Soulful singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw has already gone platinum with his previous work and he keeps aim on a rapidly growing career trajectory with his latest album Sweeter, releasing 20 September on RCA Records. Sweeter ups the R&B quotient considerably, as well as brings a more “sexually charged” vibe to DeGraw’s music. That’s obvious on this new album cut, “Radiation”, which is drenched in blue-eyed soul grooves with an infectious chorus and loaded with energy and passion. That’s the direct result of co-writing and collaborating with other artists. DeGraw says, “co-writing with other people changed everything for me. Not only did it open my mind to new ideas, but it changed the way I wrote on my own. Playing all these different styles with other musicians led me to think about things differently when I was working by myself. I was able to tap into things I do live, dabbling with some of that late ’60s, early ’70s R&B stuff; I was able to record all the styles of music that I like and put them on one album. It was great to take my leash off and experiment. Although it doesn’t stray too far from what I’ve done, I think it’s the first album I’ve made that has caught my true sound.”
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Neon Indian has created a late night video oddity that is the perfect blend of eerie and nostalgic for the heady arthouse sci-fi camp of SubGenius propoganda films. While Neon Indian has a new album, Era Extraña, coming out next month, this is actually a promo for the synth device Neon Indian is marketing. The device is an odd little patch that looks just as homemade and sounds as rough as those mysterious little doodads scattered across the table at basement noise shows across the country (the kind of thing barely known sound mechanics like Howard Steltzer whip out of their pockets at a whim). As a bonus, the PAL 198X, as the video promises, will help you “experienc[e] womb to tomb simultaneously as it transforms you into an undulating snake-lake creature that experiences all times of your life at once “. The downside: the device’s “photo cells do not currently support witch house raves”.
Despite a relatively small filmography, Carl Theodor Dreyer is truly a revered figure in cinema history; his emotionally draining storytelling and mysteriously slow output rate have afforded him an almost mythic status. The illegitimate son of a Swedish housekeeper, Carl Dreyer would pass through multiple foster homes before his placement in the care of Carl Theodor and Inger Marie Dreyer, around the same time as his biological mother’s accidental death. Dreyer would later estrange himself from his adpoted family as a teenager, and though dismissive of the impact of his childhood in interviews, his past seems unquestionably tied to his cinematic ruminations of sorrow, interpersonal disconnect, and martyrdom.
On March 7, 2010, the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences finally recognized a woman as being worthy of the title ‘best director’ for the first time in the 81-year history of the Academy Awards. Even as a constant Hollywood critic, Deren would have loved to have seen that moment, if not receive an achievement award from the Academy (which should happen). Originally from the Ukraine, her family came to America five years after her birth. After college, she made her way to New York City where she did a thesis on poetry, worked as a photographer and assisted a choreographer. She then made her way out to Los Angles, finding a kindred spirit in Czech Alexander Hammid, who became her second husband and collaborator on Meshes of the Afternoon, which alone would have assured her place in film history.
The most polarizing—and under-appreciated—director of the New Hollywood, Brian De Palma’s ultimate legacy may be that of being the first post-modernist director in American cinema. While the so-called “movie brats” of the 1970s may have reveled in their cinematic upbringings, none did so more explicitly than De Palma. Referencing movie lore visually and orally may be business as usual in 2011, but back in 1973, when De Palma made the Hitchcockian Sisters, more than a few eyebrows were raised. He did himself no favors by continuing to draw comparisons to the Master of Suspense, and the primary argument by De Palma detractors is that he is simply an imitator, as opposed to an innovator. De Palma would probably never deny this as he has made a point out of exploring the nature of copying and doubles in films like the claustrophobic Body Double and the erotic thriller Femme Fatale. Throughout his career he has shown a fascination with what can only be deemed as “possession”. Whether it be the cross dressing killer of Dressed to Kill (1980) (which not coincidentally features a now iconic shower scene with Angie Dickinson) or the identity disorder of Mission: Impossible (1996), De Palma seems mystified by the idea of taking over someone else’s life. His “imitation” therefore should be studied as a symptom of post-modernism: who are we really in a world largely influenced by the media?