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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Data Breaker: Silent Movie Scoring, Wisp and John Talabot

Posted by on Thu, Feb 6, 2014 at 3:01 PM


This ain't your typical Data Breaker entry. What we have here is a night of silent films with live soundtracks provided by four local acts. Darkwave-pop unit youryoungbody accompany Segundo de Chomón's The Red Spectre, electronic-space-rock savant Secret Colors plays along with Ladislaw Starewicz's The Cameraman's Revenge, crooning bass-music chameleon DJAO scores Buster Keaton's The Haunted House, and hazy post-R&B producer Battle Ground Grammar (aka Andrew Gospe) supplies audio for Pat Sullivan's Felix in Hollywood. Should be verrry interesting. Ethnic Cultural Theatre, 7:30 pm, free, all ages.

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And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and beyond!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Jobriath: The Man Who Out-Queened Queen

Posted by on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 3:15 PM

  • The Film Collaborative
Jobriath A.D.
(Kieran Turner, US, 102 mins.)

I'm a true fairy.

He out-Queened Queen.
Eddie Kramer

At a time when the men of glam exemplified androgyny, Jobriath was openly gay (and not bisexual as David Bowie and Lou Reed would describe themselves*).

It wasn't an act—not that theatricality wasn't part of that world, but walking it like you talked in the 1970s was a whole 'nother thing; one fraught with personal danger and commercial risk.

Kieran Turner begins his portrait of the classically-trained musician with the debut of the counterculture musical Hair in 1968, in which Jobriath, leader of the now-forgotten rock band Pidgeon, made up part of the Los Angeles cast alongside Gloria Jones, who appears in the film (and in 20 Feet from Stardom). Friends, like GTO member Miss Mercy, remember his talent, his charisma, and his manic drive.

* Or as others would describe them. Reed was cagier than Bowie when it came to categorization.

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Thursday, January 9, 2014

The Skinny on Helping Fund the Residents' Documentary Theory of Obscurity

Posted by on Thu, Jan 9, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Director Don Hardy is seeking funding for his documentary about long-running freak magnets/audio-visual experimentalists the Residents. Theory of Obscurity looks like a serious exploration of all aspects of the Residents' sprawling, bizarre canon, complete with high-profile-musician/fan interviews (Primus' Les Claypool, Deen Ween, Josh Freese, etc.) and never-before-seen footage. Incentives to contribute include signed Residents merch, tickets to the film premiere, and dinner with members of the band's Cryptic Corporation umbrella organization. All donations are tax deductible, too.

Go here to donate to the cause, if you feel like it. Check out the crowd-funding video and official trailer below. Here's my interview with Residents' "manager" "Homer Flynn" from last year.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Morvern Callar Author Alan Warner Takes on Can's Tago Mago

Posted by on Tue, Jan 7, 2014 at 12:40 PM

  • Bloomsbury Books
As an admirer of Alan Warner's 1995 novel Morvern Callar, which centers on a coolheaded Scottish drifter, I was pleased to see that he's preparing a 33 1/3 entry on Can's 1971 opus Tago Mago. That's an album—a double album, no less—that could benefit from literary exploration (though Ege Bamyasi remains my favorite Can record).

Can plays a part in Morvern's story just as they do on the soundtrack to Lynne Ramsay's 2002 adaptation. Her first feature, Ratcatcher, knocked me out to the extent that I immediately grabbed a copy of Warner's debut novel when I found out that she would be adapting it.

After catching the film, in which Samantha Morton plays the title character, I picked up the soundtrack. Naturally, it includes Can, but also two solo selections from singer-bassist Holger Czukay (Ramsay has since adapted a second novel, Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin).

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Monday, January 6, 2014

View Video of Big Black's Last Show in Seattle at Scarecrow Video Jan. 20

Posted by on Mon, Jan 6, 2014 at 5:10 PM


Chicago industrial-rock shit-stirrers Big Black's last ever performance took place in Seattle at the Georgetown Steamplant in 1987. Footage of the show featuring opening slots by Roland Barker and Jesse Bernstein has been on YouTube for 2.5 years, but experiencing it on your computer is like drinking your favorite beverage with a thimble.

Now through the auspices of producers Susie Purves and Larry Reid (who'll both be in attendance), you can view the historic event on a big screen at Scarecrow Video Mon. Jan. 20. The audio's been mixed by Mr. Steve Albini for maximum impact. Please be advised that Albini keeps his shirt tucked in for the whole show—even during the Kraftwerk cover.

More info here.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Gourds: A Film, a Song, and a Few Thoughts

Posted by on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 12:57 PM

  • Photo by Charlie Llewellin / Vanguard Records
I recently watched All the Labor, a documentary about Austin quintet the Gourds, and now I can't get "Dying of the Pines" out of my head (it appears on their 1997 debut, Dem's Good Beeble).

I've always liked the song, which I recognize from KEXP airplay, but I'd never given it much thought before. There's something about hearing a song in context, though—live in concert or on a soundtrack—that can turn like into love, and that's what happened in my case.

I think it's also because I'm leaving Seattle for a few days, so I was struck by the lyrics, which touch on air travel. That said, "If you see me on an airplane," you don't need to "get out of my way." Well, not unless you're allergic to cats as I'm taking mine on her first plane trip (I don't think she'll enjoy it as much as catnip).

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Have You Seen the Kathleen Hanna Documentary at SIFF Yet?

Posted by on Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 1:08 PM

You must, and you have through the weekend to do it.

For now, here's a chunk of an interview Kathleen Hanna did with The Dissolve's Sam Adams, as part of the "Mad Love" series, wherein "entertainers defend movies they love that are generally hated." Hanna's film: Lizzie Borden's Born in Flames, which imagines feminist struggles after a socialist revolution, and reminds Hanna of one of riot grrl's great limitations, on which she holds forth honestly and eloquently.

THE DISSOLVE: One thing that’s amazing about Born In Flames is how it encompasses what were then and are now very sharp debates within the feminist movement. There’s this concern within the movie from the Women’s Army and the feminist press about presenting a united front, and then there are black women and lesbian activists saying “Wait a minute....We actually need to be united before we present a united front, rather than just putting up a wall.”

KATHLEEN HANNA: That’s something that didn’t happen in riot grrrl that makes me really sad when I look back on it. I didn’t think there was going to be a movement, first of all. What I learned was, you have to be inviting women of color if you’re having a meeting, or going to meetings or events that women of color are having, and being supportive of people who are different from your own projects and plans in what they’re doing. If you don’t do that early on, you can’t add it in later, and start having these conversations three years down the road when already you’re in the predominantly white situation. What happens is all these white women arguing about who is more or less racist, or who is more or less classist. It just becomes this shame-and-blame thing, and that was a big part of what was called the riot-grrrl movement deteriorating. I think that lesson from Born In Flames is why at the very first [riot grrrl] convention, I insisted on having an Unlearning Racism workshop, which was hosted by me and a woman of color—of course I can’t remember her name, because she was a member of the Peace Center, and she was somebody I had never met before. It did not go well. Now, even looking at the title Unlearning Racism, the women of color who were there didn’t need to unlearn racism. Maybe internalized racism, but why did I choose that name? The assumption was, we were speaking to a white audience. Right then and there during that particular workshop, women of color walked out. A lot of them ended up making zines that were critical of the riot grrrl movement, but that very much became a part of it, that very much shaped the conversations that began to happen.

Read the whole interview here, and see The Punk Singer at SIFF through Sunday.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me Is a Heartbreaker

Posted by on Tue, Nov 19, 2013 at 1:30 PM

  • Magnolia Pictures
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me
(Drew DeNicola, US, 120 mins.)

I became intrigued when I first found out that someone was making a film about Big Star, but I'd never heard of the director, and I've been burned by enough music documentaries that I've learned to keep my expectations in check. Fortunately, Drew DeNicola does the Memphis power-pop band justice.

Since mercurial singer-songwriter Alex Chilton declined to participate, producer Jim Dickinson steps in to talk about his days as teenage front man for the Box Tops, who scored a hit with 1967's "The Letter" (though Dickinson passed away in 2009, his wife, Mary, speaks to his legacy). Despite the fact that it begins and ends with him, some observers have complained that there isn't enough Chilton in the documentary, but DeNicola has unearthed enough archival material, including a relaxed radio interview, that his perspective isn't left out of the narrative.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Transformative Night at the Northwest Film Forum in Tribute to Lou Reed

Posted by on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 at 1:28 PM

My favorite Reed release
  • K.C. Fennessy
  • My favorite Reed release (CD by way of RCA Records)
If you had any interest in the life and career of the late Lou Reed, then you're sure to have a favorite song, video, or other form of artistic expression. In which case, the Northwest Film Forum could use your help in putting together a tribute that reflects the diversity of his work.

To contribute, all you have to do is suggest a clip that includes or references the musician in some way. The sky's the limit, but it can't be longer than 10 minutes (don't forget to include the URL).

Offhand, I can think of a few, like the slow-motion sequence in Trainspotting in which Renton (a scary-thin Ewan McGregor) has a bad trip to the tune of "Perfect Day." Sure, the irony is obvious, but director Danny Boyle syncs the action to the song so perfectly, you'd think Lou designed it for that very purpose. Then there's his infamous Honda Scooter ad.* Or his loopy appearance in Get Crazy.

* Not that it represents Lou at his peak, but it's an interesting take on his image, i.e. Honda's interpretation of the "wild side" indicates a pretty surface-level understanding of the lyrics.

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Sunday, November 3, 2013

Doc Pomus: Writer, Raconteur, Humanitarian

Posted by on Sun, Nov 3, 2013 at 6:34 PM

  • Clear Lake Productions
  • Doc Pomus performing at the Pied Piper in 1947
A.K.A. Doc Pomus
(Will Hechter and Peter Miller, 2012, US/Canada, 98 mins.)

If you don't know Jerome Felder, aka Doc Pomus (1925-1991), you know his songs, and if you don't know his songs, you have a lot of catching up to do. I grew up with his handiwork, and if you were to ask people my parents' age, they'd tell you the same.

A short list includes "Lonely Avenue" (Ray Charles), "This Magic Moment" (the Drifters), and "Can't Get Used to Losing You" (Andy Williams).* They're among the American songbook's most heartbreaking entries, but they're not without hope, which simultaneously summarizes the tumultuous life of their creator.

Co-directors Will Hechter and Peter Miller build A.K.A. Doc Pomus around archival interviews with Pomus, so he appears to narrate his own story with an assist from his family, his associates, and music writers, like Elvis scholar Peter Guralnick.

* Sonic Boom does a fine version of "Lonely Avenue" on his first, post-Spacemen 3 album as Spectrum. Most people my age (or younger) are probably more familiar with the English Beat's sprightly cover of "Can't Get Used to Losing You," but I'm just old enough to remember watching The Andy Williams Show on TV. Doc Pomus gave the sweater-wearing smoothie his biggest hit.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Grand Illusion to Screen Dario Argento's Deep Red, Featuring Ace Goblin OST

Posted by on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Still basking in the afterglow of Italian prog/horror-flick soundtrackers Goblin's phenomenal Neumos show Oct. 18 and my okay feature? Well, now you have even more scintillating Goblin action ahead of you. On Oct. 28 and 29 (8 pm both nights), Grand Illusion Cinema is going to screen Dario Argento's classic 1975 giallo, Deep Red (aka Profondo Rosso). Gory, gory, hallelujah.

You can purchase tickets here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Word on That Movie About CBGB

Posted by on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 1:30 PM

I reckon this ain't news for most folks, but there is a new movie framed at the infamous NYC club CBGB, called CBGB, opening October 11. It's a bioptic about the club's owner, Hilly Kristal. If you ain't seen the trailer, well, have some...

Um. Yup. As with all things historical which have been cinematically retold as a entertainment and commodity, hella folks are calling bullshit, but this review from Marc Campbell, of period punk band the Nails, really (ahem) nails it.

CBGB is a dreadful film. Dramatically inert and ridiculously inauthentic, the whole thing has about as much punk credibility as an off-the-rack $30 Ramones t-shirt from Hot Topic. From its stupendously inept chronological fuck-ups (walls are covered with band stickers before any bands have played there) to its unintentionally hilarious depictions of rockers like Stiv Bators, Richard Hell and Iggy Pop, CBGB belongs in a very special place, a hideously horrible hellish place, reserved for films like Oliver Stone’s hateful The Doors and the Tom Cruise does Axl Rose crapfest Rock of Ages. CBGB really really sucks shit. The film fails in almost every way as a history of the legendary rock venue. As (for) the films hilariously amateurish recreation of CBGB during its heyday, the characterizations of the punk rock pioneers in the film would be character assassination if they weren’t so fucking ludicrous. ...this movie manages to suck all of the rock ‘n’ roll magic out of every single performer it supposedly celebrates. In fact, the movie diminishes everything it touches. The bands that made CBGB the center of the rock ‘n’ roll universe for several remarkable years are given zero credit for their art. The movie is more interested in the cockroaches, junkies and rats that rattled around CBGB than the extraordinary music that was forged within its decaying walls. CBGB, the movie, is an insult to every band that played there. It is particularly infuriating that the film insinuates that it took The Police performing at the club to legitimize it. I was at the Police gig. The joint was half empty and while the band was terrific there was no sense of history being made. It didn’t come close to those nights that The Cramps, X Ray Spex, Bad Brains or Willie Loco Alexander obliterated the molecular structure of the joint and instantaneously remade it in a higher form of architectural bliss.

Goddamn. The entire rant is pointed, not a shock tho', Campbell was fucking there at those shows and actually KNEW the people/groups being portrayed. If you wanna read the complete review, and I do recommend you do, do it right fucking HERE. ALSO: what appears to be the complete film is embedded in the bottom of the post; I ain't postin' it 'cause I dunno how legal it is all leaked and shit, so watch it there if you dare! If you'd like to see what CBGB was REALLY like (no mohawks!) dig this entire live Dead Boys show from 1977!!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Photographer Jamel Shabazz Captured (and Continues to Capture) New York Cool

Posted by on Fri, Sep 20, 2013 at 1:31 PM

Photo by Jamel Shabazz
  • Pow Wow Productions
  • Photo by Jamel Shabazz
Jamel Shabazz:
Street Photographer

(Charlie Ahearn, 2013, 74 mins.)

Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographer celebrates two of modern America's finest contributions to the world: street photography and hiphop culture.

As his barber friend, Tony, puts it, Shabazz's black and white and color photographs from the 1970s and '80s captured "life in its purest form." On the basis of the slightly faded, if arresting images that dance across the screen, he was also capturing style: Kangol caps, Puma kicks, Lee jeans, Double Goose jackets, and other markers of NYC cool.

Hiphop ambassador Fab 5 Freddy (TV Party, Yo! MTV Raps) describes Shabazz's subjects as "the cool cats on the corners on the street." In that sense, they remind me of the style photographs Amy Arbus, the daughter of Diane Arbus, took for The Village Voice in the 1980s and '90s, except Amy gravitated more towards the punk, new wave, and cabaret set. Shabazz also had a preference for subways, which means that his photographs memorialize graffiti almost as much as they do people—along with the Radio Raheem-size boomboxes of yore.

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Friday, September 6, 2013

Dust & Grooves Shoots Feature on DJ Supreme La Rock

Posted by on Fri, Sep 6, 2013 at 9:56 AM

Eilon Paz, head of the DJ/record-collector photo/interview project Dust & Grooves, is in Seattle today to shoot a real-time feature film from 11 am-2 pm about local legend DJ Supreme La Rock and his massive record collection. Besides being a much-in-demand DJ (he was just appointed official disc jockey of the Seattle Seahawks), Supreme was the catalyst for Light in the Attic's ear-opening compilation of Seattle funk and soul, Wheedle's Groove, which also spawned a documentary of the same name.

This episode is part of a monthlong national tour by Dust & Grooves that's profiling several of the country's foremost record collectors, with the ultimate goal of gathering material for a book on the subject. You can watch Dust & Groove's developments here and follow the interview and suggest questions in real time on Twitter with the #realtimedust hashtag.


Monday, July 29, 2013

Wayne Coyne: A Fearless Freak on Film

Posted by on Mon, Jul 29, 2013 at 4:25 PM

  • K.C. Fennessy
As I mentioned in this post, I had never seen the Flaming Lips documentary, The Fearless Freaks, before, so I didn't know where filmmaker Bradley Beesley had gotten the title.

While it certainly fits the Oklahoma band, it comes from the name of the Coyne brothers' football team—the title typeface reproduces their t-shirt logo.

As Wayne puts it in the film, their games were mostly just excuses for the five boys to beat the shit out of each other (though original front man Mark Coyne would go on to play quarterback for the Norman North High School football team). So much for the Flaming Lips' peace and love vibe, though I believe the Wayne of today is sincere about living a positive life and not punching out people for the hell of it.

He certainly came dressed like a 1960s peacenik—or Marc Bolan doppelgänger—with fresh flower lei and glitter face paint when he introduced the doc at the Northwest Film Forum on Sunday afternoon. More photos below.

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wayne Coyne to Introduce Flaming Lips Documentary at the Northwest Film Forum

Posted by on Wed, Jul 24, 2013 at 1:06 PM

  • Shout! Factory
I've been a fan of Oklahoma documentarian Bradley Beesley since his second film, 2001's Okie Noodling, and I've been a fan of the Flaming Lips since their first recording, 1984's The Flaming Lips (on which Wayne Coyne's brother, Mark, handled the vocals).

Nonetheless, I've never seen Beesley's 2005 documentary on the band, The Fearless Freaks. I've even met—or at least exchanged emails with—some of the people who appear in the film, like bass player Michael Ivins and former A&R man David Katznelson, who signed them to Warner Brothers (I met Wayne and Michael during a 1990 KCMU interview). It's just one of those things.

So, I was psyched when I found out that Coyne would be introducing the documentary at the Northwest Film Forum this weekend. That should make for an interesting addition—or even an alternative—to the Capitol Hill Block Party, at which the group will be headlining on Sunday (last year, my counterprogramming involved a NWFF screening of the Hipgnosis documentary, Taken by Storm). I've seen the Flaming Lips a few times over the years, and I'm sure they'll be great, but the intimacy of the NWFF can't be beat.

For the hell of it, a couple of items from my Flaming Lips collection below.

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ungh! WOO-HOO-HOO! Check out the Trailer for Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows

Posted by on Tue, Jul 23, 2013 at 2:36 PM

Robert Hatch-Miller has made a documentary about one of the most-sampled soul singers ever titled Syl Johnson: Any Way the Wind Blows. There's a Kickstarter campaign underway, with the director currently halfway to his $40,000 goal. Watch the trailer below for further enlightenment/enticement. This looks quite good. Even in his 70s, the dulcet-voiced Johnson appears to be vital and feisty. The man is a national treasure, as Numero Group's recent box set, Syl Johnson: Complete Mythology, proves, so let's hope the film makes it into theaters.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Catch Two Sublime Frequencies Films at the Rendezvous July 14

Posted by on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Seattle label Sublime Frequencies' co-boss Hisham Mayet will be showing two of his films Sun. July 14 (7:30 pm) at the Rendezvous: The Divine River: Ceremonial Pageantry in the Sahel and Vodoun Gods on the Slave Coast. The former documents the hypnotic music, rituals, and landscape along the Niger River in Mali and the Republic of Niger. The latter captures voodoo possession ceremonies in Benin, on the Western coast of Africa. Both of these documentaries shed light on fascinating activities Westerners probably would never know about if it were not for Sublime Frequencies' tireless efforts to portray them in their unfiltered vitality.

2013 marks Sublime Frequencies' 10th anniversary. Long may they roam the globe and bring us rarefied, riveting musical and cinematic treasures.

Also of interest: Mayet and SF co-owner Alan Bishop will be selling SF records, CDs, and DVDs at the Sub Pop Mega Mart Sat. July 13 during Sub Pop's Silver Jubilee festival in Georgetown.

More info and a trailer for The Divine River after the jump.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fanning the Fame: The Trailer for Napster Doc Downloaded

Posted by on Tue, Jun 11, 2013 at 4:21 PM

Alex Winter's documentary Downloaded depicts the effects Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker's Napster company and the digital revolution have had on the music industry. Below are some quotes from the trailer for Downloaded, which, after watching it, didn't make me think there'll be any revelations.

"They're building a business by facilitating the stealing of artists' music."
"The record companies are not adjusting to technology."
"Napster's stealing from us, straight up, and I'm gonna fight 'em to the death."
"What they've done is to turn an entire generation of kids into electronic Hezbollah."
"It has changed everything."
"There's no stopping it. This revolution has already taken place."

You don't say.

Downloaded opens June 21.



Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013



Thursday, May 16, 2013



Go See The Punk Singer

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