Media I’ve Consumed for the week of January 11-17

People of Earth:

I’ve decided I’m not blogging enough. That might not be true, but it’s what I’ve decided. And so in regards to my endless ‘Favourite Comics” series, I decided I’m going to try to write one post a week, just talking about the different comics, books, movies, and music that I loved that week. Could be older stuff, could be brand new, whatevs.

I said WHATEVS.

And so of course I’m already a few days late. Let’s begin.

Selma directed by Ava Marie DuVernay

Lots of heat today due to Duvernay not getting a best director’s nod. I’m ok with it either way. It’s an important film, and one that really spoke to me. But I’m not sure that her fingerprints are all over this as much as the original story is, or as the wonderful perfomances by David Oyelowo and company are. The real shame here is no nomination for Oyelowo, as he may have had the strongest performance out of all the men nominated in the best actor category this year.

The Woods by James Tynion & Michael Dialynas

the-woods-boom-tynion-dialynasThere’s a school with gifted kids, and one day the school is on another planet. That’s the premise of this wonderful comic, and it’s a nice spin on the “Kids have to figure stuff out by themselves” trope. Think Lord of the Flies, but in outer space, and there’s some adults around. This is a really good comic, but I’m worried that it’s impact will diminish as we learn more about where the kids really are. Some really strong characterization by Tynion, as some well-placed flashbacks go a long way to informing what we know of their present.

A Most Violent Year directed by JC Chandor

Someone online described this as the “Anti-Godfather”, and that’s pretty apt. There definitely late 70’s gangster movie vibe here, mostly as because it’s a gangster movie set in the 1970’s. Oscar Isaac pulls off a performance that’s heavily indebted to early Pacino & De Niro, but not hamstrung by that influence at all. Might be a little slow for some, but I loved this character study.

Like, 20 albums by Sun Ra

If Sun Ra hadn’t moved on to Jupiter, or Saturn, or wherever the fuck batshit crazy jazz musicians go when they die, he would have been 100 last year. And so his catalogue, which is in sore need of a clean up, is getting a clean up. It’s not an easy job. Sun Ra, and his Arkestra (AKA Myth-Science Arkestra. AKA Solar Arkestra. AKA Astro Infinity Arkestra. AKA Afro Infinity Arkestra. AKA Intergalactic Infinity Arkestra. AKA Intergalactic Research Arkestra), released dozens of albums over the decades, through a myriad of record labels.

They would then reissue these albums, sometimes with different names, and with different covers. And often, the only place you could buy them were from the band itself, as they travelled the cosmos. And so just cataloguing the various releases is next to impossible, not to mention how bad the sound quality sometimes is. But the Sun Ra Music Archive seems to be up to the task, and has rereleased over 30 albums in the last several months. So far, so great, and I’ll be writing more about these as I explore them.

 

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I Married An Angel, by Sammy Davis Jr.

I don’t usually use this space to talk about my personal life at all, but because I do occasionally discuss music on this site, I wanted to share this version of Rodger & Hart’s I Married An Angel. It was a toss up between this version and Nat Adderley’s take, but I’ve got a soft spot in my heart for Sammy.

So why this song, and why today? Because two years ago today, I married the most amazing woman in the world, and ever since, I’ve felt as this pretty much summed up how I felt about the whole thing. My close friends know that this has been a bit of a tough year for me, but my incredible wife has been about the only thing that’s kept me sane (relatively) through all the drama.

My love, this is for you.

New Tom Waits: Bad To Me – Streaming Now

For me, listening to a new Tom Waits album for the first time is what I would imagine reading a new Dead Sea Scroll is like for Christians: It’s exciting, it’s new, and it’s just possible that it might change the way I think about the world.

That’s how much this man’s music means to me. I have been very fortunate in my life to have experienced some of the world’s greatest musicians live, but nothing comes close to seeing Waits in concert. There are perhaps only one or two other artists whose albums I would reach for when the apocalypse comes, but Waits is the only one who could actually provide the soundtrack for said apocalypse.

Which brings us today. Bad To Me officially releases next week, but Anti has created a streaming site where you can preview the album now, for free: http://www.badasme.com/

All you need is a listening code. I’ve got three codes left, and whomever sees them here is welcome to them:  zqb-rvqdg, fnb-7zi86, ogb, spl7i.  But if those don’t work, just go to TomWaits.com and ask for one.

I’ll be doing a full review when the actual album comes out, but in the meantime I’ll just say that so far it’s shaping up to be the best studio record he’s put out since….ahhh, I can’t do it.  Picking which Tom Waits album I like best is like choosing which of your children is your favourite, without the advantage of seeing her grade scores so that you can know which one will most likely earn the most money. But if you ask me right now? This is the best album of the year.

 

 

New Music Review – Lansiné Kouyaté & David Neerman


The greatest Vibraphone/Balafon duet album in the history of the world.

Lansine Kouyate is arguably one of Mali’s premier balafon (West African keyed percussion instrument, similar to a Marimba or Vibraphone) players, which is a little like being one of Canada’s premier beer drinkers.  This is a duet album he did with the French vibraphonist David Neerman a little while back,  and it’s going to be a while before I take it out of my playlists.

To begin with, you’re talking about 2 incredibly rich, but dense instruments, so prepare for your head to buzz for a while. The basses are VERY deep, and the trebles will shriek in your skull for hours. That being said, the dual attack never seems overbearing at all, and it’s always fairly easy to tell where Kouyate’s ostinato starts and Neerman’s melody ends. It’s a beautifully recorded album.

It’s also an album with purpose. There are so many albums out there with two melodic lead instruments that just trip over each other, that it’s refreshing to hear two masters actually LISTEN to each other, and work well off of each other rather than just trying to overpower the rest of the group. Not only that, but even though the timbre of each of their instruments is relatively similar, it’s always easy to tell which of them is playing, as both their stylistic approach is quite different.

Although Malian music is the starting point of this album, they never stay there for long, and there’s lots of jazz, funk, and psychedelia mixed throughout. In fact, I could see this album appealing to fans of modern funk and jazz more than to traditional “world” music afficionados. It’s a modern groove classic, and fans of the Beastie Boy’s In Sound From Way Out, or the Meter’s Struttin’ records would be well served to give this a shot.

Highly recommended for fans of instrumental African music in the mood for something a little different.

Rating: A

Reissue Review: Otis Redding – Live At The Sunset Strip

Live on the Sunset Strip

Otis Redding, Live On The Sunset Strip.

Live albums are like your girlfriend’s hot sister; tempting, but rarely worth the risk. The past few years have been EXTREMELY kind to Otis Redding fans in terms of reissues and unreleased live material, but this might be the coup-de-grace. Some of the material from this now legendary 1966 performance at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go has been released before, but never all at once like this, and never with this quality.

Quite simply, Otis Redding was the greatest rock or soul singer of his generation, and quite possibly the greatest entertainer, and I’ll play Crazy 8’s to the death with any man or woman that thinks differently. This record is a document of a master at the height of his powers. There aren’t many live albums that I would consider to be essential to the discography of the artist that produced them, but this record is the rare exception, and a STRONG case could be made that the live selections here outshine the original source material.

Bob Holloway leads a 10 piece ensemble of some of Stax’s finest, and their virtuosity shines throughout the record. These guys could burn a hole straight through to China. But Otis never lets his band outshine the songs, and this album is a perfect example of how instrumental prowess and great songwriting can fit together.

I’ll ask you to pay extra attention to the version of Security that opens the first disc.

If the sheer power of this band doesn’t overwhelm you, and if it doesn’t quite literally bring you to your feet, I have some very bad news for you, because you’re dead.

Rating: A+

First Post. Ta Da.

Lil' Doom. Awwww...!

Ok. Since this is my first post, let me get a few housekeeping things out of the way. These will be the rules by which this blog will be governed. SO SAYETH DOOM!!!

1. Don’t take me too seriously. Although I am VERY passionate about the topics I cover here, my primary goal is to entertain. So if I say that anybody who would actually pay to see something like the A-Team or Jonah Hex should be cast into a boiling stew comprised of the rotting flesh of the cast of Jersey Shore, I’m not actually talking about you. Well, I am, but with love.

2. I tend to like obscure things, so my goal is to try to shed a little light onto musicians, movies, and comic books that a) you may not have heard of, or b) you’ve heard of them but don’t know much about them, or c) you’re very familiar with them, and completely disagree with whatever bullshit opinion I’ve come up with.

3. Disagree if you will, but do so with respect to the original creators that I’ll be reviewing. Real people create this stuff, so let’s try to be respectful of their personal lives.

It's one to grow on.

4. I really don’t care about spoilers. To me, the way a plot is crafted is far more interested than the actual story beats of said plot themselves. That being said, I’m in the minority, so I’ll try to label spoilers as such. Please do the same.

A few things about my tastes:

Music: You know how when you ask someone “What kind of music do you like?” and they respond by “Oh, I listen to everything”, when what they really mean is “I listen to everything that society has deemed acceptable for me to listen to, so mostly a smattering of watered down pop, rock, faux-country, faux-rap, and dance music. Oh, and I also label everything I don’t understand with the word jazz.” ? That’s not really me. I do listen to everything, but for me that’s about trying to constantly broaden my horizons, and to listening to as many types of obscure music as possible. I really try to give a fair shake to everything, but for the most part music that’s played on the radio isn’t my cup of tea. I love music from many international genres, but my 2 true loves are jazz, and soul. And peanut-buster parfaits from Dairy Queen. So it’s actually 3 true loves. Well, and there’s my wife. 4 true loves. If you see her, tell her I mentioned her first ok?

I have MANY favourites, but some artists that constantly find their way to my ears include: The Abyssinian Gospel Choir, Ornette Coleman, Son House, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Fugazi, Tom Waits, Clifford Brown, Fela Kuti, Jerry Butler, Lou Rawls, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Otis Redding, Art Tatum, Andrew Hill, Captain Beefheart, and MANY MANY more.

Contrary to popular belief I don’t just listen to music by dead black guys, and some modern acts I dig include: Mi Ami, Dirty Projectors, Red Baraat, Tallest Man On Earth, Mastodon, P.O.S., BLK JKS, the Jim Jones Revue, The Dirtbombs, Staff Benda Billili, Marnie Stern, William Parker, and MANY MANY more. I’ll be doing album and concert reviews regularly.

Son House. He's dead. I like his music.

Movies: I love all sorts of movies, and genre doesn’t mean much to me. I love big budget adventure movies when they don’t treat me like I’m an idiot, and I love little foreign indie-arthouse movies when they don’t treat me like I’m a pretentious douche. That being said, I hold films up to a very high standard and don’t believe in sugar-coating my reviews. Some recent favourites of mine would include: A Single Man, Let The Right One In, Revolutionary Road, Moon, District 9, and some classics that I love would include: Night Of The Hunter, Touch Of Evil, Unbreakable, F Is For Fake, Rear Window, Unforgiven, and for some god-forsaken reason, Diggstown. I’ll be doing movie reviews regularly, and I often get to see big budget films a few days before they come out.

Comic Books: This will probably the medium I review most. Although I grew up in superhero land, and still have a lot of love for well-told stories in that medium, I love well-told graphic stories in all genres, including western, political non-fiction, history, fantasy, sci-fi etc. I love the work of contemporary creators such as Chris Ware, Darwyn Cooke, Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire, Karl Kerschl, and Warren Ellis, grizzled veterans like Jaques Tardi, Dennis O’Neal, R. Crumb, and Rick Geary, and past masters such as Will Eisner, and Bernie Krigstein.  I plan on writing a week in review column about the books that came out that week that I read, but I also plan on discussing older works that I’ve recently rediscovered.

The Spirit, created by Will Eisner. Legacy later shat on by Frank Miller.

I hope you enjoy.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Then we’ll begin.