The Fleet Foxes Are Amazing, ‘Nuff Said . . .
Last Tuesday night, fellow Hatcher, Pat, and I saw the Fleet Foxes live at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida and it was incredible. It was so incredible in fact that somehow, sometime after the show Pat and his friend disappeared from the company of me and my girlfriend. I’m not sure if they ran out to beat the crowd or the euphoric daze that I was walking around with just got the better of me, but I haven’t seen him since. A work associate of mine was also there (separate company) and her response after the show was, “. . . It was beautiful . . . ” The words were stretched from her lips and pulled from her smile. She, like me, knew.
I’m sure you all have read the shitty review I gave the Foxes’ sophomore effort, Helplessness Blues, and at the risk of making excuses I just want to clarify one thing. I liked the album when I listened to it as a whole for the first time on that sunny May afternoon, but it didn’t hook me like their debut album did back in 2008. The vocals, the instruments, the lyrics; all of it was really good I thought, but even after seven or eight listens, it just didn’t hook me. I’m here to profess that I am now hooked. The album is incredible and well worth the two plus year wait. Seeing the Foxes perform live, and nearly flawlessly, simply wowed me. To the best of my knowledge, 28 songs span the Foxes’ catalogue. I’m not privy to any B-sides or live versions, but if you are, send the Hatch a link, we’d be much obliged. Of those 28 songs, six, maybe seven, were left out. Don’t quote me on that, but I know for a fact they played all of my favorites and they played non-stop, so it could’ve been less. Even when the band took a break, Robin Pecknold delighted us with some heartbreaking acoustic songs, one of which we were told, “. . . is new, and there are some quiet parts in it, so if I hear another ‘fuck you’ it’s really going to break my heart.” Someone thought it prevalent to scream, “FUCK YOU . . . (I couldn’t make out the name),” right in the middle of a song. Fortunately, the guy kept his mouth shut. Robin didn’t mention the name of the song but I couldn’t help but to think that it was about the breakup he’s been quoted on. All speculation of course; that being said, all I can do is quote my work associate, “It was beautiful.” The crowd really got into it when drummer, Josh Tillman, opened up Bedouin Dress, a clap started but fell dead about two minutes in. Another crowd favorite was Lorelai and for some reason, albeit a fine reason, Blue Ridge Mountains, taken from the debut album, nearly won everyone over. A Chesire grin of mine accompanied their stellar performances of Your Protector, Sim Sala Bim, Mykonos, Grown Ocean, English House, White Winter Hymnal, Ragged Wood . . . ah shit, who am I kidding? I should just stop here before I list the entire set list.
However, I can’t give an honest report if I don’t list my grievances and though there weren’t many, they were noticeable. First off, I’d have to say the guy yelling, “NO, THANK YOU,” after each song was kind of annoying. Let me be clear here, he didn’t yell that after every song, during the latter half of the show, he switched to, “BLUE . . . RIDGE . . . MOUNTAAAAAAAAAAAINS,” until Robin and the gang finally played it. The sad thing is they probably had it on their set list in the first place. Secondly, the cop pulling that one guy out was kind of a bummer. In a hippie atmosphere no less. It was worse though when the cop came back waving his flashlight all over the seat(s) where the guilty party was sitting. He was looking around the seats for something. One can only speculate that he was searching for a joint or two, but the audacity of that sonofabitch to think he could just light up in the Florida Theatre is a bit unbelievable. This is a classy place according to Jacksonville standards and I for one happy to enjoy it very much, but never in my wildest delusions would I think it an alright idea to light up a fuckin’ doobie in the middle of the place. I was told after the show that they let him back in, they must not have found anything. And then I was told he was the same guy who was screaming about the “Blue Ridge Mountains.” What an ass. Lastly, I’d have to say that as awesome as the band was, it sounded like they outplayed Robin’s voice at times. Not all the time mind you, mainly at the starts of some of the songs and they always leveled out before song’s end. It may very well have been the dude running the soundboard, or it might have been the delicateness of Robin’s voice. Or it could’ve been my own ear, which had been bugging me all week. Regardless, aside from the ass, who to be honest really didn’t bum me out all that much thanks to the music, and the sound issue, the show was fantabulous. If the Foxes come to your town, do yourself a favor and check them out. You’ll be amazed. In a beautiful way.
The Adjustment Bureau Needs Some Adjusting . . .
A few weeks ago I got the opportunity to watch The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. The movie was . . . alright, I guess, but I felt it could’ve been much, much better. The plot revolves around aspiring politician, David Norris, and a chance meeting with Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt) that turns out to be more than it should have been. Let’s cut right into the Spoiler Alert of this puppy: this Bureau is in charge of not making up our destinies, but rather nudging us in the direction of our destinies (if you can believe in such a thing). Regardless of how ‘naturally lovely’ the relationship between Norris and Sellas seemed to be, according to the Bureau’s ‘books’ they are not supposed to love each other, otherwise the illustriousness of their careers will cease to be. You see, Norris is supposed to be President and Sellas is supposed to be a famous dancer (not that kind, you dirty minds), but if they are to wind up together, neither future will be. So the question is: can you derail someone’s career based on a love that could blossom? It’s a good question, one I could find myself pondering if such information were brought to light, but the effectiveness of the movie didn’t give me a suitable result. Plain and simple.
As I watched I couldn’t help but to think of how it could, or shall I say ‘should have been,’ be made into an interesting TV show. Something to capture viewers on a semi-Lost level perhaps. There were quite a few scenes where I felt that Writer/Director George Nolfi was either A) forced to “dumb” it down for audiences, or B) was just too flustered with the script to give us a decent explanation. For example, the snowball starts rolling downhill when one of the Bureau’s “agents” falls asleep instead of making Norris spill his coffee, thus diverting him from a train that carried Sellas. First off; come on, the “agent” falls asleep? Nothing else in the movie, aside from a brief, “You look tired. You need me to take this one?” comment leads us to believe that these “agents” need sleep in the first place. We’re even told at the end of the movie that the “agents” are sometimes referred to as “angels” so, uh, what the fuck? Do angels sleep? I’m fully prepared to not tackle that topic, but from what I’ve been fed about God, Heaven, and Angels, it seems to me that a living necessity wouldn’t be required if you’re no longer living. But maybe that’s just me. Another thing that bothered me was the hats. Somehow, someway, these magical fedoras that the “agents” wore are able to open doors to different places. Like a closet door can open up into a grassy meadow. Seems interesting and downright cool, but we’re never offered an explanation as to how these magical shits work in the first place. Either I missed the explanation of it or it just wasn’t explained. We were merely told that they can do it and that’s all. And to that, I say ‘boo.’ Yet another big problem for me was when one agent is told that Norris and Sellas were supposed to meet as kids (or teens, or sometime before; my memory escapes me), but got derailed instead. Now you’re probably asking yourself, ‘why were they derailed?’, ‘which “agent” fell asleep this time?’, etc. etc. Well if you want the answer(s) you’ll have to email Nolfi because he damn sure didn’t tell us. Now I like to think of myself of a somewhat critical viewer, i.e. noticing correlations, hidden messages, that sort of thing, but in this movie I got none of that. I either got an explanation or I didn’t, most of which falls into the “didn’t” category.
So how do we make such an idea into a legitimate TV show? Well, first off, let’s increase the cast and get some more faces in there, more stories, more folks witnessing the “agents”, etc. etc. They could all turn out to be connected through what they know about this secret “Adjustment Bureau” and the story could propel from that standpoint. We could definitely keep the romance in there, as I felt the chemistry between Damon and Blunt was quite delightful (Emily Blunt is absolutely gorgeous in this movie by the way) and we could add some more drama because everybody loves drama, and we’ll through in a funny dude or two too. BINGO; a hit show full of mystery and intrigue with a duration that can explain the relevance of the fedoras, the background of the “Bureau,” and David Norris’ acceptance/unacceptance of it all (I list both because the character does very little to battle his own questions. Literally, the “agents” tell Norris that if he spoke of them, they’d wipe his memory, plain and simple. He basically says, “Okay,” in just a few more words than one and waltzes along on his merry way.) So what do you think, folks? Would you like to see a TV show about this? If so, let’s get it started.
New Music A Go-Go . . .
Also, in the past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of adding some really decent tunes to my music collection. First off: Rival Sons, Pressure & Time. If you’re anything like me and reminisce about the days of Classic Rock’s pinnacle, i.e. the 60s and 70s, then you’re really going to dig Rival Sons. I’ve read them being compared to a modern day Classic Rock outfit and though they didn’t necessarily agree, it’s difficult for me to disagree. Obviously they are a relatively new band, but their influences are very apparent: like a mix between the Almighty Zep, Humble Pie, and Motorhead, it’s easy to hear that these dudes fuckin’ rock. And from a nostalgic point of view, the track, “Young Love” features the line, “. . . the train out of Gainesville leaves at nine . . .,” I’m not sure if they’re referring to Florida, but I like to think so. GO GATORS! I was blown away by the first three tracks on this album, “All Over the Road,” “Young Love,” and “Pressure and Time,” and I’ve had these guys filling my ears ever since.
At a local Barnes and Noble, I found a CD of Scala & Kolcany Brothers and if the name doesn’t sound familiar, I’m willing to bet their music will. Their cover of Radiohead’s Creep drove many people to the theater to see David Fincher’s The Social Network. The rest of their album doesn’t disappoint either. If you like haunting tunes, you’ll love this collection of ten covers and three originals. I admit I overpayed for the album, but I’ve yet to find myself disappointed. When I researched the track list and saw my favorite Peter Gabriel song, Solsbury Hill, being followed by Oasis’ Champagne Supernova, I knew I wouldn’t leave the store without the CD in my hands. The other covers are all good for a cloudy day and spectacular for a rainy one. Alanis Morissette’s Ironic, Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters, Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit, and (in my opinion) a much better version of Kings Of Leon’s Use Somebody make up the bulk of the album. Also included are covers of U2, Foo Fighters, and Depeche Mode. The three original compositions are decent, but not worthy of seven additional tracks to make up an album. Though the talent is amazing, I’m glad it’s mostly covers.
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ new album, I’m With You has yet to find a comfortable place in my heart and I think it’s for but one reason: absent from this album is the electrifying John Frusciante. Without his licks, the album can’t hold a candle to the run they had in the 00s with Californication, By The Way, and Stadium Arcadium. I admit I was hardly a fan of the Peppers until I got into college and really gave Californication a chance. Since then, I’ve loved them . . . well, I’ve loved the three albums I mentioned. Blood Sugar Sex Magik is pretty stellar in and of itself, but in my mind they don’t get any better than the work they put in during the years between 1999 and 2009. I’m not trying to dissuade you from the Peppers because they are still very, very talented musicians (and does anyone else think drummer Chad Smith looks eerily similar to Will Ferrell?) and while I’m With You is not a valiant effort, it’s still well worth grooving too, because honestly, who rocks the funk like the Peppers do anyway? P.S. Killer stache, Mr. Kiedis.
Lastly, and for all you DeadHeads out there, the Grateful Dead released Europe ’72 Vol. 2 and man, oh man, when I saw that CD I nearly peed myself. Europe ’72 spans the Dead’s concerts in Europe (obviously) and is one of my absolute favorite Dead albums. This volume only increases my affinity for it as a whole. In my iTunes library I opted to remove any signs of “Vol. 2” or “Disc 1” or “Disc 2” and melded all four CDs together as if it were one big show. I’m happy that I did, because it’s really good. The best part about this is that I was blissfully unaware that this was even being released and as I’m sure we can all agree Christmas in September isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So if you’ve been longing for some “new” Dead, then you’ve got your wish, go out and get this album and then let your mind fly away into a relaxing place.
One other update that I’m happy to report is the remastered releases of the entire studio Pink Floyd catalogue. Every studio album is now available and all are remastered. I’m a bit torn with this news because I spent a lot of time building my Floyd collection (yes, I have them all) so what should I do? Reclaim my journey of Pink Floyd and replace all of my unremastered CDs or chop it up as an ‘oh well, at least I have all the music’ thought. I’ve yet to decide, but I do find it nearly unquestionable in replacing The Wall, Animals, Wish You Were Here, Meddle, and The Final Cut – this last one because I never bought the rerelease that includes “When The Tigers Broke Free” anyway, so technically I should replace the version that I do have. Decisions, decisions, decisions . . .