Friday, December 31, 2010

Tim Needles top films of 2010



Here are my top ten films of 2010. In terms of quality it was a pretty goods year for film and even a number of the big sequels like Iron Man 2, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, and of course Toy Story 3 stood the test as well as winning in the box office.

1. The Kings Speech
2. True Grit
3. The Social Network
4. Toy Story 3
5. The Other Guys
6. Inception
7. Black Swan
8. Restrepo
9. Exit Through the Gift Shop
10. Cyrus

Honorable mention goes to Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work

The worst film of the year might be a tie between Sly Stallone's 100 minute masturbatory fantasy entitled The Expendables (which taught all of us, if nothing else, to moisturize because good skin doesn't last) and the impossibly odd and artificial chick flick Just Wright. Special mention goes to the 3D interpretation of Yogi Bear, a film which I didn't see but appears terrible and annoyed me enough in commercials that it warrants recognition.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Friday, December 17, 2010

Tim Needles Top Music of 2010



Here's my favorite songs of 2010:

1. Sleigh Bells "Crown On The Ground" [N.E.E.T. / Mom & Pop]
2. Morning Benders “Excuses” [Rough Trade Records]
3. Gorillaz "On Melancholy Hill" [Virgin]
4. Cee-Lo "Fuck You" [Elektra]
5. Arcade Fire “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” [Merge]
6. Vampire Weekend "Giving Up the Gun" [XL]
7. Das Racist “You Oughta Know” [Greedhead / Mishka]
8. LCD Soundsystem “I Can Change” [DFA / Virgin / Parlophone]
9. Kanye West "Runaway" [Def Jam / Roc-A-Fella]
10. The Black Keys “Tighten Up” [Nonesuch]
11. Lykke Li “Get Some (Beck Remix)” [LL Recordings / Atlantic Records]
12. Warpaint “Undertow” [Rough Trade]
13. April Smith and the Great Picture Show “Wow and Flutter” [Little Roscoe]
14. Broken Bells “The High Road”
15. Electric Wire Hustle “They Don’t Want”
16. Gold Panda “You”
17. Tokyo Police Club “Breakneck Speed”
18. Preservation Hall Jazz Band “Nobody Knows You When Youre Down and Out”
19. Avi Buffalo “What’s In It For”
20. Mumford and Sons “Little Lion Man”
21. The Walkmen “Angela Surf City”
22. Delorean “Real Love”
23. Ray LaMontagne “Beg Steal Or Borrow”
24. Delta Spirit “Bushwick Blues”
25. Band Of Horses “Factory”

and here are my favorite albums of 2010:

1. Sleigh Bells Treats [N.E.E.T. / Mom & Pop]
2. Arcade Fire The Suburbs [Merge]
3. Vampire Weekend Contra [XL]
4. LCD Soundsystem This Is Happening [DFA / Virgin / Parlophone]
5. Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy [Def Jam / Roc-A-Fella]
6. Preservation Hall Jazz Band Preservation [Preservation Hall Records]
7. Gorillaz Plastic Beach [Virgin]
8. The Black Keys Brothers [Nonesuch]
9. Das Racist Shut Up, Dude [Greedhead / Mishka]
10. Flying Lotus Cosmogramma [Warp]
11. April Smith and the Great Picture Show Songs For A Sinking [Little Roscoe]
12. The Walkmen Libson [Fat Possum]
13. Morning Benders Big Echo [Rough Trade Records]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Interview with Delta Spirit



Southern California folk rockers Delta Spirit might best be known for their upbeat 2008 track “Traschcan” off their debut album Ode to Sunshine but their unique country/folk inspired soulful melodies have garnered them a loyal following, especially among musicians. The band was formed after singer Matthew Vasquez was discovered playing on a street bench in San Diego by drummer Brandon Young, bassist Jonathan Jameson, and guitarist Sean Walker (who has since left the band), and they completed their line up with the addition of multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich. Their recent album, History from Below shows how the band has developed after five years of touring and recording.

So I read a little bit about how Delta Spirit started and it actually made me think of Creedence Clearwater Revival because you guys met up in California but you really sound more like a southern band, how did you really get together?

Well basically Matt and I played in a band in high school and that kind of fizzled out, we kind of went our separate ways and then I met up with Matt again and he had started a band which would be Delta Spirit. It kind of came full circle and I was like, shit, I quit your band to go do something else and I completely regret it and now I wish I was still in your band so I started recording as more of an engineer and producer. I wasn’t really in the band, I was just recording, I played bass and piano on some recordings and it worked out, I started going on tour with them and eventually they asked me to join. Brandon, our drummer, did meet Matt busking at a train station, that’s the most interesting part of the story. Now we have a new guitar player named Will from a band called the Willows and he’s this new guru and will definitely change the direction of the music a little bit.

I heard a funny story about how you guys chose your name, wasn’t it the name of a store one of your uncle’s had?

Yeah, it was Tom’s uncle’s taxidermy store that may have even burned down. We try to keep it all in the family, that’s kind of the epitome of that. We were trying to figure out a sweet name that meant something and we thought it sounded good and that it also has a bunch of other meanings to it, obviously Delta Blues, like Matt made some kind of far-fetched like “Nile Delta” the beginning of human civilization, you can get real weird with it if you want but it all comes down to we liked the way it sounded.

The first time I really became aware of you guys was when I first heard the song “Trashcan” which has become one of my favorite songs and I believe it’s called “Trashcan” because you’re playing a trash can on it- is that true?

Yeah, that was one of those situations that was just happenstance. Originally it came from kind of a drunken jam between me and Matt and our other buddy who plays in another band. We have a studio and we were kind of jamming one night, Matt was on piano, I was on bass, and then our other buddy was on drums and Matt just had that lick and I was playing that chugging bass line and we looked at each other afterwards and we were like, oh- we have to remember this and show this to the guys. The next day we showed it to the dudes and Matt started playing the lick but it was dragging, it was 10 times slower than it was the night before and we were like no, it’s gotta be faster. I had been using the trash can during recordings so I just picked it up with a tambourine and set up that 16th beat tempo with it and it just kind of stuck. When we came down to figuring out a name for it nothing was that catchy, we were calling it “trash can song” and then we whittled that down to “Trashcan” for shits and giggles. Originally when we first started playing it we didn’t have any lyrics for it, we had the chorus lyrics, “my love is coming I can barely hardly wait” but beyond that, it’s funny , we were literally making shit up on the spot.

You guys are really an independent band or at least you started out that way. The music industry has changed so much, is it possible to make money outside of touring in music today or do you really need to tour to do well?

Yeah, I think there is definitely money to be made, touring is almost a sure shot as far as guarantees and selling merchandise and we love it but the way to go is publishing, it’s a great way to make money on the side and to still be creative. The last thing you want to do is not have any money and have to get jobs but [with] publishing we get songs on TV shows and movies and it’s a great way to kind of keep us afloat so we can concentrate on making music. I was talking to some friends the other night, they don’t have a record deal yet, and they are going to put out their own record. They are going to license it through a distribution company. They also have a person to go out and find sinks for their music to TV shows and movies [and] they are pocketing all this money straight. They pay their person a percentage for each sink they get but he said they made something like $150 grand on publishing alone and this is with no record label. Now that they have all this money they don’t need a record label, they can pay for marketing themselves, they can pay for the pressing of the CD’s, and they can own their masters and they can still get publishing so they’re set. If I could do it again that might be the smarter way to go but also you want to get to a point where you don’t have all of that on your shoulders when you need someone to kind of head it up for you, that’s the positive part about a record company. It’s definitely a time to be creative in how to be able to have a career in music but not completely sell your soul to the devil which is getting harder and harder by the moment.

When you signed with a label you ended up going with Rounder Records which is an interesting label, sort of this big indie that has these cool folk and bluegrass groups. What’s your relationship like with them?

Well it’s interesting, that was what was more exciting about Rounder, their back catalog and the fact that they didn’t have any young bands on the label. It felt like that was enticing for us because we thought maybe we’d get more attention than the other bands they have but they did that Allison Krause and Robert Plant record that like cleaned out the Grammys so we knew there was money there to be spent. We weren’t really sure if they knew how to break a younger band like us and now we’ve done two records and it’s a little bit more apparent they either don’t know what they are doing as far as breaking a band or it just takes a little bit longer for us. We were all really excited about this record and unfortunate things happened as far as publicity went. It wasn’t set up in time and a lot of people who came to our shows didn’t even know we had a new record out which was baffling so stuff like that you wish you could really control. I think there’s still time for this record; it’s not like the cycles over. With this tour we’re in the process of getting new management and we’re trying to get back some control we never lost but that we did relinquish, I think we are going to try to make it a little more DIY.

Well I should mention that you guys have a new EP, Live from the Waits Room, coming out next week, right?

Yeah, we do. The interesting thing about that is that we had to bootleg our own vinyl because the record label couldn’t get it done in time. We called in a favor, we didn’t personally but our managers called in a favor to Jack White, he has his own vinyl record printing plant and he expedited these vinyl’s for us so we will have them exclusively for this tour. We’ll have 300 copies and kind of spread them out for each show and make sure everyone has a chance to get at it.

I was just listening to it and the EP definitely has a more alt-country feel but you also have a real interesting cover of the classic folk tune, “John Henry,” which ironically has a Jack White-Tom Waits feel to it. It’s interesting because all the other songs are so folksy and then you have this almost punk rock version of John Henry. What made you guys decide on that sound?

Well [we] were just like let’s have some fun and see what happens. We recorded an alternative version of “Bushwick Blues” and “The Devil Knows You’re Dead” and then we recorded the song “The Flood.” Originally it was going to go on the record but then we decided not. Matt has a new song which was the last song on the EP called “My Dream” which is a great song and it might even end up on the next record with a little bit more production. We wanted to record “John Henry” for the record but we didn’t and we actually hooked up back at the studio and were like, alright let’s do something crazy, we love that cover song, we wanted to just kind of make it fun and a little more punk rock like you said.

Speaking of genres there’s definitely that old school 60’s folk feel to many of your songs and I also happened to read the description of your band by Sean Moeller, who runs Daytrotter, who mentions The Newport Folk Festival in his description of the band, have you guys ever played Newport?

We are playing this year, 2011. That’s another thing, this last year as far as the festival was concerned, and unfortunately the timing wasn’t right for our record coming out at a certain time. A lot of these festivals were picking bands that were kind of like building on their record cycle and we hadn’t even started ours yet, we wanted to play Newport, we wanted to play Sasquatch, Coachella, you know, but we’re going to do all that stuff next year. We’re on Coachella next year and then Newport and then a couple of other festivals so were pretty excited about that

I’m glad to hear it, you know, there’s sort of a growing folk and Americana scene that you guys seem to be part of along with bands like: Elvis Perkins, Dr. Dog, The Dawes, and The Avett Brothers and so on. Do you get a sense that there is something building there musically as an insider?

Yeah, for us I feel like it might be a blessing and a curse but I don’t think we really want to stick to one genre, you know? Where Dr. Dog, they have a very distinct sound, very Beatles/Beach Boys, Dawes, same kind of thing. When you hear a Taylor Goldsmith song, you know it’s a Taylor Goldsmith song. They are in this The Band meets Creedence meets like Jackson Brown. We toured with these bands and you kind of pick up what these guys love to do and it works great for them but for us it might be as simple as- we haven’t found exactly what we love yet. We like everything so much that we want to incorporate it all so as far as that new age folksy scene, we’re friends with all those dudes but I think, we really don’t want to be stuck there.

How successful do you guys feel as a group? Or you personally, are there big ambitions you have specifically or are you just sort of letting it go organically?

That’s the most comfortable way to do it, to let it go organically, but there’s also measures you can take to kind of expedite the process and get to the next level, obviously we want to have a career in music but I think first and foremost we want to make music we all believe in, as cliché as that sounds. We welcome success but it’s just difficult to say how we get there, it may be a slow burn like say, My Moring Jacket or Wilco, they started off and then later on in their career they had a critically acclaimed record so you know, it just depends. We don’t really know exactly how it works because I can’t really read people’s minds but I think if we just keep making music and write songs that we think are amazing, that’s the most important part to us.

Absolutely, I know you guys recently played Webster Hall in New York, last time you were in town at Piano’s you had Gordon Gano from The Violent Femmes come up and play with you, which was awesome, was that planned at all or did it just kind of happen?

Yeah, we were freaking out, he is a fan of the band and he got in touch with our booking agent and said he wanted to open a show for us and we were like, hell yeah! We are all big Violent Femme fans when we were younger and there is a YouTube video of us playing that song with Gordon and you can see my face the whole time and I have a dumb grin on my face just like staring at the guy like there is no way I’m playing with Gordon Gano. It was awesome, it was just one of those once in a lifetime things.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Photography with a Social Impact


This photography project by JR was well deserving of the TED prise, it's spectacular and inspiring. Check out more of his work at www.jr-art.net

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An Education Remix


I love the animations that RSA have been doing and this one is a favorite, both in content and creation. The speech is from by education expert Sir Ken Robinson and he has a number of very intriguing points.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Delta Spirit's "Trashcan"


This week I'll be interviewing soul rockers Delta Spirit. They put out one of my favorite tracks in recent years, "Trashcan", featured in their tour video above.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Building the Boardwalk Empire


Check out this cool time-lapse footage of the creation of the set for the HBO series Boardwalk Empire in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Film Review: Conviction



A sister’s love and attachment to her imprisoned brother is put to the test as she works to put herself through law school in an effort to free him while raising a family in Tony Goldwyn’s new film Conviction. The film, which stars Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell, is based on the remarkable real-life ordeal of Betty Anne Waters and, at its core, is an untraditional love story between siblings.

Conviction is really an actor’s film and Goldwyn, the actor-turned-director (best known for his role as the corporate villain in Ghost) does a wonderful job of eliciting great performances while using the plotline to pull at the heartstrings without ever feeling corny. Sam Rockwell’s Oscar-worthy performance in this film is captivating as he balances rage and misery with charm and charisma into the truly fleshed-out character of Kenny Waters. The supporting cast is also well-seasoned as it features Minnie Driver, Peter Gallagher, Melissa Leo, and notably Juliette Lewis, who is truly dynamic in her brief appearances onscreen.

The film’s depiction of families and the modern justice system is quite reflective of the times we live in. While the film has a Hollywood feel, it manages to retains some real grit to it and should appeal to both men and women.

For: Short&SweetNYC

Friday, October 15, 2010

Film Review: Tapped



In the 1980’s bottled water was something of a gimmick, but once big corporations like Nestle, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi began producing it due to the drop in soda sales, it caught on and today its a billion dollar business. The new documentary Tapped, directed by Stephanie Soechtig takes a look at the environmental and financial consequences.

The film highlights some of the facts about bottled water that the public is unaware of, the most startling being that a good percentage of the water is essentially tap water, taken free of charge from locations around the country without any filtering or outside testing because its free from many of the rules of the Food and Drug Administration. The financial issues that the film raises while alarming are inconsequential compared to the environmental and health consequences that arise from the plastic containers which often end up floating in large pockets in our oceans and sometimes contain Bisphenol A, better known as BPA, a known estrogenic which can leach into the water causing problems for both people and wildlife.

The documentary makes some strong points and follows up with some well researched facts that are illustrated in a variety of ways from short animations to interviews with people on both sides of the issue as well as reactions from the public. The film stands out as one of those documentaries like Food Inc. or Sicko that might forever alter your awareness and understanding of the issue and might well cause a stir with the public if it manages to reach the masses.

For: Short&SweetNYC

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Interview: Carrie Fisher



Even before her iconic role as Princess Leia in the Star Wars films, Carrie Fisher was well known as the child of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, and in her inspirational new show, Wishful Drinking, she tells the story of her life with wit and wisdom. She walks the audience through the films, the drugs, the scandals, the psychological issues, and she gives some insight on how she made it through to eventually win the prestigious title of “Bipolar Woman of the Year.” HBO recently announced that it was going to adapt the show for a documentary based on upcoming performances at New Jersey’s South Orange Performing Arts Center on June 25 and 26, tickets are still available through SOPAC’s website http://www.sopacnow.org/

I had a chance to see your show, Wishful Drinking, in NY and I thought it was fantastic. I loved your blog post about not getting a Tony nomination because maybe you hadn’t played the part of Carrie Fisher well enough, were you really surprised?

Thank you, well you know what I always heard was that they took out the category that my thing would be in so, you know, what are they gonna do? Nominate me for playing the part of Carrie Fisher?

It’s a shame because the one person show is really very innovative in itself you know and there are a lot of great shows that are like that.

Yeah, well, no I guess so? I mean they know what they are doing. I never in my life have counted on awards for anything, I’ve gotten the “bipolar woman of the year” award that’ll have to be enough.

Well that’s a special award, I understand. You discuss something in your show that I found really very profound, when you’re talking about the mental trauma that you dealt with as a child you say that you can’t blame your past because your brother had the same past and turned out fine. It’s an interesting case of nature vs. nurture. On the flip side, as such a creative person, do you feel like the trauma you dealt with and those kinds of issues, do they feed into your creativity at all? Do you buy into that?

Ahhh, the trauma… It’s one way of handling it. I mean to get distance on it you know, it’s the thing that I say: ‘if my life wasn’t funny it would just be true’. I’d rather see these things that happen to me as true and I can’t when they first happen but that’s the best way to combat it. That’s what I’ve done by owning it, it’s the thing I have problems, problems don’t have me.

You’ve done a lot of writing and you’ve also worked as a script doctor, how often do you write? What’s your process like? How important to you is your writing? How essential is it to who you are?

It is, sometimes I get into it and I lose track of time, that’s the best kind of work to do. I don’t have a set pattern, more is the pity, but I sorta try to do it. Especially lately because I owe a book and I am adapting this other thing so I try to exercise and then set aside a couple of hours for writing within that time a day but I’ve never had a really organized schedule which is a shame but it still manages to get done somehow.

I wanted to ask about Star Wars. Obviously it’s one of the most important films of all time but, you know, in context when you’re coming at it in the early 70’s, I mean Lucas must have looked crazy. What was it like in the beginning on the set? Did you get a sense that this could be a disaster or did you get a sense that it could really be this great film?

Not this great film, it just seemed like it would be kinda cool you know, like there wouldn’t be other movies like it. Not that it would do what it did but just that it seemed, you know, certainly inventive and that there hadn’t been a science fiction movie, well period, for quite some time, but that didn’t mean it was going to make a lot of money. I thought it was a fantastic script so whatever that means, I thought I would like it but I didn’t think I’d have that many people that would agree with me.

Were the actors friendly on set? No one was really huge at that point, were you guys tight early on?

Tight? Not tight. You know, Harrison was fifteen years older than I was and we were all shooting on different planets at a certain point. We hung out, you know, but everyone was at different points in their lives, I was a teenager. But we did definitely hang out and when it came out and sort of ambushed us like that, suddenly we had quite a lot in common.

Did your mom (actress Debbie Reynolds) give you advice?She started out really as a teenager in Singing In the Rain, she must’ve had something to say?

My mother has never stopped giving me advice. I can’t really remember what her advice was? On how to look when the death star blew up my planet? But my mother’s always had a lot of advice.

You talk a little bit in the show about your marriage to Paul Simon and it almost sounds like, in some senses, you were a muse to him at times.

Well, he wrote songs about me, I don’t know if that means that I’m a muse. I don’t think of Paul as someone having a muse but he did write quite a few songs about me you know. I don’t know if he needs a muse he’s very brilliant.

And do you guys still talk at all or not really?

Not really. We did for awhile and then you know, everybody moves on and it certainly doesn’t make new mates comfortable and all, you know.

You have this pretty amazing group of films you’ve done in your career. How much has Hollywood changed over the years? Is it for the better or worse?

Well, I mean, the thing that I notice it’s sort of, because of all these reality shows and stuff, you know everyone has access to celebrity and that’s not always a good thing you know? I mean it’s just, you’re not famous. It’s the thing of being famous for being well known. It used to be more people were famous because they were actually skilled at something and the same is not necessarily still true, but by the same token I suppose you know some people that would never have had a chance otherwise, get a chance so I don’t know, it’s hard to know what to think.

You’ve worked with some amazing directors: Lucas, Mike Nichols, Woody Allen, Hal Ashby…having dealt with so many directors, what do you think makes for a good director coming from the perspective of acting?

Well, I mean passion. I mean really having a strong sense of the story and what they want and the ability to communicate that to you. You know, [also making] the atmosphere on the set comfortable enough for you to deliver what they want or comfortable enough to be able to allow you to experiment with some ideas that you have.

You’ve done so many things in your life and been through so much, what drives you now? As a person, what are the things you want most in your life right now?

Oh, travel, I like writing still, my daughter, you know I have a real, I have a curiosity about everything, so if I’m not watching documentaries about stuff I don’t know, I’m wandering around looking for stuff I don’t know and I like experimenting with things, going to different places, trying different things, whatever.

I teach high school and I teach film, screenwriting, and acting. What advice would you give to young creative people in terms of them wanting a career in a creative industry whether it’s writing or acting?

Well it’s a big difference between whether it’s writing or acting. The important thing is to learn as much as you can and to write even when you don’t feel inspired, you know, to do it anyway. Do everything anyway whether you feel confident or not it’s worth going for.

Finally, is there anything people would be surprised to know about you?

I exercise now! I actually used to exercise for 12 years and then I went on the road and stopped for 2 so now I’ve gotten really fat. So now I’ve been exercising constantly.

Oh, it’s a pain in the ass let me tell you I know.

It’s a pain in everything including the ass.

For: Short&SweetNYC

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Music: Band of Horses' Infinite Arms



Melodic and ethereal, Infinite Arms, the new album from Seattle’s Band of Horses, embraces their tender side blending a beautiful sonic ambiance with their down-home, southern, alt-country sensibilities for a magnificent album. The 12 song release is reminiscent of the great album-oriented rock classics of the 70’s, a rarity in the age of single song iTunes downloads. There are some knockout tracks on the album such as: the sublime “Evening Kitchen” with its sweet multiple vocal tracks and the introduction track “Factory” which sets the album’s tone perfectly but in reality the album as a whole might be stronger than any of its individual songs.

One notable development in the album is the band’s vocal prowess led by Ben Bridwell’s confident smooth harmonies which are more complex in songs like “Blue Beard” and add consistency to the album along with the familiar graze of echoed guitar. As the album continues the tempo follows with songs like “Dilly” which has a fun, almost 80’s am radio feel due to the keyboard and in “NW Apt.” which goes for an all out heavy guitar rock sound helping to setup the album’s closing track “Neighbor” which is like a microcosm of the album beginning with soft vocals and piano which lead into a full-bodied electric ending with organ and guitar. The album really secures the band’s place as one of the musical heavyweights of the current music scene and is certainly one of the year’s best.

This weekend they have a few local stops on their tour including a secret show at Grand Central and a show with Grizzly Bear at the Williamsburg Waterfront this afternoon.

For: Short&SweetNYC

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Film Review: Cyrus


“Seriously, don’t f*** my mom” is a tagline that will draw eyes on the new film Cyrus by directorial duo the Duplass brothers, but it may give audiences the wrong idea about the film because it's a funny film but it has guts too. While it is a great comedy, the heart of the film is in its character's centered look at the nature of human relationships and co-dependence. The film contains a wonderful ensemble of actors with Oscar regulars: John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, and Catherine Keener as well as funny man Jonah Hill who shows he’s more than just the chubby kid with the punch line as the characters draw us into the story quickly and never disappoint.

The film focuses around the life of John (Reilly) who is recently divorced with no prospects in sight but maintains an oddly close relationship to his ex, Jamie (Keener), who is soon to be re-married. She walks in on him spending some "quality personal time" and tries to get him out where he embarrassingly meets Molly (Tomei) who seems terrific, but as he soon finds out, has a relationship with her adult son Cyrus (Hill) that goes beyond intimate. After an awkward start, the men fight it out for the love they need in Molly and the film becomes the battle of John C. Reilly vs. Jonah Hill.

The film is tight, funny, and moving with no wasted moments and some brilliantly authentic performances. It’s an unassuming film that should really be on the Oscar contender shortlist and will make the Duplass Brothers film lovers’ favorites.

For: Short&SweetNYC


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Interview: The great Loudon Wainwright III



Loudon Wainwright III is a musician that has blended a sense of humor with an eye on the times in his unique blend of folk, blues, roots, and rock music over the years. In addition to releasing more than twenty albums he has also made an impression onscreen in roles in: MASH, Big Fish, and Knocked Up. He might be best known for songs like his 1972 hit “Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road)” as well as fathering musicians Rufus, Martha, & Lucy Wainwright, but as his 2009 Grammy win for Best Traditional Folk Album suggests, he’s a man of many talents who shouldn’t be judged solely on his highlight reel. He will be performing locally at Central Park Summer Stage on June 8, the YMCA Boulton Center in Bay Shore on June 11, and at Stephen Talkhouse out East on June 12.


First of all, congratulations on your Grammy, how has it changed things for you if at all?

Well as the expression goes “it couldn’t hurt” or “it doesn’t hurt” or “it’s not hurting.” You know, it was a wonderful finish to, I don’t’ know if finish is the right word, it was a wonderful payoff to the work that we did on the album, the double album, High, Wide, & Handsome that I did with my friend Dick Connette who produced the album and bankrolled the whole project. So it’s wonderful that it ended up the way it did and we won the Grammy. And yes, now in my obituary somewhere there will probably be a mention of the fact that I am a Grammy winner in addition to being the father of talented children and the creator of “Dead Skunk (in the Middle of the Road).”

Yeah definitely, speaking about High, Wide, & Handsome I wanted to ask how you came upon choosing Charlie Pool as a subject to cover and work with?

Well basically, I’m of the generation where in the mid [to] late 60’s I was a kid, a teenager listening to music and in addition to Tom Lehrer and Allan Sherman records I was listening to groups like The Holy Modal Rounders and The New Lost City Ramblers and they were covering songs like “Moving Day” and “The Baltimore City Fire” that they got off Charlie Poole records, well Charlie Poole was not a song writer but he was a wonderful, creative interpreter of the popular songs of his day which was the 1920’s, and then I actually heard Charlie Poole himself in the early 70’s (I didn’t hear him live because he died in 1938) but there was a hip label out at that time called County Records and they had some Charlie Poole material so I heard them and I really just got into him and his style of playing and singing and then the fella that I just mentioned, Dick Connette, had this idea that we could somehow inhabit his world and take what our feelings were as performers and songwriters and just do an album, a project and that’s how it all happened.

It’s a terrific album and it seems to segue cleanly into your new album Songs for the New Depression. Was there any thought to that or was it just coincidence?

There wasn’t really a lot of thought; I mean I have written topical songs throughout my entire career. I suppose that I’m of a generation that, in the 60’s you’d hear, well certainly Bob Dylan, but even before him Woody Guthrie, you know, people that would write social commentary and so that’s something that I’ve done, I did an album in the early 90’s called Social Studies. So I just started to write these topical songs to kind of track the recession that we are in now and I found a couple of songs from the old depression and so there is a link I suppose because Poole lived in that first depression and some of his songs, I mentioned “Moving Day,” but I suppose it can be construed as dealing with hard times but I wasn’t trying to link the two albums in any particular way, it’s just coincidental- one came after the other.

There’s a song on your new album, “Fear Itself,” that I find really interesting in talking about the times now because it seems to have a personal meaning too. Where did that song stem from and how did it develop?

Well, again I started writing the first song on the album “Times are Hard” which was written kind of around the inaugural and then I just had my eye out and do what I do everyday which is read the newspaper a little bit and glance at the news and it just struck me that again all these parallels were being made between this depression and the old one, the Roosevelt era depression, and that expression “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself” and then I just- often a song can start that way with just a line or an idea and the song opens with “everybody’s talking about 1929 eighty long years ago” and then you’re just off then you just write four verses really I mean that’s how these things really happen.

Do you tend to write the same way? Do you tend to sit down and try to write songs? What’s your process in terms of writing music?

The parallel I use is fishing. I mean, you’ve got a line in the water and a bait on a hook I suppose and you know you have some skills as a fisherman. In my case I’ve been writing songs for forty years or thereabouts so there’s also mystery: why do you get a bite? or a strike? or why does the fish take the hook? I mean I don’t quite understand how it all works, the inspiration part, but you know you’re out there trolling around looking for stuff and then all of a sudden you pull up and you’ve got something. That’s the best way I can describe it.

Ironically, I first became aware of your music as a music director working at a college radio station when I picked up an album and saw the track “IWIWAL (I Wish I Was A Lesbian)” and I had to at least give it a listen. The song, like many of your hit songs is categorized as a “novelty song.” How do you feel about your hit songs being referred to as “novelty”?

Well, in my mind a novelty song is a good thing, I grew up a fan of so-called novelty songs, I don’t know if your familiar with the work of people like Ray Stevens or Stan Freberg or Tom Lehrer or even Allan Sherman, songs that make people laugh- I’m all for that so I write those kinds of songs- like silly, fun songs like “I Wish I was a Lesbian” or “Dead Skunk” or I have a new song about getting my guitar broken called “Suzy.” I continue to do that, I mean I write other kinds of songs- I don’t spend a lot of time dividing them up into categories, I’m just writing songs, but occasionally a novelty song comes out, occasionally something that you wouldn’t call a novelty song by any stretch of the imagination comes out.

Even as an actor a lot of your roles are humorous but often when you incorporate humor into work it sometimes doesn’t get the respect it warrants.

Yeah, I think that’s a mistake. When I do a show for instance, I work at getting the audience to loosen up and to laugh and some of these songs are designed to illicit that laughter and it’s not an easy thing to get 300 people to laugh at the same time or 2000 or 30, whatever the number is but it takes skill and timing and it’s not a simple, easy, nothing thing to do.

Absolutely, as a stand-up comedian I totally understand. I wanted to ask you about your family because you have such a musical family. Did you ever sit down and teach your kids music at all or did they just get it from being around you? They each have their own personal styles and you’ve all worked together on different songs, how did the Wainwright family of music develop, because your parents weren’t necessarily musical at all right?

Well my father wrote some songs, he played a little bit of piano but he wasn’t a musician but he loved music and had a terrific record collection and that’s where I heard all those Tom Lehrer and Stan Freberg records, in his record collection. I think in terms of the kids, they’re not kids anymore, Rufus is 36 but Lucy, Martha, and Rufus who are out and about doing music earning a living as musicians, making records, writing songs, performing I suppose some of that is genetic perhaps. Rufus and Martha’s mother was the great musician and songwriter Kate McGarrigle and Lucy’s mom is Suzzy Roche of The Roches, so the deck was genetically stacked I suppose you could say. They grew up around guitars and pianos and banjos and parents who were going to do shows and sound checks and in the studio so the nature and nurture aspect of it , it doesn’t surprise me that they ended up as singers and songwriters and musicians and happily they are talented.

It can certainly be tumultuous in the music industry. Was there ever a fear of them going into the industry? Did you ever push them away from it?

No, no both their mothers and I were both pleased that they were singers and drawn to the family business, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s not an easy life particularly. The touring and the traveling is chaotic and reeks havoc at home but it’s a great life. I mean I’m a believer that being an entertainer is an honorable, noble calling so I’m happy that the kids are doing it.

Speaking of the road, you’re on the road now. What is your approach to the road? You’re a seasoned musician who’s done it so long, are there certain rituals you go through?

It’s harder and harder to go on the road cause I’m getting older and older and basically the shlep is tough and you know airports are a nightmare now with all the screening and baggage issues and paying for bags and you can’t bring the guitar on the plane and it’s a big hassle being on the road and it hasn’t really been fun being on the road. A lot people travel in buses and I suppose that’s easier but since I’m a one man operation I travel alone. That’s the aspect of the job I don’t like, the other aspects like the songwriting and performing I still love and outweigh the vagaries I suppose so but it’s a tough life. Now it’s about figuring out how can I not bring this- do I really need my computer? It’s weight, it’s all about weight and movement and it’s become about physics more than anything else.

Yeah, did you get a chance to see Up in the Air? It gives a good look at the physics of traveling?

Yes I did.

You’ve had a number of interesting film and television roles over the years and certainly with Knocked Up and doing an album based on that film you sort of opened yourself up to a whole new audience. How did that come about?

Well, Judd Apatow was a fan of mine when he was a teenager, I guess in the eighties he grew up on Long Island and I think he saw me on one of those variety shows like The Mike Douglas Show or the David Letterman Afternoon Show or something and something I was doing just grabbed him. I didn’t know this of course until I met him about 10 years ago and he got in touch with me about being in his television show Undeclared. So that’s really how that all happened, I studied to be an actor. I thought I was going to be an actor and I went to drama school. I had done some stage work and a couple of movies in the eighties but then with Judd and the TV show and being in Knocked Up and working on the music, you know I’m doing more things now I suppose, getting little parts in movies every once in awhile and one of my songs was just in that TV show Parenthood. You know it’s great getting the songs into movies and getting the little acting jobs is always fun so I’m quite happy about that development and I think I owe a lot to Judd in that regard.

How would you compare Hollywood with the music industry?

Oh, pretty much the same, you know, full of shit. That’s pretty much it but I mean again, it’s pretty much like Ingrid Bergman put it “but still you wouldn’t trade it for a sack of gold” or “a sack of shit” what every she says- “a sack of weed.”

You’ve had this long career with a number of interesting turns, any large regrets? What are the moments that you’re happiest with?

Well, I’m full of regrets but we won’t talk about that, but it was a great year, it was wonderful to win the Grammy and I actually just got back from the road yesterday and opened up the box and now it’s on the mantel so that certainly was a thrill. I think as a songwriter I don’t think about writing for other people so much but occasionally somebody will record my songs and this year Mose Allison who is one of my absolute heroes, I still go see him when he performs, recorded one of my songs, a song called “I’m Alright” on his new album. That was the kick of the year, it’s going to be hard to top that , that and the Grammy and I became a grandfather too, that’s a big thing- speaking of ‘g’ words. Martha had a boy in November so but certainly having someone like Mose Allison record one of your songs, it’s a thrill, there is no other word for it.

Yeah, when you have Mose and Johnny Cash covering your stuff you are doing well!

Yeah, we’ve had some interesting covers and I am always happy when that can happen.



For: Short & Sweet NYC

Monday, May 31, 2010

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Goodbye Dennis Hopper, rest in peace!


Dennis Hopper was a truly groundbreaking artist and filmmaker with a groundbreaking taste in art as this clip on his art collection shows. He was awesome, one of those people I always would've wanted to meet (or at the very least buy some of my work). Rest in peace Dennis

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Reggie Watts, my new hero



I recently learned of the unique music,comedy, and performance of Brooklynite Reggie Watts and I am at once captivated, jealous, and tired (that last bit just because I just got off work and ate McDonalds). Anyway, he's awesome- check him out.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Bob Dylan, Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to one of the best songwriters of our time, Robert Allen Zimmerman was born 69 years ago today on May 24, 1941. Happy Birthday Bob Dylan, glad you're still making music!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Obey NYC


Dear NYC,
Why do you have to go and ruin a cool Shepard Fairey mural with that terrible bubble letter garbage graffiti? It's not 1981, Run DMC is over, move on and learn how to spraypaint.

Sincerely,
Tim

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Music: Ted Leo And The Pharmacists cover Tears For Fears


Ted Leo And The Pharmacists cover Tears For Fears
In third grade Kerri Davis turned to me and said "Do you listen to Tears for Fears, I'd think you'd like them" and I realized I did like them, in fact I still do and this cover by Ted Leo And The Pharmacists of "Everyone Wants to Rule the World" reminds me why. That's AV Club and Starbucks, by the way- I'll take a grande coffee in a vente cup with extra half and half thanks!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

DVD REVIEW: Arj Barker ’s LYAO

Jokes.com
Arj Barker - Complicated Being
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CYBO might be a more appropriate title for Arj Barker’s new stand-up comedy DVD LYAO because while the comedian most known for his role as Dave on HBO’s Flight of the Conchords does succeed at delivering an engaging and entertaining hour of comedy, the chuckles still outweighed the laughs. Regardless, it still is an impressive showing. The comic gets a hefty thumbs up and 27.4 gold stars for his special brand of observational material that plays with language in the age of the internet as well as his great character work which helps set himself apart from the mass of comics out there today.

Arj manages to bring a fresh perspective that keeps the audience attentively involved throughout his set, which ranges from everyday topics like sleep and money to jokes about Pluto’s planetary status and ethnic bias (and being half-Indian and half-European, I’m sure he knows a thing or two about it). As a comedian, Arj is like a love child of Demitri Martin and Jerry Seinfeld and stylistically he’s reminiscent of a laid-back motivational speaker that doesn’t suck, so the show is definitely worth checking out.

The DVD also comes with an audio version of the show and a couple of bonus features including a pretty awesome music video entitled “Sickest Buddhist.” If you’re a fan of comedy or just a fan of seeing Indian guys in embroidered cowboy shirts, the DVD is well worth checking out and even beyond being fun to say, the name Arj Barker should be one we’ll hear from more in the future.

For: Short & Sweet NYC

Monday, May 10, 2010

Goodbye Lena Horne



According to the New York Times Jazz legend Lena Horne passed away last night at New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center due to undisclosed causes at the age of 92. She was one of the last great Jazz singers and even though I was introduced to her years after her prime on television shows like Sesame Street and The Cosby Show she could still knock them out.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Concert Review: Dion Roy & Ryan Cabrera music cruise

There might be no activity that attracts the “Bridge and Tunnel” crowd more than a "Rock's Off" concert cruise around Manhattan at night but that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthwhile experience. In truth the crowd was oddly eclectic mixing young and old with A-list with last call making the four hour cruise as interesting for the people watching as it was for the music and scenery. The show opened with a short set by singer/songwriter Matt Lowell which was perfect in such an intimate space especially when it’s accented with the spectacular view of the sun setting over the skyline.

He was followed by South African native, Dion Roy who had an equally chill acoustic set featuring songs from Gallery, his recently released debut album. Dion's laid back sound was the perfect fit for the moment as the boat cruised slowly under the Brooklyn Bridge and along the south shore of Mahattan. The most shocking thing about Dion is that this same mild mannered musician choose to submit himself to singing into "Will the Farter's" rectal gas onslaught shortly after the performance in order to perform on the Howard Stern show.

Finally the microphone was passed on to headliner Ryan Cabrera who proved that he is every bit as much of a tool as you might think. He started off his performance well and interacted with the audience but after a few drinks he let his douche flag fly and it was all over. Still it was more funny than annoying and his songs were mellow in their live incarnations so all’s well that ends well. Overall the experience was well worth the ticket price and the songs of all three singers might well have been better live than recorded so it made for a great night.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Theater Review: American Idiot

Quick, Sexy, and endlessly confusing, Broadway’s American Idiot is a questionable caricature of a burgeoning generation.



Green Day is one of a handful of bands that represent the generation that is now coming of age and Broadway’s American Idiot is something of a caricature of that generation but seeing it played out before one’s eyes is terribly uncomfortable and gives little input into what the generation is really about. The most immediate issue with the musical is the total lack of any concrete storyline which unfortunately is multiplied by the fact that the work follows three friends after high school as they travel down very different paths of drug use, having a child, and joining the army.

As one might expect the music pulls the weight in this piece and the big numbers such as: 21 Guns, Time of Your Life, and Holiday are great but with 90 minutes to fill no amount of theater tricks like: wire suspensions, animations, or seductive skin can fill the void (but honestly the sex appeal of the skin does help a little). In reality, the smooth polish of Broadway and the cast of young talent ends up taking away some of power of what is great about these songs in their original form, the raw emotion (they are after all a punk band at heart), and it ends up cheapening the music.

The set, costumes, and design of the show contain a ton of modern iconography like wallpapered graffiti reading OBEY, Avedon’s Marilyn Monroe images, and a huge amount of punk influence countered with a touch of Calvin Klein ala Kate Moss in the Army numbers- all things that are associated with “cool” but in this context they are everything but and feel an obvious exploitation of cultural elements to no means aka it’s a sellout. We forgave Green Day for writing the never-ending prom video classic “Time of Your Life” even with the flimsy excuse that it was “the most punk thing” they could’ve done but this musical crosses the line.

In all, there are a couple of great musical numbers followed by a couple of huge questions like: why not write a better story, why would Green Day allow this to be staged, and does that girl in the sexy underwear have a boyfriend? Either way for the ticket price I’d much prefer to see the band perform the music themselves- that or grab a ticket to see the Who’s Tommy because they might not have died before they got old but somehow they remained respectable on Broadway.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Album Review: Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement



After ten years of silence and a career that includes five albums and a legacy of sonic and interpersonal discord, Pavement has just released Quarantine the Past: The Best of Pavement, a 23 song greatest hits album pulled from a cross-section of their catalog. The collection is far from a typical greatest hits album, partially because the band had no real conventional hits to speak of but it allows the listener to follow the band from their cassette tape beginnings to their abrupt ending while appreciating their special brand of melodic disharmony and witty sarcasm.

While the song choices draw from across their tenure they are heavily pulled from the band’s two initial and most notable albums: Slanted and Enchanted and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain including classic songs such as: "Here," "Range Life," "Heaven Is a Truck," and their closest brush to a hit "Cut Your Hair." All the well-known Pavement songs are included but what’s great about the band has never been their popular appeal, it’s their unique grungy and sometimes awkward garage sound paired with abstract poetic lyrics pulled from inspirations in classic rock, punk, and country and it’s well represented on the album.

The collection mixes in terrific tracks like: "Shoot the Singer (1 Sick Verse)" from the Watery, Domestic EP and the Slay Tracks song "Box Elder" which helps show why the band’s been so influential with their smart melodies and bright raw feel. The album is the kind of thing that should be issued to everyone entering art school and is without question a must have for any fan of low-fi indie rock.

Now, to get my hands on a pair of tickets to their live show this summer...

For: Short & Sweet NYC

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tim Needles: Renaissance Man (366 Days of the Year)


Here's a three part article that was recently written about me by Louis Lasser IV, a very creative artist in his own right, for the Long Island Examiner. It's strange to see you life in third person but it's cool so I thought I'd share.

Tim Needles: Renaissance Man (366 Days of the Year)

Tim Needles: The Oak Tree Metaphor

Tim Needles Loves Art (and Art Reciprocates)


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Friday, April 9, 2010

I had lost my mind....


I was thinking this to myself quietly today and I thought of Daniel, if you haven't seen this biography it's one of my absolute favorites...absolute and get the album The Late Great Daniel Johnston while your at it (even though he's still alive).

Friday, March 26, 2010

Theater Review: Henson's Stuffed and Unstrung



We all grew up on the Muppets and now in a small theater in Union Square, the Muppets have grown up too (and man do they have filthy mouths and dirty minds) as Henson Alternative presents Stuffed and Unstrung, a live, adult orientated improv puppet show. First off, no, it’s not actually the Muppets but there are a wide variety of Henson puppets performed by amazing puppeteers including Jim Henson’s son Brian and the show brings improv comedy to a new level as the audience sees the puppeteers on stage creating the work as a cropped video feed above the stage gives the crowd a glimpse of the act with just the puppets.

The result is both fascinating and thoroughly entertaining and the actual show might well be the best improv of any kind you’ll find in New York right now. The sheer wit, timing, and craft of the performers aids in nullifying the lulls that one might find in a typical improv show. Brian Henson said he felt that part of the success was because in improv there are traditional scenarios such as a bad date and “when your actors doing it that’s one thing, but a bad date between a fish and a goat adds a whole new layer of outrageousness.”

The piece is hosted by actor Patrick Bristow who is well known from his roles on “Ellen” and “Who’s Line is it Anyway” and there is an enormous amount of audience participation ranging from the expected input via yelling out character names or occupations to be used in the sketch to pulling up audience members for a shotgun lesson in puppeteering and getting thrown into a skit. The show is a perfect New York experience and not to be missed so grab a ticket while you can because the engagement only runs through May 29th at the Union Square Theatre. For more information go to: www.stuffedandunstrung.com

For: Short&SweetNYC

Thursday, February 25, 2010

DVD Review: Copyright Criminals

Copyright Criminals from IndiePix on Vimeo.


Sampling has become a mainstay in music and it’s come a long way from the straight-up sound clips of early hip-hop, establishing itself as an art unto itself. The new documentary Copyright Criminals takes a look at the legality and the evolution of recontextualizing music along with all the questions that it generates.

Director Benjamin Franzen manages to outline both sides of the issue and presents a tremendous amount of information in a tight 54 minute piece, giving a range of viewpoints from artists famed for sampling such as: De La Soul, Chuck D, and Mix Master Mike of the Beastie Boys to those who have been sampled the most such as: George Clinton and James Brown’s drummer Clyde Stubblefield. The film follows the timeline of the practice, hitting on major lawsuits and outlining copyright law with interpretations from lawyers and business perspectives from producers and record company executives.

The film is as interesting and entertaining as it is relevant and is a must see for the modern musician but it also manages to entertain with wonderful clips by the Eclectic Method, a group that samples music paired to video clips making their sources overt while creating a much more sensory experience. The film rhetorically asks the provocative question “can you own a sound?” To get a glimpse or to purchase the DVD check out www.copyrightcriminals.com

For: Short & Sweet NYC

Thursday, February 11, 2010

David Byrne's "Playing the Building"


The Talking Head's were the group that helped mead me to art school and David Byrne continues to work creatively in a variety of media with interesting new works. Here's a short video from the BBTV introducing the installation "Playing the Building" that was in the Battery Maritime Building in New York recently. This summer it will open in London. It was a wonderfully interactive and creative installation and so cool it's not to miss!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

U900, Cuteness overload







Okay, I know this is a little overboard but this Japanes duo's amigurumi animated videos are the "crack cocaine of cute" and I can't stop watching. U900 takes kawaii to a new level.

Monday, February 8, 2010

DVD Review: Artie Lang's Jack and Coke

For 9 years comic Artie Lang has held an esteemed seat on the Howard Stern Show endearing himself to fans with his down to earth blue collar demeanor and despite his recent brutal suicide attempt the New Jersey native has recently released his second standup special Jack and Coke on DVD.

The show which was filmed at New York’s own Gotham Comedy Club runs about an hour and a half and shows what a confident performer Lange is despite his insecurities. The best material in Artie’s set is his most personal and many of the funniest jokes will be familiar to fans of the radio show. Unfortunately, Artie’s best bits are few and far between and the comic often veers from the heartfelt and lands in the more predictable territory of gay and hooker jokes for much of the show, pulling from a seemingly never-ending bag of hack.

The best comedy often stems from personal trauma and rage and nothing says that more than 9 stab wounds to the abdomen so it’s a shame Lange doesn’t get real in his set. He ends up appearing like any number of stage vets who go through the motions and he never feels in the moment. When he does occasionally break from the mold it’s thoroughly interesting and funny and a few examples can be found on the DVD extras. Lange has proven he has great ability in his time on the Stern show so hopefully he sticks around long enough to reach his potential onstage.

For: Short & Sweet NYC

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Elvis Perkins- Stay Zombie Stay acoustic


Elvis Perkins is one of my recent favorites since his In Dearland album came out a while back and I stumbled on this fantastic version of "Stay Zombie Stay" from his most recent EP recorded acoustic at Lake Fever. Not bad for a bunch of white guys who look like they were bumped from Blind Melon!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Saints Superbowl Song: "Glory Bound"


Who would've guessed that Aaron Neville would out do Prince in creating a football team theme song (or even that either would try) but with the newly released"Glory Bound" it's a hands down knock-out. The song blends together a portion of "Who Dat?" which was created back in 1983 by New Orleans producer Carlo Nuccio along with a portion of "When the Saints Go Marching In" and features hometown musicians such as: Theresa Andersson, Carlo Nuccio, Matt Perrine, Jon Cleary, and Aaron's son Ivan Neville on organ.

“Glory Bound” is available for download at TeamGloryBound.com, and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the track will go to The New Orleans Musicians Clinic, a not-for-profit occupational medicine and wellness partnership offering affordable, comprehensive health care to New Orleans musicians.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Author, Recluse J.D. Salinger Dies

Catcher in the Rye was the first book I ever read on my own and I loved it before I even understood it but the story of the author has become almost as intriguing as one of his stories.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Music Review: Animal Collective- Fall Be Kind



As the decade without a name comes to a close, a look back reveals a strange amalgam of musical developments, but without question one of the most exciting bands to surface was Animal Collective. The Baltimore natives put out an amazing album this year but may have even raised the stakes with their new 5 track EP, Fall Be Kind, which pushes the sonic envelope a bit further, offering new developments and, if possible, a more complex sound.

The intro track “Graze” begins with a theatrical note and has a feeling reminiscent of a late 70’s progressive rock concept album ala Pink Floyd or Yes. It’s followed up with “What Would I Want? Sky” which samples the Grateful Dead’s “Unbroken Chain” from Mars Hotel (the first ever licensed use of a Dead sample). The song changes pace a bit with the addition of strong percussion and a spacey, tribal feel, which develops into a brilliant movement that approaches a more traditional rock song format with an almost hip-hop quality.

This track alone makes the album worth picking up but it’s followed with an ambient layered interim entitled “Bleed” and “On a Highway” which continues the tribal, echo chamber feel but with a more pronounced 1980’s pop/rock edge. The EP closes with a Frankensteinian track entitled “I Think I Can” which blends together a drive to the beach in 1986 with deep space “wall of sound” production and a dash of medieval troubadours to create something inherently Animal Collective in every way.

For: Short & Sweet NYC

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

I heart Alma

Alma from Rodrigo Blaas on Vimeo.


This is a fantastic short animated film from director Rodrigo Blaas who has worked as a Pixar animator for a number of years. Watch it, Love it, repeat.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Top Films of 2009


Happy New Year! Here's a list of my favorite...and least favorite films from 2009. Unfortunatly some of the cool indie films take a long time to get out here to the suberbs so there's a bunch I've been wanting to see but luckily, it's been a pretty good year for films.

1. Up In The Air
2. Up
3. Funny People
4. Inglorious Bastards
5. Where The Wild Things Are
6. The Cove
7. District 9
8. It Might Get Loud
9. Avatar
10. Coraline

And the worst...
1. Land of the Lost
2. 2012
3. Observe and Report
4. The Hangover
5. Sherlock Holmes