Now, before you get all greenied on bleezing out in a cloud of puff-puff-pass for "Weed Day" or whatever the kids are calling their ritual observance of April 20th, you might just want to put a foot into your local Amoeba Music to participate in the sixth annual Record Store Day extravaganza! The limited and exclusive releases that drop especially for Record Store Day seem to increase with each passing year and the 2013 list is packed with tons of funky-fresh wax for all us vinyl nerds to gag and brag on.
When it comes to sifting my picks from the torrent I can't help but imagine how I would stack the offerings if I were HBIC of selecting RSD releases.Just off the top of my head, if I had my druthers, I'd demand a proper reissue of Don Cherry's Brown Rice LP for starters, but then I'd also have to have something berserk like a vinyl, possibly picture disc reissue of the rare Jimmy Webb written and America recorded soundtrack to the animated film The Last Unicorn, featuring vocals by the one and only Jeff Bridges. Maybe I could even convince Joanna Newsom to cover "Man's Road" for inclusion as a bonus track just to push the whole package over the top. Oh, if only I could have Record Store Day my way...but I can't complain, really. A girl can dream and there plenty to enjoy this year, here are some of the items I'm particularly excited about:
Earlier this year worlds collided when Little Wings took the stage at Cafe du Nord, one of San Francisco's best preserved former mobster speak-easy joints that maintains decidedly authentic-feeling with shadowy vibes fully trimmed in dust-covered scarlet velvet. Looking like a costumed "tourist" complete with a plastic lei and something like a Greek fisherman's hat, Little Wings breezed through a delightfully unpredictable set of mostly new songs from his first ever double LP release, LAST, his borrowed backing band (The Range of Light Wilderness I believe, sharing the bill that evening) jamming over a few false starts before eventually leaning into the billowy groove of the nearly seven-minute "Neptune's Next" that opened the show. A hushed wave broke over the crowd, and it was then that I noticed, and I could be wrong, but I think maybe I could see that Kyle's teeth were painted.
Accomplished visual artist, avid surfer, and "musician's musician" Kyle Field channels a great deal of his most personal energies and intuitive creative powers into recording and performing music as Little Wings, his ever-fluctuating entity that continues to inspire and challenge audience perceptions with multi-layered song cycles, subconscious-tapping lyrical head trips, and concurrent visual presentations that sometimes embrace an apparent love of adopting guises couched in a language of "the best costume for the day." Seemingly open to collaborations and improvisation, Field continues to garner praise from fans and contemporaries like Will Oldham a.k.a. Bonnie 'Prince Billy and Feist who not only named her 2010 documentary Look at What the Light Did Now after a Little Wings tune but also covered and performed it as a duet with Field as well. Though admirers may tend to paint him as something of a folk hero from time to time (this bromantic GQ piece on Kyle being a prime example), Field seems to play it close to the vest when it comes to his self-expression despite having publicly sharing so many personal pieces. I recently corresponded with him and learned a lot about the new album (2LP! out on Field's own Rad imprint via Marriage Records), what he's listening to lately, and "free friction" in surfing. Read on for the interview!
Whether you're a fan of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire epic fantasy series or just a nighttime TV junkie jonesing for HBO's explicit tits, violence, and wine approach to adapting Martin's opus into their small screen "prestige" drama, you're likely as fired up as I am for the season three premier of Game of Thrones this Easter Sunday night. Having enjoyed reading the books immensely, I'm itching with anticipation for the faces, places, and expirations, however abrupt, yet to receive HBO's patent sexpository book-to-show treatment. For those interested in getting to know the new additions to the series this season, I've compiled my own top ten anticipated new faces set to appear in Game of Thrones 3.0 (expect mild spoilers at best), including a smattering of other related hopes and fears I have concerning the page-to-performance transition (e.g. I'm beginning to think that we're not gonna hear anyone say "R'hllor").
Also, NERD ALERT! if you're in San Francisco on Sunday and you're looking for some Throner-related nightlife I urge you to check out the Game of Thrones viewing party presented at Stage Werx beginning at 8pm with a screening of GoT season two, episode ten to get everyone up to speed. Episode one season three will screen at 9pm immediately followed by a live recording of Boars, Gore and Swords (the "third greatest," and my favorite, Game of Thrones podcast) by Red Scott and Ivan Hernandez so stick around, mingle with ye bannermen, and partake in some top-shelf insightful and opinionated infotainment.
"Rock You in a Tatami Room" by artist Yumiko Kayukawa
It's Women's History Month and, as time would have it, I am missing the Underground Japanese Rock section that I used to upkeep at Amoeba Music's San Francisco location. Having dedicated not a small amount of my life to the study of Japanese language and culture over the last thirteen years, caring for and discovering Japanese music at Amoeba in tandem with my academic duties has been and continues to be a pleasure, though the enjoyment of filing them neatly into their own cozy little vicinity is, sadly, a notion of the past. We do keep a J-Pop section up and running, but I digress.
With this post I seek to celebrate Japanese women in music, specifically the musicians performing on the (alternative/avant-garde/experimental or whatever you want to call it) flip-side of the produced-for-mass-consumption J-Pop norm, and, even more specifically, my favorite artists in the cut. Whenever possible I have included live footage of these artists because, frankly, I find the fact that some of these performances are available at all is incredible. Case in point:
"Your God gave you the gift of the Gun. The Gun is good. The Penis is Evil." - Zardoz
Sick of honoring Saint Patrick's Day by celebrating your Irishness or affinity for Irish culture by going out to drown your innards with copious amounts of Irish spirits? Stay indoors, save some green money, tuck into your own whiskey stash while marveling at the natural beauty of the Emerald isle as framed by British filmmaker John Boorman in such films as Excalibur(1981) and Zardoz (1974) -- could two films made in the same location, directed, produced and written by the same person be more different? I think not.
Gabriel Byrne and Nichol Williamson as Uther and Merlin in Excalibur
And yet one gets the impression that even in within the context of Boorman's adaptation of Arthurian legends the sword Excalibur represents a goodness not unlike that of Zardoz's "God-given gun" while the "evil" penis serves naught but to wreak havoc upon Camelot's carefully constructed peace what with all that adultery and incest going 'round the round table. But Zardoz is one of those films that I find myself thinking about more than I probably should, perhaps that's because no matter how many times I've seen it it completely freaks me out. It is such a strange film that it's almost impossible to believe it actually exists.
Sean Connery in Zardoz
It does exist, of course, and looking past Sean Connery's adult diaper-looking red short-shorts, matching bandoliers and thigh-high leather boots costume -- not to mention the plenitude of naked women that flesh out the cast -- to digest the core of the penis vs. gun debate in this most extravagant of dystopian science fictions is only half the fun. But I digress, and I really shouldn't attempt to mold Excalibur to its freaky, art house contours. Though both of these films were made in Ireland, largely filmed on Boorman's own estate (must be nice!), Zardoz doesn't pack the same atmospheric punch that Excalibur does, but then Excalibur isn't trying to sell viewers on the concept of giant stone God heads that fly around distributing arsenals of firearms to the people down below by ejecting guns by the dozen from it's gaping mouth-hole. Excalibur's magic is a softer, more subtle stuff. Personally, I think it's the best movie of it's kind ever made.
Nicholas Clay and Cherie Lunghi as Lancelot and Guenevere in Excalibur
There is a seemingly excessive use of green lighting used to fantastic effect throughout Excalibur, highlighting what I've always assumed to be the suggestion of magical elements at work within the story (see the green glint on the sword pictured above), and spotting the use of unnaturally green light throughout the film seems worthy of a drinking game. Unlike Zardoz, Excalibur's more unbelievable moments are enveloped within an oft-told mythological narrative so well known that when when the audience is presented with, say, an awkward, huffy-puffy sex scene between a nude actress (Boorman's own daughter, Katrine as Igrayne of Cornwall) and a fully-armored knight (Corin Redgrave as Cornwall, or is that Gabriel Byrne again?) it's not all that surprising. Shocking? Maybe a little, but plausible. Just about as plausible as the Lady of the Lake (featuring Boorman's other daughter, Telsche), whose scenes not only make an argument for her existence showcase some of the more beautiful of Excalibur's Irish locations.
Nigel Terry as King Arthur approaches the Lady of the Lake
All in all, there are plenty of other fantastic fantasy films made in Ireland (Princess Bride is a standout favorite) so if you're stuck inside the house this St. Paddy's Day, or are just plain loath to go out and mingle with the greenery, get a little Irish film fix with either of these Boorman classics. Also, be on the lookout for the Excalibur documentary, Behind the Sword in the Stone, currently in production and featuring interviews with Boorman himself and many cast, such as Nigel Terry, Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson, Gabriel Byrne, Cherie Lunghi and Charley Boorman who played young Mordred in this so-called "Boorman family picture." Check out the trailers for both Excalibur and Zardoz (if you dare) below.