When I first heard about Shame, three little words were enough to interest me: full frontal Fassbender. Yes, yes, it’s a serious drama about sex addiction. I’m getting to that. But oh man, the chance to watch Mr. Rochester in NC-17 nude scenes—what a way to get butts in the seats. Written and directed by Steve McQueen (who also directed Fassbender in 2008’s Hunger), the film follows the escapades of Brandon (Michael Fassbender), an otherwise well-adjusted sex addict whose desires have consumed every aspect of his life. Read More
For the past several years, Michelle Williams has been pretty much incapable of doing wrong. After acclaimed performances in movies like Brokeback Mountain and Blue Valentine (not to mention a couple of Oscar and Golden Globe nods), she's earned a reputation as one of Hollywood’s go-to “serious actresses.” Williams does seem like a decent choice to play an inimitable icon like Marilyn Monroe, but unfortunately her acting chops can’t save her in the oddly bland My Week With Marilyn (directed by Simon Curtis, written by Adrian Hodges). Read More
And it's back. The fourth but fortunately not final (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) installment of The Twilight Saga hits theaters today, and wow, is it something. Read More
Korallreven doesn’t sound like anybody else, but if I had to try, I'd say they're like a lover’s caress on a sunny afternoon with just a little bit of Enya and a touch of Ace of Base. On their full-length debut An Album by Korallreven (out now on Acéphale), the Swedish duo’s unique sound incorporates ominous undertones with optimistic, uplifting soundscapes of epic proportions. Lead vocals are steady and robotic, flanked by choir-like backups. This is all filtered through (what I suspect are) keyboards, synthesizers, and more synthesizers. Read More
If “Time Travel,” one of the more delightfully sinister tracks on Blouse's self-titled debut, is to be believed, the band has the ability to fluidly travel between present, past, and future. The album (out now on Captured Tracks), which sounds nostalgic and fresh all at once, confirms this assertion. Charlie Hilton’s lead vocals hover somewhere between Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier and Beach House’s Victoria Legrand, while the melodies she glides over veer from fuzzed-out Depeche Mode to popped-up Suicide. Read More
Despite the title, Brite Futures’ new album Dark Past (out now on Turnout) is anything but gloomy. The Seattle-based band (formerly known as Natalie Portman’s Shaved Head) split from Warner Bros. and have since moved on to indie label Turnout, a move that underlies some songs on the new record. The quintet of Claire England, Shaun Libman, Luke Smith, David Price, and Conor Sisk may have a new name, but they can still bring us an album full of dance-worthy tunes ripe for singing along and blasting at high volumes. Read More
Motherhood seems to have been quite an influential force on Kimya Dawson’s new album Thunder Thighs (out now on her label Great Crap Factory). Many of the songs--as well as the Sesame-Street-on-acid album cover--evoke whimsical sensibilities that wouldn’t be out of place in a hip kindergarten classroom. Dawson’s desire to create music she can share with her now five-year-old daughter reached an apex on 2008’s Alphabutt, a collection of quirky children’s songs rife with enough fart jokes to keep both kids and their parents well entertained. Read More
While all of the easy Daft Punk comparisons were flying around when Justice released 2007's Cross, there was something else going on: oh, the dreaded word “prog!” But at this point, with even Kanye bumping King Crimson, it’s safe for Justice to come out of the closet. On Audio, Video, Disco (out now on Ed Banger/Because), instead of isolated moments that sound like a '70s Italian zombie soundtrack, you’ve got an entire album full of them, with all the greasy thrills implied. Read More
Some embrace the crisp autumn like a sudden shower during a steamy summer day, but to others, the arrival of fall means the tragic end of sun-soaked days at the beach. It’s no wonder that moody trip-hop is in season. Husband and wife duo Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church of Exitmusic know all too well what seasonal changes do to people--they’re based in New York, a city currently dealing with an indecisive Mother Nature. Read More
Known for its impeccable good taste and all around hipness, Brooklyn label Mexican Summer has spawned another hit record with their release of Pink Playground’s Destination Ecstasy (out now). Pink Playground is Texan duo Tara Tyson and James Wing, who, like the rest of their state, like things big: in this case, distortion and feedback.  Despite all best efforts to avoid the obvious comparison to My Bloody Valentine, the ghostly feedback of “Stationary” is so reminiscent of “You Made Me Realise”-era MBV that it’s nearly impossible not to mention. Read More