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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Music of 2013

We are just over three months into 2013, and already it has been a really solid year for music and new releases. Here are some of my favorite albums of 2013:

Frightened Rabbit: The Pedestrian Verse
I wrote a full review of Frightened Rabbit's latest album at which you can read here. Frightened Rabbit writes big songs. Anthems really. The music is big, boisterous and heartfelt. They are a band that is on the uprise. My favorite song off the album is called The Woodpile.

David Bowie: The Next Day
The mythical David Bowie returns with his first new album in over a decade, and it does not disappoint. I would gladly wait ten years for an album, especially when it sounds like this. Throughout his career, David Bowie has managed to stay ahead of the musical curve, yet still write songs that connect with a large audience. Very few "art" rockers can execute this as well as he does. The Next Day has this classic Bowie sound (think Bowie from the mid to late 70s), yet feels modern. My jam off this album is called (You Will) Set the World on Fire

Local Natives: Hummingbird
I'm a sucker for the indie alternative sound. And Local Natives have perfected that sound on their latest album Hummingbird. It's almost a combination of Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, and Animal Collective. Funny, they all have animals in their band names? Something is going on there.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Rocketeer. Excellent Pulp Storytelling

This past weekend, the comic book website, had a sale on Rocketeer comic books. So I figured "what the hell, I'll buy a few."When I was little I remember seeing the Rocketeer movie at the Ford City mall, and I really enjoyed it. So I bought a few issues. Now up to this point, I had never really read Rocketeer comics, so I was interested to see how much of the comic mythology was utilized in the film version.

I was very surprised and pleased to see that much of the Rocketeer movie utilized the storytelling methods and properties of the comic. The origin of the Rocketeer in the movie is pretty much the same as in the comics. The character's personalities are similar as well. And in the comics, the Rocketeer battles Nazis, just like in the movie. This made reading the comics to be very enjoyable and fun. It's nice to be able to read a comic and just be purely entertained. I think comics take themselves too seriously sometimes. Or are dark when they don't necessarily need to be dark. Reading the Rocketeer was fun. It's lighthearted, action packed, and refreshing.

Created in the early 1980s by Dan Stevens, the Rocketeer is a love letter to the 1930s/1940s pulp dramas, film noira, and Saturday morning matinee serials. I love these genres and stories. The way stories are told in these genres of film are engaging, fast paced, and provide you the viewer with memorable characters. Examples of characters made famous in "serials" include: "Flash Gordon, The Green Hornet, and The Shadow".
Flash Gordon Serial
The Shadow from the old radio series

The Green Hornet Radio Show 

This genre of films would go on to inspire filmmaker George Lucas to create "Star Wars"and "Indiana Jones". These movies essentially are love letters to the old Saturday morning matinee serials. If you have never experienced this genre, I highly recommend it. In fact start with the Rocketeer. It's an excellent introduction.

I would love to see a revival of the "matinee serial" story telling method. Especially in radio. I think the medium of radio and these pulp dramas would be a hand into a glove.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Just Found this Post My Cousin Did on Inspiring Art

Spudart's Inspiring Art 

I literally just finished writing about art, and I found this blog post my cousin Matt wrote about inspiring art. It is a great read for anyone looking to explore the topic of art. I particularly like the images he used in the post. Especially the shadow puppet portrait. The link is above.

What is Art?

What is art? That question has been floating around in my brain for the last year or so. With the growth of social networking sites, the ease of sharing art with others is just a click of a button away. But there is a draw back. Just as easy it is for you to share "good" art, it is just as easy to share "bad" art too. But how are we able to tell the difference between the two. So this leads me back to my question, what is art? Or maybe more preciously what is good art? defines art as: "the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance." After pondering this question, logic suggests that what makes art good is then predicated on an individual's taste preference. If an individual can find beauty or appeal in the piece, then the piece has some form of artistic merit. But since artistic merit is then determined by individual taste, does that mean that a certain piece of art can be more "artistically good" than another piece of art based on the shear fact that more individuals like that piece than another?

Compare Da Vinci's Mona Lisa to Henry Darger's watercolors. Since the Mona Lisa is more well known than Darger's watercolors, is the Mona Lisa superior? I think some people would argue this point, that yes it is superior. But is that right? Again if we follow the definition of art, given to us by, as long as the individual finds beauty or appeal in the piece, then it must "good" art. Hence the watercolors and the Mona Lisa are equals.

Not all pieces of art will have universal appeal to everyone. But isn't that the joy of art? That you can find beauty anywhere you look for it? By definition art should embrace diversity. The more I think about this question, the more I want to work on an audio documentary exploring art, and what makes art good.