Tag: reader

MUSIC REVIEW | Whiskeytown – Strangers Almanac (1997)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “This is straight up country music balladry and heartbreak.”

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I’m not sure when the genre of Alt-Country became a thing, but I know I first became aware of it in around the turn of the millennium, thanks to Ryan Adams.  He was an alternative radio favourite and every time I would hear one of his solo songs on the wireless, the jock would feel compelled to mention his old band, Whiskeytown.  I always liked Ryan Adams singles when I heard them, but never felt compelled to seek out entire albums until the last year or so.  And even then, my consumption has been casual at best.  But through bands and artists like Wilco, Drive-By Truckers and Jason Isbell, my appreciation for country, alt and traditional, has exploded over the last few years, which is why now felt like the perfect time to finally get into some Whiskeytown, with Strangers Almanac.

There’s nothing alt about the country of album opener Inn Town. This is straight up country music balladry and heartbreak.  Acoustic guitars, a mournful fiddle and vocal harmonies full of road worn sadness, it’s a great start, that leads into the perfectly juxtaposed up beat country optimism of the amazingly titled Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music (2000)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “When the song craft is at this kind of level, no one needs to reinvent the wheel.”
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Alt country is a genre of music I find myself liking, more often loving, every time I listen to a band or performer who falls under that heading.  Wilco, Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell (although, he tends to fall under the Americana umbrella these days), and his former band Drive-By Truckers (a combo of alt country and heavy southern rock).  When someone recently recommended I listen to The Jayhawks, it was the first I’d heard of them.  But now that I see they’ve been around since the mid 80s, and now that I’ve heard The Jayhawks with Rainy Day Music, I’m stoked to all of a sudden have 30 years of music to catch up on from some alt country pioneers.

The jangled guitars and slay bell infused hi-hat starts things in a great, vintage, 60s feel on Stumbling Through the Dar.k.  The light, sweetness of the vocal melody, reaching the occasional, impressive falsetto ads to that vibe.  It’s a great way to ease into an album, and the perfect setup for the alt-country, harmony filled Tailspin. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Road to Rio (1947)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Crosby and Hope are so good at delivering gags, just the cadence alone is enough to make them funny.  A little context only makes them better.”

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“Who wants to work? We’re musicians!”

Last year, we got a seventh Fast and Furious movie, a seventh Rocky movie, and the Marvel universe branched out to be over a dozen movies strong.  But even with these standouts, and every movie studio looking for ways to create their own extended universes, franchises of this size are still more of an exception than the rule.  But, they’re nothing new.  From 1937 to 1958, Mickey Rooney made 16 movies built around his Andy Hardy character, a series I really want to write about if I could track down enough of its entries.  But for me, the other most prominent franchise of that era, is the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope lead ‘Road To’ movies.  And I was stoked to recently stumble across one with Road to Rio.

After running into girl trouble from one side of America to the other and being chased out of town by angry fathers, vaudevillians Scat Sweeney (Crosby) and Hot Lips Barton (Hope) end up in Louisiana were they hop a ship bound for Rio.  Stowing away by hiding in a life raft, they manage to go undetected until they meet Lucia Maria (Dorothy Lamour).  Scat is obviously smitten, but Hot Lips is determined to stop his friend from getting them both in the hot water that inevitably comes when they meet women. (more…)

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.”

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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)

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“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)

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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…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (1976)

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“That jerk Karl Marx said opium was the… religion of people. I got news for him, it’s money.”

John Cassevetes is a cinema name I’ve heard a lot.  But I think until a few years ago, I assumed he was just some stone faced, hard ass actor, in the vein of Lee Marvin, or Clint Eastwood, or Burt Lancaster.  Then, I somehow found out that he was a director as well as actor.  Even better, he was the kind of rogue director who acted in mainstream movies, just so he could spend his pay cheque on making his own little indies.  That’s the kind of rebel Hollywood story I love.  So I knew I had to see some of his work as a director.  Starting with The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.

Cosmo Vitelli (Ben Gazara) owns and runs a small time strip club.  It’s nothing amazing, but it pulls enough money for Cosmo to finally pay off a long standing gambling debt.  Obviously not the kind of bloke who learns from his mistakes, Cosmo celebrates paying off his last debt by going out for big night of gambling, and wracking up a new one.  $23,000 in the hole, the people Cosmo is in debt to aren’t the kind of people to accept an installment plan for repayment.  Instead, they have a deal for Cosmo. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Killing Joke – Killing Joke (1980)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I might not be able to nail down what they are, but I do know I liked it.  I really, really like it.”

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What kind of band is Killing Joke?  I had absolutely no idea, but their name is monumentally cool.  Which is why I listened to Killing Joke, and their monumentally coolly titled album, Killing Joke.

A metronomic, wasteland beat drives relentlessly on, a beyond distorted guitar begins to roar in the distance, dramatic, over serious, but just the perfect amount of over serious vocals deliver palpable portent, and Killing Joke announces its arrival auspiciously with the intense and propulsive Requiem.   But they get a little more to the point with the more traditional rock feel of Wardance.  Well, traditional until the Dalek vocals kick in. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Rope of Sand (1949)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “I was constantly entertained every time the two power hitters came up to bat.”

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“Consider the diamond itself for instance. Carbon, soot, chemically speaking. And yet the hardest of all matters. So hard, in fact, that whatever it touches must suffer.   Glass, steel, the human soul.”

Before I started writing about movies for Bored and Dangerous, I always knew Burt Lancaster was pretty great, but I never knew why.  Tough Guys, his awesome 80s team up with Kurt Douglas and Dana Carvey, might have been the only movie of his I could name off the top of my head back then.  But in the last few years, I have seen a good handful of Lancaster joints.  Some I sought out, some I have been lucky enough to stumble across, but all have been further proof of his awesomeness.  Including my latest lucky discovery, Rope of Sand.

It’s Colonial South Africa, a time when white dudes from various European nations had decided they’d just take whatever they wanted, including South Africa’s immense deposits of diamonds.  When big game hunter Mike Davis (Lancaster) returns to town after several years away, diamond company cop Vogel (Paul Henried) is immediately on his back.  It seems last time Mike left town, it was after a vicious beating at Vogel’s hands in search of a bunch of stolen diamonds. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “It’s like watching The Golden Girls if every single character talked like Sophia when she’s slamming Blanch for being a slut.”

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“Now listen here, you mullet. Why don’t you just light your tampon, and blow your box apart? Because it’s the only bang you’re ever gonna get, sweetheart!”

To me, 20 years ago sounds like a lifetime.  Until I remember that Nirvana’s Nevermind is closer to 25 years old than 20, and that Seinfeld finished 19 years ago.  Those sorts of things feel like yesterday and like nothing has changed in the years since.  But I just watched a movie that showed me just how much has changed, and for the better.  I just watched the 22 year old The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Sydney drag performer Trick (Hugo Weaving) gets a call with an offer he can’t refuse.  A Casino in Alice Springs, the dead centre of Australia, has booked him for a show, but he can’t do it alone.  So Trick recruits the recently widowed, not so recently trans gendered Bernadette (Terence Stamp), and young flamingly flamboyant queen, Adam (Guy Pearce).  Through a little emotional blackmail, Adam scores $10,000 from his mother, buys an old bus that he nicknames Priscila, and the three head off to tackle Australia’s outback. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | The Go-Betweens – 16 Lovers Lane (1988)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “What they lacked in vocal range was always more than made up for in sincerity.”

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I like to think of myself as a serious music fan.  I try to consume as much as possible, I try to make sure I catch up on classics form before my time, even when I’m pretty sure it’s a band, artist or genre I won’t like.  Which makes it shameful that as a wannabe serious music fan from Queensland, Australia, I haven’t heard nearly enough of one of the area’s most revered bands, The Go-Betweens.  I own an album or two that I really like, I know the hits, and I know I should be a whole lot more familiar than I am.  Which is why I listened to the swansong of their original 80s era, 16 Lovers Lane.

Turning their standard acoustic, melodious rock seamlessly into flamenco passion, the impeccable song writing of the Grant McLennan and Robert Forster is on immediate display with Love Goes On!  Then the 80s vintage of the record is impossible to ignore on Quiet Heart.  It was a time when producers could make even centuries old instruments sound digitally artificial.  It’s a beautiful song, the production just does its best to strip it of all genuine beauty and feeling. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***B&D SUNDAY FLASHBACK*** Captain Phillips (2013)

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Paul Greengrass certainly has a thing for telling true stories.  He also has a thing for trying to give you both sides of the story and flesh out the bad guys as much as the good.  So much so, it’s always hard to think of them as simply bad guys by the time you get to the end.  Sure, they do bad, often horrendous things, but Greengrass is always sure we get to see at least some of what lead them to those terrible actions.  And that’s certainly the case with Captain Phillips.

It’s 2009, and Captain Richard Philips (Tom Hanks) is leaving on a merchant voyage around the horn of Africa.  The movie then cuts to Muse ‘Skinny’ (Barkhad Abdi), a Somali forced into piracy by some variety of local ass kicker.  With a crew of eager villagers, he hits the water in search of a big pay day.

There is very little setup and Greengrass keeps things moving at a cracking pace.  In no time at all, Hanks and his crew are at sea and spot the two small speed boats loaded up with dudes and machine guns on their tail.  This is a really intense sequence, and impressive too, when you see the ingenious, yet really simple and practical ways, Hanks and his crew fight of the invaders with no weapons.  But this can’t last forever, and eventually, the pirates board Hanks’ ship and take control.

It can’t be easy telling a true sorry, maintaining tension and suspense and keeping an audience’s attention when most of them already know so much of the story.  Or even if they only know one fact, like that Captain Phillips is alive and well today.  So alive and well, he was able to write the book that Captain Phillips the movie is based on.

But even knowing that, it never took the edge off this movie for me for a second.  At this stage, I feel like I’m in the swing of how Greengrass makes his movies.  But there’s something about them that still catches me a little off guars in the best possible way.  His version of shaky camera work, frenetic editing and visceral style makes all the cheap imitations just look like, well, cheap imitations.

We all know Tom Hanks is an amazing actor, but there are times in Captain Phillips when he really knocks it up a notch.  His final scene alone can take the credit for any Oscar attention he gets.  And that comes after two hours of watching him be fantastic.  But somehow, he finds a way to bring it home even stronger in those last few moments.

Captain Phillips is a great combination of story, director and performance to make what is possibly the most intense movie to come out this year.  And the fact that it’s out so soon after Gravity makes that impact even more impressive.

(Original review posted Oct 28, 2013)

Captain Phillips
Directed By – Paul Greengrass
Written By – Billy Ray 

MUSIC REVIEW | The Postal Service – Give Up (2003)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “On paper, The Postal Service isn’t the kind of band or music I would normally have any interest in.  In practice, The Postal Service and Give Up is a 44 minute reminder of why preconceptions about a genre isn’t an effective way to judge music.”

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Seven or eight years ago, after several years if being lost deep in a late discovery of and appreciation for 90s Californian punk rock, I realised that a whole movement in contemporary cool was passing me by.  Sensitive, ambitious rock by bands like Arcade Fire and Death Cab for Cutie had alt music nerds, and even sections of the mainstream, all fired up.  Maybe they were the stand outs then and the highest profile survivors today.  Maybe I just heard of them first.  Whatever the reason, those two bands represent that entire scene for me to this day.

To my amateur eyes, these two bands are the centre of a pretty definitive sound of the new millennium.  Which made it surprising to realise that Death Cab for Cutie wasn’t even front man Ben Gibbard’s only outlet at that time.  This prolific bastard had the nerve to front two highly respected, influential and revered projects, the second being The Postal Service.  Without knowing anything more about the band than Gibbard’s involvement, I was intrigued, and even a little excited, about listening to Give Up. (more…)