Sunday, May 30, 2010

movies left for dead.

pril Fool's Day (1986) One of several slasher films from the early 80s that uses a day of the year as a gimmick, April Fool's Day features an all-star cast of actors who have been seen elsewhere in movies that were more memorable. This includes Thomas Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future), Deborah Foreman (Valley Girl) and Amy Steele (essentially reprising her role as a heroine from Friday the 13th Part 2). Unfortunately, their combined forces aren't able to help this tongue in cheek horror flick stand out from its peers, even with it's April Fool's "twist." A group of college kids are invited to a secluded home of a mutual friend, who has set up all sorts of tricks, like dribble glasses and chairs with faulty legs. Before you can say "formulaic" the kids start disappearing and heads and body parts are found. It wouldn't be half-bad if the movie continued on a safe, well-traveled path. Instead, its effort to manipulate the viewer (and two lead characters) disregards important scenes in the movie's plot development, as if the movie itself doesn't know which way to go. Once the surprise ending sucks the life out of the party, April Fool's has more in common with the mystery comedy Clue than an average and more honest vintage slasher. [rating: $3] -Kenyon
movies left for dead.

Vacancy 2: the First Cut
(2009) The first Vacancy--which, unlike this typical prequel, actually had a theatrical release--was set at a hotel where three sickos film their own killings of their guests (aka snuff). That first film showed the demise of their business of selling copies of their work. In the prequel, which doesn't do things much differently from the cat and mouse chases in the first film, we are informed of how these entrepeneurs got started. Or at least one of them anyway, as the other two are killed by the lead girl after they kill her boyfriend and his tag along friend. This girl is so tough she implausibly is able to shoot one of these guys from beneath a shallow pond in the dark. The remaining snuffer who gets away, we have to assume, is one of the masked guys in the first film, who somehow survives being set on fire and stabbed in the side of his face. The snuffers didn't have those trap doors and underground passageways yet, so a lot is left to desire. Three maniacs can be better than one (like in Mother's Day, Wrong Turn). In this case, three's a crowd. [rating: $3] -Kenyon

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Beats Happening

Tender Forever
interview by Kenyon Hopkin

Armed with ukulele, guitar, digital pop beats and love, the sweet-natured Melanie Valera is one-girl band Tender Forever. Originally from France, the adventurous Valera has since settled in the Northwest corner of the U.S, where she continues to be inspired by her surroundings as well as be the inspiration to others. Today she shares insight into life in the DIY-rich Portland Oregon, the benefits of veteran indie label K records, touring with K records founder Calvin Johnson and the making of her third record, No Snare.

Advance Copy: How's life been lately in Portland? Is it worth it for someone from New York to experience the underground culture there? What are the pros and cons of living there?

Melanie: Portland is totally treating me and the work that I have to do just right. The city is full of supportive, other radical females involved in millions of other projects. It's really inspiring and pushes me to do more than just what I think I can do. Portland is kind, creative, beautiful and will give you a lot of rain but not a job. You know, it's a pretty dark and damp place but a lot of amazing things come out of this harshness. You wouldn't believe it! You re-learn your possibilities of adaptation to life and how to work with and around the things that make it difficult. So you reinvent your way, your art, your connections and your relationship to others and ultimately yourself. The culture is made by radical kids for other kids. I think it's easy to find your community in Portland cause it's so linked to the music that you like and what people do is visible everywhere. It was easy for me, and I'm French, so imagine how easy it would be for someone that's used to the culture-- a piece of cake!

AC: What prompted your move from France to the West coast of the USA?
Melanie: Adventure, Love, Music!

AC: Do you go back to France often?
Melanie: Not that often. It is mostly when I tour Europe that I make sure I can see family and friends but it's definitely not a place where I can live. It's too old fashioned, racist and gendered for me but i do love my family and my friends. They are so special and make it a better place.

AC: How did you wind up meeting Calvin Johnson and signing on with K records?
Melanie: I met Calvin at the end of an attic show in Olympia, Washington. It was called the world's smallest venue. Only 10 of us could fit. He came and I guess he liked the performance and asked for a cd. We both had planned on going to the same show the next day so i promised i would bring him one. He somehow managed to get it before that and told me "Hey, I really like your songs! You want to record them?" I didn't have the full knowledge of what that meant but I think that i was just up for adventure and he seemed really cool so I said yes. He helped me change my plane ticket to extend my stay and the next day I was in the studio with him and Khaela Maricich [of the Blow]. I didn't know that this would be the most amazing and life changing experience of my life (and so far still is). K records is a very very special label and Calvin is a very very special person. K doesn't make you sign any contract and I think that's why people like me stay. You're free and let me tell you, there is nothing like freedom. After we recorded the album, Calvin took me in his office and pointed at the US map and said "let's go on tour now!" And i said yes again. We played over 56 shows in a row together. We shared the bill every night and sometimes, we would play two shows a day. Today I have played almost a thousand shows, traveled to so many countries and met amazing people. I had never thought that this would happen. But everything is possible, at all time. My life is changed, forever.

AC: What was it like touring with Calvin, are you guys buddies?
Melanie: Calvin and I are friends. I have the deepest love for him and I'm pretty sure he does too for me. Touring with him was like reading the best road trip novel ever. He knew where to go for dinner, for a fun time, for great thrift stores or just a cookie. He loves cookies. I learned so much in such a short amount of time. Touring is just so amazing cause you get to do what you want. It is a certain type of freedom that I don't get elsewhere. I taught him the French alphabet, he taught me names of hills and states. He showed me that you can play whatever, whenever and for as long as you want. He taught me that the reason why we do this is simple. He let me drive at night, he trusted me. Mostly he taught me so many many many words and I taught him some more. It was the first time he was going back on tour after that accident he had few years ago. It was freeing for him too I bet, with all the fear that came with it. But we just had a fine time, the finest indeed. While we were on tour, I had learned from my room mates that a new person had finally moved into the room for rent. So did her guns. I was so terrorized, but since none of my room mates made it a big deal, I thought that my fear probably came from some cultural differences. But to clear it up, I asked Calvin "is it normal to live with people who have guns?" He told me that I should not be living there. He said "you're moving in my home when we get back from tour." So my girlfriend and I moved into Calvin's for a year or so. This was the nicest thing someone has ever done for me. I live in Portland now, so I don't see him as often which is bogus but he gave me a ride to Olympia the other day and we surely laughed a lot.

AC: I saw you about five years ago here in Long Island, New York, when you were touring with Calvin. You played at someone's house and you got very interactive with us a couple times. In fact, you touched my leg. Is it safe to say that you enjoy smaller more intimate shows than a club with a four-foot high stage?
Melanie: I remember that show. What a weird place that was! It was Calvin's birthday too! I love small shows, I like big shows, big stages. I just don't like alcohol and venues that just have a bar in them. I think it sucks. I come up with the funniest little things on a high stage and I can do the same in a living room. I love performing. I can do it anywhere cause that's what i like doing. But I think [clubs with alcohol] are horrible. I now refuse to play such shows. But you have a lot of fun anywhere, just not with alcohol.

AC: Do you love being on stage alone? Have you ever thought about adding anyone to the Tender Forever line-up?
Melanie: Tender Forever started alone and will stay alone. It's such a personal project and it's been good for me and to me. Why should I get a backing band? But I love playing music with people and I'm indeed starting a new project. It's so much nicer to have people start something all at once, at the same time and be all emotionally involved in it. I don't feel alone on stage, I feel alone on the road, but it's taught me a lot of things as well.

AC: What instrumentation are you using now for live playing?
Melanie: I use so many things that it's ridiculous to name them. But let's say I use Ableton Live, some other software to use the Wii as drums, a sampler, iPod for video projections so that it's independent, guitars, ukulele and other things. It's a small set up made out of a million tiny things.

AC: The songs from No Snare are less bouncy and more serious and symphonic than the previous records. What did you do differently when approaching the writing of this latest album?
Melanie: Well I had already recorded the album back in February 2009 at the Dub Narcotic Studio and ended up losing everything even before I got a chance to back it all up in tour with Mirah [also on K records]. I still wanted to put it out, but didn't feel like redoing the same songs and definitely didn't feel like touching a computer in the process. That's how I ended up asking Christopher Doulgeris. He was super excited about it. We had 15 days to do it all. So I sat down every day in the studio and wrote a new song and we'd record it as we go. It was really fun and easy for me cause that's how I work in life, in general. I think that maybe living in the damp Pacific Northwest and wanting to make deeper sounding songs took No Snare where it is at now. It's a dark but straight forward series of songs. That's what and who I am.

AC: "If I'm Wierd I want to Share" [from Tender Forever's first album] is a song to which a lot of people could relate. Has that or any of your music served as an inspiration to anyone?
Melanie: The most gratifying thing indeed is when it does inspire people. Whatever they do with it, I think it's always amazing cause it seems that they feel free and confident enough to do it. It's a formidable experience to see people and read people's letter telling you that you changed their life. That's the kind of inspiration that I think is valuable. I am just glad and grateful for all the love I get to give and receive.

AC: Many people don't like to label their sexuality, be it straight, gay or bi. Do you identify yourself as anything in particular? Do boys often get crushes on you?
Melanie: This is how it works: Boys want to marry me and girls want to have sex with me. I don't know if I exude any kind of sexuality, but I do identify as a woman and a lesbian. But I believe in keeping my options opened, always. I just don't believe in one way or the other, especially looking back onto my life and how it changed drastically right around my 27th birthday. I get crushes on beautiful souls and I'm in love with everybody. Isn't it what other people do as well?

AC: Are there any specific gender/sexual orientation issues that you think the culture in the US needs to deal with better?
Melanie: The whole world needs to deal with sexuality and gender issues differently. I actually find the US to be quite organized and progressivist if it wasn't for the powerful Christian, vicious organizations polluting the system and getting in the way. France isn't better. Spain and Netherlands are the example to follow to me. Seriously. But there are no rules beside to love and embrace differences. It blows my mind to think about how some people live in the fear of the difference. It's sort of stupid cause we're all different, really. When you start thinking about how everyone is different from everybody, then you are able to understand how you can love them all and therefore yourself. But we, as a materialistic society, care only for ourselves, our belongings and our close and immediate family. We need to change that, cause when shit will go down, we'll all need each other. We just gotta love each other. Easy, right?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Chief, the latest artist on Domino records, gives
us first song from album due in August 2010.

Formed in New York before returning to their original turf in Caleefornya, Chief's debut album, Modern Rituals, is scheduled for August 17, 2010 on the phenomenal Domino records. First cut "Night and Day" (not the Cole Porter song) bonds like Band of Horses and shines like the Shins. -Kenyon

“Night and Day” - [mp3]

dates with the nite:
May 28 Philadelphia, PA World Cafe Live (downstairs)
June 2 New York, NY Mercury Lounge
June 5 Brooklyn, NY Union Pool (early show)
June 8 San Francisco, CA Hotel Utah
June 10 Seattle, WA The Crocodile
June 11 Portland, OR Doug Fir Loung
June 13 Santa Barbara, CA Muddy Waters
June 14 Los Angeles, CA Troubadour
June 15 San Diego, CA House Of Blues (Salvation Alley Stage)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

movies left for dead

Let's Scare Jessica to Death
(1971) A psychological chiller rarely mentioned, Let's Scare pre-dates some of horror's most influential films, allowing it to walk its own path. While it does have that 1970s horror film atmosphere, the movie only plays mind games with the namesake character and ultimatly the viewer. The emotional mess Jess has recently left a mental hospital. She, her husband and a pal move to a big house in rural Connecticut, where Jess starts seeing things and hearing voices. It's not clear if all the images she sees are real or in her mind. Meanwhile, they are acquainted with a woman who they find already living in the house. She turns out to be either a vampire, a ghost or just a sick and twisted drifter who strums a stringed instrument with audio dubbed over it (yes!). In the early 70s this must have spooked people, but with a lack of meaning and no closure, the film--even with its moments of suspense--comes up short in its attempt to scare. [rating: $5] -Kenyon

They (aka Invasion from Inner Earth) (1981) The cheapest of cheap effects (smoke bombs), non-existent action and excessive speaking from the main characters is what this abomination of film making relies on. Providing little to no sense at all, They makes Plan 9 from Outer Space look like the Day the Earth Stood Still. For most of the 90 minutes, five people sit around in a secluded cabin, speculating about the chaos in the world supposedly caused by aliens who are never even shown! It's assumed it is the aliens randomly communicating over ham radio in robotic voices, saying things like, "how many are you"? Adding to the beyond amateur low budget is the method of making people disappear. Mmmbop they are there, mmmbop they're gone! Why that even happens isn't explained. As if things weren't confusing enough, this "movie" has been under at least three different titles with various cover arts that are all misleading. The cover of my copy has only the face of a reptilian-like creature with fangs. [rating: $0] -Kenyon

Friday, May 21, 2010

Midnight Juggernauts > new video + gigs + album May 28, 2010
Finally something that sounds and looks like it's from 2010, all futuristic and fresh space travel rock n roll. I got dibs to DJ this, i called it! Those twisting liquified people though, geez why are they doing that? Just to show that they CAN? The Crystal Axis blops May 28 digitally and August 31 physically. -Kenyon

dates with the nite

Thursday, July 22 @ Santos - New York, NY
Friday, July 23 @ Voyeur - Philadelphia, PA
Saturday, July 24 @ Brooklyn Bowl - Brooklyn, NY
Monday, July 26 @ The Echo - Los Angeles, CA
Tuesday, July 27 @ Cinespace - Los Angeles, CA

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

First album from Versus in ten years out August 3, 2010

Holy wowzer, another 1990s indie rock staple on Merge records has new material. Here's a track from the upcoming On the Ones and Threes.

"Invincible Hero" - [mp3]

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Superchunk announces East Coast tour dates!

One of the backbones of 1990s indie rock and the founders of Merge records, Superchunk is working on their first full-length album since 2001. After a handful of festival dates this summer, they will do the headlining thing in the east. -Kenyon

9/17 Washington, DC- 930 Club
9/18 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
9/19 Brooklyn, NY- Music Hall of Williamsburg
9/21 Boston, MA- Royale
9/22 Philadelphia, PA- Trocadero

Saturday, May 15, 2010

holy jesus monkey b*lls the new song from SCISSOR SISTERS!

....nope, guess not, some stupid company keeps removing the video on youtube and vimeo. how does that make sense for them? dummies.
Seinking Ships features first vocals from Lush's Miki Berenyi in like ten years.

Mainly instrumental project Seinking Ships is Eric Matthews (ex-Cardinal and at one time signed to Subpop) and Christopher Seink. They convinced 1990s dreampop queen Miki Berenyi to add some vocals and as a result we have "You Didn't Love Me," from the upcoming S-Curve records release Museum Quality Capture. Her soft, enchanting voice always provides solace. -Kenyon

"You Didnt Love Me" [mp3]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

new videos from two indie pop bands

Club 8 > "Western Hospitality"

For their seventh record, Swedish indie pop duo Club 8 travelled to Brazil for inspiration, bought vintage records in Western Africa and worked with a percussion player from Cuba. "Western" accurately reflects that path. Arriving next week, The People's Record (Labrador), comes from a duo (Karolina Komstedt and Johan AngergÄrd, also of The Legends and Acid House Kings) who never play live and rarely give interviews in regards to Club 8. The video appears to follow a young Asian girl to Club 8's office to intern, but instead she dances. -Kenyon

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart > "Higher Than the Stars"

The New York City band is going on a short tour with two radical groops, Surfer Blood and Hooray for Earth (a line-up not to miss!). It's in support of the "Say No to Love" single, out June 8 on Slumberland Records. "Higher Than the Stars" is reminiscent of the lighter 1990s dream pop from bands such as the Rosemarys and Riverside. The video shows us that furries and non-furries can co-exist. -Kenyon

dates with the nite:
06/03 Milford, CT Daniel Street
06/04 Rochester, NY The German House
06/05 Buffalo, NY The Tralf
06/06 Cleveland, OH Beachland Ballroom
06/08 Memphis, TN Hi Tone Cafe
06/09 Birmingham, AL Bottletree Cafe
06/10 Tallahassee, FL The Engine Room
06/11 Orlando, FL Club at Firestone
06/12 Miami, FL Grand Central - Poplife 11
06/13 Jacksonville, FL Jack Rabbits
06/15 Carrboro, NC Cat's Cradle
06/16 Washington, DC Black Cat

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Black Keys > dino-myte video for "Next Girl" from new album out next week + tour kicking off + late night TV May 25, 26.

There are three ways to experience this: read the bottom, look at the pretty girls, or listen to mr. dinosaur sing one of the dirtiest blues-rock songs of 2010. Ahhh snap, i hear some Hendrix in there. The new album, Brothers (out next week on Nonesuch), also includes the Danger Mouse-produced song “Tighten Up." The day after the record release, the Black Keys will play a small gig at the Bookstore Cafe in NYC, with all monies from tickets going to charity. From the end of May to early October they're gonna be all over the place on a HUGE tour, opening for Pearl Jam, the Flaming Lips and Kings of Leon. -Kenyon

New York activity:

May 20 Madison Square Garden (with Pearl Jam)
May 25 Late Show with David Letterman
May 26 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
July 27 Central Park SummerStage
July 28 Central Park SummerStage

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Two upcoming horror movie remakes
One should be bloody fun, the other looks like crap. Both originals are from 1978.

Piranha 3D
(end of August). One of the few that actually calls for a remake, the 2010 version has an all-star cast and, obviously, monstrous mutant fish in 3D. This can't go wrong, it just can't.

I Spit on Your Grave (end of October) Sharing a similar tone and story with the original Last House on the Left, the original I Spit is infamous for its violent subject matter. This unnecessary re-doing already has a low-grade look.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Holly Miranda and her band played at the University Cafe in Stony Brook last nite, following tour dates with Tegan and Sara. Last nite was two days before Matt & Kim play at the Stony Brook ARENA with a hip-hop guy named Wale. As it's $25 for non-students, you can count me out on that one. Holly Miranda, also of the band Jealous Girlfriends, can be counted IN for her mystical timezone marriage of Jeff Buckley and Fiona Apple. Holly is on the roster of the indispensable XL recordings, which just issued The Magician's Private Library.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Kele Okereke of Bloc Party has a solo album on the way (June 21 on Wichita/Polydor). The first jam is pretty hot. Lots of websites are reporting that while making the album he had a mental breakdown and compared himself to Britney Spears.
not to be confused with anything by Bobby Brown!
Thrill Jockey records> new artist

It is time to give some big big LOVE to Thrill Jockey, cause they've been a big part of the indie music circuit for years now. TJ has supported all kinds of post-rock artists such as Tortoise, Mouse on Mars and Oval. Thrill's latest addition is Lazer Crystal from Chicago. Yes another band with "crystal," can you believe this? The first full album MCMLXXX (1980) just hit the world last week and the band just hit Europe for tour.

"Love Rhombus" - [mp3] - features afterhours electro glossed with a sleepy lead vocal and a youth group vocal hook resembling "Cry Little Sister" from Lost Boys. Some of their other stuff sounds like Joy Division underwater. -Kenyon
Stereo Total > new tracks + tour dates

Euro duo Stereo Total have just released their ninth album through Kill Rock Stars. "Baby Ouh!" is a further sample of ST's lo-fi indie electronic which has been defining cool since the mid-90s. -Kenyon

"Baby Ouh!" - [mp3]

Dates with the nite

August 2010
25 - New York, NY @ Le Poisson Rouge
26 - Cambridge, MA @ Middle East
27 - Montreal, QC, Canada @ La Sala Rossa
28 - Toronto, ON, Canada @ El Mocambo
29 - Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
30 - Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
31 - Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
September 2010
1 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
2 - San Francisco, CA @ Slim's
3 - Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
4 - Austin, TX @ Mohawk

Monday, May 03, 2010

Primus > tour dates with Gogol Bordello
+ new album planned for 2011.

July 27 Toronto, ONT Sound Academy
July 29 Essex Junction, VT Midway Lawn at Champlain Valley*
July 30 Brooklyn, NY Williamsburgh Waterfront*
July 31 Bridgeport, CT Gathering of the Vibes
Aug 1 Charlottesville, VA Charlottesville Pavillion*
Aug 3 Cleveland, OH Time Warner Cable Amphitheater*
Aug 5 Columbus, OH LC Pavillion *
Aug 6 Nashville, TN Ryman Auditorium
Aug 7 Milwaukee, WI The Rave
Aug 9 Council Bluff, IA Stir Cove at Harrah's *
Aug 10 Kansas City, MO Uptown Theater *
Aug 12 Denver, CO Red Rocks *
Aug 13 Salt Lake City, UT The Rail *
Aug 14 Las Vegas, NV The Joint
Aug 15 Santa Barbara, CA County Bowl w/Wolfmother

*with Gogol Bordello