Movie Review: 1917

To make sure I cover more ground, I am going to make some of my reviews particularly brief. While I’m sure I could drone on about movies I really like (watch me, I will at some point), I think it is better to get a few ideas out to make sure I can touch on more films. So, here we go, short review…

I was fortunate enough to see Sam Mendes’ 1917 in the Seaport the other day. It’s half-priced Tuesday and they have those comfy chairs that recline like you’re in your living room. I would recommend this to anyone – excellent weeknight activity. They even serve beers there along with popcorn.

I was pretty floored by this film. I had a general idea of what it was going to be about, but I didn’t understand to which extent they would go to combine every shot into one concisely edited film. By this, I mean they actually make the movie seem like it never cuts or stops, but rather it is part of one large, never ending saga covering the perils of two soldiers. If you’ve seen Birdman, it is just like this, but way better because of the subject matter.

Essentially, this film grabs you from the first five minutes and takes you on its journey, which follows two British young soldiers during World War I (no-name actors) who are sent on an incredibly dangerous mission across no-man’s land to save the lives of 1600 soldiers by halting an attack by the Allied forces. Pretty high-pressure for two men. Either they get there in time, or everyone gets slaughtered. How’s that for an incentive? They are clearly terrified, and you are thrown right into that terror as soon as they have to leave the confines of the bunker. They don’t know what they might encounter out there and neither do you. While you never really get the full backstory on these characters, I found myself intrigued by both of their personalities from the get-go. The raw emotion they are both able to create with so few lines and descriptions is impressive, and it felt completely raw and human.

What worked well: the cinematography, score and film editing – components of this technical and visual masterpiece. This undoubtably deserved the Oscar for its incredible stitching of the various scenes together to appear as one shot, building intensity throughout. But deeper than that was the incredible narrative this movie created, and the feeling that you were actually the one hopping over no-mans-land trying to reach the platoon in time. Close-angled camera shots and genuine emotional connection to the characters helped bring this forward. You have long scenes of the main characters hustling through trenches, over corpses, and under barbed wire – which all in all painted what felt like an accurate rendition of the horrors and tribulations of World War I. The matted color scheme, pervasive color of dirt throughout, and the dark tone of the whole film invokes a mood of intensity and wartime. There were many long, panning camera shots which took a forward-facing look at the characters and their entire background (which they had their backs to), which leaves you constantly scanning the countryside for enemies or signs of life. The trench life was captured beautifully in all its squalor – rats, dead bodies, worn-out soldiers, and dirt. Lots of dirt.

The score was perfectly done. Throughout the film you have this droning, incredibly monotonous music which never takes over the scene but simply adds volumes to the emotions and actions of the characters. I hesitate to say it was the most important piece of the film, but it certainly carried the tension in moments where otherwise nothing was happening. It turned stillness and silence into palpable tension in a way that helped carry the movie from scene to scene and kept you on the edge of your seat. A soundtrack is a powerful thing.

In all, this is a great film and one of the very best of 2019. Possibly my favorite of the year along with Parasite and Midsommar – all three were incredibly unique in their approach to film design and direction. It perfectly captures the humanity and tension in such a brutal conflict, thrusting you into the thick of the action from the get-go. If you want a thriller, this is a visceral experience of one. Check it out.

Rating: 10/10

New Music Friday – Some Fresh Playlists for You

Hello and happy Friday. We did it, long weekend time. Make sure you take a decent chunk of time for yourself to sit back, relax and do EXACTLY what YOU want to do. Equally important is getting things/projects done, but I think now more than ever we have to be practicing a little more self-care. Relax yourself and take some time to enjoy what you have.

I put together a few new playlists you might be interested in:

Zoning 4 – My fourth attempt at putting together music that is both relaxing and slightly upbeat at the same time with a large electronic focus. Anything from Medasin, Bent, Khruangbin, Four Tet, Catching Flies, and more.

Bill – in honor of Bill Evans, some relaxing Jazz stuff. If you’re into that kind of thing.

Sam 5 – party music / EDM, what the kids listen to these days – more Pop focused

Good Times – music that makes me happy! Classic rock and such

Ramble Tamble – classic rock, 60s and 70s jams, Stones, etc.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day, all!

May Weekend Flicks: What I’ve Watched Lately (Part 2)

Burning (2018) – Mystery/Drama – Score: 7

I have been putting off watching this for some time but received several recommendations to watch recently. This is a beautifully made film – long, drawn-out shots with even simple interior locations showing significant detail and character just from the way it was filmed. I thought the plot was pretty lacking, though and I didn’t really like any of the characters. From a directing standpoint, it was perfect and I’d love to watch more of his work. It’s sort of too long for its own good, but good quality film nonetheless, if a bit boring at times.

A Dark Song (2016) – Horror/Suspense – Score: 6

So continues an obsession with horror films. I don’t really get why, considering so many are poorly done – but they are my vice. This one stars a confused, damaged woman looking to get her son back, enlisting the help of a unstable dark arts curator to help her perform a complicated seance in a large mansion she has recently purchased. This film is intense, unnerving, disturbing and at many points quite confusing. But, I think it got its point across. I love the plot, and there’s a pretty wild ending to this one. Could have been executed much, much better though IMO.

Back to the Future Part II – Action/Adventure – Score: 7 (Rewatch)

While the first is the best, I saw this on Netflix last week and had to give it a 5th go (or something like that). It plays on the same humor and tropes of the first with a fresh spin and new settings, which keeps everything light and entertaining throughout. Cheesy, cliche, and predictable – yes. But fun, exciting, funny and different – absolutely. You’ve gotta love the adventures of Doc and Marty (and Einstein), and their time traveling antics (which get them into much more trouble than it is worth) result in some absurd outcomes. Good quality stuff and a classic for sure.

The Invisible Man (2020) – Horror/Thriller – Score: 7.5

This was a surprisingly good watch. A unique clever plot led this throughout: a woman is terrorized by her supposedly dead husband, a mad, abusive genius who made his cheddar creating stealth-based technologies (hence, “the invisible man”). Great lead performance from Elizabeth Moss, who beautifully captures the hopelessness of a woman who is the only one who knows what is happening to her, while everyone else looks the other way constantly. The film is ultimately incredibly satisfying and a unique take on a horror/thriller film. Like with many great horror films, The Invisible Man is as much about what you DON’T see as what you do see. Well done.

It Comes at Night – Thriller/Suspense – Score: 7.5

Not what I was expecting, but a high-intensity, dark film nonetheless. After an apocalypse (which is rarely explained) leaves the world largely abandoned, a father and his family must band together in their boarded-up home to survive. When they encounter a new family seeking help, things go from bad to worse very fast. Such intensity with every scene, lots of tension and very little dialogue. I thought the director did an excellent job of capturing the idea of fear and tension without showing or saying much – rather by building an atmosphere. It is what is left unsaid or unseen here that makes the film. Worth a watch – but beware it is not as exciting as say A Quiet Place.

Whiplash – Drama – Score: 9 (Rewatch)

This movie is an instant classic. A short summary: lead/main character Andrew (Miles Teller) works to become the greatest drummer of all time, rising through the ranks to join the highly sought-after jazz band led by Terrence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons – Farmer’s Insurance guy). Terrence is an absolute horrifying leader – invoking terror in all of his subordinates and generally making everyone (especially Andrew) feel uncomfortable. Simmons deserved an Oscar for this role for this incredible performance. This is one of the most memorable and electrifying movies I have watched in years, and undoubtably one of my top 50. Beautiful filming, amazing atmosphere that is created. It has everything from discomfort and intensity to laughs and sadness.

May Weekend Flicks: What I’ve Watched Lately (Part 1)

Finally I found some time to sit down and watch a few movies. Several of these are horror/thrillers which Sam and I watch regularly, others are a nice blend of animation, action, and drama films. films and a some very recent productions added up to some quality May film viewings. I’ll continue adding to this over the next couple days.

Here’s what I’ve been watching:

Ponyo (2008) – Animation/Fantasy – Score: 9

You always know you’re going to be happy watching a Miyazaki film, and this one didn’t fail to disappoint. Colorful tones, joyful music, creative scenery and likable characters make this a wonderful addition to his portfolio. He has this ability to evoke emotions that you don’t normally feel when watching most animated works. This film seems so simple, but I know a fully grown man could sit down with his daughter and be genuinely happy watching it. Great for any age.

Howls Moving Castle (2004) – Animation/Adventure – Score: 8.5

This movie showcases some of the best frame-based anime art I have ever seen – particularly in the way they show machinery grinding and churning. You will see a still frame and see its complexity, detail and colors, and then in a moment it is gone – replaced by another equally as impressive art piece or setting. The setting in particular was magical and interesting. The house as the focal point of the film served as both a mystery and a home for the characters. Much is left unsaid in this film, and I imagine you are supposed to be carried along for the ride with the main character. Not my favorite of his by any means, but a wonderful viewing worth it for the art alone. Plus, Christian Bale voices Howl which is just too funny.

Call me By Your Name (2017) – Drama – Score: 9

This is one I have been hearing tons about since it first hit Sundance Film Festival in 2017. Saw it with a few buddies tonight and enjoyed it! Beautiful setting and atmosphere to this movie. Sort of a Lost in Translation vibe but set in the warm, lush Italian countryside. You genuinely felt like you were there experiencing the awesomeness of summer with the characters which made everything so much more engaging. Characters were lovable and very well-acted. I am particularly impressed with Timothy Chalmet here – he’s gonna be a big name in the future I have no doubt. I don’t usually look for romance films, but this is from a cinematography standpoint excellent and had you feeling all kinds of emotions from smiles to sadness. Very well-done film deserving recognition.

Summer of 84 (2018) – Thriller/Horror – Score: 6.5

Playing off the familiar 80’s horror movie tropes and feeling like a combination of Disturbia and Stranger Things, Summer of 84 is a fun timepiece starring likable characters and a familiar, creepy villain. It’s the son and his friends vs. the world in this one – with them trying to prove their neighbor is a killer. Some good laughs, plenty of fun, good atmosphere buildup and synth tones throughout which build the mood well. Definitely was cliche as hell and predictable, but easy to watch and pretty entertaining. Ending was MUCH darker than expected and took it up a notch for me.

Source Code (2011) – Thriller/Sci-fi – Score: 4

I am a sucker for time-dilation pieces like Groundhog Day and Edge of Tomorrow, but this one definitely missed the mark a bit for me. Mediocre acting, a largely failed plot with very, very little actual mystery involved at all (although thats how it was positioned to me). Gyllenhall is annoying at best, and his supporting cast OUTSIDE the train is terrible. Cheesy, cliche and unnecessary at times, I found myself wanting to step away a few times. It had some great moments, but way too many cringey ones which outweighed anything good. Pass.

The Lodge (2019) – Thriller/Horror – Score: 5.5

This movie is just honestly so messed up its insane. Unique plot with an absolutely sinister twist at the end that I LOVED and was not at all expecting. In short: Dad’s new girlfriend (past wife committed suicide) and his kids go to the lodge for the weekend but get stuck (minus the dad) for days without supplies. Turns out the issues are far from supernatural and much more close-to-home. Interesting, but wouldn’t watch again.

The Platform (2019) – Horror/Sci-fi – Score: 6

Nick got me to watch this one night this week and I was pretty freaked out by this one. Essentially the whole movie is a sort of social experiment pitting prisoners and paying (or recieving) customers in a massive tunnel, leveled off in pairs by floor, that extends 500 floors into the ground, slowly carrying a tray of food. Will there be enough for everyone – or are those up top too greedy? It’s a wonderful metaphor for spreading the wealth and thinking of those who are below you economically or socially. Not a well-made film (poor music, very limited characters (unlikable), strange cuts and sequences), but an interesting idea nonetheless.

To be continued…

A Quick Tribute to Little Richard – A Style that Stands the Test of Time

I’ve been bad about posting lately – much to do at work and surprisingly little time afterwards. Somehow these quarantine months have been flying by. Hopefully it’s a sign there is light at the end of the tunnel. Best advice I can give for these troubled times: keep yourself busy. Read. Exercise. Learn something new. Find some new music. Watch something educational. It’s kept me going thus far.

I wanted to make sure I put in some sort of tribute to Little Richard, the flamboyant singer & songwriter who helped kick-start rock and roll. You might not have heard of him unless you’ve spent some time listening to mid-50’s – early 60’s blues / soul, but you should know this guy’s name regardless. He passed away last week at the age of 87.

Who was he, and why did he matter? He was an icon of his times and a current member of the rock and roll hall of fame. His on-stage energy, antics, charisma and attitude were incredibly new and unique in the time he was living – and he left a lasting impact on the music industry as a result (he was also in several films and documentaries throughout his career). He produced a long string of hits, including “Long Tall Sally” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” (I love the names, such classic 50’s), which he churned out one after another for years during his prime. Not only was he a presence, but he had an absolutely stunning vocal range comparable to something like Ray Charles.

It’s important to say that the prime of his career was notably short, however. But it’s impacts are long-lasting. I’m not going to sit here and pretend his music is my favorite by any means, but I acknowledge the stage it set for the genre. You can tell just by listening to it that you’ve heard it somewhere before… but where? I’ll tell you – you can hear it with the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder and hundreds if not thousands of other well-known artists during his era and far beyond it. Anywhere from modern rock to hip-hop. Hell, “Greenwood, Mississippi” is literally the basis for Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools”! I could spend all day pointing out comparisons, but you can google them just as easily. His contributions to music range from stylistic choices with rhythm and tempo to on-stage presence and everything in between.

One of the defining characteristics of his music was his ability to create a fusion of sounds that transcended a single genre and captured elements of R&B, Soul, Jazz, Rock and more. What was an era of something called “Boogie Woogie” he took and melded into steady, driving tempos and distinctly powerful basslines that have stood the test of time. This combination of style, performance, energy and genre fusion is what earned him the titles: “The Innovator” and “The Architect of Rock and Roll”. Even artists who lived and performed during his day and age were covering his music – and that’s been the way (at least in some capacity) for generations since.

What is the sound he created and why was it different? You have to listen to know what I mean exactly, but I would call it: a special, incredible energy he brought to blues and soul that drove a hard rhythm and carried powerful vocals. He screamed and wailed on the mic with such force that it makes you take a step back when you listen – and that’s coming from someone 25 years of desensitized music-listening and a love for hard rock and metal music! I can’t even imagine what people were thinking when they heard this while he was up on stage in his 20s, but I’m sure the experience was truly unreal. Richard brought an energy to the stage that defined his character in every performance and inspired countless soul and rock singers to do the same.

Not only was he electric as a singer, but he was completely and truly himself at all times. He was never afraid to be exactly what he wanted to be, and even when criticized, he maintained his persona and charismatic attitude. He left home at the ripe age of 13 with some gospel-singing experience under his belt and never looked back – and I think this is something we can all respect: a self-made man, unabashedly unafraid to sing and dance his heart out, even while portraying an image which was scorned during his day and age. Not only this, but he brought black and white fans of his music together, on stage and in the crowd, in ways that were rarely seen during his time. He was a triumph for integration and showed the power of music to move racial barriers, on top of everything.

If you haven’t listened to his music before, I recommend you give it a listen. It might sound a bit dated, but I assure you that after a few minutes, you will hear familiar elements. Then take a step back and think what he was doing – in many cases the way he sung and created music was completely new to his time. I think even more important though was that while he was an architect of rock an roll, he also provided the attitude. I’m talking about the mentality of leaving it all on the stage, of doing what you love, of showing your strengths and acknowledging your weaknesses through your music, and of being unabashedly YOURSELF. Cheers to you, Little Rich.

Great article from the Rolling Stone on Richard – worth a view.

BEST OF APRIL: TOP 5 TRACKS OF THE MONTH

5.) Someone Else – Rezz & Grabbitz

This collab between Rezz and Grabbitz is a match made in heaven. I admittedly had been disappointed in a few of Rezz’s previous releases, but this track destroyed any doubts I had. Rezz’s industrial influence mixed with Grabbitz’s dark punk guitar licks create a “deadmau5-esque” banger that has been on repeat since it dropped. I’ve been straying away from the heavy hitting tracks while stuck in quarantine, but this threw me right back in my dark vibes. I’m happy , but pretty sure my neighbors are not thrilled.

4.) Fiore – Rome in Silver

Rome in Silver shows absolutely zero signs of stopping. With an EP on the way in a few days, the Huntington Beach native dropped this track in mid April and it’s been making the waves around the dance music community. Intricate songwriting and sound design is a simple way to describe Rome in Silver’s approach to music. Fiore is another masterpiece that leaves you asking “how the hell does this dude even do it?!” If we had the answer, we might be the ones on the meteoric uprising he’s having.

3.) Chemicals – SG Lewis

SG Lewis delivers an indie banger just in time for summer. Chemicals lead synth drives that nostalgic yet funky vibe that’ll have you wishing you were sitting poolside vibing out with the homies instead of practicing social distancing. But please stay inside while jamming to this (for the time being) no matter how hard the vibes hit. His first single of 2020 and it being dropped on Dua Lipa’s new label, it only seems to be looking up for the British songwriter/producer.

2.) Shoes Too Tight – Liam Kazar

Who is Liam Kazar? We might find out in 2020. Shoes Too Tight is the Chicago native’s debut single and if this is what’s to come, we could be seeing a legend in the making. The indie-rock single holds some intense happy summer vibes. A friend from the windy city sent me this song saying to keep an eye on Liam’s debut and I’m glad I listended (and have a friend). For a debut, Kazar makes a massive impact with this masterpiece and a new fan out of me. I’m excited to see what’s to come.

1.) Aries (feat. Peter Hook & Georgia) – Gorillaz

When Gorillaz drops an EP or song, it’s surely going to be big news. But I was blown away and surprised by Aries. Giving off more of an indietronica vibe, Aries touches me in a special way and I’m not exactly sure why. The sad love song has been on constant repeat for me since its release. The lead guitar melody hits you with a melancholic yet familiar/comforting feeling. This song caught me pleasantly by surprise. A++.

As always, check out the top songs from April 2020 playlist below.

What To Watch During Quarantine: Movies that Make Me Happy

I think we can all agree: its only been a a month and a half of real change, but feels like we’ve been in this quarantine for a long time. I’m hoping everyone is living well despite the circumstances. Personally, I’m really missing being able to see my buddies, grab a beer, or just feeling like I can walk in public places without risking my health – and I imagine everyone else is feeling the same way.

It kinda feels like Groundhog Day without the humor, save the repetition and monotony. Or Edge of Tomorrow without the action and excitement. If I had to compare it to something, society would be like the Coen Brother’s A Serious Man, where an timid, mild-mannered Jewish father named Larry continues to encounter worse and worse situations in a seemingly never-ending pattern (it’s actually funny as hell, though). Except we are Larry and it’s really not funny.

It’s easy to compare our situation to films about actual catastrophe like World War Z, 28 Days Later, I am Legend, and Contagion (which is WAY too real, watch if you dare). But if anything, like I said in a previous post, these will probably make you feel better in a small way in that these situations are 100x worse than what we are experiencing. That doesn’t really make it any easier, though.

But if I had to think about a positive out of all of this, I’m drawn to Lost in Translation and The Persuit of Happiness. Two great movies that exemplify the pleasure of taking limited circumstances and making the most of them, albeit in very different ways. If we come out of this situation with anything, I’m hoping we can all feel a little better human connection. Maybe a little kinder, a little more open, a little less judgmental before understanding a situation. A pipe dream, maybe, but it’s something to think about.

I want to point out a handful of films I’ve watched over the years with friends and family that made me genuinely happy, particularly in times when I wasn’t prior to watching. These are movies that will hit you in the feels, so to speak – aka they make you feel a deep emotional connection to the characters in a way you can relate to. I’m listing these here as my attempt to make you feel a little bit better. It’s as good a time as ever to escape in a good flick by yourself or with a loved one, so make sure you set some time aside to do so for your mental health. Because sometimes we all need a little escapism. Here are my selections… I did two categories for you.

Keep in mind as always, these are MY 11 favorites that make ME happy. Not all are just joy all the way through. In fact, I think the best in this list are the ones that actually have a little melancholy in them. Sometimes it takes a little bad to get the good, you know?

  1. Lost in Translation – Murray’s best, and possibly Scarlet’s too. A must see comedy-romance-drama. Understated, atmospheric, and incredibly effective. Can’t say enough about this one.
  2. Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind – God this movie is sad but its also incredible, and really damn funny at times. This is a FEELS film if there ever was one. Amazing.
  3. Almost Famous – A movie for music and movie lovers alike. Timeless, funny, happy – and truly epic.
  4. Big Fish – Ewen McGreggor and Albert Finney star in this colorful, funny, feels-inducing film that is good for the whole family. This one feels like a good dream – where when you wake up, you’re sad it’s over.
  5. Dazed and Confused – The ultimate “happy” film for me. Hits that peak, late high-school feeling perfectly with a sense of excitement for the future. Can’t go wrong with this one if you’re looking to feel better.
  6. Little Miss Sunshine – Funny as hell and actually reflective on life. I think we can all learn something from this one. Won Best Writing in 07′ – deserved it.
  7. American Beauty – Spacey at his best, so real. Beautiful slice of life film that touches on every major emotion at least once.
  8. Before Sunrise– Such an engaging, incredible film. I usually stray away from rom-coms, but this is so far above the rest that it makes all the others look bad. Incredible acting from Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. I recommend this one often.
  9. Annie Hall – So organically funny, original and clever – this is Allen’s masterpiece and it has a little something for everyone. Classic, classic film.
  10. Midnight in Paris -Fun, different, happy and colorful. I’m a Woody Allen Fan as you can tell, but this is worth a watch.
  11. Chef – Colorful, fun, funny. This is plain happy all the way through, and it showcases a lot of unreal-looking dishes…

Honorable Mentions: Good Will Hunting and Dead Pets Society (because Robin Williams can always make us a little happier)

Kurt’s Favorite Albums

I tried my best to organize this in a proper ranking. The Top 4 are pretty set in stone, but my album rankings change depending on the day. Alas, see for yourself my selections and come find and fight me if you disagree…

1.) Worlds – Porter Robinson (2014)

My personal favorite album of all time and simply a masterpiece that changed electronic music forever. I can distinctly remember the exact moment I sat down to listen to the album through for the first time and Divinity started playing. I immediately new it would be something special.

2.) Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles (1967)

You can argue which Beatles’s album is the best, but you cannot deny that Sgt. Pepper’s revolutionized the way music is listened to and made. I’ve grown up with this album (thanks Dad) and every single time I listen through, it’s like I’m listening to it for the first time.

3.) Skin – Flume (2016)

While Skin may not be considered his best work by most Flume fans, this is my personal favorite and it’s one of the most hauntingly beautiful albums to ever be created. Maybe it was the timing of the release that resonated with everything that was going on in my life, but every time I listen through this album, I’m left inspired and refreshed.

4.) Parcels – Parcels (2018)

I was introduced to Parcels a few weeks before this self-titled album was released and have been obsessed ever since. The Aussie band are some of the best songwriters I’ve heard since The Beatles and it seems they have only just begun. Funky, chill, dancey. All adjectives that embody this very special band . They’re also dropping a live album on April 30th, 2020!

5.) 2 – Mac Demarco (2012)

HE’s not named the “Prince of Indie-Rock” for nothing. Mac is a special artist in that his main focus is creating art that’s true to him; he’s not chasing a paycheck. 2 was Mac’s first work I was introduced to. And it’s one of those albums you put on to listen to a song and 40 minutes later, you’ve listened to the whole thing.

6.) Hi This Is Flume (Mixtape) – Flume (2019)

Flume returned in 2019 with an experimental, yet absolutely incredible album. If you’re prepared for some intentionally weird yet perfectly placed sounds, this album will change the way you see music. It”s meant to be listened through it’s entirety and even came accompanied with a visualizer with some really cool visual art and landscapes. If you couldn’t tell, I love Flume,

7.) Music From Big Pink – The Band (1968)

Simply named “The Band”, it’s appropriate that they can be considered one of the greatest band to ever bless this great Earth. Music From Big Pink was written and recorded in the basement of a pink house in little Woodstock, NY with legend Bob Dylan. What rose from that basement was a band…THE Band. As well as a collection of some of musics’ greatest recordings.

8.) Wild – Tourist (2019)

Tourist is one of my favorite producers, so it was hard to decide which of his albums to pick since Wild, U, & Everyday are all near perfect albums. But Wild delivered a very special vibe and feeling that hit me on a personal level. The Grammy Award winning producer is brilliantly genius.

9.) Anicca – Teebs (2019)

Beautiful vibes and fantastically produced, Teebs delivers a timeless masterpiece with his most recent album.

10.) The Band – The Band (1969)

The Band makes a return to the list probably to no surprise. I have to thank my father for some of my musical tastes. I have distinct memories of listening to this record as a kid and singing and dancing along with my Dad in the living room. The self-titled album was The Band’s follow up to Music From Big Pink and is another example of why they are considered as great as they are.

11.) 99.9% – Kaytranada (2016)

All I’m going to say is if you haven’t listened to this album yet, do yourself a favor and put it on right now. Kay is a modern legend.

12.) Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd (1973)

This album has hit me personally multiple times for a variety of reasons. I won’t go into detail, but with minimal detective work I’m sure you can figure it out. As cliche as it is, this album is truly a masterpiece.

13.) Cross – Justice (2007)

Show me a better intro song to an album and I’ll hand you a mirror to show you a filthy liar. Cross is another album that revolutionized electronic music, introducing the world to heavy, dirty synthesizers and incredibly hard smacking drums, while still maintaining their disco influenced core. Justice showed the world that heavy means good and paved the way for electronic legends like Skrillex, Madeon, and many more.

Kinkead’s Favorite Albums

Kurt and I saw the Bill Clinton records meme and had to make a post about it.

Choosing favorites is always a huge challenge for me. When it comes to things I love, I tend to get indecisive about what is really “best” when I’m looking at a group of favorites. The thing about music for me in particular is one day a certain artist might speak volumes to me and the next day is replaced by a completely different artist in a different genre. Music enjoyment for me is based on my mood and attitude, and willingness to listen completely to what I’m hearing. Those factors change so frequently that it’s tough to narrow down what are really my absolute top, top choices. Maybe it’s a bit narcissistic because part of it is I don’t want to limit myself to a few titles which define my music taste, but choices must be made! Let’s give it a shot.

In no order… my 13 favorite albums:

1.) Guero – Beck (2005)

Just because it’s number one doesn’t mean it’s my favorite, but I have listed to this album so many times I have lost count. An old family favorite for my Dad and I.

2.) Eat a Peach (Deluxe) – Allman Brothers (1972)

One of my favorite bands playing a combo of live and studio sounds in perfect harmony. Simply a few guys playing their music and playing it well.

3.) Help! – The Beatles (1965)

I think I have a moral obligation to put a Beatles album on here, and this is my favorite song for song. SO. MANY. HITS.

4.) 97′ Amsterdam – Phish (1997)

The first live album, along with NYE 95′, that my dad showed me of Phish. Led me to my first Phish show in 2010 which blew my face off. I’ve been madly in love ever since.

5.) Discovery – Daft Punk (2001)

Part of my first journey into electronic music, I watched all the music videos in sequence and knew I was witnessing something truly special. A timeless classic.

6.) Black Sands (2010) / Dial M for Monkey (2003) – Bonobo

The artist that helped kick start my love for electronic music. I downloaded this free album when I was 13 and never looked back. Thank you, Bonobo.

7.) Kind of Blue – Miles Davis (1959)

One of the best albums ever, and a top 3 for me. Perfect compositions mixed with some of the best to ever do it playing together make this a masterpiece.

8.) Aja (1977) & Countdown to Ecstasy (1973) – Steely Dan

My two favorites from the Dan. Countdown was my first record, Aja was when my love for them peaked.

9.) Rage Against the Machine – Rage Against the Machine (1992)

My FIRST ALBUM I EVER PURCHASED. The music that got me into metal, rock and blues. I owe you my life, Rage.

10.) Born Sinner – J. Cole (2013)

A tribute to my high school days, this album is a classic and Cole’s best for sure.

11.) Take My Drum to England (2005) & Corporeal (2013) – Jon Kennedy

Quickly becoming a favorite of mine, these two albums are underappreciated and absolutely brilliant compositions.

12.) Worlds – Porter Robinson (2014)

One of the few albums I’ve seen live played straight through, and boy was it a show. I’ll never forget my first Porter World’s experience.

13.) Dark Side of the Moon – Pink Floyd (1973)

I agree with Kurt’s response below… one of the best albums ever and a defining part of my music life

April Weekend Flicks – What I’ve Watched Lately

We can all agree its a great time to sit around and watch a film or two. With all this extra indoor time on our hands. I was planning on hiking, but we got another 8in. of snow Thursday night in Maine – so, more movies for me. Here’s what I had watched in the past couple weeks:

  1. The GentlemanGuy Ritchie (2019): I am a huge fan of Guy Ritchie’s work, particularly Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and Sherlock Holmes (all top 20s for me). So, naturally when I see another new film by him, I jump on the opportunity – and I finally got around to seething this. I was very pleasantly surprised by this one. In brief summary, it follows the attempts of one man, Mickey, attempting to sell his business. Mickey is an American expatriate who became rich by building a highly profitable marijuana empire in London. When word gets out that he’s looking to cash out of the business, it soon triggers an array of plots and schemes to undermine his sale. It’s different from many of his previous works, in that the plot focuses on only a few characters at a time, but it still has those wonderful elements that make a GR film great: fantastic music, quick cuts, clever transitions, outstanding dialogue, all wrapped up in an engaging and fast-paced story led by the one-and-only Matt McConaughey. Matt leads a great cast here and is as cutthroat, believable and authentic as ever in his role as the classy drug “connoisseur” – he is always such a showman and I eat it right up. Packed with an excellent supporting performances with Collin Farrel and Charlie Hunnam leading the way, this fast-paced film keeps you interested, laughing, and generally intrigued the whole way through without being at all overbearing. Its a fun, easy-viewing experience and worth your time. Certainly one of the most unique and fun directors out there. 9/10
  2. Grave Encounters – Colin Minahan (2011): This Canadian film was brought to my attention last week when browsing r/moviesuggestions. With a budget of 120,000 – this is not a blockbuster, and really flew very under the radar in terms of a found-footage film which was very popular around the time of its release. I was actually very engaged the entire film and I think they did a fantastic job with the cast and setting. Best horror movie setting imaginable: an abandoned insane asylum. They chose well from a setting and atmosphere perspective, because inherently Asylums are frightening (Session 9, etc.), even without the need to dress anything up. But the film does an excellent job capturing the stress, fear, uncertainty and genuine horror the crew is feeling as their planned ghost-hunting excursion goes horribly wrong. The environment is dark, frightening, and authentic. Lead characters are nobodies – but everyone, particularly the lead, does an excellent job expressing emotion and showcasing genuine fear. This is a very important element in horror films for me. The panning of the camera to shots of dark rooms, long hallways, and creepy tunnels was impressively frightening even as it continued happening again and again. All-in-all, this is a fantastic piece of found-footage horror that deserves more recognition. 8.5/10
  3. JoJo Rabbit – Taika Waititi (2019): I had been meaning to get along to seeing this for awhile, and I finally sat down and gave it a go last week. This is as “dark comedy” as it gets. The film follows the path of a young German boy, JoJo, who is determined to be a successful Hitler Youth in 1945 Germany on the tail end of the conflict. JoJo’s imaginary friend, Adolph Hitler, provides hilarious insight and commentary along the way. Supporting cast members Scarlet Johanssen, Rebel Wilson Sam Rockwell and Thomasin McKensie give very solid performances. Sam Rockwell in particular is my favorite character – the drunken, disgraced German general who now spends his time humoring and training Hitler Youths. The movie had me laughing all the way, but also I found myself feeling a deep sense of sadness and empathy at many points (not for Nazis – you sort of have to watch for yourself to see what I mean). It captured a great range of emotions, social issues all the while providing a great parody of Nazism and the horrible ways it treated both Germans and Jews alike. This is a unique, fun film that is worth a view for its creative outlook on life, love and death alone. 8/10
  4. Snowpiercer Bong Joon Ho (2013): This is a great film, and very unique. The plot is entirely based in a post-apocalyptic world where an eternal winter has forced some of the last remaining members of the human race to inhabit a futuristic train that is constantly moving (called the “Snowpiercer”). The train is complete with low,middle, and upper-class residents who all experience varying levels of comfort. Chris Evans’ character, who leads the low-class, back-of-the-train residents in a revolt, is excellent here. He is gritty, determined and actually believable despite the particularly far-fetched plot. But that plot is very creative and fun, and a unique take on class-struggles and how the poor are subjugated at the hands of the rich. I was many times reminded of 1984 and Brave New World, train version while seeing this movie. It brought up some interesting symbolism and societal questions while exploring what a class-based community looks like when confined to a train. In a nutshell: class struggles persist. Very cool and worth seeing; a solid action flick. 8.5/10
  5. The Banshee Chapter – Blair Erickson (2013): This sci-fi horror is based around a secret government DMT-injection project that unleashes horrors on its users. The first half of this film built and excellent atmosphere and plot, but I think it fell off a bit in the secondd half. The repeated high pitched screams with each jump scare got old fast. I was however pleasantly surprised with performances from Kaita Winter and Ted Levine. Despite some flaws, this movie had me laughing a handful of times, and definitely had an overarching darkness that had me freaked out repeatedly. Not bad, but not great either. 6/10
  6. Uncut Gems – Benny Safdie (2019): Another movie from 2019 I needed to get around to watching. This was a decent film, but far too anxiety-inducing for me. The story follows a seasoned jewel salesman, Adam Sandler’s character, who is a gambling addict and generally bold person with a hilarious Brooklyn accent. His trials and tribulations are documented as he navigates the shady jewel-market underworld and tries to win out on his bets. I thought Adam’s performance was great, actually. But supporting cast members were weak at best, and it was a very, very intense film that really didn’t give you enough release. This isn’t always a bad thing (think, Midsommar) – but the plot was much too weak here to make it exciting. I didn’t feel the excitement and intrigue, just the suspense and anxiety that lingered through the whole movie. Not an enjoyable watch for me, but an interesting film nonetheless. 5/10

Seen anything good lately? Send me some suggestions – they are always much appreciated. Take care.