Amoeblog

More Funky Than Too Funky? (supermodels, shock and a new movie from Katsuhito Ishii)

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, October 9, 2008 07:30pm | Post a Comment
Thierry Mugler's motorbike dress in George Michael's Too Funky music video 
I'll never forget the first time I witnessed the awesome spectacle of George Michael's "Too Funky" video. I was already borderline obsessed with fashion in the mid-1990's and thought highly of Michael's supermodel-laden "Freedom 90" video, but the visual candy of "Too Funky" as designed, styled and directed by then notorious fashion designer Thierry Mugler made the voyeuristic appeal and "freeing" acts of destruction that comprise the "Freedom 90" video seem trite by comparison. I don't care how precious and pretty Linda Evangelista looked as she lip synched inside her sweater, I'd rather see her (along with Christy Turlington, Tyra Banks, Eva Herzgovina and, my favorite, Nadja Auermann, to name a few) strutting her actual supermodel stuff on an actual catwalk, flaunting actual fashion while George Michael repeats, "everybody wants a lover like that," which is precisely what the "Too Funky" music video delivers, and in such a fabulous manner that it cannot possibly be copied -- sorry En Vogue.

So, how about that "Motorbike" dress? Pretty amazing isn't it? Certainly not for everyday wear, but a girl's gotta have options. I remember thinking this playful ensemble shocking, in a good way. Actually, after having just viewed the 'director's cut' of the "Too Funky" video, I got to thinking about what the definition of shocking was a little over ten years ago as far as the mainstream media is concerned. Of course, I got to thinking about everything Madonna: her "Lucky Star" midriff beginnings, her metal-bound Sex book, Erotica, the "Justify My Love" video and a particular scene from her Blonde Ambition tour documentary Madonna - Truth or Dare where Madge is informed by Canadian police that she'll be arrested if she touches herself suggestively during her performance of "Like A Virgin." With Madonna the list goes on and on, but if one were to judge her overall shock value by the percentage of the audience that sings along to her tune, counting both lovers and haters alike, I bet there wouldn't be any shocking findings at all, at any point in her career. Perhaps she really has done it all. And if that be the case, what in the world can be deemed shocking today? For my part, I'd like to submit Katsuhito Ishii's film Funky Forest: the First Contact (two disc DVD now out from Viz Media) for review, as it's the most shocking thing I've seen recently.
Asano Tadanobu and Susumu Terajima in Katsuhito Ishii's Funky Forest
So far, I love all the Ishii films I've been able to lock my sights on: Sharkskin Man and the Peach Hip Girl, Party 7, Taste of Tea -- I love them so much I cannot pick a favorite; they're like candy. One of the main reasons I felt shock when I watched Funky Forest for the first time is that it fulfilled all my expectations while successfully deflating them at the same time. It's like when someone decides to give you a 'sexy' cake for your birthday. Of course you didn't expect to get a cake shaped like giant genitals, but you did expect cake and there is no question about whether or not you're gonna eat it. But is it tasty? Funky Forest is a tasty cake of a movie diguised as disjointed, patchwork quilt handstiched by your reclusive little Edie Beale looking, ex-showgirl aunt who happens to moonlight as a Chris Cunningham mutant who watches too much TV Carnage. Threads of several stories are woven loosely with only a few coinciding; however, belly laughs and nervous giggles abound as situations break off, start up and proceed to get weirder and weirder. It's unlike any of his previous films; it's certainly funky and totally fun.

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Oakland's The High Decibels to play Element Lounge tonight

Posted by Billyjam, October 9, 2008 05:51pm | Post a Comment
          

Unique new Oakland hip-hop group The High Decibels, whose recently released debut album HP on Rolling Jack Records melds rap, rock, and blues, are playing a must-see show tonight at the Element Lounge at 1028 Geary Ave. in San Francisco. At this evening's show the group's two front men/emcees, main-man Duke and his back up/hype-man Chief (above), will be joined by the tight High Decibels live band led by group founder & album producer KC Booker who will be playing electric guitar, along with Aaron Taunton on electric bass, and Deane Jenkins on drums. Unfortunately superswift DJ Gordo Cabeza, who does a stellar job cutting it up throughout the new album, will not be joining them for tonight's show, but no matters, it should still be an off the hook concert.

I have already seen the High Decibels perform twice in the past few weeks and each time they exuded a level of professionalism not normally associated with a local hip-hop act who have just dropped their first record. Each of these recent shows were semi-informal and were attended by only a handful -- one in KC's North Oakland living-room for a Imeen.com video taping & the other (also in North Oakland) was a live remote WFMU radio broadcast that I produced last week. At each of these performances they connected with the few in attendance and remarkably (especially for live hip-hop) sounded even better than on their record!

Expect the set for tonight's show to be drawn exclusively from their 13 track album and to include such favorites as"Duke Gonna Get Em," "Crash With No Cushion," "Who Knew Duke," and "Miss Cindy." At tonight's show they may or may not be sharply dressed (like on the album cover, left), donning their stylish suits, shirts, and ties. "They [suits] get too hot to perform in sometimes," laughed Duke. And what about that classic large 1988 model boombox also featured on the album cover? "We bring it round with us always to play beats off it," said Duke. But they will not need to bring it for tonight's High Decibels show.

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Mariee Sioux Chats

Posted by Miss Ess, October 9, 2008 04:34pm | Post a Comment
Mariee Sioux's songs are some of the most intricate and evocative I have ever had the pleasure of hearing. Her lyrics are often stream of consciousness-like and flooded with images of nature and Native American symbolism, part of Mariee's heritage. She has a way of weaving together beautiful melodies with impressionistic words and creating incredible songs. I highly recommend Mariee's debut album, Faces in the Rocks, which came out last year on Grass Roots Records. You can hear some of the songs from the album and check out her tour dates here, and you can see images from Mariee's Amoeba instore from a while back right here. Read on for our chat about her middle school musical tastes and the French, among other things...

mariee sioux

Miss Ess: When did you start writing songs?

Mariee: When I was about 18 I wrote some songs with some friends in a little girl band we named "Gale Music"...then after that they just started flowin'. But I've always written things, whether it was journals, weird stories as a kid or even weirder poems as a kid. Then I went on this trip to Patagonia and brought my mom's guitar and just started writingjeff mangum some tunes down there.

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out today 10/7...antony & the johnsons...

Posted by Brad Schelden, October 9, 2008 12:15pm | Post a Comment
antony & the johnsons
So we have to wait until January of 2009 for the new full length album from Antony & The Johnsons. That did seem really far away a couple of months ago, but Halloween is quickly approaching, followed by that little holiday called Christmas, so all of a sudden January is almost here. That will mean that I have been back in Los Angeles for a year already! I can hardly believe it. I have been looking forward to a new album by Antony since the day after his last album, I Am A Bird Now, came out back in 2005. That seems like an awfully long time for us to wait, but I love his last album so much that I never really got sick of it. I have been listening to it more this year than I think I even did back in 2005. Antony is nice enough to give us a little sneak peak of the album by releasing a new EP this week. Another World is a nice little gift for his fans, but it really is too short. It seems to end just after it starts. I need more Antony! It is almost cruel just to give us only this. He also really sort of made it hard to make anything better than his last album. How can you compete with the brilliance of I Am A Bird Now? I don't really know what he could have done to make a better collection of songs. The Crying Light will come out on January 21st in 2009. I am hoping that he has kept some of hantony & the johnsons another worldis brilliant and magical new songs for this full length. I am sure he has. I do really like this EP but it just does not really compare to his albums...or maybe it is just too new for me right now. I have listened to it a bunch already and often just start it over once it stops. I might just need some more time for it to fully grow on me.

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MISSION ACCOMPLISHED FOR SF LOVEFEST 2008

Posted by Billyjam, October 8, 2008 10:47am | Post a Comment
     

"A free parade that celebrates music, love, diversity, tolerance, dance, and community is something... America needs now more than ever," stated the organizers of the big annual San Francisco LoveFest,  the annual electronic music festival which celebrated year four on Saturday. "We know that in a culture awash in conflict, materialism, superficial concerns and greed, an event of this kind can lift the spirits and the hopes of those who surrender to its power. The power of dance. The power of music. The power of community." That statement was made before Saturday's big fourth annual parade and party. And having attended both the LoveFest Parade and the mega party it morphed into after parking at Civic Center Plaza, I can confidently say that it was mission accomplished for the LoveFest. The event kicked off around 12:30PM as a colorful parade from 2nd Street down Market and ended up as an all day outdoor dance party awash in tens of thousands revelers grooving to all strains of throbbing electronic music.

Saturday's upbeat SF LoveFest 2008 came after a week of downbeat, depressing news headlines. So it was the perfect antidote to the reality of the gloomy world outside where the economy is in the toilet and the future doesn't look bright from any angle. For the approximately 100,000 dancing bodies that packed the Civic Center Plaza to move to the various music booming sound system floats lined up across the large city center plaza, the SF LoveFest truly offered up pure unadulterated escapism -- if only for the day. Of course, there were reminders of the presidential election, with Barack Obama images everywhere. But Obama -- hung round as an image of hope -- never distracted; rather, the images only seemed to reinforce the good vibes that hung in the air all day up until the party wound to a close at around 8PM. Check out the SF LoveFest website for more images and info, plus an amazing bird's eye view video looking down on Civic Center Plaza on Saturday afternoon.

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