Carsie Blanton, “Idiot Heart”

Carsie Blanton

Idiot Heart

Official Website

January 31, 2012

iTunes

FaceBook

Amazon

CD Baby

Fair warning : This review is not fair and balanced because I swallowed the Carsie Blanton kool-aid, and like her third album, Idiot Heart, it went down just fine. Blanton’s voice is equal parts chanteuse and girl next door; inviting, subtle but not a wallflower.

On this week’s episode of Secretly Timid Danielle asked me if Blanton was country…and I stumbled before answering ‘no.’ Some tracks like “Idiot Heart” follow a pop-country model, yet Blanton is one of those artists that is not easily labeled; and to do so would be a waste of time. The Virginia native/Philadelphia resident sonically references that great Americana music, and it is no wonder that she counts artists like Patti Griffin and Billie Holiday both as influences.

Blanton is a gifted singer-songwriter living in a time of electronic samples and catch phrases. On “Backbone” Blanton sings, “you give your heart but I want to see your backbone.” The song tells an all too familiar story; but her approach is special. Although the lyrics tell a somber story the bass line is funky and the vocals cheery. Another stand out track is “Smoke Alarm” which you can check out below:

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/35676646″ iframe=”true” /]

The connection between love and loss, sex, life and death, is explored in Idiot Heart.

“That connection was the spark that lit up all these songs,” Carsie says. “The concept came to me about a year ago and then I started seeing it everywhere: la petit morte, the femme fatale, ‘looks that kill,’ incubi and succubi, vampires… all these ideas imply that there is a relationship between sex and death. I think the relationship is that people feel most alive during sex, and in some deep part of our brain, it reminds us that one day we won’t be.”

Blanton is no stranger to critical praise. If you are looking for an album full of great stories, tight arrangements, and stunning vocals then this album is worth the cost. Check out some of her live performances below as well as the awesome video for “Baby Can Dance.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5J2iv0mQ6o8[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6a3TNV5ApMs[/youtube]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGC222qNsvs[/youtube]

 

 

 

Fears

Wow. First week without seeing either Danielle, Diane or Paul since the show began. It was a weird week. Very weird. Anyways, I haven’t worked all week save for Monday and have spent some time discovering new podcasts. One such podcast is “The Mental Illness Happy Hour” by Paul Gilmartin. Great show. Check it out. Here is the M.O. :

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Weekly online podcast interviews with comedians, artists, friends, and the occasional doctor. All exploring mental illness, addiction and depression, especially among creatives.

A segment on the show involves Gilmartin having a “fear-off” with his guest. Basically they go back and forth sharing something they are afraid of (some rational, some irrational) and whoever runs out of fear is crowned the loser. Today I forced myself to honestly list some of my rational and irrational fears. Here they be :

Jon’s Fears

  • crashing in an airplane
  • crying in public
  • getting diarrhea in public and having to use a public restroom. The restroom would be at capacity and my ‘rhea would be explosive.
  • getting into a car accident and having all the passengers in my car die leaving me the sole survivor
  • having to choose between my lover and my best friends
  • having to choose between my lover and my family
  • losing my hair
  • slooowly going blind
  • contracting genital herpes out of the BLUE (like I contracted it years and years ago but it laid dormant…like a herpes sneak attack) and then having to convince my lover that it was a sneak attack and not a result of me being unfaithful
  • adopting a child or having one through surrogacy and as the child grows it becomes painfully obvious that our personalities just don’t mesh and I wish I were not a parent
  • that I was wrong in my atheism and have to beg to not burn in hell BUT decide not to out of pride and end up burning for all eternity
  • getting a contact lodged into the side of my eyeball and not be able to retrieve it.
  • discovering that I have an ovary and all my stomach issues have really been just menstrual cramps.
  • my enemy becoming successful. FUCK this happened.
  • discovering that I am not nearly as good at poker as I think and all my poker friends want me around because I suck and they all make fun of me behind my back
  • that someone will walk in on me having sex
  • whenever I am constipated I have a fear that I will push so hard that my asshole breaks and I shoot my intestines out, hemorrhage  and die on the toilet.
  • someone hacks into my computer and writes horrible emails to my friends and family
  • someone hacks my bank account and wipes it out
  • the breaks on my car will fail
  • I will gain weight and not be able to lose it
  • I lose my two front teeth. Or any of my teeth.
  • Getting hit in the face by something and not see it coming so there is that terrible combination of shock, surprise, and pain
  • being in a long checkout lane at the grocery store and my check card being declined
  • getting early onset Alzheimer’s
  • being arrested for a crime I did not commit
  • discovering I am adopted
  • someone breaking into my apartment stealing my shit and killing both my cats
  • having a child who has some rare disorder and needs some vital organ and me not being a match and the child dies
  • being flatulent mid coitus
  • slowly growing breasts out of the blue
  • not waking up
  • my co-hosts secretly hate me and are planning something awful
  • discovering I have cancer
  • my mother having an illness that I am helpless to cure
  • any member of my family or friends being raped and murdered and splayed out somewhere public and onlookers snap their picture and post it all over the internet
  • being horribly disfigured and wanting to die because I am terribly vain.
  • being dumped
  • being cheated on with someone younger and in better shape
  • discovering that I am not over my nicotine addiction and start smoking
  • being assaulted by a psychopath
  • discovering that my degree was not earned but was the result of some mistake and I have to give it back
  • SOPA being made into law
  • The right wing gains a shit ton of supporters and shit goes down
  • nuclear war
  • my family and friends thinking I’m a failure
  • becoming a paraplegic
  • sometimes when I cut my fingernails I am afraid of cutting them too close and getting a hang nail
  • being the victim of a hate crime
  • that I’m not nearly as clever as I think I am
  • that I’m not funny
  • my talent is marginal at best
  • that I’m infested with tapeworms and other parasites
  • that I’ll one day be homeless
  • that naked pictures I took years ago will one day surface
  • I’ll wake up one day with boils all over my face
  • having my identity stolen
  • I used to be nervous around clowns-but I think I’m over that one
  • getting lost and ending up at a white supremacist compound
  • being held up at gunpoint, not having my wallet on me and getting shot
  • all my dark secrets being unearthed
  • being impotent (even though it doesn’t really matter)
  • bumping into that one person I was mean to in high school
  • getting into a domestic argument in public
  • talking about someone behind their back while they are literally behind mine
  • taking a pill to sleep and waking up in a fugue state and calling everyone I love and telling them I hate them
  • taking a risk that might lead to success but might cause embarrassment if the answer is “no”
  • being thought of as a “joke”
  • disappointing my mother
  • not being able to care for my parents when they are in their twilight years
  • being a parent and being a really shitty one
  • slipping BUT not falling in public. Just a slip which involves arms flailing and awkward screaming
  • having to buy embarrassing personal products from the grocery store and bumping into neighbors
  • sending a sexy text to the wrong person
Fear. I really hope that none of these come to pass. Especially the one about my teeth. 


Big Scary, “The Big Scary Four Seasons”

Big Scary

The Big Scary Four Seasons

Official Website

Release Date : May 17, 2011

Available via iTunes

 

 

 

Indie duo Big Scary (Tom Iansek on guitars and lead vocals, Jo Syme on drums and vocals) latest LP, The Big Scary Four Seasons is a compilation of four previously released EP’s, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and (you guessed it) Winter. If the group were Texan there would be only two EPs, Summer and Winter, but I digress. Concept albums have a tendency for being hit or misses. This one, pun intended, is a hit.

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/9239578″]

If you’ve read any of my previous album reviews you will notice me stressing the importance for an album to “flow.” Seeing as this is a compilation of four smaller concept pieces some jerkiness should be expected.

The album opens with “Spring,” a soft, sweet, cinematic and simple song. Iansek’s natural vibrato is set loose on the next track, “Hamilton,” a track which is reminiscent of mainstream acts like Coldplay and The Killers. “Gem in the Granite” combines Beatlesque melody with lovely songwriting. Iansek sings “You sent me spinning through the air. You read your books, I’ll read your lips. Gem in the granite, you were from another planet.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nldVXDfGF9c[/youtube]

The White Stripes meet Queen on “Tuesday is Rent Day” (video above), another standout track. Iansek and Syme’s duet on “Microwave Pizza” is perhaps one of the most special tracks on the LP. The lyrics mix melancholy and wit. It feels complete and (for lack of a better word or phrase) right. In my opinion, “Thinking about you” is the album’s most successful track. The track has depth and resonates…and works well as the final track before “Deep Freeze,” the albums atmospheric close.

If you are a fan of finely crafted, well executed songs, then Big Scary are worth checking out. The duo are currently in the studio recording their full length debut. Their debut album and U.S. tour dates are planned for 2012.

 

 

 

Retro Review : She-Devils On Wheels

Directed by

Herschell Gordon Lewis

Written by

Allison Louise Downe

Starring

Betty Connell
Nancy Lee Noble

Music by

Larry Wellington

Mayflower Pictures

Original Release Date : May 7, 1968

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy1QwtclnWE[/youtube]

`We don’t owe nobody nuthin’, and we don’t make no deals, we’re swingin’ chicks on motors, and we’re man-eaters on wheels!’

The year was 1968. Draft cards were burning. Students were protesting. On April 11th, LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and just one month later She-Devil On Wheels hit theaters.

The film follows this gnarly female biker gang called “The Man-Eaters.” Although their name may create some confusion; sadly they are not cannibals. In fact, they don’t seem to be committing any crimes one would expect a biker gang to commit. No drug dealing, no firearm smuggling, no chop shop. Nah, this is a special biker gang. What do they want? Mens. And they got a whole gaggle of men waiting for them in their dilapidated clubhouse. Members of the Man-Eaters shalt screw the men, but shalt not fall in love with the men…because that would be bad? Yea, the Man-Eater’s rules make absolutely no sense. Anyways, the horny harlots race one another, and whomever wins the race gets to call dibs on the hunk of her choosing. So, so romantic. Things are all groovy until a Man-Eater named Karen (Christie Wagner) is caught banging the some clown over and over again. Then the HBIC, Queen (Betty Connell) roughs up the lucky bastard and pressures Karen to go all Achilles on her beau and drag him around on her bike. Then some other all male gang get their asses handed to them by the ladies (I can’t explain it), there is some gang rape and a be-heading and some people end up handcuffed by film’s end. Not all is shit, however, as the theme song is very catchy. Josie Cotton even covered it.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UK3PPWrDk6o[/youtube]

Historical context…two words to always remember. By today’s standards this film is so very tame…ok…the beheading and gang rape may constitute a strong PG-13 rating…but by 1968 standards this film was shocking. Remember that in 1968 the production code had only been abolished for barely a year…so the “orgies” (although fully clothed) must have been titillating.

Still, this movie was underwhelming. There were too many plots flipping around that the whole damn thing seemed schitzo. Karen was about as interesting and tough as argyle and was easily upstaged by Queen and the BBW named “Whitey” (Pat Poston). If I were to remake this I would scrap Karen and her plot and focus on Queen. We are to believe that these women are tough ass biker chicks…yet it seems as if they just learned to ride. Seriously, their races don’t exceed 35 mph. The fight scenes are just as laughable. The tough men they fight couldn’t bang on Seseme Street.

Yes, there is a feminist edge to the film. The women discard the roles society places on them and adopt roles attributed to the worst of men…the promiscuity, the violence, etc.  Yet here is how you can tell that a man was behind this piece; the beefcakes at the clubhouse seem all too eager to be sexually exploited…and although this may be stereotypically realistic it places them as equal to the Man-Eaters, not lesser than. I feel that if the roles were reversed (which it is all too often in film) the women would not be as eager to be used and would be subjected to humiliation and sexual violence. Here it was just a party.

This film is filed under “exploitation,” and I am sure that it was in 1968. When I think “exploitation” I think I Spit On Your Grave or Cannibal Holocaust. Films that really turn your stomach. Films that were still ten years away from hitting the streets. This film, although underwhelming, was pure camp. And Whitey and Queen made it fun.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fcrL19rK0yo[/youtube]


Hoarders II : Road Trip

I’ve been been a busy bee all week. I’m house sitting in Dallas, kitten feeding in Addison, and working in West Plano. This means commute. This means fast food for breakfast. I spied this car parked in the parking lot at Jack in the Box. But alas! I was already in the drive-thru line. Oh well, I’ll just have to circle around the building to snip-snap this here picture. The car was packed full of plastic bags, empty gallons of water, plastic motor oil bottles, and other trash. A blue dumpster was just about 25 feet away. Oh, Iggy.

 

 

 

 


Retro Review : Them!

Directed by

Gordon Douglas

Written by

Ted Sherdeman
Russell Hughes
George Worthing Yates

Starring

James Whitmore
Edmund Gwenn
Joan Weldon
James Arness

Music By

Bronislau Kaper

Warner Bros.

Original Release Date : June 19, 1954

 

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2PLls02gOU[/youtube]

About 10 years ago I was living in a posh apartment in Frisco, and one night I invited my friends over for some drinks and debauchery. Later that evening we took a jaunt over to Wendys for some late night foodage. The partying continued and in the destruction a plate of french fries was buried under a pile of pillows. The following day I woke up to a trail of ants coming from the patio to the double fried potato sticks. There is nothing more disgusting than the sight of insectual feasting…all those little ants ripping the shit out of the fries and taking it back to the colony. So, so gross.

Well, I first heard of the movie THEM! by playing Fallout 3. During the game the player must save a city overrun by giant, mutated ants. This mission was called….you guessed it… “Them!”

This film follows a group of heroes battling an army of mutated ants. The mutation was a result of atomic radiation created from nuclear testing. Although the group were ultimately successful,  the film ends on a ominous tone with the lead scientist saying, “When man entered the atomic age, he opened the door to a new world. What we may eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict.”

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UR0XbTcs2Us[/youtube]

Kaper’s musical arrangement is incredibly effective, as was the chilling  Sound the ants used to communicate. The acting was, for the most part, above average given the style of the time period. Everyone knows that no suspense film is complete without a creepy child. This child, played by Sandy Descher, fills this role in spades. The half broken doll was a nice touch.  There was also a feminist edge to this film that made me cheer. In one scene, Dr. Pat Medford (Joan Weldon) was prepared to enter the colony because her father, Dr. Harold Medford, (played by Edmund Gwenn) was unable to due to his age. The able bodied men originally protested, exclaiming that the dangerous colony was no place for a woman. Dr. Pat Medford appealed to their common sense…a scientist was needed and no other one was present. Remember folks, this was the 1950’s.

The special effects, while obviously dated, are still pretty impressive. I also had no idea that they had flame throwers back then. I know, duh…if they can make the atom bomb, they can make flame throwers.

Them! is available to watch instantly on Netflix. If you are a fan of sci-fi, like monster movies, or are interested in films from the 1950’s, this one is worth checking out.

 

Monday Nergasm: By Jupiter’s Cock, Spartacus!

Spartacus

Created by Steven S. DeKnight

Starring

Andy Whitfield

Manu Bennett

John Hannah

and

Lucy Lawless

Official Website

Remember how I said I was “kinda a nerd?” Well, lets see : video games, comic books, cartoons, poetry…Well, I forgot to mention another love from the past; action series made in New Zealand. I loved Hercules : The Legend Continues and Xena : Warrior Princess. I heard mumblings here and there about this new Spartacus series on the Starz! network, but alas, I only have basic cable, so the first two seasons passed me by. That was before both seasons popped up on Netflix Instant. Continue reading

Monday Nerdgasm : Dragon Age 2 Demo

Way back in 2009 BioWare released Dragon Age : Origins. The action/role-playing game allowed players to create either a human, dwarf, or elf of either gender. This new hero is tasked to save the ancient city of Ferelden from a coming Blight of demons from the underworld. Along the way players can fight with rivals, help their teammates, and even fall in love. This was one of those games in which choices player’s made affected the world in which their characters lived. The game was a commercial and critical success and even gained praise for allowing characters to romance members of the same sex. In fact, I think this may even be the first game which allowed players to create a gay male hero (preceded by the option of girl-on-girl lovin’ in Mass Effect).

The combat mechanics were heavy on strategy and light on button mashing; which was perfect for those of us who loved playing Risk. The story was epic…the visuals were not. However, the superb voice acting, lush orchestral arrangements and massively long story made up for o.k. visuals. I totally had a nergasm when I found out the demo for the sequel was available for download.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlACgYHtWCI[/youtube]

First Impressions : The visuals definitely got nipped and tucked. The character animation is also more fluid. The sound is what we have come to expect from BioWare; beautiful.

RuhRoh : The game mechanics have completely changed. The game feels much more fast-paced and action oriented. If you choose to play as a Mage, the game will no longer pause as you scroll through to select a spell.  I am worried that this will affect the overall game strategy. Back in Origins I used my Mage to see through walls…when I discovered enemies I would use Mage 1 to freeze their asses via a Blizzard then use Mage 2 to fry their asses via a Tempest. This gang bang was so satisfying. Will I still be able to gang bang in part 2?

Overall, the demo was fun and way too short. Flemeth looked amazing. She reminded me of The Sorceress from He-Man. That busty pirate chick kinda made my eyes roll. Ugh…another overtly sexy bad girl. Gimme Morrigan any day. X-Box 360 users can download the demo today on X-Box Live. PS3 users…I don’t have a PS3, so I don’t know what you need to do.

Dragon Age 2 will be released March 11, 2011.

Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Fate of Two Worlds Review

Time seemed to crawl from the time Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 was announced to when it was finally released. I dribbled away hours checking to see if there were any new updates on shoryuken.com. Finally, this past Tuesday at around 4:30 p.m. there was a knock, knock, knock on my door. “Why yes, UPS man, I will sign for that package!!” Waiting and anticipating had ended; finally a copy of Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 (special edition) was in my hands.

The special edition packaging was well worth the extra cash. The game was packed in a luxurious metal tin rather than the standard plastic DVD case. Some vinyl stickers were included (ok…what the hell am I going to do with those???) as well as a collectors comic book filled with promotional art and two special codes; one code good for a month subscription to Marvel digital comics and the other good for 2 DLC characters, Resident Evil’s Jill Valentine and Marvel’s weird eyeball monster Shuma-Gorath. Blah, blah, blah…on to the game.

Freud would have a field day

Continue reading