Staying In With Vienna Shorts

Cooped up inside like the rest of the world, I found myself doing the same things everyone else was doing: puzzles, books, listening to music, and watching loads of TV and film. As I juggled streaming options, old black and white films, and monster movies I was pretty excited to get an online pass for Vienna Shorts 2020.

Held from May 28th to June 2 and featuring over 280 short films from around the world, there was a lot to dig into. One of the things I love about short films is that they force their creators to channel their creativity into delivering a story that doesn’t drag on or suffer from heavy editing by a studio. They are raw, they are inventive and, thankfully, they are able to be digested in short bites, allowing the viewer to come and go as they want.

(more…)

Depeche Mode: Monument – Book Review

By Dennis Burmeister & Sascha Lange
Akashic Books

Depeche Mode: MonumentGenerally coffee tables are often a monstrous pain. They are clunky, cumbersome and often leave the owner feeling somewhat lacking because there is inevitably too much or too little content.

This brings us to Monument, a massive examination of all things Depeche Mode compiled by German uber-fan and designer Burmeister along with Lange, a fellow fan and historian of youth culture. Together the tandem skillfully walks the tightrope of creating a visual representation of Depeche Mode’s work meshed with informative facts and anecdotes about their history while simultaneously giving passionate fans something special.

More than a scrapbook, it features a concise narrative beginning with their formation in Basildon to the present. Promo photos, album and singles art, press releases and concert posters are nestled alongside a straightforward profile of Depeche Mode, including their creative process for each album, concert video and tour. It also chronicles the departure of band members Vincent Clarke and Alan Wilder within the context of how it affected the band and their development. If that was not enough it also dives into their respective side projects, from Martin Gore’s solo work to Dave Gahan’s involvement in Soul Savers, Wilder’s Recoil and the old school techno collaboration of Clarke and Gore as VCMG.

Originally released in Germany, Monument is equal parts collection, recollection and affection as it chronicles the band’s origins in synth pop to their evolution as post-punk groovesters whose grimy rock driven beats have signified multiple shifts in sound and aesthetic.

Throughout their prolific career Depeche Mode has garnered a rabid fanbase eager to learn as much as they can about them. To that end the book also documents the relationship between the band and their fans via a presentation of nearly every aspect of their catalogue (albums, singles, remixes and promos).

Overall, Burmeister and Lange get the balance right with a stuffed book that goes above and beyond in pleasing both casual fans and serious collectors.

Set the Boy Free – Book Review

Set the Boy Free by Johnny Marr

Written by Johnny Marr
Published by Dey Books

Initially known as the other creative half of The Smiths, Johnny Marr has had a pretty great run as his own guy. He’s spent most of his adult life making some of the best melodies of the last forty years via his cofounding Electronic with Bernard Sumner of New Order and signing on for stints as a member of The The, The Cribs and Modest Mouse.

Now an established solo artist he’s strummed his stuff on several soundtracks (most notably Inception) and been a collaborator with Beck, Kirsty MacColl, Billy Bragg, Pet Shop Boys, The Pretenders and Bryan Ferry.

(more…)

David Bowie Is… Invades The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

David Bowie Is

Widge’s Note: It was one year ago today that we lost David Bowie–not the first casualty of The Year Which Must Not Be Named but just the first wave of the onslaught. But it was a bitter pill for everyone to swallow. Bowie was the Swiss Army Knife of musicians, trying on new personas like somebody whose dad owned a persona factory. One of the testaments to Bowie’s chameleon-like nature was and is the David Bowie Is exhibition, currently in Tokyo and will be headed for Barcelona, opening May 25th. If there’s any way in hell you can go, then go. Music Minister Rob Levy filed this report regarding his visit to the exhibition while it was based in Chicago. And we’re reposting it today because it’s One Year After.

Once in a while, a museum exhibition comes along that simply wows you with a sense of “I must see this!” glee and excitement! Like a Van Gogh retrospective or the Tut Exhibition from back in the day, the MCA’s David Bowie Is was such an experience.

Created by London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, this exhibition is the first to examine Bowie as a powerful figure in music, art design, theatre and film. It also emphasizes his impact on contemporary culture through the lens of his creative process and multiple collaborations. The exhibition, which opened on September 23, 2014 and closed on January 4, 2015 was a pretty big deal. The MCA Chicago was the only American venue for David Bowie Is, making it the epicenter for music freaks, artists and pop culture junkies.

(more…)

Doctor Who Season 9: A Primer

The Doctor and Clara

The good news is that there is a new season of Doctor Who coming. It has some great guest stars, familiar faces and a core of writers and directors who have never worked on the show before. Maybe an injection of new blood can tighten things up a bit this year. The bad news is that there will be no new Who for 2016, as Steven Moffat will be erstwhile-detained working on Sherlock. There has been no word of any specials or one of episodes for the coming year.

Some things that are different from last season include continued development of The Doctor by Peter Capaldi. His Doctor will still be mysterious and reckless but he’ll have more whimsy built in this year. He’s also going to have some fancy new jackets and pants as the season goes on. As with the Matt Smith Doctor before, we see a changing fashion style percolating into the lead character.

(more…)