A Slice of Fried Gold

Capitalist Pig Tuesdays

Tuesday, April 15, 2008
In an effort to become a more legitimate blogger, I'm attempting to develop traditions to my blog. Well, that is traditions besides "what shenanigans did I get into this past weekend?" In that regard, I already had one tradition and it will assuredly continue for the foreseeable future.

However, one of those new traditions started yesterday, with "List Monday" where I create some sort of fun list, be it top 5, 10, 17, whatever. Whatever is tickling my fancy at the time. Tonight, I will be unveiling my second tradition, and it was what I will call "Capitalist Pig Tuesdays." Why? Because I really like the name, and because I'm a bit of a capitalist pig, but that's neither here nor there. Mainly its because Tuesday is the day of the week when new media is released (besides the all important comic book shipments), and because I'm addicted to new things, I'll give recommendations on what to buy in terms of music and movies.

On that note, let's get the show on the road!

Albums of the week: The Kooks - Konk and Phantom Planet - Raise the Dead

The two albums I've listened to all the way through more than once that came out this week are the new albums from The Kooks and Phantom Planet. Two very different bands, with the former being a big time hype band out of England whose first album was a big time success that seemingly would be difficult for them to match, and the latter being a band desperate for an identity after the departure of their drummer (and Rushmore star) Jason Schwartzmann before their self titled album that was immediately previous to this one.

So how did they do?

Very well, in fact.

With Konk, the Kooks proved that their would in fact be no sophomore slump, as they continued with their Arctic Monkeys-lite sound to much success. To say that, it makes it seem as if they are imitators of Britain's very favorite boys, but they really aren't. Arctic Monkeys have a tendency to make their sound seem very all important, aggressive and powerful, but a bit conceited. Strangely enough, the Kooks new album feels like a British band doing their own take on Phantom Planet's phenomenal album the Guest. It's for the lover of summertime singalongs in all of us, an indie rock gem that begs to not be taken seriously and sang along to with the windows down.

As for Phantom Planet themselves, after they were dropped by their major label amidst their self titled album bombing, they were sort of trapped. The change in their sound was not received overly well, and without Schwartzmann (who was a co-songwriter on many previous tracks) they needed to decide a new path. The path they chose seemingly is also akin to their previous album the Guest, but taken down a darker path and making their sound far larger sounding than they had in the past as well.

Lead off track "Raise the Dead" sets the mood unbelievably well, providing a progressively fuller sound throughout the whole song and giving the listener some of the best singalong moments on any album so far this year. Noticeably, singer Alex Greenwald is taking a stand on this album, making his voice as big a part of the tracks as the instruments more than he had in the past and clearly stepping it up a notch in the writing of his lyrics.

I'm very impressed by both albums, but was shocked when I went to Best Buy to pick them up and the former was on the shelves but the latter was not. How perplexing is that? How far has Phantom Planet fallen?!

Feel free to stream both albums here to get your own opinion, but both are highly recommended by me.

Now these two albums are definitely not for everyone. But for those looking for something a little bit different, let me throw my weight behind at least one of them here for a bit.

M83 is a band that has produced a number of albums already (namely personal favorites Before the Dawn Heals Us and Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts) but only a couple in the current alignment. This French electronic outfit used to have two members, but now M83 is down to just Anthony Gonzalez. Considering the slight drop off from Dawn to Dead Cities, I was a bit concerned as to how this would affect their sound. However, after one listen I think this may actually be M83's most complete and best album yet, and I think I may feel like that for one reason.

On previous M83 albums, you could argue that their sound was vaguely...creepy. Definitely dark, and that darkness and perpetual sense of foreboding (beautiful darkness, haunting forebodng, but still) has been replaced by a levity and a sense of hope on Saturdays = Youth. It's as if you crossed one of M83's old albums with fellow French electronic group Air's material. It works very, very well, and I recommend it for those looking to try something new.

Now Cloud Cult...this is a harder one to find a target audience for. I don't even know how to explain this group. I had been a fan of previous album Advice from the Happy Hippopotamus, but this album is a bit of departure from even that sound, while being similarly narrow in its audience target. This band has an amazing ability to sound like Modest Mouse (at points the lead singer sounds exactly like Issac Brock), Arcade Fire, Architecture in Helsinki, and every other big time indie band out there...without sounding like any of them at all. If there was ever an indie rock mashup album made by Gregg Gillis, I'm fairly certain this would be what it sounds like.

I'm tentative to be negative towards this album, because I feel as if it is a definite grower, but I find that it's hard to really get behind something with such an identity crisis. They do get bonus points for making the beginning of track "When Water Comes to Life" sound like a piece off a Final Fantasy soundtrack (the video game, not the band composed of members of Arcade Fire), but ultimately I can't really recommend it unless you're really looking for something new.

Like with the Kooks and Phantom Planet albums, feel free to check them out here, streaming free and legally.

DVD Purchase of the Week: Juno - Written by Diablo Cody, Directed by Jason Reitman, starring Ellen Page, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Garner, Michael Cera, and J.K. Simmons

Ever hear of this movie? Little movie about a girl who gets pregnant at 16, and the trials and tribulations she goes through in having the child and the lessons she learns from those around her (namely the adoptive couple, parents, best friend and potential beau named Bleeker). It was nominated for a number of Oscars (Best Picture and Actress namely) and freshman screenwriter Diablo Cody even pulled in a win for Best Original Screenplay.

It's a very good, very funny, and surprisingly touching character study/slice of life comedy that wouldn't work without the genius within the cast. Namely Ellen Page, who deserves every accolade she gets, as she is quite possibly the only young actress who could have made the insufferably sarcastic Juno seem so real and vivid, and most of all, likeable.

The one serious downside I can say the movie has is the first 15 minutes are painfully quirky. This is coming from the guy whose favorite movie is Rushmore, which, if such a thing existed, would be the Captain of the all quirky movie Football team. The dialogue in the beginning almost made me pull my hair out from my head, but it came around and so did I. Strangely enough, I did not pick this up as I have already seen it three times (3 TIMES! What's wrong with me?) and felt as if that was sufficient at least until the upcoming Black Friday, when I can assuredly pick it up for $5.99 at Best Buy.


Bobbie said...


Commenting on your previous post - Concerts are my favorite things.
I really wanted to view Sufjan but, every video I clicked on said that it was no longer available.

David Harper said...

Wha?! I just tried all of them and they worked for me! Maybe they don't work at your office, perhaps Youtube is blocked? Try from home!

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