Monday, February 22, 2010

A cute redundantly named band

It's been awfully quiet here at CineMUSic. You'll have to forgive me -- week seven mixed in with the Olympics makes a whole mess of reruns on television and no time to watch the new stuff. Because of this, we're going to travel in time to March 2, 2009. The setting is "Chuck," season 2 episode 15, "Chuck Versus the Beefcake." I give to you "Airplanes" by Local Natives.

This particular episode featured a band that's gaining a lot of popularity really quickly.

Local Natives is a band from Los Angeles and is exactly what someone wants from an indie band: haunting lyrics, quirky but beautiful vocals and some careful guitar plucking. A lot of people have chosen to compare them to the likes of Arcade Fire (not really), Fleet Foxes (slightly, only not boring) and Vampire Weekend (NO).

Their debut album Gorilla Manor, was released in the UK in 2009 and received a U.S. release less than 10 days ago. I'm siding with Pitchfork on this one: they gave the album an 8.4 which is -- dare I say -- praise! The 8.4 rating is well-deserved. The album is a nice little gem that people might overlook.

I'm predicting that now that the album is available in the U.S. there will be a noticeable spike in the amount of play they'll receive in television. Let's see: CW shows will want to jump on them and quite possibly Shonda Rimes's Thursday night train wreck (you know, because the shows are simultaneously horrendous and awesome at the same time).

Keep your ears peeled (ugh, gross visual. Sorry everyone!).

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Best of Music on TV for the 2000s

Since everyone has different taste in music, television and film, it seems safe to say that a number of people might not always relate to my posts. So Greg Gallant, Copy Chief of ACRN, is writing here today as a guest blogger. He'll be listing his top 10 music/film/television moments from the 2000s. Without further ado...

Songs usually serve to enhance an episode of television, but, many times, the drama on the screen can serve to enhance the song, creating a more fitting visual counterpart than any music video could drum up with just a few minutes of story.

1. Must be pre-existing songs used in a scripted sitcom or drama.
2. Characters singing the song is OK.
3. No theme songs or title sequences.
4. God Bless Flight of the Conchords, but they don't count.

10: Bob Dylan - Don't Think Twice, It's Alright. "Mad Men" - The Wheel - 2007.
As the first season of "Mad Men" came to a close, viewers got their first glimpse of the cracks in Don Draper's armor. After declining to go on a family vacation in order to work, Don decided to hurry home and join in on the fun. He made it in time, and there was much rejoicing -- except that it was only a fantasy (a rare gambit from the AMC show). His actual arrival was too late, and he wound up sitting alone in his empty mansion. Cue Bob.

9. Starland Vocal Band - Afternoon Delight. "Arrested Development" - Afternoon Delight - 2004.
"Arrested Development" had so much comedic success with their own music and song rip-offs (eg, "Yellow Boat" for "Yellow Submarine"), that they rarely used popular songs. In this episode though, Michael and his niece, Maeby, decide to sing a little karaoke. Michael suggests, "let's do the first song on the list!" The song proves to be more sexual than the title indicates, and their mistake is soon repeated by Michael's sister and son.

8. Delta Spirit - People, Turn Around. "Sons of Anarchy" - Potlach - 2009.
The amazing second season of FX's "Sons of Anarchy" featured an almost non-stop escalation of the feud between the two main characters, Jax and Clay. Their animosity reached one of its several boiling points as Gemma (Clay's wife/Jax's mom) was serving dinner to the club. Gemma smashing a serving tray is a good wake-up call for the Sons, but only temporarily.

7. Wheatus - Teenage Dirtbag. "Generation Kill" - Combat Jack - 2004.
Words can not express how saddened I am that this clip is not available online. It probably could have cracked the top 3, but it's hard to explain how amazing the scene is without showing it. After a series of intensely dramatic events, the soldiers are once again driving through the desert in their humvee, and they bust out an amazing (and apt) a Capella version of the song.

6. Seal - Kiss From a Rose. "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" - The Gang Wrestles for the Troops - 2009.

With IASIP, as the quality of the show has waned over the past couple seasons, the budget has gone up. In short, more money = less funny. However, in this scene, surely one of the most bizarre pieces to ever air on basic cable, Dee abandons the soldier she had been writing to upon seeing him in a wheelchair. Frank is stuck there with his gift of jean shorts and a Seal-filled boombox. His salute for the soldier lasts absurdly long and is only made funnier by the song and the fact that Danny DeVito is barely taller than a handicapped man. (Skip to about the 1:30 mark if you just want to hear the song.)

5. Solomon Burke - Fast Train. "The Wire" - Mission Accomplished - 2004.

Season 3 of "The Wire" was perhaps the greatest season of television ever, and Burke's rendition of the Van Morrison classic was the perfect choice for the season-ending montage. SPOILER ALERT: The images show the ends of many of the brilliant stories told over 37 episodes, while also evoking the theme of business as usual, returning to the streets of Baltimore.

4. The Polyphonic Spree - Light and Day/Reach for the Sun. "Scrubs" - My Choosiest Choice of All - 2004.

"Scrubs" has used a billion great songs over the years, many of them employed excellently within the show. It was a challenge to pick one, but when all (or most, or some, maybe) of The Polyphonic Spree showed up in a patient's room to perform for the montage, that took the cake.

3. TV on the Radio - DLZ. "Breaking Bad" - Over - 2009.

SPOILER ALERT: "Breaking Bad" is the story of a chemistry teacher who essentially uses his cancer diagnosis as an excuse to descend into the world of crime. Sure, he is providing for his family, but as the show goes on, he keeps losing reasons to cook meth... and yet doesn't stop. In "Over," he vows to quit the drug game, but the monotony of his everyday life drives him back into its arms.

2. ASIA - Heat of the Moment. "South Park" - Kenny Dies - 2001.
Again, it is a tragedy that this clip is not available on YouTube, but if you haven't seen it, trust me, hilarious. When Kenny is on his death bed (for real), Cartman must plead to Congress for stem cell research. When his speech isn't quite working, he launches into this 80s staple. One representative joins in with the stomp-stomp-clap, and pretty soon the entire legislative body is rocking out to ASIA.

1. Johnny Cash - When the Man Comes Around. "Generation Kill" - Bomb in the Garden - 2008.

I defy you to show me five minutes of footage that says more about modern warfare than the final moments of the HBO miniseries "Generation Kill." As the soldiers gather around to watch the movie created by one of the grunts, they have mixed feeling about what they're watching, and begin to leave one by one. Cash is the perfect soundtrack for this powerhouse scene.

-Greg Gallant, Copy Chief

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Say what you will about "Greek," but...

The Broken West

Yep, I'm talking about "Greek" again. Better yet, I'm talking about The Broken West. Odds are, you haven't heard of The Broken West. And I mean this in no offense to you, reader - I know you're very informed and up-to-date on what Pitchfork and the various other in-the-know publications have to say. But sometimes, Pitchfork gets their stuff wrong because they gave The Broken West's album Now or Heaven a 5.6 and I trust my judgment more than theirs.

The Broken West is like this perfect blend of Rogue Wave and Spoon, a severely underrated 90s band and a picaresque summer day. Ross Flournoy provides guitar and vocals for the group and let me be the first to say that there's nothing more that I appreciate than a man with a crystal clear, not-too-soft-but-not-too-hard and honest voice.

A lot of their songs have been featured on "Greek" (someone there knows what's good) and their song "Down in the Valley" was featured a while back on Grey's Anatomy. They've toured with The National (I don't get their appeal) and The Walkmen (meh). Odds are, The Broken West will find its way to your ears one way or another, whether you make the wise decision to seek them out or in one year, you're watching a movie and think "Hey! This tune is pretty snazzy. What do you call this band?" What do I call this band? The Broken West and they kick ass!

Monday, February 8, 2010

British adorableness, basically

Jack Peñate

"Chuck" is not only a great show because of the writing, cinematography and actors, but also because of its magnificent song choices. Last week's episode featured "40 Day Dream" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, but they've been discussed already so you'll have to do some archiving to read my thoughts.

Last night's episode? Jack Peñate! His song "Let's All Die" - which I assure you is actually an upbeat song and not a song about weird cult suicide - opened the show and most likely caught people's attention. He has a voice that you might mistake as someone else's at first but is distinctly his own. He's from London, and it's easy to tell from listening to any of his songs. You know, instead of singing "let's ahl die" he sings "let's oohl die." Charming, yes?

If you're sick of all the shoe-gazey, spacey, experimental stuff like Phoenix and Grizzly Bear, look into Jack. It's indie music you can skank to! And get this: his new album, Everything Is New, is streaming for free on his MySpace so I can't think of a single reason why you wouldn't click that link and have a listen.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My embarrassment gives way to your delight

Let me be blunt: I watch a lot of TV*. And when I say "a lot," I don't mean one show a night. I mean up to five shows a night (that would be Monday - the busiest television night ever). In all honesty, some of it is what a lot of people would refer to as "bad TV," and I don't even care. I watch "Make It or Break It" on ABC Family. I'll give you a moment to judge. Are we good? Can you still stand the sight of this blog? Wonderful!

Now, on to the good stuff, A.K.A the music. On last night's episode, "
White Daisy Passing" by Rocky Votolato was featured not once but twice in the episode. Better yet, the song was also featured four years ago on a little show that I like to call "The O.C." Who is this Rocky Votolato I speak of? He's a singer/song-writer from Texas and is currently signed to Barsuk Records, so you know he must be good. Even if you don't take my word for it, Barsuk should say it all. I offer Rocky as the healthier and superior alternative to the "totally chill" sounds of bro-rockers such as Dave Matthews Band, Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson.

Please do you
rself a favor, put down your copy of Crash and pick up Makers by Rocky. It's a choice you won't soon regret. He's got nimble fingers which pluck the nicest melodies, a smooth and sincere voice and the ability to make the cheesiest of cheesy lyrics sound... not so cheesy. Rocky Votolato is who you want to dedicate a song to you. The guy who's songs you'll learn in order to woo that special someone. Perfectly mellow and honest, it's hard to deny how good he is, so don't even try.

*This is literally a two second section of my favorite scene in 'Some Kind of Wonderful.' I just couldn't help myself and I identify with Watts so much.