Monday, December 5, 2016

Sufjan Stevens ; Carrie & Lowell

It's a rare occasion that you listen to an album and it hits you and affects you on such a deep and intimate level. Sufjan Stevens' Carrie & Lowell left me in tears halfway through listening, and struck such an emotional chord that I wasn't really sure what to do. It was absolutely beautiful.

I've listened to Sufjan in the past and have definitely enjoyed his music, but never has it hit such a nerve before. To be completely honest, I haven't listened to an album like this in a very long time that elicited such a response. It's raw and it's so delicate, it stunned me right away and captivated me entirely. Something about it was so hauntingly fragile, and suddenly the whole room felt still, like it was filled with ghosts that had stories to tell. 

I needed to know immediately what it was about. Who were Carrie and Lowell? Why was it that this album, after all his previous ones, had such an impact on me?

I read Pitchfork's review immediately and found out a bit. Turns out, Carrie & Lowell is essentially his autobiography. The album is titled after Steven's mother and stepfather. "Carrie was bipolar and schizophrenic and suffered from drug addiction and substance abuse. She died of stomach cancer in 2012." His stepfather, Lowell, was married to Carrie for 5 years while Sufjan was a child, but clearly left a massive impact on his life. This is the album's main narrative, with some songs a back and forth conversation with his mother, post mortem. 

Listening to it with this in mind, with the sense of loneliness, loss, and despair, is truly impactful. On top of that you add the melancholy and melodic orchestras and delicate strings that make it truly a masterpiece. Looking at the photos on the album art, they suddenly have such an impactful meaning.

A stand out song to me was Fourth of July. A song that I played over and over, repeatedly. With a somber tone throughout, it's a conversation between his mother and him on her deathbed. With his voice in a near whisper and with an airy and delicate piano backing, he ends the song with a repeated lyric of "We're all gonna die." I didn't see it as something tinged with hopelessness, I saw it as a philosophical revelation of acceptance. To be at peace of the mystery of afterlife.  

The album seemed to evoke thoughts in my head that have been suppressed repeatedly. Any thoughts of loneliness or emptiness I've ever felt seem to come back in this grandiose wave and I guess I just didn't really know how to take it all. Although the album is about Sufjan's own personal life, it's extremely relatable and leaves you reflecting. Feelings of doubt, personal guilt, questions regarding life and the unknown, and our own self destructive tendencies. I think it's absolutely breathtaking when an album has the ability to have such an effect on someone. For that reason, I think it's one of the most impactful pieces of art I've heard in a very, very long time. 

And for that, thank you Mr. Stevens. 


Monday, November 28, 2016

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! - A look into exploitation's finest

There's nothing like a good ol' retro exploitation flick. Overplayed melodrama, luscious babes, fast cars, and an absolutely jazzy soundtrack, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is such a staple of the genre. 

The cool thing about Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is that it is SUCH inspiration to Tarantino's Deathproof. It always makes me super sad when people trash talk Deathproof, it's always seen as his complete and utter failure. What people don't really notice is that it's his ultimate homage to all things b movie related and cheap slashers. And the soundtrack? Probably his best soundtrack to date. To make matters even worse, upon watching the initial release, people thought there was something wrong with the tape, as nobody realized all the blunt edits and scratches on the film were intentional. Good grief.

Anyways, I digress, and I'll get back into Deathproof later. I'd much rather rant and rave about how absolutely awesome Faster, Pussycat is. And how absolutely dear to me it is. It was made in the 60s, and the amount of girl power in this is absolutely wicked. 

The three main protagonists (or actually pretty much antagonists, in particular Tura Satana who sneers and yells throughout the whole thing) are go-go dancers that race cars in their spare time in the desert. After a lil' incident with a drag racer goes down, the three decide to continue wrecking havoc, this time at a barn, with an old man and his sons. The three girls are honestly divine. Unapologetic females with overtly sexual outfits (Tura's breasts and how they didn't pop out of her is that even possible*) lying and cheating men, what a treat! They totally beat stereotypes too, from driving fast cars, to being more aggressive and cunning than their male counterparts, they're even physically stronger than them!

Russ Meyer is an exploitation master. His films are all about babes, violence, sex, and nudity. The cool thing about Faster Pussycat is that it's his least overtly sexual flick. Yeah, for sure, some scenes are insanely sexy, but there's never any direct nudity. That's pretty awesome in my opinion in a time when cheap exploitation was all skin, skin, skin. It's awesome that after watching some of his other films as well, he does have a distinct style to his work, and that makes him extremely recognizable. That recognizability, and what he's done for exploitation, makes him an influential player, and an important one at that! I really want to take the time and watch The Immoral Mr. Teas, Meyer's first debut at the end of the 50s that started the whole softcore "nudie cutie" craze. Perhaps a review on that next? Eeeeeep, the whole genre gets me excited. I love this sort of thing! 

Honestly, Faster Pussycat is such a gem. I really recommend it to anyone looking for something fun that'll have you smiling throughout. The dialogue is total camp, and the chemestry between the three girls is a treat to watch. Any Tarantino fan should especially watch it, as it's nutty how influenced by this he is. Even at the end of Deathproof, Tarantino leaves us with a little thank you to Meyer.

It's a movie that's completely celebrated, and spawned a cult following on American campuses when it came out. It was so uniquely original for the 60s, and what's not to love about babely babes, fast cars, and trouble around every corner!

*I legit spent the whole film wondering how many times scenes needed to be re-shot because of Tura's buxom upper half. There's absolutely no way they can be so big and stay in place. What's her secret? How does one accomplish this?


Thursday, November 24, 2016

FREE 6LACK ; Moody debut from Atlanta's freshest

Guys, I'm so sorry I haven't done anything else but music reviews recently, but holy shit, November has been fire in terms of new releases. And this one I'm about to tell you about? This is my favourite hip hop album that's emerged in a very, very, very long time. I am gifting you with this find right before the weekend, which is the perfect time to unwind to it. 

Cue Atlanta artist, 6LACK. This is huge step for the mysterious lyricist. As the man stated himself, it's a huge transitional period for him. Finally free from his suppressive record label and some old relationships under his belt, 6LACK puts a sexy lil' mark on scene with his debut. 

What an album to just close your eyes to. It's so wonderfully moody and hypnotic, with some songs going directly to your ever growing sex playlist. 6LACK oozes confidence both with his voice and lyrically, and you can't help but get lost in his mesmerizing roller coaster. 

The one thing I really appreciate about this album is that it's all 6LACK. Nobody else is featured on the album, and it just lets you really appreciate what he's done and how far he's come on his own. 

Like the bear on his album cover, he's hungry as, and his debut is the tantalizing appetizer, to what I'm hoping to be is a delectable 7 course meal.

PS; Personally I am so addicted to Learn Ya, I have literally played it to death over the past 24 hours. 

Songs to note: 

Learn Ya 


Saturday, November 19, 2016

California Dreamin'

And the road trip goes on and on and on. Made it to Edmonton! Always a treat. Tons of cute little stores to venture to, and rad restaurants at every corner. Decided on a neat little 70s throwback outfit to parade around town in.

I was staying at the Mettera on Whyte Ave in Old Strathcona. If you're in the area, I HIGHLY  recommend checking out Junque Cellar. It's this awesome little antique/vintage shop with SO many gems. It's a pop-culture fanatic's dream. 

But back to the outfit. I am in LOVE with this skirt. Something about an ugly mustard corduroy is so gaudy and vintage looking to me, I adore it. The top will be coming out in Jack by BB Dakota's summer collection this year so it'll be something to look forward to. The bell sleeves and the lacing around the front are divine. Totally a top I want to spend all of summer in, frolicking about in the sun. The belt is Lanvin, a thrifted GEM I found for only $5. Poor sucks didn't know what they were selling. Heh.

Top ; Jack by BB Dakota
Skirt ; Forever 21
Belt ; Lanvin
Chelsea boots ; Zara

The 70s revival trend has been my favourite thing to come out of fashion the last little while. For anyone that knows me, the 70s are just a time that I absolutely adore and wish I lived through. I've even went as far as to make sure my apartment looks like a 1970s time warp. I've been having so much fun with velvet and corduroy, campy t shirts and gaudy orange and red colours. Bodysuits and turtlenecks and just looking like a kid out of a typical 70s slasher. Whatta blast. 


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Justice - Woman. Good God, they're back.

JUSTICE HAVE RETURNED. After a 5 year silence, they're back and better than ever, reminiscent to their Cross days (D.A.N.C.E, anyone?) and totally brushing under the rug the slight mess of their second album that followed. I haven't been this excited for a dance album to come out since Daft Punk's Random Access Memories. Just like Daft Punk, they deliver. Literally just get ready for some 70s funk, mixed in with a lil throwback to Cross, their debut phenomenon. 

When they released Safe and Sound, the first single off of this album a few months ago, it was brilliant. The first single in ages. Hearing it as the first track now, while waiting for what's to come, builds the anticipation like mad. The 70s style disco throwback with bass grooves and sassy synths make it bomb as. 

There have already been complaints that the album is a bit cheesy, in particular Pleasure, but that's what I like about it. I'm sorry, but disco and funk are supposed to be slightly cheesy, and this is catchy AF, especially the chorus.  

It reminds me of of just such a mish-mash of everything rad. Tron, the Drive soundtrack, a lil' bit of Daft Punk, 70s funk, 80s synth swag, it's just such a phenomenal collective that drips and oozes cool. They're just so good at creating things to bob your head to, things that make you want to get up and dance. Songs that are so melodic and so endless, they totally make you forget where you are and you lose total track of space and time. It's captivating

As consumer friendly as it is, there are some more intense tracks on here that do want to make you go absolutely mental as well. Chorus is wild, you feel like you're on this insane adventure, and you've taken every possible substance under the sun. It's also killer driving music. Alternatively, Heavy Metal just beats at your skull in the best way possible.

The thing I love about Justice and that I really feel they had when Cross came out, and that rings true on Woman as well, are the brilliantly executed orchestral elements. It's something so unique to electronic music today and that's so dreamy, it really causes you to get lost in it all. Emotions can run high with this one, making for the whole album-listening experience a serious expedition. The ending with Close Call is the most perfect fade out too, and the most melodic ending to a whirlwind symphony of sheer genius they've gifted us with.

I loved this album (can you tell?) I think it was such a great "welcome back" from two French dance icons of the early 2000s. Honestly, God bless Justice. And seriously, God bless French dance music as a whole. 


Monday, November 14, 2016


Man oh man, 5 days left of the Great Canadian Roadtripathon. It's been a blast. In particular the other day, where we stumbled onto a little ghost town called 3 Valley Gap on our way up to Revelstoke, BC. It was absolutely beautiful and we couldn't help but wander about and explore, explore, explore galore. Spoke to the lad back home about checking out some other local towns this November and December when I'm home, maybe sleep in his truck and get lost in some place that's forgotten.

What makes us so fascinated by ghost towns? I really found myself questioning that notion on the drive afterwards. Why is it that I'm always first to bolt at a chance of an unknown adventure? The appeal must exist in the imagination. As you walk through a ghost town, you make up all these magical stories. The people who lived here, the stories they had, you can't help but romanticize the whole thing. Anything and everything is possible, and you're always left wondering and wanting more. In ghost towns, there are no rules. Anarchy reigns supreme. This sort of feeling has a great attraction linked to it. Who doesn't like a lil bit of mayhem every once in a while?

Of course, there's a dull sadness attached to it to, that something was once here, that it thrived, and that it now sits forgotten. 

Oddly enough, the thing I love about ghost towns is that maybe life will never abandon a place forever. Be it rust or greenery or anything at all, in a weird sense, everything lives, and everything always remains.

Honestly, if anyone is doing a lil road trip throughout BC, or is on their way to Revelstoke, I highly recommend checking out this lil gem of a town. So many teeny tiny treasures to peek into!
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