From now until February 23rd, you can stream the new Shearwater record, “The Golden Archipelago” from NPR’s website. The stream has been up for a couple of days now, and I think I’ve nearly worn out my network card listening to it. If that’s possible.
Personally, I think it’s their best record (and I like Palo Santo a lot, so that’s saying something). It’s sprawling, detailed and gorgeous–and it somehow feels even more ambitious and interesting with every listen. It’s definitely a record that deserves a dedicated listening session, possibly through headphones.
If you’ve never heard Shearwater, or if you just don’t like streaming for some reason, try this MP3 of the track “Castaways” on for size.
If you live in or near Toronto, you should definitely go check them out at Lee’s on April 1st. If you live in Austin, you’ll have two chances to see them in the coming months: at Antone’s during SXSW, and at the Parish on May 7th.
For this week only, Pitchfork has a free stream of Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen, a 1965 documentary portrait of the famed poet, author and musician.
Though the film contains almost none of Cohen’s music (he didn’t release his first record until two years after the film was released), it’s a thoroughly interesting and surprisingly intimate portrait of the now 75 year-old artist as a young man. Shot on one of Cohen’s visits to his hometown of Montreal (he was living in Greece at the time), the film follows him to pubs, poetry readings and hotel rooms, where he candidly discusses life, friendship and art. It’s a great way to spend an hour–but if you’re anything like me, it’ll leave you with a strong urge to visit Montreal, and to re-read Beautiful Losers.
If you hate Pitchfork (or if you miss their one-week window), you can also stream Ladies and Gentlemen from the National Film Board of Canada’s site. If you want to own it, you can buy a DVD copy, which apparently contains some extra material.
If you know me well, you’ve probably heard me yammer on about my interest in urban planning and traffic. And from those conversations, you’ve probably surmised–correctly–that I know absolutely nothing about the subject.
Still, that doesn’t stop me from being deeply interested in cities. And I was jazzed to hear that Talking Head, Visual Artist and Author David Byrne will be visiting Austin this month to discuss cycling, cities and the urban experience.
The appearance is part of an 8 city lecture tour promoting Byrne’s new book, Bicycle Diaries, which comes out this Thursday (Sep. 27) here in the States. The book details Byrne’s adventures as an avid, traveling cyclist (he has one of those wacky folding bikes) and an enthusiastic admirer of cities in general. And at each stop, he’ll converse with a local civic leader, urban theorist, and bicycle advocate.
The tour also includes a stop in Toronto, where Byrne will chat with NDP leader Jack Layton, among others. That’d be great. Of course, the Austin stop is smack dab in the middle of Fantastic Fest, which kinda sucks. But this seems like too cool an opportunity to pass up, so, yeah.
[More Info] [RSVP for the Austin Event]
Next Sunday (September 6th), they’re screening two great movies at the Alamo: Jim Jarmusch’s bizarro western masterpiece Dead Man, and Dario Argento’s horror-as-high-art classic Deep Red. Both are worth seeing, and though I own them both on DVD, I’m still bummed to be missing these rare theatrical screenings.
Dead Man is the film that got me interested in Jarmusch, and the strange, bleak, existential western still impresses well over a decade later. The opening scene’s ridiculous (in a good way) performance by Crispin Glover is, on its own, worth the price of admission. And the electric (but somehow timeless) score by Neil Young is the icing on the cake. Besides Edward Scissorhands, this is Johnny Depp’s best role, and, I think, Jarmusch’s best film.
Deep Red was one of the last Argento films I saw–even after seeing Mother of Tears. So I have a deeper affection for Suspiria, I think (as I’ve spent a lot more time with it). But I can tell you that Red is a fantastic, near-perfect example of Argento’s mad genius. And that a hell of a lot of people think it’s his masterwork.
So if you’re in Austin this weekend, I’d recommend hunkering down at the Ritz Sunday night. These two classics will make a great (but very dark) double-bill.
Fantastic Fest is so close I can taste it. But since it’s completely sold out, I feel kinda bad for folks who didn’t get badges in time. For them I’ve put together a list of publicly-accessible FF screenings and events. Check it out on Austinist.
Austin’s 3rd Annual FunFunFun Fest has a kickass lineup this year. It’s kind of a strange hodgepodge of punk, indie, dance and hip hop, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The highlights for me include:
The National, Minus the Bear (even though each record is slightly less awesome, “Highly Refined Pirates” banks them a lot of cred in my book), St. Vincent (Member of Dallas’ The Polyphonic Spree whose solo record is great), Deerhoof, Dead Milkmen, Bad Brains, Clipse, Dan Deacon, Young Widows, Kool Keith and ALL.
I’m also really excited about the Rival Schools reunion, and the Walter Schreifels solo set. I’m a huge Quicksand fan, and Walter is still a kind of mythic figure to me.
Tickets for FFFF can be purchased here. Complete lineup info is here.
I didn’t get to do all that much at SXSW this year (hence the lack of updates this past couple weeks), but I did find time to see a lot of good movies at the film fest.
The real standout for me was They Killed Sister Dorothy, the bizarre true story of a missionary nun murdered by ranchers deep in the heart of the Brazilian Rain Forest. It’s really good.
I saw a bunch more movies, and you can read about them in my SXSW recap for Austinist. Not nearly as many as I’d have liked, but what are you gonna do?
On the musical side, I didn’t get to see much either. Most disappointingly, I missed the new John Reis project Night Marchers on two consecutive days, and somehow missed J Mascis despite having arrived at the venue an hour before his set, AND having watched him be interviewed for MTV2 (pictured). How does that happen? But I did get to see Yo La Tengo at the Parish (probably Austin’s best-sounding venue), Aloha and Shearwater at Waterloo Park, and Thurston Moore at the French Legation Museum (which looks like it’d be a great place to have a wedding).
Oh yeah–and on Sunday, we saw J Mascis walking alone down sixth street, and Chris failed to invite him to lunch. Way to go, Chris.
Dischord records announced yesterday that they’ll be launching a new digital sales initiative sometime this spring. Though you can already buy most of the Dischord catalog through e-music, itunes and amazon, the label is apparently crafting a web-based version of their completely awesome direct-to-consumer mail order business (if you look on the back of any Dischord CD, it’ll say something like, “This CD available $10 postage paid from Dischord Records”).
Says the Dischord newsletter: “Our goal is to offer a hybrid of the direct sale and subscription based services. We will offer customers the option to purchase entire album files for a set price or purchase credits [that] can be used to download a variety of individual songs.”
Awesome. And I assume the prices will be slightly lower than the average download, because that’s how Dischord rolls.
Finally, a label that understands the power of the internet as a distribution method. Why can’t the multi-billion dollar majors figure this stuff out? Grab that long tail, Dischord! Grab it!
DO NOT do this to me, internet. I was sixty seconds away from booking a flight to Philadelphia. I’m still excited to hear Rick’s new band Obits though–I just downloaded a bootleg of their first show here, but haven’t checked it out yet. Oh, and Speedo’s new band The Night Marchers will apparently be playing SXSW 08.
I’m really digging the new Band of Horses track “Is There a Ghost”. It’s a bit short, and a bit repetitive.. but man is does this band sound great. Everything All the Time was easily in my top 5 records last year–it’s a record I just can’t seem to overplay. And I’m hoping Cease to Begin will be just as good.
[Band of Horses on Myspace]