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by C. T. Heaney

20 Feb 2009

Post-rock band Saxon Shore have announced plans to release their latest full-length through Japanese label & Records on April 15th. US and European release dates will follow shortly after. The group’s last four albums, three EPs and an LP, have all been issued through Philadelphia label Burnt Toast Vinyl.

Three songs from the new album are currently streaming on the band’s MySpace. The record is to be titled It Doesn’t Matter and features characteristically beautiful artwork, consisting of colorful lines in a geometric shape against a black background.

by L.B. Jeffries

19 Feb 2009

A professor of psychology at Grant MacEwan College, Jayne Gackenbach, has conducted several studies on the relationship that gamers have with their dreams. The basic observation is that gaming has a traceable impact on the unconscious and this can often be seen in the dreams of various gamers.

So far the studies have explored three different things: cognitive factors, emotional content, and bizarreness in dreams associated with video game play. The strongest link in the studies found that high-end gamers typically experience more lucid dreams where the subject was aware that they were dreaming and could control their activities. A two-part series of studies found that although gamers were more aggressive (based on interviews) than the average person in their dreams, they also experienced aggressive dreams overall less than the norm. This led to another study, whose data is still being analyzed, but Gackenbach hypothesizes that daytime video game play may serve as a rehearsal for threat function that dreams may serve. This is based on the theory that our nightmares are actually survival mechanisms in which we undergo traumatic events in our dreams to prepare for them in the real world. The surprising discovery during many of these long interviews was that the typical “Being Chased” and “Can’t Escape” scenario of many nightmares did not frighten gamers. As Gackenbach notes in her conclusion to one of the studies, what better way to prepare for a dream than by constantly engaging in an out-of-body virtual reality?

Speaking for myself, not all of this applies to my dreams but a few elements struck a chord. I don’t often dream about things from games but I rarely have anything I’d call a nightmare. I don’t experience anything along the lines of Waking Life, but my dreams rarely feel out of control. Whenever I’m being chased in a dream, I just go someplace safe, wonder why I’m dreaming this weird stuff, get chased again, go someplace else. It’s all instinct and reaction but I rarely find any of it frightening. You can find the PowerPoint presentations and hard data from the research here. What is extremely unusual about

all

of this data is that typically lucid and out-of-body dreams require a great deal of meditation. Nightmares, which are often the product of real-life trauma such as being assaulted or post-traumatic stress disorder, may be significantly less unpleasant for people who play games.

There were several other observation that need to be corroborated with further data. Gamers may have a higher average number of dreams that feature little to no actual people and instead involve animals or other fantasy creatures. They also might experience more out of body or third person dreams than the average dreamer. It would be extremely helpful to Gackenbach’s study if anyone with a remote interest would fill out the survey offered here.

by Sarah Zupko

19 Feb 2009

Laura Barrett follows up last year’s EP Earth Sciences with her first full-length on February 24th. Again she calls on her signature kalimba, creating warm atmospheres that have the feel of futuristic electronic music created with simple, old world tools. That comes across in spades on “Bluebird.”

Laura Barrett
“Bluebird” [MP3]
     

TRACK LIST
1. Wood Between Worlds
2. Consumption
3. Spoiler Alert
4. Chidiya
5. Bluebird
6. A Certain Major Vinylsky
7. Ferryland
8. The Sharper Side
9. Space Seed: The Musical
10. Escape To The Sun Dome
11. Rien a Declarer
12. To The Stars!

TOUR DATES
Apr. 8 - Salt Spring Island, BC - TBA+
Apr. 10 - Victoria, BC - 50/50 Collective+
Apr. 12 - Vancouver, BC - Little Mountain Studios+
Apr. 14 - Osoyoos, BC - TBA+
Apr. 17 - Calgary, AB - TBA+
Apr. 18 - Edmonton, AB - TBA+
Apr. 19 - Bruno, SK - All Citizens+
Apr. 21 - Regina, SK - The Exchange+
  + = w/ the Phonemes

by Thomas Britt

19 Feb 2009

Radiohead fans that call drummer Phil Selway their favorite member of the group, form a small but dedicated minority. As Tobias Fünke might say, “There are dozens of us. Dozens!” When I heard the news early last month that Selway was debuting some new material as part of Neil Finn’s Oxfam-supporting 7 Worlds Collide project, I was glad to hear that one of rock’s most reliable pacesetters would have a chance to do flex his creative muscles outside of the yeoman’s work at his world-famous day job.

Last year’s In Rainbows provided ample evidence that Selway is in many ways his band’s secret weapon, but his guitar playing and lead singing at this year’s 7 Worlds Collide reunion reveal that he might have more tricks up his sleeve than even his hardcore fans suspected.

Thankfully, YouTube user Schro23 uploaded a video of Selway’s original tune “Family Madness”, as performed in Auckland last month. The song—a slow number reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Follow Me Around”—manages to out(Fleet)fox the Fleet Foxes, as late-oughts harmony-laden folk tunes go. Not a bad start, Mr. Selway!

The song should appear on the upcoming 7 Worlds Collide album, which follows Finn’s 2001 live album of the same name.

by Bill Gibron

19 Feb 2009

It’s bandwagon jumping time, and since Hollywood is about ready to hand out its own brand of bewildering backslapping, the nearly three-year-old SE&L figures it too can champion its own choices for award winners. Oscar might have the hoopla, the bags of swag, and all that staggering star power, but what the newly christened SEALS have is something the Academy can never boast – artistic integrity. Granted, the gray hairs in the group sometimes get it right – can’t argue with all their choices, Crash aside – and it’s possible that these new prizes will clash with conventional thinking. But when it comes right down to it, if Blockbuster Video, MTV, and The National Rolling (Down a Hill) Association can declare their preferences for the year’s trophy-deserving best, why can’t we?

That being said, we have to set up some guidelines. First and foremost, as joking Johnny-Come-Latelys, we will avoid the already nominated Academy entries. If it has already been pointed out by Oscar, we will let the Gold One have his glory and simply move on. After all, nothing smacks more of Tinsel Town tonsils to tushy than agreeing on who they feel deserves Best of Year recognition. Secondly, we will try to mine the ENTIRE previous 12 months in film. We won’t skip over efforts from January or March just because most of the cachet pictures wind up playing between November and December. And finally, this isn’t a competition. Other choices may be mentioned, but the SEALS don’t play the nomination game. Either you’re a winner, or you’re not.

So, without further ado, lame jokes from a PC host, or an interpretive dance number based around the choices for Best Song, here are the 2009 SEALS:


Cloverfield Best Film

The idea sounds hokey, when you think about it. A giant alien monster attacks New York City, and a group of spoiled 20-something yuppsters capture the whole thing on a handheld video camera. It’s like The Blair Witch Project mixed with Godzilla. But thanks to the production input of overseer J.J. Abrams, the brilliant direction of Matt Reeves, and the amazing CG work that turns the Big Apple into an even bigger catastrophe, we buy every intense minute. Certainly you can nitpick the notion of an escaping group of friends playing everything to the camera, but the rollercoaster results definitely speak for themselves.





Michel Gondry - (Be Kind, Rewind) Best Director

Of all the filmmakers in 2009, Gondry had the hardest job (well, perhaps second to Matt Reeves making a monster attack on Manhattan seem viable and believable). He had to take well known works of modern pop culture memory - RoboCop, Ghostbusters, Driving Miss Daisy - and covert them into the surreal “Sweded” versions within his masterful love letter to the VCR. Then he had to balance those obvious spoofs with the story featuring a sense of community and shared cinematic sentiment. He even managed to make both Jack Black and Mos Def loveable and lamentable at the same time. He definitely earned his accolades on this one.





 

Jason Segal - (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) Best Actor

It’s always hard to strike out on your own, especially when you’ve been successful as one of the ‘FoA’ (Friends of Apatow). But with Sarah Marshall, Segal suggests that he’s always been an original comic voice just waiting for a chance to be showcased. He’s remarkable in this role, literally baring it all to play a decent guy dumped by a demanded, TV star diva. We definitely feel Peter’s pain as he goes through the breakup, making his eventual hook-up with hotel clerk Rachel that much more satisfying. And then there’s the amazing finale featuring a puppet opera take on Dracula? With Segal singing? Priceless.







Elizabeth Banks - (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) Best Actress

Banks was the “It” girl of the last 16 months. She was in Fred Claus, Definitely, Maybe, Meet Dave, W. , Role Models, and The Uninvited. But none of these roles captured her true performance personality and outer/inner beauty better than her turn as Miriam “Stinky” Linky. Her no BS approach to life matched effortlessly with an ever-present vulnerability, and the look on her face during her love scene with co-star Seth Rogen is enough to break one’s tragic, tender ticker. Miri makes for the ultimate gal pal - sexy, smart, sensible, spontaneous, spirited, and oh so very special…kind of like Banks herself.






Craig Robinson - (Zack and Miri Make a Porno) Best Supporting Actor

In a movie filled with funny people, in a narrative that needs both an audience window and a sense of streetwise sense, Robinson fulfills all roles - and then many, many more. He gets many of writer/director Kevin Smith’s best lines (“Her name’s Bubbles.”) while maintaining the kind of cautious perspective that give the narrative its zing. His domestic scenes with costar Tisha Campbell-Martin are sensational, encompassing everything we need to know about Delaney in five minutes of ferocious infighting. With equally great work in The Pineapple Express, this was definitely Robinson’s year.






Rosario Dawson - (Seven Pounds) Best Supporting Actress

Granted, some may see her as the co-star in this Will Smith weeper, but by applying the proper definition to the term ‘supporting’, we can see that Dawson both determined and defied description here. She’s the heart and soul of a film that’s supposed to feature its far more famous leading man, and she carries us through the convolutions that turn the story from sentimental to almost indecipherable. As an example of sexy seriousness or serious sexiness, she’s both eye candy and a strong emotional core - and that’s the perfect complement to an often confusing drama.






Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg - (The Pineapple Express) Best Script

The stoner comedy needed a cleverer comeback. Harold and Kumar just weren’t going to make it. Leave it to the Apatow crew to reinvent the genre while brining something new - read: action-packed firepower and crime thrills - to the mix. Director David Gordon Green, best known for his slow ensemble dramas like Snow Angels and All the Real Girls steps up and redefines his career with his work here. But its Rogen and Goldberg, last seen giving Superbad it’s profane polish that deserve the most credit. They managed to find a way to make both the weed and ass kicking work and work well.






Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired Best Documentary

While his latest bid to throw out the warrant against him has so far failed, the famed Polish director still has this movie to vindicate his cause. No, Polanski doesn’t deny having sex with an underage girl (he does claim it was consensual). His problem lies with the judicial system of ‘70s California, a cabal conspiring to teach the famous - and infamous - a legal lesson they wouldn’t soon forget. With the help of a media that actually insinuated Polanski bared some blame for the death of his wife Sharon Tate at the hands of the Manson clan, we witness justice perverted for the sake of personal fame.







Igor Best Animated Film

In the feast or famine arena of animation, you’re either on your way to Oscar Gold (Bolt, Kung Fu Panda, WALL-E, Waltz with Bashir) or scraping the part of the bottom of the barrel where fellow films like Space Chimps and Fly Me to the Moon lie. That makes picking a decent title here rather tough. Igor, however, definitely eases said pain. It’s a peculiar little effort, part Mad Monster Party, part standard CG effort. Thanks to the character design and voice acting, we forgive most of the flaws. And when compared to crap like Delgo and Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, it’s positively inspired.






 

Let the Right One In Best Foreign Film

Something is definitely wrong with the Swedes. Instead of picking what it perhaps the best vampire film of the last three decades as their official Oscar selection, they go with some nepotistic choice from a filmmaker last acknowledged by the Academy for 1971’s The Emigrants. Huh? Anyway, this brilliant little effort, taking the entire bloodsucking mythos and boiling it down to a story about the struggles of adolescence is ten times more moving than most horror films and about a billion times more inventive than that sloppy tween-romance shite known as Twilight. If you want good foreign fright, this is the movie to see.






The Spirit Best Guilty Pleasure

Samuel L. Jackson in full Nazi regalia! Scarlett Johannsson as a half serious, half sketch comedy creation, providing the perfect real world balance to the visual’s overreaching hypereality. Frank Miller pulling out all the stops as he tries to mimic the work of others who’ve better interpreted his neo-noir graphic novels. This and many more reasons make the update of Will Eisner’s comic strip crime fighter a true culpable delight. Better than “so bad, it’s good”, this is the kind of filmed failure that’s so unbridled in its desire to drop dead and implode that, instead, it becomes a kind of crazed masterwork.





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