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by Bill Gibron

30 Jan 2009

It happens every year. Even with the experience of 200+ theatrical releases (and resulting reviews), we can’t get to everything in a wholly timely fashion. Sometimes, it’s an issue of region. Not every critic lives in a metropolitan hotbed like NYC or LA. In other circumstances, it’s a question of priority. Some titles are just more important than others. Over the next two weeks, we here at SE&L hope to remedy some of our 2008 slights. First up, an incredible animated documentary, the last of the Holocaust themed films from the year, and yet another masterpiece from Mike Leigh. So let’s indulge in a little ‘Leftoverture’, shall we? It’s got to be better that what’s playing at the local Cineplex:


Happy-Go-Lucky [rating: 9]

Like anyone given over to giggling more than griping, Poppy - and as an indirect result, Happy-Go-Lucky - slowly becomes addictive.

Poppy is what you would call “self-contained”. She exists within her own unique little universe, content to be a free thinking, free spirited 30 year old independent. She doesn’t balk at the thought of home and family, but finds the liberated looseness of her current life far more fulfilling. She adores her flatmate Zoe, defends her sister Suzy, dotes on the students in her elementary school class, and engulfs life with a kind of zeal matched only by her desire to do the same for others. Unfortunately, Poppy lives in post-millennial London, a city of dark secrets and even darker people. Still, as the star of Mike Leigh’s magnificent Happy-Go-Lucky, she’s always going to try and connect. It’s the reaction from those she’s reaching out to that’s far more telling.  read full review…


Waltz with Bashir [rating: 8]

Waltz with Bashir (is) the best of all possible documentaries - wildly entertaining, keenly informative, and wholly unforgettable.

It’s an exercise in memory, an attempt to recall the unfathomable and unimaginable. It’s animation taking the place of atrocity, the literal spoils of war witnessed in stylized, striking visuals. It’s the story of men who would rather forget, of a time two decades before when the Middle East was measured by chest-pumping challenges and baffling back and forth advances. It’s a documentary and a denouncement, an explanation and an exaggeration - and in the end, it’s one of 2008’s best films, a wildly inventive and shockingly effective cartoon trance that takes us deep into the heart of human darkness and then delves even deeper. read full review…


Defiance [rating: 6]

Defiance is without a doubt the best of the Holocaust themed films from 2008. Unfortunately, that may be faint praise indeed.

The Holocaust remains, for all intents and purposes, the ultimate expression of evil in our lifetime. Outside the obvious elements of genocide and the organized political support for same, the inherent concept that human beings could actually do something like this to each other resonates as the most shocking sentiment of all. So naturally, any story about the struggle against such unfathomable wickedness immediately gets out attention. We don’t really care about the details or the factual fallacies. We just want vengeance, and it better be more than a mere ‘eye for an eye’. When he stumbled upon the story of the Bielski Brothers, Jewish rebels that saved thousand of their fellow persecuted peoples in 1940s Belarus, filmmaker Edward Zwick must have realized he had the makings of one of the most important World War II films ever. Unfortunately, Defiance misses its major opportunities, focusing instead on ancillary issues unimportant to the final cause.  read full review…

by Jer Fairall

30 Jan 2009

Always timely and occasionally kooky, Neil Young has both covered in his latest single, the title track for his upcoming, uh, electric-car-themed concept album Fork in the Road. The record drops on March 31 (why not wait the extra three weeks and release it on Earth Day?), but until then, enjoy the song’s no-budget video, complete with Neil on air guitar and a none-too-subtle (as if anything else about the song is) iPod joke.

by Mike Deane

30 Jan 2009

Once CHANDRA had toured their EP, it was decided that Chandra should be backed by other teenagers. So, with Diserio and Alexander in tow, the Chandra Dimension was born.  The Chandra Dimension consisted of Chandra, a 12-year-old on keys,a 17-year-old on bass, and a 14-year-old on drums. The Chandra Dimension recorded an EP that was not released until last year when both the original CHANDRA EP and The Chandra Dimension EP were re-released as a single album by Cantor Records (you can listen to minute-long clips at Other Music)

The Chandra Dimension EP differs somewhat from the CHANDRA EP, but shares many of the first EP’s salient characteristics.  Opener, “Get It Out of Your System”, begins energetically and seems more streamlined than the previous EP; trebly guitar is featured more prominently and Chandra’s voice is more commanding.  Other than that there is still the dissonant-yet-melodic keys and dancey bass line backed by disco drums.  The chorus is excellent with a vocal line that constantly changes emphases, spinning around and leaving the listener disoriented but satisfied.  The live claps on this song add a level of childish excitement as they are weak-sounding and are obviously the product of children’s hands.

The third song, “Something”, follows in the same vein with interesting layers of instruments, a great bass line and more prominently featured guitar.  Chandra’s voice on this shows mature detachment and defeatism.  Though there is childishness in lines like “There’s nothing you can do about teachers”, there are startlingly precocious lines like “There’s nothing you can do about the evolution of the world / There’s nothing you can do about politics, it’s absurd” and “What about suicide? / Don’t you think we’ve tried? / It was a lie, you were right.”  The punctuating keyboards and guitar drive home every line by, the now, 14-year-old Chandra. 

Though Chandra’s youth makes these recordings that much more interesting, they stand alone as wonderful outsider disco compositions.  The fact that the lyrics were written and sung by a 12-year-old adds a layer of interest to the story, but if you didn’t know it the fact probably would not cross your mind.  A singular entity in the post-punk world, CHANDRA and the Chandra Dimension made NYC relics that stand alone in their composition and background story. 

Chandra Oppenheim gave up music after the Chandra Dimension, and perhaps it was for the best; with only eight songs (and a couple of unreleased songs that will show up soon enough) there’s not a blemish on her record.  Still, it gives rise to the question: If she was outdoing so many adults at 12, what would she have been doing at 20?

by Sarah Zupko

30 Jan 2009

Grails are due to release a DVD on April 7th through Temporary Residence containing videos from their full career. Acid Rain
also features nearly two hours of live concert footage and a host of extras. Check out the trailer, as well as an MP3, “Reincarnation Blues” from their latest album, Doomsdayer’s Holiday. Upcoming tour dates are below.

Grails
Reincarnation Blues [MP3]
     

TOUR DATES
Feb 19 @ Cafe du Nord, San Francisco, CA w/ James Blackshaw
Feb 20 @ The Fernwood, Santa Cruz, CA w/ James Blackshaw
Feb 21 @ Spaceland, Los Angeles, CA w/ James Blackshaw
Feb 22 @ Casbah, San Diego, CA w/ James Blackshaw
May 8-10 @ ATP Festival, Minehead, UK w/ Devo, Spiritualized, The Jesus Lizard, Sleep

by Matt White

30 Jan 2009

There isn’t much to Morrissey’s new music video for the first single off his forthcoming album Years of Refusal. Moz strikes dramatic poses as he and his band play in an empty white room and a couple of cute dogs wander around. For some reason the drummer somersaults over his drum kit just like he did in the video for “All You Need Is Me”. It wasn’t particularly impressive the first time. The video is still strangely enjoyable though and the song is great so it’s well worth checking out. Also, is he wearing make-up?

//Mixed media
//Blogs

A Chat with José González at Newport Folk Festival

// Notes from the Road

"José González's sets during Newport Folk Festival weren't on his birthday (that is today) but each looked to be a special intimate performance.

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