SPRiNG BREAKERS: Spring Break 4 Ever!!!

Posted by Kells, July 29, 2013 01:02pm | Post a Comment

Spring Breakers, the name says it all. For all intents and purposes it is the what, when, why, where, and who of Harmoy Korine's latest youth culture thesis -- a 94 minute non-stop Girls Gone Wild-esque Dubstep rager that prudently substitutes a copiousness of style for a seemingly decided lack of dramatic substance, inter-cut with super slo-mo beach bosoms and bottom biscuits jiggling at a hypnotizing rate of frames per second. it doesn't make a much sense, but whatever. It's summertime and this movie rules!

It seems to me that the real juice of the Spring Breakers fruit has little to do with cautionary tales, innocence lost or questionable actions, but rather it has everything to do with James Franco's cornrows. That is, soaking up the the overall look of the film, which seems to be inspired if not full-on endorsed by Vice Magazine sponsored American Apparel type fad-mongering marketing strategies, is as good as this movie gets.

It shouldn't go without mentioning, however, that that highly skilled costume designer Heidi Bivens'  hot-neon, day-glo accented beach wear, DTF sweatpants, and pink unicorn ski masks really transport viewers into the hyper-surreal world of Spring Breakers to the point of outmoding the efforts of the aforementioned houses of haute hipsterwares for the trending-now crowd. Indeed, the joint efforts of Bivens and Korine, not to mention the talents of cinematographer Benoît Debie, seem to signify an extremely creatively driven approach to fully realizing this project, but the commercial element Spring Breakers presents is most definitely a fashion force to be reckoned with, whether the message translates as what to buy or what not to buy. For me, I couldn't suppress the urge to indulge in a cinematic marathon of summer fashion features after practically gagging on Spring Breakers.

For example, Earth Girls Are Easy most definitely shares the Spring Breakers affinity for hot pink bikinis (and aliens for that matter):

And I couldn't help but think of Overboard when I saw those super-fly pink tiger swimsuits:

I also couldn't help but recall the Runaways film, perhaps owing to Benoît Debie's role as cinematographer for both The Runaways and Spring Breakers (I've got to see more of this guy's work).

Then there's that whole "good girls gone bad" vibe Spring Breakers, well, exploits:

Not only did that aspect of Spring Breakers (forever) make me want to watch Desperately Seeking Susan, but it kind of made me feel like Madonna in that famous Cheetos overdose scene:

Similarly on the good little bad girls on vacation tip, there were many moments that reminded me of the many times I've watched Dirty Dancing in my life. I wonder if Spring Breakers will age as well as DD has.

I also thought of that other film made by the team behind Dirty Dancing (but nowhere near as successful as their Swayze craze), Shag -- the story of four Southern girls looking for one last wild 'n crazy getaway before succumbing to the rigors of boring, normal adult life. Similar premise, and yet...

The look is different. But the late 60s beach parties of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina are just as ridiculous and offensive as those of the South Florida "Spring Break Forever" fever-dreams of today apparently...

A  N  Y  W  A  Y . . .

Want to channel your inner Vanessa Hudgens in your very own Spring Breakers inspired photo shoot?

All the photos that follow hence are taken from an impromptu Spring Breakers inspired photo shoot created by my good friend and fellow Amoebite Gabriel Wheeler after he hosted a Spring Breakers viewing party at his home (sadly, much like Selena Gomez's Breakers character, Faith, I left before the fun happened). Without further ado, here's how to ham it up Spring Breakers style:
You're gonna want to need some cash, lots of cash.

Also, be sure to don swimsuits or any other sort of beach wear you can rustle up, the brighter the better. Don't forget the ski mask! For men Hawaiian prints are a plus.

You don't want your models to dry up under those lights so be sure to stock plenty of beverages.

Also, don't be shy about dipping into your cache of original formula Four Loko.

Of course, ladies, you'll want to get your guns out for this one.

...and don't forget to relish those greens.

Make it rain.

And remember: "SPRiNG BREAK 4EVAH!"


Summer Jams: Turnstyle's "Riding A Wave"

Posted by Kells, July 26, 2013 11:59pm | Post a Comment
I don't know about you, but I'm not back on my quest for fresh cuts to flesh out my latest Summer Jams digest, I'm still on it! Though, "fresh" might be a less-than-ideal descriptive word for this latest discovery as it was very much exhumed from Amoeba's oldies bin during a protracted dig. Nevertheless, Turnstyle's "Riding A Wave" has become a favorite of mine over the last week, with many thanks to British music journalist John Reed -- a man I hold in high esteem for the compilations he has produced, namely Hot Smoke and Sassafras: Psychedelic Pstones Vol. I. I highly recommend this collection, but I digress...

There's not a lot of information out there about the Turnstyle but that probably has everything to do with the fact that this act didn't last long at all. The band formed in 1968 by 17-year-old drummer and songwriter Mark Ashton and went on to record the somewhat edgy, average pop-psych single "Riding A Wave" (b/w "Trot") for Pye Records. Within six months after the release of the 45, Turnstyle supported the Nice for a few live dates before calling it quits without issuing any further recordings. Ashton, his wave riding days behind him as it were, took to the sky with progressive rock unit Rare Bird.
But wait, there's more!

As with my last Summer Jams post, spotlighting Nick Nicely's "On The Beach", some awesome kindred spirit in the universe has created a music video utilising some gnarly vintage film footage of surf, beaches, and bad boy surfers to accompany Turnstyle's "Ridging A Wave" in a such a way that I cannot help but fall in love with this addition to my Summer Jams 2013 mixtape all over again.

Summer Jams: Nick Nicely's "On The Beach"

Posted by Kells, July 7, 2013 03:45pm | Post a Comment

It's Summer and, as always, I'm looking to add to and expand my cache of Summer Jams. Amoeba Music, being the kind of fertile treasure trove that it is -- a place teeming with immeasurable opportunities for finding the next big thing (speaking from personal, individual perspective rather than that of a taste-maker or trend setter) -- my ears perked up when I overheard an esteemed co-worker passionately waxing poetic about the psychedelic sounds of Nick Nicely (or, rather, nick nicely, always spelled in lowercase letters, a musical alias he adopted in 1973 when then Nickolas Laurien claims "one mate said 'give us a fag you sod', and another said 'why don't you ask Nick nicely?'"). After discussing nicely's conspicuously obvious influence on Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti and other contemporary Chillwave riders (or whatever else the hipster runoff calls it) I set out to further my travels down the rabbit hole with nicely's 1994 track "On the Beach" recommended as my point of departure.

And -- HOLY DIVER! -- what a flawless summer jam it is!

The below video pays proper tribute to the sensory vibes nicely's decidedly beach-y jam exudes, but I think that the ultimate factor qualifying "On the Beach" as an instant classic, timeless, enduring Summer Jam is the fact that this tune jives with the notion of a "beach sound" inhabiting a broad scope of meteorological conditions, a terrarium of ecological characteristics and pelagic spectrum of berm highs the likes of which Ariel Pink approaches on side A of The Doldrums (and perhaps nowhere else). Check it out this video for Nick Nicely's  "On The Beach"as made nicely-er with some weathered surf and sun-drenched film footage courtesy of Imaginary Animal:


Takako Minekawa emerges from a thriteen year hiatus with Ponytail guitarist Dustin Wong

Posted by Kells, June 20, 2013 05:26pm | Post a Comment

Sometimes the wait for new material from a beloved recording artist can feel like an eternity, especially when their last album presaged a significant shift in one's personal musical tastes. In February of 2001 I picked up Takako Minekawa's Maxi On! on a heavy vibe-induced hunch (the cover art called to me for reasons I'll never understand -- this kind of thing happens to me all the time) and it forever changed the quality of pop music I seek and enjoy. I spent the next few years digging into her extensive back catalog, digesting it rapidly while anticipating a new release that never came. So began my fascination with an artist that had seemingly just shelved her career as a keyboard-collecting, color obsessed, cat-loving experimental electro-pop singer/songwriter indefinitely.

Twelve years later and I honestly can't remember the last time I checked Minekawa's near dormant website for news or scoured the interwebs for any new transmissions indicating fresh airs from one of my forever favorite recording artists. Then the other day a co-worker (and kindred spirit who knows me very well) uttered the words, "hey, have you seen that new Takako Minekawa album? We have two!" Gobsmacked. Yes, gobsmacked is the best word for my reaction to this query. No, I hadn't seen it. I hadn't heard it or heard of it, but I am listening to it, again, right now, all fifty seven minutes.

I also hadn't heard of (ex-Ponytail) guitarist Dustin Wong until yesterday but my opinion of him as a man and a musician are highly colored by the fact that he deserves hella mad props for luring Takako Minekawa out of her thirteen year hiatus. Known for his intricate solo performances where he delicately loops guitar pieces via a bow-shaped arrangement of various effects pedals, Wong's working approach to music-making doesn't sound all that different from Minekawa's methods, that is, if you switch out the guitar and pedals for a drum machine and a phalanx of precious keyboards. With those similarities in mind their collaborative debut, entitled Toropical Circle, sounds a lot like you'd expect it would. Only, it actually sounds better than I expected, but then that's a testament to the kind of vintage hype that only a baited long-ass waiting period can buy. 

The album erupts with the single, "Party on a Floating Cake" -- a title that sounds like it could've been a throwaway from Maxi On!. Though it begins with a blippy, looped prelude the momentum shifts as Wong's sunny, surf-inspired guitar twangs mingle with Minekawa's trademark breathy vocal wisps until the layers of guitars and synths, piled high and teetering at this point, finally waffle into a sort of false ending that feels anything but finished (think: just about any track from Blonde Redhead's 23). At first listen I mistook this as an ill omen for the record as a whole, but I found that each track overall reflects a sprightly and playful organic genesis that sometimes sounds loosely composed in a random jamming (i.e. "experimental") fashion while otherwise showcasing the technical prowess of the two gurus behind this sonic mixed bag. I especially like the track "Swimming Between Parallel Times" as the woven illumination of the instrumentation resembles a piece that OOIOO might've dreamed up during one of their heady gamelan orchestra collaborations. There are also many shimmering magic moments pulsing throughout Toropical Circle that bring to mind another collaborative effort, Tujiko Noriko and Aoki Takamasa's 2005 album 28 (though the vibe there was more late night neon seduction rather than coltish pastel whimsy and stratified "Mary Had A Little Lamb" tangents).

Continue reading...

Cicadageddon 2013: Celebrate with Sublime Frequencies' Insect Electronica LP!

Posted by Kells, May 24, 2013 02:44pm | Post a Comment

You know The Great 2013 U.S. East Coast Cicada Invasion is in full effect when local restaurants begin to tout cicada-centric menu items with hearty "if you can't beat 'em, eat 'em" gusto. For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, the Cicadageddon that emerges from the ground every seventeen years, North Carolina to New England, is a fleeting affair that has everything to do with sound and vision -- the pulsating reverberations of their billions-stong buzzworthy mating calls drowning out the din of daily life, outdoor concerts and all. But you don't have to live inside the E.C.C.S.Z. (East Coast Cicada Sex Zone) to get in on the sonic action as this sort of thing happens in other parts of the world and the well-traveled field recording gurus down at Sublime Frequencies want you to indulge your senses with their oh-so-timely vinyl release of Brokenhearted Dragonflies: Insect Electronica from Southeast Asia.

This limited edition LP pressing of the long out-of-print CD from 2004 presents for your listening pleasure the sounds of swarms of male dragonflies gathered together to join in choruses of high-pitched tones for one purpose: they're looking for sex. The ones that don't succeed in wooing and winning their mates eventually scream so loud that their chests explode and they drop dead to the ground, or so the legend goes. These recordings are a tribute to this legend.

Droning cicadas, dragonflies, and other insects display their charm as masters of the high frequency airwaves, recorded live and unprocessed by Tucker Martine in the lush settings of Laos, Thailand, and Burma -- the occasional thunderstorm included. Enter the supernatural world where entomology and electronica converge in a tropical hallucination of alien sound. Anyone who has ever wondered if these strange symphonies could be recorded or preserved as precisely as they sound in the field need look no further. Martine has done it and you will be transported to the exact experience one would encounter in these mysterious lowlands.

The LP includes an insert with photos and liner notes by Hakim Bey and Alan Bishop. Get yours today and celebrate the Great 2013 Cicada Invasion in style!
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