I had week and a half here over Christmas break to spend some good quality time hanging with my family. We’re viscous gamers and competition levels have been high from the pool table to Scattegories. But – we do share many similar interests when it comes to movies and music (for the most part), so I’m sure we will see some overlap in here somewhere or another. I decided to ask a few common questions we review on our blog often for the hell of it. This is the result. Probably will add a bit over time.
Honestly, this isn’t really exciting content to be honest. I mean it’s really just opinions of people you don’t know. But whatever it’s my blog so who cares. It’s something right? And I like putting up content. So this is what you get today.
I’m more interested in your own takes than these, so SEND EM ALONG!
Brother Eric: Dark Knight (Batman Series), Inception, The Departed, Saving Private Ryan, Goodfellas, Lord Of The Rings Series, Harry Potter Series, Shawshank Redemption, Casino Royale, Django Unchained, Seven
Dr. Dad: Platoon, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Departed, Lord of The Rings Series, Pursuit to Algiers, The Birds, LA Confidential
Mama Kink: Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Fighting Sullivan’s, The Way We Were, Camelot, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Funny Girl, What’s Up Doc?
Sam: Parent Trap (1998), School of Rock, The Holiday, The Gift, Harry Potter Series, Mystic Pizza
Brother Eric: U2, J. Cole, Black Keys, Roddy Rich, Drake, Lil Uzi Vert, Young Thug, 50 Cent, Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin
Dr. Dad: Allman Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, Phish, Grateful Dead, Little Feat, Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, The Beatles, Traffic, Art Blakey & Jazz Messengers, John Coltrane, Robert Watson
Mama Kink: Barbara Streisand, Tony Bennet, Frank Sinatra, U2, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Queen, Beatles
Sam: John Mayer, John Hiatt, Taylor Swift, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Casey Musgraves, Marcus King, TOLEDO, Real Estate
Connor (Me): Phish, Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, Beatles, Steely Dan, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Alice in Chains, Bonobo, Mac Demarco, J. Cole, John Kennedy, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, Action Bronson, Durante, Marcus King, Stevie Ray Vaughn & Jimi Hendrix
Favorite Christmas Movie:
Brother Eric: It’s A Wonderful Life
Dr. Dad: Mr. Magoos Christmas Carol
Mama Kink: Scrooge w/ Albert Finney
Sam: Home Alone
Connor (Me): Scrooge w/ Albert Finney; Honorable Mention: Die Hard
Dr. Dad: Bill Evans Orchestra (1978), Allman Brothers Band (1990), Phish (2011), Grateful Dead (1980, 1983), Steely Dan (2010), Dexter Gordon (1977), Rosson Rollenkirk (1979), U2 (2000)
Mama Kink: Bruce Springsteen (1982), U2 (2000), Robert Cray (1991)
Sam: Taylor Swift (2009, 2018) , Tedeschi Trucks Band (2017), John Hiatt (2018, 2019), Bruce Springsteen (2013), Wood Brothers (2019), Mac Demarco (2019), John Mayer (2019), Ed Sheeran (2018), Dave Matthews Band (2016), Marcus King (2020)
Connor (Me): Tedeschi Trucks Band (2017, 2019 (x3)), Phish (2011, 2019) Steely Dan (2018, 2020), TAB (2018), Moe (2017), Getter (2017), Porter Robinson (2014), Wynton Marsalis (2012), Mac Demarco (2019), Dead & Slow (2017), Bijou & Dr. Frecsh (2019), [Pierce Fulton Odessa, Rezz, Zed’s Dead – (2019)], Anderson Paak (2014)
Two Answers Required: Which Musical Artist and Actor/Actress Pair Would You Like to Have a Few Drinks with?
Brother Eric: Prince AND Leo DiCaprio / Brad Pitt
Dr. Dad: Art Blakey AND Jack Nicholson
Mama Kink: Judy Garland AND Barbara Streisand
Sam: Jack Black AND Mariska Hargitay
Connor (Me): Jerry Garcia AND Quentin Tarantino
Thanks for Playing – submit me your answers and maybe I’ll hang them up on the front page somewhere.
Happy Holidays Everyone. Lots of love and thanks for reading.
Happy End of 2020! Sharing some of my favorites from the last month or so to close out the year. Hopefully this brings a little joy to your holiday season. Happy Holidays to all you wonderful people.
— Electronic —
Ta-Ku | Notice – Moods Remix : That groove funk with a heavy bass beat and echo-y vocals… some classic Ta-Ku here with a more than delicious remix from Moods which has become the regular these days.
Washed Out – Too Late – Marvelous music video from Washed Out which is definitely my favorite of the year so far. They were able to combine clips from all over the country in this overlay pattern that works so seamlessly with the song. Oh, and the song is beautiful. Feels something like a dreamy, melodic cruise down the PCH that reminded me of Malibu or something.
Com Truise – In Decay Too (Album) + Stress : Excellent new album from Com Truise who just continues to churn out great work. This album contains a lot of finished demos that had me thinking I had heard some of them somewhere before… Also check out his release “Stress” which is an awesome EP release that came in the past few weeks .
Pierce Fulton, Aspetuck – Nest to the Back (& Back to the Nest): Fun, two song EP from Mr. Fulton and Aspetuck. Upbeat, future house bass melodic non-aggressive cheese. Yum.
Tycho – No Stress : A cool, live music video from Tycho, the master of chill – work music and relaxation music. Check out his albums as well, particularly Simulcast.
Shigeto – Detroit Part 1 : A harmonious blend of tribal chimes, drums and synths. An oldie but a goodie.
–– Alternative —
TOLEDO – Hotstuff (EP) : Outstanding random find these past couple weeks. Whole album is particularly good. Something like Beach Fossils meets Real Estate, in the best possible way.
Dope Lemon – Kids Fallin In Love : Dope Lemon is a strange dude, indeed. But he deserves his due with a handful of hidden gems here and there. This recent release is an awesome, mellow but upbeat track that will have you bobbing your head and cracking a smile.
Bibio – Old Graffiti, Spruce Tops, Odd Lips : Bibio is just excellent. I couldn’t find a video for Spruce Tops in particular. But his new album Hand Cranked I have just started exploring (and enjoying), includes Odd Lips and Cantaloupe Carousel. Give him a listen, and if you aren’t familiar with his past work, dig a little deeper and you’ll find something you like, surely.
— Blues, Rock & Folk —
J.J. Cale – Travelin’ Light & After Midnight : Been really enjoying Mr. Cale this past month, and didn’t realize what a prolific songwriter he was (Cocaine and After Midnight by Clapton and Garcia were his songs which went on to be massive successes). Never anything flashy – you can watch him on stage – but his sound is always on point and he knows how to just make it work, in the coolest way possible. So relaxed in his playing.
J.J. Cale, Eric Clapton, Trucks, Bramhall – Cocaine : Written originally by J.J. Cale, this live production with some guitar legends and Eric C. is just a fantastic piece of work.
Mac Demarco – Here Comes the Other Cowboy Demos (See Dave, Out Of My Head, Very Spooky) : I preferred this demo tape to his first, which I also preferred to Here Comes the Cowboy. But, I digress. A few nice gems on both demo tapes worth taking a listen to. Boy would I love a new Mac album, right now…
Billy Strings –Lonely Midnight Waltz& Watson Blues: Been loving Billy these past few months along. This is a nice, slowed down piece along with Watson Blues that just makes you feel right at home in deep southern country. Explore explore explore this man’s live portfolio!
Gary Clark Junior – 3 O’ Clock Blues (Live) : A fantastic rendition of an excellent song. Really been loving his heavy handed, Jimi-like soloing lately. Incredible voice, as well.
Jerry Garcia & David Grisman – Been All Around This World : Just some classic, happy-times Jerry and David, making us smile.
Thanks for listening!
Have any suggestions? Send em’ through and let us know what you’ve been enjoying as well.
Hello my friends. While 2020 has been a bit of a wash for movie fans and studios alike (aside from the whole, having to stay inside and watch movies all day – thing), I was pleasantly surprised to hear some positive news this week which also reminded me to finish up this post I have been neglecting. Let’s get into some exciting news and insight about upcoming movies I’m particularly looking forward to in 2021…
It’s no question that 2020 has been a horrible year for movie theaters across the country, with many closed since March/April and those that remained open seeing a steep decline in attendance over previous years. Compounded with this was the probably wise decision on the behalf of the production houses and studios to delay upcoming movie releases into 2021 or indefinitely when they can be more sure they will get attendance. No surprises there from an economics perspective given COVID, but anyone who has been to a movie in the past year knows that there is really no substitute for the atmosphere, quality and full viewing experience of a cinema. Fortunately, we can all share a collective sign of relief that vaccines are near on the horizon (which is damn impressive, no doubt) – meaning good times are (hopefully) ahead for moviegoers.
What’s the news, besides the fact that a vaccine is on the horizon? Warner Brothers Studios announced this afternoon that they will be releasing upcoming films such as “Dune” and “The Matrix 4” in a new format, simultaneously in theaters and on HBO Max, over the coming 12 months. While this still leaves some significant time between now and the following releases, it does mean that we at least have a timeline to look forward to! I expect (but more so hope) other studios to follow a similar path.
Without further ado, let’s get into some of the most exciting releases coming in the new year!
The French Dispatch– Wes Anderson: January 2021
Starting on a high note, I can’t help but be excited for Wes Anderson’s upcoming Dispatch, which has been described as “a love letter to journalists set at an outpost of an American newspaper in 20th-century Paris and centers on three storylines.” If you are unfamiliar with Wes’ previous works, I highly encourage you to check out his catalogue, my personal favorites (and I think a good place to start) being: The Fantastic Mr. Fox (10/10), Grand Budapest Hotel (9.5/10), and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (8/10).
Those familiar with Wes’ directorial style will recognize his movies for their unique, almost whimsical flair that is better seen then described. If it had to be characterized, I would call his style one which places a great emphasis on the viewer’s perspective, particularly with his style of visual symmetry, with often quirky, offbeat characters and dialogue that puts you in a state of ease and enjoyment at the same time. His editing is masterful and color choices really bring you into the world he creates. Something I’d equate to eye and ear candy for a viewer. He almost always writes his own films, but regardless it is not hard to tell when Wes’ signature style is in play.
With a cast that includes Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, and Benicio del Toro – this is one that can’t be missed.
Last Night in Soho – Edgar Wright: April 2021
Edgar is a well known and respected English director, and you have likely heard of some of his most famous works including the more recent Baby Driver(8.5/10) and 2004’s Sean of The Dead (9.5/10). The upcoming film Last Night in Soho, which is being described as a Drama/Horror/Thriller follows a young girl, passionate about fashion design, who is mysteriously able to enter the 1960s where she encounters her idol, a dazzling wannabe singer. But 1960s London is not what it seems, and time seems to fall apart with shady consequences. Starring the up-and-coming actresses Anna Taylor-Joy of Queen’s Gambit fame, a show I haven’t completely gotten through myself but have heard rave reviews about, and Thomasin McKensie, who played Elsa in JoJo Rabbit (which I can vouch for was a fantastic performance).
Edgar Wright is another favorite of mine for his ability to combine masterful editing, unique cuts/transitions and dialogue in his dark comedy & action films which I find to be some of the most entertaining ever created in it’s genre, if not for their uniqueness alone. Two of my favorite 20 films are, without a doubt, Hot Fuzz (10/10) and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World(10/10) – two movies so clever, hilarious and watchable it’s hard to stop yourself from repeat viewings (if that’s your cup of tea, of course).
I’ll be more than curious to see if the film brings in Wright’s dark humor elements or whether we will be getting a true Horror/Thriller. Either way, I remain VERY excited about this one, and the trailer has it looking deliciously creepy. You love to see it. As a huge horror movie fan and lover of Wright’s craft, this could be the film of 2021 I’m looking forward to the most.
No Time to Die – Cary Joji Fukunaga: April 2021
The final Bond installment of Daniel Craig’s tenure will end with No Time to Die picks up five years after the capture of villain Blofeld, where James Bond has left active service. He is enlisted by Felix Leiter, his friend in the CIA, to help search for Valdo Obruchev, a missing scientist. When it becomes apparent that Obruchev has been abducted, Bond must confront a villain whose schemes could see the deaths of millions. That villain will be portrayed by none other than Rami Malek, fresh off an Oscar win for his portrayal of the incomparable Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody(7/10).
The film has had several delays and push backs, a continuing trend for these blockbuster-type films, but we can hope to watch Craig kick some ass one final time as soon as April of 2021. I’ve covered this film (and my thoughts on Bond films in general) previously in one of my first posts on this page, which you can view here.
Fun thing I just learned that should be exciting to some: Director Fukunaga also directed all 3 seasons of True Detective. Here’s hoping that same Season 1 vibe carries over a bit here.
Mission: Impossible 7 – Christopher McQuarrie: November 2021
The seventh installment of the Mission: Impossible series is slated to come out late next year, and will bring our favorite band of agents (Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames) as they attempt to save the world in some way or another again for our entertainment. While I don’t have any significant details on the plot for this one just yet, I think we can expect to start seeing trailers coming early next year or once we hit the 6m out mark.
I know these films aren’t for everyone, but hear me out. The intention was never to make these the most hyper-realistic, believable action films. The point was to provide ~2 hours of James-Bond-style mayhem minus some suave and add some intense stunts here and there. Corny lines are obligatory, combat is expected, and you’re sure to see Cruise do something miraculous (which he probably actually did). What these films lack in realism they make up for in excitement and watchability.
I’ve been following Ethan Hunt for 6 movies thus far, and although they are often far from reality they are most definitely some of the best adrenaline-fueled action films that have been put to screen since 1996. I’ll look forward to sitting down with some popcorn and turning my brain off for a few hours for this one just the same.
Babylon– Damien Chazelle: Christmas 2021
Damien Chazelle’s a young American director and screenwriter from Providence, Rhode Island (representing our college down most admirably) whose short but impressive body of work includes the incredible La La Land (10/10) and Whiplash (10/10). While details surrounding Babylon are limited to say the least, what we have been told is that it will be a period piece that will take place “during the transition from silent films to talkies and will feature a mix of real-life and fictional characters, similar to Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.'” (Link).
Brad Pitt will Co-Star along side who was originally scheduled to be Emma Stone. As of a few days ago, it now looks like Margot Robbie is in early talks to replace Emma Stone in Damien Chazelle’s period drama after Stone exited the film due to scheduling issues. If you’re going to have a trade-off, this isn’t too bad – and it would be great to see Pitt and Robbie share the screen as they did recently in Tarantino’s Hollywood.
It’s exciting to see young, fresh directors like Chazelle, Aster, Eggers, Coogler, etc. hitting the scene with authority and I look forward to seeing everything they produce in the coming year(s). Given Chazelle’s recent track record, I’d expect this to be an Oscar subject for many. I will let you guys know as soon as I get any updates!
Dune – Denis Villeneuve: October 2021
One of the most anticipated films of 2020, certainly in the action/sci-fi category, was the on-screen adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 science-fiction epic, Dune. We were recently informed that although it was originally slated for this December, Dune has been moved into late 2021.
I feel supremely unqualified to speak about the hype surrounding this one as I have still not (despite being told by many, many people to do so) read completely through this monster of a book yet. What I can say is Herbert’s classic novel has a reverence in the Sci-Fi community that is largely unparalleled, and a cult following to match its awesomeness. One of the reasons for this recognition is what we call Dune’s masterful world building, or ability to create a setting / environment for the story which brings you deep into its lore and forces you to slow down and pay attention to every little detail. More than anything, I will be curious to see how the supremely qualified Villeneuve, whose resume includes Arrival (9/10), Sicario (9/10), and Blade Runner 2049(9.5/10), will build this world in all its gritty detail.
I think if anyone were up to this task of building and immersing the viewer in this visual adaptation, it would have to be Villenueve. I’m thinking particularly with regards to Blade Runner 2049, which was one of the most atmospheric, textured and well-made sci-fi films in recent memory. When I think about this movie, I am brought back to the futuristic, desolate landscape of Earth that he so well adapted from the screenplay, even when tasked with following up one of the most highly-regarded sci-fi films of ALL TIME with 1982’s Blade Runner (9.5/10) and not only paying homage to the lore but avoiding falling in the large footsteps of its predecessor. Villenueve clearly has a capacity for the genre unlike most and I have no doubt he will do well with this piece as well. Get excited!
The Matrix 4 (title TBD) – Lana Wachowski: December 2021
Let’s be honest, the second and third Matrix films were hot garbage compared to the first. They had action, excitement – yes, but they lacked uniqueness and substance that made The Matrix (9/10) original film so groundbreaking. Nonetheless, with #4 on the way it is more than anything my genuine curiosity about where in God’s name they are going to go with the story at this point that will bring me to the theater (hopefully) next December. While Revolutions (4/10) was bad, it did pretty much wrap things up from a plot perspective, so I’ll definitely be interested to see what tricks they have up their sleeve. Plus, I think we all can enjoy a little Keanu ass-kicking here and there.
Lana Wachowski is set to write, direct, and produce the film. Wachowski since then also co-wrote the screenplays for Cloud Atlas (9/10) and V for Vendetta(8/10).
I should also note that there are a ton of superhero films and/or sequels coming up, but none of which I am more excited for than The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson who will face off against the Riddler. I’ve been dying to see a modern adaptation of this villain, and here’s hoping Pattinson can put his own unique spin on the series that Bale currently holds the title for (and realistically, should never relinquish). The date on this just got pushed to 2022, I believe – so plenty more to come on this guy…
This is all for now, but will continue to update this over the coming months. Many thanks to all of you. As always, please feel free to send along any news / commentary / insights related to anything posted here or anything coming in 2021. I have no doubt these dates will be changing a bit!
First off, if you haven’t seen this masterpiece, I highly recommend closing this browser and placing yourself in front of your nearest screen for the next hour and 45 minutes. I would also recommend a box of tissues as this movie carries a ton of emotional baggage. Written by Charlie Kaufman, the film stars Jim Carrey (at his absolute best) as Joel Barish and Kate Winslet (Clementine Kruczynski) on the final night of their relationship, as the two independently and boldly decide to erase their memories of one another. We are taken on a cinematic ride through all of Joel’s memories of Clementine as they are being deleted from his brain. However, during the procedure, Joel has a change of heart and tries to hide Clementine’s memory from deletion through various unrelated memories in his head. As the procedure comes to a conclusion and Joel understands that his attempts to save the memory of Clementine are lost, he surrenders to his panic and the inevitability of this loss by living in the moment of his very last memory with Clementine and simply enjoys what he will soon forget. However, when he awakes, he follows the advice his subconscious gave him in his dream and is introduced for a second time to Clementine on the beach where they first met.
The pair have an immediate connection, as their first encounter is unbeknownst to them, and again start the process of beginning a relationship when news of their previous procedure is leaked and they discover their rocky history. At the end, while conversing whether it would be wise to enter another relationship set to repeat history, Joel’s simple yet thoughtful response sets up a future they know will end, but are willing to experience once more.
There’s a lot to unpack here as is the Kaufman way. Kaufman has this uncanny ability to portray common emotional dilemmas in a complicated yet thought-provoking way. He truly makes you dig for the meaning behind his art. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind‘s main themes tackle the heartbreak that comes at the end of any relationship and whether or not erasing the memories of a close companion is at all beneficial to one’s self. The movie borrows its name from a quote in an Alexander Pope poem:
“How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d”
Alexander Pope, Eloisa to Abelard (1717)
In its context, the ‘blameless vestal’ refers to a celibate nun, sworn to silence and seclusion to the outside world. A pure soul uncorrupted by society, yet never allowed the true opportunity to live. In essence, it’s a fancy 18th century way of saying “ignorance is bliss”. How blissful life would be if you were to have zero experiences to compare life’s positive and negative experiences. But life is not meant to be easy. These experiences, whether they’re the happiest memories you have or the most depressing you reluctantly hold, are what makes us human. A life of ignorance, a spotless mind, may only be blissful as you have nothing positive nor negative to compare it to.
Joel does not immediately understand this fact. We watch Joel’s memories with Clementine unfold as he sleeps. These first memories of Clementine hold negative weight in Joel’s head as all the arguments and disconnections between the couple come to light. Clementine is far from a perfect person as we see her selfishness, anger, indecisiveness and irresponsibility tear Joel down. But as the procedure continues, the memories of Clementine and the moments shared together become increasingly positive and happier for Joel. He realizes in the midst of the irreversible operation that he doesn’t want to lose the happiest moments of his life even if shared with the one who broke his heart.
Without these positive memories, Joel would have quite literally nothing. If this theme of ‘eternal sunshine’ were true, Joel’s newly spotless mind would free his life of the burden a past love weighed on him and he could continue to live a blissful life. However. at the beginning of the movie as well as towards the end when his very last memory of Clementine is actively being erased, we see pre-Clementine Joel just as sad and anxious, if not more so, as he was the day he entered the Doctor’s office. With a “spotless mind” type of state without knowing Clementine existed, Joel was still just a sad, lost soul. Except here, Joel never knew that happiness Clementine brought him. He never had those experiences that allowed him to learn from or any memories to reflect on and reminisce about happier times. Having happy memories, even if they are distant, can serve to remind us in dark times that happiness does truly exists. A “spotful” mind may be difficult and painful, almost unbearably so, but it makes us human to feel these things. To hurt so badly over love means that love you held before was real.
Together with Joel, we as an audience discover that attaining a spotless mind may not be an appropriate stepping stone to moving on. Kaufman unloads what I believe to be the entire point of the film from here on out: relationships – whether romantic, friendly, family, workplace, etc. – are never permanent and will always come to an end. It is not in human nature to recognize relationships with anyone won’t last forever. The thought is sobering. No relationship can escape the unpredictable finite endings that life seems to randomly throw at you.
While this idea may seem a negative attitude towards an element of life so commonly viewed as positive and fulfilling, Kaufman beautifully emphasizes how important it is to understand this truth, not dwell on it. As Joel’s final memory of Clementine, which is of the first day they met, is being erased, he ultimately accepts that fighting the memory erasing procedure is futile. He recognizes that his memories, the last relic of the relationship he once had with Clementine, will too come to a close. And while he could continue to fight this hard truth, it doesn’t change its fact. So what is there to do but enjoy it? Enjoy the memories, those moments of happiness with someone where nothing else in the world seems to matters. Because they don’t last forever. And once they’re gone, all you will have to are those memories to look back on to borrow a sliver of happiness experienced in that moment. While it may hurt to remember better days, wouldn’t you rather have those memories, to know that happiness really exists out there, than nothing at all?
I believe Kaufman’s point here is that it is better to have loved than to have never loved at all and to enjoy every moment with someone while you can. Relationships, life even, must come to an end at one point or another. Rather than waste them away with attempts to salvage them or worrying when everything will fall apart, enjoy them for what they are. Enjoy the company, the mutual love, the laughs, the tears, the lessons learned, and the memories shared that will last you a lifetime. And in the end, even in eyes full of tears and a heart broken to pieces, if you would still choose to do it all over again, you know you did it right.
*This is cross-posted from a friend’s site. I encourage your to check out Creative Equal if you enjoy spicy blog content.
It was of course perfect chance, luck, whatever you might call it, that being born in 95’ made it feel like Pixar was created specifically for my childhood. While they released their first films in 98’ and 99’, the way the movies were released correlated so perfectly as I grew up with my friends and family. It was this perfect timing that made Pixar feel like it was a part of our lives, a part of our culture and certainly a large piece in our movie portfolio – following us along as we grew older.
As a kid growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s, I think anyone from this era can say we had an incredible amount of content directed at our demographic, whether it was on Nickelodeon with cartoons like Rocket Power and SpongeBob which I still idolize to this day, or the bizarre but weirdly amusing Cartoon Network with shows like Dexter’s lab or Courage the Cowardly Dog, or the kid-focused sitcoms on Disney Channel – and in every advertisement and toy store in between. With so many thousands of cartoons and animations pulling us in a million directions, why did Pixar stand out to us as kids? What made them so special? The answer is simple.
Pixar knows how to tell an incredible story, both visually and emotionally.
While every show and movie is telling a story somewhere along the way, Pixar was able to first grab your attention because, well, it’s so visually appealing! I think most of us can say when you first look at a Pixar film, you are drawn in immediately by the style of animation. That was the unique value proposition that made them special. The 3D animation with eye-popping colors, beautiful designs and realistic movements, all captured perfectly on screen in ways that most of us have never been done before.
But while you are drawn in by the colors, the realism, the textures, lights, colors, sounds and ethereal experience created with beyond amazing sound mixing, graphic design and editing (who I should say are the true MVPs for most of these films, alongside the writers), you stay for the narratives they create. For Pixar, they brought together brilliant storytellers to craft tales engrained in reality but accessible by all audiences by weaving in themes of what it means to be alive. I mentioned yes, the movies came out while I was growing up and felt tailored to us as kids, but these tales were also made for everyone, all over the world, to enjoy. It is rare to say a film can attract audiences of all ages with varying preferences and leave them laughing, crying, joyful or saddened – regardless of who you are.
Let’s start with Toy Story, the iconic Pixar film, is a colorful joyride and a brilliant idea come to life. I mean how metaphorical do you have to get besides a child’s toys coming to life and interacting like human adult beings to make you see the connections they are trying to make. Tom Hanks voice acting is beyond amazing and feels so real that you hardly remember they are toys at all after 15 minutes in. You are in fact then thrown so deeply into the tale of adventure and excitement that you enter its world and only emerge when the credits finally roll. Woody, Buzz, Slinky and the cast of colorful characters feel as real as you or me, and it creates an emotional bond with these characters and their trials and tribulations. Toy Story 2 does much of the same. And the third installment felt like it was made just for me and my age group – we grew up watching Woody and Buzz, playing their videogames, and then we say goodbye as Andy heads off to college, just like me and my friends at the time. That’s beyond normal storytelling; it becomes a piece of your life in ways you would’ve never thought before watching.
Finding Nemo, an emotional rollercoaster brings you through the Great Barrier Reef in all its colorful, magical glory, all in the quest of a father, Marlon the Clownfish, travelling the ocean to find his lost son. Dorey, voiced by Ellen DeGeneres, is so damn funny and perfect a contract to the uptight, insecure Marlon. While the film begins on such a jarring and deeply traumatic event, you are immediately thrown into its world, draw forward because everyone sees a little of themselves in Marlon, Dorey, or the other characters of the sea. These characters are colorful, and the voices feel like you know them personally, all the while you have the magnificent hues, textures, shapes, ripples and landscapes of the ocean bringing you underwater with them. Pixar not only creates a world here but thrusts you into a tale of adventure – because who wouldn’t go looking for their lost son – even if you were a clownfish?
The Incredibles, my personal favorite and a perfect example of this mature storytelling, was essentially a blockbuster action movie put to animation. I’m talking everything from guns, explosions, superheroes, villains (who were GENUINELY EVIL), fear, excitement and intrigue. Not only did this film feel like I was watching an action movie, but it brought together the best elements of Pixar’s beautiful animation with a story that was loved by kids and parents alike. It was not only action packed, but funny. There are jokes, side-bars, actions and subtle events that you can appreciate more as you get older with subsequent viewings – but regardless, you don’t need them to enjoy the movie. It only enhances the experience as we get older. When I look at this movie, it gave me everything I could have ever wanted in an action film, but visually expressed it wonderfully.
Or even take Inside Out, for example. At first glance, this movie feels like its something directly made for the younger generation. But spend an hour or more watching through and you will realize the story takes you down a road of emotional turmoil, sadness, joy, melancholy and ends on a high note that was universally regarded by parents and kids alike (maybe even more so the older generations) as being so powerful. They literally took “emotions” and made them into real people. It’s the most symbolic you can get, and they pull it off so perfectly that you suspend your belief of reality (in that it’s animation) to watch these characters deal with real-life situations.
These are stories that transcend age, religion, geography, or social situation. Stories that resonate with their audience because they tackle real-life issues by giving life to animated characters so beautifully. Stories with characters that at their core feel so real to us because they pay emotional tribute to our feelings in a way that feels authentic. They tug at the heartstrings, they make us laugh, they show us passion, sadness, joy, and beauty, they make us feel, well, like we are real, living beings. And these stories remind us that the feelings you feel and the emotions you experience are not just in you, but in everyone. And in doing so, Pixar brings us all closer together, whether that be kids to their parents, friends, family, or really the world in general.
It doesn’t take being a full fledged festival EDM raver to know that the word “legendary” doesn’t begin to encompass the man named Eric Prydz. The Swedish DJ and producer has definitely made his way to your ear drums at your Saturday morning spin classes (I’m convinced Call on Me is played at every session) and with his follow up to OPUS, we get…NOPUS? Odd follow up naming, but we get everything we could ever ask for in a Prydz release with this one. The four-to-the-floor drums coupled with Prydz’s uplifting melodies and dreamy synths. All I wish is that we could hear this blessing our eardrums at a festival somewhere warm under the night sky.
4.)Dummo Loop – WAVEDASH [Electronic]
Oof, the WAVEDASH boys return with this absolute HEATER. Prepping everyone for their album set to release in early 2021, Drummo Loop is surely to get you excited. Hearing the Porter influence while keeping the signature WAVEDASH massiveness, this is just an all around fun song to get you bangin’ that head on your daily commute home (or at your home office).
Lime Cordiale nails the perfect indie alternative formula with this track: a catchy chorus, fantastic songwriting, & Lime Cordiale making the song. It’s a treat throughout with a variety of sounds and melodies that maintain these positive vibes.
2.)Olivia (RAC Mix) – Hotel Garuda [Electronic]
RAC and Hotel Garuda have been going back and forth reimagining each other’s tracks. As listeners, we’re lucky to experience this friendship blossom through the medium of super, hot fire beats. I dub this genre “indie-electronica” (think Tame Impala) with its lead guitar driving the track and those indie drums driving the beat. Hotel Garuda has one hell of an indie voice to lend to the mix. Overall, a solid track from the legend who is RAC and all we can hope is these two just keep sharing tracks for the other to remix.
1.)VSOD (Velvet Sky Of Dreams) – Tiga & Hudson Mohawke [Dance]
This track has been on repeat since I first heard it last month. Tiga and HudMo are certified legends within the industry, so when I first saw their names on the collab, I knew it was bound to be special. But the label couldn’t prepare me for this groovy house banger with luscious disco-y vocals. Far and away my favorite track of the month.
TOP 5 ALBUMS / EPs OF THE MONTH
5.)The Making of a Paracosm – Kasbo [Electronic]
Returning with his sophomore album, Kasbo delivers with this emotional 14 track EP. His ability to convey and elicit emotions through his sound design sets him apart from the mundane future bass/chillwave artists seemingly popping up everywhere. Kasbo has a way of not making his tracks sound repetitive or cliche. It feels honest and true song after song. Great, thought provoking album from the Swede.
4.)After Fillmore County – Vansire [Indie-Pop]
Vansire grabbed my attention earlier this year when I first dove into their album Angel Youth (2019). I was hooked immediately and when I heard they were dropping a new EP, I was obviously excited to continue adding to my Vansire notes. After Fillmore County is a collection of tracks from the duo who, predictably, are from Fillmore County, Minnesota. Contemporary indie yet nostalgia dropped in every track, the album creates a story of what’s to come in life after leaving “Fillmore County”. Where’s your Fillmore County? Perhaps this album will help guide you.
3.)Illusion of Depth – Mat Zo [Dance]
Mat Zo will always hold a special place in my heart. If he drops a trakc or album, expect it on one of these “Best Of” lists. The British producer is already hailed a modern legend, and Illusion of Depth is just another opus to add to the resume. If you like dance music, massive in your face drums, harsh and dreamy synths, then look no further. Standout tracks on this one are “Problems” and “Colours”.
2.)EPHEMERA – Jim-E Stack [Electronic]
Quickly becoming one of my favorite producers, Jim-E Stack has blessed us with a short EP with a ton of character. The indie-electronic California native has this special quality of mixing indie, lo-fi, dance, and electronic vibes into a cohesive work that creates these unique nostalgic emotions I can’t find in anyone else’s work. Heavy with features, this album borrows the talents of Empress Of, Bon Iver, Dijon, and Kacey Hill. If you’re in a fall mood as winter approaches, check this one out.
1.)Imaginary Audience – Mindchatter [Electronic]
An easy pick for the album of the month. I was absolutely blown away by Mindchatter’s debut album. A fellow East Coast boy, The New York native has is new to the game in regards to releases. But his sound design and songwriting speak for themselves on this album as it flows from song to song until you sadly realize it’s over as the hauntingly beautiful vocals and guitar fade at the end of “Referees Don’t Fall in Love”. Mindchatter never sought after any features on this album as all of the vocals are his own. My favorites are “Choose a Side”, “Scared to Go Home”, and “Days Go Slow”, but this entire album as a whole is just phenomenal. Album of the year candidate?
CHECK OUT THE “BEST OF NOVEMBER 2020” PLAYLIST BELOW
I thought it would be a fun exercise to try and bring together some of my favorite films from the decades, once a week for November. It’s a good opportunity to revisit some classics while also showing you wonderful folks some films you may or may not have seen. I will try and combine a mix of both more mainstream classics (like, “you’ve got to watch this one at some point in your lifetime”) and the ones that snuck under the radar, aka the “didn’t even know this existed, but it’s kind of a gem” type.
Ah the 70s, a time I wish I was a teenager in so, so, so badly for the massive cultural upheaval, dramatic world events and most prominently, the birth (or continuation) of some of my absolute favorite music and artists that I listen to today (and many others do too). Anything from Allman Brothers to Little Feat, Pink Floyd to Zeppelin, the Who, etc. I have spoke with many an individual who grew up during this decade who spoke of the massive opportunity ahead, the challenges the world faced, and the the general passion for the arts that that dominated American (and international) society and altered cultural norms, particularly in the West. While the Cold War raged on and Vietnam was still at the top of many minds, politics drove conversation and social issues were pressing, something was happening within the studios of the ever-growing film industry. Changes that that began to make a dramatic transformations to quality, editing, sound, cinematography, scope and overall success at the box office that would set the stage (pun intended) for years to come.
Let’s dive into some great films from this decade and a few gems you may have missed.
The Classics (aka, you need to see):
The Godfather, The Godfather Part II (10/10): Two of the finest films ever made, widely regarded as such. The story of the Corleone family from Italy to America, their exploits and everything involved in the forming the Italian-American mafia.
Chinatown (10/10): What begins as a routine job for Los Angeles private eye Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) goes from zero to a hundred all too quickly. A case of infidelity transforms into an investigation into corruption, lies and secrets that goes further down the rabbit hole than you’d ever expect. This has it all: mystery, drama, suspense, Nicholson and Faye Dunaway.
The Sting (10/10): Two of the finest actors of their time, Robert Redford and Paul Newman, are legendary con men looking to settle a score with a notorious crime boss. The ever-crafty pair comes up with an elaborate scheme that goes off the walls and has a five star conclusion you won’t want to miss. Great acting, great story.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (10/10): One of the earliest films my father showed me that made me realize what a quality movie really is. Jack Nicholson stars as a criminal who pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rebels against the oppressive nurse and bonds with the patients. Hilarious, suspenseful, sad, happy – this movie gets it all, and it does everything so beautifully right. Masterpiece.
Star Wars (8.5/10): The birth of one of the most profitable movie and commercial franchises of all time, A New Hope was the start of the stuff childhood action dreams are made of: laser guns, lightsabers, spaceships; all bundled in a nice drama-filled, action-packed movie. It’s campy and the dialogue is cheesy at times, but it forever changed the world of film and must be recognized as such.
Monty Python’s The Life of Brian + The Holy Grail (10/10): Bundling these two works of comedic genius into one, the UK’s Monty Python crew compiled two of my personal favorite (and widely regarded as excellent) comedies during the 70’s that portray history in a different light. Cult classics, and must viewings for any comedy buff.
Anne Hall (& Manhattan) (10/10): A comedy/drama/romance unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, with some of the most clever dialogue and unforgettable one-liners, acted and directed by the brilliant Woody Allen. Anne Hall is my favorite and considered by many to be his magnum opus, but Manhattan is also excellent.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (9/10): A childhood classic for many, and taking on deeper interpretations as I’ve aged, Roald Dahl’s writing is transformed in shining color into this magical piece of filmmaking which follows a young, poor boy who wins a chance to visit the legendary, but secretive, chocolate factory of Willy Wonka (the ever-memorable Gene Wilder, who was born to play this role).
Jaws (9.5/10): If you haven’t seen it yet, you owe it to yourself to watch this classic piece of Americana filmmaking that spawned everyone’s irrational fear of sharks and changed how we see blockbuster films. Iconic Spielberg and one of the defining films of a generation.
Martin Scorsese – Mean Streets (9/10) &Taxi Driver (10/10): Gritty, realistic, dramatic and captivating, these movies were part of the launchpad that turned Scorsese into a legendary Hollywood filmmaker. Taxi Driver in particular, starring Robert De Nero as a mentally unstable taxi driver in New York City, compelled by the crime and disgust in the world around him to take action, is incredible.
The Deer Hunter (10/10): A long, dramatic and heart-wrenching tale of the grittiness of war and what it means to move on, the Deer Hunter left its mark on me as I think it does with everyone who sits through it. De Niro is outstanding as always, but his contemporary, Christopher Walken, is really who makes this movie outstanding for me. It captures the horrors of the Vietnam war and the lives soldiers lead back home in amazing detail. This film took home five Oscars including best picture in 1979.
What You May Have Missed
Blazing Saddles (10/10): A legendary comedy, one of Mel Brook’s finest, featuring the equally legendary Gene Wilder and Cleavon Little as Bart, the first black sheriff in an old western town soon to be destroyed by the railroad company.
The Exorcist (8/10): For me, this is the birth of modern horror. The scenes in this film stick with you forever and are genuinely terrifying, even for the time in which it was made. If you are into horror, this is a classic.
Amadeus (9/10): The Oscar-winning story of a young Mozart, dazzling audiences, changing the way music was played and ultimately impacting composition for all of time. It’s filled with plenty of humor and drama, of course.
Alien (9/10): One of the finest works of Sci-Fi/Horror you will ever witness, Alien follows a crew aboard a deep-space shuttle are awakened from their cryo-sleep capsules halfway through their journey home to investigate a distress call from an alien vessel, uncovering a nest of strange eggs inside the ship that are more than malicious. Sigourney Weaver is brilliant as ever in this terrifying classic.
Stanley Kubrick – A Clockwork Orange & Barry Lyndon (9/10): Two masterpieces in their own right, directed by one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. Very different tales, one about corporal punishment, one about and Irish con-man of sorts, what is really worth watching here is the incredible attention to detail and subtle filmmaking techniques that (sorry, I keep saying this but it’s true) changed the way movies were made for decades to come in terms of dialogue, angles, lighting, atmosphere, etc.
Network (9/10): A brilliant parody of mainstream media – the story of a raving madman who is accidentally cast on primetime cable news and becomes a nation-wide sensation for his rantings about life, politics, the “system” and everything you can think of that is remotely controversial. Funny, incredibly interesting, and one you must see in 2020.
Apocalypse Now (9/10): Francis Ford Coppola (of the Godfather Trilogy) directs this hard-nosed, dramatic Vietnam masterpiece which follows the perfectly cast Martin Sheen as Captain Willard on a increasingly strange journey upriver to find and terminate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a once-promising officer gone AWOL.
Dirty Harry (8.5/10): Clint Eastwood, taking the wild west justice to the modern streets in this thriller is a wild ride, full of action and classic Eastwood at some of his best.
Rocky (8/10): Americana at it’s finest and a cultural staple, Rocky deserves credit for being integrated into all of our daily lives in some small way. It’s not about the dialogue, the cheesiness or the sequels, but the trials and tribulations of an average joe doing the best he can, that makes this film what it is.
This dude is something special and I’m not sure why exactly. maxime. is a poster child for the indie-alternative genre. With not a large following at all, his songwriting and producing abilities create the illusion he’s a superstar. bonnie & clyde oozes maxime.’s talent in every second of the song. Complex, yet organized, this track seems to be the musician’s way of showing off what he’s got.
4.)Spotlight (feat. Daniel Bedingfield) – Hermitude [Electronic]
One of the leaders in bridging the small gap between disco, funk, and electronic music, Hermitude adds another fantastic track to his arsenal. This deep track complete with vocals from Daniel Bedingfield is sure to get you moving your feet and forcing a smile on your face. The track is driven by both its deep bassline and the vocals, but has those uplifting vibes for you to use as we quickly approach fall and winter.
3.)Bad Things – Alison Wonderland [Electronic]
The Aussie future bass producer delivers yet again with an emotional banger. The beginning sounds like any Alison Wonderland track, which almost turned me off initially. But when that that massive lead synth comes in to smack you in the face, I knew this track would be one of her more special ones. The airy drop synths give me Flume and Quiet bison vibes, which seems to be the trend future bass is headed in. AW also delivers on an artistic music video. While I’m not fully sold that Alison Wonderland is expanding from her safe sound, if this is a direction she’s considering following, I’m completely on board and have high hopes her sound will mature and grow into something very special.
Two legends bring straight 90s elecro-garage vibes on this track and I’m in love. The British producers Bonobo and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (TEED) teamed up for a collab I never knew I needed. The crisp clean drums are the obvious driver of the song, but that 90s house vocal combined with that TEED synth magic forms a track that’s full of good vibes and happy times.
1.)Siren – Tourist [Ambient]
Tourist with the buzzer beater to take this months top track. Released on 9/30, I was debating including it in my “Best of October” list, but this track is too goof not to share. Ethereal and ambient are Tourist’s bread and butter. The British (what are they putting in the water in Britain?) Grammy award winning producer brings some garage vibes with this song, which seems to be a trend started with his previous release Last. This rather new direction Tourist is headed is exciting as he does best when pushing boundaries outside of his comfort zone. A+ to one of my favorite producers with this track as I’m sure it will be a song to throw on during quite reflective and thought-provoking sessions.
TOP 4 ALBUMS / EPs OF THE MONTH
4.)Orca – Gus Dapperton [Alternative]
The Brooklyn boy is back with his highly anticipated sophomore album. Gus’ songwriting abilities have propelled him to the top of the indie-pop scene recently, making me incredibly excited for this album. There are some absolute gems on this album; mainly the singles however. First Aid, Post Humorous, and Bluebird are all my standout tracks. But I hate to feel Gus fell a little short on this record by not expanding too much on his sound and songwriting. Msot songs follow the same Gus formula from his previous album and other than the standouts, the album as a whole doesn’t sound particularly unique. Still a very fun album to listen through and determine your own opinions.
3.)MMXX – Diplo [Ambient]
If you’re looking for Diplo drops for your squad to bust down and twerk to, then this is NOT the album for you. The legend has no qualms with experimenting in his production, as is prevalent if you just look through his discography. He’ll drop a house track the same day as a trap banger only to come back with a pop hit the next week. But this album is truly something unique and special even for Diplo. Say what you want about the man, but he’s objectively an incredible producer. MMXX proves this by showing Diplo’s softer, emotional side. Entirely melodically based, you’ll never hear the slightest hint of drums or percussion on this whole album. While drums are Diplo’s usual repertoire, MMXX proves to any naysayer that Wes is elite both technically and musically. An unexpected yet impressive album to a man who has not needed to make a point in quite some time. Just all for the love of music.
2.)Heaven Inc. EP – Shlohmo [Electronic]
Prepare yourself to get introspective. The incredibly talented Shlohmo blesses us with a masterpiece of an EP. Shlohmo’s style is evident just with one listen through. He bends the idea’s of structure and arrangement in electronic music, paving his own road for unique and wonky pieces. While the song’s sounds may be alien, the emotions Shlohmo is able to conjure to listeners are very familiar. Nostalgic, dark vibes somehow clearly squeeze there way through the seemingly random assortment of electronic sounds he produces with. But placement is crucial and what may sound random to you is strategically layered to give you some of the best production in the scene.
1.)Nectar – Joji [Alternative]
Another highly anticipated sophomore album on the list, this time from rising pop superstar and former YouTube prankster Joji. His debut album, Ballads1, was an instant classic and one of my favorites in the past decade. I had high hopes for Joji this time on Nectar. Joji has such a special and emotional voice that really sets himself apart from anyone else in the industry. Nectar is able to capitalize on that as there’s a “sad boi” theme throughout the album. I’m a sucker for sad boi tunes. But again, the best songs on this album seem to come from the previously released singles. Maybe I just need some more time for the rest of the album to sink in? Regardless, I’ve been replaying this album and it’s been such an easy record to listen through. Great work from Joji, but I still think Ballads1 sits atop of his discography ranks.
CHECK OUT THE “BEST OF SEPTEMEBER 2020” PLAYLIST BELOW
I’ve been on a bit of a kick lately with this guy who really caught me by surprise a few weeks back. I was in the midst of browsing similar artists recently: Tourist, Amtrack, Le Youth, Maya Jane Coles, etc. and at the end of my playlist came Spotify radio. This led me to a handful of Durante selects that immediately caught my attention. So, I begun to dive into his discography – and boy was I impressed by the sheer complexity and depth of his compositions and remixes that seem to transcend boundaries of electronic music in more ways than one.
Borrowing from some quotes from online and elsewhere, as an Italian-based producer and DJ, he’s drawn to the edge and intersections of house and techno. This intersection produces a wonderfully dreamy mixture of trance house and deep house, with beats that keep hitting hard without shaking you too deep. They keep you energized without making you overly anxious. The music just flows in such a way that it makes for perfect background music to virtually any activity – a personal favorite would be driving (especially at night). But he also can fit into a workout or work routine with ease. I encourage you to find your own medium as I believe he has a little something for everyone.
I found a quote recently that captured this in great detail: “Durante strives to create a body of work as versatile as his experiences. It’s a worldly sound. It’s rich and romantic, like his early childhood spent in his birth country of Italy. It’s tropical and vibrant, full of Latin color like his formative years in Florida. It’s daring and adventurous, like when he moved to Los Angeles without ever having seen the Pacific coast, but it’s also mature, refined through the past five years as he’s learned from missteps and opportunities alike how to synthesize his influences and surroundings into something both personal and relatable, danceable but poignant, comfortably familiar but distinct from the pack.”
It is this diversity that has made me continue coming back to Durante this month, and likely will keep me along for the ride in the future. He incorporates beautiful female vocals when appropriate, such as on Days Pass (Durante & HANA). But he is equally powerful in his own right. I was especially drawn to his progressive but brief Unraveled Album, with songs like Split Wick. Other songs like Restless (linked below) blend the border between upbeat and dance-y with a dreamlike synth overlay to it, once again showcasing these deep textural compositions which just have so much to offer.
If you are interested in this kind of vibe, I encourage you to check out my newest playlist, here to explore some similar content. Enjoy and let us know what you think!
Mama we made it! The first show since quarantine began finally happened. It’s been 6+ long months of cancelled shows, rescheduled events, and music withdrawals. I’m being dramatic, of course, but if you are a fellow concert goer you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re curious, check out my post here for a rant.
And what better time to ring in the return of live music than with a beautiful, late-summer night at the Yarmouth Drive-In on Cape Cod. But this was no ordinary show. The format was, literally, drive-in style! You pay for your car which you can pack full of your buddies, then drive into one of three “sections” where there are 100+ roped-off bays you can park your car in. In classic drive in fashion, we popped open the trunk, enjoyed a few beers and watched the show relatively close to the stage all things considered, complimented by two massive displays on each side.
Although in my case, my buddies were in fact just my girlfriend who self-admittedly was more in love with Marcus King for the 2hr+ duration of the show.
I’ll get into the experience in a minute, but let’s start with the music. I have been following Marcus King and his Band for about 2 years or so now after I saw them open up for Tedeschi Trucks in 2018. He was the first opener at the time and literally left the crowd in an uproar with his incredibly powerful blues crooning and insanely complex guitar shredding – and I remember being nothing but impressed. Since then, I missed a few of his shows up in New England but have continued to explore his short discography and have been hooked.
What makes Marcus so unique to me is his ability to be the most unassuming young front-man in blues rock today. Because honestly, if you look at him straight up, you would never expect the walls of sound this dude shells out night after night. Marcus has a voice that is fit for Blues: raspy, hearty, intense but soft as butter when he’s hitting those low notes. He can yell (oh, he can) but never pushes the limit or cackles. It always arrives at this pleasant high note that makes me think of what a male Bonnie Rait would be like. When he’s singing through verses, he brings this sensitive subtlety to his vocals which brings his Tennessee twang out on full display without being overbearing. The result are songs led by magnificent southern blues rock vocals that keep you upbeat and genuinely overjoyed. And my favorite part – he incorporates his country-boy twang in some way into each song without succumbing to the same country-esque tropes we see so many blues rockers fall to these days for the sake of pop stardom. Admirable, to say the least.
The Marcus King Trio is 2/3 of the full Marcus King Band, and is made up of lead singer and guitarist, Marcus King, drummer Jack Ryan, and one of the jam band music world’s rising bassists, Stephen Campbell. Although the MKB Trio is made up of two-thirds of the players in the Marcus King Band, the sounds of each are noticeably different. I’ve heard the trio itself compared to the sound of Cream, Derek Trucks, Dickie Betts, and other power-driven guitar leads.
While I prefer his sound with the full band rather than the show’s Trio, given a large majority of his songs incorporate keys and several horns, the trio was a fun transition into rock and roll which carried by attention throughout. In addition, it gave Marcus the opportunity to shred endlessly which was a spectacle in itself. In fact, it was some of the more outrageous shredding I have seen in recent memory, albeit slightly muffled by the limited sound quality. Regardless, you could tell the man had full control of the guitar. It also produced this solid wall of sound which impressed me for a three-man group. I wished we had seen more of the bassist Campbell who showed signs of greatest on stage left throughout the two hour performance, but I will be looking for him in the future.
One Day She’s Here was a phenomenal jam, followed by the hard-rocking likes of hits Virginia, a grimy, southern-style anthem, and The Well, one of his newest singles off of El Dorado (his most recent album) that gets the crowd going with intense vocals and monster soloing throughout. My favorite of the night very well may have been a cover of Buddy Guy‘s “I Smell Trouble” which sounded better than the original. There were a handful of additional covers sprinkled in here and there that he certainly made his own and only added to the performance. He even covered “Ohio” by CSNY which was a nice treat – complete with its own unique MK-spin. He also tossed in a few new songs, both of which we enjoyed thoroughly (but unsure of the names).
I’d encourage you to check out: The Well, Rita is Gone, Virginia, One Day She’s Here, Goodbye Carolina, Where I’m Headed, Homesick…
While I’ll always take a traditional venue over something like this, given COVID and all the nuttiness going on, this was a perfect alternative. I loved chilling in the car, being able to bring a few brews and just actually chill for a change at a rock show. We even brought snacks which is straight unprecedented as you know. Imagine trying to walk into the Boston House of Blues with a Granola Bar, god forbid.
On top of this, the venue was stacked full of food trucks you could order from right on your phone. Thus marked the first time I mucked some fried dough while watching blues rock live. And I have to say it was a lovely compliment. Everyone felt safe enough given the distance, and I think it made everyone much more at ease (plus being outside, obviously). I would 100% try something similar again if the COVID continues. I would almost compare it to some kind of homey, town fair-type experience where you have all the locals just tossing back brews in their cars, all gathered to watch some local event. It gave it a really relaxed, comfortable atmosphere which I enjoyed thoroughly.
My one complaint about the whole experience was the sound quality was sub-par at best, and just not tuned well to capture all of the ferocious jamming from Marcus and his trio. The issue was that you have the sound coming from stage front ahead of you, but the speakers were largely stacked far, far back behind the entire 3 sections of cars. This created an interesting sound quality that had us hearing reverb from the back with drums and the occasional guitar lick ringing from the front. But hey, I suppose that’s what you get for a recently closed drive-in-turned-rock-venue. But next time, I would either choose another venue or make a formal request for some improved sound quality. Admittedly, we could’ve tried to put it on the radio but that seemed like it kinda defeated the point of being at a show…
All in all, we had a terrific time and it felt good to taste the sweet, sweet sound of live instruments again. I’ll definitely be looking for (and letting you guys know of ) any similar shows coming up. Score: 7/10