Monday, April 7, 2014

James Turrell Exhibition at LACMA

published here

With the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles and any major city for that matter, it’s incredibly difficult to find breathing room and a moment of relaxation that doesn’t involve scheduling in an appointment for a spa day or a massage. James Turrell’s career-expanding exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art infiltrates its audience into an exotic and intimate experience. 

As one of the heads of the Southern California Light and Space movement of the 60s and 70s, James Turrell creates geometrically precise light installations that transcend the spatial boundaries of the art gallery and the minds of the people who interact with them. Turrell capitalizes on minimalistic permeations of line and light. He enables the viewer to remain in a seemingly dreamlike and meditative world by engaging with a projection of a white cube against a blank wall or by immersing the audience in a large cylinder-shaped room that alters between blinding pinks and icy blues. As James Turrell’s exhibit comes to a close at LACMA, his impact on the art world and on people’s subconscious is as immeasurable as the light with which he indulges our emotions.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Inspirations: Mimi Cave

Mimi Cave

Mimi's newest music video, Lucius - "Turn It Around," is yet another wonder. I absolutely love her blend of inventive visuals and quirky movements. She makes music videos catchy, fun, and captivating.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Inspirations: Saam Farahmand

Saam Farahmand

The other day I was thinking about my favorite music videos and what has really inspired me to want to create them in my future. I think Saam's work is essentially my inspiration. I'm obsessed with minimalistic approaches to filmmaking that can create large impressions. I think it's so fascinating on what you can do "on a budget" or with limited means or just because it tells the best story. Saam's work exposes form. He makes the viewer pay attention without being alarming or in-your-face. His stripped-down aesthetic creates intimate videos that take on new meanings every time you watch them. If I can make art anywhere near to the quality that he does, then I will be more than content. And not-to-mention when people ask me what my favorite music video is, I usually say The xx's "Islands" video. Because I can never not watch this video.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Favorite Albums & Things of 2013


50. Fall Out Boy - Save Rock and Roll
49. Sombear - Love You In the Dark
48. Keaton Henson - Birthdays
47. The World Is a Beautiful Place & I am No Longer Afraid to Die - Whenever, If Ever
46. Veronica Falls - Waiting for Something to Happen
45. The Swellers - The Light Under Closed Doors
44. Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bull
43. The Limousines - Hush
42. Glasser - Interiors
41. Thao & the Get Down Stay Down - We The Common

40. Drake - Nothing Was the Same

39. Villagers - {Awayland}
38. Delorean - Apar
37. Camera Obscura - Desire Lines
36. Basia Bulat - Tall Tall Shadow
35. Surfer Blood - Pythons
34. Lady Gaga - ARTPOP
33. James Blake - Overgrown
32. Daughter - If You Leave
31. Toro Y Moi - Anything in Return

30. The Front Bottoms - Talon of the Hawk

29. Frightened Rabbit - Pedestrian Verse
28. Bring Me the Horizon - Sempiternal
27. Icona Pop - This Is… Icona Pop
26. Cage the Elephant - Melophobia
25. Janelle Monáe - Electric Lady
24. Foals - Holy Fire
23. Chvrches - The Bones of What We Know
22. Waxahatchee - Cerulean Salt
21. Kanye West - Yeezus

20. Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time

19. Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends
18. These New Puritans - Field of Reeds
17. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
16. A Great Big Pile of Leaves - You're Always on My Mind
15. Rhye - Woman
14. Defeater - Letters Home
13. Lady Lamb the Beekeeper - Ripely Pine
12. Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience (Part 1)
11. Kurt Vile - Walkin' on a Pretty Daze

10. Vampire Weekend - Modern Vampires of the City [XL]
Releasing their third and arguably their best album of their career, Vampire Weekend have mastered the craft of recreation. For a band that got surprisingly huge very early into their years, it would've been incredibly easy for them to flop by now with people saying, "remember that band that had that one song." Vampire Weekend are still riding their wave to new and astonishing heights. Modern Vampires exposes Vampire Weekend's fears and desires whilst crafting groovy song structures and opens them up to an even grander future.

9. HRVRD - From the Bird's Cage [Equal Vision]
Within the post-hardcore genre, there tends to be an ongoing trend of having a powerful front man to take control of the songs and make them huge. Jesse Clasen, however, doesn't mind toning down the songs and letting his voice soothe rather than ignite. Throughout From the Bird's Cage there are moments that build up to an overwhelming climax, however Clasen eases you into it. From the Bird's Cage is, in one word, tender. It's also incredibly vivid and powerful without being mind-numbing. HRVRD truly shines and stands out from the chaotic mess of noise that plaques the post-hardcore scene.

8. Charli XCX - True Romance [Asylum / Atlantic]
From Gaga to Miley to Lorde, 2013's pop stars were all missing one thing: charisma. Charli XCX's debut, True Romance, is ridiculously catchy, ridiculously fun, and exactly what the pop world needed. Pop music should be fun, upbeat, and addictive. Listening to True Romance you get all of that, but you also get to know Charli and what she's all about. When I saw her earlier in the year in Cambridge at the "Sinclair," before she introduced her encore and last song of the evening, a cover song, she said, "I've been listening to this song a lot lately and I just love it, so I want to play it for you." That song was "I Want Candy," and it was fucking awesome.

7. Touché Amoré - Is Survived By [Deathwish]
Before listening to Is Survived By, I passed up Touché Amoré as another hardcore scream-o band that just makes noise. However, I was entirely caught off guard by the emotionality, the integrity, the bluntness, and the deep pain expressed by lead vocalist Jeremy Bolm. Bolm encompasses everything that heavy music should be. You should feel it. Bolm's lyrics are incredibly bold and heart-wrenching: "I’d be a liar if I said I was ready for this. / I have a past and a poison, that I can admit. / But this is what I need to bury the years of debris / to break the circle of the cycles and stop living vicariously / and start living for me." Touché Amoré have the most integrity of any hardcore band in years.

6. The Knife - Shaking the Habitual [Rabid]
After disappearing into oblivion, The Knife came back stronger, more mysterious, and more wiser than ever. No one makes a 97 minute long album containing a 19 minute song of ambient noise to go unnoticed and slip through the cracks. Shaking the Habitual instantly became the loudest album of the year, that will vibrate through the music world for years to come. I honestly don't think I'll ever stop hearing something new from this album. Shaking the Habitual is bone-thrilling. The Knife are true artists in all aspects of the word.

5. Phosphorescent - Muchacho [Dead Oceans]
"Some say love is a burning thing, and it makes a fiery ring / Oh, but I know love as a fading thing / Just as fickle as a feather in a stream," are the opening lyrics from "Song for Zula," and summarizes the entire album perfectly. With the obvious Johnny Cash nod, Matthew Houck allows his listeners to voyeuristically listen as he breaks down with incredible passion for his sixth studio album. Houck isn't afraid to be influenced by the changing world around him and he's able to use that to further his craft. He has incredible reflections throughout the album and has intense moments of humility. In Spanish, "muchacho" means young man, and for someone who's been in the music industry for fourteen years, Phosphorescent believes he still has room to grow. Muchacho reveals beautiful passion and heartbreak of a very mature and sincere muchacho.

4. The National - Trouble Will Find Me [4AD]
Trouble Will Find Me is the most fitting album title in years. The National's sixth studio album is extremely evocative, deep, but yet, oddly impersonal. Vocalist, Matt Berninger, is timid and frightened of the future, while he lives in his dark past. The album title is ominous and unsettling. Trouble Will Find Me balances between becoming almost too self-aware and completely cut-off at the same time. It's fragile and powerful.

3. Disclosure - Settle [PMR / Island]
We live in a world that is inescapable from EDM. Whether you're casually scanning the radio, at a club, or simply buying cough syrup from CVS, you are attacked my over-saturated sounds and excessive noises to numb you (and make you dance). Disclosure is the perfect medicine and cure for this insufferable headache in pop and dance music today. Disclosure know how to structure their intricate beats and grooves and do so incredibly effortlessly. Listening to Settle, I can't believe this album wasn't made sooner. It's about damn time, and the only pre-gaming and club music you'll need for years to come.

2. Savages - Silence Yourself [Matador / Pop Noire]
Savages are angry. Incredibly angry. Actually, not even angry. They're pissed off. And they're pissed off at you. For an album titled, "Silence Yourself," Savages are anything but. The way lead singer, Jehnny Beth, sings gritting through her teeth, makes any listener cringe and wince. Savages aren't afraid to amp up their bass, screech their guitars, and rip apart their drums, turning their songs into a whirlwind of incredibly passionate and thoughtful construction.Silence Yourself is sinister and doesn't hold back. Caution: If you listen to this album in your headphones while walking around in public, you may give someone some serious side-eye and not give a fuck.

1. Baths - Obsidian [Anticon]
Opening the album with these soft-spoken lyrics, "Birth was like a fat black tongue/ Dripping tar and dung and dye / Slowly into my shivering eyes," it's very obvious that Baths has gone down a much, much darker road since his 2010 debut,CeruleanObsidian exposes Will Wiesenfeld's mental state as he perplexes suicide, his loveless sex life, and, on a broader note, examining that empty hole inside yourself and how to fill it without still feeling hopeless and unfulfilled. As it was released at a time in my life where I lost a friend to suicide (a fellow Baths fan), I can't help but feel emotionally attached to Obsidian. Wiesenfeld exposes himself without holding back. I strongly believe that if my friend heard Obsidian before he committed, he could've, at the very least, seen that other people understand that deep pang and feelings of uselessness.


5. Screaming Females - Chalk Tape

4. Kate Boy - Northern Lights
3. Kitten - Like a Stranger
2. Desaparecidos - Anonymous/Left Is Right

1. FKA Twigs - EP2


Bill Callahan - Dream River

Blue Sky Black Death - Glaciers
The Dear Hunter - Migrant
Eisley - Currents
Jimmy Eat World - Damage
The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law
Mikhael Paskalev - What's Life Without Losers
Pissed Jeans - Honeys
Ra Ra Riot - Beta Love
Saves the Day - Saves the Day
The Strokes - Comedown Machine
Weeknd - Kiss Land
Young Galaxy - Ultramarine


20. Coheed & Cambria - Number City

19. Frightened Rabbit - Candlelit
18. Justin Timberlake - Mirrors
17. Keaton Henson - 10am Gare du Nord
16. Savages - Shut Up
15. The National - Sea of Love
14. Mikhael Paskalev - I Spy
13. FKA Twigs - Water Me
12. CEO - Whorehouse
11. Angel Haze - Same Love
10. Chvrches - The Mother We Share
9. Daughter - Get Lucky (Daft Punk Cover)
8. Daft Punk - Get Lucky
7. Foals - My Number
6. Disclosure - Latch (ft. Sam Smith)
5. Kanye West - New Slaves
4. Arcade Fire - Reflektor
3. Zola Jesus - Fall Back
2. The Knife - Full of Fire
1. Phosphorescent - Song for Zula


15. Chvrches - Gun (dir. Pen$acola)

14. The National - Sea of Love (dir. Sophia Peer)
13. These New Puritans - Fragment Two(dir. Daniel Askill)
12. Portugal. the Man - Evil Friends (dir. Michael Ragen)
11. Sky Ferreira - You're Not the One (dir. Grant Singer)
10. Toro y Moi - Say That (dir. HARRYS)
9. Disclosure - Voices (ft. Sasha Keable) (dir. W.I.Z.)
8. Mikhael Paskalev - I Spy (dir. André Chocron)
7. FKA Twigs - Water Me (dir. Jesse Kanda)
6. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Despair (dir. Patrick Daughters)
5. Lily Allen - Hard Out Here (dir. Christopher Sweeney)
4. Phosphorescent - Song for Zula (dirs. Djuna Wahlrab and Matthew Houck)
3. The Knife - Full of Fire (dir. Marit Östberg)
2. Foals - Late Night (dir. NABIL)
1. Bonobo - Cirrus (dir. Cyriak)


20. The Limousines (Church, Boston)

19. Jimmy Eat World (House of Blues, Boston)
18. Icona Pop (Paradise, Boston)
17. James Murphy DJ Set (Sinclair, Cambridge)
16. Savages (Middle East, Cambridge)
15. The Postal Service (Bank of America Pavilion, Boston)
14. Chvrches (Paradise, Boston)
13. mewithoutYou (Great Scott, Boston)
12. Villagers (Brighton Music Hall, Boston)
11. Screaming Females w/ Waxahatchee (Middle East, Cambridge)
10. Kevin Devine w/ Now, Now (Brighton Music Hall, Boston)
9. Frightened Rabbit (Paradise, Boston)
8. Foals w/ Surfer Blood (House of Blues, Boston)
7. Laura Jane Grace (Brighton Music Hall, Boston)
6. Portugal. the Man (House of Blues, Boston)
5. Fucked Up (Sinclair, Cambridge)
4. Crystal Castles (House of Blues, Boston)
3. Basia Bulat (Johnny D's, Somerville)
2. James Blake (House of Blues, Boston)
1. Fiona Apple & Blake Mills (Emerson Colonial Theater, Boston)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Album Review: Baths - Obsidian

published here

Baths - Obsidian (Anticon)

Anyone that has listened to Baths' debut, Cerulean, would be caught off guard by the drastic mood swing taking place in his sophomore release, Obsidian. While Cerulean feels fluffy, light, and perhaps child-like at times, Obsidian contains menacing and morbid tones. Obsidian tackles tough issues like depression and suicide without losing any ofCerulean's multi-leveled electronics. 

The first minute of the opening track, "Worsening," would put any listener in a state of dread and worry. The mere weight and heaviness is captured in the lack of lyrics within the chorus and a quality of self-loathing within the rest of the song. Will Wiesenfeld starts off by laying his dark thoughts out on the line by singing about suicide and asking the question, "Where is God when you hate him most?"

Another obvious change in Baths' sophomore attempt is the inclusion of himself. Wiesenfeld decided to pick up the microphone more often and craft a more structured album. Actually, throughout Obsidian, his voice and lyrics become centralized and necessary. In a sense, he becomes more transparent in order to create a haunting yet heart-wrenching landscape.

Obsidian's lyrically content contains several references to self-loathing, meaningless sex, and a sense of relinquishing control. In "Incompatible," Wiesenfeld takes an interesting turn towards a vapid love affair with someone he hates. "Scared of how little I care for you" is repeated throughout the song, which shows his own fear of why he can't care for someone that he potentially used to love. In "No Eyes," Wiesenfeld asks for his sexual partner to fix him internally. He doesn't want love, he just wants to fuck and uses sex as a means of freeing himself from his lackluster life.

Although Obsidian has an airy and breathless feel to the layered electronics and piano rhythms, the entire album has very little breathing room. Wiesenfeld invites his listeners into his confused and morbid state of being to feel his depletion. "Earth Death" is the second to last song on the album, in which Wiesenfeld seems to be struggling more-so with his thoughts of suicide and his peculiar interest in death. He appears to look at death as a place of solitude and the only means of true tranquility. 

The closing track, "Inter," is devoid of lyrics and the first time the album has a chance to breathe. This is where Wiesenfeld was trying to get to all along. He found peace and closure in death, whether its his own or finding closure in the death of a friend. Obsidianis weighted, dark, and translucent, and makes Will Wiesenfeld an incredibly talented, troubled, and multi-angled artist.

Recommended if you like: Gold Panda, James Blake - Overgrown, Youth Lagoon - Year of Hibernation

Recommended tracks: "Worsening," "Phaedra," "Incompatible"

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Recent Movie Rec: The Skin I Live In

The Skin I Live In (2011)
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar
Actors: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Jan Cornet

This is only my second Pedro Almodóvar film (Broken Embraces being my first), and I have to say that I love this man's films. Not only does he focus so much time on set-design and crafting beautiful shots, but he also does so in a way that doesn't come off as "artsy" or "style > substance." His stories are incredibly interesting and involve lots of twists and turns to keep you interested. He has such an ease, too, at which he structures his films. Even though it's not chronological, he builds up this particular film incredibly well, and not once did I feel lost in the storyline, but more eager as to what everything means and how everything will eventually connect.

I also adore the way the camera moves in each scene. There is some slight but meaningful movements and he spends a great amount of effort on blocking his actors, something that a lot of filmmakers disregard or don't care to spend much time on. The movie seems to have it's own movement to it. The editing is seamless and helps explain the story easily.

The colors in Almodóvar's films are incredible. His sets are unordinary and unusual, but pertinent. I felt so entrapped by the film and the settings they chose. From the garden sequence to Vera's room, the color palettes and the feel to each setting is beautifully crafted. 

And the acting is really great. Each character is really well thought-out and nothing seemed out of place at all. The ending is incredibly powerful and connected the whole movie together wonderfully.

I think I just found my new favorite director.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Collapse of the "Mainstream"

Mainstream is dead.

Well, that's a little harsh and abrupt. Let me explain. The idea of mainstream in terms of the music industry doesn't exist anymore.

When I first started getting interested in music, back in middle school and actively seeking music to put on my iPod, the coolest thing to do was to not listen to music on the radio. If a song came on the radio, it was automatically crap that was just there to make money. The artist that released that song was a sellout that had gone mainstream. The more listeners and fans a band had on Myspace the less I liked them. When people posted the song or said they liked them, the more inclined I was to point out their flaws. And I am assuming this happens amongst most teens growing up during the internet music revolution.

Looking back on what I thought was considered mainstream, I can firmly say that I was an idiot. Not liking a band for their popularity or the fact that a radio station decides to stream a song from them is completely irrelevant to the talent or even the success of the band. In today's standards there is no outlet of music for "mainstream" acts or even a way to really judge popularity. With the internet at everyone's fingers the idea of mainstream is no longer relevant.

Backtracking a little, the word "mainstream," to me at least, refers to the idea that a band has tremendous popularity. And that popularity usually goes hand in hand with the idea that a band has sold-out (because not everyone can love the same band that I have adored for so many years!). We need to give up the notion that music is made for simply "us". There will be bands that "speak" to us more-so than others, but that shouldn't be disregarded by how many others are affected by such music. If you wanted to call a band on the radio "mainstream" for simply being played on the radio, then you would be incorrect. In this day and age, people discover new music outside of the radio way more-so than people genuinely discover new music through it. There are several huge bands with millions of fans that are not played on the radio (Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem, Bon Iver, The xx, etc.) However,  calling Radiohead mainstream would make people upset and try and convince you that they are an "underground" band, even though Radiohead has almost 5x more listens on than Beyoncé and more than 2x as many listens as Lady Gaga, both whom everyone would collectively agree are mainstream and popular acts.

The implication of the internet has readjusted how we judge music on the criteria of popularity. A band given "best new music" on Pitchfork, or on the cover of Spin can add more success for an artist than a song overplayed on the radio.

currently listening to:
Oberhofer - Time Capsules II