Thursday, February 23, 2012

Friday 2/24: Silver Bullets @ Cinematheque

Joe Swanberg's Silver Bullets is playing at the Cinematheque this Friday evening, followed by a Q&A with Swanberg afterwards.  Swanberg, undoubtedly the most prolific mumblecore film director of all time, will be there to answer all of your questions.  This is only one of the four films that he wrote and directed in 2011, which reminds me of the unbelievable filmic output of Fassbinder, though that's as close a comparison between the two that I would ever make.

Silver Bullets appears to be a low-budget exercise in navel-gazing: it's about a mumblecore film director (played by Swanberg) and an indie horror film director (played by Ti West, who actually directed the indie horror film The Innkeepers which was screened at the Cinematheque last weekend!).  Swanberg's onscreen girlfriend gets cast by West to be in his new werewolf film, so Swanberg casts his girlfriend's best friend to play his girlfriend in his autobiographical mumblecore film.  Presumably, shenanigans ensue.  Did you follow that?  While most films in this genre tend to be rather meta by nature—especially Swanberg's films—Silver Bullets appears to be the most self-consciously self-referential mumblecore film to date.

Friday, February 24th.  4070 Vilas Hall.  821 University Avenue.  7pm.  Free.

Trailer and interview after the jump.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Friday 2/24: Advance Base @ Der Rathskeller

(photo via)
Owen Ashworth spent thirteen years writing and performing as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone.  In 2010 he announced that he was retiring that project, and starting anew with Advance Base.  If you listen to his new recordings, or even his last couple releases as CFTPA, and compare them to the early Tomlab albums, you'll definitely notice a continuity in the writing style.  The instrumentation has changed a bit—he's switched from playing cheap Casiotone keyboards over pre-programmed beats to playing a Rhodes piano—but his distinctive approach to storytelling remains just as strong and effective as always.  He's been called the Raymond Carver of songwriters as well as the Ray Davies of our generation.

This Friday evening, Advance Base will be playing at the Memorial Union in Der Rathskeller (800 Langdon St., 9:30pm, free, all ages).  We got in touch with him via e-mail to ask a few questions about life and music; read the interview below.

Frank:  I know that Advance Base, the name of your home studio as well as your new moniker, is a reference to Richard Byrd's Antarctic outpost, but have you warmed up to living in the Midwest since relocating here from the west coast?  What's your favorite part about living in Chicago?

Owen:  I like my neighborhood. It's quiet & the buildings are good looking & I have some friends around. I don't get downtown very often, & it feels like a special occasion when I do. My life feels like a nice balance between minding my own boring business & having access to exciting, big city stuff, like movies or bands coming through. Chicago is great. I first visited on a tour maybe ten years ago & it just seemed like a nice place to live. I remember the street that made me want to move here & now I live about a mile away from there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Golden Donna releases new EP

Golden Donna performing at the Good Style Shop (photo: Benny Arnold)
Joel Shanahan just released his first EP, All Alone, under the moniker Golden Donna. It's a five-track digital release running 24 minutes in length, and it's available for free on bandcamp.  The opening title track sounds a bit like an early Pete Rock instrumental with electro-pop drums.  Later tracks remind me of Laurie Spiegel's early synth work but played with more traditional synths than the Bell Labs' GROOVE system.  It's great.

In addition to releasing this EP and playing a slew of shows around Madison, he's finishing an LP which will be released late this spring and just went to Texas to work on the soundtrack for a documentary set for release this fall.

If you haven't checked out Golden Donna yet, you have a couple opportunities coming up:  this Saturday he'll be playing at the Dragonfly Lounge (401 E. Washington Ave., 9:30pm) with Trin Tran, Samantha Glass, and Catacombz; on March 9th he'll be playing at the Frequency (121 W. Main St., 9:30pm) with EMA and Nu Sensae.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday 2/11: Crimes, Golden Donna, Technicolor Teeth @ Mickey's Tavern

Technicolor Teeth
After checking out Technicolor Teeth's music, I wasn't surprised to see that their facebook page lists My Bloody Valentine and the Beatles as influences. They aren't lying. Their so-called virtual 7" Horrorscopes is shoegaze with a serious pop twist.

Crimes, on tour from Minneapolis, play well-crafted indie rock chock full of boy-girl harmonies and Fender-tone slow-surf guitar riffs. I wasn't immediately impressed with their album Good Hope, dismissing it as that brand of inoffensive pop music that I love to hate. After noticing that the album has the tags "arcade fire beach house rock the pixies ambient garage rock surf Minneapolis" on their Bandcamp page, it seemed a safe snap judgment. However, it's so strangely pleasant that I have already listened to it three times in a row, and will probably test their claim that this is "serious road-trip music" the next time I'm driving across the country. Undeniably good stuff.

Golden Donna is Joel Shanahan is a synth wizard. To be honest, he's the main reason that I insist that you check out this show tonight.

Seriously, it's tonight.  Mickey's Tavern. 1524 Williamson Street. 10:30 pm. Free. 21+.

Music after the jump.

Thursday 2/16: Cate Le Bon, Pioneer @ The Frequency

Cate Le Bon
Cate Le Bon is a Welsh singer-songwriter influenced by the psychedelic leanings of Syd Barrett, Donovan, The Velvet Underground, and Vashti Bunyan. That said, she bears no trace of the cloying affectations that have come to characterize the Devendra Banhart school of “freak-folk.”

In addition to being beautiful, her songs are simple and guileless and charmingly strange––they’re full of little musical quips, like the unexpected phrase of an 8-bit sample in an otherwise very solemn track, or a tinny, adorably easy-to-play guitar solo plopped into the middle of an airy ballad––and perhaps most of all, they seem delightfully oblivious to the ruling trends of the indie blogosphere. She’s the real deal, in other words.

Go see her play.

Thursday, February 16. W/ Pioneer. The Frequency. 121 W. Main Street. 9pm. $10.

Music and videos after the jump...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Wednesday 2/15: Lynda Barry giving a talk with Chris Ware, Ivan Brunetti @ Chazen Museum

Lynda Barry, the famous cartoonist, is giving a talk this Wednesday night at the Chazen Museum as part of her spring residency at UW-Madison.

She’ll be interviewing fellow artists Ivan Brunetti and Chris Ware, both of whom are extremely famous themselves, making for an unbelievably special night. Topics that will be discussed: “myopia, the power of drawing by hand, and how to teach cartooning to people who badly want to make comics but feel they can’t draw.”

Barry’s comics are known for being as sad as they are funny, and typically focus on childhood.

Chris Ware, you may remember, is the awesome guy who drew this rejected cover of Fortune magazine:
(Click here to magnify)
Wednesday, February 15. 4:30-5:45 p.m. Chazen Museum. 750 University Ave. L160. Free and open to the public.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wednesday 2/8: Golden Donna, Cuticle, NARC, Alexander Trust @ Good Style

Tonight is ambient night at the Good Style Shop.  Alexander Trust and NARC are from Baltimore, Cuticle is from Iowa City, and Golden Donna is from Madison.

Tonight. Good Style Shop. 402 East Washington Avenue. 7pm. Free (but you should donate something or buy something).

Music after the jump.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

UW Historian Bill Cronon Loves Wikipedia

Bill Cronon (credit: Hilary Fey Cronon)
William Cronon, the famous UW-Madison environmental historian and president of the American Historical Association, has written a letter to his fellow historians recommending that they begin embracing Wikipedia.  According to the letter, Cronon—like everyone else who uses the internet—loves Wikipedia:
I even have an app that downloads to my iPhone the entire English-language contents of the site—over four gigabytes—so I always have it at my fingertips even when I'm offline.
This is not really surprising, since word on the street is that Bill Cronon has 25,000 books in his basement (the same number of books in the College Library at UW-Madison).  His argument for why fellow scholars should fully embrace the website is hard to refute.  Although it would be nice if more academics began contributing content, Cronon takes it a step further by explaining how Wikipedia is helping expand the boundaries of academia:
Wikipedia provides an online home for people interested in histories long marginalized by the traditional academy. The old boundary between antiquarianism and professional history collapses in an online universe where people who love a particular subject can compile and share endless historical resources for its study in ways never possible before. Amateur genealogists have enabled the creation of document databases that quantitative historians of the 1960s could only fantasize. In my own field of environmental history, I've long told students that gardens and cooking, which have only recently begun to attract the academic attention they deserve, have been studied for generations by serious antiquarians and amateur scholars (many of them women) whose interests were marginalized by a male-dominated academy. In the wikified world of the Web, it's no longer possible to police these boundaries of academic respectability, and we may all be the better for it if only we can embrace this new openness without losing the commitment to rigor that the best amateurs and professionals have always shared more than the professionals have generally been willing to admit.
What a great guy.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Saturday 2/4: Radar Eyes & Bad Omens @ Der Rathskeller

Radar Eyes are a garage/psych band from Chicago. In the past, their sound has traveled from reverb-drenched garage punk on their demo tape to C86 style pop on last year's excellent "Miracle" 7". On the eve of releasing their self-titled debut on Hozac Records, Radar Eyes' sound has shifted again, carrying an unabashed Spacemen 3 influence. There's really nothing wrong with evoking the same moods as the classics, and a re-listen to Spacemen 3's "The Perfect Prescription" should ensure you that this influence is a pretty good banner for Radar Eyes to carry.

Chances are good that Radar Eyes will let loose live, especially after a performance by Madison/Milwaukee's Bad Omens. Bad Omens is a 4-piece "garage/doom band" consisting of both of the members of the Hussy and a dude from the Catholic Boys/Sugar Stems/Sticks N Stones. I can't find any music from the band online, but if you know the Hussy, you know not to miss this show.

This show is Saturday, February 4 at Der Rathskeller in the Memorial Union. It's open to everyone, starts at 9:30pm and is FREE. No excuses!

Some Radar Eyes-related content below...