MUSIC REVIEW | Hard Girls – A Thousand Surfaces (2014)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I only liked it more and more as each of it 40 minutes of simple but effective rock kicked and punched its way through my headphones.”

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The band; Hard Girls.  The album; A Thousand Surfaces.  My prior knowledge of who they are and what they do before listing; None.

A simple, driving riff that can be repeated ad nauseam is a great way to kick things off, and that’s exactly what Hard Girls deliver with The Quark.  Even better, when the vocals arrive, they deliver that same kind of simple, driving attitude.  It’s rock and roll at its most basic and most effective.  Things get a little more indie and angular on Sign of the Dune, but the chorus betrays just as much stripped back rock at the song’s core, for one minute and 43 seconds of unrelenting cool.

Slowing things down, the tempo is the only thing reduced on Die Slow.  There’s still just as much oomph and impact here, while not being quite as in your face as the opening quartet.  Onto Plan and Flying Dream, and A Thousand Surfaces is delivering a real Japandoids vibe.  These dudes know when they’re instruments and voices have done enough to get the job done, and they never layer anything superfluous crap on top to show how tricky they can be.  Hard Girls are kind of the anti-Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, or anti-Radiohead. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It tries to tell a real story with a real message.  It just never quite gets there.”

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“Someone’s pissing on my hydrangeas!

The more movies I watch from more eras, the more convinced I am the absolute best decade for cinema was the 70s.  There’s amazing prestige movie making like The Godfather, amazing street level grit like The French Connection, Woody Allen hitting his stride with intellectual comedies like Annie Hall.  And movies like Star Wars and Jaws setting the gold standard for the blockbuster genre they invented.  Which makes it fascinating to me that the worst decade for film making came immediately after.  Obviously there were great movies made in the 80s, but there’s also a thick streak of cheap gloss, money worshipping excess to so many of movies made then that tarnishes the lot.  Even when movies try to use that excess against itself to deliver a positive message, it still comes off as kind of gross.  Which is the downfall of every good intention in Down and Out in Beverly Hills.

Jerry (Nick Nolte) is a vagrant in Los Angeles.  When a well meaning yuppie woman in a park inadvertently steals his dog while he sleeps, Jerry wanders the streets looking for the missing pooch.  Eventually, he ends up in Beverly Hills, looking at the glistening pool in the back yard of an expansive mansion.  Deciding to end it all, Jerry jumps in with no intention of ever coming up for air.  His suicidal plunge is witnessed by the mansion’s owner, Dave (Richard Dreyfuss), who dives in and saves the day. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism (2003)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I like every single song on here.  I just think it would take dozens of listens before I’d be able to tell them apart without the aid of a track listing.”

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There was time at the turn of the millennium when my music consumption had probably hit its most narrow.  Punk rock courtesy of Bad Religion, The Vandals and NOFX, ska thanks to Reel Big Fish, and throwbacks to my teenaged years of Pearl Jam, Primus and Aussie indies of the 90s would have represented pretty much the sum total of my listening.  I didn’t listen to any radio and I wasn’t interested in recommendations from anyone else.  This was also a time when indie rock was quietly being taken over by sensitive grandeur.  Bands like Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend.  Bands I never gave a chance until long after the rest of the world.  Bands like Death Cab for Cutie, with records like Transatlanticism.

Souring, crunching guitars, driving drums and strong but vulnerable vocals.  It’s a combination I associate with all of the above mentioned grandly sensitive bands, and it’s a combination in full effect on The New Year.  The vulnerability is cranked up and the volume lowered right down for the dreamy reflections of Lightness, before reaching its most sensitively grand on Expo ’86. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Randy Newman – Sail Away (1972)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Darkly funny, while never becoming a joke, I feel like it would be pretty easy to get lost in Newman’s words.”

I first became aware of Randy Newman when he was the mush mouthed, piano bar style singer behind that song from Toy Story that I think won an Oscar.  His voice is so unique and non traditional, it was kind of hard to believe years later when I began to realise that he had a legit career as a charting musician before he became the go to guy for cramming 100 minutes of Pixar sentimentality into three or four minutes of heart string yanking musical gold.  But he was a charting musician with actual hits, who recorded records like Sail Away.

Even with my almost non existent knowledge of Newman’s music, even I know that he’s notorious for his dry and sarcastic sense of humour.  And he delivers it in spades on the opening, titular track.  The music might be piano fuelled nostalgia, but the lyrics are darkly snarky and biting.  His viewpoint is immediately established with the album’s very first lines declaring, “In America you’ll get food to eat, won’t have to run through the jungle and scuff up your feet.  You’ll just sing about Jesus and drink wine all day, it’s great to be an American”. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Hooper (1978)


“Yeah, even your ding dong.”

Hal Needham was a stunt man.  A stuntman who worked on movies like Blazing Saddles, Chinatown and Nickelodeon, before becoming a director.  The director of absolute gold like Smokey and the Bandit, Smokey and the Bandit II and Rad.  Burt Reynolds was a stunt man.  A stuntman who’s charisma transcended almost immediately to make him the star of movies like Smokey and the Bandit, Nickelodeon and almost every car movie worth watching in the late 70s, early 80s.  So when these ex stuntmen decided to make a movie about stunt men, you’d better believe that Hooper is the most watchable movie about stunt men you ever did see.

Immediately after pulling off a perfect movie stunt sliding a speeding motorcycle under as moving truck, Sonny Hooper (Reynolds) is urged by his missus, Sally Field as Gwen, to give up his high risk profession.  The only problem is, there’s a young buck on the scene.  Delmore ‘Ski’ Shidski (Jan-Michael Vincent) is willing to take bigger risks that Hooper has ever contemplated before. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Drive-By Truckers – American Band (2016)

At the turn of the century, Drive-By Truckers released their double LP breakthrough opus, Southern Rock Opera. 15 years later, they’re back with a sequel of sorts in American Band.  While Rock Opera tackled the dark past of their southern homeland, from the Civil War to civil rights, their latest tightens much of the focus on time to the present day, while expand geographically to the entire United States.

From Black Lives Matter, to gun control, to border issues ad immigration, to the conservative right wing, to exposing the ignorance of a rose coloured nostalgia for the good old days, core song writers Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley have exploited their southern rock, 60s soul and (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Talking Heads – Talking Heads: 77 (1977)

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Talking Heads seem like one of those bands where it’s legally required that we all like them.  And whenever I hear a Talking Heads song, I do like it.  But I’ve never really listened to them in earnest, to find out why they’re so revered.  And I think it’s thatr universal reverence that has always kept me from diving righting.  I have a copy of Talking Heads: 77 on CD that I bought sometime around the turn of the millennium.  I bought it kind of out of obligation as a music fan, but I don’t remember ever actually putting it in a CD player.  I guess I never wanted to feel like a clueless idiot if I listened to it and didn’t immediately love it.  But to paraphrase Alan Partridge, it’s time to go balls out of the bath on this one, and 15 years after that purchase, I finally gave Talking Heads: 77 a spin.

What was I so worried about?  Uh-oh, Love Comes to Town and New Feeling are the perfect encapsulation of everything that was great about the nerdy, post punk sound of the late 70s.  Straight out of a weird musical, Tentative Decisions is bizarre, but kind of brilliantly so.  I can’t say I like it, but I also couldn’t stop listening to it intently. (more…)