Monday, February 28, 2011

Music Video: "The Killing Moon"

A couple weeks ago, I was feverish and watching 120 Minutes on VH1-Classic, which really needs to come on at times other than 4am. Anyway, I have always loved this song, but I'd never before seen the video. Vocalist Ian McCulloch is adorable in the semi-light, and the hit song is as haunting as ever.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A few new records...

My disc drive has been broken ever since I accidentally dropped my laptop (oops), but, on the plus side, it's gotten me buying CDs again, and thus spending some quality-time browsing the indie stores of NYC. Here's a list of a few new albums I have recently acquired, and the places where I scored them. Reviews to come!

O'Death - Head Home  (Generation Records)

Religious to Damn - Glass Prayer (show at Glasslands Gallery)

The Soft Moon - The Soft Moon  (Other Music)

Cocteau Twins - Victorialand (used at Kim's Video)

 Esben and the Witch - Violet Cries (Generation Records)

Yet Cut Breath - Hinges (show at Cake Shop; this isn't actually the album cover)

Friday, February 25, 2011


Last night I had the pleasure of watching one of the worst movies I have ever seen: Zardoz, from 1974, starring Sean Connery. Really the only time it's worth it to actually sit through something this awful is when you're with a bunch of people, and luckily that was the situation in which I found myself (even though it resulted in a completely miserable series of train rides home from Brooklyn at 2am). If you're wondering what makes Zardoz so uncompromisingly awful, I'll give you the jist of the storyline: Zed, a hairy guy with a handlebar mustache wearing booty shorts and sporting ammo, is an "exterminator" for his god Zardoz: a giant, floating, stone head that spews guns from his mouth for his mask-wearing league of exterminators. Zed sneaks into the head, shoots a guy with a Sharpie mustache and blue doo-rag, then magically finds himself in a world dominated by scantily clad, immortal women who have psychic powers but don't understand how an erection works. They talk to crystal rings and grow things in plastic bubbles and somehow Zed, whose DNA is apparently impressive, eventually goes inside a crystal and experiences some trippy montages. Oh and then he almost starts an orgy because women are so turned on by the taste of his sweat. Basically, the film makes little to no sense, and even guns, boobs, horses, and the occasional explosion can't save it from being boring, confusing, and absolutely ridiculous. So bad it's good...but not really.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tenth Grade

Like most tenth graders, I was depressed and angsty, perhaps more so than other year of my life. For me, it was the year of Y2K; I watched the century change and turned sixteen a few weeks later. I wore my Catholic school uniform every day, along with 8-hole Docs with sparkly laces and a big cross a la Axl Rose. I got dressed to "November Rain" on cassette each morning (I always rewound and played it twice) and ate dry Lucky Charms. I toted around The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton, sold copies of my little magazine, Punky, for 50 cents, and listened to my walkman all throughout homeroom. I was pretty resistent to switching from cassettes to CDs, but when I started working at Sam Goody Music in April, I gradually began the change.

In many ways, I felt at odds with my "generation" and what was deemed popular. Why did people my age listen to Backstreet Boys, and wear platform sneakers and butterfly clips? Why did I miss out on getting to truly experience grunge in its prime? What was happening to MTV? I was baffled...but lucky for me, some truly interesting albums surfaced around 2000, and thus my tenth grade into eleventh grade experience came with a fascinating soundtrack. Many bands I already adored experimented with their sound  and came out with a record completely worth my love and attention. In fact, many of the albums to emerge around this time continue to be my favorites. Let's take a little look at a few:

Kid A - Radiohead  (October, 2000)
I'm pretty sure I first fell head-over-heals-in-love with Radiohead via this album, although I had the OK Computer cassette first. I walked around all day with these songs buzzing and blaring away in my ears. I don't think anyone else I knew was really listening to Radiohead at the time, but this album drew me in and refused to let me go. Hence my very own nickname, kid A! It remains my favorite Radiohead record.

The Fragile - Nine Inch Nails (September, 1999) 
I was already listening to The Downward Spiral, which I thought would always be the best Nine Inch Nails album...I mean, who knew they could do better? But enter this double-disc of a sonic masterpiece, and now Spiral had some serious competition. I used to listen to The Fragile in my car every morning when I could drive to school, switching off between "left" and "right," by the week. It's flawless.

When the Pawn... - Fiona Apple (November, 1999)
I had bonded with Tidal in a highly sentimental way, and I was really looking forward to Fiona's sophomore release, in my sophomore year. This was another one for the headphones, and I remember listening to her late at night (though I was also really into listening to Fear Factory's "Resurrection" to fall asleep...weird choice, I know). I wanted to be Fiona...but I settled for just listening.

White Pony
- Deftones (June, 2000)
What can I even say about this album? It's the ideal blend of rock-hard and soft, angry and sad, with serious punch-to-the-gut emotion...perfectly suited to teen angst (and hey, there's a song called "Teenager" and "Back to School")! Maynard crooned with Chino on "Passenger," and a girl screamed her head off on "Knife Party." Brutal and brilliant stuff, sans any pretension.

Mer de Noms - A Perfect Circle (May, 2000)
Ah, the very first Perfect Circle record; fortunately, I got to catch the band during this tour, after falling hard for this gorgeous album. Maynard challenges God, love, and redemption, proving that he could be more melodic and almost  (gasp!) conventional, at least more so than Tool's longer, technical songs. This is a beautiful, torturous album that should always be recognized as one of Maynard's greatest achievements.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

And now presenting King of Limbs...

The album is out and the jury has decided! Here's my review, reposted from

Radiohead is an anomaly, in more ways than many. Since 1993, every studio album has been met with worldwide anticipation and critical success, as they continue to be at the forefront of new strategies, be it musical, promotional, or artistic. Each of their albums, although all distinctly Radiohead, enter the world as unique creatures; King of Limbs, their eighth studio effort, is no different. The eight-track album seethes emotion via complex musical landscapes, and Thom Yorke’s almost ghostly voice.

It may be their shortest record to date, especially considering the dual-disc of 2007’s In Rainbows, but Yorke was shooting for brevity: “None of us want to go into that creative hoo-ha of a long-play record again. Not straight off.” The only downside to this is that Radiohead albums build to a brilliant and highly emotional finale (“Street Spirit,” “The Tourist,” “Motion Picture Soundtrack,” etc.), but King of Limbs just doesn’t have the breadth to allow for its final song, “Separator,” to close the album with a howl. That’s not to say it isn’t beautiful…but let’s start at the beginning.

As the years pass, Radiohead has been getting progressively more atmospheric and ambient, and King of Limbs reflects this increasing musical maturity and sense of experimentation. “Bloom” opens with whimsical sounds of a mysterious nature, giving way to marching drum beats of a slightly off-kilter rhythm. Yorke’s melancholic vocals soon waltz in: echoing, coiling, and receding into the multi-layered abyss. He sings, “Open your mouth wide, a universal sigh/ And while the ocean blooms, it's what keeps me alive.” The instrumentation swells—epic and enchanting, rife with horns and voices—yet the simple marching beat remains, creating a strange juxtaposition between the unbound and the firmly planted. Like Radiohead perfected on Kid A, “Bloom” transitions smoothly into “Morning Mr. Magpie,” which loses that drumbeat but picks up the pace by reigning in the sprawl. Here, Yorke’s voice is more resolute as he sings, “You got some nerve, coming here.” The electronics settle down to allow for a contemplative series of “ooh’s” between verses, which becomes almost eerie. Finally, the music all but disappears, leaving a piercing hum in the space where Yorke’s voice used to be.

Skipping ahead, “Feral” possesses an “Idioteque”-esque beat, with a truly haunting quality that evokes steampunk imagery. Yorke’s vocals dance with electronic purrs that keep sweeping upwards onto the surface of the song. Without perceivable lyrics, “Feral” undulates with mystical obscurity, then spirals into “Lotus Flower,” welcoming in a new set of sounds and Yorke’s clear lyrics: “I will sink and I will disappear/ I will slip into the groove and cut me up.” It’s nowhere near as heartbreaking as Kid A’s “How To Disappear Completely,” but the escalating backing sounds and Yorke’s falsetto can’t help but conjure some inner emotion. However, no song on King is more touching, or perhaps more beautiful, than “Codex.” A somber piano all but revives us after so many complicated arrangements, and reminds us just how potent Radiohead can be at its core. The echoes and swells of other instruments perfectly compliment the sense of longing inherent in the piano's melody, and one can imagine this song as a heavily saturated photograph, with colors almost bleeding off the page to stain your hands.

A slight pause so we can collect our breath, and then off we go to “Give Up The Ghost.” The song creeps in gently, introducing an acoustic guitar and another chance to feel moved to emotional expression. A refrain of “In your arms, don't hurt me” rises from the  center, and seems to counteract Codex’s lyric, “No one gets hurt, you've done nothing wrong.” Throughout King, Yorke addresses an anonymous “you,” which makes the songs relatable and also very intimate, especially considering how obscure some of his earlier lyrics could be. The song shines and lingers until gradually giving way to “Seperator” through a series of electrical sparks. Once this final song takes hold, the tempo picks up as familiar electronic pulses come back to guide us. Optimistic and just catchy enough, it definitely leaves listeners wanting more. And maybe that’s what Radiohead intended this time…they offered us just a taste, just thirty-seven minutes, until the next one.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Collage Master

“I paint because painting is a private Utopia." - Erró

If you can afford a trip to Iceland before August 28, you can catch what must be an astonishing display of Erró's collages at the Reykjavík Art Museum. The 130 collages, which Erró began donating to the museum in 1989, span his creative career ever since he first experimented with the media at the Icelandic School of Arts and Crafts in Reykjavík in the early 1950s. Eventually, Erró began to transform his pictures into paintings, and thus his collages "gained a dual status." They also seem to embody both a Surrealist and Pop Art aesthetic, with subversive, political overtones. I'd love to see these in person...but I don't think a trip to Iceland is in the works for me. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Birthday Kurt.

February 20th simply cannot pass by without my acknowledgement that it's Kurt Cobain's birthday. While in recent years I've been a lot more low-key about everything Kurt related, there was a time when I took his birthday and deathday fairly seriously, in my own little way. Mostly just by listening to his music...but that's a story for April 5. Today, Kurt would be forty-four years old. I wonder what he would think of this world we're living in.

Candid part of a really great interview:

And a really awesome performance of "Dive" from 1993. This was on a video I had in high school, maybe Live! Tonight! Sold Out!, and I used a clip of it in my senior-year documentary about "Crossdressing in Movies and Music." I don't think Sister Mary Alice approved.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'll tell you about Punk Rock...

On the opening track of their 1999 album Come On Die Young, post-rock band Mogwai featured an infamous Iggy Pop interview from 1977. On March 11 of that seminal year, the king of Punk was interviewed by CBC host Peter Gzowski to help explain what punk music meant to him.

"I'll tell you about punk rock: punk rock is a word used by dilettantes and ah... and ah... heartless manipulators about music that takes up the energies and the bodies and the hearts and the souls and the time and the minds of young men who give what they have to it and give everything they have to it and it's a... it's a term that's based on contempt, it's a term that's based on fashion, style, elitism, satanism and everything that's rotten about rock 'n' roll. I don't know Johnny Rotten but I'm sure... I'm sure he puts as much blood and sweat into what he does as Sigmund Freud did. You see, what sounds to you like a big load of trashy old noise is in fact the brilliant music of a genius, myself . And that music is so powerful that it's quite beyond my control and ah... when I'm in the grips of it I don't feel pleasure and I don't feel pain, either physically or emotionally. Do you understand what I'm talking about? Have you ever felt like that? When you just couldn't feel anything and you didn't want to either. You know? Like that? Do you understand what I'm saying sir?"

For the record, I know that thing by heart. Test me!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


A photographic look at the Gathering of the Vibes festival, held in Connecticut in late July of 2010.

(me, on a swing)
(kyle, against the sunset)

All photos by Amy Dupcak. Good times, great vibes.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Favorite Radiohead Songs

Since Radiohead's eighth studio album (depending on whether or not you count Disc 2 of In Rainbows as its own album, which I don't) is coming out this weekend, here is a list of my personal Top 20 Favorite Radiohead songs. Mind you, I love pretty much all Radiohead songs, and it was quite tough for me to "cut down" my list.

1. Street Spirit (Fade Out)
2. Videotape
3. Idioteque
4. How To Disappear Completely
5. Electioneering
6. Climbing Up the Walls
7. Rabbit in Your Headlights (with U.N.K.L.E)
8. Inside My Head
9. Talk Show Host
10. Sit Down. Stand Up.
11. Sail to the Moon
12. Up a Ladder
13. Myxamatosis
14. Optimistic
15. Pulk/Pull Revolving Doors
16. Jigsaw Falling into Place
17. Everything in its Right Place
18. Dollars and Cents
19. Bulletproof
20. Exit Music (from a Film) tied with The Tourist.

Okay I cheated a little. But wow, that was hard.

Ready, set, Radiohead!

All I have to say today is this...Radiohead's new album is coming! I am so excited that I must immediately share this email I received:

Thank you for waiting. 

Radiohead are pleased to announce that their new album, The King Of Limbs, is now available to pre-order from

There are digital and physical versions of the album available:

The digital version is available in both MP3 (320kbps) and WAV formats.

The physical, 'Newspaper Album' comprises two clear
 10" vinyl records in a purpose-built record sleeve, a compact disc, many large sheets of newspaper artwork, 625 tiny pieces of artwork, and a full-colour piece of
 oxo-degradable plastic to hold everything together.

The Newspaper Album also includes a digital download. 

Pre-ordered digital will be available to download on Saturday 19th February. 

For the next few weeks, The King Of Limbs will be exclusively available from our website,
 but from March 28th it will be on general release on CD, 12" vinyl and digital download in all good record stores.

Is it Saturday yet?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


It only makes sense that David Bowie's offspring would shake up the arts world in one way or another. As a filmmaker, Duncan Jones was up for 7 British Independent film awards and rightfully won 2, all for a small, science-fiction, claustrophobic masterpiece called Moon. The film basically has two main characters: Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, and Kevin Spacey lends his voice to Sam's robot companion, who expresses himself with emoticon faces. Sam is nearing the end of his stint working in a station on the Moon and he cannot wait to return home to Earth. But strange things start happening,  and Sam must confront the terrible reality of his situation before finding a way to escape. The isolation of the setting and its isolation of our main character create a beautiful minimalism, which makes the film seem like a perfectly crafted short-story, brought to life. It's a truly refreshing testament to the art of story-telling, and even calls to mind THX 1138, Alien, and other influential films, all of which did indeed inspire Jones. He hopes to make more films in the Moon series, and I hope he does too. Only I wish he still went by Zowie Bowie!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Favorite Famous Lovers

In honor of Valentine's Day, I present to you my Top Ten Favorite Couples. Just look at these lovebirds!
<3 *<3*<3

1. Say what you want about Yoko Ono, but come on now. If John-and-Yoko aren't the modern ideal of love, peace, and harmony, I don't know who is. Minus that infamous "long weekend."

2. They are classy, iconic, and quite evenly matched... Iman sounds like a robot, and David Bowie must have played one at some point in his career, right? Or maybe they're just both aliens. Hot aliens.

3. The best thing about coupledom is when one becomes a muse to the other. Sherri Moon has been Rob Zombie's sexy-scary muse in so many ways over the past decade of his eclectic career; she's been on album covers, in music videos, and of course played pivotal roles in all of his films. They are the modern-generation's horror movie king and queen. And, quite appropriately, Mr. and Ms. Zombie wed on Halloween.

4. Win Butler and Regine Chassagne pump the heart of Arcade Fire, making music together as a married duo within a larger collective that also comprises Win's bro. Here's another example of a couple working together creatively. In this case, they are side-by-side equals, providing vocals, lyrics, instrumentation and even Haiti activism. "Then I'll dig a tunnel through my window to yours." Yeah!

5. They're sort of obvious, right? Except that these two are the total opposite of cutesy V-day love. The punk-rock Romeo and Juliet...Sid might have stabbed Nancy, and then he overdosed on heroin. Death-pact for sure, but something about it is horrifically romantic.

6. Though Robert Mapplethorpe tragically died of AIDS long after he and Patti Smith split, her recollection of their mystical union in the memoir, Just Kids, gives readers a glimpse into the urban fairy tale of their relationship. Living in NYC from the late 1960s onward, these two artists deeply shaped each other's lives, careers, and everlasting souls.

7.  The love affair between Nico and Jim Morrison may have been brief, but there's almost no relationship more poetic. In 1985, Nico had this to say about her former lover: "I like my relations to be physical and of the psyche. We hit each other because we were drunk and we enjoyed the sensation. We made love in a gentle way, do you know? I thought of Jim Morrison as my brother, so we would grow together. We still do, because he is my soul brother. We exchanged blood. I carry his blood inside me. When he died, and I told people that he wasn't dead, this was my meaning. We had spiritual journeys together." Beautiful.

8. On a less serious level, we've got the funky, Israeli-born Hank + Cupcakes. Lanky Hank's on guitar, cute Cupcakes is on drums and vocals, and together they're moving up in the indie rock world.

8. I don't care for Lindsay Lohan's drama or even her career (though yes I loved Mean Girls), but how great was it when she was dating Samantha Ronson? There was no coming-out fiasco...she just suddenly started dating a chick. Most of her controversy derived from drugs, drinking, and acting foolish, not from smooching an androgynous girl, which is just awesome! Can they get back together? Is Lindsay still a lesbian? Only time will tell.

10. Well, I am going to do it. I am going to nominate a quirky writer-girl named Amy and her rock-climbing, sudoku-playing, vegetable-growing boy named Jeremy. They are pretty swell...pretty swell indeed.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

From the Vaults: Andrew Fletcher of Depeche Mode

In the spring of 2009, my partner-in-crime, Kyle Timlin, and I showed up at the chic hotel where Andrew Fletcher (co-founder of Depeche Mode) was staying, in Manhattan. We were invited upstairs to his temporary abode, which happened to also be Johnny Depp's favorite room. We all sat down in the living room as Andy discussed Depeche Mode of today, their latest album at the time, Sounds of the Universe, and the early days of his influential band. Here's one clip from that truly awesome conversation.

Interview by Amy Dupcak
Filmed and Edited by Kyle Timlin

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Album Art...literally.

To be perfectly honest, I have not yet listened to Bow Wow Wow's 1981 album, See Jungle! See Jungle! Go Join Your Gang, Yeah. City All Over! Go Ape Crazy (yes that is actually the name), but the cover art continues to intrigue me.

Banned in the UK and the US, and instigating a Scotland yard investigation due to the age of the woman posing here in the nude, the photograph was shot by Andy Earl and is the band's take on an Édouard Manet painting, Le déjeuner sur l'herbe (or "The Luncheon on the Grass") from 1863. The original was considered shocking and controversial due to its depiction of a naked woman "casually lunching with two fully dressed men," which just goes to show that, over one-hundred years later, the world still wasn't quite comfortable with such a situation.

I just love how the band took this strange and somehow erotic scene and fused it with their own 1980s style, proving that art mimics life just as life mimics art, and that sometimes we must look backwards and borrow from the past in order to create something "new."

Friday, February 11, 2011

All Grown Up

Alternative-rock icons who never actually played a note, Bee Girl and Nevermind Baby are universally known and appreciated for their small yet important roles. Spencer Elden (on Nirvana's seminal cover) and Heather DeLoach (in Blind Melon's iconic video) acted as reminders of innocence and purity in an era steeped in heroin, suicide, rain, and really fucking good music. While Kurt Cobain and Shannon Hoon never survived beyond the '90s (r.i.p.), the child-icons they helped create are all grown up and still living in the shadow of their early '90s "fame."
Spencer Elden
THEN  (1991)
 10 YEARS LATER (2001)
NOW (2011)

 Heather DeLoach
THEN (1993, still from Blind Melon's "No Rain" video)
NOW (2008)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Thou Shalt....

Thou shalt not take the names of Johnny Cash, Joe Strummer, Johnny Hartman, Desmond Decker, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix or Syd Barrett in vain.

Thou shalt not use poetry, art or music to get into girls' pants.
Use it to get into their heads.

Thou shalt not put musicians and recording artists on ridiculous pedestals no matter how great they are or were.
The Beatles... Were just a band.
Led Zeppelin... Just a band.
The Beach Boys... Just a band.
The Sex Pistols... Just a band.
The Clash... Just a band.
Crass... Just a band.
Minor Threat... Just a band.
The Cure... Just a band.
The Smiths... Just a band.
Nirvana... Just a band.
The Pixies... Just a band.
Oasis... Just a band.
Radiohead... Just a band.
Bloc Party... Just a band.
The Arctic Monkeys... Just a band.
The Next Big Thing.. JUST A BAND.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Natalie Portman

I loved Black Swan: the dualities, the psychosis (reminiscent of Polanksi's Repulsion and several other Aronofsky films), the character development and psychology, the sexual awakenings, Clint Mansell's score, the ambiguity and elements of fantasy, the symbolism, and perhaps above all, the ballet. But while Portman trained for a year, losing twenty pounds in the process, to provide an accurate, hard-to-watch portrayal of Nina in the throws of both finding and losing herself, Portman will probably never play any role more convincing than Matilda in Leon, The Professional, when she was just 12 years old. 

Ballet shoes vs. Guns?  Demon eyes vs. Sunglasses? Crazy vs. Vengeful? Which is more Bad-ass? I've made my decision, have you?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Barcade Portraits.

Lane must defeat "zombies, ogres, demons, cyclopes, dragons, and other monsters in order to rescue Princess Prin Prin," but as fate would have it, Ghosts & Goblins will have to wait. 

John photographs the birthday-girl in the heavily graffitied men's room, and finds himself equally captured.

Thanks Barcade, in Brooklyn!
(photos by amy dupcak).