jon Snodgrass appeared in 2009, but most of these songs have been in his live set for years, and they are readily available on various bootlegs, including an excellent showing with Ben Nichols of Lucero. These are the songs that make Mutt essential for any music collection in 2012, yet it will be interesting to see how he transforms his new songs in a live setting.

On first listen, Mutt doesn't seem as exuberant as Branan's live show. He seems a tad subdued and his odd sense of humor that bubbles up during song breaks is all but missing. The songs are tighter here and his sense of humor comes through loud and clear in the lyrics. &q…

On the Subject of Drifting (and Live Music)


Flat Duo Jets: Hipster Chic or Amazing Rock 'n' Roll?

My friend Brent recently directed me to Oxford American's excellent profile of Dexter Romweber. The author Aaron Gilbreath writes a very effective and cogent history of Romweber's musical career, most significantly his time with the rootsy lo-fi Flat Duo Jets, who are long overdue for critical reevaluation. Gilbreath intersperses his essay with live footage from YouTube, including some crazy early footage of Dex as rockabilly wild man in the Screaming Lord Sutch mold giving a tour of the mausoleum that the band practiced in. He also includes other early footage with just Dex and Crow, as well as a fairly sedate performance from David Letterman with a full band. Yet fairly sedate for the Flat Duo Jets is an understatement -- even at their most subdued, they are a rocking machine, capturing the magic and sound of early Sun studio sides, while maintaining their own signature sound. Dex is yowling into the microphone and playing guitar like a madman. Crow is flailing on drums, wh…

An Evaluation of the Flaming Lips' Recent Indiscretions as Filtered Through a Review of Transmissions from the Satellite Heart

I have long been a fan of the Flaming Lips and their often silly, always provocative take on the psychedelic. Lately though, I have been disappointed in how gimmicky their work has become. I first discovered the Lips in about 1995 right as their video for "She Don't Use Jelly" was getting constant rotation from MTV as a buzz clip. I was enamored by the silliness, creativity, and over-the-top lyrics of the band. Plus, they were just plain fun. They seemed to truly enjoy what they were doing, and they made great albums as they seemingly followed their own muse, record sales be damned.

I purchased Transmissions from the Satellite Heart, and was not disappointed. The record had everything that my sixteen year old self was looking for in an album. It was well-produced, but not over the top. The songs were catchy with great melodies and strange lyrics.They busted out of my crappy boom box speakers with a definite purpose. The remastered vinyl reissue only amplifies the stayin…