Brooklyn collective Superhuman Happiness released a music video for “Needles and Pins”, a track off their latest The Physical EP. “Needles and Pins” expertly combines funky indietronica with orchestrated strings and horns. Pair that with light, airy vocals and you’ve got one cool party number.
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“If you find a way to fix this thing right here, it’ll make you better. It’ll make you better in areas you didn’t think were related to horses.” Buck Brannaman’s students listen carefully when he speaks. They stand alongside their horses, hoping they’ll hear in his instructions a solution, whether their animal is fearful or fierce, stubborn or prickly. But clinics with Buck usually end up teaching them less about their horses than themselves. “A lot of times,” he says, “Rather than helping people with horse problems, I’m helping horses with people problems.” The inspiration for the book The Horse Whisperer and an advisor on Robert Redford’s movie set, Buck reveals he has his own issues—a severely abusive father when he was young and trained up to be a rodeo performer with his brother (who is not interviewed here), as well as a measurable loneliness now on the road, when he leaves his wife and children behind. While his clients (and he) extol his wisdom, Buck is also apt to chastise them for not being self-aware, as he’s been forced to be. When he chastises a woman for her carelessness with her horses, a carelessness that leads to a bad end for one of them, the film makes clear his stakes: he’s finding and saving victims, again and again. In so doing, he saves himself. Shortlisted for the 2012 Best Documentary Academy Award, the movie screens on 19 December as part of Stranger Than Fiction’s Pre-Winter Season Special, followed by a Q&A with director Cindy Meehl.
See PopMatters’ review.
Bands just can’t go around taking five years off these days… in such a fast-paced world, it pretty much amounts to career suicide. Try telling that to the Strokes though. Having single handedly created the template for every new band in the last ten years with debut Is This It, some might say they’ve earned the right to take a few years off if they feel like it, particularly when they return with arguably their best album since that epoch-making release. Angles ticks all the right boxes for where the Strokes should be at in 2011: schizophrenic experimentation, more considered production values and great scuffed-pop singles. And with Julian Casablancas choosing to forfeit sole songwriting duties, it means we now have a more rounded representation of who the Strokes really are. Angles may not be perfect, but it sure as hell makes a good bid for comeback of the year. Welcome back.
US: 29 Mar 2011
UK: 29 Mar 2011
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Everything about the Pains of Being Pure at Heart is perfectly indie-hipster, all the way down to their name. While their debut relied heavily on the now-popular tradition of emulating New Wave fundamentals, follow-up Belong found itself more atoned to the early ‘90s. Belong finds the Pains at their most consistent, with the opening three tracks, “Belong”, “Heaven’s Gonna Happen Now”, and “Heart in Your Heartbreak” comprising the band’s most solid run yet. The influences are all over the place, from Smashing Pumpkins, the Jesus and Mary Chain and even Violator-era Depeche Mode. The Pains stick to their “adolescence and naivete” schtick, but producers Flood and Alan Moulder flesh out the group’s sound to match their lyrical daydreaming. There are few points where that daydreaming sounds more akin to whining, but the Pains are getting better at writing pop songs about being young and sort of in love. Belong is proof of that.
“It’s hideous to be called a terrorist,” says Daniel McGowan. “But here I am, facing life, plus 335 years.” Sitting in his kitchen with a lowjack on his ankle and awaiting trial in 2006, McGowan looks back on the events that brought him to this place. As he explains in If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, he’s never considered himself a terrorist, though of course he’s seen the reports on television and in newspapers concerning his work with the Environmental Liberation Front (ELF). “People need to question this new buzzword,” he suggests, “It’s a new bogeyman word.” Screening on 15 December as part of Stranger Than Fiction’s Pre-Winter Season Special, Marshall Curry’s documentary is remarkable for its access to McGowan and its examination of so many aspects of the case. Recently named to the short list for a Best Documentary Oscar, the film doesn’t judge so much as it considers—actions and motives, ambitions and mistakes. As Curry says, “I think complexity is more interesting, and from the beginning I wanted to present people’s best arguments and let those smack into each other, rather than their worst arguments.”
See PopMatters’ review.