Posts Tagged ‘American Idol’

The Long-Awaited Collaboration Blog

June 19, 2008

For the past few months, my friend Elissa and I have talked about starting a blog that we could both participate in, a place where we could pool our thoughts together on whatever random things we wanted to talk about at any given time. What initially sparked such an idea is the fact that we are always talking about favorites lists we would make of albums, films, etc, always comparing our interests. The thought of a collaboration blog was always a good one, we just didn’t act on it as quick as we’d have liked to, but those days are over. A few days ago, Elissa officially created IS THE ONLY LOVE, the place that we’ll look to frequently deliver our random lists, poetry, rants, music talk, complaints, trend-bashings, comic book talk, and more nonsense that we could feel like spitting out. I hope you will take a look sometime. We promise we will try to make it interesting enough to wanna come back.

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Father’s Day/Birthday

June 16, 2008

“If I was a Pagan, then I would be one happy motherfucker.”

A quote earlier today from my dad, Mark Ferguson, commenting on the coincidence of his birthday being on the same day as Father’s Day…and displaying, as he does so often, how much he refuses to believe in celebrating them. Or any holiday for that matter, excluding Thanksgiving.

Jeff Garlin’s “Cheese” Finally Puts His Talent in the Spotlight

June 11, 2008

Not Rated, 80 minutes, IFC Films

Jeff Garlin is a longtime comedian that has always been best known for his supporting work alongside artists of greater recognition, most notably as Larry David’s sidekick in the fantastic HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, a program that continually reminds me that hope does indeed remain for originality on television. It is always apparent that Garlin has comedic skills and is a natural at finding the right notes for making people laugh, which in all great comic’s cases is unveiled through exposing one’s weaknesses. In Curb, they make constant note of his extreme overweight figure and it provides frequent gold every time. Still, even getting a fair amount of notoriety and screen time on a show like that, he is ultimately overshadowed by a good amount of memorable recurring characters. I developed a lot of curiosity and even a fair amount of anticipation when I heard that Garlin was getting a shot at a writing, directing and starring in I Want Someone To Eat Cheese With, a romantic comedy that goes even further in putting his weight issues on display. I wasn’t surprised that this film was worth watching, but I was extremely delighted by the fact that it was even more than that; it was memorable, funny, and even touching.

Doing what Larry David essentially does with Curb, Garlin writes what is basically his real self into the lead role, only changing bits and pieces of the person to make it a fictional being living in this film. He plays James, an actor/comedian that, as he approaches the middle ages of life’s roller coaster, continues to find himself empty in the search for real acting jobs and a real relationship with someone who can accept him for what he is. He continues to live with his widowed mom in her small Chicago apartment, probably because his drought of real gigs cannot pay for himself to live solo, although he will tell you that he does it because she doesn’t want him to leave and he simply couldn’t bear the thought of her being alone without someone to care for her. His mother, played by Mina Kolb (who also acts as his mother in Curb), is seemingly the only person in his life that supports his escalating eating habits, something he finds both comforting and detrimental toward his fight to stop it. Garlin does a fantastic job on the screenplay, simply choosing to show James adventuring throughout the streets, ice cream parlors, comedy workshops, and delicatessens of Chicago as he hopes to right the ship that is himself and his many dilemmas.

The film runs to a fitting, compact 80 minutes of runtime which Garlin fills with many subtle moments of sharp dialog and terrific supporting players. In a small budgeted film of this short, the casting of known names is pretty much relying on the good relationships that its writer/director have developed over the years, and Garlin has brought a lot of talent to the film. Among the cast in support of its creator is Bonnie Hunt, Sarah Silverman, the aforementioned Mina Kolb, Dan Castellaneta, Amy Sedaris, Paul Mazursky, and David Pasquesi. Curb watchers will notice a ton of faces from that show that appear in Cheese, all playing similar parts from the show but toned down into more semi-serious, believable circumstances. Also seeing something in this script and helping to bring it to the screen was Harold Ramis, who acts as an executive producer on the film. It is obvious that it was a long and hard journey to even pitch the idea of Garlin not only writing and directing, but starring in a film. There were a lot of dedicated talents in the comedy arts that aided Garlin in getting this film past the paper and onto film and ultimately video shelves, and in a time when the American comedy is almost wholly suffering for original ideas, this is one to check out.

8.5/10


My 30 Favorite Mark Kozelek-Penned Songs

June 10, 2008

I felt the need to put together this list, seeing as I’m on the biggest Kozelek kick that I’ve ever been.

1.Have You Forgotten
2.Katy Song
3.Carry Me Ohio
4.Drop
5.Tonight in Bilbao
6.Lost Verses
7.Void
8.Song For A Blue Guitar
9.Moorestown
10.Salvador Sanchez
11.Revelation Big Sur
12.Blue Orchids
13.Medicine Bottle
14.Like the River
15.Pancho Villa
16.Brockwell Park
17.Make Like Paper
18.Byrd Joel
19.Summer Dress
20.The Light
21.Grace Cathedral Park
22.Duk Koo Kim
23.Evil
24.Priest Alley Song
25.Wop-A-Din-Din
26.Rollercoaster
27.Gentle Moon
28.San Geronimo
29.Tonight the Sky
30.Cruiser

First Half of 2008 – My Favorites in Music

June 9, 2008

In no particular order, here are the albums that I have found myself playing on healthy repeat throughout the first half of the year…

M83
Saturdays=Youth

Anthony Gonzalez’s records have always been epic in their full spectrum, but by dialing it down ever so slightly and focusing on the simple subject of lost teenage souls from the 80’s looking for a reason to connect with the world, he has managed to create his most powerfully beautiful work to date. The combination of both opening tracks, “You, Appearing” and my choice for single of the year so far, “Kim and Jessie”, sets the tone for the amazing experience to come and provides the best one-two punch that starts any record I’ve heard, in a long time. I am the type of person that needs to let a great album sink in upon repeated listens before I recognize, or even understand, how good it really is, Saturdays=Youth took no time convincing me to fall in love with every aspect of it. Making it easier to love this album is also my undeniable fondness for the decade of the 80’s, or more-so the respect for music and movies and the various arts that can re-create, or remind us, that there actually were creative, even innovative minds and different things that happened in that time. There is an inescapable brilliance to this album, something about it that will one day classify it as one of those creations that can bring back the high-schooler in all of us, make us recall the awkwardness of certain key, coming-of-age moments. I can certainly relate to many bits and pieces scattered throughout Saturdays=Youth. It’s a fascinating record no matter how many times I revisit it.

Frightened Rabbit
The Midnight Organ Fight

There are more than a few outstanding bands that hail from Glasgow, Scotland, and another to emerge from there is Frightened Rabbit, whom I’d never heard of before discovering their sophomore album, The Midnight Organ Fight, in April. Formed in 2004 by a drummer/guitarist duo of brothers, Grant and Scott Hutchison, the band released their debut record, Sing the Greys, to acclaim in early 2007. I eventually learned that Greys was a very solid debut, but I found out about it the backwards way, for my first taste of this infectious band was with their new record, the aforementioned Organ Fight. My initial thoughts on this album were that, it definitely had some awesome, awesome tracks, but I didn’t think it stood well as an entire record. However, it didn’t take me much longer after that to notice that my initial criticisms were very wrong and I was basically being blinded at giving the full thing a chance, and that was due to my complete obsession for the tracks “Old Old Fashioned” and “My Backwards Walk”. I was listening to those two and those two alone for about a week straight on my drive to work, and exclusively. I wasn’t really giving the entire album a nice spin-through, so my thoughts on it had no real way of getting across with some validation until about a week after my obsession with single tracks wore off. Once I started to let the whole thing put itself on display, The Midnight Organ Fight easily made a case for itself as one of the top-shelf records of the first half of 2008.

Sun Kil Moon
April

Apart from being one of the pioneers of the so-called “slowcore” movement when he formed Red House Painters in the late 80’s, Mark Kozelek has done so many things a lot of his generation’s peers have failed to do – he has actually become wiser with in his later years as he approaches middle-aged songwriter. The very best artists manage to best themselves, or so it would seem, with each passing release, and Kozelek certainly deserves to be plopped smack in the middle of this category. It’s definitely an arguable topic, but after dozens and dozens of listens to his latest Sun Kil Moon project, the staggering and awe-inspiring April, it is very conceivable to make this the towering achievement in his complete discography. There are those who think Kozelek has become more repetitive, and sadly, even boring with his vocals over the last few years, but I think that a criticism like that can only come from the fact that these people have stopped letting themselves become entirely involved in the words and wholly authentic feelings in which he sings, and are only focusing on the singing itself. If you’re unlocking any work from Kozelek, whether it be from early Red House Painters albums, solo efforts, or recent Sun Kil Moon recordings, you had better not come from the perspective of wanting conventional music and lyrical arrangements, that way you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment. It is baffling to me that there are some that believe this brilliant songwriter has fallen off since the departure of Red House Painters, because an artist like this only excels as he ages, and on April he has added another sprawling masterwork to his list.

Dodos
Visiter

I got into Dodos the very same way I first listened to Frightened Rabbit, after their sophomore record received high acclaim and was made noticed through popular sites such as Pitchfork. Visiter is one of the most ambitious and sonically profound records I have heard in a very long time, with song after song of foot-tapping, humming goodness. One of the few bands to come along that makes good on the promise that unique drumming can be the central ground to the creation of constantly affecting music, Dodos have quickly put themselves on the map with this welcomed Visiter. What makes this album that more amazing is the fact that, as good as the musical arrangements and chemistry of the two principal members of the band are, the attention to personal lyrics are just as praise-worthy. Meric Long, the chief member of the band that initially meant to go solo with the title of Dodo Bird, sets his heart and soul on a table for full dissection, and in catchy but heartbreaking songs like opener “Walking”, “Winter”, and one of the many long-jamming epics scattered throughout it all, “Joe’s Waltz”, he proves himself to be a hopeful mainstay. The immediate impact of Visiter, plus a chance to experience them live in April, made me reach back and listen to their 2005 debut, Beware of the Maniacs. I have no doubt that the sudden following this San Fransisco-based band has developed from their sophomore record will cause Maniacs to be uncovered a lot more than it has so far, which it is most deserving of.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
Lie Down in the Light

In the fifteen years since Will Oldham has graced himself and his talent of music-making upon this world, he has managed to be one of the most actively productive artists in all of the scene. Often collaborating with his spacious family of immediate brothers and sisters, he first began recording under the name Palace Music/Palace Brothers/Palace Songs, which can easily be narrowed to down to simply, Palace. He made the segue to solo records in the mid-90’s and created some solid music, but it wasn’t until 1999, when he threw down another moniker, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, that he started to make his way toward the top of the talent list. It was in that year that he made one of my standing favorites, I See A Darkness, a record that is so essential that it deserves to have serious consideration for top albums of that decade should there ever be a strong look back at some of the overlooked recordings of the time. Since 1999 he has mostly released records under the sticking name of Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, delivering consistently fascinating albums like clockwork, and a pace that goes at no less than one a year, whether it be a full-length, EP, film score, or collaboration of some sort. His latest release, Lie Down in the Light, can first be easily recognized as another worthy addition to his discography, but as I dug deeper into the diversity in sounds and even the fact that it broadens the Bonnie scope quite a bit, I found this record to be a higher point among a career filled with high points. It’s the most gleeful of all of Oldham’s recordings, even with some dampened subject matter embedded in some of the songs everything just has a happy feeling to it. It’s a wonderful record and one that can be sure to find itself somewhere high on my end of the year list.