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by C.L. Chafin

11 Feb 2009

“Twisted Tongue” is an absolutely mind-blowing track from Woods, a fuzzed out pop band based in Brooklyn.  Pull away all the blown-out vocals, tape effects, and low-fi glory, and you’ve basically got a pop track as catchy and sweet as anything by the Archies. But, luckily, that stuff is there. So it’s okay to like it. Check it out at their MySpace, below.

As a bonus, here’s a video of the band performing it live, via local music show New York Noise.

TOUR DATES
Mar 15 2009 Howlers w/BLANK DOGS Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mar 16 2009 The Summit w/ BLANK DOGS, TIMES NEW VIKING Columbus, Ohio
Mar 17 2009 AV Aerie w/ BLANK DOGS Chicago, Illinois
Mar 18 2009 LOVE GARDEN SOUNDS w/ BLANK DOGS Lawrence, Kansas
Mar 19 2009 2908 Cole Street w/blank dogs Austin, Texas
Mar 20 2009 SXSW@Emo’s Jr. Austin, Texas
Mar 21 2009 SXSW @Ms Beas Austin, Texas

by Mike Deane

11 Feb 2009

The Dream wrote “Umbrella” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on it)” so you know this guy knows how to write an R&B hit. He wrote this song for Electrik Red, and the song is OK, a bit ron-of-the-mill, but the vocal lines are pretty good and sound like a female version of the Dream (a very good thing). The video on the other hand is a bit over the top.

There’s a certain TLC-but-raunchier look going for Elektrik Red (under the eye paint, in press photos one of them wears a pirate-type eye patch). I guess they’re supposed to be bad girls or something? It’s like a hyper-realized R&B video, everything is exaggerated to the point of absurdity. When you get to the washroom-stall dance you’ll know what I mean. It caught my attention, so maybe that’s the lowest common denominator feel they were going for.

by Joe Tacopino

11 Feb 2009

Wavves is the lo-fi bedroom project of Nathan Daniel William. His upcoming release, Wavvves (with three Vs) has already been making, er, waves in the indie blog circuit. The artist has just made the rounds in NYC, performing at Brooklyn tastemaker Todd P venues over the weekend. Recorded on a 4-track in his San Diego apartment, “So Bored” gives us No Age-like skuzz with Beach Boy harmonies. See what all the Buzzz is about.

Wavves
“So Bored” [MP3]
     

by Bill Gibron

11 Feb 2009

How did he do it? How did Zack Snyder go from motion picture no one (well, he did direct a Michael Jordan documentary short and a Morrissey video) to helmer of hits like Dawn of the Dead and 300? Even better, how did he become the kind of Hollywood heavyweight capable of getting the long dormant Watchmen movie out of development Hell and into theaters? Better men than him - Terry Gilliam, Darren Aronofsky, Paul Greengrass - have tried and failed miserably, each one claiming that Alan Moore’s graphic novel was practically “unfilmable”. Yet here we are, less than four weeks away from the movie’s release, and the buzz is so thick both in and outside the industry that Warner Brothers and Fox actually went to court over who actually owned the rights (and the resulting profits).

Snyder’s story is nothing new. He’s not some wunderkind who dropped out of the directing tree and hit homeruns all the way down. No, he was an art school savant, earning his wings as a creator of commercials and a star cinematographer. When Universal was looking for someone to jumpstart their horror genre remakes, Snyder was brought in to take on one of the more forbidding projects - a new twist on George A. Romero’s classic zombie film Dawn of the Dead. With a script from Troma trained outsider James Gunn and a modern feel to both the moviemaking and the monsters, Snyder unleashed his unique, hyper-stylized vision of Hell on Earth. With rapidly moving members of the living dead, and bloodshed o’plenty, the film was a box office bonanza.

Aside from the violence, which gets ramped up beyond all possibility of survival, Snyder understood the inherent hopelessness of an all out zombie apocalypse. Sure, there was the external threat of flesh eating fiends, but society cannot survive for long outside its classified comfort zones of instant gratification and material want. Romero emphasized this element to a fault in his brilliant cultural commentary. Snyder pays it lip service, but also acknowledges the need for humanity to scrape and claw its way back to the consumerism womb. The sequences inside the mall are claustrophobic and creepy, as if something horrific is just around the food court, hungry and unable to control its voracious appetite. That said creature could be a frazzled security guard or a distraught father accentuated the already palpable horror.

Success allows for a little artistic license, even for a newcomer, and Snyder picked a whopper for his feature film follow-up. Enamored of Frank Miller and the masterful Sin City, the comics writer’s take on the Spartan battle at Thermopylae in 480 B.C. became the foundation for 300. In order to convince the studio to make the film, Snyder scanned the entire graphic novel into a computer. Adding simply animation and a voice-over narration, he proved the movie could be made. A year later, he was still tweaking the CG-aided action to match his vision of Miller’s brutal universe. With very little hype and even less expectations, 300 hit theaters in March of 2007, and the rest was history. A surprise blockbuster, it put Snyder in the position of handpicking his next project. The choice, as we now know, would be as controversial as consistent with the filmmaker’s fearlessness.

If anything, 300 surly symbolizes Snyder’s desire to expand the language of film and the comic book genre in general. Similar to Sin City in that it takes direct inspiration from Miller’s designs, the accented realism achieved and the level of cinematic experimentation were indeed eye popping. What was most impressive, though, is how Snyder kept the emotional level so intense. We care about King Leonidas, his attempt to save Sparta, and his good lady queen who suffers significant humiliation in order to provide his army some hope. That none of it matters in the end is part of the film’s heartfelt heroics. We understand the battle may have been in vain, but the meaning of what these men went through clearly stands out among the washboard abs and bulging muscles.

Many felt 300 was all pizzazz and little passion. That’s why an uproar occurred when it was announced that Snyder would make Watchmen next. After all, treading into such nerd nation volatility demanded an equally histrionic response. The filmmaker said all the right things - dedication to the source, adulation for Moore, a desire to make a definitive version of the material, an attention to detail, etc. When the casting news hit and the teaser trailers sprang up, the intensity of discourse leveled off. Soon, Snyder was seen as the messiah, a man harboring the greatest comic book creation into its rightful place in motion picture history. Even as The Dark Knight bagged a billion dollars worldwide, many still believe that Watchmen will set the tone for all graphic novel adaptations to come.                                                                                                                       

So far, his gamble appears to have paid off. Few can argue that 6 March is becoming a destination date for film fans and early, early, early takes from Kevin Smith and various Ain’t It Cool News spies indicate that Snyder may have actually created a motion picture classic here. There are those, like Movie City News’ David Poland, who wonders if the movie will make any money outside the dedicated followers and already hip demographic. There are also concerns that, no matter what kind of reception the film receives, it will be viewed solely on terms of the money it makes, and not the aesthetic merits of what Snyder created. Hollywood wants - nay, NEEDS - this movie to be huge. If the director merely succeeds in being faithful to Moore’s masterwork, a lax box office will spell disaster for Snyder’s upcoming plans (and there are many).

Clearly, this is one filmmaker whose gone from lucky as Hell to damned if you do/don’t. No one expected 300 or Dawn of the Dead to be a monster. Now everyone believes that Watchmen needs to be just as popular or, somehow, Snyder has failed. How he went from over achieving newbie to set in cement vanguard will be something for cinematic scholars to argue over for decades to come. And even if he never makes another film, Snyder will always be remembered as the man who tackled Alan Moore, and managed to live to tell the commercial tale. When it finally hits theaters in less than four weeks, Watchmen‘s already inflated legend will finally come down to Earth. Whether it’s a crash or a cushioned landing, remains in the hands of the man who made it. Zack Snyder has defied convention before. Here’s hoping he can do it again. 

by PopMatters Staff

11 Feb 2009

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Venus on the Half Shell by Kilgore Trout. “The Earthmen didn’t mind this because Arcturans looked so laughable when they sneered, twirling their long genitals as if they were keychains.” Tears of laughter, but still tears.

2. The fictional character most like you?
Jesus. For obvious/controversial reasons.

3. The greatest album, ever?
How do you choose the greatest album ever? All four of us would have different answers. The greatest album would have to be original, seminal, creative yet accessible, depending on how you listen to it, it should seem very complicated and deep, or alternatively simple and beautiful. Finally you should be able to listen to it while having sex, and not laugh… But I can’t think of anything that fits that criteria. Therefore, the greatest album has not yet been made! Challenge!

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek. Star Wars is for geeks!

5. Your ideal brain food?
Bathtubs, vinyl, house plants, Apples to Apples (the game), crossword puzzles, beer, being in other countries (the further outside your comfort zone the better), extra terrestrials, Naomi Klein, fresh food, fresh air, and French kisses.

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