Vol 3 No. 7 ///// Sept 2011
NEWPORT DANDIES Words with the
David Wax Museum
RYAN WARING'S PITCHFORK ODYSSEY PLUS:
80 MINUTES OF MUSIC For 18 Holes of Golf
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR THE GLORIOUS RETURN OF HANS LARSEN, Or how i (once again) fell in love with the Newport Folk Festival. Yes, you read the title of this short story correctly. Hans “The Swede” Larsen is out of hibernation and once again where he belongs: in the theoretical offices of the Inflatable Ferret. The rest of the title is self-explanatory. Issue 7, in all its belated wonder, is a bit of a catsup issue, if you will, in that it includes a lot of summer material. But as is always our mentality, albums and movies aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so better late than never. In the same spirit, our first of two interviews was conducted over a year ago with Tally Hall, just after they had finished recording an album that didn’t come out until June of this year. But who are we to judge? The second interview, and cover story, is with David Wax Museum, one of the hottest folk bands east ofTawain. And as the chill of fall and football season creep back into our lives, we’ve given you one last desperate excuse to hit the sticks with 80 minutes of music for 18 holes of golf. As always, it’s great to be back with you, and we’ll be in touch again soon. But before I sign off and let you get to flipping, I’d like to congratulate IF’s Bryant Kitching on his first piece published in Rolling Stone!
Vol 3 No. 7 ///// Sept 2011 FEATURE
Ryan Waring takes a hacksaw to Wilco's Summerteeth, and recounts his 2011 Pitchfork journey while he's at it; And an Evening with Larry Crowne
Reviews for Battles, Tally Hall, The Weeknd, Crazy, Stupid, Love, The Double Hour, and Another Earth
IF sits down on a patch 'o' grass with the one and only David Wax Museum, and we dig into the archives for an old interview with Brooklyn's Tally Hall
We dreamed up a golf course for you to play this fallâ€”we'll let you guess the length of the corresponding playlist
ISSUE CONTRIBUTORS Editor-in-Chief
Pat Passarelli Ainsley Thedinger
Design Kathryn Freund
Photography Richard Kluver Marc Whitman
We gladly welcome any criticism or suggestions. If you have any ideas for the magazine, or if you would like to be a part of it, please contact us at: info@ inflatableferret.com.
Rob DeStefano Hans Larsen James Passarelli Steve Selde Ryan Waring
CONTACT US via Email
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TOM KUTILEK email@example.com HANS LARSEN firstname.lastname@example.org JAMES PASSARELLI email@example.com RYAN WARING firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2011 Inflatable Ferret
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Pitchfork A Narrative words: ryan waring
// photos: marc whitman
EQUIPPED with a belt notched only through rigors in Grant Park, CTAâ€™s magnetic core and the site of the sprawling, hyperreal Lollapalooza, my past experience had led me to assume its L-train arteries would similarly (i.e. speedily) transport me to my first Windy City festival outside the first weekend of August: the 2010 edition of the Pitchfork Music Festival. But a year later and back in Chicago, the claustrophobic nightmares of my Green Line transit to Ashland Ave still haunted my psyche. My cheeks were still smarting from slaps by Berthaâ€™s dewlap, wenis, and underarm fat, an unholy, lard-filled triptych like the old brick in the purse routine. The mortification that starts once the siege of riders ensnare you within the embrasure, and relents only after you have publically spooned the subway doorjamb, rusted my flushed face again despite only being a distant memory. So this go around I tested the less glamorized bus system, which proved to be the more tractable moiety of the CTA. Its direct course, vacant seats, and the influx of skinny jeans and thick-framed glasses were fortuitous auspices for the weekend in transport.
bus ride abruptly capitulated among the hysteria of Ashland Avenueturned-Ashland Promenade, a boisterous narthex for Union Park’s august nave. Previous wisdom allowed me to steer clear of the sprightly ticket scalpers and wedge my way hastily towards will call through a befuddled crowd with the same objective. Last year’s nebulous boundary between lines for will call, the box office, and the festival entry gate exacerbated the tumult, but their more clearly defined shapes ironed out this year’s process. U nf or t un a t e l y for me, this expedition also shortened the time it took others to reach the final queue, which quickly began to wrap onto Lake and Washington. The line dully drudged alongside chain-link fences draped with opaque, green tarps, which, along with the hauntingly fantastical and darkly aggressive electronics Gatekeeper issued within, shrouded a familiar venue in an unexpected mystique. Having left a bag (and yes, fanny pack) at home after facing additional delay the previous year, I quickly bypassed the more burdened of the crowd and passed through the gates, pleased to see that I would be able to navigate a recognizable layout with little obstruction. I instantly deferred the reigns of decision making to my unwavering conflict-solving principles, which quickly arbitrated the debate between Battles and tUnE-yArDs, whom I had seen in May (and might
I now duly laud Merrill Garbus for an outstanding performance then that I’m sure she duplicated here) and were confined to the logistical headache of the Blue Stage, girded impenetrably by green tarp and vendors. So Battles it was, and the New York trio left a tough act for the rest of the weekend to follow. The group dexterously nailed its complex, exhilarating repertoire, heavily featuring this year’s Gloss Drop, but also expertly
Curren$y, whose charisma nonetheless still entertained. Straying uninterestedly from the stages, my curiosity drew me to the most conspicuous addition to the campus, a domed peculiarity that served as the Heineken Tent, providing essential refuge in its European discothèque interior, light and dark brews, and vital air-conditioning. The atmosphere outside picked up during Guided by Voices’ set. The 90’s alternative icons invited follow-up Neko Case to kick off their soiree, where Frontman Robert Pollard repeatedly imbibed a handle of tequila, a de facto fountain of youth, and bassist Greg Demos’s vintage get up and unabashed enthusiasm immediately validated the nostalgic act that dug all throughout its deep discography. Shortly before the set’s close, I retread last year’s reliable two-way street between main stages along the greentarped walls of the festival, delighted that its pristine potency still delivers me within yards of the rostrum. Neko Case gave a sincere and striking performance while flocks of concertgoers were closed in on Animal Collective’s Green Stage, a bandstand being quickly consumed by serpentine streamers and crystalline stalagmites. I about-faced before my trusty portal collapsed under the dense mass of the headliners’ audience, and regrettably settled to watch “This Tornado Loves You” and hit
Ian Williams BATTLES and inventively delivering the debut’s mammoth track “Atlas” despite the departure of integral frontman Tyondai Braxton. All the while, two LED boards projected videos of guest vocalists and some delectable scoops of ice cream. The lull that followed left me in a limbo between the garrulous strings of an uninspired Thurston Moore and the ADHD-riddled, stop-and-go blueball rapping on the Blue Stage by
single “People Got A Lotta Nerve” from the side screen. I mounted the infield lip Green Stage right, the best compromise of elevation and proximity for the vertically disinclined, and watched the naughties’ psychedelic version of the Fab Four wage a sonically intense performance rife with new material, yet the group’s aloofness, hiding in the dark behind flecks of lighting effects and aquatic Mache and ending the set at a quarter to ten without playing most of 2009’s dominant Merriweather Post Pavilion, detracted from the show. The Saturday ado on Ashland Promenade was considerably subdued after yesterday’s commotion, and understandably with all threeday passes surely administered, but inside Woods was issuing a swarming crescendo of electronics to rally the crowd out of its hangover. I reenergized between main stage sound booths while Cold Cave emerged on the Green Stage and, as if challenged by Woods’ noisy texture, brought an appreciated vivacity to their characteristically despondent goth-new wave, but transitioning each song with minutes of jarring distortion took its toll on my patience, so I distanced myself across the pitch at the Red Stage in anticipation for No Age. The LA duo never looked inadequate, despite the obvious limitations plaguing any two-person lineup donning a full punk outfit. Drummers rarely take the mic for a reason, but Dean Spunt flouts convention. After “Fever Dreaming”, I pepped up my mind to brave the Blue Stage to witness Wild Nothing. Entry was smooth, and I posted next to the sound booth to secure an optimal exit path. In spite of my efforts to stay detached, Wild Nothing’s rapturous soundscapes, hypnotic bass, and luring synths convinced me like the Siren’s song to sail nearer and nearer. James broke my trance with a tap on the shoulder, and we left for Gang
“ Robin Pecknold and company exceeded lofty expectations, sandwiching the rousing anthems of their breathtaking debut between healthy chunks of their equally impressive sophomore release.”
Robert Pollard GUIDED BY VOICES
G a n g Dance before rush hour hit. I positioned myself at my go-to infield lip at the Green Stage, but I would not stay there long. The Manhattan eclectic’s infectious rhythms unconsciously swept the whole audience about an ebb and flow, on which Lizzi Bougatsos continuously broke fourth wall to crowd surf. Gang Gang Dance were rave throwers with artistic credibility, and the atmosphere retained the energy while refining the expressions of last year’s Major Lazer party. Afterwards, I circled the Red Stage perimeter to watch Destroyer from afar on a much-needed water and shade break. I ventured back to the Green Stage where I discovered I was early enough to graduate past my infield lip and into the nook formed by the barrier that housed the devoted fans fixed in place like stoic redwoods, that is, until amplified sound waves began
Robin Pecknold FLEET FOXES
to uproot their trunks. Even the most sedentary of these wasn’t immune to the raging energy of the cultic act, best epitomized during “Girl O’Clock” when front man Travis Morrison, as if possessed by some demon, violently ripped off his shades revealing a wide-eyed, agog gaze and epileptically quaked in place before slamming his head on the keys and giving a few forehead glissandos. When all was said and done, Dismemberment Plan had delivered most of its hallmark Emer-
Bradford Cox DEERHUNTER
gency & I, guitarist Eric Axelson graciously slung a pair of froggies back to the fan who had generously lent them, and my real estate’s value sky rocketed with Fleet Foxes set to close the day next. Unfortunately (or fortunately), no shrewd festivalgoer has formally introduced the principle of speculation within concert grounds, so I aggressively seized the extra yards ahead and staked my territory for the next hour-plus while ruing my absence at Twin Shadow on the Blue Stage as DJ Shadow encased himself within an opaque globe for the near-entirety of his set across the park. One might suggest that my proximity to the Seattle folk rockers may have unfairly influenced my evaluation, but I like to think that my prescience implored me to cleave tightly to the barrier, expectant of a reward commensurate to my patience. And Robin Pecknold and company exceeded lofty expectations, sandwiching the rousing anthems of their breathtaking debut between healthy chunks of their equally impressive sophomore release, Helplessness Blues, and delivering their hallowed harmonies, which the audience further maintained and empowered, to their fullest potentials.
a brisk bus ride and a couple of agile side steps, I entered the scene for a third and final day. Reflecting back, entry this year was expedient, even suspiciously so. And with just moments until an enthralling set by Kurt Vile relinquished the spotlight to the controversial Odd Future, where were the domestic violence and anti-rape protesters I was promised to encounter? Judging by the Red Stage’s packed throng, deaf to Vile’s vigorous shredding just a stone’s throw to the right, picketing efforts appeared to be in vain. Slowly, the L.A. hip-hop collective emerged singly, with ringleader Tyler, The Creator, propped on crutches and with a cast on his right leg, literally limping out last. Despite the handicap and his overt misanthropy, Tyler seemed candidly personable, keeping offensive banter in check and even hobbling to the stage’s edge and crowd
surfing. But more subtly, he dropped his rictus and beamed a genuine wide smile that broadcasted the giddiness he felt from playing in front of such a large audience. Hodgy Beats, however, emanated nothing but psychotic hate. And this, along with the mindless regurgitation of lyrics and empty bravado from a posse of seventeenyear-old white boys in customized, sharpie-streaked OFWGKTA catchphrase undershirts, couldn’t keep me from regularly updating the Women’s World Cup final on my phone. The heat reached its most oppressive mood around the time Ariel Pink took the Green Stage. I sat myself to the side of the sound booth and hurriedly emptied two bottles of water as I rested in the vicinity of a short-lived set after what looked like some sort of impatient hissy fit, an especial shame considering Ariel
Pink’s de facto closing three numbers were, in succession, the three songs preceding “Round and Round”, the IF’s favorite track from its first year, on the group’s latest album, Before Today. Not until I had snuck up near the opposite stage in anticipation for Superchunk did I realize just how lengthy was the down time I faced. The ease with which I first claimed my spot up front should have clued me into visiting Baths at the Blue Stage. But there were the ‘Chunk, in all their untethered glory, pulverizing every chord, regaling us with a fuller, if Majesty Shredding-heavy setlist. Just shy of the finale, I took the steadfast route to the main stage, and after the customary lateral incision into the masses, situated myself atop the fringe, on which I had all but peed and acquired a deed. A patriotic Bradford Cox, perhaps uninformed
of our women’s loss hours earlier, plowed into a set half-composed from last year’s peerless Halcyon Digest, IF’s top album in 2011. Deerhunter softened their most threatening obstacle, working without Ben Allen’s remarkable production responsible for the album’s indispensible watery texture, by employing heavy distortion to reproduce songs so inherently debted to the studio. The record may be better, but the live versions give
overtly formal mannerisms, by which each smack of the tom comically recalled a priest consecrating the Eucharist, and the oft-mocked business casual attire, these Australian boys throw a hell of a party. To compensate for a set cut short by travel a few years ago, Cut Copy carried on over deadline with “Need You Now”, a welcome track per se though “Hearts on Fire” has deservedly staked its spot in the set like Maria-
the middle of the set, as nearby chit chat all but drowned out the group’s sound. The audience’s disconnect seemed to peak just around a block of four tracks from 2011’s Nine Types of Life, and I thought to myself, had Pitchfork itself doomed an event geared towards its most ardent apostles, who take the site’s critique as if it indie scripture, with a less than “Best New Music” review of the latest release? Still, TvotR seemed unphased, projecting full confidence in a set that, despite its slow start, slowly grew like a creeping ivy. Within the first few seconds of “Wolf Like Me”, the band had its audience exactly where it wanted us, and a guest appearance by Shabazz Palaces on “A Method,” as well as a gratifying cover of Fugazi’s “Waiting Room,” made a strong and credible case for the best performance of the week. And thus, the 2011 chapter of Pitchfork Music Festival had come to a close, and thankfully with a 90 minute whimper s t e a d i l y - t ur n e d bang. As I ascended the steps to the platform where the Ltrain would whisk me away, I looked back over a Union Park in quick decay, as crew workers pillaged the stages like Vandals. Their expedience conjured images of my weekend in expedience: an unmolested bus ride, the festival’s integration of queue shortcuts, the cash compliant Heineken tenet, my aversion to the Blue Stage, and the Chunnel-like delivery between main stages. And I turned forward and ran into someone’s sweaty back. IF
Tim Hoey CUT COPY
“ These Australian boys throw a hell of a party.” a truly separate, and still rewarding, listening experience. Exit Green Stage right along the green tarp. Enter Red Stage left. And before Cox could even thank the crowd, I had secured a prime position for Cut Copy, which would quickly resemble a fitness test more than a concert. Aside from the group’s
no Rivera in the Yankee bullpen. Good thing songs don’t have the egos that closers do. It was then that I made my final dash to the main stage, and just as I took a last lateral cut onto the infield lip, TV on the Radio, assumed the bandstand for the final performance of the day. The show waned towards
AN EVENING WITH
LARRY CROWNE Words: Rob DeStefano WHO IS L A R R Y CROWNE?
He is an advocate of alienated labor and servitude, investing years of work at a department store named “Umart” (creative screenwriting at its best.) One of the first lines to spring from Larry’s canted face sounds something like, “We should always organize our store’s stock at the end of the day. Not only is it our duty as one of Umart’s valued employees, but it’s also the right thing to do!” This lesson in retail morality is our initial impression of Crowne. Though the screenwriting duo provided a simple profile of Crowne’s life (exNavy chef and ex-husband)
any moviegoer, could make a few assumptions about him; he is a worldly man—he has traveled it not once, but five times. His marriage suggests that he has experienced love, and his active tour in the U.S. Navy, which lasted almost twenty years, exposed him to different ideologies and the people who preached them. These are all perfectly rational conclusions, but Larry Crowne and Larry Crowne were brought to life by the combined wisdom of writers Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos—a modern Powell and Pressburger—who have an interesting comprehension of human behavior.
CROWNE'S inexcusable decision to evade college is what incites this inspiring adventure. Immediately after Crowne delivers that line about the beauty of monotony, he is summoned to the Umart break room. Larry initially thinks it’s to receive another “Employee of the Month” award—what would be his ninth, I think; instead, corporate fires him for not having a college education. If he was caught masturbating on the “Back to School Essentials” this decision would have made more sense, but Larry Crowne is their top associate who also acts as if he doesn’t know the difference between a paycheck and a Hotpocket; but Umart is fixated on the diploma nonsense and defies all legal and practical judgment.
Larry Crowne swears this will never happen again and enrolls at a local university, which displays the phrase “Beaver Fever” on its marquee. Meet Mercedes Tainot (Julia Roberts)—a sad teacher with a hangover, the drinking curtosy of her husband Dean Tainot (Bryan Cranston), a writer who is frequently distracted by images of busty women on the internet. Dean loves big breasts. In his two scenes, both of which he is confronted about his love for pixilated breasts, he shouts phrases such as, “I know what’s really pissing you off! It’s that I like big knockers and you don’t have any!” and “You’re a surfboard!” It’s pure eloquence, and it lowers Mercedes’s self-esteem, which limits her ability to motivate her students. Crowne of course develops an instant attraction to Tainot. At school,
an enthusiastic beaver named Talia befriends him, inducts him into her scooter gang known as “The Street Patrol,” and inspires him to pursue the forlorn professor—all in several minutes of screentime. In biblical fashion, Talia changes Crowne’s name to Lance Carona and gives him a new hairdo. This instantly changes his life: he finds a job as a cook; he practices good feng shui; his wardrobe drastically transforms, including the addition of a silver chain wallet clip. The movie could have technically ended here—about thirty minutes in—seeing that he found a job and changed his life. But more importantly at this point, who the fuck is Talia? If a complete stranger changes your name, gives you different clothes to wear, shows up at your house, and rearranges all your furniture and personal items, wouldn’t
Larry (Tom Hanks) and Talia (Gugu MbathaRaw) chum it up during classtime.
“ Larry loses his house since he has
all his money on college tuition. Did he not expect that when he lost his job?”
you ask some questions: Who are you? Why are you doing this? How did you get in here? All of her actions affirm that Larry needs hands-on assistance, like a hospice somewhere far away from a camera. The following forty minutes of the movie are void of conflict. Larry licks some toilet paper, sucks on his toes for a scene or two, and sticks his penis in the Blu-ray player. He then spends a lot of time yearning for his professor. Some staged conflict eventually seeps in; Larry loses his house since he has been spending all his money on college tuition. Did he not expect that when he lost his job? Larry’s property is soon flooded by extras who embrace him and swear they will miss him forever, as if the quantity of people convinces us that he was a well-loved neighbor. In the end, the professor divorces Bryan Cranston because he literally only talks about tits when he’s with her. She then goes to Larry Crowne’s new apartment and decides she likes him because his new name Lance is pretty chill. “Let me show you the world’s smallest kitchen. This is where I make French toast!” Larry Crowne says to Julia Roberts, the last line uttered in this movie. Fade to Black.
Larry Crowne is astonishing. Before putting a silver-chain wallet clip on Tom Hanks, its most deplorable sin is its script, chock-full of characters on par with this summer’s autobots. Hanks and Vardalos have been in movies—we’ve seen them with other people of this planet – but they write like they’ve never interacted with anyone. Everything comes across as foreign when put in front of Crowne—people, clothes, cellphones, vehicles, ideas, money, food—yet his character was previously married and has spent years traveling the world. Why even include that in his backstory? Talia is another apparition of a Zooey Deschanel character, except realized by out of touch writers who forgot that people need motivations and feelings. I have no idea how Bryan Cranston found his way onto the set, but so did Cedric the Entertainer, who isn’t even worthy of further mention. The outrageous production tries to hide behind the recognizable star power of its two leads. It would have been a hell of a lot more entertaining and sincere if it were Rosie O’Donnell and Gary Busey. I haven’t yet caught up with Red Riding Hood, but Larry Crowne is a definite candidate for worst movie of the year. IF
tampering with the classics: summerteeth words: ryan waring
SUMMERTEETH marked a watershed moment in the history of Wilco. Most immediately, its rich poporiented rock signified a complete deviation from the group’s alt-country comfort zone. Perhaps that switch made their sound more accessible, but don’t let the thought of “pop rock” mislead you to deem it a sell out album. Summerteeth showcases immensely evolved, sophisticated song craft. And though it’s often overshadowed by the precise, experimental production of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Jeff Tweedy’s lyrical treatment of love on the rocks on Summerteeth produced some of the finest poetry of his career. Like the previous installment, a collection
of self-contained material makes for a number of fascinating restructuring possibilities. Whittling and shuffling 17 endearing tracks (hell, I even have a soft spot for the “Untitled” track of white noise) proved onerous. “Untitled”, “We’re Just Friends” and “Can’t Stand It” wound up on my cutting room floor. I don’t wish they had never been recorded; rather, perhaps they’d make great B-sides or fit better on subsequent releases. Fourteen tracks is cumbersome enough and these exclusions feel superfluous when all is said and done. The following fourteen, in the order listed, I feel give the album a more diary-like, focused narrative.
4 18 feature
A Shot in the Arm
Not just by default of a mirror for the last track, “A Shot in the Arm” feels more secure as an album opener than “Can’t Stand It”, which more closely treads to their earlier roots than anything else on Summerteeth. The track’s pedestrian imagery and final mantra, “What you once were isn’t what you want to be any more,” also works like a literary frame story, establishing the state of the relationship along with the narrator’s biased and untrustworthy mindset.
The insecurities that just started surfacing are now much more threatening. Here the narrator begins to psychoanalyze himself with respect to this crazy little thing called love, and his self-esteem is quickly fading.
How to Fight Loneliness
How the group relegated to hidden track status is beyond me. “Candyfloss” is some of the more gorgeous pop-rock ever composed. Catchy and technically sound, “Candyfloss” is an immediate headturner in this slot. Its precocious first crush lyrics conjure up early relationship bliss.
Full-fledged insecurity naturally leads to bitter, resentful sarcasm. This tanking self-worth is a troublesome harbinger of what ill will his self-pity might present.
She's a Jar
And voila. “She’s A Jar” is an intensely honest self-reflection and emotional assessment of our narrator’s fragile, paradoxical, guilty, self-abusive, and complicated state of mind. “She’s a Jar” is numbingly beautiful, instrumentally and lyrically. And no matter how many listens through, even following a warning sign of “How to Fight Loneliness”, such tranquil mellotron and mellifluous poetry always make that final line such a shocker. A perfect wake up call.
Pieholden Suite A sobering comedown from the fluttery, bubblegum “Candyfloss”, “Pieholden Suite” seems to take a detached, introspective look at the naiveté of “Candyfloss”. The nerves, the lies, and the prospect of a kiss not only immediately evoke those images, but they also still portray a weak interpersonal relationship in the formative and imagined state.
Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway(Again) The self-assured horns that close “Pieholden Suite” fittingly set up the resolute and confident attitude “Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway (Again)” projects. The fact that the refrain sounds so contrived, as well as the insecurities that plague the bridge, reinforce the doom that our narrator still blindly ignores.
I’m Always in Love
“ELT” picks up and picks off where “She’s A Jar” left. It’s an immediately guilty response to the consciousness of one’s heinous treatment of another. “Oh what have I been missing/ wishing that you were dead?”
Via Chicago Following the naturally mortified response of “ELT”, “Via Chicago”’s surreal domestic violence dominated dream inspired by a Henry Miller murder story details the weight of shame our narrator bears. The Freudian “Via Chicago” is the breathtaking, sweeping climax of the album and truly makes sense here in the framework of bad romance.
When You Wake Up Feeling Old An obvious partner to “My Darling.” The two play off each other so fatalistically well. Overnight, our desperate narrator’s fears (“Please don’t you grow up too fast”) materialize before his helpless eyes. Recalling the mantra of “A Shot in the Arm,” he pessimistically broods, “Can you be/ Where you wanna be?”
Written about Tweedy’s son, “My Darling” gives a potently emotional charge to the scene. In mood and lyrics, it logically follows the nightmare “Via Chicago” illustrates with a simultaneously touching and troubling moment of insomnia.
The titular track shows a complete forfeiture of his existence, with literal reference to suicide. Ostensibly sunny, “Summerteeth” is the ultimate representation of the paradox between his imaginations and his reality, the blurring of which shapes this sense of futility.
ln a Future Age A soft, contemplative end-of-album track that seems to assess his situation in the only terms someone so mentally ill can: a disjointed series of images.
A Shot in the Arm (Alternate)
Who needs a pick me up? Over the course of the album, an alternate hardly dissimilar from the original sounds like a rather inspiring reminder of the impermanent cycle of life and love. That pedestrian imagery is a jolt back to reality and the coda’s mantra is a reinvigorated stand against emptiness.
TALLY HAL INTERVIEW: JAMES PASSARELLI
THE BLACK PANTS, white button-up, and varied tie colors is a smart reflection of that equal-parts band democracy the Beatles could never pull off. Their various degrees from the University of Michigan imply that any one of them could easily make a living outside of music. Throw in an often hilarious sketch comedy internet video series, and Tally Hall is certainly one of the more unique and versatile active bands. Their stutter-step harmonic pop hit “Good Day,” fortified by a slapstick video that features the band members role playing on an old fashioned television set, found a home on MTV (and an episode of The OC, if my otic memory still serves me well). After a couple re-
releases of their grab bag debut album, Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, the group set out to make music for a living. In March of 2010, I got together with members Rob Cantor and Zudin Sedghi to ask them about their recently recorded album, among other things. After serious microphone difficulties and wasted video footage, they were patient enough to meet up again at Dogmatic near Union Square after their tour. Unfortunately, label problems with Atlantic Records—not their words, simply my speculation—delayed the release for over a year. But Good & Evil finally dropped this summer, and we thought now would be as good a time as any to dig through the Interview Archives and bring you this fun, if unfocused, conversation with two of the blithest and most modest smartasses in or out of the music industry.
Inflatable Ferret: Is there a release date for the album yet? Rob Cantor: Not yet. IF: How was the tour? RC: On a scale of “one to fantastic”? Zubin Sedghi: Forty-two. RC: It was really fun—onstage, offstage. Crowds were good. And we found a new backstage passion. IF: What’s that? RC: Four square. IF: How do you lay down the...? RC: It’s a little bit destructive sometimes. If there’s enough space, we would do it with tape—or if it’s outside, chalk on the sidewalk. The only thing you gotta look out for indoors: lights. Lights like to break. ZS: Computers. RC: Computers also are a risk. But you have to be willing to take a few risks. ZS: There’s a lot of testosterone in the room, and sometimes it gets out of control. RC: And when you’re in the king’s square you get to make up any word you want. Like “cherry bombs,” “spinzies.”
RC: Yep, it’s brand spanking new. We wanted a hootenanny to do with the other bands, and there’s really no better sing-a-long or hootenanny song. ZS: Literally. Rob brought in a poster that said, “HOOTENANNY.” And then we started thinking about what songs qualified. IF: Ha, what else did you come up with? RC: [sings] “Another night, another dream, but always you“
ZS: We don’t actually do any of those, but I like those terms…”spinzies”…
ZS: That would have been good. I wanted “Tiny Dancer.”
IF: I never got into four square when I was a kid. I dipped into it, but maybe it’s one of those things that you can’t appreciate until later in life.
RC: I wanted to cover the Big Red commercial from the 1980s—“so kiss a little longer, stay close a little longer…” But I couldn’t corral the troops. So “Cecelia” it was.
ZS: You…will have no problem picking it up again. RC: It’s a very simple game. IF: I mentioned earlier that I love how you guys cover “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim. And now you just added
“Cecelia” to your cover list.
IF: It’s such a simple song, but easy to make your own. RC: Yeah, and you saw it in New York, which was the second night we did it. But by the end of the tour, we really got down to business. By Houston
and Dallas, Tim from Skybox was on the ukulele; Tommy from Jukebox [the Ghost] was rocking out on guitar. So it really came into its own. IF: You guys started the band at [the University of] Michigan. At what point did you think you could start doing this as a really serious thing? RC: We’re not there yet. ZS: We played a lot of shows around town. We started playing in frat houses, and then we upgraded and started playing a lot of the venues around town. Then we started playing Blind Pig shows. RC: Blind Pig is the one rock venue of substantial size in Ann Arbor. IF: It’s what, 400 [capacity]? ZS: Yeah, 400 plus—something like that. And people just started coming to shows, and we started selling it out. And we thought, “if we can do this in other cities, let’s do it.” So we put together our roughly recorded demos, and it became a thing. RC: We graduated—there are five members of the band, and three of us
graduated—in 2005. So we decided to give it a year, and we set goals for ourselves and met them, then gave it another year. Now it’s sort of just like… ZS: Game time. RC: It’s game time. After a couple more years of that, we were like, “Let’s just do it. No more goals.”
think, “How close can we get it without copying it?” ZS: Our songs on this album are a lot older—they’re a lot more mature. Our last album was random and all over the place—that’s what it was as a concept. This one is a lot more…
IF: Yeah, and they’re two of their hits.
RC: It’s less pastiche. It’s more…
RC: It’s like, no one caught that one.
ZS: Yeah, no more goals. We don’t want to achieve anything. [laughs]
ZS: Something that rhymes with “pastiche.”
IF: And I thought of another one. What is the most ridiculous Nicolas Cage movie you’ve seen?
IF: So the new album has a name?
RC: I wish I had something that kind of sounded like “pastiche.”
RC: It does. It’s called Good & Evil. IF: What was different about the process of making it?
Photos courtesy of Atlantic Records.
RC: I think we can both agree, I’ll take a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or a Brendan Frasier over a Chad Kroeger any day of the week. There’s an amazing mashup online of two Nickleback songs that sound the exact same.
RC: It was so different. The first record was basically a collection of songs that we had written over the years at Michigan. We pushed them together, recorded them at this tiny studio in Ann Arbor completely on our own, with one guy who was an engineer. This was written more with a theme in mind, so it’s more cohesive on a songwriting level. But also production-wise, we worked with a guy named Tony Hoffer, who produced the Kooks, Belle & Sebastian, Beck. He mixed the last Depeche Mode record. When we first made a list of producers we would have liked to work with—not even being realistic at all, just making a dream list—he was right up there. So it was an awesome day when we got the email saying he really liked our demos.
IF: I asked you this last time, but I just want an update. Who has the biggest influence on you, artistically and morally? Chad Kroeger, The Rock, or Brendan Frasier? RC: I think I said Brendan Frasier. ZS: I’m going to go with The Rock. Did I go with The Rock last time?
RC: [laughs] I tried to name all my favorite Brendan Frasier movies. The Mummy. The Mummy Returns. Second Return of the Mummy. Blast from the Past. I thought of a new one just now: George of the Jungle. The Mummy 4. Saw IV. IF: Was he really in one of the Saws?
IF: What’s the songwriting process?
RC: He is an innovator. He absolutely is. He’s changing the face of cinema. He can’t be stopped either. You know what he’s working on now? Probably something—I don’t know.
RC: Post-No Doubt. And then we
RC: I talked to him. Joe [Hawley] and I talked to him. I was pretty awkward. He was very nice. Joe said, “Hey, I love Adaptation. It’s one of my alltime favorite movies.” And he said, [in semi-Southern accent] “Oh, thank you so much.” ZS: What? He’s not from the South.
ZS: Yeah, that’s so obvious. [to Rob] You went with Brendan Frasier because you’re so Brendan Frasier.
RC: No, that would have been amazing. Oh wait! Hold on! Journey to the Center of the Earth. 3D. First live action 3D movie that I saw.
IF: Gwen Stefani with or without No Doubt?
IF: Did you talk to him?
IF: I think so.
He took some of the weight off of each member individually. As a band that has five people that like to contribute, it helped to have a sixth member who was objective. And it allowed all of us to be freer creatively.
RC: We start by picking something that we like, like a Gwen Stefani song, or REO Speedwagon.
ZS: Most ridiculous…We actually ran into Nicolas Cage one time. In the city, at a record store.
RC: He’s got kind of a Southern thing going. ZS: [in mocking Southern accent] No, he don’t sound like that. RC: [laughs] Maybe not, I don’t know. So Joe gave him maybe 45 seconds of compliments. And he was like, “Thank you.” And then he turned to me like “okay, now it’s your turn to compliment me.” And I was just like, “Me too.” Because I didn’t have anything else to say. I really did like the movie. IF: You didn’t tell him you like Ghost Rider?
IF: That man is an innovator.
ZS: I’m not even going to publicize Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s accomplishments. Because I don’t want to embarrass you guys.
RC: [laughs] Ghost Rider is a good candidate for this question. There’s another one coming out too—The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, that looks like a good one. Let me consult his IMDB page…I’m going to go with Ghost Rider 2, although I can’t tell you much about it because I’m not a member of IMDB Pro. IF
WORDS WITH THE
DAVID WAX MUSEUM INTERVIEW: JAMES PASSARELLI & STEVE SELDE // PHOTOGRAPHY: RICHARD KLUVER
USING LITTLE MORE THAN the birth name of its primary member, the David Wax Museum is probably the most understated band name pun since Atlanta metal group JFKFC; but that’s not why we sought them out. The reason for that is Everything is Saved, Wax and bandmate Suz Slezak’s early 2011 release, their second and latest collection of Mexo-Americana songs. The album is devil-may-care, filled out with piano, accordion, fiddle, and brass, but just sparse enough to entertain a summer sing-along (made all the more appropriate by continual clapping). Our first taste of the duo came last year, Newport Day Two, when an unsuspecting crowd of early birds caught Wax fever. The band gathered buzz after earning their way to Newport by way of an internet vote-off, and since that performance, they’ve looked nowhere but forward. This year, after hearing they were returning for round two, we couldn’t let them carry on with their chaotic, interview-filled festival experience without pestering them ourselves. When the clock struck two, Suz hadn’t even eaten, but they patiently sat on the receiving end of a delightful Q&A.
Franz Nicolay looking stylish and Chaplin-esque. (Photo: Miles Kerr)
Inflatable Ferret: So obviously, it’s been pretty hectic so far. When did this start? David Wax: Well, we’ve been on the road all month. Our tour manager and the driver—they just arrived with one car of stuff. And our band just arrived. Suz Slezak: We had flown in from Calgary to play some shows on the East Coast, and they drove from Calgary. DW: So we’re all just converging right now, and everybody’s arriving at the same time. We just did an interview with NPR… IF: Just out of the blue? SS: We were walking by, and they were like, “Why don’t you sit down and be on air?” And we were like, “We’ve got the Inflatable Ferret…” IF: [laughs] It’s a tough decision, I know. But they have a little more pull than us, I guess.
SS: We knew you’d understand. IF: So how many people are going to be on stage tomorrow? DW: The core of the band is four of us. Then we’ve got special guests. We’re not sure yet how many, but we’re going to invite some of the other musicians on stage with us. IF: It seems like at Newport, more than anywhere else, the bands seem to have really good relationships with each other. Who do you know the best at Newport? DW: Brown Bird’s the band that we probably know the most, just because we’ve done shows with them the most. SS: But unfortunately, our sets are at the exact same time. But we play with them tonight at the VIP barbeque. DW: We’ve seen the Felice Brothers a few times recently. We’ve played a lot of festivals with them, so it’s good to see those guys. And James Felice
played with us last week at a festival, but I think they’re not going to be around tomorrow. So we just caught their set. But I think there are certain bands that are playing a lot of the same kinds of festivals, so we see each other a lot in the summer. IF: And Newport has special significance for you two because you won that contest last year, right? SS: Yeah, it was an internet vote-off in the end. A hundred and fifty bands submitted their applications, and the Newport Folk Fest committee chose the top three. And then it was a voteoff, so we had to rally all our fans, and it kind of got everyone involved. IF: An internet hug that actually mattered? SS: It did, it made a huge difference. It was a real turning point for us. IF: Yeah, it seems like it got you a lot of exposure, and then once everyone saw
“ We say yes to every gig—anything we can do to reach new people.” you play, they liked you, and it kind of snowballed. DW: A lot of great bands have played Newport, and it doesn’t necessarily make it anything big. But I think because we won this contest, we were kind of here on a fluke in a way. There were no expectations about us or anything, and I think it was the right moment for people to hear where we were at. Because we had been touring hard, and we had this new record that we had finished, but we hadn’t really done anything with. So I think people were willing to give it a more serious listen because they had seen us prove ourselves and hold our own at Newport. So I think that just opened the door for a lot of other opportunities. IF: Have you had the same kind of whirlwind for the past summer? Has it been crazy busy? DW: It has been. SS: We covered a lot of mileage. We drove all the way to the West Coast and hit up three different Canadian festivals on the way. And there’s kind of no end in sight. We’re pretty full August, September, October, and November.
IF: Have you still been able to write?
DW: The next record ’s been written essent ially, but there’s a lot of editing that needs to happen. It’s hard to find time for that right now, but there’s a week here and a week there for that. We’ve started working on demos, and we blocked some time off in January to get back to recording. So we’re hoping that all the songs will be in the shape they need to be in by January. IF: So you had that fellowship in Mexico through Harvard, but your interest in Mexico goes back further? DW: Yeah, the first time I went down was in 2001—that’s when I first started listening to Mexican folk music, but I wasn’t trying to play it or study it. I was just listening to it as a music lover. But then when I had that fellowship, it was like, “I’m here, and I’m going to learn the music.” IF: Obviously, a lot of people have different conceptions of what folk is. There are so many possible definitions, but how would you define folk if you had to? DW: It’s tough to put anything in a box. You can pull a lot of stuff and say that it’s folk music. I think we’re from a more old school perspective. Suz grew up listening to old time music, like real American folk music. And I got really excited about the Harry Smith Anthology of Folk Music. So I think we have some conception of what folk music is, but we’re not closed-minded about it. For me, it is music that’s rooted in something, that’s part of some tradition and knows where it’s coming from. It’s not just a new fad. But to make it still
relevant, it has to have an ear towards what’s happening in the world right now. I think that’s what’s cool about this festival: these bands have a foot in the past but clearly know what else is going on on the radio and know what the musical landscape is. SS: I would also say that it’s music that has instrumentation that would be recognizable to our grandparents, let’s say. Or maybe great-grandparents. I think the word “folk” has to have links to a couple generations ago. That’s why I think a lot of the pop music on the radio isn’t folk because of its electric sounds that our grandparents wouldn’t recognize, and the voices are even sounding so distorted that they’re unrecognizable. IF: So what are your plans for the future, besides recording in January? SS: We feel like we’ve reached a certain level of success because we are able to support ourselves with the music, and that feels great. So if we stayed at this level, we would feel really good, because we don’t have to have another job, and we’re able to eek by financially. And have a sustainable lifestyle. But we want more people to hear the music, so hopefully we’ll get out there in front of more people and hopefully get more of an international audience. IF: How proactive are you guys in trying to get new listeners, or do they kind of come to you? SS: I think the main way is that when people see us come to town, the next time they bring their friend. And so it’s really grassroots in that way. DW: And we say yes to every gig. That’s the only way to do it—anything we can do to reach new people. We’re still so small in the grand scheme of things, in terms of how many people know who we are. We’re just a little blip, but we’re happy even being a blip. So anything we can do to build the community around what we’re doing. The more people who believe in it and support it, the more sustainable this becomes. IF
REVIEWS ////Music Good & Evil Tally Hall (Quack! Media)
2005/2006/2008’s Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum was bold and refreshing, groundbreaking maybe not in its pure musical ingenuity (although it’s certainly present at times), but instead in the way it disregarded expectations and pretense of cohesion. Five and a half years after that first independent release, 2011’s Good & Evil sounds professional and sterile in comparison, almost altogether void of the kinds of great riffs that dotted M 4 and lacking the lyrical quality of which they proved themselves years ago. To be fair, they haven’t strayed too much from their roots – they never reached for elaborate epics, but understated quirk. And because they stick with this approach, the album never sounds contrived. Even the most alien guest instruments sound genuine, if still a bit forced. First up is “Never Meant to Know,” slow-paced reverb filler, and “&,” a decent list of opposites much more gratifying than Katy Perry’s “Hot N Cold” but still a bit dragging. Aside from the clever love ballad “Cannibal” and “A Hymn for a Scarecrow” (one of the few lyrically impressive tracks), the album’s first half left me in serious doubt. Enter “A Lady,” the one-minute record-saver, tantalizingly brief and gloriously simple; just what the doctor ordered for side two (if Good & Evil were released on vinyl, which I don’t believe it was). Seemingly on the aforementioned track’s momentous wings, “The Trap” shows the band picking up their step, as (skillful or fortuitous) track placement enhances an otherwise run-of-the-mill song. The latter half is harder to pin down. There’s the synth-speckled “Out in the Twilight”;
“Miserly Fell,” which, if it’s not an homage to “Eleanor Rigby,” certainly sounds suspiciously like it, until the original and effective chorus a minute in; and “You” and “Fate of the Stars,” two slow jams, none of which Joe Hawley proves the strongest songwriter out of the band’s relatively even share, and Tally reaches its goofy apex with his “Turn the Lights Off”’s 8-bit Nintendo breakdown; but even this seems bridled by an all too cautious mindset. The most common problem with production upgrade is overdoing it, but Good & Evil’s behind-the-glass work puts it in no-man’s-land—not manipulated enough to boast the producer’s patina but looming enough to constrain the naturally foolhardy fivesome. The band was no doubt ecstatic to work with Tony Hoffer (they even say it on page 15), but it seems his skills are unsuited to Tally Hall’s inexperience. Where are the chapel harmonies that so wonderfully embellish the band’s cover of the Killers’ “Smile Like You Mean It”? Where is the caricaturist fun of “Banana Man,” the genre specificity of “It’s Just the Same,” the
slapstick collage mentality of “Good Day”? One potential cure for this writer’s fever is more bullhorn, one of the Hall’s most formidable weapons, which is absent from Good & Evil. Though they hint at their coltish selves, Tally Hall just aren’t playful enough to live up to their earlier work, which still lies in their stellar debut, demos, compilation tracks, and live covers. No matter how big a fan base they garner, it would serve them well to hook their amps up in an another friend’s basement for their third LP. What are the chances of that? Probably pretty slim, and I can see why it would be hard to turn away from such professional opportunities. The only problem is that they’ve never been a very professional band. But the best thing about the band—and the thing that makes even their worst songs listenable—is that they won’t worry themselves over what I write, or anyone else for that matter, which is why I feel so comfortable writing it.
“ It might
Gloss Drop Battles (Warp)
The music-loving world can be neatly divided into two camps: those who think music must be new and wildly original, radically shifting the proverbial (and yes, despite what they may tell you, it is, in fact, proverbial) landscape, something that spits in the face of every known tradition; and those who believe old formulas have not yet been entirely depleted, that derivative music can still be excellent. I belong to the latter, but I think both sides can appreciate Battles (originally comprised of Dave Konopka, former Don Cabolero guitarist Ian Williams, ex-Helmet drummer and Shooter McGavin doppelganger John Stanier, and vocalist Tyondai Braxton – no relation to Toni). The group kicked off its career in the early 2000s with a handful of simple titled instrumentally EPs with simply titled all-caps tracks (“BTTLS,” “UW,” and “B+T” among them). They contained forward-thinking looped and distorted instrumentation, using little more than guitar, keys, bass, and drums to craft an unfamiliar world of jarring sounds. Their first album, however, wasn’t released until 2007, and Mirrored made a cannon ball splash in the underground pool. I can’t imagine that anyone divined a lack of creativity from the band in their 2011 follow-up; but the million dollar question was how the foursome-turned-threesome would fill the gap Braxton left after departing from the group late last year. The answer: they didn’t attempt to fill it at all, at least not permanently. Instead they enlisted a gang of adroit guest vocalist, not least of all the venerable Gary Numan. Gloss Drop might be hard to digest on a first listen, not because it’s not
succulent, but because it’s impossible to know just what to make of it cursorily. But unlike the more perplexing Mirrored, it has certainty and definitive direction in every melodic phrase, even after taking unexpected turns. “Africastle” is the perfect introduction, a six-minute maelstrom split into five or six congruent themes, enough to appease even the shortest attention span. Simultaneously danceworthy, dramatic, and varied, with an imperially staccato keyboard buildup and skillful composition throughout, it proclaims a departure from the foursome’s trademark. Second is perhaps the most innovative and definitely the most distinctive track, “Ice Cream,” which begins with a quickening crescendo of rivaling grunts, sheds off layers to reveal a nursery rhyme riff, and eventually reaches Battles level clamor as it welcomes Mattias Aguayo’s muddled vocal delivery. It appears that the band hasn’t abandoned unintelligible lyrics (a custom of Braxton’s), though one of Aguayo’s lines sounds very much like “helado derritiéndose” (“melting ice cream”). You can make out bits and pieces of the other three vocal tracks, and none of them makes use of Braxton’s trademark high-pitched voice modulator. In fact, if you listen closely, you can guess at every word of Numan’s on “My Machines,” though I admit was only able to distinguish them with printed lyrics in hand. By and large, Battles have traded the runic song names for near Debussian titular literalism, from the ambling first steps of “Toddler” and loping carnival keys of “Inchworm” to the hustle and bustle of the imperious “Wall Street.” Even “My Machines” smacks of industrial metallurgy,
be hard to digest on a first listen, but not because it's not succulent.” in some ways reminiscent of Trent Reznor or one of his faithful disciples. The album’s all capped off by the punishing ups and downs of “Sundome,” with the undulating vocals of Japanese singer Yamantaka Eye. At some moments, the album resembles more closely their original EPs with varied sounds and intricate loops, while in others they indicate a blissfully wacky newness that makes you think that, as hard as they worked on the album, they’ve never had more fun. At times Gloss Drop even makes Mirrored (all but the electrifying and original “Atlas” and “Tonto”) sound stale, but those moments were fleeting for me. In fact, it’s a shame I felt the need to mention Braxton’s name as often as I did; the best way to approach Gloss Drop is with the realization that it is something wholly estranged from Mirrored, if not created by a different band altogether. Separate but equal, if there is such a thing. But since there isn’t, let’s just call it separate, and new, and wildly original, something that radically shifts the landscape, if only for an hour. james passarelli
Thursday The Weeknd (Self-Released)
Like a Banksy stencil graffito on an Eastside wall, Abel Tesfaye’s secretive Canadian R&B outfit The Weeknd seemed to arrive online overnight, unannounced and uninvited but curiously to little or no resistance. And it’s instantly recognizable why: a firm endorsement from critical and mainstream darling Drake; frequent yet understated sampling from venerable predecessors Siouxsie and the Banshees, Aaliyah, and modern indie pillar Beach House; Doc McKinney’s and Illangelo’s flawlessly sophisticated production; and lyrics that provocatively muckrake a lifestyle so heavily promoted and championed throughout hip-hop that the two have become synonymous. House of Balloons was a mammoth drop, excusing any reclusive hangover recovery for the sake of both letting the album marinate and Tesfaye’s health, what with his selfproclaimed hedonism. But as his lyrics would suggest, Tesfaye’s quite the rallying workhorse. Thursday, the unit’s second of three planned mixtapes for this calendar year, displays a rapid artistic expansion, despite following so closely on its forerunner’s heels. Most notably and immediately, a more overt nod to dubstep reveals itself in the syncopated drums that ostensibly dominate opener “Lonely Star” and a snaking bass, both of which continually reappear throughout the album. Station to station, Thursday is a much fuller album, multiply layered with soaring orchestral textures, especially on the epic “Like of the Party”, and jarringly juxtaposing static-heavy electric and contemplative acoustic guitar, particularly the intro to “Rolling Stone”. Naturally, the magnified sonic landscape mitigates Tesfaye’s voice,
the debut’s dramatic focal point. Instead of conducting each track, it’s relegated to textural supplement and often frequently manipulated through autotune, thus more or less supplanting the niche previously held by Victoria Legrand’s pitch-altered pipes. In this use, Tesfaye’s experimental follow up slightly deviates from the pattern presented in Bon Iver’s bellwether sophomore release a few months back. While both pursue richly ornamental and varied atmospheres, Tesfaye’s voice relinquishes the reins where Vernon’s vocal showcase directs the wide arrangement. Admittedly, Tesfaye’s perfected vocal performance on House of Balloons left no need for refinement, but its diminished role, while noble, makes for a much less focused mixtape. The newly used horror vacui production often compounds that deficiency, leaving mottled moments of gratuitously dense sounds, particularly “Lonely Star”, and the inevitable non sequitur cameo from Drake on “The Zone”. House of Balloons worked wondrously with negative space to flush out the squalid images of a hauntingly infrahuman and soulless after-after party, brilliantly conveying self-abandonment in lieu of the conventional self-aggrandizement of sex, drugs, and R&B. But on Thursday there is a constant lingering of self-absorption, as if rather than indict the scene he exposed, Tesfaye opts to embrace it. Logically, the heavy production style suits this mentality: that after one week(e)nd of decadent, self-consumptive debauchery, Thursday, inflated by the prospect that these next few days of revelry and self-abuse might finally deliver the self-contentment where the previous
weekend failed, provides an escapist portal built on false hopes. But at what point do we stop condoning the cyclical, regressive habits of an addict? I surely think House of Balloons offered more than enough of a warning sign. Still, Thursday more than has its moments. The album’s middle retains’ House of Balloons’ characteristically heavy reverb and Tesfaye’s soulful wail to equally desirous effect. The Birds sequence is particularly enchanting, centered around Tesfaye’s cautionary “Don’t make me make you fall in love with a nigga like me,” or in so many, words, “I am trying to break your heart.” And like the Wilco ballad, these two tracks shapeshift frequently as they career to an honest, open and bare climax where Tesfaye empties himself in a rare moment of analog splendor. But it’s on the final track where The Weeknd deliver perhaps their best work yet and where Tesfaye shows his true growth as a musician. “Heaven or Las Vegas”—perhaps a reference to the Cocteau Twins track of the same name—ambitiously attempts a stunningly successful pastiche rife with a diverse set of detectable influences. Its house synth yields to a coiling Reggae bass line which twists and droops as if tampered by some James Blake post-dub pupil and all the while the ebb of reverb is accentuated by delicate piano chops. Musically, it’s a redemptive masterpiece. But more, it’s a significantly fortuitous platform on which Tesfaye can steer Echoes of Silence, the final installment, this fall.
REVIEWS ////Movies Submarine Crazy, Richard Ayoade Stupid Love
Directed by Mike Cahill
Directed by Glenn Ficarra, John Requa
A crass example of storytelling, Crazy, Stupid, Love. is a romcom as ineffectual and dismissive as anything at the bottom of the subject’s scorched well. This genre should deliver on two promises: sentiment and comedy. Emily (Moore) tells her husband Cal (Carell) that she had an affair with her co-worker (Bacon) and now wants a divorce. Cal is devastated, but he leaves the house that night— without any question—saying goodbye to his two kids and wife of twenty-five years. Why didn’t they discuss this further before abandoning everything? Is this the sentiment or the comedy? Cal is quickly picked up by the ultra-suave Jacob (Gosling) who vows to teach the newly separated, middleaged prowler how exactly one prowls. On top of all this, Jacob is having trouble seducing Hannah (Stone), and Cal’s thirteenyear-old son confesses his adult love for his seventeen-
The Double Hour (La doppia ora) Directed by Giuseppe Capotondi
year-old babysitter, who incidentally has shameless feelings for Cal; also randomly insert Marisa Tomei for added confusion. It’s well-trodden territory that isn’t nearly intelligent enough to avoid questionable behavior and an abundance of clichés. When Cal’s son confronts Bacon’s character and tells the home wrecker that he destroyed his family, the scene is played out for laughs. The babysitter—a minor—photographs herself naked for Cal. If we are to accept this and not deem her as disturbed, there needs to be reasoning behind her attraction to Cal; but reasoning in its entirety is non-existent among the characters, making them downright alien. After all the failed pop-culture references, the uneasy metahumor, and the most divisive plot twist in years, the conclusion takes place in the gymnasium at an eighth grade graduation where the dank walls conveniently inspire clarity among the distraught lovers. Sentiment or comedy?
Rhoda (Brit Marling) spends four years in prison after murdering John’s family (William Mapother, Lost) in a drunk driving accident. The story essentially begins on her release, though her transformation from a privileged high school graduate to a damaged ex-con is wholly sympathetic, thanks to both the screenplay and Marling’s devoted performance. When she musters the courage to confront the reclusive John – her identity has been concealed for explained reasons – she is unable to admit her sin; instead, Rhoda poses as a housekeeper, hoping to gain brief insight into the man’s life she inadvertently affected. Another Earth is about the subsequent relationship between the two, lamenting on the uncertainty in identity and redemption. These questions are amplified by the film’s science fiction component; earth has replicated itself in the solar system, giving everyone an alternate self
in outer space. Interspersed radio footage supplies background meditations: “Has the other me made the same mistakes as I have, and is the other me better than this me?” Mike Cahill directed, filmed, and co-wrote Another Earth—his first fictional feature—and succeeds at tackling such an ambitious project. It has a distinct “indie” feel, mainly in its score and camerawork, but Marling’s vulnerability keeps the film from becoming indulgent; the same cannot be said about Rhoda’s family, which suffers from poor acting and unexplored territory. This aside, the film creates distinguished scenes that are rich with emotion and made more immediate by the background sci-fi; when assembled, the final picture is intriguing and touching.
Sneaking in and out of few theaters, this Italian thriller shouldn’t be dismissed by fans of the genre. The less one knows about The Double Hour the better; when a hotel maid escapes to the countryside with her new love, strange events ensue. Staying true to the arthouse design, the film trades adrenaline for a methodical and paranoid atmosphere, recalling Polanski’s The Tenant. The interplay between its two leads provides a romantic weight—both refreshing and en-
grossing—that keeps its third act alive, despite some questionable plot twists. Rather than existing for the purpose of executing these twists, the developed characters are given the foremost attention, crafting a parable about people’s imperfections and baggage. With this combination of deft entertainment and drama, The Double Hour is everything recent Hollywood thrillers have squandered.
For Eighteen Holes of Golf September is almost over. And that means that for those of us who don't live in fantasy lands with green house-like artificially synthesized climates, the number of usable sick days (read: golf outings) is rapidly dwindling. Luckily, the Ferret has engineered a course of its own for your playing pleasure instead. So before you and your cart girl chip in for a caddie-like cabbie with a knack for club selection tonight, play a round of these tunes with the boys.
At the Driving Range 3:33 LIMP BIZKIT – “Rollin (Air Raid Vehicle)” Joe Miller or Clayton Burger, ring any bells? If you’re one of the less than 1% who knows either of these RE/ MAX Long Drive Champions, I want you to go ahead and stop reading this magazine. For your penance, I want eight “Hail Mary”s, one “Our Father”, a large bucket of balls, and your IPOD looping Limp Bizket’s “Rollin” at the local range. Warning: Should you begin knowing any lyrics past the chorus/refrain, immediately discontinue the song and head to the first hole. You’re ready.
2:17 THE SMITHS – Par 3 “Frankly Mister Shankly” You’re still a little rusty, and you don’t get your first tee shot past the senior tee box. No sweat. Just laugh it off with the insane, animal lover and company.
4:35 Par 4 YES – “Lightning Strikes” If you don’t take 1970s Yes seriously, then you probably couldn’t control your laughter at 1999’s The Ladder. But no matter how ridiculous Yes gets, I will always stand by them.
This one goes out to Lee Trevino, golf’s biggest badass and lightning’s most feared opponent.
3:32 THE PROCLAIMERS – Par 4 “I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)” Popular consensus assumes that the Reid twins are singing about a woman when they vow to walk a thousand miles for their object of admiration, but never in the song do they explicitly state it. It could easily refer to the local clubhouse, or that sparkling set of graphite shaft Taylor Mades in the golf shop display window. Another reminder that, no matter how badly it hurts you, you will always love this game.
3:46 Par 4 LOU REED – “A Perfect Day” Sangria or no sangria. Zoo animals or no zoo animals. Rain or shine. Before the serious golfer in you gets annoyed by his 6+ start through three, remind yourself that any day on the course with good company is a perfect day.
5:01 Par 5 CARAVAN – “Golf Girl” If this isn’t the weirdest (or the only) golf love story you’ve ever heard, then
you should probably stay away from the game for a while. But for now, you have fourteen holes to go. And keep your eyes peeled—you too might find the golf girl of your dreams.
2:36 THE BEATLES – Par 3 “Fixing a Hole” It’s much more fun to fix another hole on the green than to fix your ball mark. This underrated classic goes out to all the happy-go-lucky golfers who would rather let their minds wander or spray up divot crescents on the fairway downslope than pick up a club and strike a few Slazengers.
6:25 BOARDS OF CANADA – Par 5 “An Eagle in Your Mind” They say you miss 100% of the birdies you don’t go for. That goes double (not double bogie) for eagles. Wait, what? Let’s just ambiently chill out as we make our way across the fairway.
4:16 CAMERA OBSCURA – Par 4 “Forest and Sands” Two places you don’t want to end up. But just in case, Camera Obscura’s lovely frontwoman Tracyanne Campbell might make
05 10 15 you feel warm inside regardless of your hazardous circumstance.
3:17 DAVID BOWIE – Par 4 “Boys Keep Swinging” Don’t know if Bowie is much of a golfer, but his wise words, if taken as an imperative, will prove to be vital advice as you make the turn.
2:55 SCISSOR SISTERS – Par 3 “The Skins” Does anybody really know how to play skins? Or am I confusing it with peppers?
6:45 Par 5 TIGER & WOODS – “Time” 10 Holes in, and there are already two groups behind you on the teebox. “Time” has a title that reminds you to crank up your speed of play, and a rhythm just brisk enough to make you keep it up. The band name is merely coincidence…or is it?
4:21 LEROY SMITH – Par 4 "Disappearing Golf Ball Blues” Some guy named LeRoy Smith apparently wrote a whole album of songs about golf. If you can get ahold of this one off 2004’s I Hate This Game, more power to you.
5:11 TIN MACHINE – Par 4 “One Shot” Something tells me Starman would be beside himself to have appeared twice on this playlist (or maybe he’s a Golf Galaxy regular—I’ve been wrong before), but then again, Ryan Waring did help construct the list, so what do you expect. Either way, cross that water, Tin Cup.
2:22 IRON & WINE – “Teeth in the Grass” There just have to be.
3:33 JURASSIC 5 – Par 4 “Get it Together” Seriously, you cannot afford a mental breakdown. Either get it together or suffer the consequences like Newman did from that spitting dino in Jurassic Park.
3:43 SUPERGRASS – Par 4 “Shotover Hill” Knee deep in the thick stuff, you’re probably really homesick by now. Let the Oxford band take you back to a quaint little spot back home, and you’ll immediately find your own personal happy place.
5:32 METALLICA – Par 5 “Enter Sandman” Had Kirk Hammett received Nike Slingshot Irons for his 6th birthday instead of a guitar, there’s no telling what song we would’ve selected for the 17th hole. Luckily he didn’t. So stop worrying about your last couple holes: it’s time to “Enter Sandman.”
3:20 ARCTIC MONKEYS – Par 4 “When the Sun Goes Down” As you head into the nineteenth hole for a cocktail of choice, mentally and physically exhausted from a long day of “work,” you’ll want something befitting that gorgeous sunset backdrop. But you’ll also want something that’s going to make you move, and nothing does that quite like an Arctic jam. hans larsen james passarelli ryan waring
Published on Sep 24, 2011
Inside: Reviews for Battles, The Weeknd, Tally Hall, etc., words with Tally Hall and David Wax Museum, An Evening with Larry Crowne, Tamperi...