Feb 10, 2014

Pontiak - "Wildfires"

This album is an unexpected early year favorite, I'm kicking myself for not checking this trio of brothers out sooner. A bit of an unusual band for the current Thrill Jockey lineup, Pontiak tread in a vein of riff-heavy classic rock that is (rightfully) earning them plenty of buzz in the stoner rock corners of the internet. But that also sells short some of their more trad classic rock tunes, of which "Wildfires" is an excellent example. I'm really digging this record.

Feb 3, 2014

Against Me! - "FUCKMYLIFE666"

Even without Laura Jane Grace's brave journey since the band's last release, I would have been anxiously awaiting this one. If only because Against Me! have already given us two of the best pop-punk albums of the last decade. The new is a little rawer, a little more intense, all without sacrificing the band's way with a killer hook. Do yourself a favor and pick up Transgender Dysphoria Blues right away.

Feb 2, 2014

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman

 It felt like a blow out of nowhere when I saw the first few 'RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman' tweets come across my feed. I initially chalked it up as another one of those false report/hoax situations, but pretty soon the official looking reports started pouring in.

I'm not sure I'm equipped with the words to describe the powerful impact his acting has had on me and my appreciation of films. Like many others, I first noticed him in Twister, but didn't feel his true strength until his unforgettable role as Scotty J in Boogie Nights. Then came his run in the late 90s, early 2000s that lined up perfectly with my expanding view of films and their impact. Many like to roll their eyes at the earnest view of rock and roll that Cameron Crowe gave in Almost Famous, but as a music lover it was a fun ride for me, mostly thanks to Hoffman's role as legendary rock scribe Lester Bangs. And though his role in Magnolia was relatively minor, he helped to make that film one of my all-time favorites. Sometime in between seeing those two, I rented Todd Solondz' Happiness - a movie that was infamously anything but. Here, as in many of his films, Hoffman played a distinctly unlikable character, but he inhabited the role with a humanity that made him universally relatable in profoundly uncomfortable ways.

His work was, and continues to be, a revelation. It was always a great sign when I saw his name pop up in unexpected places - Along Came Polly and Mission Impossible III come immediately to mind - it meant that at least some small part of the movie would be engrossing. He brought that special energy to everything he worked on, I couldn't get enough of the guy. When he won his Oscar for Capote, I was overjoyed and knew that it was the first of many to come. Sadly, that will remain his sole Academy Award.

Any death of a 46 year-old is a tragedy, doubly so when a young family is left behind. I'll make no excuses for the addiction that he grappled with, but it makes his story all the more depressing.

I'm sure I'm not along in saying this, but I'll really miss you Philip. I hope you found the peace that eluded you in life.