Music

The Eames Era: Heroes and Sheroes

Cathy Arnold

New addition to indie scene the Eames Era brings a whole lot of infectious twee-pop in their charismatic second album, Heroes and Sheroes.


The Eames Era

Heroes and Sheroes

Label: Self-Released
US Release Date: 2007-04-17
UK Release Date: Unavailable
Amazon
iTunes

The Eames Era bring achingly saccharine vocals and light-hearted melodies with the release of the Louisiana-based outfit's second full-length album. Gaining high levels of airplay with tracks from their 2005 debut album, Double Dutch, the Eames Era decided to stick with a good thing, returning to twee-pop sentiment and tambourine percussion in the 2007 follow-up, Heroes and Sheroes. This album is bursting with three-minute pop gems, encompassing all the favorite aspects of indie-pop -- seemingly insipid lyrics, acoustic interludes, and undeniable charisma. The Eames Era have followed the indie-pop formula to the letter, and the end result is something undeniably catchy. Whether this infectiousness is due to the sugar-sweet vocals, or the sheer optimism radiating from each track, the Eames Era will have you dancing around your living room with fervor.

It's very simple to draw comparisons between the Eames Era and indie superheroes Rilo Kiley -- at times the similarities are uncanny -- and comparisons such as this are going to plague the Eames Era for the rest of their foreseeable careers. While energetic, snappy, and twee as anything (just listen to the line “True, I think you're cute / In a pull my pigtails kind of way” on “Watson On Your Side” -- twee-er words have never been spoken), Heroes and Sheroes will forever be hounded by comparisons to other indie groups. They seem to be a mishmash of other popular groups' best elements: Tilly and the Wall's tap-dancing percussion graces “Copious”, and vocalist Ashlin Phillips is far too reminiscent of Jenny Williams for comfort. “Is everybody still in love with being someone else?” Phillips fittingly sings on “Where'd You Go?”, a track filled with "la la la"s in place of a chorus, and kitsch keyboards. Heroes and Sheroes is entirely too predictable, from the feedback introduction to the impromptu spoken-word ending. However, that's not to say that the album is without merit. If indie pop is your shtick, this LP is sure to be on high-rotation on your bedroom stereo.

Heroes and Sheroes certainly has its strong points, particularly in tracks “Fake Do-Gooders” and “NC17”. The sound that the Eames Era creates is sickeningly likable, created entirely from starry-eyed percussion and gratingly gleeful guitar. However, it slowly becomes more impossible to escape the fact that each track is incredibly familiar. Each song has already been created by one or more of their indie-pop predecessors. While Heroes and Sheroes is a fantastically fun and uplifting way to spend half an hour, there are easily dozens of bands who can create exactly the same sound.

Indie music has become incredibly formulaic; it could even be said that it has steadily stagnated into a state of constant handclaps and obscure percussion. The Eames Era make a very stylish contribution to the ever-growing indie pop collective, but go no further. The album doesn't take any stands, or create a definitive style or rhythm, and although it is snappy and adorable, it fades very quickly into the indie pop flood that is currently inundating the international music scene. Heroes and Sheroes definitely has its strong points: it's catchy, affectedly adorable indie pop, complete with infectious riffs and bop-along vocals. Unfortunately, the Eames Era aren't the only band in the current market that posses these same characteristics. Until Neko Case dies, or Rilo Kiley disband, the position that the Eames Era are applying for has already been filled.

5

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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