Posts Tagged ‘Milwaukee’

This Is Spinal Tap, finally

April 17, 2010

Not long after awakening the other day, I stood in the shower, musing on what I should blog about next, and This Is Spinal Tap seemed like a logical, obvious choice.  My favorite music-related movie AND my favorite comedy?  Honestly, how could I go wrong?

However, I soon came to realize that, much like the subjects of many of my previous blog posts, any attempts to personally review it would be detrimental to future viewers of this fine piece of cinema-I truly feel hesitant shedding light on any number of the hilarious moments that occur, and would rather let those who haven’t seen the film yet check it out with a clean slate.  Plus, I’ve already touched on some of those moments in my review of Anvil! The Story of Anvil.

What I WILL say is that Michael Mckean, Harry Shearer and Christopher Guest play their roles as, respectively, David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls and Nigel Tufnel (the members of Spinal Tap) quite beautifully, under the direction of Rob Reiner, who himself co-stars as Marty DiBergi, a long-time fan of, “Tap, ” who’s self-enlisted to document the band as they hit to road in support of their new album Smell the Glove.  From there, the band runs into problems too numerous to mention, all the while discussing their past accomplishments (and failures), all with humorous, sarcastic wit.  Various elements like their flat-out unusual drummer situation and the entrance of St. Hubbins’ controlling, manipulative girlfriend help drive the, “plot, ” if there even is one.  And there’s no denying that the ending is just plain awesome, one that’s been referenced frequently since then in forms of media like Weezer’s music video for, “Perfect Situation.  ”

The music itself also helps to carry the film, and it’s EXTREMELY refreshing to see a movie about musicians in which the actors actually play their own instruments, and play them well.  The scenes of the band rocking out live in concert are convincingly shot, and while still ripe with hilarity, are mostly hard to distinguish from many, “actual, ” concerts I’ve seen.  Milwaukee residents should take note of their performance at Shank Hall, which is clearly NOT the real Shank Hall-the one we’re all familiar with opened in the years following the movie’s release.

This is where I shall stop-I don’t want to get too much further into some elaborate plot description and end up giving away too many of the jokes.  If you haven’t already seen This Is Spinal Tap, do check it out, especially if you’re a musician.  Chances are you’ll love it, as I do.

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Random song post, Volume 4

March 2, 2010

Songs I’d forgotten about, or overlooked, but now can’t stop listening to:

Oasis – “The Shock Of The Lightning” (Dig Out Your Soul, Big Brother/Sony BMG/Reprise, 2008): British Beatles clones Oasis have certainly seen better days lately, what with the recent departure of principal songwriter and founding member Noel Gallagher, however it’s refreshing to know that, even in the time leading up to their implosion, they were still able to churn out songs like, “The Shock Of The Lightning, “ off 2008’s Dig Out Your Soul. The song is every bit Oasis-a nice mix of their classic Beatles-meets Rolling Stones sound, with Liam Gallagher’s voice seamlessly mixing in with lyrics like, “A magical mystery. “ In particular, the lyrics are a plethora of back-and-forth phrases such as, “I feel cold, but I’m back in the fire, “ and, “Outta control but I’m tied up tight, “ adding to the song’s charm. The fantastic drum solo and organ swells build up into an explosive climax, by which point the song has completely taken off-and it never comes back down.

Cute Is What We Aim For – “Doctor” (Rotation, Fueled By Ramen, 2008): Say what you must about the high drama and unstable lineup of this emo group, they still did manage to produce some solid music, such as, “Doctor, “ off their second (and, thus far, final) full-length Rotation. The intro is a cornucopia of producer John Feldmann’s (The Used, Story Of The Year) bizarre background noise, eventually kicking into a pop/punk drum beat that continues all the way to the end. Frontman Shaant Hacikyan’s voice has never sounded better, and the guitars are gritty and loud, perfectly blending into the song. It all leads up to the outro, when the drums break down to half-time and the guitars & vocals follow suit. A great example of what could’ve been-had CIWWAF released more material like this, it’s no question they could’ve easily followed in the footsteps of scene giants such as Fall Out Boy.

Good Old War – “Coney Island” (Only Way To Be Alone, Sargent House, 2008): These guys may still be fairly new to the scene, having previously spent time in groups like the progressive/indie band Days Away, but feature a sound that is nearly as old as rock ‘n roll itself. “Coney Island, “ owes more to groups like Simon & Garfunkel and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young than blink182 and Green Day, but is still incredibly appealing and a joy to listen. The vocal harmonies are particularly reminiscent of the bands of old, and the minimalistic backing instruments (which appear to be limited solely to acoustic guitar, an electric guitar solo, and percussive handclaps) keep the pleasant vibe alive & moving forward.

Hey Mercedes – “Quality Revenge At Last” (Loses Control, Vagrant, 2003): On Loses Control, their second (and final) full-length, Chicago quartet Hey Mercedes turned up the production level a notch or two from previous releases while still retaining their signature sound, best demonstrated on, “Quality Revenge At Last, “ the one and only single/video from the album. It’s ripe with all the trademarks Hey Mercedes had come to be known for, from the time signature change into the verses, to Damon Atkinson’s creative, tight drumming, to frontman Bob Nanna’s cutting voice and clever lyrics (most noteworthy being the chorus line, “And in the madness of it all there’s a phone call coming from a ragged romeo in Joliet”). The guitars also stand out, showcasing a bit of a 90s style, rounding out an all-around killer Hey Mercedes song.

New Found Glory – “Dig My Own Grave” (Tip Of The Iceberg, Bridge 9, 2008): It sounds like something New Found Glory has done time and time again, what with the gang vocals and the get-out-of-your-seat-and-jump intro & choruses, but that doesn’t make it any less catchy. Cyrus Bolooki’s double kick drums in the verses particularly add a flair that has rarely been touched in previous New Found Glory songs. Who else but these guys, undoubtedly the purveyors of pop/punk/hardcore, could pull off a song like this, time and time again?

Anberlin – “Disappear” (New Surrender, Universal Republic, 2008): After years of playing the independent record label circuit, Florida rock group Anberlin finally inked a deal with Universal Republic in 2007, paving the way for their 2008 release New Surrender. With production by Neal Avron an a hit single in, “The Feel Good Drag, “ the album became a large success for the group, bolstered by other fantastic songs like, “Disappear, “ which was actually the first song to be leaked online from the record. Opening with an aggressive synthesizer line and exploding into the intro, the song rarely lets up-frontman Stephen Christian gives it his all, especially during the chorus, while drummer Nate Young attacks the drums like they owe him money throughout. The half-time breakdown in the bridge and synthesizer reprise pave the way for that final chorus, by which point the song has already gone down as an Anberlin highlight.

Alkaline Trio – “Help Me” (Agony & Irony, Epic/V2, 2008): Alkaline Trio may have missed the target a bit with 2008’s Agony & Irony, their one and only major label release to date, but on, “Help Me, “ the album’s major single and video (with its Wild Wild West-esque steampunk flair), the band nailed it with a song that serves as a reminder of classic Alkaline Trio, especially frontman Matt Skiba’s voice, which is flush with the diverse vocal ranges he’s known for. The music itself is flawless, especially Derek Grant’s drums, and a touch of piano throughout the course of this tune make for a great experience from start to finish.

Carolina – “If You Catch Me”: Although I will start devoting more time to local musicians (and the Milwaukee scene in general) in the foreseeable future, I had to say something about this fun little rocker from Milwaukee band Carolina, who have since broken up, leaving behind a wealth of pop/rock songs that shouldn’t be missed. On, “If You Catch Me, “ frontman Bob Simonsen’s voice carries the song, along with the guitars, which are as Milwaukee as the Miller Brewing Company and cover bands. Biju Zimmerman’s tight snare drum adds to the excitement, making for an all-around perfect entry into the local music scene, and the world of pop/rock in general.