TV

iZombie: Season 2, Episode 3 - "Real Dead Housewife of Seattle"

J.M. Suarez

“Real Dead Housewife of Seattle” continues to expand and connect all the different threads that run through iZombie.


iZombie

Airtime: Tuesdays, 9pm
Cast: Cast: Rose McIver, Rahul Kohli, Malcolm Goodwin, Robert Buckley, Steven Weber
Subtitle: Season 2, Episode 3 - "Real Dead Housewife of Seattle"
Network: CW
Air date: 2015-10-20
Amazon

In “Real Dead Housewife of Seattle”, the third episode of iZombie’s second season, things become further complicated and connected, particularly as it relates to the connection between Liv (Rose McIver), Major (Robert Buckley), and Vaughn Du Clark (Steven Weber). Liv’s secret is becoming common knowledge among most of those closest to her, as well as to those who wish to do her harm.

Major is actually at the center of much of the episode’s action this week. He is getting more and more pressure to continue the Vaughn-mandated elimination of Seattle’s zombie population, leading to another killing. His obvious distress at having to carry out these orders is well played by Robert Buckley, and he’s now acting out in different ways -- last week he uses Utopium and this week he has sex with Gilda (Leanne Lapp) at the gym. What further complicates things is the reveal towards the end of the episode that Gilda is actually Vaughn’s daughter, making her involvement in the larger story as Liv’s roommate even more diabolical.

One choice that’s been paying off in terms of Major’s own story is in the use of music. The finale last season made excellent use of After the Fire’s “Der Kommissar”, as Major set fire to the freezer he’d been locked in, and similarly, this episode uses ‘Til Tuesday’s “Voices Carry” to drown out the pleading of the zombie he kills. The songs add an effectively ominous tone that further conveys Major’s state of mind. They work especially well because of how out of place they initially seem.

The return of Peyton (Aly Michalka) further cements the Utopium drug trade story (although Blaine [David Anders] is noticeably absent in this episode), as she is assigned as the Assistant District Attorney leading the task force to bring it down. Peyton’s unexpected appearance, through a televised press conference no less, immediately brings the events at the end of last season back to the fore. Her disappearance has left a void in Liv’s life that this episode in particular focuses on, both to great comedic effect, as well as to some heartbreaking moments.

“Real Dead Housewife of Seattle” has a great mystery in the murder of rich housewife Taylor (Ona Grauer). As the suspects vary widely and keep the pace brisk, this episode’s crime contains yet another direct link to Vaughn, in that he was having an affair with Taylor. When Taylor’s husband, Terrance (David Starzyk), learned of the affair with Vaughn, he planned a hostile takeover of Max Rager as payback. Unfortunately for Terrance, Vaughn takes his threat seriously and quickly disposes of him as a meal for Dr. Holland (Brian Markinson), his resident zombie doctor on call.

Liv’s new housewife persona is entertaining, partly because even though she’s vain and shallow, Taylor isn’t a dummy, and partly because Liv’s own feelings of isolation from those closest to her lead her to seek out friendships with Taylor’s friends. When it seems like she may have found the beginning of a real friendship with Terrance’s personal shopper, Bethany (Jazz Raycole), it’s revealed that she’s the killer. It’s a genuinely sad moment when Clive (Malcolm Goodwin) delivers the news by phone to Liv because it only reinforces the fear that she’ll never be able to have someone like Peyton in her life again.

Liv and Bethany get into a physical fight (at the brilliantly punny clothing store, Hauter Than Hell -- rivaled only by The Meat Cute), and it brings on Liv’s zombie state, if only for a moment. It remains to be seen whether she’s finding it easier to control that side of herself, or whether she wasn’t sufficiently worked up enough to go “full-on zombie”.

What is becoming increasingly unbelievable is Clive’s willingness to overlook Liv’s personality changes, some of which can be quite extreme. They become especially problematic when they shift so frequently, yet Clive is content to never question them. Though Clive is presented as doggedly focused on his work, often to the exclusion of any personal interest in others, the ruse will only withstand so much time before it becomes ridiculous. At this point it’s noticeable and sometimes ludicrous, but if it continues it could certainly affect the tone of the show quite negatively.

Peyton’s return not only sets up her storyline with the Utopium task force, but it also allows the show some quieter moments between characters that felt especially effective when placed among all the action of the episode. Peyton’s talk with Ravi (Rahul Kohli) is welcome, coming on the heels of his assurances to Liv that her disappearance mattered little to him, as they’d been dating for only a short while. It may have only been for a few weeks, but the obvious affection between the two comes through when they talk about Liv and who knows her secret, as well as their own relationship.

Obviously, the real connection is between Peyton and Liv, and though we don’t see them reunited in this episode, Peyton is making an effort when she leaves a birthday cake for Liv at her apartment. It’s especially touching because everyone else forgot or didn’t know it was her birthday; the reveal brings Liv’s uncertainty throughout the episode to light in a new way. Plus, Peyton’s return prompts Liv to say, “A long time ago, we used to be friends”, offering a shout out to Veronica Mars fans in perfect Rob Thomas fashion.

“Real Dead Housewife of Seattle” continues to expand and connect all the different threads that run through iZombie. The season is decidedly dark, and unapologetically so, but it never becomes depressing or maudlin. The use of humor (such as Liv’s nail polish being named Sorry, Beyonce), and the commitment to maintaining the core relationships at the center of the series, makes the episode another solid outing in the show’s second season. So far, iZombie’s second season is off to a very strong start.

8

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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