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University of Oregon student and artist, Daniel P Lopez creates various kinds of visual art. He recently pitched us the idea of a visual review, or work of art in response to Tv On The Radio’s “Seeds”. Intrigued, we agreed to indulge him and the resulting work is the breathtaking piece above.

For more art by Lopez, check out his Cargo Collective page, or for more Visual Reviews see below.

INITIATION from Daniel P. Lopez on Vimeo.

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Cloudkicker is a one-man Columbus, Ohio project consisting of Ben Sharp.  The guy has been putting out phenomenal, spacey, atmospheric instrumental metal since 2007 with absolutely no advertising, promotion, or playing any shows.  Everything of value with his project has been on the quality of his music and grass roots fans.  He writes, records, mixes, masters, and releases all albums himself.  He is on countless ‘Best-of-the-year’ lists, and after getting the chance to talk with him he turns out to also be an accomplished amateur pilot.  Because of course he is.

Earlier last year Mr. Sharp got together with the band Intronaut, who are themselves a juggernaut of jazzy, syncopated metal group of near-genius musicians, and Ben Sharp got these guys to be his fucking backing band.

I got a chance to see the tour in Portland, and rarely do you see a group of tighter and precise musicians.  Bands that have been together for years don’t hit this quality.  Metallica has been together for over 30 years and still can’t get through a song without Lars fucking up the tempo.  These dudes have been playing together for only goddamn weeks.

If you aren’t familiar with Cloudkicker’s discography, it is an absolute must for metal/rock/progressive/ambient/acoustic/groove/jazz/Meshuggah/pretty music fans.  And it’s all free from his bandcamp page.  Free.  

This particular album is a live recording of one of the shows of that tour although it doesn’t mention which venue or town, but that doesn’t really matter.  It’s difficult to believe that the quality was any different from venue to venue.  It is an eclectic mix of all his albums, one of those shows where you have a number of favorite songs from each album, and somehow this guy and his genius backing band plays each fucking one of them.

I really can’t stress how good this shit is.  It is a huge inspiration for ‘bedroom-musicians’, and really does show what can be done on your own with ingenuity, time, practice, and talent.  In what has become a sea of mediocrity in music, it’s wonderful to find original music that is solely the property of the author, and severely rare is it of this quality and beauty.  I don’t know enough adjectives to really describe it effectively, so I’ll end with a challenge; listen to “We’re goin’ in. We’re goin’ down.” off of his album ‘Beacons’ and try not to fall in love with this stuff. – Sam Blum

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This film, for me, represents the definition of the term “arthouse.” Absolutely every aspect of it from each individual performance to the meticulously seamless cinematography to the dialogue and seemingly painstaking direction, each piece is it’s own form of artistic expression. I went into it knowing as much as anyone could from the trailer. I knew it was going to be nice to see Michael Keaton in a starring role again. I knew that it was going to be a somewhat comedically meta story that draws some district parallels to Keaton’s own career. And I knew that it had a great cast of well regarded actors who all seem to successfully ride the line between indie darling and box office draw… Even the casting is it’s own artistic statement.

Birdman is centered around Riggan Thompson, a once successful movie star most known for playing the titular superhero in a beloved trilogy. Thompson’s struggle to break free from from a perceived and somewhat valid stigma of being a sold out actor has led him to write, produce, direct, and star in a Broadway adaptation of one of his favorite books. We see the last few previews and all of the disastrous issues that befall the production in the final stages of it’s incubation process. Thompson’s perception of his own career plights are compounded by the very real plights of his personal life which are then exacerbated by the backstage dramas that are inevitable with a building full of highly emotional creative types. Watching this film could easily be described as watching a grown man fall apart before your eyes.

There is no doubt that this is Keaton’s comeback if he wants it. I honestly can’t think of a reason that he was gone to begin with. Muliplicity wasn’t THAT bad, was it?! Anyway, he delivers on so many levels with this one. Zach Galifinakis steps into a bit of a newer territory for him, kind of playing a straight man to Thompson’s manic depressive insanity. Edward Norton brings his noted brilliance to the role of Mike Shiner, an actor known for being as genius onstage as he is difficult off. Emma Stone shines as Riggan’s daughter, Sam who is just as lost in life as her father but chooses to turn to anger to mask her inherited self doubt. The cast is rounded out by performances from Naomi Watts, Amy Ryan, Andrea Riseborough, and Lindsay Duncan who all shine in this weird look at the psychology behind performing arts in this modern world where box office grosses and widely regarded criticism so easily blur our interpretation of success within the artistic community.

I can’t lie, Birdman is a little heady and out there. It’s also very endearing though. I really enjoyed it. It’s as much a film about the entertainment industry as it is about the human condition. It feels like an exploration of our need to try to balance our inherent desire for recognition and acclaim with the day to day consequences of our actions to obtain those lofty goals. When I say “our” I’m honestly not sure if I’m referring to artists or human beings in general and I think that might be the point.

If you live in the Eugene area go out and catch this at the Bijou. This is the perfect film to see at a local indie theater. Check out the Bijou for showtimes. – Seth Milstein

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Post image for Haken “Restoration” EP (Inside Out Music)

A fantastic starting point for new listeners, Restoration is NOT new material, but a thorough reworking of three tracks from the band’s 2008 demo, Enter The 5th Dimension. Though it is thoroughly debatable as to whether the material needed revisiting or revamping, the 34 minute EP does a fantastic job of showcasing the breadth of the band’s abilities, while allowing long time fans to hear fresher, tighter versions of old favorites. The redoux also lets the members who’ve joined since the debut recording to add a little flare resulting in a sound more on point with how these songs sound live now. Not to mention giving Haken the opportunity to shake off some of the more embarrassing moments present on everyone’s demo ever. Let them have/eat cake.

The renditions presented here range from prog akin to that of new Opeth (see synth driven opener, “Darkest Light,” originally titled “Blind” has been shortened and is devoid of some deathy growls and obnoxious circus clown laughter present on the demo) to what sounds like 1977 Yes crafting classic british prog that blends elements of jazz-fusion, the soundtrack to a renaissance fair, and Leonard Bernstein (The 19 minute closing epic, “Crystallised”). Yeah, it’s THAT fucking nerdy, but since when is nerdiness AT ALL frowned upon in the world of progressive rock? Prog has always been the kind of musical masturbation that is obnoxious to some, but the best kind of audio pornography for die-hard music nerds and musicians who want their soundtrack to require an active listen, and rest assured that Haken has accomplished that with this 3 track re-imagination. -Joshua Isaac Finch

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Post image for Marianne Faithfull “Give My Love To London” (Easy Sound)

I’m pleased to say that Marianne Faithfull’s new record Give My Love to London is fantastic. It pleases me because these days we’re all pretty youth obsessed (new faces, new voices, new, new, new). And I’m no different. But it’s thrilling to hear Faithfull, after 50 years in the music business, sound so damn present and relevant, like the fire to be heard still burns brightly in her belly.

And that’s not to say Faithfull doesn’t sound old: her voice creaks and croaks, like the ghost of a cabaret singer; it burns like bourbon or scotch, as aromatic as the cigar-soaked walls of a Victorian gentlemen’s club. And the record (featuring collaborations, contributions and covers from Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen and Anna Calvi among others) dabbles in old, reliable song-forms: the title track, co-written with Steve Earle is a `60s-era English folk tune. The record rounds-out with Hoagy Carmichael’s “I get Along With You Very Well.” And the middle features The Everly Brothers’ “The Price of Love.”

But throughout Faithfull chews up and spits out the raw and rough arrangements. One of the record’s more rocking tracks, “True Lies” is delivered with the venom of a woman who’s been loved and left and lived to love again. The Faithfull/Tom McRae tune “Love More or Less” has the beautiful, lovesick and intensely melancholy pallor of The National at their best. Nick Cave’s tremendously Gothic “Late Victorian Holocaust” is the kind of gloom you want to pull over you like a warm blanket and sleep under. “Falling Back” (co-written with Anna Calvi) has the romantic pomp and urgency of later-era Morrissey.

In the Roger Waters-penned “Sparrows Will Sing” Faithfull sings: “The new generation is eager to master the helm, they cannot be seduced by this candyfloss techno hell…I have no doubt they will figure it out one day.” Marianne, we are eager. Keep searching with us and we’ll keep listening. – William Kennedy

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