Hello and Happy Valentine’s Week — or as I like to call it, Valloween! If that doesn’t scare you, this weeks’ Video Clip just might! “Haunted” by LA Garage Rock legends The Sloths does double duty as a music video and a movie trailer, as the song also appears on the soundtrack to the independent horror film The Amityville Murders, which just hit theaters and VOD this past Friday! Coincidentally, Sloths’ frontman Tom McLoughlin is also a filmmaker, having directed more than 40 feature film and television projects, including Friday the 13th Pt. VI: Jason Lives (1986). Exciting!
Visually, “Haunted” features attention-grabbing footage from the movie intercut with newly-filmed scenes of the band playing live; but really, the song is doing most the heavy lifting here. If you love surf rock, but you also love The Cramps, “Haunted” is your kind of jam. The Amityville Murders‘ soundtrack features an additional Sloths-penned track, “Lust,” and both songs appear on The Sloths‘ 2015 debut album Back from the Grave, released by Lolipop / Burger Records. Catch The band live performing at SXSW in March! Enjoy!
This photograph of artist David Wojnarowicz (1954 – 1992) was taken in late May of 1991 at Chaco Canyon in New Mexico while Wojnarowicz and his friend Marion Scemama took a road trip around the American Southwest. Cynthia Carr, the artist’s biographer, describes how the photograph came to be:
David had been there before and he knew exactly where he wanted stage this. “We’re going to dig a hole,” he told her, “and I’m going to lie down.” They began digging without saying word, a hole for his upper body and a bit for his legs. They used their hands. The dirt was loose and dry. He lay down and closed his eyes. Marion put dirt around his face until it was halfway up his cheeks and then stood over him, photographing his half-buried face first with his camera and then with hers.
This image was also licensed for use as the cover art for the soundtrack recording of the 1995 film, Postcards From America.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit History Keeps Me Awake at Night, on View Through September 30th, 2018 at the Whitney Museum in NYC.
Billy Crudup, Elle Fanning, Annette Benning, Greta Gerwig and Lucas Jade Zumann Star in 20th Century Women
The Coming-of-Age Story can fall into one of two categories: Sublime when done well, but Worse than Anything when done poorly. 20th Century Women, a new film directed by Mike Mills (Beginners) flips this genre sideways by looking at a pivotal year in the life of a fifteen year old boy through his relationships with three strong and finely nuanced women. Set in Santa Barbara, California in 1979, 20th Century Women follows Dorothea Fields (Annette Bening), a dedicated single mom in her mid-50s, who is raising her teenage son, Jamie (Lucas Jade Zumann) during a time filled with cultural change and rebellion. Without a father figure in Jamie’s life, Dorothea enlists the help of two younger women to help her bring-up Jamie to be a good man. Abbie (Greta Gerwig) is a free-spirited, 20-something punk artist and cancer survivor who is a boarder in their home, while 17-year-old Julie (Elle Fanning) is a troubled, promiscuous neighbor, who is also Jamie’s best friend. Billy Crudup also stars as William, a charming but aimless Handyman who also rents a room with the Fields home.
For anyone who lived through an important time of his or her life during 1979 (it was the year I graduated from high school, lost my virginity, and started college) 20th Century Women will feels like a unique, cliché-free set of life experiences that creates a pitch-perfect time capsule, dictated by a very specific time in pop culture history. Here are my Top Ten reasons why I love this film so much.
1. Even when she is horrible-piece-of-shit films like Greenburg, Greta Gerwig is the best thing in any movie she makes. I love everything about her character, Abbie, who reminded me of my former Punk Rock self, only way cooler.
2. The cinematography and art direction make each frame of the film look like a William Eggleston photograph.
3. Its depiction of the California Punk Rock scene in 1979 (which I was deeply immersed in) also manages to includes songs from the NYC’s No Wave scene and of course British First Wave Punk. The soundtrack reflects the film’s time period with music from artists who helped define the era: Devo, Suicide, The Germs, The Raincoats, Siouxsie and the Banshees, David Bowie, Buzzcocks and Black Flag. Holy Cow! I felt like someone stole my vinyl collection from this era and put it in the film.
4. The soundtrack also features and original score by Roger Neill, which is utterly transportive.
5. I wouldn’t really call myself a fan of the Talking Heads’ music, but three of their songs – “Don’t Worry about the Government,”“Artists Only” and “The Big Country” — are far superior to any their popular hits, and arguably better than most other songs on the planet. Two of these three songs are included on the soundtrack. You will have to see the movie to find out which ones. BTW I predict that this film will provoke a surge in downloads of the Talking Heads’ catalog.
6. There’s a 3D acid flashback visual effect that the filmmakers use to elucidate the feeling of traveling in a fast car as being comparable to moving across time. I’ve never seen anything like that before and it is so trippy and profoundly emotionally effective.
7. 20th Century Women reminded me so much of three of my favorite films, ever: Dazed and Confused, Almost Famous, and American Beauty. If you dig those films, then you will just love this one.
8. An old high school friend of mine makes a cameo appearance in the film, sort of by accident. Tony Reflex from the seminal Orange County punk band, Adolescents, can be seen in a photograph used in a montage that depicts the rise of the punk rock movement in the late 1970s. That was fun.
9. No meaningless violence or senseless tragedy. I hope that isn’t a spoiler for anyone.
10. It is just the best movie, and you should go see it!
20th Century Women — which was just nominated for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy for this year’s Golden Globes, opens in New York and Los Angeles on Christmas Day, and Nationwide on January 20th, 2017. Music From The Motion Picture: 20th Century Women will be released digitally on December 16th, while a CD version will be released on January 13th 2017, followed by an LP version on February 10th, 2017.
40 years after movie audiences began singing along to such hits as “The Time Warp,”“Sweet Transvestite” and “Dammit Janet,”The Rocky Horror Picture Show fans can own a piece of history with the newly re-mastered Absolute Treasures soundtrack. Due out July 31st on Ode Sounds & Visuals and distributed by The Orchard, the soundtrack will be available as a limited-edition Red Vinyl two-disc set, and CD and as a digital release, which includes a bonus track will be available on August 21st.
The red vinyl was created to honor the film’s legacy and the devotion from fans to create something unique to celebrate this historic occasion. “The Rocky Horror Picture Show has always had a mind of its own fueled by the insight and direction of its fans,” says producer, Lou Adler.
The influence of the cult classic, which has been entertaining movie audiences since its debut, now spans four generations. “I recently heard a story about a man who went to see Rocky in the early 70’s,” says Adler. “He later had a daughter who went to see Rocky in the 90’s, and she now has a son, who just turned 15, and is seeing Rocky in the 2000’s. Proves that what I always said: ‘Rocky Horror is a family film.’ Because The Rocky Horror Picture Show is generally screened at midnight, age is a factor. But as tweens become teens, they come to be the next generation of fans. The Rocky Horror Picture Show is in a way a right of passage.”
The digital release of Absolute Treasures will include the movie’s vocal version of “The Sword of Damocles.” According to soundtrack producer Richard Hartley, “There were two artists who recorded ‘The Sword of Damocles.’ Director, Jim Sharman and I were looking/listening for the ‘Glam’ rock sound of a Bowie and or a T. Rex. We wanted a falsetto voice for Rocky, because after all he was just born. The vocal performance in the film is that of an Australian singer. It was recorded live on the set–I think on the 19th of December 1974. And that’s the version that’s in the film. The one that has been included on soundtrack albums is the alternate take by one of the backing singers, which was used as something for the actor playing Rocky to mime to.”
The Rocky Horror Picture Show — the longest distributed theatrical release in motion picture history — debuted as a London theatre production in June 1973. The show came to America in 1974 with nine months of performances at Adler’s Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles. On September 26, 1975, The Rocky Horror Picture Show held its U.S. premiere at the UA Westwood Theatre in Los Angeles.
THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW ABSOLUTE TREASURES track listing is as follows:
Have you seen American Hustle yet? It is the best movie, about a story that happened during my favorite decade: the 1970s. The Seventies were a time of amazing visual stye in everything from furniture design to fashion, but it was also the decade of the best music ever. Just think about it: the worldwide phenomena that was Disco book-ended by The Beatles and Punk Rock. Wow. Mind blowing. It all happened in The Seventies!
It stands to reason then that American Hustle’s Original Motion Picture Soundtrack would be liberally studded with some serious seventies musical gems. There is something for every musical taste on this disc, from big band action courtesy of Duke Ellington’s “Jeep’s Blues” to timeless classic rock (Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”), to an original instrumental track by veteran soundtrack composer, Danny Elfman. There may not be any Beatles’ songs on here, but Paul McCartney (the world’s first Billionaire Rock Star) makes an appearance with his post-Beatle’s band, Wings, delivering the epic spy film theme song, “Live and Let Die.”
Not unexpectedly, revisiting songs that I first heard when I was a pre-teen music snob has inspired me to have a bit of an epiphany. America’s mega-hit from 1972, “A Horse With No Name” was dismissed by me at the time of its release as a Neil Young rip off full of lyrical nonsense. But in a modern day context, the part where the narrator is “looking at a riverbed” and reflecting that, “The story it told / of a river that flowed/ made me sad to think it was dead” is positively sobering. Because remember: he’s in the desert. This song is genius.
Of course, it would not be a full-on 70s experience without some crotch grabbing disco fun, and Music Supervisor Susan Jacobs hits it out of the park by including Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” — a song that says more about the pervasive hedonism of Disco culture with just three words and a wildly hypnotic, insistent electronic beat than any other song ever has. And while I was originally bummed that the included performance of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” is by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes rather that the classic Thelma Houston version, I got over it pretty quickly.
Speaking of covers, I very much enjoy the faithful-to-the-original arrangement of Jefferson Airplane’s classic “White Rabbit” sung in Arabic by vocalist Mayssa Karaa.
But the song which has unarguably received the biggest shot in the arm for its inclusion in the film is Electric Light Orchestra’s prophetic and compelling “10538 Overture,” which has probably been downloaded a hundred times since you started reading this review. I can’t believe I have survived for forty years without having this song at my finger tipis to replay over and over and over again. Seriously, this song is just insane. ELO appear again with “Long Black Road” and vocalist Jeff Lynne also contributes “Stream Of Stars,” a previously unreleased instrumental track that just takes its own little journey to the center of your heart in under three minutes.
Tom Jones, Jack Jones and Chris Stills (son of Stephen Stills, providing the only song not actually written and previously recorded in the seventies) round out this A+ collection of songs that rank as a must own album for any music fan.
American Hustle – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, Track Listing:
1. Jeep’s Blues | Duke Ellington
2. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road | Elton John
3. White Rabbit | Mayssa Karaa
4. 10538 Overture | Electric Light Orchestra
5. Live And Let Die | Wings
6. How Can You Mend A Broken Heart | Bee Gees
7. I Feel Love | Donna Summer
8. Don’t Leave Me This Way | Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
The phrase “Visual Music” is one that’s rarely applied to any new bands that cross my transom these days. The last time I hauled those words out of the Rock-Critic-Speak vault was maybe in a review of Mercury Rev or Barry Adamson (two artists well immersed in the domain of soundtrack composition), and that was years ago. But that elusive label fits very snugly on a recently released 4-song EP, Filling in the Cracks, from singer/songwriter/multi instrumentalist Matt Boroff – a recently-discovered-by-me artist who, while completely new to my ears, has evidently been making adventurous music for twenty freakin’ years! Wow, who knew? As I learned in a series of email exchanges with the artist this past weekend, even Boroff refers to himself as a “Gold Medalist in the Best Kept Secret Olympics.” I would like to help change that.
A critique of one of Matt’s past recordings, 2008’s Elevator Ride, makes reference to the music “conjuring images of Spaghetti Westerns and sweeping desert landscapes” – and that last sentence fragment on its own should sufficiently compel you to buy / download everything the guy has ever committed to recorded media. But what leapt immediately to my mind when I heard the EP’s title track was “David Lynch Movie”; probably because “Filling In The Cracks” sounds like an eloquent modern hybrid of Angelo Badalamenti’s “Theme From Twin Peaks” and some of that (pardon my French) mind-tweaking shit that Barry Adamson laid down for Lynch’s completely under-worshiped cinematic masterpiece, Lost Highway. Poetic lyrics are all well and good, but when it comes to effectively creating a soundtrack for the movies in your head, it’s all about the sound. With Matt Boroff, there are no compromises in this arena.
Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombones, Ennio Morricone’s soundtrack to Once Upon a Time in the West, Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Love and Hate, and Portishead’s Live venture, Roseland, NYC are four albums that Matt listened to and was most influenced by while working on this EP, so you can see (and hear) that he has top shelf taste in music to begin with. And in the tradition of one-man band geniuses, he played all instruments on the CD including guitar, bass, organ, piano and hand percussion, with assistance on the drum kit from drummer Little Konzett, who played on all four tracks. (Just as an interesting aside, Konzett is also a well-reputed recording engineer based in Austria, where Boroff now lives). How has Matt Boroff flown under my radar for twenty years? I can’t figure it out.
When you have the songwriting chops that Boroff has, it’s not hard to get four great songs on a four-song EP, but these songs are really good. The anguished, affecting “Garbage Man” features guest vocals by Screaming Trees front man Mark Lanegan (the only other guest artist on the disc besides Konzett), whom Matt met and subsequently became friendly with when he opened for a 2011 gig by Mark and Isobel Campbell in Vienna. “After my set,” Matt offers, “Mark approached me backstage and said very complimentary things, which meant a lot to me, since I’ve been a longtime fan of his.” With their complimentary vocal styles, the collaboration between Boroff and Lanegan is perfectly matched. There’s also a rousing, pub sing-along, “All Going Down With The Ship,” that flaunts guitar work recalling Greg Lake’s acoustic fingering on “From The Beginning.” The EP wraps up with “In Our Loneliness,” which is sort of a reverse love song with amazing, wistful, haunting lyrics. This EP is the definition of “Listening Pleasure.”
But getting back to how it sounds: what ties these songs all together in a bundle of ecstatic transcendence is Boroff’s palette of resonant, brooding guitar tones. Matt explained that the guitar tones on the album engage directly with the space that surrounds them. “I’m more interested in using the guitar as a tool to evoke some kind of mood or atmosphere than I am with this or that particular amp,” he says. “That’s always the guiding principle for whatever the tone ends up being.” Matt used only two guitars throughout the recording; a Fender Cyclone and a Martin acoustic. “When it comes to getting the tones I want to hear,” he continues, “I’ll just keep changing the way I play the guitar until it sounds right to me.” Boroff will often try to mimic the sounds of other instruments by changing the picking position or pickups, and using them in different combinations to emulate sounds of instruments he doesn’t own, such as a dobro or a pedal steel guitar.” Resourceful!
Recommended if you like Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan or any of the other artists mention in this review, Matt Boroff’s Filling in the Cracks EP is available now on disc via CD Baby (http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/mattboroff) for just $6.00 (what a bargain!), and for download at iTunes and Amazon.com. Like Matt’sFaceBook Fan Page and download one of his songs for free at This Link!