Page 1



we are making some significant changes to the look of the issue. IF’s layout designer Kathryn Freund is in the process of completely renovating the style of the magazine. We’d like you to think of this as the beta version of Inflatable Ferret 2.0 (or 7.0, I suppose, considering all the changes we’ve made in the past year). We’ve changed the font of the main body text from Eurostyle to Grotesque, which we think is a little bit easier to read. We will also start making use of the primary logo Greg Ervanian and Rob Schellenberg designed a while back, instead of just the secondary text bubble “IF” logo. We are also working with a web designer to install an application on the site that will allow us to use a two-page spread instead of our typical one-page layout – it’s going to look great. October always seems to be stacked with great albums. Last year it was Flaming Lips’ Embryonic, The Mountain Goats’ The Life of the World to Come, Built to Spill’s There is No Enemy, and Atlas Sound’s Logos. This year presents a whole new plate from which to choose. We chose to review two of the bigger profiles and two albums we think will never get the credit they deserve. And though we didn’t want to have a Halloween-themed issue like we’re Highlights or something, we decided that would be a perfect theme for our playlist. No disrespect to Highlights, by the way. The creators of that publication are my idols, and I always did have trouble finding that comb camouflaged against those tree branches…genius. I’ll end it here. Enjoy.


james passarelli



we are making some significant changes to the look of the issue. IF’s layout designer Kathryn Freund is in the process of completely renovating the style of the magazine. We’d like you to think of this as the beta version of Inflatable Ferret 2.0 (or 7.0, I suppose, considering all the changes we’ve made in the past year). We’ve changed the font of the main body text from Eurostyle to Grotesque, which we think is a little bit easier to read. We will also start making use of the primary logo Greg Ervanian and Rob Schellenberg designed a while back, instead of just the secondary text bubble “IF” logo. We are also working with a web designer to install an application on the site that will allow us to use a two-page spread instead of our typical one-page layout – it’s going to look great. October always seems to be stacked with great albums. Last year it was Flaming Lips’ Embryonic, The Mountain Goats’ The Life of the World to Come, Built to Spill’s There is No Enemy, and Atlas Sound’s Logos. This year presents a whole new plate from which to choose. We chose to review two of the bigger profiles and two albums we think will never get the credit they deserve. And though we didn’t want to have a Halloween-themed issue like we’re Highlights or something, we decided that would be a perfect theme for our playlist. No disrespect to Highlights, by the way. The creators of that publication are my idols, and I always did have trouble finding that comb camouflaged against those tree branches…genius. I’ll end it here. Enjoy.


james passarelli


Vol 2 No. 09 ///// Oct 2010 FEATURE


Get up to date on the best funk and hip-hop radio show in Montreal...or anywhere, for that matter.



Read reviews for Sufjan Stevens, Deerhunter, Sharon Van Etten, STNNNG, and Matt Reeves’ film Let Me In.



IF talks to Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club drummer Chris Frantz.



We’ve created the perfect Halloween party playlist for your own ghoulish enjoyment.




t s d i M e h t n i n o c a e B y A Funk y t i r c o i d e M of Radio sarelli s Pas Words by Jame


Photos by Melissa Wheeler


I’M NOT the first person

08 feature

to point it out. “Radio” has become synonymous with terrible moneymaking music: the obnoxious repetition of The Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling”, the absurd inauthenticity of Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” (songs I almost feel guilty putting into writing). Typical “radio music” has even become a genre in its own right, encompassing any popular pop song drab or disagreeable enough to turn someone off of the environment in which the song plays. With all the filth blaring from car and bar speakers, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that some radio stations are doing it right. Stationed in the cozy confines of CKUT radio on McGill University’s two hundred year old campus in Montreal is one of quality radio’s proudest palladia. Every Friday at midnight, Nick Foster (better known as Professor Groove) takes over the airwaves to deliver WEFUNK, two hours of the silkiest, most sold funk and hip-hop known to mankind. But he doesn’t face this task alone – friend and WEFUNK co-founder/co-host Mike Lai (DJ Static) pre-records his contributions from his new home in Vancouver. The relationship hasn’t always been long distance though. Foster and Lai met while attending undergraduate at McGill in 1995 and began airing WEFUNK a year later at the community-campus volunteer CKUT station. Like any college radio show, the show started small, only reaching listeners in Montreal and its surrounding area. In early 1999, WEFUNK looked to expand its audi-

ence, using to stream shows over the Internet. Soon thereafter Foster and Lai used listeners’ monetary and hosting donations to start, a site on which they could stream and archive their shows. It didn’t take long for word to spread. Within a year of the site’s inception, WEFUNK reached as many as two-dozen simultaneous listeners. And now? “These days at the peak, it’s at least five or six hundred,” says Foster. “We estimate that each of our shows reaches somewhere between ten thousand and twenty thousand people.” And that’s not counting actual live radio listeners or those looking up an archived show, of which there are now over four hundred. It adds up to about ten thousand unique views per day, which is far more than either of the show’s founders anticipated. “The project’s grown way beyond our initial expectations,” admits Lai, a Vancouver native who grew up listening to local underground hip-hop in the late eighties and early nineties. Foster, who runs the website and live radio show, first became enamored with funk while listening to college radio stations in his late teens growing up in Connecticut. And his web experience has become almost as practical a tool as his vast music knowledge, especially when it comes to sound quality. The audio streams at a surprisingly low bitrate of 64 kbps (iTunes songs are typically 128 kbps), but you wouldn’t tell by hearing it. “I put a lot of time and experimentation into trying to make that audio, even encoded at that bitrate, sound as good as possible,” explains Foster. “We’ve stuck with that partly because it sounds good enough. And with people listening on mobile devices, there’s an incentive for us to keep it accessible for those listeners.” So, WEFUNK’s web stream is quality in every sense of the word, featuring clear-sounding audio

from some of the greatest alternative and mainstream artists, both old and new. While you’re sure to hear some familiar voices on the show, a few names on the archives might surprise you. Mainstays like Earth, Wind & Fire, James Brown, Mos Def, Parliament, Prince, Public Enemy, and Sly & the Family Stone make regular appearances, but WEFUNK’s understanding of funk is in no way limited to the usual suspects. Groove and Static scour every different genre to find music that incorporates elements of funk. The list includes British proggers East of Eden, Bette Midler, Carly Simon, Jefferson Airplane, and even Argentine composer Lalo Schifrin. They are artists an average DJ would probably throw out as candidates of a funk radio show, but Foster and Lai never gained praise for being standard. And it’s just such radio ingenuity that has earned WeFunk respect from thousands of fans all over the world. Copywriter and DJ Dan Tester of Brighton, England stumbled upon WEFUNK’s iTunes radio page in 2002 and immediately offered to help proof the site. WEFUNK even inspired Tester (DJ Dante) and his DJ partner Delv to launch their own online radio show, Family Funk Tunes. “I like their careful selection and rare music,” writes Kaunus, Lithu-

“ I like their

careful selection and rare music,”

writes Lina Vilimaite, a


“ What gets me the

most is when a lot of the artists we play, even people I grew up listening to, contact us and say, ‘Thanks for playing our stuff,’”

Lai remarks.

ania resident Lina Vilimaite, “and most of all, I like the WEFUNK intro jingles.” For all the fan support, they’ve received just as much positive feedback from the artists themselves. Past guests on the show include legendary singers Sharon Jones and Marva Whitney, Gang Starr frontman, the late Guru, and Cameo’s Larry Blackmon. Numerous other stars have recorded promos for the show: Ali Shaheed (A Tribe Called Quest) Chuck D, RZA, Masta Ace, Brother Ali, and Black Milk, to name a few. Public Enemy’s Hank Shocklee declared himself WEFUNK’s “biggest fan” and Newark rap legend Lord Jazz says of the DJs, “they have the knowledge and a perfect ear for music.” “What gets me the most is when a lot of the artists we play, even people I grew up listening to, contact us and say, ‘Thanks for playing our stuff,’” Lai remarks. “It’s just come full circle, it feels like.” It might surprise you to hear that pure WEFUNK preparation only takes up three or

four hours of these busy DJs’ lives. Lai is a full-time accountant in Vancouver and Foster is finishing up his graduate studies in neuroscience through McGill. No big deal, really. And when they’re not working, studying, or shuffling through hundreds of music submissions, they deejay live at clubs and events. They’re just starting their third European DJ tour of the year (and their fourteenth ever), an eight-date trip that takes them through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Poland. New Yorker Mia Pearlman has listened to WEFUNK since 1998. When the thought crossed her and her fiancée’s mind to ask them to deejay their wedding in 2005, it seemed like a silly fantasy. “No, it’s not possible,” she recalled thinking. “They’re too good.” But the couple wrote the letter despite their doubts. Before they knew it, Static and Groove had arrived at the location with more than enough vinyl to last them through the six-hour reception.

In the grand scheme of music radio, WEFUNK has only made a quiet mark. But its founders’ fervor and tireless dedication have larger implications. While commercial stations, blogs, and music news sites bludgeon their audiences with the “latest and greatest” music products, WEFUNK filters the filler. Their grassroots methods and consistent quality grant much-needed solace to music-lovers who are fed up with the evershrinking attention span of today’s music climate. These guys aren’t selling anything. But they’re happy to share it with anyone. if

Logo by Slightly Illegal Media



MUSIC REVIEWS Halycon Digest Deerhunter (4AD)

“That’s so random!” she fired back. And before she even let out the giggle (there’s always a giggle), I put an end to the inanity. “Shut up!” I said, forgetting my manners. “Shut your mouth!” Or I turned around and walked away. But most likely I just cringed and condoned the bastardization. Sometime around 2003 our culture wantonly shoehorned a thousand blasphemous definitions for what had been a perfectly good word into the English (American) language and ruined it. These colors don’t run, but my patience is somewhere near Saturn right now. That word is dead to me. Flash forward to 2010. The music scene is crazy. Bands start up each and every day. The inspired grab the cheapest recording devices they can find/whatever disguises their insufficiencies as “aesthetic” (I went there), and lo-fi is the new Charleston. With the craze comes the new catchall definitive adjective of 2010: nostalgic. We’re all guilty of it, especially yours truly (See nearly every review I’ve written since January). But I don’t feel lazy when I answer the interview cliché “Describe this album in one word” with precisely the latest copout. Halcyon Digest is legitimately nostalgic, which, admittedly, is far from a brilliant assessment in this calendar year, especially since frontman Brandon Cox unambiguously stated that the album’s title is a “reference to a collection of fond memories.” But Halcyon Digest transcends the zeitgeist other “nostalgic” albums conjure. On their fourth studio album, Deerhunter supplement the 90’s ambient punk influence on previous efforts by probing as deep as 50’s dream pop, as recent as 2009, and everything that falls in between. Halcyon Digest is a pastiche

18 reviews

less like a time capsule and more like a time machine. Halcyon Digest demonstrates an impeccable ability to harmoniously graft together a far-flung range of influences, a trait no better represented than on “Coronado,” with an opening piano lope that makes you realize, “Hey, I heard this song in an ipod commercial four years ago,” then harmonically adds guitar to the melody causing you to reconsider, “Oh, maybe that was 1965” and then backs enough sax to change your mind again, “I guess it must have been 1973.” “Basement Scene” evokes the dream pop of 50’s teen sensations like the Everly Brothers, “Memory Boy” distinctly boasts the auctoritas of Spector’s wall of sound and Beach Boys’ charm, while “Desire Lines” owes much to shoegaze and garage rock anthems of the 90’s. The production, however, unifies the album as a whole, both masking and heightening a pervasive feeling of isolation. Producer Ben Allen, who held the reins on Animal Collective’s 2009 Merriweather Post Pavilion, takes the sound in a similar direction. Allen’s aquatic ornamentation brilliantly and distinctly illustrates an image of a man alone in his dinghy on a foggy morning on the aptly titled “Sailing.” Likewise, the watery shim-

mer on leadoff track “Earthquake” enhances the arpeggiated hypnosis with which it begins and confers selfsufficiency akin to that on “My Girls.” The percussive force of “Revival” provides a jazz-inflected confidence that echoes the lyrical optimism from faith. On the contrary, the solitude of “Helicopter” owes its mood to the dreary sulk from Allen’s hand. Allen’s production becomes the keystone of a work that seems to trace the technical innovations in music of the past half-century. While exploring the melodies and arrangements of an extensive array of climates in musical history, Deerhunter refrains from discriminating the achievements of modern artists too neoteric for apotheosis. Halcyon Digest isn’t just post-punk or post-pop, but is provident enough to already be post-Merriweather Post Pavilion, as linguistically couth as the genre sounds. As such, I have zero qualms labeling this album “nostalgic.” Not only does it hearken a near-comprehensive spectrum of the extant evolution of rock, but I will even argue that Halcyon Digest sentimentally recalls the next few years. Try that on for size, Christopher Nolan. ryan waring

“ They

Business Casual Chromeo (Atlantic Records)

The age of folk is over. That doesn’t mean new and exciting folk music isn’t sprouting up – just not as much of it. The synthesizer is coming up on its 135th birthday, but evolving music technology has made sounds and techniques available that would have been impossible to achieve a decade ago (or at least not nearly as easy to implement). As a musical purist and a skeptic of the unending sub-genres of electronic music, it has taken me a while to accept their prevalence and prominence. Why, then, is one of the bands I have found most refreshing in the last few years the same band that has broken just about every imaginable tie with the stripped-down and the unplugged? Critics have classified Chromeo as “plastic funk,” and it’s the most satisfying band categorization I’ve ever heard. Employing small armies of whizzing synthesizers and using guitar for just about everything it was not originally intended to do, the Canadian duo oozes artificiality. And that’s precisely what I love about them. They take that nauseating electronic sound to such an extreme that the nausea ceases.The only way I can begin to make sense of it – and I don’t mean to get philosophical on you – is that Chromeo’s music is so intentionally inorganic that it itself becomes a new kind of organic. But before you write me off as some stoned imbecile, just let me get into the specifics (or at least listen to a song or two). Chromeo’s third full-length album, Business Casual, is smooth and crisp (as its title implies), and most importantly balanced. Though Dave 1 (David Macklovitch) assumes the lead role and the exclusively talkboxing P-Thugg (Patrick Gemayel) in

a sense, the sidekick, neither personality dominates. They have a flair for placement and a keen understanding of musical volume (in the spatial, not the sonic sense). It would be ludicrous to describe Chromeo as subtle, but it’s the backseat instrumentals that make their music so engaging. Take, for instance, the creeping rise of the keys in “Night by Night” or the spiraling synth in “The Right Type.” But most of what Chromeo has to offer is too gaudy to miss. Beeps and clashes find unlikely common ground on “I’m Not Contagious.” The swirling string-filled “Don’t Walk Away” is pure disco, featuring a classic funk guitar riff and those standard delayed, off-beat keys. Conspicuous and steady 80’s drums on the lessonteaching “Grow Up” revive the spirit of 80’s greats like Queen and Michael Jackson as much as the group’s known role models Hall and Oates. And while these may seem like towering comparisons, they might be the only suitable ones, given Chromeo’s boldness. Each song is designed as a singalong (case in point: I knew the chorus to half the songs before even listening to the album, after seeing a live set a month ago). “Don’t turn the lights on,” sings Macklovitch on “Don’t Turn the Lights On” (go figure). “’Cause tonight I want to see you in the dark.” “Night by Night” takes the chorus cake, though: “She says I’m not romantic/I say she’s too dramatic/I tell her while we’re at it, we can work it night by night.” They’re simple-minded choruses, but surely not crafted by simple minds. The only song that it might be tough to remember the lyrics to is the heartfelt French-sung “J’ai Claqué la Porte”

revive the spirit of 80’s greats like Queen and MJ.” (“I Slammed the Door”), and they almost always have a charming playful sexuality. Though none of its songs can compete with “Bonafied Lovin’” from 2007’s Fancy Footwork, Business Casual is more consistent and has far more depth, and it keeps the same ebullient spirit throughout. Chromeo is not my favorite band, and they’re not making the greatest music of the decade, or even the year. Still, it’s hard to find flaws in an album that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. Critics always presume they know “what the artist is trying to do”, but Chromeo makes it painfully obvious, at least in some respects. They don’t hide their main objective – to make incredible dance songs. The mystery lies in the question to what extent Chromeo’s music reflects parody, and to what extent it reflects obsession of a music era in which ties to actual instruments are growing thinner. Either way, Business Casual is refreshing in that it is an album you can judge purely on the way it makes you feel. If you can’t stand dancing and you’re not into having fun, perhaps business formal is more your taste. Otherwise, I can’t see how you couldn’t fall in love with Chromeo and their latest product. james passarelli





are going to be very angry with me. This issue does not include our Top Albums of 2010 list. I know, the New Year is almost upon us. Just about every major music publication has come out with its list. But when they say the “year” they mean “year”, right? Because last time I checked, December, is in fact one of the twelve months of the year. The Academy does a lot of things wrong, but one of the few things they do right is having their awards ceremony after the year’s end. Not that we’re going to make you wait that long like last year. But we’re going to wait a couple weeks to let 2010 sink in. After all, some of the best music doesn’t hit you until it’s too late. So, there’s my explanation. But why focus on what we don’t yet have when we do have so many great things for you? We’re excited to present to you our interview with the world-famous French composer and pop star Yann Tiersen. We would also like to welcome to the staff Rob DeStefano, who makes his worthy debut with “Rewind ‘Shocktober,’” a look at one of 2009’s most overlooked films. Also, layout queen Kathryn Freund put the pen to the pad for the first time in a while, as she helps get you in the holiday spirits with the second annual “80 Minutes of Christmas Music.” Our two album reviews are on the opposite sides of the spectrum: Bryant Kitching’s undertaking of Kanye West’s extraordinarily anticipated album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and my review of Blood Warrior’s self-titled debut album, one of the quieter releases of November. Last, but not least, we have Taylor Catalana’s exploration of the striking similarities between two very different blond, twenty-year old divas. Then again, I suppose that’s what the table of contents is for, isn’t it? I’ll leave you with that. Thanks for reading, and happy holidays. You probably won’t hear from me until after the 25th (queue sigh of relief). P.S. I would also like to apologize for Taylor Swift being on the cover—when Kathryn showed me her idea for the cover, it just looked too good to turn down. I promise it will be the last time.


james passarelli


Vol 2 No. 10 ///// Dec 2010 FEATURE


Why Laura Marling and Taylor Swift aren't as different as you might think



Reviews for Kanye West, Blood Warrior, and House of the Devil (why it should be on your Netflix queue



A delightful dialogue with musical renaissance man Yann Tiersen



80 minutes of Christmas to tickle (or spoil) your Christmas fancy



Photos by NEWSOK & Simon Fernandez

Two Princesses Laura Marling and Taylor Swift are p o l a r opposites... But they might just have more in common than meets the naked eye. Words: Taylor Catalana


scrolling through my iPod, I frequently come across two artists who never fail to depress me, although not because of their music. While I am trudging through the gritty Bronx streets to class, Taylor Swift and Laura Marling are touring the world, playing their guitars, and connecting with scores of devoted fans through their self-penned music. The source of this particular strain of envy? If we had all been in the same place, these singer-songwriters and I could have graduat ed high school together. T h e s e young women are obviously not leading the

lives of the average twenty-year-old, but let’s frame this in a high school setting. If my iPod were a high school cafeteria, on one side, would be Miss Taylor Swift. Under those drab fluorescent lights, her luscious waves of golden hair would shimmer, her mysterious good looks turn heads, and her bubbly personality make her the prom queen you want to hate but can’t. She writes off herself as “that awkward girl” who writes songs about boys who never notice her, but coming from a Grammy-winning bomb shell, that act is hard to buy into. To put it more simply, gawky, unassuming teenage girls don’t wield rhinestone guitars. On the other side of the cafeteria, we have Miss Laura Marling, the oh-so-quiet, pretty, sof t-spoken girl. She would likely b e

reading Riverside Shakespeare or staring into the flame of a candle, desperately trying to disappear in the chaos around her. Devoid of glitter or glam, she would worry little about her homely hairstyle or plain clothes. She could well have wowed the crowds of rowdy teens with her virtuosic guitar skills, but she would have reserved them for an empty classroom in the English department during her gym period. As a fan of both of artists and someone with decent taste in music, I can say that their styles are completely different. Taylor Swift is that unbelievably successful musical experiment, the perfect combo of country and bubblegum teenage storytelling. Using catchy hooks and frilly dresses, she’s a living Barbie doll—relatable, sugary sweet, even when she goes emo in her ballads. Laura Marling, on the other hand, prefers to plunk a sad guitar to match the croon of her velvety deep voice. Her music and lyrics are more complex with less mass appeal, but certainly enough to silence a room full of moon-eyed folk lovers.

“ She's a

living Barbie doll—relatable, sugary sweet, even when she goes emo in her ballads."

08 feature Photo by

Photo by mxdwn

Despite their stylistic differences, I’m inclined to argue that as songwriters they’re more alike than they seem. Their images and packaging differ, but fundamentally, they’re both twenty-year-old girls who sing about the same things. I am by no means trying to reduce my own kind to a one-dimensional prototype, but if you listen to either artist, you can deduce the problem plaguing all young women in their words—becoming yourself, dealing with the past, toying with the future. And boys. One of my favorite similarities between the cutesy American and the lithe Brit is their high-profile dating histories. Taylor Swift dated a Jonas brother and one of the Twilight guys (does it really matter which one?). Both now just exes, they quickly turned into catchy and bankable song material. Laura Marling dated Charlie Fink, lead singer of Noah and the Whale (her back-up in “5 Years Time”). When they broke up, he proceeded to write two albums’

worth of residual heartbreak, including one song called “Hold My Hand as I’m Lowered”. Marling’s songs allude to emotional unavailability in relationships, but she said it all in her cheeky response on “Blackberry Stone” when she sang, “I’m sorry that I couldn’t hold your hand as you were lowered.” She is currently dating the lead singer of Mumford and Sons, another rising British pop folk star. When Marling released her second album I Speak Because I Can earlier this year, many critics pointed out the disparity between her music and Swift’s. Interestingly enough, Swift’s new album is titled Speak Now. Before I heard the two title tracks, I wondered what message they intended to transmit. Female empowerment? Taking a stand? Being a talented woman surrounded by the greedy men of the music industry? It turns out that Swift’s song is about begging a guy not to marry a total wench and Mar-

“ Her music and

lyrics are more complex with less mass appeal, but certainly enough to silence a room full of moon-eyed folk lovers." 09


ling’s song is about the bitterness and regret of being ditched by your husband. Material not directly relevant to the women’s current lives, but revolving around that same sphere of finality, love gone wrong, and the ever tantalizing idea to the twentyyear-old mistake maker—how to prevent those mistakes and the fear of what happens once they are irreversible. One is a kicky little pop song and the other is a slow, dramatic ballad, but they are both heavy in their own right. And both are easy to relate to, as evidenced by each artist’s each fan base. If you want your emotions laid bare like fireworks in the last scene of a romantic drama, Taylor

10 feature

Swift is there to provide you with a soundtrack. She’s there when you want the message to your new infatuation or your horrid ex made absolutely clear and blunt. She’s the ugly duckling turned swan who champions everyone’s inner middle school geek who just wanted that cute guy to like her. With Laura Marling, you get a more intricate kind of poetry that comes from the diary of a brooding intellectual. A quiet storm, slowly releasing condensed emotion. Swift’s music is for when you want even your deepest, darkest feelings fringed with light; Marling’s is for the actual dark, for moments that are too deep to have a simple melody and set of easy rhymes.

I draw these comparisons to dispel the commonplace shame from which people of our generation seems to suffer when they find themselves entertained by mainstream pop music that most likely will not be chosen by someone wanting to publicly preserve the dignity of his or her taste is music. Swift is too vapid, her critics say, too Disney princess; someone like her could never get to the heart of the matter as a Laura Marling can. But it’s just not true. Sure, it is easy to like one of these artists and not the other based on style and preference, but it’s also easy to like both. if

Photo of Laura by Pop Matters Photo of Taylor by Just Jared

“ Their images and packaging

differ, but fundamentally, they're both twenty-year-old girls who sing about the same things." 11


Photo by Eye Magazine

“ For me, music is

Inflatable Ferret: A lot of people divide your music into… Yann Tiersen: Maybe. Not me. IF: Yeah, they divide it into your lighter stuff and your more serious material. But you don’t see that division then? YT: Not at all. If there is division, there is early stuff and new stuff. That is the only division I can see— it’s a slow evolution. And I think the early stuff is…less serious, in a way or more simple…I don’t know—I was younger. IF: There have been classical composers who have done rock albums, and then there have been rock musicians—like Jonny Greenwood and Nick Cave—who have done scores. I feel like with you there’s not really a distinction between rock or pop or classical. YT: Yeah, and if I had to be in one category I am more in the second

14 interview

one than the first. For me, it was more unusual to use acoustic instruments because it’s not my culture. But I came to acoustic instruments just because of the samplers in the 90’s. I used to have a rock band from [age] fifteen to twenty-one. And then after my band members went to do other stuff I started to make music on my own. I studied violin and piano— classical music—but really only for a short time—from [age] six to twelve. And I was so disgusted about this [classical] world that I wanted to make music that had nothing to do with the classical world. When I was twenty, twenty-one, and I started to make music on my own I got bored sitting all day long listening to tons of CDs and vinyl trying to find a good sample of classical stuff. So, I said to myself, “Okay, I play violin. Maybe I can fix it.” And just use it to be simpler and sample myself. IF: So, you had to break free from

not a language. It’s just a way to express abstract feelings—it’s really instinctive.”

being totally influenced by other music? YT: Yeah, you know, when I was in a rock band I was really young. I was mainly being what I was a fan of. So, for me, acoustic instruments like guitar and mandolin were completely new. It was impossible for me to copy something just because of the instruments. So, I think that’s how I found my own way of making music at the beginning. IF: You’ve done a few soundtracks. YT: Not a lot. In fact, I just made two soundtracks: Goodbye, Lenin!. And recently I made a soundtrack for a documentary [Pierre Marcel’s 2008 film Tabarly about French sailor Eric Tabarly].

IF: And then the Amélie soundtrack was just a compilation of old stuff? YT: Yeah, which was strange for me because it was like covering my earlier stuff. I was so far from that even at that moment. IF: Do you think there was anything really special about that soundtrack that made it your trademark, or do you think it was just the success of the film? YT: I don’t know. It was like an open door for people to listen to my music. But I wasn’t expecting success with that. I even didn’t want the soundtrack to be released because at that time, the director wanted to change my titles because they had nothing to do with the movie. And I said, “If you do that, then there won’t be any record out.” IF: With a movie score, do you think the film usually dictates how a score is written, or do you think it’s a little bit more how the score impacts the way the film is viewed? YT: For me, music is not a language. It’s just a way to express abstract feelings—it’s really instinctive. Music for me is just sound, and that’s means nothing, which is great. And pure, in a way. I think you can put whatever you want in a movie—you just need a reason. You don’t choose the “soundtrack of your life.” You can think hardcore death metal is the most romantic kind of music because you met the love your life with it. I’m really not as comfortable talking about soundtracks because for me it’s just completely another world. I think it’s impossible to even make a soundtrack. You can just make music, and it can fit with a movie, but for no reason. I made Goodbye, Lenin when my mother was sick, and that’s one of the reasons I said yes—because the story is about a son whose mother died. IF: I was going to ask you about when you write lyrics in French versus writing them in English. You don’t really write the music in a different way for French or English lyrics?

YT: Yeah, it’s the same. There is a really good interview with Elliott Smith about his lyrics. He said that his lyrics didn’t make lots of sense—it’s up to the listener to build the story. And I really believe in that in any way of expression. I don’t believe in creation—I think you just have to let the thing come and let it live by itself without any direct message. You can suggest something, but not tell it. IF: For your new album, Dustlane, I’ve only listened to a couple tracks. I haven’t gotten the full album yet. YT: Oh, it’s not yet downloadable somewhere? IF: Not that I saw. YT: Really? I guess that’s maybe good, maybe not? It’s good to listen to it all though, because there are eight songs that all link together. There’s no gap, so it’s like one big song, except “Fuck Me”, which is like an epilogue in a way, lighter. IF: And how many tracks have lyrics on them? YT: All of them. Sometimes it’s just like a sentence, but there are lyrics on all of them. IF: You recorded most of it in Ouessant? YT: Yeah. IF: Did you record at home? YT: Yeah, all the acoustic stuff was recorded in Ouessant, and then all the rest was recorded in Paris. IF: Does it make you more comfortable to record at home? YT: It’s nice to be independent. You don’t have to think about money or the record company—to know that you can do it by yourself—to start an album and know I can record an entire album. And after, if I have the budget, I can go to a studio and everything, but I like the idea of independence.

IF: And you worked with Ken Thomas, right? YT: Yeah. He was great—he mixed the album. I also made a tribute album to [English experimental group] Coil. So I was listening to a lot of Psychic TV, and one of my favorite Psychic TV albums was produced by Ken Thomas. And after, he worked with M83 and Sigur Rós, and I really like how he works with vocals. So I called him, and he was really happy to do it. In fact, I think he was the only man on Earth who could have done this album, because there are so many layers, so many tracks. I wanted to have a mix where you can hear everything, but still a bit blurry. And we were completely on the same page, which was great.

 Check out some of Yann's work

Amélie, 2001

IF: You mentioned your mom earlier. The press description mentioned that you lost her as well as a friend of yours while making the album. Did that come through in the album? YT: Yeah, but in a positive way. I guess I made the songs happier, because you have to enjoy life. Death is part of life, and sometimes it makes you realize you’re still alive.

Goodbye, Lenin!, 2003

IF: What kind of music do you usually listen to at home? YT: In the last year I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Electric Prunes, and also a lot of German. I’m a very big fan of Neue and Can. Also, do you know Brainticket? It’s a German band, and they have an album called Cottonwoodhill, which is really strange, but really really good. Also new stuff—I think Animal Collective is a great band, and I’m not the only one.

Tabarly, 2008

IF: Have you ever reached out to a newer artist to ask them to collaborate? YT: I don’t believe in asking to collaborate. I like when you meet someone, and you say, “Great, why not?” Instead of phoning the guy and saying, “I like your work.” Dust Lane, 2010 if







This year, IF compiled a list of some of our favorite Christmas music— including the good, bad, and the ugly. Our "Naughty List" features some of our guilty pleasures and some of the most hilarious Christmas tunes we stumbled upon this year. We hope you'll get a laugh or two out of it.

1 2:22 MXPX – “Christmas Night of Zombies” Imagine a Walking Dead Christmas Episode. Here’s your soundtrack. Now go sever some zombie heads! 2

4:40 ROB THOMAS – “A New York Christmas” “And the sidewalk angels echo ‘Hallelujah.’” Although I’m not sure if “sidewalk angels” realistically are drunk homeless men or flash-mob carolers, Rob Thomas makes me believe they exist, somewhere—it is Christmas after all.

3 3:07 B2K – “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” Santa in the hood, ya’ll. And if you like this song, B2K has an entire album of more of the same, entitled Santa Hooked Me Up. 4 4:55 CRAZY – “We Jammin’ for Christmas” Wish you were in Jamaica for the holidays? Crazy takes you as close as you can get without having to buy a plane ticket. "They gettin’ outrageous."

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5 3:01 GREEN DAY – “Christmas Day” Remember when pop punk was cool? Bring it back with Green Day’s teenangsty punk Christmas tune. 6 3:54 THE SUPERIONS – “Santa’s Disco” WHAT?!?! Seriously, watch this video if you feel your Christmas party is nowhere near disturbing enough. I’m assuming B-52s front man Fred Schneider is aiming for self-parody, but that is no excuse. 7 2:40 BARENAKED LADIES – “Green Christmas” Feeling nostalgic about your favorite 90s alternative music, AND looking for something to get you in the Christmas spirit? Well, Barenaked Ladies has the perfect song for you. You can have your egg nog and drink it, too. 8 2:23 GUSTER – “Donde Esta Santa Claus” I’m not sure if I can put into words how absurd this Navidad-jam by Guster is. But I will say, the lyrics do include: “I hope he won’t forget to pack his castanets into his reindeer sleigh.”

9 2:22 LADY GAGA (FEAT. SPACE COWBOY) –“Christmas Tree” “Yes everybody knows, we will take off our clothes.” This just might be the most naughty song on our list. Seriously, check out the not-so-subtle metaphors. 10

3:17 BLINK 182 – “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas” “I’m growing tired of all this Christmas cheer.” A Blink song typical of the Take Off Your Pants and Jacket era—Mark Hoppus makes fun of his annoying relatives and run-ins with the cops.


3:28 ELMO & PATSY – “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer” “You can say there’s not such thing as Santa, but as for me and Grandpa we believe.” Need I say more? This one’s definitely a guilty Christmas pleasure.


4:07 ADAM SANDLER – “Hanukkah Song” For all our Jewish friends lighting Menorahs instead of Christmas trees— we don’t want you to feel left out!


Nice r


Our "Nice List" features some of the more "culturally relevant" Christmas songs this year, while also celebrating some of what we consider to be timeless classics this time of year. Hopefully these can bring a little fresh joy to your holidays. Enjoy!

1 3:04 BLITZEN TRAPPER – “Christmas is Coming Soon” Putting a Christmas song on a debut album is pretty bold, and the Portland boys pull it off with ease (or at least that’s what they give off). 2 5:20 THE WAITRESSES – “Christmas Wrapping” A new wave Christmas classic from the band that brought you “I Know What Boys Like,” it’s been a favorite since the 80s. It’s funny and a little cynical, but ultimately a great pickerupper. So what if we used it last year? We’ll use it next year too. 3 3:42 FEIST –“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” In her own rendition of an old German Christmas hymn, Leslie Feist’s folk sound will help you stop to smell the poinsettias, or watch the snow fall during this busy season. 4

3:05 TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA– “Wizards of Winter” Make sure to sync your lights up to this one so the neighbors don’t show you up. While you’re at it, check your local arena calendar—these guys probably have three or four dates in your city.

5 4:29 LOS CAMPESINOS! – “Kindle a Flame in Your Heart” Just the kind of X-Mas jingle you’d expect from Los Campesinos!, if you’d expect any at all. So good you might want to be playing it months after Christmas.

9 4:05 JUKEBOX THE GHOST – “Mistletoe” You might find yourself belting this Ben Folds/Billy Joel-esque ballad by Jukebox the Ghost in the shower. Just be careful if you’re staying with relatives for Christmas.

6 3:44 BELLE & SEBASTIAN – "Twelve Days of Christmas" Want to impress your hipster posse with some alternative Christmas bsides? Belle and Sebastian have a whole album of them. This one features kazoos, triangles, and a whole slew of percussion sound effects.


7 2:02 THE BIRD AND THE BEE – “Carol of the Bells” Inara George’s haunting croon presents this Christmas classic in a way you’ve never heard it before. 8 1:58 BEST COAST & WAVVES – “I’ve Got Something for You” The ultimate indie couple join forces for a super-catchy lo-fi Christmas tune. The woooo oooo ooooo’s will be stuck in your head all day.

3:56 FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE – “Last Christmas” We all know Florence Welch, of course, from her unforgettable hit song “Dog Days are Over”—used in almost every advertisement that exists now, it seems. With good reason, though, because her voice sounds just as powerful in this live version of Wham!’s “Last Christmas” as it does in “Dog Days are Over.”


4:19 MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” Relax with fam to this synthy jam. Who knew that a simple rhythm change and a drum kit would make the most kick-ass Christmas carol kick even more ass? Chip Davis, that’s who. He’s the mother of your child, and don’t you forget that. kathryn freund james passarelli



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WORDS: Rob DeStefano / James Emerson / James Passarelli / Quin Slovek



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IT'S 2011.

Some say film is dead. There was no American remake of The White Ribbon this year. DiCaprio is back, but not with Cameron. The Full House movie isn’t even in talks yet; can we push for 3D? We take a look back at ten lessons we learned through film this past year.

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Foreign Markets

“ Unlike beer,

Mother Joon-ho Bong (Korea)

Undertow Javier Fuentes-León (Columbia)

The Maid Sebastián Silva (Chile)

Ajami Scandar Copti & Yaron Shani (Isreal/Palestine)

Delilah Warwick Thornton (Australia)

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tious productions such as A Prophet, Meserine, and Oliver Assayas’ Carlos (a German co-production). The land of Godard and Truffaut currently seems to be diversifying—from the art house, films like Catherine Breillat’s fairy-tale Bluebeard, but on the more epic end of the spectrum, Carlos follows in the footsteps of Speilberg’s Munich. A Prophet, meanwhile, one of 2010’s best films, follows those of Scorcese’s Goodfellas. I’ve fallen into a common trap by only focusing on the over-studied French in a year when the Swedes have had more influence on Hollywood due to the Girl Who Played with Fire films, currently being adapted by American director David Fincher, and the Let the Right One In remake (Let Me In) by Matt Reeves, who stayed true to the original’s atmosphere and subtitles. QS

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You can safely imply from my choice of topic that I would encourage people to brave the subtitles and see more foreign films, but don’t do so indiscriminately. Unlike beer, imports are not always hands down better than domestics. I realized this over the summer while watching The Girl on the Train, a new French movie that seemed to be entirely about a highly unlikable young lady roller-skating around Paris—oh, and a non-existent neo-Nazi attack. If there’s any panEuropean (or at least Scandinavian) trend in film this year, it’s a sudden interest in some form of neo-Nazism: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo sequels (Sweden), Brotherhood (Denmark) and the tacky Nazi-zombie flick Dead Snow (Norway). Also apparent is how little good I’ve heard about Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s newest, the cartoonish comedy Micmacs. Since 2001 his Amélie has practically become required viewing for hipsters and Francophiles, but Micmacs was apparently such a flop that it barely made it to our side of the Atlantic. Yet Jeunet, no matter how well loved, is not a one-man film industry. The French have had a solid year of exports due to larger, ambi-


A Prophet

imports are not always hands down better than domestics.”


Through the Cracks: Little Known Gems Winnebago Man

Enter the Void 2010 was full of films that, for lack of a better term, I’ll call “under the radar.” By this I mean the miscellaneous, the oddities and all those other films that barely blip onto our collective movie conscience. Though I’ve done my damndest to keep up, here are four films from 2010’s miscellany that I’ve been dying to see: one comedy, one acid trip, one strange documentary and a flick about Vikings.

Four Lions


British director Chris Morris must have a great sense of humor (and balls of brass) to actually make

a slapstick comedy about suicide bombers work. Though critically acclaimed (surprise surprise), this age of terror satire unfortunately has had trouble finding a distributor in the United States.

Enter the Void The new Gaspar Noé film Enter the Void looks so upsettingly, unnervingly trippy that it almost dares you to watch it. Shot from the perspective of a ghost floating throughTokyo, most descriptions of the film compare it to a neon-colored out-of-body experience. Far out, dude.

Okay, so better documentaries have come out this year, but the story of “Winnebago Man” Jack Rebney’s internet infamy seems like a fascinating character study of a man’s response to accidental fame. Besides, there’s something inherently fascinating about surly old codgers. The moral of this YouTube parable: now we can all achieve fame, but do we really want to?

Valhalla Rising In 2009 Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn hit the art house scene with the prison biopic Bronson, but this year he took his testosterone-fueled style one step further with Valhalla Rising. In this brutal historical odyssey, Danish actor Mads Mikkelson of this year’s Coco Channel and Igor Stravinsky plays a mysterious warrior named One Eye heading to the edge of the universe, aka America. QS

Inertia and the Studios


One of the biggest downsides to the year in movies is the burgeoning concept of the multiple-decadeafter-the-fact sequel. I blame George Lucas for opening up the re-treading floodgates with his prequels and Lucas and Spielberg for keeping them open with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. No matter how much fanboys gripe, the new Star Wars movies did sell a lot of merchandise, and Hollywood noticed. To a much lesser extent, the Robert Rodriguez-produced Predators and Joseph Kosinski’s Tron: Legacy follow suit. Both are re-imaginings without the imaginativeness. They hide the fact that they have nothing new to contribute by offering something slicker than the originals. We get it: special effects technology has made great strides since the 80s. Now the challenge is to find

something new. Perhaps the new Tron by sheer force of its technological developments, and for the apparent “newness” of 3D, is the most forgivable example. Instead of picking on the well-intentioned first-timer, Kosinski, but I would rather wag my finger at Oliver Stone. Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps struggles so mightily to be timely that it somehow does a disservice to the insight and timelessness of the original. Yes, Stone did try to justify the need for such a sequel by ostensibly offering a comment on the 2008 financial meltdown, but instead of a fully formed portrait of contemporary greed, we got Josh Brolin as a cardboard shark, Michael Douglas as a mushy shadow of Gordon Gekko and Shia LaBeouf wandering around, looking like a teenager that snuck into an executive board meeting. If anyone needed reminding,

Oliver Stone is a hack. I’d rather see him find new ways to be disappointing than to see him maim his own material. These movies are a phenomenal waste of time, particularly for the directors involved. Retreading old material and callously capitalizing on the success of the past and insipid 1980s nostalgia is not a worthwhile endeavor, but in a Hollywood market that is reluctant to risk large budgets on new material, this phenomena is becoming increasingly commonplace. It will take a lot more flops than Predators or the new Wall Street to convince Hollywood to lessen its stranglehold on our fond memories of the past. QS

Michael Douglas and Shia LeBeouf in Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps










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WORDS: David Amidon / Taylor Catalana / James Emerson / Kathryn Freund Bryant Kitching / Doug Knickrehm / James Passarelli / Asif Siddiqi / Ryan Waring


the decade end after 2009 or 2010? I have a friend who swears that we have all been beginning and ending our decade best lists a year too early. Let's be real, though. Who really cares? Birds are dropping left and right. Fish are dropping north and south. Penguins are even dropping east and west. Homeless folks are the new Paris Hilton (not my call). The world will probably/definitely end before 2012. Can we take the year for what it's worth then? 2010 is 2010, and let's please leave it at that. So whether are not you're anticipating a decade-long list, get real. Each month is a precious gem as we near that fateful day (12/21/12), and the fact that we're taking the time to give you the full year in perspective should mean a lot. A LOT! So without further ado, the Inflatable Ferret's Top 50 Albums of 2010‌



BEACH HOUSE Teen Dream Teen Dream is the perfect album to listen to over headphones after snuggling up under a 15 tog duvet at the headboard of a queen-sized oaken sleigh bed on the wood-paneled floor of a Tudor bedroom splotched by the full moon’s silhouette of listless January snowfall that settles like cobwebs in the bottom corners of the pellucid oriel window that spotlights your vulnerability for a cobblestone street flanked by the dimly gas-lit, lantern-topped street lights of an indifferent and slumbering world, where somewhere Jenny gives herself to a blissful slumber in the arms of your douchebag ex-best friend Johnny, or whatever melancholic thought might cross your restless mind. Johnny says to you, “Teen Dream isn’t limited to so specific a setting,” and you counter quietly, “Fuck you, backstabber. That’s not the point.” Teen Dream works anywhere, but Beach House has crafted an album so technically sound, wonderfully arranged, hypnotic, charming, and blissful that it creates an idiosyncratic situation that demands your utmost attention. Now excuse me while I slip back into the world Beach House constructed for me. RW

32 top albums


DEERHUNTER Halycon Digest

James and I rarely agree on anything, not so much because we have such different tastes or are so opinionated, probably not because we’re both paradoxically dismissive of and prone to hyperboles, and definitely nothing to do with ego. Regardless, our Skype sessions alone would constitute 17 of the 20 most flamboyant displays of unbridled bickering in the history of deliberative bodies. History in mind, I was taken aback when James pitched Deerhunter as we opened the floor for the album-of-the-year debate. Granted, I first assumed devil’s advocate to keep up appearances, but never had I cut the bullshit so quickly and consented, “Okay.” Does this mean that Halcyon Digest is the undisputed champion of 2010? As far as we’re concerned, yes. But it’s tough to articulate why that is. Copouts aside, I feel that mystery accounts for its stranglehold of our top spot. On every level, Halcyon Digest tightly treads the line between warmth and aloofness. A dense wall-of-sound from “Memory Boy” swiftly succeeds the frail tears from Brandon Cox’s guitar on “Sailing.” All the while, Ben Allen’s production supplements this duality with placid, liquid shimmers and thick, aggressive percussion. Cox’s bipolar lyrics congeal the album, capturing the insecurity from the cyclical tragedy that too often befalls the inspired. The Renaissance Man’s range of influences are sometimes more a monkey on his back than a shot in the arm. But as an album that masterfully channels the musical spectrum from the Everly Brothers to Animal Collective, Halcyon Digest testifies that it’s a burden worth bearing. RW


top albums






It usually takes me three or four weeks to break my New Years resolution, but I figured I would get a head start this year. And I’m dragging you down with me. For those of you who always follow through with your goals and resolutions, you might want to stay away from this one. Not that it will free you from the sweltering fires of hell for which you are destined…so why not join in the misery? We have eighty minutes of some spectacularly depressing music to get things rolling.

1 3:05 SIMON & GARFUNKEL – “The Sound of Silence” Ready to wallow in your own selfpity like Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) in The Graduate? This haunting acoustic folk classic will fill your void like Elaine does for Ben when she…well, I won't give away the ending. (But if you haven't seen it, watch it NOW.) 2 1:59 FUGAZI – “I'm So Tired” A raw, stripped down ballad featuring frontman Ian MacKaye and a bellowing grand piano. If you can't sit down at a piano and sing the blues for yourself, MacKaye has enough moaning melancholy for the both of you, and more. 3 4:58 SUNNY DAY REAL ESTATE – "In Circles" This angsty grunge ballad says it all when it comes to the emotions of frustration and defeat. And, well, it should—coming from the fathers of emo themselves.

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4 2:39 ELLIOT SMITH – “The Biggest Lie" So, honesty hasn't been your strong suit in 2011…and basically…you fucked up bad. Sounds too harsh? Well, Elliot Smith transforms it into words that are slightly more poetic. 5 3:05 THE SMITHS – “Back to the Old House" Marr and Morrissey slow things down for this recollection song, the b-side to 1984’s “What Difference Does It Make?” (hey, we probably could have included that one too). 6 4:47 JOY DIVISION – "New Dawn Fades" "Mistakes were made? You took the blame? The strain's too much, can't take much more? Hoping for something else?" Ian Curtis says it all with his haunting baritone croon. 7 3:05 PLACEBO – “36 Degrees” With lines like: "I've always been an introvert, happily bleeding," this trepidatious 90s post-punk jam features themes of isolation, insecurity, failed

relationships, etc. Whatever you're feeling angry or down about, you'll probably find a piece of it here.

8 3:38 NIRVANA – “You Know You're Right" “Heeeeyyeyyy you know you're right.” Messed up and just want to let it all out? Turn up the music, break out your grunge voice, and…try to drown out Kurt's vocals. 9 1:39 PAUL BARIBEAU – "Help a Kid Out" “Mom, I'm out of money again. Can't you help a kid out? I've got troubles I can't face alone.” Lucky for you, you've got Paul Baribeau's raspy yowl and catchy Oberst-esque acoustic riffs to sing along with. 10

3:25 BRIGHT EYES – “If Winter Ends" Conor Oberst desperately whines, “Lie to me and say it's gonna be alright, it's gonna be alright...” If you've got the winter blues just follow his lead and think like an optimist. It's gonna be alright.


8:37 MODEST MOUSE – “Broke" In this economy, seriously, who isn't? Isaac Brock speaks for most of us right about now, while adding in his usual rambling, self-deprecating prose.


4:01 PJ HARVEY – “To Talk To You" Death is not an unexplored theme in Harvey’s large body of work. Here she longs to be under the earth with her deceased grandmother.


4:37 THE NATIONAL – “Theory of the Crows” “If I forget you, I’ll have nobody left to forget. I guess that’s what assholes get.” Amen, Matt, although I must say, rime riche is sooooo sixteenth century.


3:54 NINE INCH NAILS – “Heresy” Never has such a doleful song fit so well on a pump up mix. “God is dead,” Reznor screams, “and no one cares.” And if there’s a hell, he’ll see you there. Ha, as if you needed Trent Reznor to tell you that you’re a loathsome individual.


4:39 THE DAMNED – "Twisted Nerve" This one’s taken from 1980’s The Black Album by The Damned. Wow, the song title is less depressing than the band and album names. But brooding guitars and a paranoid freak’s hallucinations (or are they?) will be sure to darken the mood.


2:47 TOWNES VAN ZANDT – “Kathleen" It’s still difficult for me to recognize any Townes song as “depressing” in any traditional sense, but this also gives me an excuse to include one of his songs. Which one to choose? How about this dark, string-swelled track from Our Mother the Mountain.


5:07 BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – “My Father's House" A reader complained to us that we didn’t include the Boss in our Christmas playlist last issue, so here is our shot at redemption. Maybe Bruce can take you to your own special place “so cold and alone, shining ‘cross this dark highway where our sins lie unatoned.”


4:17 RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – "This is the Place" It’s been a while since the Peppers graced 80 Minutes of Music, but this one fits quite nicely. Believe me, this is not a place you want to visit anytime soon.


2:03 NEIL YOUNG – “The Needle and the Damage Done” A fairly straightforward and haunting tale of the horrors of heroine.


3:22 RAY CHARLES – “Drown in My Own Tears" Starting off the New Year with some luvin' troubles, son? Grab a box of tissues and get straight to the heart of the matter. Don't feel ashamed, your blues-singing brother has your back on this one.


4:26 RADIOHEAD – "Nude" This song is almost half as depressing as picturingThom Yorke nude. I am so terribly sorry for doing that to you. kathryn freund james passarelli




Blue Valentine


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Is there any connect

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he Green ornet


WORDS: Rob DeStefano PHOTOS: Jaimie Trueblood & Weinstein Company


Somebody wants something really badly. The desire for the prize outweighs earthly logic. He or she is willing to go against all odds: to battle deadly assassins in hope of finding her daughter, to win a girl’s heart by playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” from a boombox. Some will walk freely across a rope, suspended between two buildings, and stop to have a conversation with a seagull. Welcome to life and/or Screenwriting 101. Like our favorite fictional characters, we are driven by endless MacGuffins. One man’s journey to sate his appetite for love will inevitably be unique, or at the very least, nuanced from the next man’s quest. In this ever-expanding world of film, it is the duty of the screenwriters, actors, and filmmakers to embellish a common determination and transform it into a worthwhile and cinematic treat. On the weekend of January 14th, theaters released two movies that were poles apart; when stripped to the core, their protagonists all desired the same thing: human connection.



Blue Valentine Blue Valentine juxtaposes past and present moments of a young relationship, recounting the inherent messiness of interdependence. In an early scene, occurring in the present timeframe, Cindy (Michelle Williams) groggily prepares her daughter Frankie’s breakfast while her husband Dean

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(Ryan Gosling) contributes in less appropriate ways, mimicking an animal eating raisins from the table. Frankie only sees the humor in this, but Cindy’s total unamusement with Dean suggests the harrowing subtext: has the search for security brought the couple to frustration and unhappiness? It’s a scene that functions from the characters playing worn roles of “good cop, bad cop,” but the cast and direction add a sincere subtleness, building the emotional framework for the retrospection. In these past sequences, we learn about the characters’ lack of connectivity to the world around them. Dean comes from a broken household and a neglectful mother. He works as a mover, lugging boxes and bulk from old places to new ones, just as people do with their personal “baggage.” He introduces an elderly veteran to a retirement home; going above and beyond, Dean unpacks the man’s belongings and arranges the room. He discovers a photograph of the man’s late wife. The two share a moment of reflection, one looking back on his romance, the other looking forward with the ambition of similar fulfillment. Cindy cares for her grandmother, transporting her back and forth from an assisted living center to

is the story's non-linear structure critical to the emotional payoff, but it adds an unexpected sense of intrigue.” 12 feature

the family’s home. There is a mutual appreciation between the two, but Cindy is looking for meaning elsewhere in her life. Some slightly clunky exposition reveals Cindy’s parents’ tumultuous relationship. She is burdened by their inability to love and identify with one another. Dean, meet Cindy. Please connect and inspire warm feelings about human nature. The characters are motivated by this symbiosis. It’s what drives them to meet, to wed, and to do other things throughout the movie. We learn from the opening that this isn’t going to be a typical love story.The film starts with the outcome of the characters’ battle, the battle being the fight for a meaningful human relationship. Is this spoiling anything? No. Is the film worth watching? Absolutely. The writer/director Derek Cianfrance, who freakishly resembles Gosling, makes every aspect of the film soundly significant and effective. Not only is the story’s non-linear structure critical to the emotional payoff, it adds an unexpected sense of intrigue that keeps us alert and inquisitive. While we know where the relationship is headed throughout the course of the flashbacks, Cianfrance supplies rewards expertly intertwined with the narrative, heightening the overall story and entertainment. Gosling and Williams furnish raw and unhindered performances in every scene, giving their characters a layered texture that makes it nearly impossible for the material not to resonate across the theater. The combination of film and digital video, separating the past from the present, and the use of a handheld camera invite the viewer to become part of the couple’s journey. We feel their joy, their pain, and their confusion. Blue Valentine, well done.

The Green Hornet Shifting genres, every action hero needs a motivation. As mindless as most superhero revampings may be, the protagonist will experience an inciting incident, putting his or her values and desires into perspective, and The Green Hornet is no anomaly. The film is blunt. Christoph Waltz is a villain and lives only to inflict fear among others (specifically a celebrity cameo). Britt Reid (Seth Rogen) is the story’s hero who must standup to the villain, but not before he finds a companion and self-worth.The Green Hornet opens with Reid as a child sitting in his father’s office at The Daily Sentinel, a newspaper that characters talk about so frequently it is forced into importance. Owning a business is tough, but raising Seth Rogen is even harder. Mr. Reid teaches us this by taking Rogen’s action figure and prying off its head. Flashforward, Mr. Reid dies, causing Britt to question his bachelor lifestyle that was so idealistic, rumor has it Vince Vaughn left the set of The Dilemma just to serve as a gaffer during these brief scenes. Feeling alone and filled with failed potential, Britt befriends Kato (Jay Chou), Mr. Reid’s former mechanic and assistant. The two strike up an overly boyish friendship. The Green Hornet is flawed in many respects, but the dynamic of Michel Gondry, Seth Rogen, and Jay Chou make it interesting nonetheless. Far beneath the thickness of

Rogen’s humor as an actor and as one of the adapted film’s screenwriters, there is a bizarre gravity about relationships. Simply speaking, the message beckons for condemnation; Britt and Kato discuss their plans as best friends forever, then lust after the same girl (Cameron Diaz), then relentlessly beat the shit out of one another in an extended fight scene that probably lasts near ten minutes. Friendship is difficult, but the wish for this connection is the driving force that creates the crime-fighting duo. The story questions the jealousy among friends and the difference between hero and sidekick. This motif hasn’t been present in current superhero movies, most likely since the addition of sidekicks has been kept to a lull (thank you, Batman & Robin), but it was somewhat refreshing to see this posed as a conflict between Rogen and Chou. At times it almost worked. The characters complimented each other, bringing each to his potential, something bulletproof cars and abundant wealth failed to inspire. Unfortunately, this was not enough. The film failed to establish a consistent tone; the pieces never seemed to connect. The blend of comedy, action, and rare drama created a distracting unevenness that was present from start to finish. Take an idea, a feeling, a desire. Set it in colonial America, give it to a serial killer, throw a cape around

“ The blend

of comedy, action, & rare drama created a distracting unevenness from start to finish.” it, or let an exposed and vulnerable couple embody it. Add an artistic vision—swooping cameras, a bold color palette, a droning score, or remove all the audio entirely. Storytelling is limitless; interpretations are endless. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. if





2011 WORDS: Rob DeStefano / James Emerson / Anna LaHood / James Passarelli / Ryan Waring

AT A CHRISTMAS GET-TOGETHER, a family friend asked me if I thought, for the most part, the academy awards the deserving films. When I expressed my general contempt toward recent Oscar presentations, he requested a list of years in which the Best Picture winner was undeserving. Hm…1990 (Dances with Wolves over Goodfellas), 1994 (Forrest Gump over Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction), 2000 (Gladiator over Traffic), 2002 (Chicago over The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Gangs of New York), 2005 (Crash over any other film made in 2005). And those are just the painfully obvious ones! But before this takes the path of an outright tirade (oh no, am I too late?), I will express my satisfaction with this year’s nominees. And I will not downplay the difficulty of this year’s decisions – each category this year is likely to at least produce a respectable winner. Still, we cannot leave you without our thoughts— here are our picks and our Oscar predictions.



Best Picture NOMINEES Black Swan The Fighter Inception The Kids Are All Right The King’s Speech 127 Hours The Social Network Toy Story 3 True Grit Winter’s Bone

WINNERS OSCAR'S PICK: The Social Network OUR PICK: Black Swan

A Golden Globe isn’t cool. You know what’s cool? An Oscar. The Social Network built its dedicated fan and critic followings with the same memorable lines that invited lampoon. Without David Fincher’s vision to support them, they might be lost in the hype, but the veteran director ties together the many talents behind the film in the Mark Zuckerberg biopic. Though The King’s Speech is the clear favorite with twelve nominations, we have a sneaking suspicion Fincher’s impressive digital age comedic drama will pull of the upset. Still, the true number one has yet to be mentioned. Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan brings new meaning to the words “movie experience,”

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combining Clint Mansell’s brilliant transformation of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Matthew Libatique’s awesome cinematographic luster, intermittently delicate and nauseous camera work, and a solid cast. Its superior finale alone is enough to merit its nomination. Considered by many to be too jarring or sexually exploitative, Black Swan has been unfairly cast into the art film pigeonhole. Observed apart from such aspersions, however, the film stands not only as the best film of the year, but also one of the best of the decade. *Special honors to the wonderful Winter’s Bone for our own new category, Best Use of a Ferret in Motion Picture. jp

Actor in a Leading Role

Laura Sparham

Colin Firth was our “should be” pick last year for his riveting performance in A Single Man. He lost to an equally deserving Jeff Bridges, but Firth seems to have attracted more than just our support in 2011, as all accounts suggest that his stammering George VI in The King’s Speech might make for one of the least suspenseful envelope openings since the Pony Express. Firth is certainly overdue for the award, but a win here does not at all indicate a reward based on his body of work. His King George is astonishingly accurate (although co-star Guy Pearce is the historical monarch’s spot-on doppelganger) and especially unique, despite Firth’s previous shy roles. Javier Bardem and Jesse Eisenberg are close behind, and James Franco’s performance in 127 Hours is a distant fourth, distant as in Buckingham Palace to Bluejohn Canyon. rW

NOMINEES Javier Barden (Biutiful) Jeff Bridges (True Grit) Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) James Franco (127 Hours)


Actor in a Supporting Role

Sebastian Mlynarski

Christian Bale finally proved that his weight-fluctuating method acting is no gimmicky compensation. The high-flying critical momentum of his performance as the eccentric boxing has-been-turned-trainer should withstand the hiccup at the anglophillic BAFTA’s and deliver him the Oscar. His only competitor is Triple Crown winner (Oscar, Tony, Emmy) Geoffrey Rush as Lionel Logue, George’s speech therapist in The King’s Speech. Why is no one talking about John Hawkes? The lone small-name actor of the group, Hawkes brings added backbone to an already exquisite Winter’s Bone as Teardrop, Ree Dolly’s hard but caring uncle. With sparing dialogue Hawkes lets his eyes speak for him, and, having little knowledge of his background, we nonetheless share an intimacy with him like that of a real uncle. The scene in which Teardrop stares down the craven town sheriff with a rifle in

his lap sends chills down the spine. I commend the academy for the nomination, but it’s a shame that it will be nothing more. jp

NOMINEES Christian Bale (The Fighter) John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone) Jeremy Renner (The Town) Mark Ruffalo The Kids Are All Right) Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

WINNERS OSCAR'S PICK: Christian Bale OUR PICK: John Hawkes



Actress in a Leading Role NOMINEES Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right) Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole) Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone) Natalie Portman (Black Swan) Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

WINNERS OSCAR'S PICK: Natalie Portman OUR PICK: Natalie Portman

Niko Tavernise

Natalie Portman’s portrayal of the tormented Nina Sayers in Black Swan gives a beautifully disturbed take on the intensely competitive world of professional ballet. Portman’s fragile brilliance rides on her wholesome talent to evoke a range of emotions from the audience as her sanity wanes. Her stunning dedication—which demanded significant weight loss and tireless dance practice—s shines through, as she encompasses an aggressive edge while still maintaining a naïve clarity. In the end, Portman’s struggle with good and evil leaves viewers with a rare glimpse of a thor-

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oughly unraveled character that is so physically and emotionally crippled, it’s frightening. Michelle William’s heart wrenching role in Blue Valentine is the only nomination for the film, and the young Jennifer Lawrence was the solid base of Winter’s Bone, but neither has enough to overcast Portman. The only foreseeable upset would be Annette Bening for her depiction of a kind-hearted yet overbearing lesbian doctor, mother, and wife in The Kids Are All Right. Bening has been nominated twice before, but never taken one home. al

Actress in a Supporting Role NOMINEES Amy Adams (The Fighter) Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech) Melissa Leo (The Fighter) Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)


Ordering a fight on Pay-Per-View should be a different experience than watching a movie about boxing. Generally speaking, the effective sport movies articulate either the rise or the downfall of an athlete by means of the utmost human perspective: This Sporting Life and Raging Bull. The Fighter takes an interesting approach to the genre by focusing its attention on the family involved; this isn’t to say we don’t see Wahlberg or Bale undergo a character arc. The dysfunctional family is a refreshing bunch to observe; they’re comical, angry, vulnerable, desperate, and distressful. I accredit the matriarch, Leo, as the dictator of these emotions. She delivers an often-loud performance—and the academy does love these—but her family’s blue-collar woes and the film’s subject matter warrant such an energetic display. Leo succeeds at thinning the line between the character and the performer, making Alice Ward intensely believable and captivating.

Additional recognition goes to Hailee Steinfeld for her committed performance in True Grit, though she doesn’t support so much as she does lead—academy voting procedurals and studio executives landed her here. More importantly, the greatest snub award in this category goes to Dianne Wiest for Rabbit Hole. Over the years she’s collected three nominations and two wins for best actress in a supporting role, but this doesn’t discredit her unchanged talent in the recent performance. I say swap out H.B. Carter. rD




IF Chats with...



FORTH INTERVIEW: James Passarelli / at Southpaw / Brooklyn, NY

Photo by Sandy Sharkey


could have been rich. At the age of nineteen, he turned down a multi-million dollar opportunity to work on Wall Street for a chance to make the music that he loves. No, I’m just pulling your leg. That’s just the kind of nonsense Noble can’t stand. And he’s right. Why should his past—inspirational or mundane— make us approach his music any differently? In reality, Noble is the founder, bassist, and songwriter for the Milwaukee-based funk/soul group Kings Go Forth. Behind the winsome lead vocals of Black Wolf, a fifty-something Milwaukee soul singer, the band’s focus is group harmony, although there are plenty of instruments amongst the ten-person outfit to keep you dancing well into the night. Their debut album, The Outsiders are Back, came in at number twenty-one on our list of Top Albums of 2010. I met up with Andy before a gig at Brooklyn’s Southpaw to talk about the beast’s new burden (the band) and his longtime passion (collecting and selling obscure soul 45s).

Photo: Sandra Löv

Annika Norlin THE CHAMPION

of tvåspråkig (bilingual) music success is Annika Norlin, frontwoman of Säkert and Hello Saferide, both enormously successful bands, in and outside Sweden’s borders. Under the Hello Saferide moniker, Norlin writes and sings in English with bouncy dance folk tendencies that have charmed listeners for nearly a decade. Norlin got her big break in English, on the Internet success of her first song, “Highschool Stalker,” and signed with Razzia Records in 2005. Her first self-titled Swedish album as Säkert was released in 2007, and since then she has alternated between the two. This past year saw the release of her second Swedish album, a rich, melancholic gem called Facit, which has been favorably reviewed, even in the English-speaking world. “Although obviously crafted with great care, the songs here feel tremendously naked and transparent, even to someone who doesn't speak the language,” wrote Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan. He goes on to suggest that for any serious fans, some Swedish lessons might be in order: “sooner or later you're going to have to try to understand what she's singing about.” He’s right. Though the jangly, upbeat rhythms of the tracks on Facit are easy to enjoy on a purely aural level, it is the words that really tear one’s

heart out. Norlin’s trademark of mixing mournful, depressing lyrics with catchy instrumentals works well in both languages. Case in point: the track “Vi kommer att dö samtidigt” from Säkert! is one of the album’s most energetic and exuberant, though the title means “We’re going to die at the same time.” Few if any writers or musicians have made the refrain “We’re going to die—" so charming. Norlin echoed Bergsman’s sentiments about singing in Swedish in a 2007 interview with Paul Scott of Stylus magazine. “English as a language is much easier to sing in, it’s a lot softer and a lot easier to rhyme in. Like, you have a lot of o’s and e’s and no’s, and it’s very easier to write lyrics with them. But Swedish is much… also my dialect is from the north, it is very harsh.” She goes on to explain that most popular Swedish music is “in English mostly simply because it is easier to write and sing in English. Most Swedes speak English anyway.” Norlin’s new project involves translating all of the songs from Facit into English and recording them for release this summer, which will be both an interesting linguistic exercise and a major gift for her non-Swedish speaking listeners who just like the sound of the songs.

“ Norlin's

trademark of mixing mournful, depressing lyrics with catchy instrumentals works well in both languages.”

Peter Morén have evidently had no problem establishing themselves on the global rock-pop scene. They have been charming audiences the world over since 1999, in English of course. With the release of their latest (and excellent) record Gimme Some, it is clear that PB&J are here to stay. As a side project, lead singer Peter Morén released a solo album in 2008, The Last Tycoon, and this past year he surprised us with the release of a Swedish-language album called I spåren av tåren, (“In the tracks of tears”). The project was hailed in domestic press and the music world as a return to his roots, a homage to his true identity and the language that shaped him as a person. Apparently this project was a surprise for Morén as well; he emphasized in an interview for Swedish music blog PSL that he “had never had any plan to write in Swedish, actually…There is something really creepy about singing in one’s own language when you’re used to English. The voice sounds immediately different.” [translation mine] He goes on to discuss the benefits of singing in his native tongue: “It’s liberating to be able to refer to things that only Swedes can relate to, which I did, among other things, through Swedish authors, household nostalgia, and the path from a rural society to an information society in the 1900s, and more specific links to my own roots in Dalarna, and the Swedish countryside contrasted with the wider world. Obviously it’s a completely different type of lyric. Even the most personal love and relationship songs, which a few tracks are, take on a completely different tone in Swedish.” [translation mine] Normally it is thought that singing in Swedish is an all-or-nothing

Photo: Johan Bergmark for Blixten


“ It’s liberating to be

able to refer to things that only Swedes can relate to” kind of endeavor, and that staying true to one’s linguistic and national roots reduces chances of acquiring a large international audience. However, as Norlin and Morén have

shown with aplomb, sometimes it’s possible to have the best of both worlds. In both cases, their music is heartily recommended, regardless of language barriers.







For a Rainy Day

WERE A DOLLAR, you'd be down to seventy-five cents, most likely having spent a quarter in a gumball machine. Right. Three months of this fresh year have flown by, and you only have a gumball to show for it. Was that included in your New Years Resolution drawing? Sorry if I'm coming across rather harshly. I'm having butter withdrawals (resolutions kill me) and I thought the winter worst was over, but in the words of Annie Lennox, "Here come's the rain again." It's April, which

means two things: taxes and rain. 1 7:10 THE DOORS – “Riders on the Storm” Yes, the length makes our job incredibly easier. But is there anyway we really could’ve omitted the quintessential “rain” song? This song made created this playlist. 2 6:08 LED ZEPPELIN – “Fool in the Rain” Another classic. And call me crazy, but perhaps John Bonham’s best performance. Bonzo himself makes it rain on them hoes at 3:42. 3 3:15 LOUDON WAINWRIGHT I I I – “Grey in L.A.” LWIII is a playlist-maker’s dream. With hundreds of songs both silly and solemn, he has covered most subjects known to man. This one is off his 2007 album Strange Weirdos, the soundtrack to Knocked Up. In it, Wainwright shows his appreciation for the rare gloomy Los Angeles day. 4 4:55 PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS – “Acid Raindrops” When the stress hits your brain on a rainy April morning, start up this P.U.T.S. jam to put your mind at ease.


DROWN YOUR SORROWS OUT IN MUSIC, PEOPLE. 5 4:39 SONIC YOUTH – “Rain King” Kim Gordon and Steve Shelley: forerunner to the divine rhythm section of Primus? “Rain King” exhibits an uncanny similarity. But those dizzying guitar tunings are what really pushed this Daydream Nation song onto this playlist. 6 2:56 TOM WAITS – “Rain Dogs” What would the Banjo Kazooie soundtrack have been without the undeniable influence of Tom Waits? Even if it’s only raining half as hard as cats and dogs, that’s enough for me. 7 2:47 THE MYNABIRDS – “LA Rain” They say it never rains in Southern California. As a resident, trust me when I say “they” (aka Wainwright) aren’t always right. We may get eleven months of sunshine, but after being spoiled for that long I’d rather spend my January anywhere else.

8 2:43 TRAFFIC – “Coloured Rain” You almost can’t go wrong with Traffic, coloured rain or not. 9 4:21 LIARS – “Dumb in the Rain” Just about every Liars track seems to invoke a thunderstorm. Unsurprisingly, “The Dumb in the Rain” is no exception. Let’s hope you’re not with stupid this time. 10 3:01 MODEST MOUSE – “It Always Rains on A Picnic” Does any picnic ever go as planned? Better rain than ants or dog piss sandwiches. You wouldn’t ever try to catch the other two with your tongue, I hope.

11 3:05


GORILLAZ – “Cloud of Unknowing” For our playlist-compiling purposes, Plastic Beach closer “Cloud of Unknowing” evokes a less poetic looming rain cloud. It’s unimaginative, but it fits the theme.

2:39 CCR – “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” Another no brainer. Let Forgerty and co’s classic be the soundtrack to your mud fight. And take nothing else from the 2005 The Longest Yard remake.

12 3:52 LES CLAYPOOL AND THE HOLY MACHEREL – “Precipitation” I wanted to have Colonel Claypool himself do this write up, but like a cloud in the desert, he would not participate.

13 2:41 ISLANDS – “Vapours” The title track off indie pop group Islands’ 2009 release is the perfect song to play once the puddle jumping starts getting old. 14 2:50 THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH – “Into the Stream” Nobody today can fuse sober realism with romantic pastoral imagery like Kristian Matsson can. Some days are bound to bring cold, hard rain. “Into the Stream” can provide quite the pick-me-up.

16 4:59 PASSION PIT – “Swimming in the Flood” Listen to this song as you cross your fingers hoping the city sewer system pulls through. 17 5:39 TALKING HEADS – “(Nothing But) Flowers” You know the old adage about postApril rainstorm flora. They bring May flowers. And on this satirical Talking Heads track, David Byrnes sarcastically rues that the Pizza Hut down the street will be overrun with them, too.

19 2:17 OUTLAW CON BANDANA – “Rainy Season” The string-heavy “Rainy Season,” off the band’s latest full-length, Faeries and Rewards, tells the story of a down-and-out man who asks, “Does the rainy season got a reason for chasin’ me around the ground?”

20 8:44 THE ALLMAN BROTHERS BAND – “Stormy Monday” Wait out the weather with this smooth T-Bone Walker track, laid out by the Brothers on their epic 1971 live album At Fillmore East.

21 3:15 CUNNUNLYNGUISTS – “Rain” “I can’t even cry—my tears been dry. That’s why it’s thunderin’ hard out tonight,” sings Mr. SOS on one of the Lynguists’ most poignant songs. 22 5:20 PETE SEEGER – “A Hard Rain's A Gonna Fall” The song has been covered thousands of times, but no one does it better than Petey Seegs.

18 4:18 YO LA TENGO – “Little Eyes” The perfect song for when you have a lot on your mind and the pitter-patter on the window isn’t the only thing keeping you up late at night.

james passarelli ryan waring




Pitchfork A Narrative words: ryan waring

// photos: marc whitman

EQUIPPED with a belt notched only through rigors in Grant Park, CTA’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 Bertha’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

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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.”


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-




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.






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

22 interview

“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





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 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. 4 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 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.

6 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. 7 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. 8 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.

9 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. 10 2:55 SCISSOR SISTERS – Par 3 “The Skins” Does anybody really know how to play skins? Or am I confusing it with peppers? 11

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?

12 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.

13 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. 14

2:22 IRON & WINE – “Teeth in the Grass” There just have to be.

Par 3

15 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. 16 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.

17 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.” 18 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



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