A subdivision of ACIDEMIC

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Into Dust" - The Gears of War 3 commercial

There's an ingenious TV commercial for some video game coming out Sept. 20 called GEARS OF WAR 3. It uses one of my favorite songs, "Into Dust" by Mazzy Star and the juxtaposition of this magnificently still and existentially melancholy song with these apocalyptic visions of war and sci fi machinery is so beyond the usual for this sort of thing that it becomes art. It's not a video game commercial anymore, it's a quick, devastating reading of America's post-apocalyptic pulse. Acidemic salutes the advertising team of Twofifteen McCann!

There's a vibe in the "Brothers to the End" tag line which makes us see that this dismal cityscape, with all the black rainy clouds and robot monsters, isn't going to rise again, not for a hundred million years, and the hopeful little blue lights on the backpack straps of the warriors backing up on their hillside defense position, are going to go out, very soon. It's an Altamont moment, the Stones carrying on under their little stage lights as the best ideas of humanity are crushed under the heel of bad drugs and idolatry right before their eyes. And there's no more fallback position, no backstage safe area, no green room, no supply depot. Just brothers. Street-fighting men. I have no idea what kind of backstory to past Gears of War commercials or game plots this may allude to. I'm just reading the commercial as it's own thing. On that level, it's just a shout away from devastating.

I always thought that Mazzy Star would have saved Zack Snyder's SUCKER PUNCH from sucking as bad as it did, and it turned out I was right. There needed to be a counterpoint to the soulless CGI mayhem of PUNCH's 'fantasy' scenes, which instead were all set to obvious strip club remixes of hits like "Sweet Dreams" and Bjork's "Army of Me." There's more mood and emotion in this damned Gears of War 3 commercial than in Snyder's last two films (by which I mean PUNCH and WATCHMEN) combined. The last time a song worked this well in a violent montage was "When The Man Comes Around" in the credit sequence of 2004's DAWN OF THE DEAD remake, directed by who else? Zack Snyder. When's that man going to come around, again, Mama? 15 months and counting...

Friday, September 9, 2011

Rooftop in Brooklyn: The Post-PJ Ipod

Holly Miranda - you are truly the holy miracle your name resembles.
Mopey girl rockers - I love them, provided they don't 'over-sing' or get all slick and professional and hollow and sound like everyone else. Keep it neither too raw and lo fi nor too AOR slick and oversung and you have me at hello - it all started with PJ Harvey's 1992 classic, "Dry" - which changed my life, and  let's face it, great as PJ Harvey's new album "Let England Shake" is in principle, there's only two songs that I'd ever want to hear over and over as the soundtrack to my anguished obsession du autumne, the rest is just way too serious, continuing a downer trend Harvey's been cultivating since her alleged big romantic crash following the jubilant "Stories from the City, stories from the Sea." Will we ever have a song as awesome as "You Said Something?" Look at how happy she was, rolling her eyes and being goofy:

Now she may smile and stuff, but her songs are devoid of romance and humor, and more just glum and haunted. Still, I love White Chalk and these basement videos she made (below). I wish she'd give Bob Dylan a harmonica lesson:

Luckily, my ipod soars with new and recent girls who nail that moody emotional swamp I walk home in, opening doors to past loves and doomed romances, and making my feet leave the ground in cathartic movement.

SMOOSH - "The World's Not Bad"
From their awesome album of the same name - these girls are too young for me to ever see play live (shouldn't they have curfews?) but there's no denying, for me anyway, the genius simplicity and power of this album, and this song in particular - love that simple, almost percussive piano and the whispery harmony - this is the kind of stuff that girls tend to grow out of as they start dating guys who try to get them to be more slick and professional and let their boyfriends add long elaborate dobro solos. It's what ruined Azure Ray! Smoosh sisters, don't ever change!

EMA - "California"
Love this song, with its apocalyptic organ/drone chords and EMA's rattled off anguished lyrics about the alienation of L.A.: "Now you've corrupted us all with your sexuality / tried to tell us love was free / tried to tell us love was free." And it's not long before she's carrying a gun like Lou Reed in The Blue Mask - I love walking home from work with this song on my ipod, "I'm just 22 / I'm just 22 / I don't mind dyin'" Video's kind of dull though...

There was a year where I listened to this song and this album every day on the way to and from work, so now I can't help but think of my East village walk-up, my gorgeous long lost ex, and the grotty subway whenever I hear it. I thought Holly Miranda was kind of busted for some reason, as I never saw waht the band looked like - how could she be as gorgeous as her voice? But she AM! The below video is cute but you can't hear the bass which is one of the best aspects. Still love her rock and roll arms.

ELECTRELANE - "Oh Sombra!"
I love these girls! We were myspace buddies for awhile, maybe still are. This video is perfect at recreating that ipod and Q Train commute vibe, and the slowly mounting beauty/anguish of the song and Spanish lyrics perfectly match the sinking feeling of returning to Brooklyn after a rainy day of city errands.

LANA DEL REY - "Video Games"
This girl reminds me of at least two of my long lost loves, and the sweet pain of remembering her and how I lost the last one (in 2003) and the pain of dating a hot and bi-polar and having to fend off hordes of richer, younger, more confident dudes at every gas station, restaurant, and AA meeting. The tragic tender sadness that memory creates is all tied into Lana's husky, Los Angeles voice; the inclusion of the drunken stumbling audio is genius, as is the found footage ensemble around her, conjuring a Hollywood of ghosts, roadside attractions, and sun-drenched graveyards where 'happiness is never experienced, only remembered.'

BARDO POND - "Tommy Gun Angel"
Loved this song all through my 2003 divorce, so expressive, druggy, and deranged! Read my Bardo Pond appreciation here. I kind of dig Matt the Mad Hat's found footage edit for it too.

To be continued with my own mash-up for Kimberly Linn's "The Sparks" plus: Ida, Ida Maria, Rainer Maria, Mount Rainier, and Rainier Wolfcastle!