Film

Best of 2015: Music, Film, Literature

Oh hey there. Let’s jump right in.

Music

2015 was a fantastic year for music. Adele and Taylor Swift reminded us that people still buy music and that pop stars still exist. Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal and a host of other streaming services pushed the discussion of “music as a commodity” centerstage. Despite where opinions settle, I think we can all agree that our streaming discussions were well overdue (and on two fronts: people paying for their music again and artists getting fairly paid for streaming).

NOTE: Amazon Prime’s streaming service (Amazon Music) is the industry’s best kept secret. It’s by far the best streaming service. Comes with your Prime account, you can download thousands of records, listen to them offline. Why is no one talking about this?

Every year I have artists and their releases that I look forward to, but this year there were some out-of-left-field albums that no one saw coming. Leon Bridges and Sufjan Stevens’ masterpiece, for instance, rocked (and rolled) almost my entire musical year.

Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell

Someone once told me that art should look different every time you see it. I think the same can be true for music, where you hear something different every time you play it. Stevens’ latest hits the proverbial mark. Borrowing from Gregorian chants, from 70’s folk, from his own catalogue — Carrie & Lowell is lyrically transparent, musically restrained, and almost perfect. Make no mistake, people: Sufjan Stevens made a masterpiece.

There are instances, such as in “The Only Thing“, where the track is just begging for a rhythm section (i.e., bass & drums), but we don’t get it, and it’s the right choice. “The Only Thing” is about despair, about barely holding on with just a glimmer of hope. Sure, you can sing about depression with a backing band, but it wouldn’t fit here. Stevens isn’t trying to be flashy, and he’s not making anthems, what Stevens is doing is splitting open his chest and singing therapy.

As someone who’s had a similar (not exact, but similar) upbringing as Stevens, I latched onto this record like a child to his mother, and it brought me comfort many times over. Can someone with a glossy childhood enjoy this album? Of course. But who actually had a glossy childhood? (more…)

Advertisements

Best of 2014: Music & Film

Another year, another best-of list. One of these days, when I’m old and gray, I’m going to show these lists to my grandkids and prove to them that I was at, one time, relevant with pop culture. They’ll say, “What’s a blog, Grampa Kev-bo?” I’ll say, “What?” They’ll say, “What’s a blog, Grampa Kev-bo?” And I’ll say, “What?”

You get the idea.

As for now, I’m happy to report that I still have my hearing and that I am loving 2014 music and film. Up first: here are some of my favorite albums and tracks from the year. Some you probably know, maybe a few you don’t? Give them a listen and let me know if any resonate with you.

Music

Kevin Morby-Still Life

Kevin Morby is my new favorite singer-songwriter. I’ve been obsessed with Still Life, his latest effort, for a few weeks now. The range of this record is amazing. From minimalist acoustic/drum tracks (see below), to fuzzy reverb layers, to clean 70’s pop, to indie folk, this album has a bit of everything, and it executes it well.

In reviews, I try to stay away from easy artist comparisons. Hardworking musicians, like Morby, deserve complex criticisms. That said, Kevin Morby is the brilliant lovechild of Nick Cave and David Bazan, though was raised by his god parents in the 90’s in a sailboat off Santa Monica by Beck and Lou Reed. That’s what he sounds like. Got it?

SBTRKT-Wonder Where We Land (more…)

2014 Netflix Halloween Playlist (3rd Annual!)

Everybody now: “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Ahhhh. Don’t you just love Halloween? I know I do.

Fall season creeps in: candy apples and carved pumpkins, cardboard tombstones and plastic costumes, counter culture and scary movies. What I really love about Halloween is that it can look different to everybody. For me, even as a kid, I grew up watching horror. Really, I’m not sure how I got away with it. Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees, and Michael Myers were as familiar to me as Mr. Rogers and Big Bird.

As I have aged I have got away from the horror genre a bit. So, now, when Halloween comes around, I enjoy packing in as many nostalgia-filled frightening flicks as I can (especially since my wife doesn’t usually watch them. Her childhood was NOT filled with grotesque, slasher movies… whatever that’s about).

Not sure what to watch this Halloween?

I made a Netflix playlist for us to enjoy. As usual it’s a mix of campy, fun, classic, horror and X-Files. I would love it if you joined me. We can discuss it on Twitter and have a ball.

So never fear (or should you? Mwahahahah). I got you covered.

Note: This list is good for either a spooky, all night marathon or spread nights before Halloween. Your pick.

Check out last year’s list too!

The Number Kevin’s 3rd Annual Netflix Halloween Playlist

paranorman2012-poster-wideParaNorman (2012)

It is always good to start out light, and I love kid-friendly Halloween movies. Monster House, Ernest Scared Stupid, for instance. ParaNorman has been on my Netflix List for quite some time. I have NOT seen it. This year, I plan on getting to it.

The Twilight Zone: Mr Garrity and the Graves (S1. E32)

TheTwilightZoneLogo

From friendly kid movie, we’ll move into classic TV shows. The Twilight Show was a favorite of mine as a child. I watched both the new and old editions (does anyone know how the newer version holds up?), as well as The Outer Limits. “Mr. Garrity and the Graves” is highly rated, and looks quite spooky: an unknown traveler who brings a small town’s deceased back from the dead.  (more…)

Proof My Life is a Movie and That I’m On To You

My favorite all-time movie is The Truman Show. I think its Jim Carrey’s finest hour on screen (Eternal Sunshine, of course, is a very close second). As a child (1998!), I remember exiting the movie theatre convinced that my life was one big TV show and everybody was in on it. There has since surfaced a mental delusion called Truman Syndrome or The Truman Show Delusion where people believe their lives are really staged plays, TV shows, or films.

I’m proud to say that I am not a sufferer of Truman Syndrome. However, I am on to you bastards. Some strange things have been happening this last week, and the only logical explanation is that I’m trapped inside a hilarious, yet tragically poignant, reality television program and/or movie. (more…)