patience, understanding, agape babe
After the final quiet moments of track #10, the second half of The Big Ticket's Mix '04 blasts in with an unexpected horn & some serious guitar feedback. "The Wrong Way" is the opening track on Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, the debut LP from NYC's ahead-of-the-curve indie rockers TV on the Radio. This album seemed to be a bit of a letdown when it came out back in the spring, mostly because the band's 2003 Young Liars EP was so out-of-nowhere amazing that expectations for its follow-up full length were nearly impossible to meet. It took me a little while to warm up to the LP, but it grew into one of my favorite records of 2004 after repeated listening & catching their ear-shattering April performance at the Triple Rock.
Or maybe I just grew to love Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes because this track begins the album. And what a way to begin an album! TV on the Radio have a very unique style, and it's in full effect throughout the song, propelling it forward, sending the listener stumbling through a gravelly soundscape that builds & breathes & grows more & more dense. The pace quickens & the beats get intimidating, a controlled stampede.
But frontman (and NYU alum) Tunde Adebimpe's voice keeps it all together, focused & calm, but also soulful. The lyrics express a fierce anger toward Uncle Tom entertainers & politicians, as well as their puppetmasters, but manages to avoid turning into a bile-spewing screed through great writing & Adebimpe's commanding inflection, which is front center in the mix. It's damn powerful, to say the least, and the word "awesome" comes to mind.
TV on the Radio is on Touch & Go records, and they semi-recently opened a new merch section on their website. There's also a stream-of-consciousness blog written by somebody in the band (I believe) that might be worth checking out, along with the New Health Rock single, released this fall.
Track 01: The Arcade Fire - "Wake Up"
Track 02: Frou Frou - "Let Go"
Track 03: The Walkmen - "The Rat"
Track 04: Interpol - "C'mere"
Track 05: Franz Ferdinand - "Jacqueline"
Track 06: The Killers - "Somebody Told Me"
Track 07: Junior Boys - "Bellona"
Track 08: Kings of Convenience - "I'd Rather Dance With You"
Track 09: The Go! Team - "Bottle Rocket"
Track 10: Belle & Sebastian - "Your Cover's Blown"
Thanks to the ever-so-kind Jim B from How Was The Show (feel better, dude), I was able to catch an early screening of The Life Aquatic w/Steve Zissou last nite at the University of Minnesota's Bell Auditorium (since those of us non-NY/LA peeps can't see the movie until 12/25). Of course, I am a big Wes Anderson fan, as I have loved the offbeat sense of humor, attention to detail & compositional style that has been the constant throughout his previous films. While I have been aware of the general (mixed) buzz the film has been getting thus far, I have (for the most part) avoided reading what critics have been saying so I could have a somewhat fresh view of my own.
That said, I have to admit some disappointment with The Life Aquatic. Upon first viewing, the film's structure seems a bit weak, and I had trouble connecting with many of the characters. Bill Murray seemed vaguely distant in the title role, and Owen Wilson came off a little wooden (Dignan's enthusiasm was needed) while sporting an unconvincing southern gentleman's accent. A sequence using David Bowie's "Life on Mars" felt forced & kind of pointless, and Seu Jorge's portuguese renditions of Bowie songs, while lovely, came off more like a cheap joke IMO.
Anderson collaborated on the script with writer/director Noah Baumbach after having previously worked with Wilson, though I don't blame Baumbach for the film's shortcomings (I'm a big Kicking & Screaming fan). The two will collaborate again on Anderson's next feature, the reportedly animated The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and that may not be a bad thing. But there has been chatter about the difficulty of the film's shoot on the water & at Cinecittà in Italy, and I think those struggles may have effected the overall film. I can clearly see a transcendent Wes Anderson movie that could have been, but the pieces just didn't seem to fit together like they should.
But this isn't to say I didn't enjoy the film.
The visuals are beautiful & clever as always, and there are a number of fantastic sequences & laugh-out-loud moments throughout the film. Willem Dafoe is hilarious in his quirky role as Klaus, and Cate Blanchett is as delightful as ever as a reporter/single mother to be that's along on the voyage. The soundtrack is great as always, and I was excited to see one of my old film school professors, Criterion-contributor Antonio Monda, in a small but high-profile role at the beginning of the film.
I also saw the film on a relatively small screen, at the back of an crowded auditorium, with a terrible sound system - so my final judgement on the film is still out. In fact, I expect to see The Life Aquatic 2-3 more times once it finally arrives in local theaters later this month. My expectations for a Wes Anderson film are astoundingly high, so having some initial disappointment with this film is not necessarily a damning statement. Besides, his movies always do well on repeated viewing. In fact, they usually only get better.
BTW: Last week, Gothamist chatted w/the director. Read if interested.