The live sessions at Seattle station KEXP give new meaning to the term ‘intimate’ with a tiny studio for recording visits by various bands. Neon Indian stopped in recently, and among all their gear around there certainly wasn’t room for much else. But the quintet seems perfectly comfortable in this tight space—with each other and creating the music at hand. Frontman Alan Palomo provides easy banter to introduce the four-song selection from last year’s Era Extraña and 2010’s Psychic Chasms, which put his band solidly on the indie electronic map. The cameras capture every knob turn, layered sound loop and drum beat for an up close and personal look at the group. Fans can see how every blip and guitar chord is executed, along with who is singing what vocal when. As Palomo says, “Cool.”
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“Here’s me in pink stretch pants,” notes Mary Bubb. She’s a space reporter in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at the moment sharing some of her memorabilia with filmmakers Ross McElwee and Michel Negroponte. She smiles as she remembers a friend telling her, “Not everybody has their pink ass on the cover of Newsweek.” Mary’s recollections as a pool reporter provide something of a background for Space Coast, a film McElwee shot while he was still a graduate student at MIT in 1979. Like his subsequent, more famous documentaries, this one appears mostly observational, with subjects occasionally speaking directly to his camera, addressing him as Ross. As it shows the early version of what came to be his signature visual style—handheld, amiable, incisive—the film also indicates his inclination to see in everyday stories the significant rhythms and substance.
And so: even as Mary pursues her work, showing up at each launch (always with a new hat of her own devising, fashioned to be “very symbolic of the mission,” she explains), the film follows two other residents of the Space Coast, Papa John Murphy and the Reverend Willie Womack. All offer their wisdom on the landscape changing around them, the declining economy, the closing of launch pads, the frustrations of the community, the way the world works. For the most part, Papa John keeps himself distracted with TV and his family, wrestling with his daughter Diane (currently unable to find a job) and watching Happy Days and religious programming. “Jesus had to have been an extremely rugged individual,” he submits, “He lived the life of a fisherman, he wasn’t no pansy.” Willie takes his sons hunting, narrates McElwee, in “an abandoned housing development.” Each scene in the film offers a small glimpse of the various lives in Cape Canaveral, and together, they reveal the reshaping of a culture, built on ambitions unmet and options unknown.
Space Coast screens on 23 January at The DocYard at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, followed by a Q&A with McElwee and Negroponte. It’s the first in this season’s terrific biweekly documentary series, conceived to showcase “what is innovative, interesting, and inspiring in documentary.” Space Coast is all of that.
When the Christmas songs have faded away and everyone has already made their lists of the best albums of the year, a true music lover’s thoughts turn to all the new music that they’ll be hearing in the new year. With that in mind, let’s have a look at the upcoming albums that have eager fans talking.
1. Madonna (TBA) (March?)
Details on the pop princess’ upcoming album have been scarce, but it’s been rumored that she’ll perform its lead single, “Gimmie All Your Luvin’” during her Superbowl half-time performance. Despite dismal reviews and sales of her last album, 2008’s Hard Candy, the internet is all abuzz as to what she’ll offer up next.
Other female pop releases: Christina Aguilera (TBA), Pink (TBA), Lindsay Lohan Spirit in the Dark: Reborn (TBA) and Nelly Furtado T.S.I (Summer).
After viewing Dori Berinstein’s gaga documentary, Carol Channing: Larger Than Life, it’s hard to imagine that the world is not a better place because the 90-year-old Broadway legend is in it. With her wide mouth and wing-like eyelashes, rough sandpaper voice and a killer knack for the gag, she’s a star in every sense of the word. Born to Christian Science parents and raised in San Francisco, Channing recalls catching the performing bug early. She was delivering copies of the Christian Science Monitor backstage in a theater, only to become transfixed. “The safest place in the world to be,” she says, “is center stage.” She’s gone on to find this safety in a variety of places. The clips of her numerous talk show appearances throughout the years show both her quick wit and fearlessness, as well as revealing her Bennington education, beneath the ditzy blonde routine.
See PopMatters’ review.
When St. Louis’ Pruitt-Igoe Project was completed in 1956, it seemed an answer to many prayers, affordable and respectable housing designed (by Minoru Yamasaki, also the architect of the World Trade Center Towers) to lift its residents out of poverty and serve the surrounding communities as well. When it was torn down just two decades later, Pruitt-Igoe had become an example of how poor, uneducated, and “rural” communities inevitably go wrong, and don’t deserve help—especially from the government. This sort of story resonates today, of course, revived in the current Republican presidential campaigns. The Pruitt-Igoe Myth shows how the story evolved and why it lingers, still reductive, destructive, and tragic.