Amoeblog

What Do You Dance?

Posted by Smiles Davis, March 17, 2009 11:31am | Post a Comment

Ever heard a record that made you want to get down like this little kid? The first record I ever bought on vinyl was Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. I was 10, it was 1994 and the record was still bumping on the radio fifteen years after its original release. New, old, fresh, or dusty, the music got to me, put me in a mood I was unable to describe at the time. My mother had never seen me so intoxicatingly excited about anything before; she didn’t really know how to react. She worked hard with a no nonsense policy always enforced around the house. She gave me the money I asked for to get the record just to get me out of the house. “Now go on outside and play and stop pestering me,” she barked after slapping the dough in the palm of my hand. Out I went. After buying the record and enough candy to last me ‘till the end of time, I raced my bike across town – a very small town -- as fast as I could to my grandparents’ house, where I retreated to the basement for some serious privacy. My grandfather, who used to own a record store, had a lonely turntable set up at the end of the long, terribly lit basement for special occasions just like this. I got my boogie on for a couple hours, doped up on food coloring and high-fructose corn syrup, poor lighting and all.

It wasn’t long before music got to me the same way the youngest member of the Jackson 5 did. In 1995, just one year after my first magical music moment, I discovered Prince. My cousin let me borrow 1999 on cassette with the promise I return it promptly. 9 months and 101 excuses later, she was forced to steal it back from me. Prince was my forbidden fruit. Never listened to him out loud, always played him in my Walkman for fear my mother would forbid me from listening to it. I’ll admit, the vulgarity and promiscuity that Prince exudes is a bit much for any 11-year-old, but like Michael Jackson, all I ever wanted to do was dance. I had to listen to music that made me want to move, shimmy and shake ‘till the exhaustion kicked in and forced me to call it quits. Lyrics be damned-- I didn’t understand what the heck they were talking about anyway, it was gibberish to me. It was about the beat, the rhythm, and the evoked emotion.

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"AMERICAN" MOVIES: PART I

Posted by Billyjam, March 16, 2009 08:29pm | Post a Comment
american psycho
This Amoeblog rates ten films with "American" in the title (most of which should be readily available on DVD at Amoeba). It seems that just having the word "American" in the title of a film is an instant attention grabber and gives said movie a certain cache or a slight air of importance.

Of course, the movie has to be worthy of this attention and not all "American" films are. Here's a random list of Top Ten "American" Movies -- by no means all inclusive or comprehensive, but ten that I have viewed and have opinions about. I've listed them in order of favoritism. Please feel free to add your favorite or most hated "American" movies in the COMMENTS below. And check back for a future Amoeblog on "American" Music -- songs or albums with "American" in the title.

1) American Psycho (2000)
Whether you consider this film dark comedy at its darkest or a just plain psycho violent movie, this is nonetheless a brilliant piece of work and, in my opinion, the greatest performance of Christian Bale's career. Directed by Mary Harron, it was adapted from Bret Easton Ellis's controversial novel of the same name. The film stars Bale as its materialistic central character, Patrick Bateman, who is supported by a strong cast that includes Jared Leto, Josh Lucas, Justin Theroux, Bill Sage, Chloë Sevigny, Reese Witherspoon, Willem Dafoe, and Samantha Mathis.
american movie
Among my favorite scenes in the movie are the two in which Bale as the narcissistic Bateman character (which he plays to perfection -- perhaps tapping into his inner anger/violent issues) critically dissects the music of Phil Collins and Huey Lewis & The News. So graphic were the sex and violence in one scene of this film that for the edited DVD version and R-rated cinematic version of the film in the US a third of minute of footage was deleted.

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Women of the Western

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 16, 2009 06:48pm | Post a Comment
 

Ever since the dawn of film theory, film critics have loved the Western; probably because its engagement with formula and its psychological subtext are so obvious, so close to the surface, that theorizing about westerns is a bit like kicking gravel and striking oil. The genre bears a similarity to tales of knights errant, who similarly were bound by codes of honor and used strength and wit to defeat malevolence, &c &c &c... Part of what makes the Western attractive for film theorists is the way it shifts and evolves too -- spiraling off subgenres like Curry Westerns, Northerns, Oesterns, Red Westerns ands Spaghetti Westerns -- and engages other genres like samurai films and noir. But whereas a little bit of research turns up several scholarly works addressing women's place in the Western, I haven't been able to find any that focus on female-centric Westerns, nor been able to uncover a clever or cutesy name for the subgenre. When I started this blog, I thought I'd come up with a tiny handful, but was quickly surprised at how many Westerns feature females in roles of central importance.

   
Real women of the west. washing clothes (left), famous madame Chicago Joe (center), bandit Belle Starr (right)

The Wild West was, to be sure, a male-dominated place. Of course, there were women too who, just like their male counterparts, were probably more likely to run a ranch or work in town than to find work as gunslingers, bandits and bounty hunters... although there were those too. The National Cowgirl Museum Hall of Fame has, since its founding, sought to better document the contributions of women in the west. Although women in Westerns generally seem to symbolize civilization/the east, making cowboys uneasy with their use of risque talk and their attempts to transport urban conventions to an untamed land, in real life, that role would've been impractical and probably abandoned pretty quickly. When there's work to be done, propriety and traditional societal constructions would just get in the way. In fact, in Wyoming, for example, women gained the right to vote in 1869, over 40 years before the ratification of the nineteenth amendment. The photographs of Evelyn Cameron depict no-nonsense women who have little in common with the dippy, ditzy cowgirls of Gil Elvgren's art or Hollywood cowgirls. Of course, I'm not suggesting that Hollywood is in the business of portraying reality, but it's interesting to look at the decisions they make when constructing mythology.

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(In which we consider Peaches considering Joni Mitchell.)

Posted by Job O Brother, March 16, 2009 06:40pm | Post a Comment
fruit
This has been a busy week, dear readers. Lots of phone interviews, dinner parties, and soundtrack-slinging at Ye Olde Amoeba Music Hollywood.

I was gabbing with Peaches about her new album last Wednesday. It’s called I Feel Cream (release date in the U.S. is May 5) and it’s a blast! Definitely a departure from its predecessors, in that it’s more diverse in sound and moods. Peaches sings a lot more. There are moments where it sounds like the lovechild of modern R&B and older tracks by darlings of the Industrial genre, Front 242.

peaches i feel cream

Anyway, I asked her about musical influences that might surprise people (it’s already well documented that she loves hip-hop and rock ‘n’ roll). This led to her gushing about Joni Mitchell, and this performance in particular, which rocked her world:


That voice! A miracle. I just can’t get enough of it…


She really is one of my favorite things in the world of music, and while not everyone shares my passion for her sound, anyone who appreciates songwriting as a craft must acknowledge that, as a writer of music and lyrics, she remains one of the greatest artists of modern pop music. She’s credited with inventing about 50 different guitar tunings, and the list of musicians who cite her as an influence – Peaches included – reads like a Who’s Who of music.

Price Tag Gallery

Posted by Mr. Chadwick, March 16, 2009 12:20am | Post a Comment








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