THE GUARD directed by John Michael McDonagh (Ireland, 2011)
This black comedy came to my attention by virtue of the fact that the original soundtrack is by Calexico. In the event, this is not one of its major selling points. The music of Joey Burns and John Convertino is more suited to a spaghetti western than a police caper set in Ireland.
The story is essentially a vehicle for Brendan Gleeson as Gerry Boyle a nihilistic sergeant of the Garda (gaelic for ‘cop’) . He has the same droll, cynical manner as he had as the reluctant assassin he played for the film In Bruges, which was , not coincidentally, written and directed by the director’s brother, Martin McDonagh.
Boyle is no longer surprised by how stupid, cruel and corruptible human beings can be. He maintains his own unorthodox code of ethics which means that he sees nothing wrong with tampering with crime scenes, drinking on duty or hiring a couple of hookers on his day off. Continue reading
I hate critics who, when rating an artist’s discography, choose an obscure release as their favourite. Most of the time, the smug subtext is ‘I’ve heard this album and you probably haven’t but it’s the best thing they ever did’.
One of the best aspects of the download culture is that these pseudo-hipsters can quickly be exposed if/when they’re talking bollocks.
I write to preface my assertion that Aerocalexico is Calexico’s finest album.
This CD was originally limited to 2000 copies and available only at shows or via the Calexico website. This was in the year 2001, back in the day when ‘limited edition’ meant more than it does now. Nowadays, of course, there’s an unlimited supply of just about anything from your friendly neighborhood P2P file sharing website.
I bought this CD at a show the band from Tucson, Arizona played at the Vidia Club in Cesena, Italy and giving it a spin again now it struck what a truly great album it is. Continue reading
Richard Buckner’s one and only date in Italy (amazingly, his first ever concert in the country) is at the relatively modest Bronson Club in Ravenna.
He is backed by Sacri Cuori, a three-piece band from Emilia-Romagna – the location of this group explains the choice of venue. The band’s leader – guitarist, Antonio Gramentieri – has been active in the region for a number of years, mainly at nearby Faenza with promoters Strade Blu. He has helped bring some class acts to the music starved region, mostly within the folk/alt.country genres – names such as Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Howe Gelb, Devendra Banhart, Antony & The Johnsons, Steve Earle.
Sacri Cuori’s half hour support slot shows that they have picked up some pointers from such artists – their desert twang instrumentals would be well suited to a dusty American road movie. It’s a style that fits in well with Buckner whose past collaborations include a couple of albums with Giant Sand /Calexico’s Joey Burns and John Convertino.
Despite an unbroken run of superb albums from his 1994 debut Bloomed to this year’s Our Blood, Buckner still has cult status (i.e. too few fans). As a result there were only about 100 punters a Ravenna making for zero atmosphere.
Buckner and band seem unfazed by this and blaze through a set list which includes the first seven tracks from Our Blood played in sequence interspersed with other selections from his impressive back catalogue. Continue reading
I have has a Last.Fm account since 12th November 2004 and been a subscriber since April 2006.
At one time I never used the ‘Loved tracks’ feature but recently I’ve started clicking more regularly.
The recent selection shows Bob Dylan is still a dominant force with one original and two covers. I’ve also been listening a lot to Jeff Buckley having belatedly bought the legacy edition of Grace.
The Calexico and Charalambides tracks are long standing favourites and I don’t know why it has taken me so long to officially love them.
This is the list with links to Last.Fm track pages.
I Hate The Beach – Psychedelic Horseshit
The Cause Of Labour Is The Hope Of The World – Jóhann Jóhannsson
Lilac Wine – Jeff Buckley
Mama, You Been On My Mind – Jeff Buckley
North of Me (At Midday) – Fabio Orsi
Crystal Frontier – Calexico
Masters Of War – Bob Dylan
Dormant Love – Charalambides
Shelter From The Storm – Steve Adey
5 A.M.(tears below the freezing point) – Shugo Tokumaru
[p.s. If you use Last.Fm and like this blog, join the Animal My Soul group to show YOUR love].
Ever since I first heard of Todd Hayes unconventional approach to the biopic of Bob Dylan, ‘I’m Not there’, I’d been looking forward to seeing if he could pull off using six different actors to depict a variety of aspects of Dylan’s character. Having now finally seen it, I have to say I found it to be a bit of a let down.
I still like the premise of the movie and the audacity of not referring to Bob Dylan by name throughout. I think Hayes is basically showing us a truth that no conventional narrative can ever show Dylan’s multi-faceted character effectively.
However, what I felt while watching the movie is that so much of it seemed like a reworking of the material seen in the Martin Scorsese’s superb documentary ‘No Direction Home’. Not only that, but the way Scorsese interweaved old footage of Dylan with interviews both old and new was far more compelling than Haye’s fictionalised version.
It’s also revealing that Hayes has very little of substance to add to the years after Dylan’s mysterious motorcycle accident in 1966 . The fact that Richard Gere is seriously miscast to depict the years after this doesn’t help. Hayes even writes it that the accident took Dylan’s life as if to suggest that the albums produced after came after a spiritual death (verily the ghosts of electricity!).
Cate Blanchett does a remarkable job of mimicry and shows us His Bobness’ feminine side in the process. Perhaps one role that was missing though was Bob Dylan’s dark side (that’s dark as in evil).
Being so driven, I’m convinced he has more than his fair share of demons locked away. Come to think of it, how about a movie called ‘The Devil in Mr Zimmerman’ as a new angle on the enigma!!
What I like most about the movie soundtrack is that it raises the public profile of the much underestimated band Calexico. Antony & The Johnsons‘ version of ‘Knocking on Heaven’s Door’ & Tom Verlaine’s ‘Cold Irons Bound’ are other causes for celebration.
Still, what I feel about most of the covers is the same as my response to the movie as a whole – they are fine up to a point, but there’s no getting away from the fact that there’s no substitute for the real thing.