TV

Five Reasons to Boycott Home Premium

The new video-on-demand service, Home Premium, may seem like a convenient way to stay current on recently released films, but the dangers far outweigh the benefits. Boycott! Boycott!

It’s bound to happen. We don’t know when, exactly, but we do know where. Multiple film studios want to bring feature films to your home faster. It’s not good enough DVDs and Blu-rays are released as early as three months following their exit from theaters. The most recent proposal puts the time frame at 60 days after a film leaves your local cineplex before it’s available to you at the click of a button.

If this doesn’t sound like the end of everything good and pure on the planet Earth to you, then perhaps you’re having a more reasonable reaction to the news than I. In fact, I’m here to recruit you. I’m here to pull you off the edge; bring you back from the dark side of the force; get you to root against the Miami Heat. I’m here to show you the light, basically, and these are the five reasons I’ve chosen to help turn on that 1,000-watt bulb of truth.

5) It’s the Wrong Way to Fix the Problem

The whole concept of Home Premium came about because box office receipts have dropped off in the recent years. So instead of finding a way to put people back in the theater seats (an admittedly more difficult proposition), movie men decided to find alternative means to make money. Their best idea is to take more people out of theaters; to keep people in their homes; to lower the box office totals even further.

“Wait, what? Really?” you say. Yes, really. It’s as cockamamie of a plan as the final heist in Fast Five. Home Premium may be successful enough to stem the profit loss at the box office, but it will never be able to make up for it completely. Quit ignoring the problem and fix your freakin’ films, Hollywood (yes, I’m a possibly naive believer that better movies will boost the box office).

4) More Ads, Fewer Trailers

The National Association of Theater Owners (or NATO, an equally important organization to its better known abbreviated brother) believes the immergence of Home Premium could cripple the profession they protect, and theater owners are rallying behind them. One threat made by the constituents is cutting trailers before feature films, a tactic designed to scare Hollywood bigwigs who rely on trailers to build awareness within the movie-going public. I can only assume if trailers are cut, ads before movies will expand to make up for revenue loss and to provide the buffer people are used to before a movie starts.

I realize some audience members may wish they didn’t have to sit through any form of advertisement before their feature presentation, but no one wants more ads. Advertisements are an abomination in movie theaters. For someone who treats his local megaplex like a cathedral (as well as visiting more regularly than a priest would his parish), you can imagine how much I despise the annoying, lengthy, and obtrusive marketing gimmicks put before my eyes as a sponsor of art.

At the same time, I love trailers. I don’t understand those whiners who bitch and moan about an early glimpse of Fast Six, Fast Furious or M: I 4 – Not So Impossible No Mo. Good or bad, they’re designed to entertain and do so even if they spectacularly suck. Please, oh please, don’t take them out of my theater.

3) You’re Only Paying More For Convenience

There are different prices out there, depending on the service provider, but the number that keeps popping up for Home Premium is $30 a movie. $30?!?! Are you kidding me? At my local theater, at the highest ticket cost, I could get two tickets and a medium combo for that price and I’m still seeing the movie in the best possible environment with the best available technology.

It may be worth the price for families paying for four or more passes, but everyone else would undoubtedly be losing money. And for those of you who say you prefer your home theater set up to that of your local cineplex, you obviously have enough money to do whatever you want -- so go ahead. Stay home. Just know that you’re helping ruin movies for the rest of us.

2) It Hurts Theaters

And if you hurt the theater, the theater will hurt you. Ticket and concession prices will rise in an effort to recoup loses. Matinee deals may go by the way side. Sales and customer-incentive programs will be altered or even cut, all because you didn’t want to drive the 15 minutes and pay the $20 for you and your honey to see Transformers 4: The Wall (I can only assume the next Michael Bay project will also be titled after a Pink Floyd album).

1) Theaters are Better than Home Theaters

Everyone always complains about movie theaters. Tickets are too expensive. Popcorn is too expensive. Drinks are too expensive. The floors are sticky. While all of these are valid complaints, the theater-going experience still remains one of society’s most beloved activities. It spans gender, racial, and class differences like few other group outings can dream to emulate. It’s a date-night staple, a conversation starter, and a bonding experience. It takes you away from your troubles or stimulates your happiness at virtually any time you wish.

It’s not just about the movies. Though it’s convenient to have the option of pausing a film midway through for a bathroom break, it also breaks the spell that’s unbreakable inside a dark room, enveloped by a giant screen. With the introduction of technology like IMAX auditoriums and 4K digital projectors, picture and sound quality are improving at a rapid rate. Sure, you can get 1080p at home on your 42 inch HDTV, but does that truly compare to seeing the Batmobile at its full size?

These points are mostly subjective. Some people are fed up with talkative audiences and rising prices to the point where a visit to the home of movies only happens once or twice a year. But even these dissenters would agree they don’t want to see their local theater disappear, even if only for their annual visit. Home Premium services will cause theater closures. We don’t know how many. We don’t know which ones. But it could be yours.

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.


In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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