Sunday, August 12, 2007

My Month of Entertainment – July 2007

Yeah, I'm really late with this one. It didn't dawn on me until way too late that the beginning of the month was going to coincide with my trip to Chicago. But hey...better late than never. Starting in mid-July, the amount of my monthly entertainment took a hit with the purchase of our lovely MacBook Pro, but thanks to eMusic and Netflix, I'll never be totally, uh, unentertained.




Reno 911!: Miami
, Season 1

Living with the Living, Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
The Loon, Tapes ‘n Tapes
Plume Delivery, The 1900s
Anhedonia, The Graduate
Icky Thump, The White Stripes
These Days (The Virginia Sessions), Pat McGee Band
iTunes Originals, Flaming Lips
Progress Reform, iLIKETRAINS
Live at Schubas 3-12-2004, The Hold Steady
Live at Bonnaroo (6-16-2006), My Morning Jacket
Frochot Music Sampler: CONGO
Funkadelic, Funkadelic

Thank you, emusic. You made Lollapalooza much more enjoyable for me, both in finding me bands I needed to see and at least one I didn't need to see. I spent a majority of my monthly downloads on Lolla bands in July, and though I didn't find as many Lolla artists on the site as I thought I would, the ones I found were worth it.

1. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists. Like my major June discovery, the Ike Reilly Assassination, this is a band that has developed many albums and a dedicated following completely and totally outside my radar screen. I'm sure there are hundreds of bands out there, that fit that description, and if they all sound like this, I'm going to be a lifetime eMusic subscriber. Either way, they were a perfect way to kick off Lolla weekend for us.

2. Tapes 'n Tapes. This Minnesota band also left me plenty to rave about on Saturday at Lolla, and if I hadn't downloaded The Loon in the weeks before the Chicago trip, I'd have probably settled for going to Pete Yorn with Hear No Evil and his girlfriend. I can pretty much guarantee that I wouldn't have enjoyed that nearly as much.

3. The 1900s. My original plan was to check out The Graduate (11:15) and The 1900s (12:00) first thing on Sunday. The 1900s have a quirky, interesting sound, one that's a bit similar to previous eMusic discovery Elk City. I had every intention of checking them out, and I was looking forward to it...however, getting out of bed and out of HNE's apartment before noon proved impossible.

4. The Graduate. I regretted missing out on The 1900s, but thanks to eMusic, I didn't waste time regretting missing this band. There's nothing wrong with them per say...they just suffer a bit much from Generic Modern Rock Band Syndrome for my tastes. In fact, I'm pretty sure they're going to hit it big for that very reason, but that doesn't mean I'm going to spend much time on this band.

Beyond the Lolla bands, July also provided me with three major Best of 2007 candidates: Ted Leo's aforementioned Living with the Living, the White Stripes' Icky Thump, and Pat McGee Band's These Days. That's a good month, no? I have high hopes for August as well, with Common's Finding Forever (more on that later...this is about July), as well as Ben Harper's Lifeline and Talib Kweli's far-too-long-awaited Eardrum. But that's not even all that July gave me!

Other purchases: I was totally taken advantage of by iTunes with the ultimate impulse purchase, the Flaming Lips' iTunes Originals set. I was on iTunes to buy the White Stripes, and naturally I was unable to pass up something new (sort of) from The Lips, which basically consists of the Lips' greatest hits (plus a couple new/unreleased originals) with Wayne Coyne discussing and/or explaining the tunes. It's fun.

Also, I finished up my monthly eMusic downloads with some iLIKETRAINS (eh), Funkadelic (this month's download: their debut album, Funkadelic), and a live release from The Hold Steady, a 2004 show at Chicago's famous Schuba's (HNE lives roughly two blocks from Schuba's, by the way...I hate him for that).

Finally, one service I'll probably be taking more advantage of in the future due to the fact that a) it's free, and b) I have more live bands to keep track of now, is the always phenomenal, which houses free live recordings from hundreds and hundreds of bands. I'd used the service for some Pat McGee shows, but now I'll be delving into the My Morning Jacket and Ted Leo catalogs as telling who else is on this takes 30 minutes just to sift through the list of bands...

As for movies...we hopped back on the Netflix train this month. While still renting some movies for The Butterfly's parents, we were far too busy cranking through all five seasons of Smallville (her anniversary present) in May and June to watch movies. But we're back. And we picked some interesting movies in July.

First up was a movie I was strangely giddy about seeing: Reno 911!: Miami. Wow, did it live up to expectations. This movie earned an R-rating in every single possible way. Language, insinuation, nudity...this movie was delightfully grotesque and obscene in every way. I loved it for all the wrong reasons. And the beached whale scene (you saw it in the commercials...the scene where Junior falls into the whale) was even better than I thought it would be. I recommend listening to the commentary on that scene as well.

Another Netflix rental: Idiocracy. I was talking to my high school best friend a while back, and as he has two kids of his own, it was time for his monthly "So...when are you having kids?" inquiry. I gave the monthly excuses ("still living in in-laws' basement", "wife isn't in a position to miss that much work yet", "still enjoying ourselves", etc.)--all very legitimate, I'd say--and he laughed and mentioned a movie he had just seen. Basically the premise is, smart people barely reproduce (having 1-2 kids max) while stupid people have as many kids as they can possibly pop out, so in the future the country just gets dumber and dumber. Honestly, that's a fantastic premise for a movie. However, when the main stars are Luke Wilson, Maya Rudolph, and Dax Shepard, you know that premise probably isn't going to live up to its potential. It's still at least somewhat enjoyable, though...I mean, when are you going to have another opportunity to see Luke Wilson playing the smartest man in the world?

Finally, we delved into the world of Netflix TV show rentals, checking out the first season of the painful, funny Ricky Gervais comedy, Extras. If you like The Office or Frasier, you'll love this show. It's nothing but that type of uncomfortable, oh-god-please-stop-talking-you're-only-making-things-worse type of comedy, where you're wincing and laughing at the same time. You love and hate the show simultaneously. Honestly, Extras is worth it for the cameos alone...Kate Winslet giving phone sex advice, Samuel L. Jackson being, well, Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Stiller quoting the opening weekend figures for all his movies...I love that they were willing to do this, Kate Winslet in particular. Other shows now in the Netflix queue: Firefly (The Butterfly loves Joss Whedon, so it's probably time she gives this a try) and Freaks & Geeks, which I somehow never watched.

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