It is hard for me to think about anything except for Grey Gardens today, but I will try. The new Grey Gardens Docudrama was on HBO last week, but I finally had my little screening party last night and watched it. I have been a big fan of the documentary for a while. I fell in love with it not only because it is an amusing look and a very interesting eccentric family, but also because it is tragic and beautiful and hilarious all at the same time. There is really a bit of the Beales in all of us. But I had my doubts about this movie. I was excited about all the interest in what I felt like was a secret little documentary that not that many people knew about. Still, I was skeptical-- I had not seen the musical version on Broadway but thought it was sort of a strange subject for a musical. Somehow despite all that, this movie worked out perfectly. I really can't imagine it being any better. I really think that the Beales would have even liked it themselves. They would most certainly enjoy the fact that the story of their lives was not only an award winning documentary but also a musical and an HBO movie.
Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore were fantastic as Big and Little Edie. I have been really wanting them both to have a good role for a while now. Jessica Lange was great in my favorite, Tootsie. She also starred in Frances that same year in 1982 and broke my heart with her performance. While I loved her in Cape Fear in 1991, I feel like she has not really found the right role for herself until now. And Drew Barrymore just blew me away with her performance as well. I have long been a fan of Drew Barrymore but never really liked the movies she ends up in. I really have not enjoyed much since Firestarter and E.T., aside from Charlie's Angels. The makeup was probably the most amazing thing about the movie. This was only a TV movie but had better makeup than most big budget blockbusters. I can't wait to go back and watch the old documentary now. It was really crazy how they seemed to totally become these two characters. They not only got the look and voices perfectly, but they also had all the mannerisms down perfectly. They really were a fascinating family. I liked the way the film intertwined the backstory of how they came to be with the recreations of the footage from the original documentary. The story is actually extremely sad and poignant. Fantastic. This movie will be staying with me for a very long time to come.
Last week really did sort of feel like 1987 all over again. There were new albums out from Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode, and a deluxe reissue of I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got by Sinead O'Connor, plus new box set from Jane's Addiction, and a best of album from D.A.F! I was suddenly in high school all over again. Not that I really musically ever left high school. The bands that I fell in love with then still remain my favorite bands. I have managed to move on and expand my horizons beyond the 10 or 15 bands I liked back then, but they still remain a big part of who I am. To celebrate the release of their new ablum, Depeche Mode put on a huge free show for their fans at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. I was able to look beyond the cheesy corporate sponsorship of the event by the W Hotel. I do love Depeche Mode quite a bit, so any chance at a free show is OK by me. It was also part of the Jimmy Kimmel Show, so fans across the world got to watch a couple of the songs. They ended up playing 3 songs off the new album and 4 old songs. We got to hear "Never Let Me Down Again," "Enjoy the Silence," "Personal Jesus," and "Walking In My Shoes." The show was two days after the release of the new album. Lucky Amoeba shoppers who bought the album that morning got free passes to the VIP section of the show. This section was a couple hundred people right in front of the stage, and there were 12,000 or so people total. The new album is called Sounds of the Universe.
I was so in love with the last Depeche Mode album that I had really high hopes for this one. Playing The Angel came out in 2005. The first single from that album, "Precious," was so fantastic that the rest of the album didn't really even matter to me. But other songs like "Damaged People," "John the Revelator," and "Lilian" were also fantastic. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. While Depeche Mode remain a fantastic touring band to see live, the albums are sometimes not as great as I would like them to be. But out of 12 albums there have really only been 2 that I didn't like. I still loved Ultra in 1997 and Songs of Faith and Devotion in 1993. Exciter was a bit disappointing, as is the new album. However, my love for them will never disappear and I can't wait for the tour. They know what their fans like and still play tons of songs from the old albums. I have not given up fully on this new album yet. I will still give it some more time. Some of the songs are growing on me. The new Pet Shop Boys album is actually the better of the two. Their new album Yes also came out last week. The Pet Shop Boys got a much later start in their career than Depeche Mode, but they both managed to put out their two best albums in 1986 and 1987. 1986 was the year of Please by Pet Shop Boys and Black Celebration by Depeche Mode. 1987 was the year of Actually by Pet Shop Boys and Music for the Masses by Depeche Mode. These first two Pet Shop Boys albums were amazing. They were super fun albums that have remained favorites of their fans. Please had "West End Girls," "Suburbia," and "Opportunities." Actually had "It's A Sin," "Rent," and "What Have I Done To Deserve This?"
Pet Shop Boys put out Behavior in 1990 and Very in 1993. Behavior has some OK songs on it, but it's mostly forgettable. I did fall in love with Very though, in 1993, also the year of Songs of Faith & Devotion by Depeche Mode. "Can You Forgive Her" was totally overplayed that year, but I still loved it. I have seen Pet Shop Boys live since then, but never really listened to their newer albums all that much. I was too obsessed with the old albums. However, this new record is actually really good. There is no "Rent" or "West End Girls" on the album, but their never will be again. The album is still distinctly Pet Shop Boys. There is no getting away from Neil's trademark voice and the "sound" of the Pet Shop Boys. It is good and super gay, just like you would expect from them. There are also some really catchy songs on the album. I keep wanting to go back and listen to "Love Etc." and "More Than A Dream." Much like Depeche Mode, Pet Shop Boys are really great to see live. They don't simply play the songs, they put on a show. And I always look forward to new albums by both of them because it always means a new tour!
Along with being obsessed with Depeche Mode and Pet Shop Boys in the late 80's and early 90's, I was also obsessed with Sinead O'Connor. The Lion & the Cobra came out in 1987 when I was still in junior high, but I Do Not Want What I Haven't Got in 1990 was the album that made everybody know who she was -- and most people either loved or hated her. There was not much in between. The deluxe version of the album has the remastered album and a whole extra disc of bonus stuff. It Includes the songs "Night Nurse," "Damn Your Eyes," and "Mind Games." I am just excited to have this album back in my life. It still holds up as a fantastic album. You will either still love it or still hate it.
Other albums you need to listen to that came out last week are the new Horrors and Empire of the Sun. I liked the first Horrors album out a couple of years ago, but this album has grew on me much more. It is sort of a shoegaze album but sort of not. Mix up some My Bloody Valentine with Jesus & Mary Chain and Joy Division and this is what you get. The new album is called Primary Colours. The new Empire of the Sun album is worth it simply for the amazing cover. It is a modern take on Siegfried and Roy. The are Australia's answer to MGMT. The new Camera Obscura is also fantastic, but only if you like super cute female fronted twee type music. It is one of those albums that is hard to not fall in love with, but only if you open up your heart a bit and let yourself. I could have easily hated this album if I was in bad mood when I first heard it.
also out 4/21...
Art Brut Vs. Satan by Art Brut
My Maudlin Career by Camera Obscura
Best of D.A.F. by D.A.F.
Eccentric Soul: Smart's Palace
Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun
Primary Colours by The Horrors
Cabinet of Curiosities by Jane's Addiction
Mean Everything To Nothing by Manchester Orchestra
also out 4/28...
Colonia by A Camp
Together Through Life by Bob Dylan
Coming From Reality by Rodriguez
Cryptomnesia by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez
Help by Thee Oh Sees