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SH*T MY UNCLE SAYS: Fire On The Bayou

Wednesday, November 8th, 2017

Trump Swamp

 

BY WILLIAM C. HENRY Yesterday’s election returns were a resounding renunciation of Trumpism and its malcontents and another indicator that 2018 is shaping up to be not just a wave election, but a tidal wave election. But this is no time to become complacent, stay angry, there is much to do, many sandbags that need filling. The swamp is reaching flood stage and sewer-like SMUStoxicity.  That stench burbling up from the Trumpian swamp isn’t just making us sick, folks, it is literally killing us! And sadly, that White House degenerate of ours had to look no further than the State of Oklahoma’s little cabinet of horrors to find himself the kind of sty mate who’d promise to bring a “final solution” to Obama’s clean air, clean water, and clean power initiatives. Said fellow soiler’s name is Scott “The Pimp” Pruitt and prior to his appointment as chief of the Dumpster’s re-christened Environmental POLLUTION Agency, Scottie’d been spending every waking hour of his godforsaken tenure as Oklahoma’s Attorney General, 1) denying, blocking, obfuscating and/or litigating against anything and everything that even remotely hinted at the existence of human-caused climate change (he had sued the agency no fewer than 13 times in a concerted effort to end its very existence) and, 2) proudly and openly shilling for a who’s who of the fossil fuel industry. As expected, since his appointment he’s spent every waking hour of his reptilian term attempting to completely destroy the agency and turn it into the USA’s equivalent of the KGB, all the while flying to and from home on weekends on the public’s dime! Although some might equate this Trumpian miasma with selecting a fox to guard the hen house, I’d argue that it’s much more akin to awarding Harvey Weinstein the title of “honorary” chaperone of the Miss Universe pageant (sound familiar?!).

And then there’s that “confounded” Paul Manafort “situation.” Good God, can things get any slimier or smellier even for a confirmed sewer dweller like Donnie than having his despicable former Campaign Chairman get indicted by his numero uno nemesis, “that Mueller guy,” for having committed such uber serious, lowlife, cesspool-centric, dirty, filthy, scum-laden, white — and otherwise — collar crimes as would make even the likes of a Roy Cohn blush. And true to the self-serving simpleton that he is, the 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Cohn clone couldn’t run farther and faster from the guy he had previously complimented as being “a good man, a very decent man” than if he’d had a jet pack strapped on his back! To hear the Dumpster tell it you’d have thought their only contact had been a chance meeting in a bar over martinis consisting solely of a 10 minute conversation about their favorite tax shelters after which they’d never set eyes on one another again! As you’re no doubt aware, Washington attachments are famous for the strength and length of their bonds … yuk, yuk! Apparently such “minor” roles as Campaign Chairman et al. escaped exception. And the agent orange swamp gas grows more toxic with every gurgle.
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PROGLANDIA: I Spent A Week There Last Night

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

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BY DAVID R. STAMPONE Red was the color predominant in the nightly onslaught of the top-tier, cinematically fiendish prog rock visited upon Philadelphia last week. Starting on Halloween, two veteran headlining bands, respectively, over successive evenings, brought oft-fiery displays of lurid eclecticism to town. Haunting arpeggios and scary time signatures abounded. Each group was distinct but all were inter-related (both fundamentally and via some notable, near-spooky instances of coincidence). Yeah, they burned, with head-spinning, credibly deal-made-w-the-Devil levels of musical mastery (if you insist on such Mephistophelean metaphor): Italian maestro of horror film soundtracks Fabio Frizzi with his Frizzi 2 Fulci ensemble at Underground Arts on Wednesday; and, to start the spree on All Hallows Eve, another horror film soundtrack-associated act from Italy, the legendary Goblin, at a packed Union Transfer. This scribe went on said prog bender, saw all & thought presumably shareable thoughts …
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AMERICAN DEMOCRACY: Just Do it

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

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RELATED: The Committee Of Seventy’s Non-Partisan Voter Guide

RELATED: Committee Of Seventy’s Handy Dandy BallotReady App

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NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017

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FRESH AIR: Growing up an only child in Massachusetts, humorist John Hodgman longed to be considered interesting. In high school, he grew his hair out, wore a fedora and carried a briefcase in an effort to look like Doctor Who. Hodgman says his look was modeled on “the fourth Doctor Who … which was an emotionally terrified weirdo who is tricking people into thinking he was interesting by wearing funny clothes.” Now that Hodgman is 46, being interesting has taken on a different, more reflective meaning. His new book, Vacationland, is a collection of humorous essays and personal stories in which the former Daily Show contributor reflects on his career, the death of his mother and his own experiences with white privilege. “The book is about, to some degree, moments in your life when you are faced with a sudden clarity of where you are in life,” Hodgman says. “Sometimes that … surrounds midlife, when you’ve maybe accomplished everything you think is most important, and … then figuring out how to push forward from there.” MORE

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CINEMA: A Tale Of Two Cities

Monday, November 6th, 2017

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WONDERSTRUCK (Directed by Todd Haynes, 116 minutes, USA, 2017)

CHRIS MALENEYBY CHRISTOPHER MALENEY FILM CRITIC Ah, New York City. The Big Apple. The City of Dreams. The ultimate actualization of the American Dream, the place you go when you have a dream of making it — where any kid can grow up to be a star. A home to probably eight hundred languages spread across more than eight million people. A city of strangers minding their own business. A city where you could live a parallel life to someone and never know it. There have been hundreds of movies, books, songs and plays about New York City; some feature it just a backdrop, while others seek to explore the city’s uniqueness, delving into the heart of the narratives of wonder and discovery that make up The Big Apple’s lasting enchantment.

Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck wants to be one of the latter kind of movies. It wants to show how two lives, separated by fifty years, can run in the same way. To wit: In 1927, Rose, a deaf-mute girl, escapes her stifling life in Hoboken to find a stage actress she is curiously obsessed with. In 1977, Ben, an eleven year old boy made deaf by a lightning strike, travels to New York City to find out who his father is, and why his late mother could never explain his parentage. Throughout the film their lives intersect in ways that are supposed to reveal something about imagination and the creativity of youth. Instead, it mainly advertises the joy of curating a museum, and the difficulty of suffering a sensory disability in an unhelpful world.

There is an old adage in show business, “Never work with kids or animals.” While sometimes there are notable exceptions to this rule, it exists for a reason. Animals are hard to train, and it’s not always easy to get a good performance from a child. Certainly that’s the case here, as Ben (Oakes Fegley), really isn’t that likeable. I want to sympathize with him; he’s got a lot on his plate for a small kid in a big world, but he doesn’t do anything to earn my sympathy. When, in an early flashback, his mother gives him a birthday present he is bitter and ungrateful. Towards the end of the movie, Ben’s only friend, Jamie (Jaden Mitchell), reveals a key piece of information he had kept concealed; Ben’s infuriated reaction is necessary for the plot, but stole the last of my sympathy.

Our other hero, Rose (Millicent Simmonds), is a much more likable and engaging protagonist. Her narrative is entirely silent, like the movies of the era, but her emotional journey is conveyed very well through facial expressions and physical gestures, like tearing up the overly dense tome her tutor has assigned or peering curiously at the displays in the Museum of Natural History. Sadly, her plot takes a backseat to the more expository narrative of Ben’s search.

In writing there is a rule to “show don’t’ tell” a story. It means that the reader should be brought into a story by physical and emotional details that create the story in their mind. To extend it to films, an audience should engage in a story on a level with their characters, taking part in it with them. Unfortunately, Wonderstruck totally breaks this rule in its culminating act. The meeting of the two separate narratives occurs by an epistolary narration that might have been smooth in the source material, but here feels not just jarring but boring. As Rose explains to Ben the details of his parentage, all mystery is quashed by a visually interesting but narratively dis-engaging revelation. I stuck it out until the end hoping that I would at least find a satisfying conclusion to her story. Sadly, it was not to be.

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VIC BERGER: Lock HIM Up

Sunday, November 5th, 2017



NBC NEWS:
Federal investigators have gathered enough evidence to bring charges in their investigation of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser and his son as part of the probe into Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. Michael T. Flynn, who was fired after just 24 days on the job, was one of the first Trump associates to come under scrutiny in the federal probe now led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign. Mueller is applying renewed pressure on Flynn following his indictment of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, three sources familiar with the investigation told NBC News. The investigators are speaking to multiple witnesses in coming days to gain more information surrounding Flynn’s lobbying work, including whether he laundered money or lied to federal agents about his overseas contacts, according to three sources familiar with the investigation. MORE

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CINEMA: The Deerhunter

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

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THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER (2017, dir. by Yorgos Lanthimos, 121 min.)

Buskirk AvatarBY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC The world of computer generated effects has allowed filmmakers a seemingly inexhaustible ability to to create the most audacious worlds imaginable. This week’s release of the latest Thor movie is an example of a colorful multi-hued universe conjured with a level of detail unimaginable in the days when Jack Kirby was first drawing such things in the pages of Marvel comics. Yet despite these tools, the CGI universes created for the big screen are disappointingly similar, showing visions of the future that seem oddly standardized, considering the endless possibilities available.

This brings us to the films of Yorgos Lanthinos, where nary a special effect is wrought yet something is weirdly “off” in ways we’ve never imagined before. In his 2009 breakthrough Dogtooth that off-kilter world was only as large as one family’s estate, with The Lobster you could see the emotionally-distorted landscape extend across the countryside. With The Killing of the Sacred Deer, Lanthimos’ latest, the insanity is back to being focused on the domestic front, where the tightly-controlled, emotionally-constrained manner of a tidy two-kid household can’t keep the terrors of the outside world from creeping in.

Colin Farrell, who starred in The Lobster,  is back for more as Steve, a heart surgeon and the patriarch of the Murphy family, with Nicole Kidman as his icy-calm wife Anna. A quick peek into their sex life shows us that Steve likes it when Anna plays dead. Their daughter Kim’s (Raffey Cassidy) first menstrual cycle gets a deadpan announcement at the dinner table, as well as later, in a casual conversation with Steve and a colleague. Such personal information is dryly offered and dryly received and you’re left to question, “What sort of world of dealing are we with here?”

It’s the conundrum presented to Steve that further defines this twisted world. We see Steve meeting with a very circumspect sixteen year old boy Martin (Dunkirk‘s unnerving Barry Keoghan) and watch the pair as they seem to struggle to make conversation. The odd, furtive interactions between them feels almost sexual but soon the relationship comes into focus: a deadly event has happened between them and Steve is going to have to pay a terrible debt. This is less a threat than a spell that has been cast. Whether fairly or not, fate has locked its sights on Steve and he appears increasingly powerless in escaping its grasp.

Early films by Lanthimos have tempered his pitch black vision with whimsy, from the kids of Dogtooth‘s deathly fear of cats to The Lobster‘s surreal ridiculousness of making first date small talk while trying to avert living life as a crustacean. Amidst the morbidity, there was always a chuckle to be found. Here, a few grim laughs leak out but as the film tightens the screws its seems increasingly likely that Steve is going to have to pay this debt.

Lanthimos stays true to his vision at the climax, although I’m not sure that it makes for a satisfying conclusion as a viewer. The premise, based loosely in the Greek myth of Agamemnon and Artemis, demands blood and Lamthimos really has the deliver to stay true to its own hypothesis. As a writer, Lanthimos delivers the right answer, but he pays a bit of price dramatically. Not that Killing of the Sacred Deer isn’t a fascinating journey, just one that doles out its sad reality with a mathematical efficiency less poetic than inescapable.

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Win Tix To See Flying Lotus @ The Electric Factory

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

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Photo by TIM SACCENTI

Steven Ellison, aka Flying Lotus, is a two-time Grammy nominated multi-genre music producer, electronic musician, DJ, filmmaker, rapper, curator, label boss and TV star from Los Angeles, California. Flying Lotus has released five studio albums‍—‌1983 (2006), Los Angeles (2008), Cosmogramma (2010), Until the Quiet Comes (2012) and You’re Dead! (2014)‍—‌to critical acclaim. He has produced music for Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Thundercat, Wiz Khalifa, Thom Yorke and Erykah Badu as well as much of the bumper music on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. He has curated and hosted a radio station in Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V. In 2017, he wrote the score for Blade Runnner Black Out 2022 (a Blade Runner 2049 short film prequel) directed by anime great Shinchiro Watanabe. He released his own debut feature film, “KUSO”, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and has since gained a reputation as one of the most daring films ever made. He also launched his new live show “Flying Lotus in 3-D” at Los Angeles’ FYF Festival, before taking it across North America.

On the heels of the first shows of Flying Lotus’ 3D tour, a sold out show at Hollywood Forever Cemetery with Thundercat and Hannibal Buress and scoring the Blade Runner Blackout 2022 prequel, Flying Lotus presents the new video and song “Post Requisite.” Released in a landmark year for FlyLo, “Post Requisite” is his first music video for two years and comes at a time he’s preparing to take his 3-D show on the road. The tour stops at the Electric Factory tomorrow night.  Powered by 3D Live and produced by Strangeloop Studios, 3D Live and Timeboy, the show debuted this year at FYF Festival to rave reviews and blown minds. Sitting alongside his landmark cinematic video work with Khalil Joseph (“Until The Quiet Comes”), Hiro Murai (“Never Catch Me”) and Young Replicant (“Coronus, The Terminator”), Flying Lotus’ connection to groundbreaking animation is well documented.  From his earliest work with Adult Swim, to music videos from the likes of David Firth (“Ready Err Not”), Lilfuchs (“Zodiac Shit”) and Cyriak (“Putty Boy Strut”) it was a natural progression that his feature debut as a director “KUSO” was a surreal mixture of live action, effects and moving graphics.

We have a pair of tickets to see FlyLo’s 3-D show at the Electric Factory tomorrow night to give away to some lucky Phawker reader. To qualify, all you have to do is sign up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! After signing up, send us an email at PHAWKER66@GMAIL.COM telling us a much, with the words LOTUS EATER in the subject line. If you are already on our mailing list, just send us an email saying as much. Either way, please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!

FLYING LOTUS IN 3-D + SEVEN DAVIS JR. @ ELECTRIC FACTORY SAT. NOV. 4TH

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GEEK SQUAD: For Those About 2 Thor, We Salute U

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

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SPOILER ALERT: Most of the following…

the-geek-300x300BY RICHARD SUPLEE GEEK SPACE CORRESPONDENT All good Marvel Cinematic Universe fans agree that the god of thunder’s solo films — Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013) — rank near at the bottom of the Marvel franchise. So I am happy to report that Thor: Ragnarok (2017)’s is one of Marvel’s best to date. Director Taika Waititi finally utilizes the franchise’s talented cast who, in previous outings, were largely treated as glorified greenscreen placeholders for the CGI. Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is handsome, hirsute and hilariously cocky, as per usual. Tim Hiddleston’s Loki is handsome, hirsute and wily, as per usual. Anthony Hopkins’ Odin finally gives a performance that feels important to the plot. Speaking of which, it goes something like this: Odin, the king of Asgard, tells his sons Thor and Loki about their older sister, Hela, aka the Goddess Of Death, played by the always-awesome Cate Blanchett. We learn that Odin’s empire was gained through war with the Goddess of Death by his side. But once Odin conquered the universe’s nine realms, Hela was imprisoned by the Allfather’s life force for safekeeping. But when Odin dies of old age, Hela is unleashed and proceeds to kick Loki and Thor’s collective ass, destroy the hammer Mjölnir and take over Asgard in a matter of hours. Idris Elba’s Heimdall single handedly leads Asgard’s rebellion to take the kingdom back from Hela, using his omniscience to camouflage Asgardian rebels from Hela’s undead army. The entire film builds towards the final epic battle on Asgard. The cataclysmic CGI-rific fight scene at the end brings in Lord of the Rings epic-ness as Hela’s forces clash apocalypticly with Thor’s team. Hulk fights the giant wolf Fenris in the middle of a waterfall while Thor finally knocks down Hela after having his eye ripped out. But Thor and Loki soon realize that they will have to destroy Asgard in order to save the universe from the Goddess of Death. So buckle up, it’s gonna be a Hela good ride.

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CINEMA: Suffer The Children

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

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THE GUARDIAN: When the documentary An Open Secret tried to lift the lid on child abuse in Hollywood, it billed itself as “the film Hollywood doesn’t want you to see”. The marketing tagline did not exaggerate. The film died upon release in 2015. There was no theatrical release to speak of, no television deal, no video-on-demand distribution. “We got zero Hollywood offers to distribute the film. Not even one. Literally no offers for any price whatsoever,” said Gabe Hoffman, a Florida-based hedge fund manager who financed the film.

It did not seem to matter that it was directed by an Oscar-nominated director, Amy Berg, or that it uncovered damning evidence of the sexual abuse of teenage boys by figures in the film industry. “There was nowhere to see it,” said Lorien Haynes, the film’s writer. “I don’t think it impacted at all. Nobody saw it. We released a film that didn’t [seem to] exist.” Now, two years later, multiple “open secrets” of predatory behaviour are detonating across Hollywood and the documentary that blew the whistle is getting millions of viewers – but still no distribution deal.

Hoffman released the film for free on the video-sharing website Vimeo this month after reports about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual assaults set off a chain-reaction, with James Toback, Tyler Grasham and Kevin Spacey among those accused of harassment and worse. […] Hoffman said he had intended to end the free online viewings of An Open Secret on Tuesday, but extended the window until Sunday because of public interest, with more than 3 million viewings on various social media platforms since 12 October. MORE

RELATED: An Open Secret (The PG-13 Version)

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DEPT. OF PROGLAND SEC: Q&A W/ Trey Gunn

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

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Jamie_Knerr_SunglassesBY JAMIE KNERR PROG-ROCK CORRESPONDENT The Security Project began performing together in 2012, in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the release of the seminal album Security by Peter Gabriel. The group explores Gabriel’s early progressive repertoire, taking much of its inspiration and material from his first four albums then expanding, deconstructing and reinterpreting it. The lineup includes drummer Jerry Marotta (who played on those first four albums and toured with Gabriel for 10 years), virtuoso touch-guitarist Trey Gunn (former member of King Crimson) keyboardist David Jameson and guitarist Michael Cozzi (former member of Shriekback). In October 2016 they took on singer Happy Rhodes as lead vocalist. All of the Security Project’s releases to date have been of live recordings, capturing the artistry and adventurousness of their stage performances. In advance of The Security Project’s November 5th performance at Havana in New Hope, we got Trey Gunn on the horn, here’s some of what he had to say:

PHAWKER: How did The Security Project come to be?

TREY GUNN: I think it was around the 30th anniversary of (Peter Gabriel’s) Security album…Jerry had played on the first four Gabriel records I believe…we just really wanted to perform it live. The question became: what do you do with it? Do you try to duplicate it, or do you do something else with it? We got together and played up at Jerry’s studio in Woodstock, which is an amazing old church. And it was actually really great. We weren’t really sure if it would work or not, but it did!Trey Gunn

PHAWKER: How do you approach the Gabriel material as a band?

TREY GUNN: We try to have two or three main strategies, One is–can we authentically make the sounds from the record? One of the challenges is that on Peter’s records the sounds themselves are so much part of the composition…Another strategy is–what’s the core element or core structure of the song? Let’s get right to the heart of it, then mess with it. We’ve done something that most people would have said was impossible, making Peter’s music a repertoire.

PHAWKER: What was your initial feeling about the project?

TREY GUNN: There were two things that took me by surprise. One was how much Jerry’s vibe as a drummer was in the music. It’s just something about the way he feels the music in his body that’s particularly special. The other thing was how unusual the arrangements of some of these songs are. They just kind of flow from one thing to the next.

PHAWKER: Watching you play touch-guitar is a lot like being shown a magic trick; it’s fairly mind-boggling. Can you talk a bit about how you started on the instrument, and the techniques involved with playing it?

TREY GUNN: I was always interested in the touch instruments, from hearing the King Crimson record Discipline. But my first interest was really in the tuning, it’s tuned like a cello, not like a guitar. The percussive, interlocking aspect interested me as well. For a lot of time there we didn’t really have a body of techniques on the instrument, it was just kind of “put your fingers here”. Many people don’t know, but you have to use as little finger strength as possible to get the note out, the minimal amount of muscle you have in your hand to get that action. The only energy is just to get the string going, then you have to relax.

PHAWKER: Have you had any feedback about the project from Mr. Gabriel himself?

TREY GUNN: We have not heard, we know Peter knows about it. I haven’t actually heard from him directly though…


THE SECURITY PROJECT PLAYS HAVANA IN NEW HOPE ON NOV. 5TH

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INCOMING: Tim Heidecker Goes MAGAGAGAGAGA

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

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FROM THE DESK OF TIM HEIDECKER: “Well here it is. About one year in the making, all my Trump songs in one place. Most of these songs were written and recorded quickly, with the blood still boiling from whatever indignity or absurdity had popped up on my newsfeed that day. Certainly, ‘Trump Tower’ was written in the rotten dawn, days after Trump’s win. Let’s hope I don’t write any more of these, but I probably will. Thanks to Davin Wood for playing piano on ‘Trump Tower,’ and thanks to Jonathan Rado, who produced and played on a good number of these (the ones where you hear some of that beautiful tape hiss on, mostly) – his tribute to Steve Nieve on ‘Imperial Bedroom’ is particularly inspired. Thanks to Kane Ritchotte and Max Whipple for providing the best rhythm section a boy could ask for and to Jordan Katz, Taylor Plenn and David Ralicke for laying down some sweet horns on ‘Wilbur Ross.’ Thanks to Vic Berger for adding some backups to ‘Sentencing Day’ and for usually being the best audience for these tunes. Thanks to Josh Tillman for surprising me with a tear-inducing cover of ‘Trump’s Private Pilot’ and for allowing us to include it here… Finally, NO thanks to Paul Simon who didn’t let us include ‘I Am A Cuck.’”

PREVIOUSLY: WRECKLESS ERIC: Q&A With Eric Wareheim, Philly Homeboy & Exactly One Half Of Tim & Eric

PREVIOUSLY: Everything We Have Ever Posted About Motherfucking Tim & Eric

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BOOKSHOP CASANOVAS: A Q&A W/ The Clientele

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

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Photo by ANDY WILSH

Generally speaking, and for good reason, it is considered poor form to simply cut and paste a band’s press kit bio onto your Q&A and call it an intro, but this time we’ll make an exception, for the following will likely be the closest we ever get to a definitive explanation of the hushed grandeur of The Clientele:

The Clientele formed a long time ago in the backwoods of suburban Hampshire, playing together as kids at school, rehearsing in a thatched cottage remote from any kind of music scene, but hypnotized by the magical strangeness of Galaxie 500 and Felt and the psych pop of Love and the Zombies. Singer Alasdair MacLean still recalls a pub conversation where the band collectively voted that it was OK to be influenced by Surrealist poetry but not OK to have any shouting or blues guitar solos. From that moment on, they put their stamp on a kind of eerie, distanced pure pop, stripped to its essentials and recorded quickly to 4-track analogue tape. Instantly identifiable, The Clientele sound like no one else, although they are cited as an influence by bands as diverse as Spoon and the Fleet Foxes. It’s been said that the greatest bands always create their own individual sound; The Clientele have gone one further and created their own world.

After releasing seven albums of sublime spectral pop followed by a seven year hiatus, The Clientele are back 10_404_404_607_clientele_2500with the new and altogether wonderful Music For The Age Of Miracles. In advance of their sold out show at the Boot & Saddle on Friday, we sent some questions about the new album to the Hobbit hole in the mossy side of merry old England wherein resides Alasdair Maclean, The Clientele’s sleepy-eyed resident genius singer/songwriter/guitarist. Here’s what he had to say:

PHAWKER: The constellation Lyra is name-checked in two songs on the new album — which is really great, by the way — why Lyra out of the 88 constellations recognized by the International Astronomical Union?

ALASDAIR MACLEAN: Lyra appears in the northern hemisphere in April and disappears in October. It’s always symbolized a harp or a lyre or music. Orpheus pops up here and there on the album and this is one of the places. I like the idea of stars and their symbolism and how it crops up in the everyday; the Pleiades are seen in all cultures as seven female figures running away or leaving. And that maps onto the seven sisters road in London near where I live.

PHAWKER: When is The Age of Miracles, now or in the past? What miracles make up said Age? Is this song/title related to the 2012 novel by Karen Thompson Walker?

ALASDAIR MACLEAN: There’s a John Cale song about a man who listens to a radio and believes the sound is beaming in from a magical, paradisical space – a far off radioland which he is doomed to wander up and down the airwaves searching for but never discovering. I like the same idea of exile from something – childhood or a purer state of being which we can now only see from the corner of the eye and which perhaps never existed. But it’s also a reflection of our own times- the widespread and tragic return of irrationality and magical thinking.10_700_700_347_clientele_cover

PHAWKER: “Museum Of Fog” is an intriguing title — they all are, really — for a song about a distant memory of illicit consumption of alcohol as young teen. Why that title and what part of the stories relayed in the song are true, or close to it, and what parts are wildly embellished or made up out of whole cloth?

ALASDAIR MACLEAN: It’s all true. I don’t know why I called it the museum of fog- it seemed to fit the feel somehow – or it could have been the name of the club night the band were playing in the story.

PHAWKER: From 2000 to 2010, the band released seven beloved and acclaimed albums and then went dark, more or less, for the next seven years. Why the hiatus and what prompted the return?

ALASDAIR MACLEAN: I’d got sick of it for about 400 reasons. But mostly I felt there was nothing left for me to say.

Then I bumped into Anthony Harmer on a street corner in Walthamstow in 2014 – the first time I’d seen him in twenty years. We used to play guitars together in the mid ‘90s and everyone said our voices sounded good. But ultimately we couldn’t get on, as we were both too bossy, and we stopped writing to each other, and moved on. I formed the Clientele. I had often wondered what had happened to him since. It turned out – he told me- he’d studied the Santoor, an Iranian version of the dulcimer, and over decades become a virtuoso, at least by my standards. He suggested we have a jam together.

In the early 2000s, I used to hear an old man play the Chinese dulcimer at one end of the Greenwich foot tunnel, on the way to work, and I’d always been enchanted by the sound – like a carousel crossed with a music box crossed with a harpsichord. I’d always wanted to get it on a Clientele 10_700_700_187_clientele_900pxrecord.

Ant and I now lived three streets away from each other, it turned out. He started to arrange my songs. He let me write and sing them and he came up with ideas for how they should sound. This carried on until we had an album. I called up James and Mark and asked them if they wanted to make another Clientele record. They did, and so we did.

PHAWKER: Hypothetical question: you wake up in the middle of the night and your home is on fire, there is only time to save one album from your collection, which one do you grab and why?

ALASDAIR MACLEAN: It would have to be my dad’s copy of Neil diamond’s 20 Golden Greats which I loved before I developed the defences of irony or good taste,

THE CLIENTELE + HOOPS @ THE BOOT & SADDLE ON FRI. NOV. 3RD SOLD OUT

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Cost of the War in Iraq
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