October 2009

The Devil Rides Out (6/10)

This is another film that just begs for more creepy atmosphere. As it is, it feels too much like a stage play with sparse and fake looking interiors and performances that scream, "Acting!" This is too bad, because there aren't enough devil movies around. The story is good and this film's monsters are well done but are shot in such a drab, TV movie manner than any impact is lost.

The House with the Laughing Windows (5/10)

I think I have a bias against films where the protagonist has a beard, unless said film contains magic and elves. Seriously, can you think of a good movie with a bearded hero... okay Planet of the Apes, but besides that? I found this film to be very dull and completely lacking in suspense. Sure, there are some visually interesting moments near the end, but the plot is predictable and you will know whodunnit very quickly. With some better pacing and more atmosphere this could have been much better.

Rec (8/10)

Another shaky handheld camera horror movie ala Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield. This style is getting a little old now, but this film manages to deliver the clichés in an effective manner.  Rec still has its share of motion sickness moments and obligatory annoying screaming characters but the ending works very well.

Computer World by Kraftwerk (10/10)

Format: CD

The last great Kraftwerk record and probably their funkiest release. Yet they maintain most of their analog minimalism throughout.

Conan the Barbarian (7/10)

Back when I was a kid I had seen Conan the Barbarian sequel Conan the Destroyer at least half-a-dozen times. It was rated PG and was one of those movies that played all the time on HBO (when they weren't playing Mickey and Maude). In fact, I just watched it the other night with my six-year-old who is terrified of Disney cartoons and even she seemed to like it. Surprisingly, I had never seen the original movie, which I have always assumed was much better.

The Man Machine by Kraftwerk (10/10)

Format: CD

This is a great record, from the futurist (actually Russian constructivist) art direction to the sci-fi themes, pure perfection. The sound of Kraftwerk is completely unique (as far as I know). I love the minimalism of the arrangements and the synthetic nature of the music. There is no attempt to mimic natural instruments here. This is a must own album if ever there was one.

Trans-Europe Express by Kraftwerk (9/10)

Format: CD

Trans-Europe Express is a classic record which laid the groundwork for virtually all the electronic dance music that proceeded it. The music is mesmerizing, precise and minimal without ever becoming dull. Although, I think I prefer their next two albums just a tad more, you can't go wrong here.

Painful by Yo La Tengo (9/10)

Format: CD

I am glad I never got in to Yo La Tengo whilst they were coming into prominence. I probably would have bought everything they released on the day it came out. By ignoring them for a decade or two, I was able to limit my music dollars towards buying what is considered by many to be their best record and leaving it at that. The record is very good with several memorable tracks that are awash in feedback and a dreamy ballad or two for good measure.

What Am I Listening To?

Although I tend to not promote these reviews to the front page, I have been semi-regularly posting mini music reviews of all my CDs as I go through my collection alphabetically. Check them out! This is a continuation of a project I started nearly two years ago on the previous version of this site... I have too many CDs.

A Challenge to the Cowards of Christendom by Knights of the New Crusade, The (10/10)

Format: CD

A great follow up to their first Christian garage-rock album. The one is even scuzzier and louder and ends with a great tune whose lyrics consist of Mike Lucas rabidly speaking in tongues. Praise the Lord! The Knights have saved me with their scuzz-rock brand of Christendom. Hallelujah!

LoopStatic [amine ß ring modulations] by Richard H. Kirk (8/10)

Format: CD

The title does a good job in describing this release. Kirk seems to have shifted away from sequenced sounds and more toward found beats and loops. He uses the same samples again and again throughout this CD to a different effect each time. Each track is like a variation on a theme. While not as hypnotic as his first few electronica CDs, this is still some good stuff.

Agents With False Memories by Richard H. Kirk (5/10)

Format: CD

Cabaret Voltaire's final album ended with a dazzling, CD filling track that drifted between various sonic themes and styles, yet maintained enough of a consistency to justify it being a single piece. Agents With False Memories is a similar attempt at creating an epic electronica composition but it falls short. There's just not enough variety here. The beats and music hardly change during the course of the entire 45 minutes. The only real variety is in the mass of found lo-fi voices that are over-layed on the mix.

The Big Doll House (5/10)

The Big Doll House is a 70s women-in-prison film which featured Pam Grier in more of a supporting role. The film is fairly trashy (as one might expect) but it was on the dull side. The acting is really bad. I mean REALLY bad... to the point of seeming like it was intentional. You know it's pretty bad when Harry the fruit cart guy is the most convincing performance.

Fallout 3 on PC (9/10)

Fallout 1 and 2 are two of my favorite computer games. Those games had a great style to them, engaging post-apocalyptic story lines and a great turn-based combat system.