It’s almost Spring in Japan which means perfect weather, cherry blossoms and road trips are just around the corner, but as of now I’m still sleeping with my electric blanket on most nights and waking up freezing my ass off. Soon enough I will long for the days where I’m not sweating like Chris Farley after the timed mile in gym class, but for now, I want warm weather. While I’m still cold and cursing living in the mountains I have had time to catch some new shows and tunes. Here’s what I’ve been listening to and watching these past two weeks.
Oh and hey – do you guys do the whole twitter thing? Because Brem and I totes do. Follow us on twitter – Brem posts great tweets about music she is seeing or listening to and I am generally an asshole who comments on random things.
Brem – https://twitter.com/bremily
What I’m Watching
Top of the Lake
So this is a 7 hour mini-series starring the amazing Elizabeth Moss (Peggy Olson on Mad Men) as a New Zealand detective looking into the case of a twelve year old girl who is pregnant and then disappears outside of Queenstown, NZ. The missing girl is the daughter of the town thug and her brothers, father and several other creepy townspeople are suspects in the crime.
Moss’s character is back in her hometown from Sydney to take care of her ailing mother when she receives the call about the girl and goes in to help question her. The whole case is being handled with an air of indifference (the dudes in this town are highly sexist) and she quickly takes charge and attempts to help the frightened girl.
Moss is steely and strong but also vulnerable and sympathetic in the role and I have to say she is one of the best actresses on the small screen these days. Her character has some sort of history with the girl’s older half brother and there are hints that something really bad happened to her that led her to become the avenging angel and badass detective she is today. This all works because Moss holds a little back and we’re never quite sure exactly what is going on in her mind. I look forward to the reveals about her past, her family and her relationship with Tui’s (the missing girl) half brother.
Basically this show is everything the Killing wishes it was. Not that the The Killing was bad, in fact, there were parts of the first season that were riveting until the writers shit the bed and created all of these crazy plots and then decided not to reveal who the killer was until season 2. But I digress. The town is full of eccentric oddballs and menacing killers and has a vague Twin Peaks feel to it, which I obviously love.
Holly Hunter and a group of strange women trying to mend their broken hearts offer some levity to the series. Hunter plays a prophet sort of character who has a sort of hippie commune for women who are trying to get their lives together and they happen to be living on land apparently owned by Tui’s volatile father. The women take Tui in when she initially runs away but she disappears before they learn much about her. The women are great and Hunter is always a delight. There is a story about a woman who was living with orangutan that literally made me snot chocolate milk out of my nose (sounds weird, but it was a great scene – trust me).
The setting of the show is also gorgeous as it is filmed in creator/director/writer/Oscar nominee Jane Campion’s homeland on the south island of New Zealand. I loved watching the first two episodes and have high hopes for the final five. It’s airing on Sundance Channel in America and also can be streamed online if you know the right websites. I definitely recommend this mini-series very highly and it’s not like I’m telling you to invest in a whole season of television here — just seven hours spread out across three or four weeks. Let me know if get the chance to check it out.
Game of Thrones
The season hasn’t started yet but I am already dying and have watched all of the trailers at least five times each in anticipation. The third book is my favorite so I hope they do it justice. Just seeing clips of Brienne and the bear, the dragons and Jon Snow and Ygritte in the cave (ow ow!) are making me salivate with excitement. If you still somehow haven’t watched Game of Throne or think you’re too cool for it, then get off your high horse because it rules. Catch up on Seasons 1 and 2 so you can join Brem and I in our weekly recap discussions.
I need to preface this whole thing by saying I’m not a cartoon person, not even close. I’ve seen about three episodes of The Simpsons in my life and I’m not into the Family Guy unless I’m completely wasted. I once was out with a guy who endlessly quoted The Family Guy and tried doing the vocal impersonations and I’ve never wanted to punch someone in the face so much in my life. So when I asked for show suggestions (and thank you for those that gave them — I’ll be checking out Luther soon Colleen), my friend Molly https://twitter.com/MollyTRex (who has similar tastes to my own — aka very good taste), suggested Archer.
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard about this show as it’s basically a partial Arrested Development reunion in the fact that it has Jessica Walter voicing the role of Malory Archer, a caustic alcoholic withholding mother and boss of spy agency ISIS, Jeffrey Tambor as a director of a rival spy company and once paramour who is still in love with Malory, and Judy Greer as Cheryl Tunt (yep – great names) – who is basically playing Kitty from AD all over again as the vapid and sexually inappropriate secretary to Malory. Arrested Development in cartoon form — sign this girl up!
Rounding out the vocal performances are H. Jon Benjamin as the pompous ladies man/asshole/super-spy Sterling Malory Archer, Aisha Tyler as the sexy, no-bullshit super spy and former lover of Archer – Lana Kane, Chris Parnell as the hapless accountant/sex addict/nerd Cyril Figgis, and Amber Nash as the hedonistic, ridiculously amazing HR rep Pam Poovey.
This show is fucking amazing you guys. The jokes are fast and furious and super inappropriate and because the characters are cartoons, the violence, sex, and shenanigans are way more insane and hilarious because they can get away with so much more. The more I watch this show, the more I love it and all of the characters. Characters I thought I was going to hate have turned out to be my favorites (Pam, Cheryl). This show really appeals to my inner twelve year old except it is slightly more sophisticated than twelve year old me, only slightly. The voice-overs are great, the editing is amazing and the show is worth your precious viewing time. Thanks Molly — good call.
What I’m Listening To
Foxygen – We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic
Yes, I recognize how positively ridiculous this album title is, but the music is legit. It’s my soundtrack to spring right now. I am not sure how to describe the sound exactly – it’s like a bit of 60s California Rock mixed with Belle and Sebastian sensibilities. The lead singer sort of reminds me of a young Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan and I really thoroughly dig it. I also really enjoy the full album as a listen which is sign of good music to me.
Although we currently live in the age of singles and digital music – I often will burn a whole album to CD to listen to while I drive (I have a half hour commute to work each way and drive often) and there are not many albums that I feel like play well all the way through. I give each album I burn at least three listens before deciding whether or not it will get regular play on my drives to work. Foxygen passes the test. My favorite tracks off the album are – San Francisco, No Destruction, and Shuggie.
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
I am gonna need a minute because I feel like I’ve been waiting for this album for forever and that’s because it has been seven years since Justin released FutureSex/LoveSounds onto the earth. I missed him and his slick dance moves and sexy falsetto and terrible lyrics but amazing musicality.
I have finally listened to the full album two times and I give it two thumbs up and am also wondering why he released Suit and Tie as his first single. There are way more catchy tunes on this album that I look forward to dancing around to it sans pants in my living room once it gets slightly warmer.
You know he’s amazing because he even takes a song titled Strawberry Bubblegum and makes it great – it starts with some Barry White voice stuff at the beginning and combines it with JT’s most beautiful falsetto. I don’t even care that the lyrics are like “She’s smacking that strawberry bubblegum” because the song has funk and soul and weirdly sounds like amazing elevator music during a break down. Not even mad, so good. Good god.
The music is great and happy and soooo danceable – but none of that dub-step shit that shows up in most everything these days. Listen I love a good dancing song with some dub-step bidness every now again but once Taylor Swift starts throwing dub-step breakdowns into her songs it has officially been overused and overplayed. This album is like a mix of 70s soul (the horns on That Girl, Pusher Love, etc — great stuff) with some terrific rhythmic beats underneath JT’s soaring voice (good call on collaborating with Timbaland).
Some song make me want to dance (Let the Groove Get in, Body Count) and some make me want to get down and then smoke a cig (Tunnel Vision, Dress On). Favorite Tracks – That Girl, Tunnel Vision, Mirrors, Let the Groove Get In — damn, this is hard, pretty much all of the songs are pretty great. Do you think Jessica Biel just high fives herself in the mirror every morning because she knows this whole album is pretty much JT singing about how much he loves her. Lucky bitch.
Have a super weekend everyone.
Thanks for reading!