TiVo Party Tonight: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, Bell X1

tivosoundtracks1Ever wonder what will happen during the last five minutes of late-night TV talk shows? They let musicians onstage! Here are tonight’s notable performers:

The Tonight Show With Jay Leno (NBC): The Soundtrack Of Our Lives
We get the feeling that this is what 80 percent of actual residents of Sweden listen to; not Lykke Li and I’m From Barcelona and stacks of death metal. We could be wrong. TSOOL (pictured) is promoting recent 24-track double-CD behemoth Communion and will perform lead track “Babel On.”

Late Show With David Letterman (CBS): Bell X1
Book something Irish! Anything Irish! We’re not even telling you what channel the Dropkick Murphys are playing on.

The Soundtrack Of Our Lives’ “Flipside” (download):

MP3 At 3PM: The Decemberists

decemberists400Bespectacled Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy might not come off as particularly devious, but he shows off his dark side on the lead single from The Hazards Of Love, due next week. “The Rake’s Song” is the story of a man troubled by “three little pests” (i.e., children), the unpleasant hangover from an impetuous marriage. Three minutes and one foxglove poisoning later, it’s back to the swinging-singles life for the widower, who admits, “It never really bothers me.” Coming from the man who once wrote a tearful apology over a stolen bicycle, this cold-hearted confession is positively wicked. And much more fun than it should be.

“The Rake’s Song” (download):

SXSW Report: Keep Austin Wavy

wavyvertMAGNET’s Mitch Myers reports from the SXSW Film Conference And Festival, where his viewing schedule included Made In China, The Overbrook Brothers, Wake Up and … a Wavy Gravy documentary.

Despite the fratboy vibe that pervades SXSW, it was great to see the original hippie clown prince, Wavy Gravy, hustling his tie-dyed documentary, Saint Misbehavin’: The Wavy Gravy Movie. Of course, it took filmmaker Michele Esrick 10 years to complete the movie, but now you can learn how beatnik storyteller Hugh Romney evolved into the outspoken commune leader, social activist and ice-cream flavor Wavy Gravy. From his early Greenwich Village days sharing a performance bill with Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane to leading humanitarian efforts at the original Woodstock, Wavy has lived long enough to become a counterculture icon. And now you can send your children up to Camp Winnarainbow, where Wavy teaches the performance arts and how to be a clown (in a good way).

Speaking of novelty items, Made In China is a small, sweet film about a naive young man who travels across the globe to find a manufacturer for his innovation in comic personal hygiene. Eager to follow in the footsteps of the inventors of the Pet Rock, sneezing powder, fake vomit, the joy buzzer, Groucho glasses and the Slinky, our inexperienced hero gets taken for a ride but never loses his entrepreneurial spirit.

The Overbrook Brothers is an amusing, Austin-made movie tracing the competitive contempt between two brothers who find out they are both adopted and hit the road to find out about their respective birth parents. Their one-upmanship has no limits, and neither of these guys knows how to walk away.

One of the most unusual films I’ve seen is Wake Up, a powerful documentary about Jonas Elrod, a twentysomething who, after the tragic death of a close friend, begins to see spirits, demons, angels and other cosmic presences. These visions are disturbing to Jonas, disrupting his simple life as well as putting a cramp in his relationship with his girlfriend. Although he’s an unwilling candidate for spiritual enlightenment, Jonas seeks out a variety of doctors, monks, priests and shamans in effort to deal with his unique situation. Ironically, the answers are right in front of him, which is the one thing he has trouble seeing. Repeat: This is a documentary, not fiction. Check it out.

Crime Stories: George Pelecanos’ D.C. Quartet

Don’t be afraid of the raised lettering on the book jacket; a well-written crime-fiction novel deserves to be treated as high art. MAGNET’s Andrew Earles surveys the modern landscape of hard-boiled detective stories and tales of noir-colored underworlds.



The Big BlowdownKing Suckerman / The Sweet Forever / Shame The Devil
An excellent primer, this series is what I invariably recommend when asked what George Pelecanos material novices should read first. Four books published between 1996 and 2000 known as “the D.C. Quartet” mark Pelecanos’ transformation from a critically respected underground force to a beacon shining through the sometimes daunting and undeniably cluttered realm of mass-market crime fiction. Despite serial rules or what others may see as logic, 1996’s The Big Blowdown can be read before, after or simultaneously with 1997’s King Suckerman, 1998’s The Sweet Forever and 2000’s Shame The Devil. The Big Blowdown, set in the 1940s, is a prequel to the Suckerman/Sweet/Shame trilogy (1970s–1990s), which should not be read out of order.

The Marcus Clay/Dimitri Karras saga is magnetic, full of heart, funny and, in terms of pop-culture references, well, it depends on who you ask. The detailed accounts of what characters listen to, watch, wear, drive and read are seen by some as Pelecanos boasting of his formidable frame of reference. I seriously doubt the author cares about the public’s perception of his record collection. At first, the references are a little jarring and seem unnecessary, but screw the ninnies; I want to know everything about a character’s chosen automobile, record/book collection, clothes and taste in film. These qualities frequently say more about a character than what comes out of his or her mouth, and I challenge readers to find another crime writer before Pelecanos who gave, say, ’80s post-punk/hardcore and record-collecting culture such an attractive voice. Using music as the perfect example, many readers fail to understand that artists now believed to be underground concerns were more populist interests in the ’70s. Listening to Captain Beefheart wasn’t the tastemaking badge it is today; it was a destination for many people who cared about rock music. Great funk was more of a pop-music soundtrack to African-American culture; decades since have transformed it into elitist DJ capital. Pelecanos gets away clear from charges of plot accessorizing, whereas other writers’ work can read like a thrift shop, used record store or local Saturday-afternoon TV schedule vomited all over their books.

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