The 90s...the best movies of 1990...

Posted by Brad Schelden, August 25, 2015 07:00pm | Post a Comment

I am continuing my journey back through the 90s that I started a couple of years ago. I compiled my top ten albums of the first part of the 90s. In case you missed those you can check them out here. I am now moving on to film and listing my top ten films of each year of the 90s. I will be of course starting with 1990. Since it is the 25th anniversary of 1990! I know it is hard to believe. The 90s is still my favorite decade for music and for film. Although the 80s is really hard to compete with. But a film I loved when I was ten or 12 in the 80s is much different than a film I loved when I was 18 or 20 in the 90s. I really grew up in the 80s. But my high school and college years were in the 90s. 90s films just became a bit more serious for me. Or at least I took film more seriously. Sort of. These were the years I discovered foreign film. The years I discovered the genius of David Lynch and John Waters. I of course loved movies in the 80s but the 90s are when I really fell in love with film and started to understand film and the vision of a director. When I started to really pay attention to editing and cinematography and scores. There were of course some absolutely horrible movies in the 90s. You might even think some of the movies on my list are some of your least favorite!

This is a list of my specific ten films of the year that I love the most. I don't claim for these to be the ten best films of that year. And they certainly are not your favorite films of the year. The great thing about movies is that we all connect differently to different movies. It would be very rare to find two people with the exact same list of ten films from any given year. These are the movies that I have owned on VHS and DVD and Blu-ray. The movies that I have watched over and over again. The movies that I would go see again in the theater if I ever had a chance. These are the movies that make me happy. The movies that make me cry. The movies that I have probably watched too many times already. But if they were on TV I would not be able to resist watching them again. If I ever feel depressed or sad these are the movies that I can turn to knowing they will make me feel better. I really can't even imagine my life or life in general without these movies.

I am going to start each list with a list of the top ten films of that year at the box office. Just as a reference for the year. I will also list what won the Oscar that year for best picture.


Top Ten Films at the Box Office...

Home Alone
Dances With Wolves
Pretty Woman
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The Hunt For The Red October
Total Recall
Die Hard 2
Dick Tracy
Kindergarten Cop

Best Picture Oscar...Dances With Wolves

my top ten films of 1990...

#1 Goodfellas
Martin Scorsese

We all get introduced to our favorite directors through different films. It often depends on what age you are when a certain movie comes out in the theater. Or just what film you happen to watch for the first time by that director. It could be the first movie that a certain friend recommends to you or makes you watch for the first time. Goodfellas was my first introduction to Martin Scorsese. And I was hooked on him from that point after. I went back and watched Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ. I went to the theater in the years that followed to see Cape Fear, The Age Of Innocence and Casino. Goodfellas is just one of those perfect movies that I can always go back to. I love the Ray Liotta narration. I love the performances of Lorraine Bracco, Robert De Niro and of course Joe Pesci! I think I actually saw this movie before the Godfather movies so this was one of my first gangster movies. Unless you count Bugsy Malone (1976) with Jodie Foster and Scott Baio. It is hard to believe that this movie did not win Best Picture at the Oscars. But Kevin Costner & Dances With Wolves swept the awards that year. Joe Pesci did walk away with a much deserved Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. And the film did win all the BAFTAs and the DGA and a whole bunch of other awards.

#2 Edward Scissorhands
Tim Burton
I love Tim Burton. Like most people I know who grew up in the 90s. I felt like he was one of the directors who I could actually relate to. He really understood a whole generation of kids. The goth kids and weird kids into horror movies and fantasy. His movies were fantastical and ridiculous at times. But I was in love with almost everything he did in the 90s. I was a big Pee-Wee Herman fan and loved Pee-Wee's Big Adventure more than almost anything. After that movie and then Beetlejuice and Batman I was a serious Tim Burton fan. Those were 3 of my favorite films of the 80s so I was already a huge fan going into Edward Scissorhands for the first time. And I was already hooked on Winona Ryder from Heathers and Johnny Depp from 21 Jumpstreet.  So it was virtually impossible for me to not love this movie! I try to watch this movie about once a year and never get sick of it. It has everything I love about a Tim Burton movie. It is seriously funny with great supporting performances from Vincent Price, Dianne Weist & Kathy Baker. It a crazy ridiculous fantasy film that only somebody like Burton could pull off. And it is a great love story! The film is beautiful to look at and one of those movies that I can't resist jumping into whenever I can.

#3 Pump Up The Volume
Allan Moyle

Heathers is probably my favorite movie of all time. It came out the year before Pump Up The Volume. I think it actually changed my life forever. It probably helped me develop into the person I am today. I probably learned how to be sarcastic and morbid from this movie. And I forever loved dark comedies after this movie. My love for Heathers was mostly due to Winona Ryder and Christian Slater. So I tried to see everything by them I could in the years that followed. I was already in love with Slater from The Legend Of Billie Jean. But this movie really sealed the deal. Pump Up The Volume was the perfect movie to end the 80s and begin the 90s with. Most of 1990 really still felt like the 80s and the 90s really didn't start for me until maybe 1991. Samantha Mathis was also great in this movie but it was really all out Christian Slater. I love this movie so much. I think we all probably wanted to run a pirate radio station after seeing this movie. I loved how he was the nerdy student undercover at school during the day and then the sex crazed cool dude at night on his radio station. Allan Moyle also directed the brilliant Times Square from 1980 and would go on to direct Empire Records in 1995. The soundtrack to this movie is also one of the best. You might not be able to relate to this movie or understand its importance if you didn't grow up in the late 80s & early 90s. But this movie seriously spoke to me and I will never forget the way it made me feel.

#4 Misery
Rob Reiner

Can we talk about Kathy Bates in this movie. Seriously one of the best performances of all time. She also went on to have another perfect performance in 1995 in Dolores Claiborne. Another Stephen King movie! I love Stephen King. In the 80s and 90s there were some amazing Stephen King books made into some equally amazing movies. Cujo, Christine, Children Of The Corn, Stand By Me, Pet Sematary, & then Misery. This movie is creepy and thrilling from start to finish. Both Kathy Bates and James Caan are fantastic in this film. Kathy Bates deservedly won the Best Actress Oscar this year for this performance. I even love Richard Farnsworth and Frances Sternhagen in this movie and could watch a whole movie about them. And Lauren Bacall is perfect as always as Paul Sheldon's book agent. I just love the mood of this film. A perfect movie to me always has the perfect combination of a good script and good acting. But even more important to me sometimes is the mood of the film. I love when the art direction, score, costumes, cinematography & editing all come together perfectly to make the perfect movie. This is one of those movies for me. It is a dark and twisted story. But it is told so brilliantly. Kathy Bates performance is meant to be a bit over the top and obsessive. It could have gone all wrong with someone else in this role. She just handles the character perfectly. She switches between attentive nurse and psycho super fan so easily. This is another one of those movies I just love jumping into the world of. I of course would not want to be trapped in that house with the Kathy Bates character. But I have a thing for snow movies and always love watching movies that take place in the winter snow. I love putting on this movie and becoming part of its world.

#5 Wild At Heart
David Lynch

Wild At Heart was another first for me this year. It was the first film I ever saw directed by David Lynch. But I was already a fan of the man from a little show called Twin Peaks. My love for Twin Peaks and all things David Lynch would only get stronger over the years. But 1990 is when it all started! I was already a huge Nicholas Cage fan because of Valley Girl and Raising Arizona. I have been going back and watching all these films the last couple of weeks. I seriously have not seen this movie in almost 20 years. But I still had almost every line and scene memorized. I forgot how much I loved this movie. The cinematography and art direction of this film is fantastic. And like most David Lynch films, the score and soundtrack are amazing. Laura Dern and Nicolas Cage are both perfect. Sailor & Lula forever! Laura Dern just kills it in her performance as Lula. The film is crazy and fantastic and just a little bit creepy in only that very unique David Lynch way. A sex crazed Lynchian version of The Wizard of Oz! I don't think I had ever seen a film like this before. It is probably one of his more accessible movies but it is still weird and experimental. It is super sexy and dreamy. It is the genius of David Lynch. And I can't even handle Dianne Ladd's performance as Lula's mom. She is just perfection in this movie. I can't get enough of her outfits and here wigs in this movie. And she had some of the best lines ever in this movie. Dianne Ladd even got a Best Supporting Oscar Nomination for this film. The film also has some amazing scene stealing supporting performances from Crispin Glover, Willem Dafoe & Isabella Rossellini. And you will recognize Grace Zabriske, Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn & Jack Nance from Twin Peaks. I always love Grace Zabriske and she does not disappoint in this film. This is one of those movies that I simply can't think of the 90s without.

#6 Trust
Hal Hartley

I am pretty sure that Trust was my first Hal Hartley movie. It might have actually been my first "Indie" movie. My first glimpse of what a film outside the major studios could look like. There were no stars that I had ever seen in this movie. It didn't have a huge budget. It was not flashy. You could tell the story was probably written by the director. It was his baby that he had probably worked on for years. I did fall for Hal Hartley pretty quickly. I went back and forth to the video store and rented all of his films over the early and mid 90s. I watched The Unbelievable Truth, Simple Men, Surviving Desire, Amateur, FlirtHenry Fool. He used a lot of the same cast throughout his movies. And I soon knew Adrienne Shelly, Martin Donovan & Robert John Burke like they were my new best friends. I am not sure how someone would react to seeing these movies for the first time 25 years later. But they still hold up for me. And I have had lots of fun revisiting them. The stories are always a bit wacky and quirky. But they are real stories of somewhat real people in ordinary small towns. They are about real relationships and first meetings. They are about falling in love and how one chance encounter can change the rest of your life. The scripts are always genuine and intelligent. I just love the characters he creates. I don't think these movies could exist in any other time but the 90s. His first movie did come out in 1989. But the era of 90s film really sort of started in 1989.

#7 Last Exit To Brooklyn
Uli Edel

This movie might be too dark and depressing for most people. But I fell in love with it the first time I saw it. It depicts the dark side of living in Brooklyn in the 50s. It spends equal time developing the stories of a prostitute and a working class closeted union guy. The story of course does not end well for the gay characters in this movie played by Stephen Lang or Alexis Arquette. But I still somehow enjoy this movie. I just love this movie because it seems to offer a more honest portrayal of what it meant to be poor in the 50s. It also portrayed the gay characters realistically for the time period. Most movies that take place in the 50s show an idealistic perfect way of living. The film is based on the famous novel of Hubert Selby Jr. But the most important thing about this movie is Jennifer Jason Leigh! This was really the world's first introduction to the magic of Jennifer Jason Leigh. I was pretty much hooked on her after this movie. She of course went on to become one of my favorite actresses of the 90s in Rush, Single White Female, Short Cuts, The Hudsucker Proxy, Mrs. Parker & The Vicious Circle, Dolores Claiborne, Georgia, Kansas CityBastard Out Of Carolina. She plays the prostitute Tralala in this film. She really becomes this character and completely takes over the film. There is just something about Jennifer Jason Leigh that I can never quite explain. But I really do love everything she ever does. Jennifer Jason Leigh is one of those actresses you either love or hate. Her characters in this film and Dolores Clairborne have stayed with me over the years. This movie also features Ricki Lake who was already known as the star of Hairspray. But this was another one of her first roles. Sam Rockwell also shows up in this movie in his first film role. I always pay attention to the scores of my favorite films and this is another great one. Mark Knopfler creates a great score to go along with this film. This was German director Uli Edel's only big movie of the 90s. But almost 25 years later he directed another one of my favorites. The Baader Meinhof Complex. I can't recommend that movie enough. I think about it often much like Last Exit To Brooklyn.

#8 La Femme Nikita
Luc Besson

I love this movie! I had not seen it since the 90s and was happy to find out that I still love it as much as I did when I first saw it. It has really been fun to revisit all these movies again. It seriously takes me right back to the 90s. This might have been the first foreign movie that I ever saw. It was for sure the first foreign film that got me this excited. Not only did this movie introduce me to the world of foreign cinema but it also introduced me to the director Luc Besson. I would of course become a huge fan of his over the next couple of years with The Professional and The Fifth Element. And I had actually seen The Big Blue a couple of years before this which also starred Jean Reno. I just had no idea who the director was at the time. Anne Parillaud stars as Nikita in this movie. She is fantastic in this movie and on my list of favorite female action stars along with Linda Hamilton in The Terminator and Sigourney Weaver in the Alien movies. This movie was remade in 1993 as Point Of No Return. I know most people don't like that remake as much as the original. But I actually really like Bridget Fonda and have a fondness for that movie too. I really love the score to all of these 90s movies on this list. I just love the overall mood and feel of this film. The supporting cast is also great but it is really all about Nikita. I highly recommend revisiting this film if you have not watched it in a while. And you absolutely must watch it if you somehow missed it the first time. I watched a lot of foreign films in the 90s and it makes me happy to know that it all started with this film..

#9 Total Recall
Paul Verhoeven

Like most kids who grew up in the 80s I became a big of Arnold Schwarzenegger at a pretty young age. And he really just became somebody that I would sort of love no matter what. He is really sort of like Disneyland in that way. I became a huge fan of Disneyland and all things Disney at a really young age and now I am a fan for life. They get us when we are young and we never turn our back on them. The Conan movies were my first introduction to Arnold. I still remember the first time I saw them at a sleepover at a friends house. I was obsessed with both Arnold and Grace Jones after those movies. Then came The Terminator, Commando, Predator & The Running Man. 1990 was the year of Total Recall and Kindergarten Cop which I also have no shame in admitting that I loved. Total Recall introduced me to both Paul Verhoeven and Sharon Stone. They would of course work together again in one of my other favorites Basic Instinct. Verhoeven also directed Showgirls, Starship Troopers and RoboCop. Total Recall is just pure fun. It is ridiculous and over the top at times. And this movie will certainly not be everyone's favorite. But I just love it. I have always loved science fiction and action films and anything that takes place in space or involves time travel. This movie has everything you could ever want from a Schwarzenegger film. I will even defend the latest Terminator film because of my love of Schwarzenegger. But there is really nothing like 80s and 90s Schwarzenegger.

#10 Longtime Companion
Norman Rene

This was most certainly the first "gay" film that I had ever seen that depicted normal characters. I had seen gay characters in some movies prior to 1990. But never like this. These dudes were most certainly not the gay guys in Last Exit To Brooklyn. My exposure to gay films had mostly been from films like The Boys In The Band and Come Back To The 5 & Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean. Longtime Companion is heartbreaking and the most gayest of tear jerkers ever. But I still love it. And I find it sort of comforting at the same time. The characters are all so likable. This movie is also so very 80s. One of the stories is about a gay character coming out on a soap opera. So of course I love that. The film starts in 1981 and ends in 1989. It deals with a group of friends in New York at the outbreak of AIDS. This movie also introduced me to Mary-Louise Parker, Campbell Scott & Dermot Mulroney. This was certainly the first time I had seen Mary-Louise Parker and Campbell Scott. And I became a fan for life of both of them after this. I was already a fan of Dermot Mulroney since I had seen him in some TV movies and Young Guns! Bruce Davidson is also great in this film and even got nominated for a best supporting Oscar. And I can't even explain how great it was to see Michael Schoeffling in a gay role. Jake Ryan from Sixteen Candles! I can't resist jumping back into this movie about once a year. I always want to revisit these characters. It was so great to finally see real gay characters having real interactions in a film. And this film certainly put a real face on the AIDS crisis for many of us. It certainly woke me up. The director of this film went on to direct a couple more films after this but died of AIDS in 1996. After this film I went back and discovered some great gay films of the 80s. Another Country (1984), My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), Desert Hearts (1985), Parting Glances (1986), Torch Song Trilogy (1985), Maurice (1987) & Prick Up Your Ears (1987) would all become some of my favorites. But it all started for me with Longtime Companion. And I will  never forget the first time I saw this film.

Up next...1991

My Promiscuous Cochlea: Everyone My Ear Took Home in 2014

Posted by Mark Beaver, January 8, 2015 05:33pm | Post a Comment

Vinyl isn't cheap, nor is is tawdry, so the collecting of it has become much more a matter of discernment than it used to be.

The following is a list, alphabetical, perchance by merit, of the vinyl (new titles and re-issues) that made the cut in 2014. It doesn't presume to be a "Best Of," as I am very aware of the peculiarities of my particular set of listening apparatuses. It is a list of the vinyl that my scattershot attention locked on to, brought home and allowed to bed down in the limited space that I allot for records in my home.

Love (Sacred Bones)

Folky, trippy, with that under-water production we've heard from the likes of KURT VILE, except where VILE is stoned and hanging with his buddies, AMEN DUNES' Damon McMahon is lost in a vast open space, deep in the mushroom and calling "Marco Polo" to the night sky. Stark and brittle while somehow managing to remain lush. I don't think I listened to any album of 2014 as often as I've listened to this.


Yeti (Purple Pyramid Records)

Do we need another re-issue of one of the landmark achievements, one of the single-most definitive artifacts of Krautrock? Well, sure. And if, just if, it were to be re-issued with a lenticular cover and deep blue vinyl that sounds, well, just terrific. Hells yes! The most expensive piece I laid out for this year (#375 of a limited edition of only 500!), but absolutely worth it!


Syro (Warp)

What is there to be said? It's been a long wait for another AT release and it was well worth it. Alternately playful, serious, clubby, experimental. Elements of rave culture snuggling shoulder-to-shoulder with 21st Century composition. Fun for thinkers.


Heartleap (DiCristina)

The crush of the modern world requires Vashti Bunyan. Her music is salve, balsam, emollient.  She skirts the edges of twee but the weight of her sheer, simple musicality pinions her into the real. Repeated listenings have locked Heartleap in as my favorite of her releases to date, and, sadly if her claims are true, the last.


To Beat Or Not To Beat (Editions Mego)

There's very little to be found regarding the name(s) behind this mysterious Russian(?) electronica imprint. The music is playful and spooky in the way that only experimentalists with a toe on the dance floor seem able to do. "eena ferroix" is my stand-out track, a slow build like a soundtrack to a horror movie in which Kraftwerk come back as zombies and shuffle a path of destruction through Algiers. Side D features a Ryuichi Sakamoto remix of it, as well.


La Isla Bonita (Polyvinyl)

So many things going on here: The base layer is solid pop rock with far-flung polyrhythmic tendencies. It's weird, it's sweet, it's clunky and angular. I'm often reminded of pre-Eno Talking Heads, but only in brief moments, then it's buried in Henry Kaiser/Fred Frith-ish guitar-jabbing and sparring. I dig it. "Baseball is cancelled/E.T. is running late."


Gymnosphere: Song Of The Rose (Numero Group)

Numero Group was not to be outdone by last year's Light In The Attic overview of the history of New Age music, I AM THE CENTER.  Here they re-issue a near-forgotten 1976 treatise of piano-reverb magic. For when you need to just stop what'cher doing.



An Evolutionary Music (Original Recordings: 1972-1979) (ReRVNG)

Clearly there's a hippy buried deep within me that is dying to be recognized. More tripped out experiments in piano, modulators, percussion and voice that we should all have known about all along. RVNG is my vote for label of the year, as there are 2 more re-issues by them in the list below.


KINK Under Destruction (Macro Records)

Not real sure what to make of the fact that two of the few Electronica records I brought home this year were of Russian origin besides the fact that something strange and awesome is going on over there. Not as dark as the COH title listed above, but rather much more playful and silly and even tribal. Made me giggle.


K. LEIMER A Period Of Review (ReRVNG)

Again on stellar re-issue label, RVNG, recordings by Kerry Leimer compiled from the years 1975-1983. Exotica flavors much of the proceedings, as does a particular New Wave quality. Some tracks seem cousins to Jon Hassel's Dream Theory In Malaya, while others feel ready to open for Flock Of Seagulls. 


Anthology Of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol. 1: Nommos/Visiting (ReRVNG)

The third item I collected from the RVNG label. Re-issues of two albums that were intended to be issued together in 1981, but were issued a year apart due to numerous obstacles. Leon was a producer for Suicide, Blondie and Richard Hell, the only obvious alignment being with Suicide. Similarly repetitive electronic patterns mark these albums, interspersed with modulating meditations and Japonesque rhumbas.


Mess (Mute)

How about a little "truth in advertising." The LIARS have always been a mess, but here they admit it. Their longevity seems poised on one driving principle, "do not let them guess what's coming next." The closest they've been to the dance floor yet ("Dress Walker"), but at the same time, the closest they've been to the dark ambient disturbance of psycho-sexual warriors like Current 93 or Coil ("Left Speaker Blown"). I love that I don't know what they're thinking.


Talk To The Sea (Music From Memory)

Take a pop song and then start pulling pieces away. Make it less and less and less. Install wide open landscapes between all of the few remaining parts. If you've loved this process from the likes of Talk Talk and Bark Psychosis, you're gonna love what Gigi Masin's doing.


This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About (Glacial Pace Recordings)

The original 1996 LP remains my favorite and so glad Glacial Pace made it possible for me to have a shiny new, slightly expanded copy. Hey, thanks!


Golden Skies (Brainfeeder)

So I heard this album, bought this album, dug this album deeply LONG before I ever read anything about them. I guess this guy, Charles Dickerson, is associated with Flying Lotus and Thundercat, which caught me by surprise, as I thought it HAD to be somebody associated with Fuck Buttons. Really great, intricate, open-horizoned electronica. Lots of forward drive and lots of things to see and do while you're driving there.


MARISSA NADLER July (Sacred Bones)

As always, here on her 8th album in 10 years, Marissa Nadler is witchy and trippy and adept at finding ways to pry up the lid on the beautiful things that squirm around under love and time and lonely locations. 


Gamel (Thrill Jockey)

As per the title, OOIOO have pulled their inspiration from Indonesian gamelan music, incorporating the rhythmic gongwork into an angular, artrock document that makes more and more and more and more and more sense the more you listen. A conceit that I was unsure of became logical, then obvious, then essential. Could everyone please add gamelan to whatever their doing? Now, please.


Works (Naxos)

Naxos has started pressing vinyl?! You could have pushed me over with a feather, but then I bought this gorgeous item and it burned my face off, instead! Penderecki's the honey-badger of 20th Century composition; he doesn't give a s$%& and he will scare the behoozits outta you...but in a beautiful way.


Didn't It Rain expanded re-issue (Secretly Canadian)

It feels strange for their to be an "expanded" issue of what was one of the late Jason Molina's most contracted and sparse albums. So, that means there's a lot more of as little as possible. The last album under his moniker SONGS:OHIA before he would ever-so-slightly expand his vision into MAGNOLIA ELECTRIC CO., Didn't It Rain is a document, a complicated heart's soulprint direct-to-wax.


Faith In Strangers (Modern Love)

The first track from Stott's newest is akin to 6 minutes of foghorn, digitally created, of course. The album slowly lifts off the water from there. Faith In Strangers is the first Stott release that I've connected with, mostly due to the sheer unusualness of being completely captivating while having next to nothing taking place. Not really ambient, as there are beats, but he's a DJ that won't lay one down until you're looking at something else. He's acting the shadow person, performing in the periphery of your vision.


Typical System (Iron Lung)

Saw these guys open for THEE OH SEES in 2011 at Alex's Bar in Long Beach (IMHO, one of the area's best venues), and they were awesome. The hooks and vocal detachment of Joy Division delivered with raw punk energy over SUICIDE-al beats. Their 2012 debut, Henge Beat was killer, and Typical System ups the ante. The perfect balance of New Wave ethos and Punk attack.


(aka TR/ST and TRST) Joyland (Arts & Crafts)

Here are some of the words reviewers used in their luke warm reception of TRUST's sophomore effort: "slick," "repulsive," "disturbing," "lewd" and "numbing." Add all those up along with the album being described as, "a dance record for the club underneath the club," and I'm hooked. 


Nikki Nack (4AD)

Forget all the hyped, songwriter-fed, jetset-producer-fixed R&B that is force fed to you during every network halftime event. There's a new soul sound as angular as the Buzzcocks, as nutty as Ivor Cutler and as smart and confounding as your last Statistics final. Get smart!


WOVENHAND Refractory Obdurate (Deathwish)

Let's imagine that IF the GUN CLUB's Jeffrey Lee Pierce had wrested control of SOUTHERN DEATH CULT away from Ian Astbury, turned his life over to the Lord Jesus by way of revelation and slipped down into the catacombs to dust off all the Apocryphal texts that he could (but probably shouldn't) get his hands on, then we might be approaching the sound of David Eugene Edwards' WOVENHAND. This is a revival tent I will enter.


Extra Painful! (Matador)

Yo La Tengo's songs are a lot like planets: They're out there spinning around us and some of them are warm, some are cold, some of them are lush or stark, and some of them we're not sure we can even say are planets, maybe moons or just satellites. But when they align, you can really feel the pull. Their 1993 release Painful! was one of the band's true harmonic convergences, a perfect flow of dream-pop, jangle and full-on jam. Extra Painful! adds another disc's worth of live and demo proof that it wasn't a studio-manufactured fluke.


Savage Rhythm (Stag-O-Lee)

There is hope. A while ago I watched GOLDDIGGERS OF 1933 on DVD. I figured I might have to groan through some real cornball antics, but what struck me was just how razor-sharp the comedy of those early talkies truly was. Similarly, record bins all over every town in America, in every Goodwill and St. Vincent De Paul thrift store, in every Salvation Army and swap meet are full of the likes of Tommy Dorsey, Charlie Barnet, Bob Crosby and Artie Shaw. You see them there marked 50 cents and figure they're just corny and square and stale. This beautifully packaged and brilliantly curated set proves we're wrong about that.

Album Picks: Real Estate, Trust, Linda Perhacs, Axxa/Abraxas

Posted by Billy Gil, March 4, 2014 10:52am | Post a Comment

Real Estate Atlas (LP or CD)

It should be no surprise that Real Estate’s third album is another impeccably crafted piece of beautiful guitar music. The New Jersey band has only made the necessary updates to their sound over the past few years, like polishing a statue into perfection. The album’s first few tracks offer everything we’ve come to love about this band, with sunny jangle-pop songs (opener “Had to Hear” and single “Talking Backwards”) butting next to nostalgic, minor-key songs about suburban splendor and decay—like being depressed about seeing a high school friend that never moved on, Matt Mondanile (also of Ducktails) sings “I walk past these houses where we once stood/I see past lives, but somehow you’re still here,” with perfect precision on “Past Lives.” Real Estate’s lyrics have often taken a back seat to their shimmering guitarwork, but here they’re a bit more prominent, shining a light on Mondanile’s minimalist approach—despite how lovely the music is, songs like “Crime” are pretty depressing when you get down to it, with lyrics like “I wanna die/lonely and uptight.” Musically things have expanded a bit, as the band throws in more overt nudges toward easy listening and ’70s singer-songwriters in “The Bend” and country tinges in the gauzy, pretty “How I Might Live.” Instrumentally, these guys are just top notch, as they make instrumental “April’s Song” an album highlight, even without Mondanile’s soothing vocals, allowing his tremoloed, romantic guitar lines to do the singing for him. Atlas is simply a stunningly beautiful piece of guitar pop.

Continue reading...

2014 Forecast: Music I'm fantasizing about / looking forward to this year

Posted by Kells, January 6, 2014 07:11pm | Post a Comment
Now that 2013 is over and done with it's time look forward to a new year and new music. Here are some future releases and dream pieces I'm particularly stoked for:

Various Artists - Killed by Deathrock, Vol. 1
(Sacred Bones) 

I. Love. Compilations! Especially when they are lovingly assembled over long periods of time by obsessive crate diggers. This is one such collection, compiled by the Sacred Bones Records founder Caleb Braaten, born of a love for exhuming rare tracks from barely-heard and in some cases "un-Googleable" Post-Punk, Deathrock, and Dark Punk ensembles. Began in 2007, this passionate piece of dedicated Deathrock devotion is finalized and finally seeing the light. Note: the LP is limited to 150 pressed on pink vinyl so, like, be ready to snatch yours up. Out January 21st.

Cibo Matto - Hotel Valentine

It'll be impossible for single party people to suffer a sad and lonely Valentine's Day in 2014 because Cibo Matto's first new album in fifteen years, Hotel Valentine, drops on February 14th! And they're making it an extra sexy release what with the limited first press made on clear/cream vinyl. The album itself is kind of of a concept centered around a of love hotel or something, but the usual zany grooves, random raps, funky breaks, Sci-Fi wasabi, jazzy interludes, island flava and extended dance jams make this album feel like their excellent last album, Stereo Type A, wasn't released as long ago as 1999. I mean, are the 90s back or does the Cibo Matto sound possess an infallible timelessness? Yes, and it's about time. 

Continue reading...

Pump Up the Jam: Songs to Jumpstart Your New Year's Resolution

Posted by Billy Gil, January 2, 2013 05:56pm | Post a Comment

I, like many others, engaged in the cliche practice of going to the gym the day after New Year’s Day (which is reserved for hangovers) in order to “start the new year right” and “get on the right track.” During this delusional first couple of weeks — or if you decide to actually stay with an active workout routine (good for you!) — you’ll need some tunes to get you through the slow crawl back to fitness. Here are some of my favorite workout jamz, most of which you can download at


Technotronic“Pump Up the Jam”

Despite its inclusion on questionable Jock Jams albums, this late ’80s banger is a brilliant slab of early minimalist house pop.


Prodigy“Smack My Bitch Up”

The only Prodigy song I ever liked. Its misogynistic overtone is unfortunate, even with the “shocking” video they used to try to counter that (which I think made it worse), but its mid-’90s MTV “Amp”-era beats surprisingly hold up.


LCD Soundsystem“Us V Them”

Continue reading...
<<  1  2  >>  NEXT