CD REVIEW: MARC RIBOT'S CERAMIC DOG
Well into his fifties, Marc Ribot has proven that one can create an extremely raw and cutting edge album while simultaneously getting ready to have their AARP card punched. If I had popped this CD in without knowing that this was the guitarist behind albums by Tom Waits and Elvis Costello, I would’ve pictured some skinny twenty-something little shit writing these songs in some glorified closet of a bedroom. He’d be the kind of musician who had spent years playing in bands providing little to no input in the songwriting process, but all the while soaking up every musical influence possible. Then one day, it all just pours out, and this kid starts making music that he wants to make, and eventually gives birth to this album. Instead though, that energy and enthusiasm is brought to us a by a man who is literally old enough to be the father of that uncompromising kid.
All of Ribot’s influences, from Latin to punk to jazz to avant garde noise, are brought to the table to form the beautiful cluster-fuck that is Ceramic Dog’s Party Intellectuals (Pi Recordings). Also featuring indie rock veterans Ches Smith (Xiu Xiu) on drums and bassist Shahzad Ismaily (Jolie Holland, 2 Foot Yard), the band’s songs range from the almost Deerhoof-style experimental art punk sound of “Party Intellectuals” to the Cuban/Latin influenced “For Malena.” While other tracks like “Shsh Shsh” and “Digital Handshake” almost feel like movie scores. Basically every song is a new experience, sharing only a common thread of awesomeness.
As I listened to this album, I began to think about how everyone I know (myself included) will eventually reach middle age and likely face a future where our fingers tend to slide slightly off the pulse as to what is really happening in the world. However, Marc Ribot is living proof that that doesn’t necessarily have to happen. I don’t know exactly how he did it, but I’d love to find out. Quite frankly, when I’m at his age, I just hope I have the wherewithal to turn my blinker off after changing lanes. But no matter how depressed I get about getting old, I know can always take solace in one thing: No matter what happens, I will always be six years younger than Wayne Chinsang.
RATING: FIVE STARS
-James Dolata, TLC
MOVIE REVIEW: INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL
Harrison Ford’s Indiana Jones has confronted the Old Testament wrath of the Hebrew God, juggled the enchanted tools of the Hindu God, and even quested to find proof of the Christian God; now he faces his greatest challenge ever—Saucer men from Mars! Yes, you heard me right, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull turns out to be a sci-fi adventure; and believe it or not, that’s the least ridiculous thing about the plot.
Jesus, where do I begin with this one? Right from the get go, the Crystal Skull feels more like a parody of an Indiana Jones movie than an actual Indiana Jones movie. After opening on the paramount logo morphing into a prairie dog hill, complete with a silly little CG weasel, we are treated to a squad of psychic Russians (the leader played by the usually engaging Kate Blanchett) dressed as American officers breaking into area 51, where coincidently the Arc of the Covenant is also being held; All the while, dragging Indy into to the mix to locate one of the alien cadavers discovered at the infamous Roswell New Mexico saucer crash. These antics finally culminate in Indy riding a jet engine to an atomic test site; before ultimately hiding in a refrigerator, YES A REFRIGERATOR, to survive a nuclear blast—all the while spouting some of the hammiest dialogue this side of a New York delicatessen. WOW!
The movie isn’t devoid of entertainment however. There are actually some great ideas in the film. Because of his Commie entanglement in the first half of the picture, Jones is labeled as a Communist sympathizer by the FBI, which leads to him losing his job and friends. Indiana Jones getting caught up in the Red Scare is a terrific concept; unfortunately this went absolutely nowhere and was completely glossed over by the end of the movie.
Indy having an unknown child with his estranged girlfriend Marion from the first film, played by the always entertaining Shia LaBeouf, was also a great concept. Unfortunately, it is played for little more than a sickening amount of “awe shucks, that’s ma boy” sequences; my favorite being an epic scene with Shia swinging through vines with an army of monkeys like Tarzan. Yes, I shit you not. Oh yeah, did I mention his name is Mutt Williams, MUTT FREAKIN’ WILLIAMS. Mmmm, how sweet it is. Also, Karen Allen’s feisty portrayal as Marion in Raider’s of the Lost Ark is really squandered in this film—relegated mostly to looking doe-eyed at Indy. She should have been kicking his ass from the first moment she saw him. That’s the Marion I know and love.
My biggest complaint has to be the EXCESSIVE use of CGI in this film. Now before I go on, let me tell you that I am not one of those people that despise computer effects work. I actually love and embrace it. There have really been some amazing achievements in computer technology; the Mumakill sequence in Lord of the Rings comes to mind as one of the most fantastic. HOWEVER, I am really at a loss with this picture. The digital effects, compositing and even the excessive color grading has really given this movie an artificial, homogenized look. For a film series that has always relished living in a gritty earth toned palette, this picture really sticks out like a sore thumb. All of this was even further exasperated by a whole gaggle of CG creatures (yes, that’s right. I had to bring up Shia’s monkey army again.). You see, the Indiana Jones movies have always been known to pull out that one nasty creature scene. The first one had hundreds of REAL slithering snakes, the second one had thousands of REAL slimy bugs and the third one had hundreds of REAL stinky rats. In the Crystal Skull, we get hordes of giant computer fire ants. They didn’t necessarily look bad; but in a movie that is supposed to survive on nostalgia, it just makes me sad.
Oh yes, I almost forgot the aliens. Believe it or not, I really LOVE the idea of the McGuffin being E.T.s in this film. It really is a nice tangent to the religious material in the first films—spanning the mythology of old to the mythos of Roswell and the abduction culture. Placing the film right smack in the middle of the Atomic Age and the Space Race is also the perfect time frame to explore such ideas. Furthermore, incorporating Roswell aliens with the giant ancient earth drawings of Peru (which have always been speculated by some to be ancient runways for extra terrestrials), Mayan culture and the real life mystery of ancient South American crystal skulls just adds a nice bit of archeological flair that made the other Indy films really shine. Unfortunately, on this trip, Indy is more of an observer to the mystery, and is here to more or less translate the ravings of the archeologist who actually already did all the work—played entertainingly by the great John Hurt. This really becomes painfully obvious during the nearly incomprehensible climax of the movie, when Indiana literally has nothing to do but stand around. More time should have been taken in the script phase to really make Jones important to the story.
All this aside, it is still a fun movie, with plenty of amazing action sequences. It was really great to see Harrison Ford playing the man in the hat again. Ford always manages to entertain, even if the movie as a whole is a bit mediocre. Of course, the movie has a rather hokey open ending that could lead to another sequel, implying that perhaps Shia might continue the series in Indy’s shadow. Hey George and Steven, if this really is the case, I’ve got a great title for it—Mutt Williams and the Curse of the Incredibly Stupid Name. I’m sure it will be a smash hit.
-Jeremy Scott, TLC
-Jeremy Scott, TLC
THE A.K.A.S ARE EVERYWHERE – EVERYBODY MAKE SOME NOISE (Metropolis Records)
About five years ago, I saw my neighbor’s son, who was about five years old, run full-speed into a glass patio door, believing it was open. The kid fell down, cried, and I could do nothing but walk into my house and burst into at least five minutes of laughter. A few years later, my little cousin did the same thing. And I, being the heartless bastard that I am, thought it was just as funny as the first time I saw it happen. I guess in a lot of ways The A.K.A.s are like a kid running into a door. Sure, Everybody Make Some Noise is, in many ways, just a continuation of their debut, White Doves & Smoking Guns. But some things are just as good the second time around, and The A.K.A.s danceable punk rock style is one of those things.
RATING: THREE STARS
THE ARCHITECTS – VICE (Anodyne Records)
I’ll be the first to admit that I hate music that is overly artsy and much rather prefer simple music with catchy hooks. That being said, I also don’t want to hear a “salt-of-the-earth rock band” that is only slightly more tolerable than a Velvet Revolver power ballad or the new Buckcherry album. A good band walks the line between the extremes. The Architects just choose to shit all over it.
RATING: ZERO STARS
CHICANE THEORY - LOSE TRACK OF TIME (NRGalaxy Music)
Dear Chicane Theory,
Your press release said you sounded like Nirvana. I love Nirvana. But you don’t sound like Nirvana. You don’t even sound like a good band that sounds like Nirvana. In fact, your band is kinda boring, and Nirvana isn’t boring. Why did you lie to me?
RATING: ONE STAR
COLORSTORE – BONEFISH: THE LEGEND OF MAHOGONY CASS (Self-Released)
Surprise Surprise. Radiohead inspired another group of musicians to put out an average album that I can neither hate nor love.
RATING: TWO STARS
THE DELICIOUS – POSTCARD TO MY SEWING CIRCLE (Joyful Noise Recordings)
Considering I’m getting really fucking tired of indie-pop bands, this wasn’t terrible. If you’re not really fucking tired of indie-pop bands, you might even find this album enjoyable. If you could care less about fucking indie-pop bands, you’re probably just wondering how many more times I’ll write the word “fucking.”
RATING: TWO STARS
EXPERIMENTAL DENTAL SCHOOL – JANE DOE LOVES ME (Cochon Records)
EDS’s brand of schizophrenic art rock harbors many of the same elements that make bands like Deerhoof and Melt Banana sound incredible. And no, I’m not just talking about Asian band members. Honestly though, all jokes aside, go buy this album.
RATING: FIVE STARS
GOLDFINGER – HELLO DESTINY (Side One Dummy)
I have been listening to this band practically since the onset of puberty (I’m still hoping for it to end soon). So let me run through my ratings for all their full-length albums in chronological order, assuming I had reviewed all of them when they were released:
Goldfinger (Self-Titled debut): Five Stars
Hang Ups: Four Stars
Stomping Ground: Three Stars
Open Your Eyes: Two Stars
Disconnection Notice: One Star
And finally, their latest release, Hello Destiny…
RATING: ZERO STARS
Notice a trend here? Yeah, they suck now.
THE LIONS RAMPANT – PLAY ROCK ‘N ROLL (Self-Released)
We’ve all heard garage rock infused with some blues before, but there’s something about these guys. Maybe it’s because I’ve been listening to a lot of shitty music to review. Maybe it’s because I’m finishing up my fourth Pabst. Whatever it is, I surely wouldn’t mind stepping into a bar and seeing these guys.
RATING: THREE STARS
MINDLESS SELF INDULGENCE – IF (The End Of Records)
I’ve always had a soft spot for ‘em. I love me some MSI. I know some people would strongly disagree with me, but I’ve always kinda considered them “The Ramones Of Metal” (even though they’re not really metal). Think about, though. MSI writes songs that (A) usually don’t go too far over the three-minute mark, (B) are extremely basic at their core and (C) are stupid, ridiculous, catchy, and awesome all at the same time. Quite simply, If is just MSI doing what they do best. But if you already hate ‘em, I’m sure there’s nothing I could write to change your mind. After all, as their title suggests, the music is quite “mindless.”
P.S. My sincerest apologies for the gayest pun ever.
RATING: FOUR STARS
SHY CHILD – NOISE WON’T STOP (Kill Rock Stars)
Mainly relying only on drums and a keytar, Shy Child delivers an indie-dance, and occasionally “crunk-tastic” sound that will most likely tend to raise an eyebrow. Then again, I’d probably raise an eyebrow if I saw anyone playing a keytar.
RATING: THREE STARS
THE T4 PROJECT – STORY-BASED CONCEPT ALBUM (Mental Records)
Featuring over a dozen musicians from popular punk bands, (Bad Religion, Buzzcocks, Pennywise, Circle Jerks, and The Damned to name a few), a 24 page-graphic novel back-story to accompany the album, and a collective effort to unify musicians against corruptive propaganda, Story-Based Concept Album feels more like a movement than a record. So be sure to let your local inoffensive pop-punk band know that real punk rock is played on a soapbox.
RATING: THREE STARS