Sunday, June 10, 2012

Inside the Wall, Vol. 1 (6.10.12)

(That name is tentative, as is the format.  Basically, I'm going to try to post a semi-weekly round-up of what I'm checking out between the larger posts. )

It's been a solid summer so far across the board in entertainment.

Starting with music, Beach House put out a worthy follow-up to Teen Dream, which may have been my favorite album of 2010.

The new album Bloom doesn't measure up yet to that instant classic, but it's a solid offering that I expect I'll come to appreciate more with time.

Sigur Ros also put out a decent, very class Sigur Ros-y album called Valtari, which suffered on the first few listens only in comparison with their last album -  Med sud i eyrum vid spilum endalaust. But then I'm judging on a harsh curve.

Other albums and tracks lingering on my playlist these days:

Lining these videos up, it comes to my attention that I've been having a synthesizer heavy year so far.  Adding to that, I caught Radiohead at the Prudential Center in New Jersey, putting on another typically outstanding performance with some of the coolest stage design I can remember ever seeing.

On the other hand, breaking through that electronic haze, were The Walkmen at BAM and Dandy Warhols at the Bell House (one of the best venues for an intimate music experience you'll find in New York).  Given that my main point of reference for the band, Welcome to the Monkey House, is a wickedly slick production, I wasn't really prepared for how gangly and garage the Warhols sounded. 

Turning to television, the current season of Mad Men could end with a clips episode and still be one of the best seasons of television I've ever seen.  That said, it's forgivable that the more shocking developments [SPOILERS] of the past two episodes felt slightly unearned, or at least slight in their treatment.  (But then, I'm a fan of the anticlimax style of Sopranos and other shows that were attacked for slow pacing and supposedly weak "payoffs" -- a topic I hope to explore in a longer post down the line).  Likewise, the season finale of Game of Thrones is a dense marathon of narrative all setting up the next few seasons, but when the set up is that incredible, who can complain?

On the big screen, we've had a solid year already for mature genre storytelling, both on an intimate level with Sounds of My Voice and on an epic scale with Prometheus.  I'm posting no links or trailers deliberately -- shield yourself as much as possible from any spoilers (even basic elements of the premise) if you want to have the best experience possible.

Lastly, from the interwebs, I'm loving the Police Squad! episode-by-episode recaps that A.V. Club is posting this summer.

And that's it for now.  On my "to do" list for the coming weeks, in no particular order:
  • Does Comedy Have To Be Funny? (Part 3 of 2) -  completing this unintentional trilogy with a heap of praise for Parks and Recreation and its willingness to evolve from a cut-and-paste of the Office model into a heartfelt expression of civic pride and tribute to those that dedicate themselves to a cause.
  • Breaking the Franchise Mold - a semi-follow-up to In Praise Of The "Semi-Sequel" inspired in equal parts by Avengers and Prometheus, both examples of the rich storytelling potential found by breaking the rules of the Hollywood Franchise (either by bridging movies into a shared universe or by expanding an established universe down paths previously not chosen).

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