by Dave Segal
on Tue, May 21, 2013 at 2:53 PM
This robot-quadrotor-operated rendition of the James Bond theme popped onto YouTube in 2012, but you may have missed it. It's one of the best things ever to be uploaded onto that site. Wonder what John Barry's estate thinks of this...
I highly recommend that you make it out to see the SIFF showing(s) of The Punk Singer—the Kathleen Hanna/Riot Grrrl movement documentary. The footage of live Bikini Kill and spoken word performances, plus interviews with everyone from Tavi Gevinson and JD Samson to Kim Gordon and Joan Jett are downright goosebumps-inducing.
While watching the screener last night, somewhere in between the reading of the Riot Grrrl manifesto that hasn't aged a day in it's importance, and the laughable/horrifying "Is Feminism Dead" Time Magazine cover from 1998 (featuring Ally McBeal), I started getting... weepy?
I got misty not because I was totally sad or bummed out by the bullshit these women were struggling with, but because I am so proud of them. Because it's 2013, and women are still struggling. My female friends, family members, and coworkers are still struggling. My "girl" band is still struggling. Every lady, girl, and person who prefers not to even fuck with gender pronouns, is STILL STRUGGLING. We might have won a few battles since then, but the lady-war rages on.
The Punk Singer shows at the Harvard Exit on May 24, 9:30pm and May 26, 1:30pm
by Dave Segal
on Thu, May 16, 2013 at 2:35 PM
The Source Family documents the echt-'70s California hippie cult of the same name led by the savvy businessman/power-mad guru/charismatic dirty old man James Baker/Father Yod. It's a warts-and-all portrait of beautiful young folks looking for guidance during a tumultuous time in American history (aren't they all?), and 6'4" ex-military man Papa Yod was seemingly typecast for this role. Some of the fruits of this cult were the voluminous recordings (ca. 1973-74) of the in-mansion groups Ya Ho Wa 13, Father Yod & the Spirit of 76, and Children of the Sixth Root Race.
You can hear some of their output on the soundtrack for The Source Family, which will be released by Drag City on May 21. Some of it is primo hippy-jam sweetness, some of it sounds like outtakes from Hair and Jesus Christ Superstar. For longhair, communal psych action, I prefer Amon Düül I and Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, but The Source Family is a mostly endearing time capsule of a band shaped by exceptionally peculiar circumstances.
Check out the trailer for The Source Family and the press release after the jump. (Unfortunately, the documentary just ended its run at SIFF Uptown Cinema.)
If you've been searching for a Tuesday-night date idea for that radical whoever in your life, I've made a pretty good plan here.
Next Tuesday, as part of the SIFF-tivities, the film Scrapper will be world-premiering at SIFF Cinema Uptown in Lower Queen Anne. Director Brady Hall describes Scrapper as being: "...about a metal scrapper dude who meets this teenage runaway and they do NOT fall in love but instead are bummed out together and there's also this unhinged neighbor guy (Littlefinger from Game Of Thrones!) who gums up the situation."
SO, see the film at 6pm, THEN (since the running time is 87 minutes), you have approximately an hour and a half to get to the Crocodile for the after-party. Stop for a taco! Get a martini!
And then seriously get over to the Crocodile for the totally-open-to-the-public of an after-party where Rose Windows, Kithkin, and Ephrata will be playing. The stars of the film (one of which is a porn star), and a bunch of other neat people will be in attendance.
If you're date is not dazzled by your fine taste, then they are not worth it, my friend.
Seattle DJ Marco Collins is a huge part of why the world loves bands like Weezer, Nirvana, Death Cab for Cutie, Beck, Pearl Jam, Modest Mouse, and so many more—he was the first radio DJ to play dozens of these bands that went on to be huge successes. If you listened to the radio in the 90s, you heard Marco. (Full-disclosure, I had a huge crush on him all through high school, just based on his voice on the radio, and one time, while MxPx was visiting him in the studio—back in 1996 I think?—he let me talk to the band on air and I was giddy for hours.)
If these bands were real, would the Carrie Nations be doing the Super Bowl Halftime show? Would the Misfits be getting into drug-addled twitter wars with Jem and the Holograms? I don't know the answers to these questions, but I've narrowed down the best fictional bands ever into a handy top four list:
4.) The Stains from Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains! The Stains are charismatically led by Corrine "Third Degree" Burns, who declares that "every citizen should be given an electric guitar on her 16th birthday." There was a rumor that Kurt Cobain had planned for Nirvana to cover a Stains song, but Epoxies are the only band I know about who actually did one.
3.) The Misfits from Jem and the Holograms They are more evil then Jem for sure, but their songs are so hard and catchy! Sometimes I kind of think that if Bikini Kill were Jem and the Holograms, Misfits would be Hole.
by Dave Segal
on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 10:20 AM
If the prospect of viewing Last Shop Standing thrills you, you may also get wet thinking about another film extolling the joys of vinyl: Records Collecting Dust. Directed by Jason Blackmore and David Robles, Records Collecting Dust is purely and complexly a movie "about the music and the records that changed our lives," according to the tagline.
This work is billed as "Volume 1: The California Edition" and it presents people like David Yow, Matt Pike, Kira Roessler, Jello Biafra, John Reis, Greg Anderson, Keith Morris, V Vale, and Pat Thomas (author of Listen, Whitey!) relating exactly what the tagline says in rooms abounding with artifacts that the music industry declared dead in the '80s. As with most things, the music industry was flagrantly wrong. For a certain type of person (hi there), this sort of low-concept, high-intensity geekery is like porn. The trailer below is wonderfully elliptical and should stoke excitement in a certain type of person (hi again). The film is slated for a late summer release.
More info here and a San Diego Reader profile here.
Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was Death. Formed in the early '70s by three teenage brothers from Detroit, Death is credited as being the first black punk band, and the Hackney brothers, David, Bobby, and Dannis, are now considered pioneers in their field. But it wasn’t until recently — when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of Bobby’s attic nearly 30 years after Death’s heyday — that anyone outside a small group of punk enthusiasts had even heard of them. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family chronicle, the story of Death is one of brotherly love and fierce, divinely inspired expression.
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Mar 19, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Last Shop Standing: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of the Independent Record Shop—a film documentary based on a book of the same name by Graham Jones—is going to be released on DVD April 20 for Record Store Day. The movie traces the vicissitudes of recording formats and music retail in Great Britain. The country went from having 2,200 record shops in the '80s to 269 in 2009. A parade of UK musicians (Paul Weller, Johnny Marr, Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), Billy Bragg, etc.) sing their praises of the brick-and-mortar record emporium not just as a place to purchase music but as a communal focal point where friendships (and sometimes bands) can be fostered and knowledge can be exchanged.
The whole thing probably comes across as propaganda for independent music merchants, but with the odds stacked so precipitously against them, Last Shop Standing seems like it will be more inspirational than grating—especially if you're someone who values physical musical artifacts over MP3s and other digital formats, obviously. (Or if you run or work for a record store. Obviously.)
The 50-minute documentary came out last September in Britain. You can order it here.
The L.A. Rebellion, which Charles Mudede wrote about here, was an African American film movement that took place primarily in the 1970s and '80s (Mudede will also be participating in the Cinema Salon that takes place this Saturday at 6pm).
It wasn't about music, but music was a part of it. Unlike the funk-powered blaxploitation films of the era, these filmmakers turned to blues, jazz, and gospel to ground their narratives about community and work—or the lack thereof.
To describe funk as a more commercial genre wouldn't be quite fair, but the L.A. Rebellion directors weren't thinking about radio airplay, drive-ins, and soundtrack recordings in the same way. Curtis Mayfield's Superfly soundtrack, for instance, still remains better known than the 1972 drama for which he did some of his finest work (or maybe that's just me; I have the record—my Dad had the record—but I still haven't seen photographer-turned-filmmaker Gordon Parks, Jr.'s movie).
Beware of Mr. Baker (Jay Bulger, 2012, US, 92 mins.)
Instead of a hagiography filled with kind words from old chums, Jay Bulger's Beware of Mr. Baker revels in opportunities to present drummer Ginger Baker in all his asshole glory.
It's a disrespectful, attention-getting approach that suits its cantankerous subject like one of his old sheepskin coats. According to an IMDb user who caught the film at a London screening, the "fractious Q&A...ended with shouting, swearing, recriminations all round, and Jay Bulger seemingly storming off stage."
Unfortunately, Bulger films himself as if he were part of the profile—no wonder Baker, who now lives in South Africa, smacked him in the face with his cane in the opening sequence. When you've got a larger-than-life subject at your disposal, get the fuck out of the way. Let him narrate, let his friends and enemies narrate, or drop the narration altogether (the better documentaries don't need it).
There are few comedians who make me laugh—for that reason, I don't normally think of myself as a comedy fan—but Eddie Pepitone has the magic touch. Steve Feinartz's new documentary about the man, The Bitter Buddha, screened at the Northwest Film Forum for one night only on Saturday with the director and star in attendance for the Q&A afterwards (on Wednesday, Pepitone had performed at Chop Suey).
If you're interested in the work of the New York-born, Los Angeles-based comic—and cat lover!—it's a must-see, though fans of alternative comedy in general are likely to find it of interest since speakers include Patton Oswalt, Jen Kirkman, Zach Galifianakis, Mark Maron, Sarah Silverman, Dana Gould, B.J. Novak, and Matt Oswalt, creator of the great Puddin' Strip web series, in which Pepitone plays a splenetic office drone.
by Dave Segal
on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 at 10:05 AM
Malik Bendjelloul's Searching for Sugar Man, the soul-stirring depiction of the life of once-overlooked Detroit troubadour Sixto Rodriguez, won an Oscar last night for best documentary. In light of this achievement, it seems like a good time to link to an interview I conducted with the director and his charming subject back in August 2012.
Kudos to Rodriguez, Bendjelloul, and Light in the Attic Records, the Seattle label whose reissues did much to raise Rodriguez's profile in the '00s.
Hello, my dearest '90s babies. Have you been chasing waterfalls lately? (Fun fact: I thought it was "Jason Waterfalls" for a while. I kind of miss good ol' Jason.)
Well, sometimes you get a press release that makes you want to sing, and you just hafta post it almost in full:
(Atlanta, GA) The much anticipated biopic “Crazy, Sexy, Cool: The TLC Story,” on Grammy-winning girl group TLC, is set to begin production in March 2013 in Atlanta, GA. Atlanta is the birthplace for the group that rose to unprecedented fame in the 1990’s as one of the world’s most talented, celebrated and highest-selling female groups of all time. Through very public and high-profile success, turmoil and tragedy, TLC left an indelible stamp of female empowerment that changed the face of the music industry forever. The group was also recognized internationally as pioneers in advocacy for Sex and HIV education.
Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins have signed on as consultants and executive producers for the full-length TV movie... “We were pleased to learn that production would take place here in Atlanta because it keeps everything true to form... We really want fans to experience our story in an authentic way,” says Chilli. “There is so much to our story that hasn’t been told until this movie, it really has to be done the right way,” T-Boz adds. “Fans will be able to really understand the dynamic of the group and why that formula has not been able to be duplicated.
It's for VH1, and apparently they've cast T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chilli as Drew Sidora, Lil Mama, and KeKe Palmer, respectively. The director is Charles Stone III, director of Drumline. I'm withholding any judgment until Emily and I take our cross-country road trip to try and secure walk-on roles as fans. (We already dress the part, they can't say no.)
***This concludes your weekly '90s girl group news update***
A genius named Jeff Hong posted this to the Jawbreaker Facebook page, and HOLY SHIT IT'S SO GREAT! He nailed the characteristics of the Jawbreaker fellas, in goofy Pixar style, and now my heart is sad that it's not an actual thing that's actually happening because I would absolutely watch this movie.
Are you a private dick? A dangerous dame? Maybe a handsome guy-spy?! Or maybe you just play one on TV. Well, tonight is YOUR night! It all starts at 8 pm, with a set by Adé, music by KEXP's DJ El Toro, and video accompanyment by those handsome sick geniuses of Collide-O-Scope. "Dress to kill," as they say...
Hey music nerds! Who's heard of the recording studio, Sound City, that was located, and open from 1969 to 2011 in Van Nuys, California? A gazillion albums were recorded there including Nirvana's Nevermind.
Sound City: Through interviews with legendary musicians and producers who worked at America’s greatest recording studio, Sound City, and the spontaneous writing and recording of new music, we observe the human element of making music and the lost art of analog recording.
Interviews include: Frank Black, Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, Josh Homme, Barry Manilow, Stevie Nicks, Krist Novoselic, Stephen Pearcy, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Rick Rubin, Pat Smear, Rick Springfield, Lars Ulrich, Butch Vig, and more.
Watch the trailer after the jump. Tickets here, for the 7 pm and 10 pm showings, tonight, at Cinerama.com.
by Dave Segal
on Tue, Jan 22, 2013 at 10:18 AM
This 20-minute documentary, Bassline Baseline, about the Roland TB-303 bassline-generating synthesizer has been around since 2005, but you may have missed it, as I did. It’s an informative, breezy look at the invention, history, and utility of this crucial piece of gear in electronic/dance music (hiphop, electro, acid house, Big Beat, minimal techno, etc.). If you were ever going to use the annoying word "game-changer," you'd be justified in dropping it in regard to the TB-303.
Also, you gotta love (or hate) how the film’s narrator/director, Nate Harrison (who let me crash at his pad in Manhattan a long time ago; respect!), expresses way less emotion than the 303 itself.
As with all Votel endeavors, he’s dug deep for the sublime and obscure goods and done a bang-up job explaining the circumstances behind the tracks and why they succeed at generating the desired effects; Votel’s writing and researching chops are as acute and incisive as his selecting abilities. Go read the whole thing, listen to the clips, and be scared shirtless here.