Saturday, October 06, 2007

Blade Runners and Black Kids

I was going to write up a whole review of the new digital Blade Runner restoration, to which I rolled exceptionally deep last night with a contingent of Mahooligans. But it's a Saturday need to get all heady.

[[UPDATE: I eventually did write a full Blade Runner: Final Cut review. It's posted over at The Aspect Ratio.]

I'll make this as quick as possible:

The film remains visionary, provocative and fresh to this day. It's clearly one of the greatest American science-fiction films ever. Ridley Scott used to have a remarkable ability to combine conventional genre material - in this case, the trappings of detective noir and crime cinema - with thoughtful, even cerebral, contemplation. Somewhere along the line, he lost the ability, and now seems only intermittently capable of even providing moderate entertainment. (I mean, A Good Year? Matchstick Men? White fucking Squall? I mean, seriously, what the hell?

Also, this new digital restoration is unbelievably stellar. If you're not in one of the major American metropolises in which Blade Runner: Final Cut is playing...awful sorry...Check out the DVD when it hits in December. But if you are in one of those special, few, civilizated cities, you really owe it to yourself to check this out somewhere with digital projection. This is one of the best-looking film restorations I've ever seen. I've seen this movie on DVD on a plasma TV and it had nowhere near the clarity of this new version. You could make out details that have probably never before been visible - the architecture in Sebastian's '30s-era apartment building, the feathers on Tyrell's replicant owl, the gauzy reflection of neon signs in pools of rainwater. It rules.

I was just going to go on and on like that for a while...but who cares? Better to just throw together a Seeqpod playlist of the stuff I've been listening to lately and start drinking. It's the weekend.

I've really been getting into M.I.A.'s new album, Kala, which is interesting because I wasn't one of those people obsessing about her breakthrough record. But this one's a lot of fun. I'm listening to it right now, in fact. Even though it's loud and noisy and distracting, for some reason, I find it easy to write along to. Perhaps it's because I have no hope of actually understanding what she's saying half the time, even if I'm paying close attention, so I feel comfortable just leaving it on while focusing elsewhere.

Then, two songs by Black Kids, the mp3-net's obsession du jour. These two songs were on everyone else's blog about two weeks back, so I'm hardly blazing new ground when I say this, but both of them are really freaking awesome.

After that's another track plucked straight from today's hipster-geist, so I feel kind of like a poser just for including it, but I can't get it out of my head. (And why do I feel like there was already a band called Whalebones? I know there was a Preston School of Industry album with that name...maybe that's what I'm thinking of. Anyway, with that name, I thought they'd sound like The Decemberists, but they don't. They're probably more like Midlake, if Midlake can be said to have a "sound." It's really just Crosby Stills and Nash's sound. But now I'm rambling...

Then, there's a new Robert Pollard track that sounds exactly like a new Guided by Voices track would. So he really just retired the name Guided by Voices and is continuing to make the exact same kind of music. Which is fine by me. This is a great song.

Then, Calla's "Bronson," which I've been listening to for months now. I feel like I've posted this song before on here, but I checked the archives and didn't see it in there. So if you've already heard this one, feel free to skip it.

I have no idea how this particular David Bowie song made it into my iTunes, but I can't get enough of it lately. It's got that saxophone that David insisted on so frequently in the '80s and that I almost always dislike, but the effect almost sort of works here. [UPDATE: As I do so often when writing about rock history, I goofed here, implying that the song "Jump They Say" is from Bowie's '80s catalog, when in fact it appeared on 1993's Black Tie, White Noise. Oops.]

This is the only song by Misha I've heard, but it makes me want to check out more. Maybe I will some time this week. A great, laid-back kind of song that sneaks up on you; I really dig the oddly quavering vocals, like the singer's freaked out by the microphone or something.

The last three songs are female vocalists creatively reinventing old songs. M.I.A.'s "$20" isn't really a straight cover of The Pixies' "Where is My Mind," per se. It sort of slips in and out of The Pixies. My favorite song from Kala at the moment.

Frequent readers have already heard about my devotion to Bat for Lashes' debut, Fur and Gold. Here she is redoing Bruce Springsteen's classic "I'm on Fire," one of my favorites from The Boss. (I'm not really a huge Springsteen fan, but having grown up in Philadelphia, I'm required by law to like a few songs from his catalog. So I'll take this one, "Glory Days" and "Atlantic City.")

Years ago, my friend Nathan and I discussed The Beatles' overlooked masterpiece "Dig a Pony," and why it didn't seem to get the kind of recognition and respect as other Beatles tracks, even other "Let it Be" tracks. (Perhaps people don't care for the non sequitur lyrics?) That's why it was particularly gratifying to hear St. Vincent do an awesome cover of the song while opening for The National at the Wiltern last week. This medium-quality mp3 doesn't really do that performance justice, but I felt compelled to include it all the same.

1 comment:

Files from The Crief Case said...

Hey Lon, it's okay you only like 3 Bruce songs - I'll save a seat and a Pabst for you at the Stony Pony...