July 31, 2015
by melissa
2 Comments

Smart ladies love lists, Pop-culture-a-go-go, July 31, 2015

Every week, I will post what I have been listening to, watching and reading lately (& maybe an “other”).

Listening

I had another spell where I only listened to The Hollies, which led me to this, a Village Voice article from 1976 where Robert Christgau looks back at records from 1967, considered to be a seminal year for music, even just nine years later. I’m in the middle of doing my own look-back (maybe for next week), but I wanted to first talk about a lost classic I discovered from Christgau’s article (which I keep wanting to call a post… GRRR INTERNET)… The Beach Boys’ Wild Honey.

Released a year after Pet Sounds, widely considered to be the band’s best work, and shortly after Brian Wilson abandoned the full, lush Smile (released in a different format as Smiley Smile in 1967), Wild Honey is clearly the band’s nod to the R&B and rock sounds they love. It’s not as well-remembered as Pet Sounds, which had a bit of a revival fifteen years ago when it was re-released on CD with the mono and stereo versions on one disc. I was obsessed with Pet Sounds in college, and even though I wanted more Beach Boys, I assumed everything else was surfer music and Mike Love’s soulful lead vocals. I wish someone had told me about Wild Honey, it is the perfect follow-up for someone yearning for the Wilson brothers after fully digesting their more famous record.

I think Pitchfork’s Spencer Owen was as enamored of Pet Sounds as much as the rest of us in 2001, as he gave the similar Smiley Smile reissue a 9.5, but Wild Honey (a definite shift in sound from the previous two LPs) was only awarded a 3.5. I want everyone to rediscover Wild Honey’s set of very short R&B-tinged pop songs, some of which featured amazing, pleading singing from Carl Wilson that doesn’t sound like any Beach Boys vocals that came before.

After you’re full of Wild Honey, I recommend picking up Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue. It absolutely started me on that long dark road of 70s singer songwriters.

Quick Picks…

I often read Pitchfork and add things I find interesting to a Spotify playlist. Here’s what I’ve added this week.

The noisey keyboard really brightens up J Fernandez’ Many Levels of Laughter.

I need to spend more time with the 25-song Tenement opus Predatory Headlights, but it is trying to fill my “rock song” quota this month, along with:

I don’t get excited about Titus Andronicus (minus The Monitor), but I love rock operas and concept albums, which is how 3XLP (!!!) The Most Lamentable Tragedy is described.

While their name is unfortunate, Bad Bad Hats’ Psychic Reader is a fantastic pop record with songs that swirl around in my head and get stuck. Oh, and Afternoon Records has their records for free here. You have no excuse now!

Watching

While I wish I could have saved it for my next visit with Katie, I saw Appropriate Behavior was onDemand on Cinemax and watched it IMMEDIATELY. I love little movies where not much happens except character growth. The humor is dark and self-deprecating (think Woody Allen in the 70s) and it never felt like a cheaply made indie. Desiree Akhavan is extremely talented, and I appreciated her skill with abandoning exposition in favor of showing character-based situations.

Her webseries The Slope, about “superficial, homophobic lesbians” (doesn’t that make you want to watch it?) which I also recommend, can be found here.

Also: still not done with season 2 of Vikings; my husband and I have two episodes to go on this season of The Americans (poor Martha!); I’m rewatching Justified but also throwing in some Deadwood when I want extra Timothy Olyphant; finally, I’m greatly enjoying Mark Rylance in Wolf Hall. God damn, he deserves that Emmy. I want to finish SOMETHING so I can move on to the next show but I can’t binge, especially with these heavy dramas that require my full attention.

I can’t decide if my husband would prefer Rectify, Mr. Robot or Halt and Catch Fire, but once The Americans is done, we need a drama in between Louie viewings. Admittedly, PJ is really busy with his band and other projects and doesn’t watch much TV. He’s recording this weekend so I’m going to test myself to see how many more times I can watch Going Clear–just kidding, Tim Olyphant isn’t in that!

Someone on fb posted about Caitlin Moran, and I found myself searching for her on youtube–she’s a celebrity, in addition to being a kick-ass writer, so she’s pretty visible, what with the UK’s obsession with all things celebrity (seriously, the Mirror writes five posts about five different Geordie Shore and TOWIE “stars” a day). Anyhoo, I landed on this beauty video, where her friend (and makeup guru of England, I later find out), Sali Hughes interviews her in her bathroom about beauty products. I’m addicted to skincare lately so I watched it…

And because she’s so cute and British, I watched a twenty minute video of her going through her perfume collection. I wear two perfumes: a discontinued one I bought from Anthro for cheeep and a one that a friend got from her mother-in-law and didn’t want. But Sali just knows so much about scents! I love the way she describes them. I don’t think I could ever be that articulate talking about chypre, which I only know how to spell because I’ve read eighteen Dorothy Parker biographies and EVERYONE knows it was her favorite. In any case, I hope I don’t become obsessed with makeup and beauty tutorials because mama ain’t got time for that, but I will be following Sali on youtube, her blog, and her columns in The Guardian (ugh, that’s a lot! SLOW DOWN SAL!).

Reading

Honestly, the reading has gone by the wayside this week, what with all the beauty videos and Timothy Olyphant. But I plan to finish Between the World and Me before book club tomorrow before moving on to The Royal We audiobook.

My husband record shopping at Steady Sounds. Taken by me on my Olympus XA2.

My husband record shopping at Steady Sounds. Taken by me on my Olympus XA2.

Have We Reached Peak Vinyl? My biggest complaint about this story is the layout and how it doesn’t seem to allow for photo credits. I want to know what record stores are pictured! This says a lot of the things about why I both hate and love the vinyl revival: it’s much easier to find things, and selling records helps support indie artists, but everything has gotten super expensive and the (also pricey) re-releases of things you can find in the $3 bin are clogging up all the vinyl presses. It makes sense that record labels and artists want to chase the money because of sluggish sales elsewhere, but massive delays (probably by big labels paying extra to put their releases ahead of indies) are causing my friends that run smaller labels to look to releasing music digitally, on cassette, or (gasp!) CD. Sadly, as someone who has collected records for 20 years, I’m actually looking forward to vinyl’s demise, as it means more stuff in the used bins for me!
What pop culture have you been getting into this week?

July 27, 2015
by katie
0 comments

Smart ladies love movies, this week in trailers, July 27, 2015

Movie Trailer Monday

Each week I review movie trailers that came out the previous week or for movies that are about to premiere. Some of these movies I am excited about, some I am mildly curious about, and the rest I make fun of!

Notable movies coming out this weekend

Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation

This is one of the few movie franchises that has gotten significantly better with age mainly because it has gotten more reliant on a team (Simon Pegg and Ving Rhames are series MVPs) and less reliant on Tom Cruise. [I only see Tom Cruise movies with Katie. I think what has really made these movies tolerable is an association with JJ Abrams. He directed the third one–the first with Simon Pegg–and has produced the two since then. Love, a JJ Abrams fangirl. -M]

Before We Go, is out onDemand and for Rent

Human delight Chris Evans made a movie (HE DIRECTED IT) with Alice Eve and I will watch the fuck out of it once it’s free. I LOVE the two people spend one night in _______ type of movie. [CHRIS EVANS IS SO TALENTED. HE PLAYS THE TRUMPET AND DIRECTS HIMSELF. IN A BEARD. Also I bought a trumpet for $5 (it may or may not play), who buys one for the cost of an engagement ring? I would pay for this if I could watch it with Katie. -M]

Movies I can’t wait to see in an ACTUAL theater

Spectre, November 6, 2015

Thanks to this trailer I spent my Saturday watching all three Daniel Craig Bond films –FUN! [I STILL have not seen a modern era James Bond movie. There are so many things like this already, and I don’t love the idea of “Bond girls.” Unless someone wises up and hires Idris to play Bond, I will be in the corner watching the Bourne movies. -M]

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, November 20, 2015

I did NOT spend my Saturday watching the last three Hunger Game movies –DEPRESSING… except Peeta, Peeta will always be my favorite strong-man (well Mockinjay Peeta is hella depressing). I’m just not excited about this movie. [I have not been able to watch a PSH movie since his death and I probably can’t see this, though I appreciate how dark this series has gotten. And I love whatever Julianne Moore is wearing! -M]

I won’t go to an ACTUAL theater but will pay for it on Amazon

Mississippi Grind, September 25, 2015

Emmy nominee Ben Mendelsohn and Ryan Reynolds make this potentially depressing gambling movie interesting. [Oh I forgot to post about Bloodline in my last pop-culture-a-go-go–Ben Mendelsohn is SO, SO good. I do want to boycott this for being advertised as “Ryan Reynolds’ BEST performance,” because WE ALL KNOW that was Just Friends. -M]

Freeheld, October 2, 2015

It seems like Ellen Page hasn’t made a movie in ages so I was excited to see her as Oscar winner Julianne Moore’s girlfriend in this ultra depressing movie (so many depressing movies this week) about a dying cop (Julianne Moore pulling a Tom Hanks and going after Oscar #2 a year after Oscar #1) fighting for her benefits to go to her girlfriend upon her death. You know a movie is depressing when Michael Shannon is the bright spot of the trailer. [Julianne Moore’s hair is so effing sad. I love when Steve Carell picks these small character roles! I feel like the overall message of the movie is so positive that it might make the depressing storyline palatable to me. -M]

You would have to PAY me to see it in an ACTUAL theater

London Has Fallen, January 22, 2016

Was Olympus Has Fallen that popular? I have seen it and it is not good. [WAIT UP THEY MADE A SEQUEL TO OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN?? I am very concerned about how movie studios are spending their money. When I first saw this, I thought, “They made a sequel to that Channing Tatum movie? I would watch that for the Chan-man.” Then I realized I was confusing this series with White House Down, which does not speak well for either film. I also protest Gerard Butler due to The Ugly Truth. -M]

July 24, 2015
by melissa
0 comments

Smart ladies love lists, Pop-culture-a-go-go, July 24, 2015

http://vaharada.tumblr.com/

http://vaharada.tumblr.com/

Every week, I will post what I have been listening to, watching and reading lately (& maybe an “other”).

Listening

Our local record store was selling sealed promos for dirt cheap, and we picked up everything they had on Constellation Records, which is mostly known as the home of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and for putting out Canadian music. We got the CD version of an LP I already have, and Eric Chenaux’s Skullsplitter, among others. I played Skullsplitter first, drawn to the artwork and the promise of experimental guitar (WHO AM I with my love of this stuff???), but then there’s his voice. It’s almost like something from a 70s easy listening song (I often think of my favorite Stephen Bishop), but when it’s combined with the guitar, it’s a folk balladry I haven’t heard before.

HOLY SHIT. I may have spent some time playing his live videos and crying. It’s just so beautiful.

Some quick picks…

Bob Boilen has talked about SOAK a lot lately, and we don’t have much taste overlap, but Before We Forgot How to Dream has a pleasant M. Ward quality that I find enchanting this time of year.

Like most music in the noise/electro/experimental vein, most of Julia Holter’s output makes me a passive listener. It’s great to listen to while I’m doing something else, but I won’t put it on just to listen to. Is this is a new, more accessible side to her? I hope so.

Watching

After listening to Katie talk about it for years, I finally started Vikings with my Amazon Prime subscription (which I now can’t get rid of, because I effing LOVE this show AND Catastrophe). Travis Fimmel is just magnetic. People often compare Vikings to Sons of Anarchy, which I understand because of the structure and the violence, but the reason for me is that Fimmel reminds me of Charlie Hunnam after he learned to act (around season 3). I’ve watched eleven episodes in seven days, which is something of a record for me. I do not understand how Jessalyn Gilsig keeps getting work, though.

I would estimate that about 95% of my conversations with Katie on social media the past few weeks have been about Fargo (the rest, our hate-watching of True Detective). Sometimes I pull this trailer up on YouTube and continually replay it–I am responsible for half its views. “The word ‘we’ is a castle, hon, with a moat and a drawbridge. Don’t be a prisoner of ‘we’.”

There’s also this one, probably a reference to the Waffle Hut from the trailer:

And this:

At this point, I feel like my love of this show is turning me into a crazy person.

These have been up for a while, but I am looking forward to Carol. I liked The Price of Salt very much!:

Reading

Taylor Swift’s Tweets to Nicki Minaj Are Peak “White Feminism”. I love internet beef because there are always smart, analytical posts like this written in response. As always, don’t read these comments.

Body of a Dad, Stamina of a God: Bill Clinton’s Bikini Bod Workout. Sometimes I dream of writing posts like this but then I realize: 1) it’s hard to be that funny and 2) I have a full time job. Those pictures of him stretching making me laugh so hard.

Why Don’t People Stop Watching True Detective if They Hate it So Much? I linked to this article above, but I wanted to point out how much I LOVE Margaret Lyons’ explanation of hate-watching. A sample:  Hate-watching True Detective is fun! It’s also an interesting part of the TV-scape right now because of its pedigree, reputation, and all the HBO-so-fancy ephemera, but it’s also so far up its own ass there’s a pancreatic duct asking Vince Vaughn for directions.

Flying Nun: The untold story of a trailblazing indie label. I have been picking up as many of the Flying Nun reissues on Captured Tracks that I can afford. This post has some great quotes from the bands and founders of the seminal label.

AKA last year's terrible song of the summer. Via.

AKA last year’s terrible song of the summer. Via.

Still Looking for the Song of the Summer. Each post in this series begins thus: Last year’s putative “Song of the Summer” was a national embarrassment; as a result, American songs—and for safe measure, all songs in English—are no longer eligible. Each month, until summer has died, the Awl will present alternatives. Another laugh-out-loud article I wish I’d written, there’s thankfully one from June too when you watch all the hilarious videos posted this week.

What pop culture have you been getting into this week?