We Have Moved!

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 We are proud to present the new home of Hurry Home Dark Cloud!

This blog will remain active and will possibly become a personal journal.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you at the new site!

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Published in: on March 18, 2008 at 8:08 pm  Leave a Comment  
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March 18

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“Isn’t it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction listen to weather forecasts and economists?”
– Kelvin Throop

It’s March 18 (or close enough) and time for another virgin tuesday roundup!

Perhaps the most anticipated film making its home video debut is I Am Legend. Leading man Will Smith, who is steadily fashioning a career of portraying classic science fiction characters, spottily displays a bit of geniune acting prowess in Legend but otherwise his performance is par for the course.

The two-disc dvd release is advertised as having two endings, one of which is “controversial”, but truthfully both are disappointing and grossly negligent with respect to the original Richard Matheson novel.

In the book an ironic barb is uncovered at the climax, in which it’s revealed the protagonist (Robert Neville) has become to the vampire race what they were once to humanity. With the essential extinction of mankind already certain, Neville becomes the feared legend – a man who stalks and slays the vampires while they sleep.

Granted, it was important for the filmmakers to change entire sections of the novel both for translation to the screen and to modernize ideas that were slightly outdated. Still, by tearing out the heart of the novel, the film is dumbed down until it dissolves into an illogically pastoral – even cheerful – ending.

Aside from Legend, a couple of films directed at children are now available: Enchanted and The Seeker: The Dark is Rising.

Enchanted is a by-the-numbers kid flick, while The Seeker is more action oriented and features diverting performances from Deadwood-alumnus Ian McShane and former Dr. Who Christopher Eccleston.

Best Picture nominee Atonement is certain to send drama fans flocking to their dvd outlet. Though a bit self indulgent, it is unquestionably a fine film and a worthy addition to any home library. As an added bonus, the dvd comes with more green dress goodness!

Lastly, to the great gratification of us here at Hurry Home Dark Cloud, the third season of Battlestar Galactica hits the streets today.

As for music, a few new albums from major indie acts are in stores today, including the excessively prolific Joseph Arthur. The new EP, Could We Survive, is among at least three others coming out this year in addition to a possible LP release.

Quasi-veteran Dan Bejar (who records under the stage name of Destroyer) and newcomers She & Him also have albums coming out today. She & Him consists of folk superstar M. Ward and actress Zooey Deschanel, and with their solid debut Volume One, they’re certain to have many already clamoring for the second one.

Two rogue acts who have both, curiously, benefitted greatly from hit indie films also have albums due today. Devotchka featured prominently in Little Miss Sunshine, and Adam Green (formerly of The Moldy Peaches) had tracks than ran throughout the course of Juno.

That’s it for now, it’s time to catch up on Battlestar before the new season premieres April 4!  

Celluloid

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I Am Legend Two-Disc Special Edition (2007)

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Battlestar Galactica: Season Three (2006-07)

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Enchanted (2007)

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The Seeker: The Dark is Rising (2007)

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Atonement (2007)

Music

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Destroyer “Dark Leaves” from Trouble in Dreams (2008)

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 Joseph Arthur “Rages of Babylon” from Could We Survive EP (2008)

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She & Him “This Is Not a Test” from Volume One (2008)

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Devotchka “Transliterator” from A Mad and Faithful Telling (2008)

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Adam Green “Leaky Flask” from Sixes & Sevens (2008)

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Sera Cahoone “Only as the Day Is Long” from Only as the Day Is Long (2008)

Math and Physics Club

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Jangle pop. Unfamiliar readers will find that Hurry Home Dark Cloud has a multitude of issues with typical genre conventions. Predominantly, we find they are too confining and often pigeonhole an act unfairly.

However, despite the laughably absurd genre title, jangle pop fits Seattle crew Math and Physics Club quite well. So well, in fact, that a cut from last years EP sounds eerily similar to influential eighties band The Smiths – perhaps the most celebrated purveyors of pop that jangles.

“Nothing Ever Happened” appears to be distinctly fashioned as a homage to the work of The Smiths, seeing as the carefree guitars and utterance of lines such as “I must be terribly lonely” are textbook Morrissey trademarks.  

It’s sunny, upbeat music that sounds awfully pleasant during a long Saturday afternoon. Considering the depressing dearth of music this breezy and blissful, we’ve composed an open letter to the band:

Dear Math and Physics Club,

More, please.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Hurry Home Dark Cloud

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“Nothing Really Happened” from Baby I’m Yours EP (2007)

Published in: on March 16, 2008 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Sellout Conundrum

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Ingrid Michaelson, currently one of the most popular targets for venemous “sellout” accusations.

Sellout. The very mention of the term curdles the blood of music fans and bloggers. It symbolizes the death of original music and avant garde creativity. It is the harbinger of massive success and profits, high profile media tours, and sold out big venue concerts. A sellout is a very bad thing.

Suddenly the casual music consumer has the audacity to enjoy a band and not even consider the fans who listened to them “before they were cool.”

Ingrid Michaelson, formerly an artist struggling to get her music heard, propelled her single “The Way I Am” from backpage release to breakout hit by drafting the track into an advertisement for Old Navy and a showcase spot on hit program Grey’s Anatomy.

These savvy business moves gained her national exposure and are directly responsible for the success of her debut Girls and Boys.

So why has Miss Michaelson become anathema in the eyes of many fans and bloggers? It’s quite simple, really.

Human nature. The fabled scorpion and frog deal.

We revile an artist if he or she becomes successful, though we constantly extoll his or her virtues to the masses when they’re languishing in obscurity.

We rack our minds pondering why people will not stand up and recognize what is clearly amazing work, but we are disgusted by fans who only first discovered the band because of their breakout, major label record.

We’re tired of listening to classic rock and pop staples on television, yet we are disappointed when an artist accepts money and widespread publicity by having a song featured on mainstream, nationally syndicated programs.

We eagerly accept an office promotion or pay raise, yet we spurn an artist who seeks to market their music commercially.

Here at Hurry Home Dark Cloud, we applaud the accomplishments of indie artists who have broken into the mainstream.

So here’s to you sellouts, rogues, charlatans, scalawags, reprobates, ye swindlers of indie cool!

Here’s to you!

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Ingrid Michaelson “The Way I Am” from Girls and Boys (2007)

Published in: on March 15, 2008 at 8:18 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Eiffel 65

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Europop. Denoting both the given genre of the group and the title of their breakout record, Eiffel 65 enjoyed an extremely successful year in 1999. With lead single “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” hitting the number one spot on charts in nearly every civilized nation on Earth, there was a point in which the track became such a ubiquitous staple on radio it became as reviled as James Blunt’s “Beautiful.”

To the everlasting joy of thousands, “Blue” hasn’t been heard from since at least 2002. It’s the sort of track that will invariably (if it has not already) appear on Time Life produced Remember the Nineties discs along with dance-oriented essentials like “Macarena” by Los Del Rio and “Wannabe” by Spice Girls.

Europop was unabashedly accessible, almost to a fault. This accessibility was enhanced by trendy (well, at the time) gimmicks such as extensive use of vocoders. I don’t believe a single lyric was sung though anything but a voice synthesizer. 

Granted, it was a dance record, and as American Bandstand proved back in the seventies, people will pretty much dance to anything as long as there is a discernible rhythm.

The bulk of the record is composed of nitwitted by-the-numbers dance melodies for club hopping automatons. “Move Your Body”, “My Console”, “Hyperlink”. . . .those are probably three parts of the same song.

Still, Europop did have its flashes of astuteness. “Too Much of Heaven” is a damning statement on rampant consumerism, while still strangely encouraging dancing to lines like “No love, no friendship, nothing else.”

At best, Eiffel 65 will remind you of Violator-era Depeche Mode. At worst, they will recall everything vile about the nineties’ fascination for provisional dance pop.

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“Blue (Da Ba Dee)” from Europop (1999)

“Too Much of Heaven” from Europop (1999)

The Smiths: Meat Is Murder

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Meat Is Murder, the sophomore effort from pioneering English band The Smiths, found the act experimenting with a myriad of genre bending styles. First of all, Morrissey’s long time penchant for Elvis-esque rockabilly is in full gear (i.e. “Rusholme Ruffians”) as well as more sensitive, introspective ballads (“I Want the One I Can’t Have”).

Not immediately accessible, and with no standout radio single, the record would remain one of The Smiths least favored records. It’s remarkable, then, to recall that Meat Is Murder is the only original album to chart at #1 in the U.K. The inclusion of the immensely popular “How Soon Is Now” on the U.S. release ensured that Meat Is Murder would also sell reasonably well stateside.

The politically charged ideology is abjectly confrontational but never quite approaching tiresome. Lettuce love lullaby “Meat Is Murder” is, like veganism, an aquired taste. Though a bit preachy and self-righteous, the lyrical content does hold some sad truths. Just recently, to the shock of no one, it’s come to light that some slaughterhouses routinely employed torture.

“Barbarism Begins At Home” and sister song “The Headmaster Ritual” serve as compelling odes decrying the stringent disciplinarian tactics of English schoolhouses.

Perhaps the most amusing track is “Nowhere Fast” with it’s giddy declaration of “I’d like to drop my trousers to the Queen” amid typically dispiriting reflective imagery such as: “I think about life and I think about death, and neither one particularly appeals to me.” Brilliant.

Meat Is Murder is primarily regarded as an important step in the creative growth of The Smiths which reaches its peak with the monumental third release The Queen Is Dead. Check back soon for an upcoming discourse on that album as we continue our spotlight series on The Smiths.

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“Rusholme Ruffians” from Meat Is Murder (1985)

“Barbarism Begins At Home” from Meat Is Murder (1985)

Crash Test Dummies

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Crash Test Dummies frontman Brad Roberts (seated, blue shirt) at home with his family.

Annoying. What other adjective could wholly express the baritone, monotone drone of Crash Test Dummies frontman Brad Roberts?

That voice permeates the song without regard for harmony and selfishly squats on every note. 

That voice wrenches into the instrumentation with reckless abandon until it consumes your ears like ravenous pirahna.

In essence, it’s like listening to Ben Stein on a bad acid trip.

If songs like “Afternoons & Coffeespoons” were all Crash Test Dummies had to offer us, the loyal music consumers, I’m confident God Shuffled His Feet would’ve tanked and vanished beneath the depths of obscurity.

So how did it sell over five million copies since its release?

That second album, you see, contained the gloriously peculiar “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm”, a song which inexplicably plants itself in your mind and refuses to leave. You plead with it, try to reason with it. Yet all it does is cross its arms and vigorously shake its head at you.

Despite the danger infectious songs present the melody-susceptible public, I’m offering the infamous track here at Hurry Home Dark Cloud.

But heed my warning: listen at your own risk. . .

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“Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” from God Shuffled His Feet (1993)

Deep Blue Something

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Home. With that record, Deep Blue Something forever cast themselves as the guys who sung “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” From the guitar strum that commences the track to the sing-along chorus, what unfolds is a pleasant yet pedestrian pop song.

Akin to Goo Goo Doll’s single “Name”, which was released just a few months before Home, it’s a song that never quite fulfills its inital promise of being something great.

In lieu of greatness, we’re left with something closer to adequate.

What comes as a surprise, then, is to realize a good deal of Deep Blue Something’s work is entirely pleasing. “Josey” is every bit the equal to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, if only a bit lacking in enthusiasm. 

“Enough to Get By”, from 2001 album Byzantium, is subdued in tone yet awfully assuaging. Especially when the trumpet kicks in.

According to the band’s myspace, the band rejoined in late 2007 and have plans to release new music through iTunes.

I, for one, anticipate something approaching excellence yet only reaching adequate.

Sometimes, that’s all I need.

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“Breakfast at Tiffany’s” from Home (1995)

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“Name” from A Boy Named Goo (1995)

Published in: on March 11, 2008 at 7:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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March 11

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It is Tuesday! For film and music fans across the nation, this is the busiest (and sometimes most expensive) day of the week. Here at Hurry Home Dark Cloud, we are proud to introduce Virgin Tuesdays, in which the latest releases share the spotlight and subsequently seek a spot in your collection.

For starters, a new double-disc release of Gattaca hits stores today. A brilliant character study disguised as a science fiction film, Gattaca remains a lushly-realized achievement with more than a few things to say about humanity.

Aside from the radiant scripting and top drawer acting, Gattaca also sports one of the finest film scores in recent memory – which is almost as underrated as the film itself. Under Michael Nyman’s skillful direction, the orchestration fully captures the foreboding feel of the movie in all its grandeur.

Also readily available on dvd is pedestrian family film August Rush, the amusing yet banal Bee Movie, brainless actioner Hitman, 2007 Best Picture winner No Country for Old Men, and quirky romance comedy Dan in Real Life.

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Gattaca Two-Disc Special Edition Re-Release (1997)

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August Rush (2007)

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Bee Movie (2007)

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Hitman (2007)

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No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Dan in Real Life (2007)

BONUS MP3

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“The Departure” by Michael Nyman from Gattaca Soundtrack (1997)

The Smiths

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“It’s time the tale were told of how you took a child and you made him old.”

So begins the eponymous debut album by seminal eighties band The Smiths. From there, the record unravels to reveal layer after layer of complex lyrical arrangements that touch on everything from distresses concerning social economics to denouncements of abject murder.

In defiance of their contemporaries, The Smiths adopted a back-to-basics approach – which their very name suggests. They dressed down in t-shirts and denim, rather than gaudy costumes or stage outfits. They utilized the standard structure of guitar/bass/drums at a time when synth was everything.

Frontman Morrissey wasn’t afraid to wordlessly vocalize or display an almost comical falsetto on tracks like “Miserable Lie.” Guitarist Johnny Marr was just coming into his own as an accomplished arranger, as if he was only then realizing the power his instrument held to impel tracks like “This Charming Man.”

In short, The Smiths were young yet eloquent, and what they lacked in experience they made up for with surprisingly erudite sentiments.

Take “This Charming Man”, for example, an early single penned with such ace insight that an inscrutable line like “Why pamper lifes complexity when the leather runs smooth on the passenger seat” doesn’t pan out as obtuse but rather quite fetching.

The bulk of the album continues this trend of shrewd awareness for humanity’s darker recesses: “Pretty Girls Make Graves” is a sexually-androgynous ode to romantic frustration, and “Hand in Glove” continues this theme with lines like “No, it’s not like any other love. This one is different.”

The Smiths was a landmark album and a sign of great things to come. This album and the ones proceeding it would influence acts as diverse as Belle & Sebastian, Radiohead, Doves, and Suede in the years to follow.

Check back soon at Hurry Home Dark Cloud for upcoming reviews of the remainder of The Smiths catalog, including the oft-forgotten live album Rank.

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“This Charming Man” from The Smiths (1984)

“You’ve Got Everything Now” from The Smiths (1984)

Published in: on March 9, 2008 at 10:39 am  Leave a Comment  
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