Music

BOAT: Lets Drag Our Feet

Ditching the Muppets impressions in favour of more straightforward indie pop, thankfully BOAT don't ditch the personality.


BOAT

Let's Drag Our Feet

Label: Magic Marker
US Release Date: 2007-07-10
UK Release Date: Available as import
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If you heard anything of BOAT's debut, Songs That You Might Not Like, it'll come as no surprise the Seattle band's been busy since about this time last year when that album came out. The trio of teachers may not be ready to quit their day jobs, but their music doesn't sound like a hobby. Ditching the Muppets impressions in favour of more straightforward indie pop, thankfully BOAT hasn't ditched the personality. Instead, Let's Drag Our Feet tightens and ratchets up musicianship, with almost entirely successful results.

The songs on BOAT's debut album were compiled from snippets composed over a long period of time, and it showed in the final product: seventeen songs whose jumble of ideas hit as often as they missed, but either way passed by too quickly. Let's Drag Our Feet, in comparison, is a cousin: though there are still tendencies to brevity, the group has evolved. Ideas are more fully explored and, once in a while, we even get to revel in a moment or two of pure texture. The material here is presented in a similar way to their previous work -- both albums recorded in a basement, with a decidedly amateur-sounding, low-fi sheen. It works here, because it lends these upbeat compositions the authenticity of real emotion.

Singer David Crane has described his songs as "cartoons of real life" and, like cartoons, these songs are pretty simplistic. It's part of their joy that they embrace both musical and lyrical cliché – but the good nature the band brings to their music easily carries us along despite the suspicion we've heard similar before. There are plenty of bands that BOAT sound like -- Islands, Tapes 'n' Tapes, sometimes Figurines. But that's not really a prominent feature of listening to the band. Instead, you're carried by the exuberance and the easy melodies. "(I'm a) Donkey for Your Love" is all edgy falsetto and confident romanticism, with a killer chorus. "The Ferocious Sounds of Lobsters and Snakes / Mom, Dad, You, Me" demonstrates how simplicity, guitar arpeggios and cliché ("everything will be just fine") still work -- it's rock's good old hold over us.

When the band lets their songs breathe, as on "The Whistle Test", the results are mostly sweetly compelling. That track halts, starts up again, and finds continuity with a sweet la-la, ooh-ooh line echoed by melodica and Wurlitzer treble countermelodies. But the trick of tacking two short, unrelated songs together into one track (the band does it four times on the album) is really a cop-out. In the absence of any easily-unraveled thematic linkage, the conceit is just a mechanism to increase the melody count without fully dealing with each idea. BOAT obviously has a bunch of great pop songs still to be written, but they're only cheating themselves by stuffing two into one, so often.

Because the ideas are good, you're often left wishing for another chorus, another verse. Crane's got a knack for imagery – the ice cream truck in "Period, Backslash, Colon" is a signifier of deep nostalgia -- and the material's good for at least a few more repetitions. As they stand, though, these songs invite the listener to return, listen again, and hear greater depth in the fleeting melodies. This ramshackle pop sound's got BOAT through a second commendable album, and there's plenty more potential to be mined.

7

From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic.

Jackie Chan got his first film role way back in 1976, when a rival producer hired him for his obvious action prowess. Now, nearly 40 years later, he is more than a household name. He's a brand, a signature star with an equally recognizable onscreen persona. For many, he was their introduction into the world of Hong Kong cinema. For others, he's the goofy guy speaking broken English to Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour films.

From his grasp of physical comedy to his fearlessness in the face of certain death (until recently, Chan performed all of his own stunts) he's a one of a kind talent whose taken his abilities in directions both reasonable (charity work, political reform) and ridiculous (have your heard about his singing career?).

Now, Chan is back, bringing the latest installment in the long running Police Story franchise to Western shores (subtitled Lockdown, it's been around since 2013), and with it, a reminder of his multifaceted abilities. He's not just an actor. He's also a stunt coordinator and choreographer, a writer, a director, and most importantly, a ceaseless supporter of his country's cinema. With nearly four decades under his (black) belt, it's time to consider Chan's creative cannon. Below you will find our choices for the ten best pictures Jackie Chan's career, everything from the crazy to the classic. While he stuck to formula most of the time, no one made redundancy seem like original spectacle better than he.

Let's start with an oldie but goodie:

10. Operation Condor (Armour of God 2)

Two years after the final pre-Crystal Skull installment of the Indiana Jones films arrived in theaters, Chan was jumping on the adventurer/explorer bandwagon with this wonderful piece of movie mimicry. At the time, it was one of the most expensive Hong Kong movies ever made ($115 million, which translates to about $15 million American). Taking the character of Asian Hawk and turning him into more of a comedic figure would be the way in which Chan expanded his global reach, realizing that humor could help bring people to his otherwise over the top and carefully choreographed fight films -- and it's obviously worked.

9. Wheels on Meals

They are like the Three Stooges of Hong Kong action comedies, a combination so successful that it's amazing they never caught on around the world. Chan, along with director/writer/fight coordinator/actor Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, all met at the Peking Opera, where they studied martial arts and acrobatics. They then began making movies, including this hilarious romp involving a food truck, a mysterious woman, and lots of physical shtick. While some prefer their other collaborations (Project A, Lucky Stars), this is their most unabashedly silly and fun. Hung remains one of the most underrated directors in all of the genre.

8. Mr. Nice Guy
Sammo Hung is behind the lens again, this time dealing with Chan's genial chef and a missing mob tape. Basically, an investigative journalist films something she shouldn't, the footage gets mixed up with some of our heroes, and a collection of clever cat and mouse chases ensue. Perhaps one of the best sequences in all of Chan's career occurs in a mall, when a bunch of bad guys come calling to interrupt a cooking demonstration. Most fans have never seen the original film. When New Line picked it up for distribution, it made several editorial and creative cuts. A Japanese release contains the only unaltered version of the effort.

7. Who Am I?

Amnesia. An easy comedic concept, right? Well, leave it to our lead and collaborator Benny Chan (no relation) to take this idea and go crazy with it. The title refers to Chan's post-trauma illness, as well as the name given to him by natives who come across his confused persona. Soon, everyone is referring to our hero by the oddball moniker while major league action set pieces fly by. While Chan is clearly capable of dealing with the demands of physical comedy and slapstick, this is one of the rare occasions when the laughs come from character, not just chaos.

6. Rumble in the Bronx

For many, this was the movie that broke Chan into the US mainstream. Sure, before then, he was a favorite of film fans with access to a video store stocking his foreign titles, but this is the effort that got the attention of Joe and Jane Six Pack. Naturally, as they did with almost all his films, New Line reconfigured it for a domestic audience, and found itself with a huge hit on its hands. Chan purists prefer the original cut, including the cast voices sans dubbing. It was thanks to Rumble that Chan would go on to have a lengthy run in Tinseltown, including those annoying Rush Hour films.

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