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11.24.2006 - [Hot IQs Vs. The Greatest Of All Time] Hide

Soon, "everyone" (as in, lots of people) will know and adore the Hot IQs. Their first album is amazingly grand, and their new [Dangling Modifier] EP will storm the stores next week. I bought it in advance directly from the band's website, and Elaine (Drums), Eli (Vocals, Guitar) and Bryan (Bass) radiate 4 extraordinary new songs that channel the sounds of Archers Of Loaf and the lyrical obliqueness of Pavement, with ample helpings of fuzzy-buzz to increase the taste-sensation.

Perhaps it's something about Denver, but two hands aren't enough to count the great bands, and Hot IQs are exemplary. This brief yet bouncy collection doesn't have a bum song in the bunch; [Duck & Cover] starts things off with a more textured, layered rocky-pop than what fans might be used to, but the complexity is quite complementary. [Retromuff] is what I take as the single, and it's a nice evolution beyond [Firecracker] from their first release, taking the loud-quiet-loud and adding a crazy-quilt of sparkly sweetness. I also really dig [Elephant In White] and its sing-along second-half that destroys other bands lyrics effortlessly. [Let's Inflate] is perhaps my favorite of the bunch, with a perfect mix of indie rock circa 1994, co-mingled with that 2006 post-"Mission Accomplished" flight-suited ennui.

Plus, you get the necessary Archer's cover, [Web In Front], which doesn't stray far from the ranch, except for the slightly warmer sound. That's a nice flag to fly again, for just as a I love their influences, I also want to champion the new-nowness that Hot IQs knit. Buy listen love, this and their other song units, by traveling here, now.


11.6.2006 - [How Entertaining Can The Disgusting Be?] Hide

Part 3 in a Series: My Reviews From The 50th London Film Festival

[Taxidermia], the third film I saw at the 50th London Film Festival, is disgusting. Now, I'm far from squeamish, but I didn't expect some twisted love child of Sam Raimi and David Cronenberg, born early and left on the incubator for years. Simply put, even if you love graphic masturbation and sex, along with masses of vomit and uncompromising human dismemberment, you probably won't be having a good time by the end.

Gyorgy Palfi is a talented director, when it comes to images. [Taxidermia] is filled with fantastical moments roughly following three male generations in a peculiar family. The grandfather was a highly troubled and sexually frustrated soldier, and while his characterization was nil, there were a few shots that were quite impressive (like one involving a bathtub revolving through time). Yet, I really didn't expect or desire the gratuitous focus on his penis, and what little plot there was could have moved along just fine without the NC17 coupling.

The second segment, about a competitive eater literally born to devour, was more comical with a basically compelling protagonist, and almost tolerable save for the minutes upon minutes of vomiting. It should be clear by now that the director seems solely fixated on bodily fluids and functions usually relegated to off-screen moments, which leaves little room for any real humanity. Still, I felt more akin to these gluttonous characters than their progeny, the life of which was explored exhaustively in the last segment.

Without dwelling on what I'd rather forget, Lajos is a taxidermist in the present day, who hates his morbidly obese father (the competitive eater) and one day is given the opportunity of a lifetime, in his view. Sufficed to say that it involves bodily preservation so perverse, that even my description of it would be disturbing. The film ends with a peculiar commentary on the nature of death and art, and by the time it was over I left as soon as possible.

In conclusion, this film was put together with a distinct vision, and has a few moments of note, even slivers of joy, but overall seems designed solely to dwell on sex, sickness and death in the most gratuitous ways possible, with all life or beauty evacuated. Contrast this with the work of Takashi Miike, which occasionally includes analogous violence and sadism that still has a point. Some people may love [Taxidermia], especially fans of graphic horror, but I really can't recommend a movie that makes me want to throw up at its climax. If I had any idea, I would have never seen it. You have been warned.


11.2.2006 - [All Hail Louise It's Veruca Salt] Hide

Ah, the story of Louise Post and Nina Gordon, the female duo that once led Veruca Salt. I was quite enamored, way back in their Minty Fresh days, when labels like Geffen were buying up small, hot bands with a quickness. [American Thighs], their debut album, was as cute as a buzzy button, and still provides pop indy-rock goodness to this day. [Eight Arms To Hold You] was equally grand, although definitely with more rocks in the sugar cereal. That doesn't even mention the [Blow It Out Your Ass It's Veruca Salt] EP that involved Steve Albini, which remains one of my favorites (download it for free, from their website). Yes, those were the glorious days of yore, and I still listen to such amazingness regularly.

Soon enough, the band split apart, with Nina, Steve Lack and Jim Shapiro going their own ways. Nina's now known for her unfortunately weaksauce solo albums (I tried so hard to like [Bleeding Heart Graffiti], to no avail), and Louise slowly but surely has revived the Veruca Salt name. [Resolver] was the first attempt with the new lineup, and it definitely has a rougher sound than when Nina was involved. That's actually a nice thing, and I quite enjoy that release from 2000. After a 6 year break, she's back with [IV], which is even more intimate, harsh, and yet more catchy with each listen.

What I enjoy is that all 4 albums have been very different from each other, yet in a clear continuum moving from shiny to gritty. That's not to say you won't hear classic choruses, big rock chords or that general Veruca air - Louise was half of the original songwriting team, so continuity remains. What you will hear is more lyrical desperation and loss, and a nice balance between more obvious proto-singles like [So Weird] or [Perfect Love] and the face-slapping in [Innocent] or [Damage Done]. It's all invigorating and contemplative, and the sort of rock record one longs for - female-fronted beautiful almost-anarchy, that's not afraid of angelic choruses. I highly recommend this for those with a welcoming ear.


11.1.2006 - [Iceland Hates The Boss Of It All] Hide

Part 2 in a Series: My Reviews From The 50th London Film Festival

You might not know that I love the films of Lars von Trier. I do, much as someone loves ferris wheels - they let you see a lot, and while there's not much real danger, the ride may not be for the faint of heart, or those who need constant stimulation. Having taken that simile to the extreme, let me now say that [The Boss Of It All], his latest film, is smart and funny, organic yet technological, and clearly the best thing I saw at the 50th London Film Festival.

The conceit is simply complex: A small Danish company that makes IT-related software has an imaginary boss, due to the real owner's inferiority complex (he doesn't want to be associated with unpopular decisions). Fake emails work for a few years, but now the "real" boss needs to visit the office, to oversee the sale of the company to an Icelandic firm. Thus, an actor (Jens Albinus) is hired to portray said "boss of it all", and hijinx ensue.

The laughs are broad yet thoughtful, the scenario absurd yet gripping, and the acting solid. We were lucky to have the two male leads speak before the screening, and the packed house clearly enjoyed the film. However, be aware that it's largely unlike the director's other work, with the only experimental element being the camera framing and placement, which was decided by a computer program (Automavision). That semi-random element makes things a tiny bit askew, and less slick than a normal movie, which only adds to the "realism" of the farce.

If and when this film eventually reaches your area (or your DVD rental service) I highly recommend that you check it out.



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