Saturday, November 30, 2013

2005 In Film

The mid-2000s may have been the heyday for smart big budget films of this generation, as the 1960s and 1970s had been before formulaic fare (everything with John Hughes' name on it and everything imitating it) took over the 1980s and still contaminate the art form to this day (though the biggest problem with the film industry today is the studios' race for profits rather than proposing anything original, but still ends up serving rehashes, recipes, sequels, remakes and reboots for the sole purpose of making extra millions rather than actually entertaining or impressing audiences).

Previous posts: 1994, 1995, 1996, 2001.

Today, a leap forward (as far as these lists go) to 2005:

Top 25 Films:

25. BATMAN BEGINS, Christopher Nolan (USA)
24. MR. AND MRS. SMITH, Doug Liman (USA)
23. WALK THE LINE, James Mangold (USA)
22. SKY HIGH, Mike Mitchell (USA)
21. CONSTANTINE, Francis Lawrence (USA)
20. HUSTLE & FLOW, Craig Brewer (USA)
19. THE NOTORIOUS BETTIE PAGE, Mary Harron (USA)
18. CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, Tim Burton (USA/Australia)
17. WEDDING CRASHERS, David Dobkin (USA)
16. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK., George Clooney (USA)
15. CRASH, Paul Haggis (USA/Germany)
14. CACHÉ, Michael Haneke (France)
13. THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, Noah Baumbach (USA)
12. TIDELAND, Terry Gilliam (UK/Canada)
11. SYRIANA, Stephen Gaghan (USA)
10. THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, Rob Zombie (Germany/USA)
9. CAPOTE, Bennett Miller (USA/Canada)
8. SYMPATHY FOR LADY VENGEANCE, Park Chan-wook (South Korea)
7. WAITING..., Rob McKittrick (USA)
6. LAND OF THE DEAD, George A. Romero (Canada/France/USA)
5. THUMBSUCKER, Mike Mills (USA)
4. THE CHUMSCRUBBER, Arie Posin (USA/Germany)
3. MAURICE RICHARD: THE ROCKET, Charles Binamé (Québec)
2. V FOR VENDETTA, James McTeigue (UK)
1. SIN CITY, Robert Rodriguez (with Frank Miller & Quentin Tarantino) (USA)

Top 20 Directors:

20. GAVIN HOOD, Tsotsi
19. WERNER HERZOG, Grizzly Man
18. JOSS WHEDON, Serenity
17. GUY RITCHIE, Revolver
16. JIM JARMUSCH, Broken Flowers
15. GEORGE A. ROMERO, Land Of The Dead
14. DAVID CRONENBERG, A History Of Violence
13. NEIL JORDAN, Breakfast On Pluto
12. ROB ZOMBIE, The Devil's Rejects
11. CHRISTOPHER NOLAN, Batman Begins
10. CHARLES BINAMÉ, Maurice Richard: The Rocket
9. TERRY GILLIAM, Tideland
8. SAM MENDES, Jarhead
7. MARY HARRON, The Notorious Bettie Page
6. TIM BURTON, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
5. PARK CHAN-WOOK, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
4. ROBERT RODRIGUEZ (with FRANK MILLER & QUENTIN TARANTINO), Sin City
3. JAMES MCTEIGUE, V For Vendetta
2. DAVID LACHAPELLE, Rize
1. ANG LEE, Brokeback Mountain

Top 20 Lead Actors:

20. JEFF DANIELS, The Squid And The Whale
19. JOAQUIN PHOENIX, Walk The Line
18. NICOLAS CAGE, Lord Of War
17. SAMUEL L. JACKSON, Coach Carter
16. HEATH LEDGER, Brokeback Mountain
15. ROBERT DOWNEY JR., Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
14. JOHN MALKOVICH, Colour Me Kubrick
13. JOHNNY DEPP, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
12. SAM SHEPARD, Don't Come Knocking
11. RUSSELL CROWE, Cinderella Man
10. ROY DUPUIS, Maurice Richard: The Rocket
9. MICKEY ROURKE, Sin City
8. GAEL GARCIA BERNAL, The King
7. BILL NIGHY, The Girl In the Café
6. WILLIAM H. MACY, Edmond
5. TERRENCE HOWARD, Hustle & Flow
4. DANNY AIELLO, Brooklyn Lobster
3. CILLIAN MURPHY, Breakfast On Pluto
2. PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, Capote
1. DAVID STRATHAIRN, Good Night, And Good Luck.

Top 20 Lead Actresses:

20. RACHEL WEISZ, Constantine
19. CHARLIZE THERON, North Country
18. CAMILLA BELLE, The Chumscrubber
17. DINA KORZUN, Forty Shades Of Blue
16. ANGELIQUE HENNESSY, Bad Reputation
15. JULIETTE BINOCHE, Caché
14. HALLE BERRY, The Eyes Were Watching God
13. KELLY MACDONALD, The Girl In the Café
12. JULIE LE BRETON, Maurice Richard: The Rocket
11. MARIA BELLO, A History Of Violence
10. JODELLE FERLAND, Tideland
9. LEE YOUNG AE, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
8. ROBIN WRIGHT PENN, Sorry, Haters
7. REESE WITHERSPOON, Walk The Line
6. KEIRA KNIGHTLEY, Pride & Prejudice
5. NATALIE PORTMAN, V For Vendetta
4. LAURA LINNEY, The Squid And The Whale
3. ZHANG ZIYI, Memoirs Of A Geisha
2. FELICITY HUFFMAN, Transamerica
1. GRETCHEN MOL, The Notorious Bettie Page

Top 20 Supporting Actors:

20. DELROY LINDO, Domino
19. MOS DEF, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
18. MATTHEW MCGRORY, The Devil's Rejects
17. NICK FROST, Kinky Boots
16. MORGAN FREEMAN, An Unfinished Life
15. TIM ROTH, Don't Come Knocking
14. SETH ROGEN, The 40 Year-Old Virgin
13. NIELS ARESTRUP, De Battre Mon Coeur S'est Arrêté
12. JAKE GYLLENHAAL, Brokeback Mountain
11. JUSTIN LONG, Waiting...
10. JESSE EISENBERG, The Squid And The Whale
9. PAUL GIAMATTI, Cinderella Man
8. GEORGE CLOONEY, Good Night, And Good Luck.
7. JEFFREY WRIGHT, Broken Flowers
6. STEPHEN REA, V For Vendetta
5. WILLIAM HURT, A History Of Violence
4. GEORGE CLOONEY, Syriana
3. GARY OLDMAN, Batman Begins
2. DON CHEADLE, Crash
1. STEPHEN MCHATTIE, Maurice Richard: The Rocket

Top 20 Supporting Actresses:

20. SCARLETT JOHANSSON, Match Point
19. ZOOEY DESCHANEL, The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy
18. MARION COTILLARD, La Boîte Noire
17. ROSARIO DAWSON, Sin City
16. EMMANUELLE DEVOS, De Battre Mon Coeur S'est Arrêté
15. MICHELLE WILLIAMS, Brokeback Mountain
14. RUTH NEGGA, Breakfast On Pluto
13. MARICELA GOMEZ, Apocalipsur
12. LAURA (ELENA) HARRING, The King
11. SHIRLEY MACLAINE, In Her Shoes
10. SARAH POLLEY, Don't Come Knocking
9. CATHERINE KEENER, Capote
8. MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL, Happy Endings
7. ISLA FISHER, Wedding Crashers
6. GLENN CLOSE, The Chumscrubber
5. RACHEL WEISZ, The Constant Gardener
4. THANDIE NEWTON, Crash
3. BRENDA BLETHYN, Pride & Prejudice
2. AMY ADAMS, Junebug
1. FRANCES MCDORMAND, North Country

Top 20 Screenplays:

20. SHOPGIRL, Steve Martin
19. THE DEVIL'S REJECTS, Rob Zombie
18. REVOLVER, Guy Ritchie & Luc Besson
17. WAITING..., Rob McKittrick
16. CRASH, Paul Haggis & Robert Moresco
15. MAURICE RICHARD: THE ROCKET, Ken Scott
14. THE 40 YEAR-OLD VIRGIN, Judd Apatow & Steve Carrell
13. SYRIANA, Stephen Gaghan
12. CAPOTE, Dan Futterman
11. ME AND YOU AND EVERYONE WE KNOW, Miranda July
10. BROKEN FLOWERS, Jim Jarmusch
9. GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK., George Clooney & Grant Heslov
8. BREAKFAST ON PLUTO, Neil Jordan & Patrick McCabe
7. THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, Noah Baumbach
6. TRANSAMERICA, Duncan Tukcer & William H. Macy
5. V FOR VENDETTA, Larry Wachoswki & Andy Wachowski
4. EDMOND, David Mamet
3. THE CHUMSCRUBBER, Zac Stanford
2. TIDELAND, Tony Grisoni & Terry Gilliam
1. THUMBSUCKER, Mike Mills

Top 20 Cinematographers:

20. NEWTON THOMAS SIGEL, The Brothers Grimm
19. STÉPHANE FONTAINE, De Battre Mon Coeur S'est Arrêté
18. SALVATORE TOTINO, Cinderella Man
17. PETER ZEITLINGER, Grizzly Man
16. DECLAN QUINN, Breakfast On Pluto
15. JEONG JEONG-HUN, Sympathy For Lady Vengeance
14. CHRISTIAN BERGER, Caché
13. BOJAN BAZELLI, Mr. & Mrs. Smith
12. WALLY PFISTER, Batman Begins
11. PIERRE GILL, Maurice Richard: The Rocket
10. PHILIPPE ROUSSELOT, Constantine
9. PHIL PARMET, The Devil's Rejects
8. AMY VINCENT, Hustle & Flow
7. DION BEEBE, Memoirs Of A Geisha
6. ROBERT RODRIGUEZ, Sin City
5. PHILIPPE ROUSSELOT, Charlie And The Chocolate Factory
4. TONY SHEARN, MirrorMask
3. ADRIAN BIDDLE, V For Vendetta
2. NICOLA PECORINI, Tideland
1. MORGAN SUSSER, Rize

Top 10 Villains:

10. KEVIN GAGE, Chaos
9. ANDREW GLOVER, Boogeyman
8. PATRICK WILSON, Hard Candy
7. KATHY BAKER, Nine Lives
6. BILL MURRAY, Broken Flowers
5. WILLIAM FICHTNER, The Chumscrubber
4. NICK STAHL, Sin City
3. CILLIAN MURPHY, Red Eye
2. WILLIAM H. MACY, Edmond
1. SID HAIG, The Devil's Rejects

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Peter Gabriel cover), Arcade Fire (2013)
9. MIND YOUR MANNERS, Pearl Jam (2013)
8. REFLEKTOR, Arcade Fire (with David Bowie) (2013)
7. ALL THINGS BREAK THROUGH, Freelove Fenner (2013)
6. COSMIC CANNIBALISM, UUBBUURRUU (2013)
5. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
4. CAN'T HELP MYSELF, Dead Messenger (2013)
3. BIG SHOT, The Pack A.D. (2013)
2. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)
1. FOR IT ALL NOW, Outernational (2013)

Top 10 Paul Newman Films:

10. THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN, John Huston (1972)
9. THE STING, George Roy Hill (1973)
8. NOBODY'S FOOL, Robert Benton (1994)
7. CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF, Richard Brooks (1958)
6. BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID, George Roy Hill (1969)
5. THE COLOR OF MONEY, Martin Scorsese (1986)
4. THE VERDICT, Sidney Lumet (1982)
3. COOL HAND LUKE, Stuart Rosenberg (1967)
2. SLAP SHOT, George Roy Hill (1977)
1. THE HUSTLER, Robert Rossen (1961)

I'll admit I haven't seen Cars, though... probably will this weekend, though I'm more in the mood for a really stupid film, à la Battleship or Pacific Rim.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Video Of The Week: Freelove Fenner

Freelove Fenner is a Montréal three-piece who make music as clean and finely crafted as you would expect from serious creators who listened to The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and George Harrison's work too much, then gave way to their inner Pavement.

It's like being stuck in the late 1960s, except with a very real sense of now. Caitlin Loney (vocals, bass, guitar) Peter Woodford (guitar, vocals, keyboards, bass) and drummer Michael Wright, who plays in half the bands in town at the same time and yet always manages to sound both exactly like himself while creating brand-new beats or new variations on beats you've heard before, at times sound like they don't want you to fear the Reaper (yes, I'm capable of a Blue Öyster Cult reference), other times they get a good groove on, and once in a while throw in a little bit of Nightwood in there too. (I really miss Nightwood.)

But back to the Freelove. After a busy past couple of years of heavy touring and an EP following a relatively quiet first half-decade, they're set to release their first full-length later this week (hometown launch this Saturday, November 30th) and even managed some valuable media exposure last week in the Montreal Gazette. I'd advise you to attend if you're in town.

This video, for All Things Break Through, stars Jane L. Kasowicz, another fine local creator of sounds, as she rolls the dice on life the way you would blindly follow a Magic 8-ball if you, too, were in a hazy video lost in a forest.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

R.I.P Nicolas Plamondon

I had to write about Expozine recently for someone involved with it (he participated from 2007 to 2011) to go through enough hell to alter the life experience of everyone who knew him...


Artist Nicolas Plamondon took his own life a few days ago, unable to cope with a world he never quite fit in. Ever searching for his place in it, recognizing himself always only in part in what was offered, even his art reflected his dazed outlook:


The above picture was taken from Théâtre Des Souffrances and reprinted in the last edition of Four Minutes To Midnight, which I also occasionally contribute to.

Because life and art often intersect, he participated in the Spring demonstrations to support striking students, getting arrested multiple times. They weren't his first times behind bars, as he wrote about his 10-hour detention for the G20 demos in 2010 here.

The world loses one sensitive young adult who thought the world we live in doesn't make sense. The status quo loses an opponent and rolls on that much closer to victory.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, Atoms For Peace (2012)
9. MIND YOUR MANNERS, Pearl Jam (2013)
8. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Peter Gabriel cover), Arcade Fire (2013)
7. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
6. REFLEKTOR, Arcade Fire (with David Bowie) (2013)
5. BERZERK, Eminem (2013)
4. BIG SHOT, The Pack A.D. (2013)
3. COSMIC CANNIBALISM, UUBBUURRUU (2013)
2. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)
1. FOR IT ALL NOW, Outernational (2013)

Top 10 Months To Live In Montréal:

10. January
9. October
8. March
7. December
6. September
5. April
4. May
3. June
2. August
1. July

Nothing bet Montréal in the summer. Nothing. Not heroin, sex (though it's the perfect time to get plenty), sports, music, films, arts, being healthy (though it helps), poutine, video games, Facebook, squishing your own fruit to make juice, good-hearted people, traveling, sleeping in, sleepless nights, nothing.

April edges September because the specter of hockey playoffs beats a plethora of birthdays just because I'd rather it start getting warm than start getting cold - though the end result is the same (cotton hoodies or jackets over your t-shirt), it's better when you're subtracting a layer rather than adding. It's reverse-math. That's the same reason why November lost to January and didn't make the cut: the ''cold November rain'' Axl Rose was talking about? It just proves there is no God: it smelled like winter, feels like water, but freezes you up at the slightest bit of wind worse than your worst breakup ever did.

And don't get me started on February, despite it being the shortest month, it's the coldest by far. And I mean sub-sub-sub-zero temperatures, the type that make your home heater explode, that literally freezes your eyeballs and makes Hoth seem like a Hawaiian vacation. You know how most beauty pagent wanna-bes would wish for peace on earth? A smart person would wish for February hibernation for mankind.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Video Of The Week: The Pack A.D.

I was all set to feature a cheesy 1980s video this week when I learned that a band I really like and whom I have seen 5 times in concert had released a brand-new video to set up the release of their next record early next year (well, 5 or 6 weeks from now), The Pack A.D.

They hail from Vancouver, BC and, because they're a two-piece, have often been compared to The White Stripes (of course), The Kills (more understandably), and The Black Keys (hopefully not lately), though I'd put their brand of garage rock closer to the likes of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (though cleaner), where, sure, the riffs abound, but they're packed with a dark bass-level ''full'' sound that works wonders with singer Becky Black's clean and pitch-perfect voice, one that is slightly reminiscent of Elastica's Justine Frischmann.

In concert, the duo exhibit a fierceness and edge like you'd expect, but also a dry sense of humour the British would love. I was somewhat surprised to learn they'd jumped from small indie label Mint Records to the bigger Nettwerk for this release, but perhaps it's a step they needed to make to move from playing bars with 100 standing-room only places to the 1,500-3,000-people places they should be in and would fill out easily - both in crowd capacity and largeness of sound.

Without further ado, from Do Not Engage (January 2014), Big Shot:


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Rob Ford / Chris Farley Mashup

The only bit missing is Rob Ford, (warning of) living in a van, down by the river...



... well, and Ford's most recent magical quotes, such as the one where he has plenty to eat at home.


Expozine Last Weekend

I was hit with a flu this weekend, which stopped me from doing many things I had planned, including attending this year's edition of Expozine, the annual get-together of independent publishers in fields as varied as poetry, graphic design, calligraphy, comics, fanzines and many others.

A lot of my friends were there on both sides of the tables - selling and buying, learning and meeting new creative people, including the sometimes illustrator of my music singles AMM (Anne-Marie Martino), whose recent comics collaboration is this:


Also there was whiz designer Kevin Lo, who displayed his famous Wu-Tang Clan C.R.E.A.M. diptych, letterpress printed in gold ink on thick black cardstock:


Now that's postmodern genius.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Top 10 Songs This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. NO CHURCH IN THE WILD, Jay-Z & Kanye West feat. Frank Ocean (2011)
9. SIRENS, Pearl Jam (2013)
8. MISS YOU, Blink-182 (2003)
7. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
6. BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, Atoms For Peace (2012)
5. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Peter Gabriel cover), Arcade Fire (2013)
4. FOR IT ALL NOW, Outernational (2013)
3. COSMIC CANNIBALISM, UUBBUURRUU (2013)
2. REFLEKTOR, Arcade Fire (with David Bowie) (2013)
1. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Lest We Forget


I'm usually big on Remembrance Day (Veterans' Day for my American friends), a day in which I tip my hat to those who have sacrificed so much for the general ''us'' (and myself in particular), our freedom, our present. It's like a more honest Thanksgiving, without the turkey, and celebrated privately rather than with relatives.

But I'm not feeling it as much. Not that I don't respect it, just... the world we live in isn't all that great, for starters, especially towards those who have served their country:


But also in light of natural disasters such as today's Typhoon in the Phillippines, there are countless people who give or lose everything they have, every single day, with no one to benefit from their actions and losses.

Then comes the thought of all the unjust wars, both ones in Iraq starring in that role, but also Vietnam, and on a lesser scale, the Korean war - in which my grandfather served as a sniper - which, lest we not forget, pitted a communist government (North Korea) against a right-wing government (South Korea), and despite being less than a decade removed from WWII, the United Nations supported the right-wing, starting a spiral for North Korea that, with the help of blockades and embargoes, left them bitter, poor, starving, technologically impaired even to this day, and pissed off at the Western world - for good reason.

It takes a special person to be willing to sacrifice their life for their country, for their beliefs; it takes an even better soldier to go through with it despite disagreeing with orders, as many U.S. troops have since 2003. It takes a righteous person to serve as a means of defense rather than invasion or regime change, though.

More than all of that, though, I really despise profiteers pinning poppies to their suits when they use other humans - mostly kids and young adults yet to reach their prime - to unjustly invade another country for profit or territory after everything we know now. And to, at times, even poison their own troops while doing so.

Then there's the ''after'': those who come back perfectly healthy still struggle to find decent work; those who come back mentally scarred receive no help whatsoever; those who come back maimed and missing limbs being refused any type of disability claim, financial help, often having their insurances cut soon after their (first) hospital release.

The problem is those in charge see it as a mathematical equation: what will it cost, versus how much do we/some of us get back? I've heard time and time again, if senators, politicians and big company executives were to send their own children to war, would they hesitate at least a little more before pulling the trigger?

That's the wrong question, though. When a soldier's life is equated with his $30K salary and negatively evaluated as a three-year investment, how many can you spare in order to help Halliburton make billions? Where is the cut-off line where they would have to think twice about putting kids in danger? What if they made $100K a year, $250K? With a life insurance worth 5 to 10 times their yearly salary, would insurance companies warn not to risk losing them uselessly?

Unfortunately, that is the world we are left with today. Corrupt leaders doing a small group's bidding, sacrificing everyone they have to in order to keep going at it. I used to love the picture at the top of this post, the sacrifices of the past supporting our care-free way of life. Except more and more, it seems like their sacrifice was for nil, that the hell they're in transposed to the upper level, that the grass is no longer green, the future is bleak, the people are poor, starving, bitter and rightly pissed off, but it doesn't even matter, because the powers that be have us all in check anyway, throwing fake laws and militarily-equipped cops at us, restraining our education, our means of purchase, access to decent jobs, clean air, fresh water, natural fucking food...

I'll tell you what: I'm pretty sure that's not what my uncle Jean-Marc (late 1970s), stepdad Daniel (late 1970s), grandfather Raymond (Korea, later Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau's personal bodyguard), great-uncle Gérard (WWII) and the others I'd rather not get into at the moment had in mind when they joined the Canadian Forces, nor what Joseph, Jack, Kevin, James and John had in mind when they joined the U.S. Forces.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Video Of The Week: Outernational

For their latest single and video, current rock revolutionaries Outernational explore a wider gamut of musical styles, keeping their usual blend of rap-rock and mariachi sounds, as well as the ska influence that they forgt at times, but also a sailor/Irish-punk influence - particularly in the first two verses, where it's not only the tone and melodiy borrowing from the Celtic and sea worlds, but also the choice of words (storms, guillotine, gallows, dragons, and the way the word ''countries'' is pronounced), all old-world references well assimilated.

It all reinforces their ''one-world music'' position, and encapsulates the modern times better than most others who attempt it, including Manu Chao. As a matter of fact, the prevalence of rap and rock as the core of most of their songs (a clear nod to the influence of such groups as Rage Against The Machine, Public Enemy and Cypress Hill) should help make Outernational a household name in the U.S., which is perhaps why I'm perplexed that this video barely had over 1,000 views at last count. It really is a sad state of affairs for intelligent music nowadays.


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Cop Kills Kid, Part 75



''To serve and protect.'' A motto dating back to the black-and-white days of yore, Pleasantville-type Utopian pasts of ''the way things were'', where the most rampant crime was underage smoking or forgetting to pay for your sundae at the drive-in diner.

Then again, there were less laws to even break back then, as cars didn't even have seat belts.

''Law enforcement'' has sure come  along way since then.

Wikipedia describes their job thusly:
Law enforcement broadly refers to any system by which some members of society act in an organized manner to enforce the law by discovering and punishing persons who violate the rules and norms governing that society. Although the term may encompass entities such as courts and prisons, it is most frequently applied to those who directly engage in patrols or surveillance to dissuade and discover criminal activity, and those who investigate crimes and apprehend offenders.[1] Furthermore, although law enforcement may be most concerned with the prevention and punishment of crimes, organizations exist to discourage a wide variety of non-criminal violations of rules and norms, effected through the imposition of less severe consequences.
But in the past 10 years or so, what is most commonly referred to as ''the police'' have resorted more to the ''force'' part of the word ''enforcement'', using military tactics, weapons, vehicles and excuses to become what many conspiracy theorists once warned we were headed towards: a police state.

From the mass brutal beatings of tens of thousands of kids who thought a tuition hike was too high, to repeatedly sodomizing people they arrest even when under media scrutiny (a fact that happens way too often in itself, but it seems New Mexico cops in particular now have developed a taste for it), to having a double-standard regarding aboriginal women in Canada, to selling information to organized crime, to killing innocent civilians - perhaps the saddest, disturbing, recurring situation of all.

It seems to go over people's heads when it's an alleged criminal receiving the bullet, and things are usually forgiving when it's the result of intermediary force - for example the result of getting tasered (and we're lucky that in instances where Tasers are used on 80-year-olds they aren't always fatal) - but there are clear instances where death should simply have never occurred under any circumstance, and today's example is the strongest in a long time: a man wanted to teach his son a lesson after taking his truck without authorization, so he did what anyone born prior to 1980 would do: he called the cops, thinking they'd bring the boy home, he'd have a scare, and he'd have learned his lesson and be good to get on with his life.

But that's not how cops work nowadays. They have a licence to kill and use it, they shoot first and ask questions never, they seem to no longer have to nor have the training for using submissive and/or non-lethal force first and whenever possible. And they no longer shoot to maim or stop - they shoot to kill, period. Sometimes even on clearly homeless folks, a story found everywhere from Santa Clara (aged 22) to Montréal (aged 40, also dead: a 36-year-old innocent bystander).

Tyler Comstock, though, was a bright 19-year-old kid  on his way to getting his GED.
Ames Police Officer Adam McPherson eventually fired six shots into the truck, two of which struck Tyler who was later pronounced dead.
The official report claims the action was necessary in order "to stop the ongoing threat to the public and the officers."
Tyler's dad says he was unarmed at the time.
The saddest and most common part of that story?
McPherson is currently on paid leave pending the results of his department's investigation.
Of course he is. His friends and co-workers are investigating him and the tactics he used, which are the exact same ones they use all the time. How in hell are they going to bring the whole thing down by saying he did anything wrong? And from that point on, how are any of those murderers with badges ever going to be tried in a court of law like the rest of us mere mortals or, rather, the target practice we seem to be to them.

And there is a kicker:
An unidentified person on the Ames police radio dispatch twice suggested that police back off their pursuit of a teen who allegedly stole a pickup truck from the work site he and his father were working at on Monday.
Sounds a lot like what George Zimmerman was told when he shot and killed an unarmed teen. I wonder how that turned out.

Friday, November 8, 2013

This Week's Top 10s

Top 10 Songs:

10. YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, Metric (2012)
9. SIRENS, Pearl Jam (2013)
8. BLOOD ON THE CURTAINS, Melted Faces (2013)
7. BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, Atoms For Peace (2012)
6. COPY OF A, Nine Inch Nails (2013)
5. DESPAIR, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
4. HIGH ROAD, Cults (2013)
3. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Peter Gabriel cover), Arcade Fire (2013)
2. COSMIC CANNIBALISM, UUBBUURRUU (2013)
1. REFLEKTOR, Arcade Fire (with David Bowie) (2013)

Top 10 Pearl Jam Official Live Bootlegs:

10. SAN FRANCISCO, CA: 2006-07-16 (2006)
9. TOKYO, JAPAN: 2003-03-03 (2003)
8. CHICAGO, IL: 2000-10-09 (2000)
7. MISSOULA, MT: 2012-09-30 (2012)
6. PHILADELPHIA, PA: 2009-10-31 (2009)
5. MANSFIELD, MA: 2003-07-11 (2003)
4. MTV UNPLUGGED (1992-03-16) (2009)
3. LAS VEGAS, NV: 2000-10-22 (2000)
2. STATE COLLEGE, PA: 2003-05-03 (2003)
1. VERONA, ITALIA: 2000-06-20 (2000)

Honorable mentions: Edmonton 2011-09-23, Rio De Janeiro 2011-11-06, Mexico City 2011-11-24, though I feel the band sounded best in 1996, particularly the Berlin show, which they haven't released themselves (yet).

Album Review: Near Grey's The Herschel Central Peak

It isn't ''easy listening'' per se, as it clearly demands some attention span to grasp the subtleties of their 10-minute songs, but Near Grey's The Herschel Central Peak won't blow your brain apart either. Unless you listen with your headphones on too loudly.


As far as instrumentals go, this is closer to the atmospheric leanings of Godspeed You! Black Emperor (albeit a tad heavier and sludgier, but in the same vein of explorations of sonic landscapes that go from calm to heavy swiftly yet subtly) than British shoegazers that so many were fond of a decade ago.

Guitarist/synth expert Kevin Bartczak has been experimenting with post-rock and heavier music for a decade now through numerous projects (Raw Madonna and USA Out Of Vietnam to name a couple of collective efforts, but also quite an extensive solo library as well as more conventional releases like the terrific Natalie Portland), and he seems to have found something with this particular band that he didn't have earlier: boundaries that lead to substance.

It's not art for art's sake, it's not a vanity project, it's music. Really good music.

The first piece, Sauropod, numbs your mind with the repetition of just one dark chord, then takes you away with a lighter side in the middle, enabling your senses to take flight, as if reflecting safely from above the wreckage of a war-torn village, spirit-like. Or something.

Then comes Northfield, which sounds like the aftermath of the previous scene. Slow-paced, filled with sadness and melancholy, with a touch of anger and resignation - just enough to prop you back up. The drumming in this one is particularly good, both at first in the subdued part, and in the end as well, when the emotions rise.

Cannulated starts exactly where Northfield ends, mid-crescendo, before cooling off quickly and revealing the album's best melodies... only to increase in intensity with more convincing drum work. For this song in particular, however, I would have liked the drums to display a lower frequency/pitch and perhaps be a tad louder in the mix starting from the half-way mark, as they are clearly driving the song, but having them so far behind in the mix creates a bit of a sense of dead air floating in the middle of all the instruments.

Regina closes off the album, and begins by sounding like an old black-and-white photo feels: desolate, sad, decrepit, like all of its descendants are long dead. It's also the one song that is best described by the band's self-inflicted ''metal'' categorization, seeing as from the middle of the song onwards, it sounds pretty darn satanic. It's also pretty energetic and invigorating, like the last song of a set, be it pre-encore or during it.

All in all, it's a pretty satisfying record that I'd rate a solid 7.5/10.

The only negative thing I found - particularly in the third track - was a less-than-optimal production, whose overall grade is fine (7/10) but in that particular song, closer to 6/10.

You can purchase it here, for a mere $5.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

That Downward Spiral Called Rob Ford

''Elect me as mayor, and I will clean this city up like you wouldn't believe.'' That was the attitude Rob Ford put forth just a couple of years ago, running to take over Canada's biggest economic center.

Like a true used car salesman, his first order of business was to eliminate bike lanes, and his second was to get as drunk as possible in as many public events as possible, a political Chris Farley if you will, without the visible and audible threat of ending up living in that van down by the river, yet you could tell just by looking at him that that was exactly where he was headed, probably in the near future.


Then came rumours about drug use - and not just marijuana, no: straight-up crack. And there could even be video footage... a video people have already died for.

After denying it - and the existence of the tape - for the better part of 2013, Ford has now admitted to having smoked crack, but he did so with his usual sense of grandeur:
"Yes I have smoked crack cocaine. But I am not an addict," he said in a stunning admission. "Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors," he said, adding that he may have smoked it approximately one year ago.
Oh yeah - one of his drunken stupors. Makes sense. What else did he do in his (frequent) drunken stupors, kill a hooker? Waste taxpayers' money? Eat tons of donuts?

As if hearing that the police had found the video - and another one, rumoured to be a sex tape with an alleged minor - recovered from a erased hard drive (that's right, kids, hitting 'delete' is not a guarantee) wasn't enough, the mayor's boat is leaking from everywhere, and reports are coming out that he and his team hired a crack team (sorry) of hackers to erase the recording from online storage spaces.

Didn't work.

Now, I know it's never over until the fat lady sings, but I'm guessing that's merely one or two drunken stupors away from happening...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Thief-In-Chief

The more things change...

Ladies and gentlemen, the new mayor of Montréal, Denis Coderre, whose team incorporated all the leftovers from the previous deposed administration, on the grounds of corruption. They all jumped on his bandwagon because no one else would take their soiled asses, and who better to forgive (and help hide) than a man who was once associated with his own corrupt political party, on the federal (national) level...

Oh, the company we keep. Birds of a feather flock together - as do the tainted and easily corrupted.

Worse still, Michel Bissonnet received 72% of the vote to remain as burrough mayor of St-Leonard, despite his name being mentioned in thousands of court documents and hearings as part of a vast web of corruption, most notably in the construction industry but also illegal campaign financing.

And look at Coderre's wink-and-smile, he knows the fix is in and has been from the start:


Kind of makes you wish you could have voted for Peter Griffin instead...


Of course, everyone knew it was going to happen, and two-thirds of the city are almost happy that Coderre won with ''merely'' 32% of the vote, when polls were giving him a larger lead, perhaps even a majority. And that's why I almost made the following song my Video Of The Week yesterday (it's Catatonia's I Am The Mob):



And there is even more defeat in defeat: Luc Ferrandez was re-elected as burrough mayor for the Plateau - with a higher percentage than the first time around - which means the War On Noise (i.e. making downtown Montréal into a quiet suburb-like environment for condo dwellers while shutting down music venues and art galleries and fucking with every other remaining businesses' permit statuses in the heart of the city's cultural center) is still on.

Humans really are stupid creatures.

At least it'll be entertaining. With the Party that gave us 3 deposed mayors in less than 6 months still in power, office pools have already started about how high-up the first arrest will go, and what type of corruption it'll entail (electoral fraud, City contract assignment, over-charging for services to take a higher commission fee, no-bid contract at double the street price, etc). Kinda makes you wish all your mayor was doing wrong was smoking crack.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Video Of The Week: Cults

Cults are really a by-product of their era: at a time where the major labels are near implosion (and pretty much all under the same umbrella corporation) and independent labels are proliferating, you can't tell if an act if indie just by listening to them. You'd think Cults are, by their unpolished sound, yet they're signed with Columbia Records, a division of Sony, who now also owns Epic, BMG, RCA (itself owner of J Records, Arista and Jive), Echo Records, The Michael Jackson Company, and EMI Publishing, among other holdings.

That being said, it doesn't deter from Cults' indie-like, electro-infused darkwave, and neither does the fact that singer Madeline Follin and guitarist/vocalist Brian Oblivion used to be an item; in their case, just like it did for The White Stripes, it actually makes the music better, so far.

The songs off their second record, Static, are simpler than on 2011's self-titled Cults, yet they're also more effective, and perhaps even catchier, as can be attested from this video, High Road:



The imagery at first is a bit reminiscent of The White Stripes' Seven Nation Army, with the close-ups turning into other images, but it quickly becomes its own beast, thanks to fine photo direction and sequences reminiscent of David Lynch (the road) or Donnie Darko (the deer). It's not quite ''experimental'', but like for Nine Inch Nails' Came Back Haunted, if it can manage to turn just a few innocent souls towards proper art, we'll all have won in the end.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Top 10s This Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. LE RÉPONDEUR, Les Colocs (1998)
9. YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH, Metric (2012)
8. RUN THIS TOWN, Jay-Z (featuring Rihanna & Kanye West) (2009)
7. BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES, Atoms For Peace (2012)
6. COPY OF A, Nine Inch Nails (2013)
5. AREA 52, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (2013)
4. SIRENS, Pearl Jam (2013)
3. GAMES WITHOUT FRONTIERS (Peter Gabriel cover), Arcade Fire (2013)
2. COSMIC CANNIBALISM, UUBBUURRUU (2013)
1. REFLEKTOR, Arcade Fire (with David Bowie) (2013)

Top 10 Lou Reed (Solo) Albums:

10. METAL MACHINE MUSIC (1975)
9. STREET HASSLE (1978)
8. THE BLUE MASK (1982)
7. NEW YORK (1989)
6. ECSTASY (2000)
5. LOU REED (1972)
4. THE BELLS (1979)
3. SET THE TWILIGHT REELING (1996)
2. BERLIN (1973)
1. TRANSFORMER (1972)

Top 10 Lou Reed (Solo) Songs:

10. DOWNTOWN DIRT, Between Thought And Expression boxed set (1992)
9. STREET HASSLE, Street Hassle (1978)
8. SET THE TWILIGHT REELING, Set The Twilight Reeling (1996)
7. MEN OF GOOD FORTUNE, Berlin (1973)
6. I LOVE YOU, SUZANNE, New Sensations (1984)
5. DIRTY BLVD., New York (1989)
4. CAROLINE SAYS I, Berlin (1973)
3. WALK ON THE WILD SIDE, Transformer (1972)
2. BERLIN, Berlin (1973)
1. PERFECT DAY, Transformer (1972)

Top 10 Lou Reed (Solo) Songs Not In Previous List:

10. MODERN DANCE, Ecstasy (2000)
9. SEX WITH YOUR PARENTS, Set The Twilight Reeling (1996)
8. THE KIDS, Berlin (1973)
7. NYC MAN, Set The Twilight Reeling (1996)
6. THE POWER OF POSITIVE DRINKING, Growing Up In Public (1980)
5. ROCK MINUET, Ecstasy (2000)
4. I CAN'T STAND IT, Lou Reed (1972)
3. THIS MAGIC MOMENT, Till The Night Is Gone (Doc Pomus tribute album) (1995)
2. VICIOUS, Transformer (1972)
1. SATELLITE OF LOVE, Transformer (1972)

Top 10 Velvet Underground Songs:

10. I'LL BE YOUR MIRROR, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
9. WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT, White Light/White Heat (1968)
8. FEMME FATALE, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
7. VENUS IN FURS, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
6. I'M WAITING FOR THE MAN, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
5. ROCK & ROLL., Loaded (1970)
4. SWEET JANE, Loaded (1970)
3. SISTER RAY, White Light/White Heat (1968)
2. HEROIN, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
1. PALE BLUE EYES, The Velvet Underground (1969)

Top 10 Velvet Underground Songs Not In Previous List:

10. OCEAN, Live (Volume 2) (1974)
9. HERE SHE COMES NOW, White Light/White Heat (1968)
8. BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT, The Velvet Underground (1969)
7. AFTER HOURS, The Velvet Underground (1969)
6. I'M STICKING WITH YOU, VU compilation (1985)
5. EUROPEAN SON, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
4. I'M SET FREE, The Velvet Underground (1969)
3. RUN RUN RUN, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
2. ALL TOMORROW'S PARTIES, The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967)
1. LISA SAYS, Live (Volume 1) (1974)