Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Music From Redlip (Ash Cooke of Pulco and Adam Leonard)

This modest record from Redlip (Adam Leonard and Ashley Cooke of Pulco and Derrero) is the right kind of lo-fi: thoughtful, fun, and yet oddly literate in spots -- an Ovid reference or two! Dan and Headless Bill is intimate without being precious. And that's the trick.

On "Jansch" Ashley Cooke -- I think -- plucks out beautiful guitar notes in the style of the master of the song's title as he narrates facts about the guy. The effect is simultaneously one of education and tribute; one can enjoy the song completely without knowing a single thing about the legendary guitarist, but the track also reminds a listener about Bert Jansch's lifetime of superb work.

Similarly, on "Sid James" the story of the Carry On funnyman's on-stage death in Sunderland, UK, is turned into a tragicomic tale. It's a weird-but-lovely track, haunting in an intellectual fashion. Sid James is now a somewhat poetic figure in my mind now, not just a guy lusting after Babs Windsor.

"Chant" finds Ash and Adam conjuring up a mellow mood, one that is slightly mournful -- something about that acoustic guitar line. When a bell-like keyboard enters, the song reminds one of "Cruel" by Prefab Sprout. The vocal line seems to follow what one would expect of a Gregorian chant but the song is not so morose. I can envision playing this on my iPod as I walk through the woods in winter.

"Jaunty Mexico" is downright sprightly, with a Latin-influenced acoustic guitar figure. Like some of Ash's work as Pulco, the song reminds me of the odd Boo Radleys cut. The harmonies here are just lovely. I think a song like this beguiles because it sounds so casual and yet, given the horns and other layered bits in the track, it's clearly the end result of careful studio work.

This is an album with a lot of charm. I find myself drawn to music like this as I get older. Lo-fi without being lazy, serious without being pretentious, Dan and Headless Bill finds 2 men making music of the highest caliber on their own thoughtful terms.

More than that, it's melodic stuff. Fans of Adam Leonard and Ash Cooke, as well as fans of Elliott Smith-styled indie pop, would be wise to grab this album from Folkwit Records when it's released on 26 September.


Monday, August 29, 2011

A Night In The Man Cave Thanks To Hurricane Irene


Since there was no electricity, no running water, and no internet at home yesterday, I hit the road in search of a hotel. I ended up at my friend Mike's house instead.

Inexplicably, Mike had power even though he lives in P.G. County and most of the county's residents were (and still are) without power.

I hit Mike's house and we strolled inside to see if the internet was up only to find Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987) on TV.

The first time I went to Mike's house in 1988, he showed me that film and the theme of being trapped together seemed appropriate given the aftermath of Irene.

Mike's parents showed up as the power was out in their house across the county.

Given the choice of sleeping in Mike's upstairs spare bedroom with a real bed BUT without cable TV and a DVD player, or the "Man Cave" with its futon-like cot, I chose the cave.

Mike's been collecting DVDs and CDs since I met him in 1988 and, unlike me, he never sold off his stuff.

The main DVD wall -- he's got loads more downstairs -- under the gaze of The Little Rascals and 1992's Reservoir Dogs...


This is the main jazz section -- lots of Prestige classics there!


Nothing quite brightens the mood like David Alan Grier and Tommy Davidson doing one of their Funky Finger Productions bits from "In Living Color" -- this is the 'Rain Mandingo' one!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reporting From McDonald's In The Wake Of Irene



So Hurricane Irene blew through last night around 1 AM, I guess.

It wasn't nearly as bad as the media hoped it would be.

Still, in somewhat unexpected fashion, the power stayed off in Calvert County. SMECO usually has a good track record down there compared to the PEPCO sufferers in P.G. and Montgomery Counties nearby.

I think this outage may be the longest one I can remember in the 31 years I've lived in Calvert County. After 14.5 hours without power, running water, or Internet, I was starting to lose my shit so I hit the road.

I drove from Calvert County up to 301 to Bowie and Crofton and then up to College Park and Riverdale.

Power is out all over the place and -- surprise, surprise -- I didn't see one single PEPCO or SMECO crew or truck during my nearly 2-hour drive.

I did see some guys in this McDonald's in Riverdale eating lunch. I think they were a state road crew and not an electrical crew.

I didn't see too much damage either apart from a neighbor's tree in their front yard. It looks like that tree in The Natural (1984) that got hit by lightning and gave Redford the wood to make his "Wonderboy" baseball bat.

On the radio, I heard some caller from Germantown saying that PEPCO told him that some power would not be restored until September 4th (!).

Seriously, what century is this? Why are our only options lines on poles or lines buried in the yard? Where's the solar and wind power that other countries use?

Beyond a few limbs, I don't see any major damage so far.

D.C./Maryland/Virginia: get your shit together. Invest in some infrastructure before the next weather event cripples this place.

We survived 9/11, didn't we? I think we can handle a hurricane off the Atlantic coast!




Chick-Fil-A is usually closed on Sundays but they really boarded this one up good. Don't want the waffle fries to blow away!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

I Survived A Hurricane And All I Got Was This Lousy Cutters T-Shirt: Revisiting Breaking Away (1979)


(Well, my friend got the t-shirt. I was stumbling on the trivia questions. Read on.)

With Hurricane Irene bearing down on D.C., my mind is flashing back to when I was 12 in 1979 in Louisiana.

This kind of weather was nothing new down there. And while it's best to be safe and take the necessary precautions, it's worth remembering that the D.C. area is full of...weather wimps. A Category 1 hurricane here is the equivalent of a tsunami, at least in the minds of the locals.

We got this kind of rain all the time in Louisiana.

Back then in 1979, my buddy Steven and I would tool around the subdivision on our bikes and survey the rising water from the torrential late summer rains and hurricanes on the Gulf Coast.

I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was 11 when my stepsister taught me. Growing up in an apartment in the D.C. area didn't give me too many safe places to ride anyway so I never bothered to learn.

Once I learned, and once my family lived in a safe subdivision in Pearl River, Louisiana, Steven and I started to ride our bikes quite a bit in 1979. We still found time for comics and Star Wars-stuff but we were making being outside and riding more and more of a priority.

When Breaking Away (1979) came out in 1979, there was quite a nice buzz about the film and I'm pretty sure I had heard Siskel and Ebert raving about it on the old "Sneak Previews" program on PBS as I was a loyal viewer as a kid.

The film was one of the first non-sci-fi or monster movies that I really latched onto and Steven and I rode around even more after that. I think Steven, being the musician of the two of us, even took the trouble to find records of some of the opera pieces used in the film.

So today I braved the beginnings of Hurricane Irene to meet two other good friends in Silver Spring, Maryland at the AFI Silver Theatre for a revival showing of the film.

Seeing the film on a big screen -- and it was on the big screen at the Silver! -- for the first time in 32 years was an emotional experience.

Breaking Away (1979) remains one of those rare films that works on both intellectual and emotional levels. Additionally, it also recalls the films made a few years earlier in the 1970s when dramas were character-driven, before Star Wars (1977) changed everything and every flick tried to be a blockbuster.

When I was 12, I think I liked the scenes with Cyril (Daniel Stern) the most but now I really think that the scene between Dave (Dennis Christopher) and his father (Paul Dooley) on the campus of college at night is the one I always look forward to.

After suffering disillusionment and crushing defeat, Dave seems to become his own person in that scene. The snobs vs. slobs device still propels the final moments of drama in the big race scene, but Breaking Away (1979) isn't really about that.

If Mike (Dennis Quaid) is stuck in the past, and Cyril (Daniel Stern) is smart but unfocused, and Moocher (Jackie Earle Haley) is choosing love, then Dave is starting to grow up and focus on his future.

Even if he's not quite sure what it's going to be.

As someone who worked for a few years after dropping out of college a few times, I can say that I never really appreciated college until I wanted to go.

(My friend won a Cutters t-shirt by answering a trivia question about the two names bestowed on the family cat in the film.....


....Jake and Fellini!)




Thursday, August 25, 2011

Free MP3 from Mungolian Jetset - We Are The Shining


You know, I look at these pictures and read the press releases and bios and still don't know quite to make of Mungolian Jetset. They are on the same label -- Smalltown Supersound -- as Razika so I gave it a shot and played it.

Imagine 1980's Sparks mixed with Scissor Sisters mixed with early Air.

"We Are The Shining" is both weird and ridiculously catchy.

Download this now before it ends up in some TV commercial.

"We Are The Shining" MP3


Saturday, August 20, 2011

An Index To My Shaw Brothers Reviews (By Date Or Title)



BY DATE:

Diau Charn (1958)

Beyond The Great Wall (1959)

Les Belles (1960)

Love Without End (1961)

Madam White Snake (1962)

Love Parade (1963)

Lovers' Rock (1963)

Pink Tears (1963)

The Shepherd Girl (1963)

The Last Woman of Shang (1964)

The Lotus Lamp (1964)

Crocodile River (1965)

The Mermaid (1965)

Song of Orchid Island (1965)

Sons of Good Earth (1965)

The Twin Swords (1965)

Vermilion Door (1965)

The Goddess of Mercy (1966)

The Golden Buddha (1966)

The Monkey Goes West (1966)

Princess Iron Fan (1966)

Sweet and Wild (1966)

Till The End of Time (1966)

Asia-Pol (1967)

The Black Falcon (1967)

Blue Skies (1967)

The Cave of Silken Web (1967)

King Drummer (1967)

The King With My Face (1967)

Moonlight Serenade (1967)

Rape of the Sword (1967)

The Silent Swordsman (1967)

Summons to Death (1967)

Susanna (1967)

Death Valley (1968)

Gun Brothers (1968)

Hong Kong Rhapsody (1968)

The Land of Many Perfumes (1968)

Spring Blossoms (1968)

Summer Heat (1968)

Sword of Swords (1968)

When The Clouds Roll By (1968)

Diary of a Lady Killer (1969)

Guess Who Killed My Twelve Lovers (1969)

Have Sword Will Travel (1969)

Killers Five (1969)

The Millionaire Chase (1969)

A Place to Call Home (1969)

Raw Courage (1969)

River of Tears (1969)

The Singing Thief (1969)

Torrent of Desire (1969)

Tropicana Interlude (1969)

Whose Baby is in The Classroom? (1969)

Apartment for Ladies (1970)

Brothers Five (1970)

Lady of Steel (1970)

Love Without End (1970)

The Price of Love (1970)

Swordswomen Three (1970)

The Twelve Gold Medallions (1970)

Valley of the Fangs (1970)

Vengeance of a Snow Girl (1970)

Young Lovers (1970)

Duel of Fists (1971)

Lady with a Sword (1971)

The Shadow Whip (1971)

Six Assassins (1971)

Sunset (1971)

We Love Millionaires (1971)

The Casino (1972)

The Fugitive (1972)

The Human Goddess (1972)

Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan (1972)

Intrigue in Nylons (1972)

The Lizard (1972)

The Yellow Muffler (1972)

Young People (1972)

Ambush (1973)

The Blood Brothers (1973)

The Delinquent (1973)

Heroes of Sung (1973)

Police Force (1973)

Tales of Larceny (1973)

The Drug Addicts (1974)

The Ghost Lovers (1974)

Gossip Street (1974)

Kidnap (1974)

Na Cha The Great (1974)

The Rat Catcher (1974)

Rivals of Kung Fu (1974)

Sex, Love and Hate (1974)

Sinful Confession (1974)

Thirteen (1974)

The Happy Trio (1975)

Lovers Destiny (1975)

The Taxi Driver (1975)

The Condemned (1976)

The Forbidden Past (1976)

Killer Clans (1976)

The Battle Wizard (1977)

Melody of Love (1977)

Clan of Amazons (1978)

The Deadly Breaking Sword (1979)

The Kung Fu Instructor (1979)

Young Lovers (1979)

The 82 Tenants (1982)

Passing Flickers (1982)

Descendant of the Sun (1983)

Hong Kong Hong Kong (1983)

Hong Kong Playboys (1983)

Little Dragon Maiden (1983)

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (1983)

An Amorous Woman of Tang Dynasty (1984)

Cherie (1984)

How To Choose a Royal Bride (1984)

Maybe It's Love (1984)

My Darling Cherie (1984)

Prince Charming (1984)

The Flying Mr. B (1985)

Girl with the Diamond Slipper (1985)

Let's Have a Baby (1985)

Women (1985)

Mother vs. Mother (1987)

Doubles Cause Trouble (1989)

Tragic Commitment (1995)












BY TITLE:

Ambush (1973)

An Amorous Woman of Tang Dynasty (1984)

Apartment for Ladies (1970)

Asia-Pol (1967)

The Battle Wizard (1977)

Beyond The Great Wall (1959)

The Black Falcon (1967)

The Blood Brothers (1973)

Blue Skies (1967)

Brothers Five (1970)

The Casino (1972)

The Cave of Silken Web (1967)

Cherie (1984)

Clan of Amazons (1978)

The Condemned (1976)

Crocodile River (1965)

The Deadly Breaking Sword (1979)

Death Valley (1968)

The Delinquent (1973)

Descendant of the Sun (1983)

Diary of a Lady Killer (1969)

Diau Charn (1958)

Doubles Cause Trouble (1989)

The Drug Addicts (1974)

Duel of Fists (1971)

The 82 Tenants (1982)

The Flying Mr. B (1985)

The Forbidden Past (1976)

The Fugitive (1972)

The Ghost Lovers (1974)

Girl with the Diamond Slipper (1985)

The Goddess of Mercy (1966)

The Golden Buddha (1966)

Gossip Street (1974)

Guess Who Killed My Twelve Lovers (1969)

Gun Brothers (1968)

The Happy Trio (1975)

Have Sword Will Travel (1969)

Heroes of Sung (1973)

Hong Kong Hong Kong (1983)

Hong Kong Playboys (1983)

Hong Kong Rhapsody (1968)

How To Choose a Royal Bride (1984)

The Human Goddess (1972)

Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan (1972)

Intrigue in Nylons (1972)

Kidnap (1974)

Killer Clans (1976)

Killers Five (1969)

King Drummer (1967)

The King With My Face (1967)

The Kung Fu Instructor (1979)

Lady of Steel (1970)

Lady with a Sword (1971)

The Land of Many Perfumes (1968)

The Last Woman of Shang (1964)

Les Belles (1960)

Let's Have a Baby (1985)

Little Dragon Maiden (1983)

The Lizard (1972)

The Lotus Lamp (1964)

Love Parade (1963)

Love Without End (1961)

Love Without End (1970)

Lovers Destiny (1975)

Lovers' Rock (1963)

Madam White Snake (1962)

Maybe It's Love (1984)

Melody of Love (1977)

The Mermaid (1965)

The Millionaire Chase (1969)

The Monkey Goes West (1966)

Moonlight Serenade (1967)

Mother vs. Mother (1987)

My Darling Cherie (1984)

Na Cha The Great (1974)

Passing Flickers (1982)

Pink Tears (1963)

A Place to Call Home (1969)

Police Force (1973)

The Price of Love (1970)

Prince Charming (1984)

Princess Iron Fan (1966)

Rape of the Sword (1967)

The Rat Catcher (1974)

Raw Courage (1969)

Rivals of Kung Fu (1974)

River of Tears (1969)

Sex, Love and Hate (1974)

The Shadow Whip (1971)

The Shepherd Girl (1963)

The Silent Swordsman (1967)

Sinful Confession (1974)

The Singing Thief (1969)

Six Assassins (1971)

Song of Orchid Island (1965)

Sons of Good Earth (1965)

Spring Blossoms (1968)

Summer Heat (1968)

Summons to Death (1967)

Sunset (1971)

Susanna (1967)

Sweet and Wild (1966)

Sword of Swords (1968)

Swordswomen Three (1970)

Tales of Larceny (1973)

The Taxi Driver (1975)

Thirteen (1974)

Till The End of Time (1966)

Torrent of Desire (1969)

Tragic Commitment (1995)

Tropicana Interlude (1969)

The Twelve Gold Medallions (1970)

The Twin Swords (1965)

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (1983)

Valley of the Fangs (1970)

Vengeance of a Snow Girl (1970)

Vermilion Door (1965)

We Love Millionaires (1971)

When The Clouds Roll By (1968)

Whose Baby is in The Classroom? (1969)

Women (1985)

The Yellow Muffler (1972)

Young Lovers (1970)

Young Lovers (1979)

Young People (1972)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Free Mint Julep MP3 Download


You know, 20-some years later, I fucking hate shoegazers.

I do appreciate the irony that I still slavishly listen to a few bands -- Lush, Ride, especially -- that are clearly shoegazers in some ways but -- and here's the important thing! -- they were also bands with big, strong tunes.

So when I got my hands on this track today and saw Mint Julep described as a shoegaze band, I cringed.

Then I played "Aviary" and I stopped cringing.

This is a big tune, closer to recent Goldfrapp than the class of 1991; There's a touch of post-"Behind The Wheel" Depeche Mode here, and a trace of Ladytron, only with less sinister vocals.

I like the song quite a bit and I urge you to follow the band.

After you play and download the track below.

On Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/mintjulepmusic

On their website:
http://www.unseen-music.com/mintjulep/

Mint Julep - Aviary by Anorak London

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Teaser For The New Pulco EP

Following on from the superb Small Thoughts, Pulco are going to be releasing even more music in the fall on the Sketchbook Sounds EP.

Ash Cooke, from Derrero, is the main man in Pulco and he manages to walk a fine line between the very personal and the very accessible. This track is quite catchy with just the right amount of studio wizardry underpinning the melody.

There's a touch of the Furries, or Pavement, here but the end result is uniquely Pulco-ish.

Follow Pulco on Folkwit Records.

You can watch "Party Started" here or on YouTube.

(Don't let that creepy clown in the video scare you off from this lovely tune!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Play Yet Another Razika Song Here!


Here's yet another taste of that marvelous debut album from Razika.

If my rapturous review didn't convince you to run out -- or run online -- to get Program 91, here is "Aldri" to seal the deal.

Those smooth Norwegian vocals blend with some Lee "Scratch" Perry effects into a unique and infectious package.

Razika - "Aldri" by PitchPerfectPR

Follow Razika on their label:
Smalltown Supersound

On MySpace:
http://www.myspace.com/razika

On Facebook:
Facebook

Friday, August 12, 2011

Razika Release Program 91: An Early Track-By-Track Review From The US


What an enjoyable record! In terms of sheer listening pleasure, Program 91 from Razika is quite possibly one of the 2 or 3 best albums of 2011 already.

Okay, before I get into a track-by-track review, I want to make a few points.

It's worth noting that there's a difference between unpolished and amateurish. I say that because one of the charms of Razika's music is that it is unpolished, but not the work of amateurs. The tunes are catchy and spry, unfussy and uncluttered, but focused and mature.

And I'm sure that as soon as this album comes out in America, these 4 ladies are going to be quite popular among some indie rock circles here.

But, as someone who never really tolerated the sort of affected artlessness popular in the American indie scene -- that K Records kinda "let's play shitty on purpose"-mindset -- I really hope that people here appreciate Razika, that this album doesn't get relegated to the indie ghetto.

Quite simply: Program 91 is unpolished and fresh, full of buoyant pop tunes, sprightly playing, and melodic charm.

Like that first great album from Arctic Monkeys, as well as many C-86 singles, Program 91 may not have a big budget studio sheen, but the tunes are big ones, played with a great deal of enthusiasm and affection, and without that affectation I was talking about.

And, like with those Sheffield Monkeys, I imagine that Razika's style of ska-rock will somehow end up a style of its own soon. I envision copycats of this record in the very near future as it's just that good and infectious.

Okay, now for the tunes!



"Youth"

Speaking of youth!

Opening with a guitar line similar to Arctic Monkeys' "Riot Van", this cut springs forward and lead singer -- and primary songwriter -- Marie Amdam kicks things off. There's a pull-and-push on the rhythm with drummer Embla Karidotter Dahleng using a jazzy approach.

"Why Have We To Wait"

This cover of a song by The Pussycats, a Norwegian group from the 1960s, finds Razika sounding a tiny bit like The Primitives. An almost martial beat marches the cut along as Marie purrs the lyrics.

"Vondt I Hjertet"

How can something sung in Norwegian be so insanely catchy to a non-Norwegian listener like me? Just a masterpiece of pop, "Vondi I Hjertet" is like The Cardigans' "Rise and Shine" with a sorta Specials ska beat underneath.

In the perfect world, this would be a Top 10 hit on FM radio.

There's a hint of Aztec Camera -- "Lost Outside The Tunnel", maybe? -- on the non-ska bits of guitar work here and that tension between those ska beats and the sunnier, poppier parts is precisely why Razika are such an amazing band.

Those final Stereolab-like vocal bits are sublime!

"Taste My Dream"

Sung in English, this is a tiny bit like a less anarchic Slits song. Decidedly tuneful, the song also recalls those Arctic Monkeys again.

"Aldri"

With a 1960s Shangri-Las-like production, this song starts slow and works up a full head of steam. With the echo-y production, the instruments are easier to appreciate as guitar, bass, and drums all get a chance to shine.



"Nytt Pa Nytt"

Heavily in debt to that first Specials album, this fast ska-rocker surges with a propulsive force. Marie may sing "Nothing ever happens", but with those guitars chopping around her, she couldn't be more wrong.

One of the highlights of Program 91.

"Eg Vetsje Riktig"

Another great song, and another song that is insanely catchy even in Norwegian.

The ska formula is tweaked with a vaguely Bernard Sumner-sounding use of guitar here.



"Walk In The Park"

False start and all, "Walk In The Park" is a revelation!

Equal parts Mary Hopkin and Cardigans, this song is both breathtakingly beautiful and quite simple.

I stressed that point about being unpolished because of this song. There are no fancy flourishes of production here, but the guitar lines, background vocals, and melody combine to produce a few minutes of joy and heartbreak. Somehow sad and still hopeful, Marie sings the lyrics "We could walk in the park..." during the long coda as a harp comes in to carry the song to its conclusion.

On paper, these are all simple elements but the track is affecting and touching in a way that the rest of the album isn't.

"Above All"

Sounding a lot like Clare Grogan and Altered Images -- especially "Pinky Blue" or "See Those Eyes" -- this cut soars and refines that ska-pop formula into something sleek and modern.

"Hvem Skal Tro Pa Deg Na"

Another skanking beat, and one of the peppier tracks on the album. This cut most likely sounds even better live.

There's a touch of The Tom Tom Club here as well.

"Middelalder"

That Slits vibe is back on this album closer. With double-time vocals and drums, the gals rock along like the Arctic Monkeys on "Still Take You Home".



In their own way, Razika have produced a masterpiece with their debut album.

No Radiohead-esque blips-and-bleeps meant to signify modern ennui, no NPR-friendly mellow alt-rock moments, Program 91 is fun in a way that indie rock rarely is anymore.

And there's no shame in fun, is there?

It's a very rare skill to be able to conjure up music that is fun without being entirely frivolous, to make pop that is catchy and insistent without relying on million dollar producers and studio effects.

Razika have not disappointed this listener.

Remember how it felt to hear "Happy Birthday" by Altered Images for the first time back in the 1980s? Remember a time when something as good as "Our Lips Are Sealed" by The Go-Go's came on the radio?

Those moments and feelings are all here again with this record.

An equal to The Cardigans' Life, Program 91 is essential listening for any fan of female-fronted pop acts.

In terms of listenability, this is a 10-out-of-10. I can hardly wait to hear what Razika do next.

Follow Razika on their label:
Smalltown Supersound

On MySpace:
http://www.myspace.com/razika

On Facebook:
Facebook

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Free MP3 From Steven Higgs, Boston Musician (And One Of My Best Friends!)


That I've known Steven Higgs for 33 years makes me feel like an old man!

I think we bonded over Star Wars (1977) in 6th grade back in Pearl River, Louisiana in 1978, little knowing that our parents already knew each other from their government jobs.

Steven has been an amazing musician since I've known him and I'm very proud to learn that he's going to be releasing a CD in the near future. Word has it that it is filled to the brim with many great tunes, performed by Steven on the piano.

And it's no surprise that there's at least one Beatles song on the CD -- we bonded over a love of The Beatles too.

For now, here's a taste of Steven Higgs taking his turn around this Beatles classic.

Download "The Long And Winding Road".

If you are in the Boston area, you can see Steven perform solo or with any of his many side projects.

For details on his upcoming gigs, and the CD, check out his website:
http://stevenhiggs.homestead.com/index.html

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Free MP3 From Brooklyn's Pterodactyl


Ahead of third album, Spills Out, Brooklyn noise-poppers Pterodactyl have delivered a fuzzy bit of goodness in the form of "School Glue", which you can download here.

The track recalls Elf Power, Guided By Voices, and the more hummable bits from Liars.

Find out more about Pterodactyl on the Brah Records website.

Spills Out is out on 15 November.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mark Waid Reminds Me Why I Love The Character Of Captain America

After enjoying the successful Captain America: The First Avenger (2011), I decided to pick up the highly recommended Captain America: Man Out Of Time trade hardback from writer Mark Waid and artist Jorge Molina.

Of course, it helped that the Borders chain is in its death throes and I got a sweet deal on the title.

Captain America: Man Out Of Time is a 5-issue series that sort of re-imagines Cap waking up in modern America. Not quite in sync with the current film, nor totally in line with the action of that famous issue of "The Avengers" from way back when, this series takes some liberties and manages to still get at the essence of the character.

Frankly, issues 1 and 2 are a bit unfocused, with moments wasted and a reader feeling a bit lost.

However, those final 3 issues are gems! Just wonderful stuff here. Jorge Molina's art is not the sort I'd rave about but I think it works. And Waid does a pretty good job of somehow doing something new and wholly familiar with Captain America, making a reader sort of reacquaint him- or herself with Steve Rogers and his unique plight in the modern age.

What I enjoyed so much about the series is the weird way that Waid somehow makes the character have traits at once conservative and liberal.

Steve Rogers remains this wholesome All-American war hero and, yet, he is also a figure being used by the president and Tony Stark -- if not used, at least manipulated.

Yet, Captain America/Steve Rogers loves his country even after being given a crash course in what he's missed since WW2: Vietnam, Watergate, and so on.

If you can find this on sale, it's certainly worth the money. And the volume contains a reprint of Captain America's first appearance in issue 4 of "The Avengers" from 1964.

In Praise Of Stacey Nelkin


For men of my generation, there are a lot of obvious sex symbols that serve as sort of Proustian reminders of our youth: Suzanne Somers, Loni Anderson, Farrah Fawcett, Cheryl Tiegs, and so on.

However, if you stumble across the right rerun, or catch yet another showing of Halloween III: Season Of The Witch (1982) on cable, you'll be reminded of the bodacious charms of Stacey Nelkin.

The inspiration for Tracy in Manhattan (1979) -- which means that Woody Allen was hitting that!?! -- Stacey Nelkin did a bunch of films and TV shows from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s. She usually parlayed her...assets into a role that was both sweet-and-sexy. It's a fine line to walk and in an era of many blonde bimbos, Stacey's form of perky sexiness was refreshing.

Stacey Nelkin never played dumb, no matter how dumb the script, and she didn't have to try too hard to be sexy.

She's become a relationship expert recently, as witnessed by her many appearances on Fox News and her radio show and website.

Looking back now, I think it's the fact that Stacey didn't get very many good scripts at the time -- though Serial (1980) has its moments -- that ensured that she didn't become a bigger star. Still, she's always charming when on screen, and she's certainly easy on the eyes.

Here are a few pics of the voluptuous Stacey Nelkin -- no Going Ape! (1981), though!

In 1980's Serial, Stacey Nelkin plays Marlene, a grocery cashier who charms both Martin Mull and Bill Macy. Stacey makes Marlene seem more like a free spirit and less of a bimbo. At least the producers didn't cast another blonde in the role...











In the Mad magazine-produced Up The Academy, also from 1980, Stacey -- here billed as Stacy Nelkin -- plays Candy, the girlfriend of one of the military school cadets. The part is pretty forgettable until we get to the final section of the film where Stacey torments the lustful instructor played by Ron Leibman. The sight of Stacey Nelkin in that harem outfit is probably burned into the eyeballs of millions of guys who were teens at the time. Too bad the film didn't succeed at the box office as it's funny in spots...



















In 1982's Halloween III: Season Of The Witch, poor Stacey Nelkin has to share love scenes with John Carpenter regular Tom Atkins. She's otherwise plucky and sassy in this critically reviled entry in the Halloween franchise. The film is odd and something of a cult favorite now...












In 1984's made-for-TV movie The Jerk, Too, Stacey Nelkin takes over the Bernadette Peters role from the Steve Martin original film. Too bad this sort-of sequel doesn't have Steve Martin in it. Instead, we've got the forced zaniness of Mark Blankfield, the druggy pharmacist from TV's "Fridays" and little else...





In 1983's Yellowbeard, Stacey Nelkin plays the seemingly virtuous Triola. The film is largely a failure but it's a fun failure thanks to the presence of Monty Python members Graham Chapman, Eric Idle, and John Cleese. It's also got a lot of comedy legends in the cast, like Cheech and Chong, Spike Milligan, and Madeline Kahn, as well as British luminaries like Beryl Reid, Michael Hordern, and David Bowie in a small, uncredited cameo...