Author Archives: mdeira

Are We Not Men? We Are DEVO!

Recently, a friend encouraged me to check out Devo’s early music, specifically their debut album Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! I resisted at first because all I knew of Devo was “Whip It!” which I wasn’t sure I liked. But I listened to the songs he recommended, learned more about Devo, and I’m so glad I did. This album is great — more punk than I expected and as energetic. “Uncontrollable Urge” is a song I’ve heard a lot and have always been excited to hear, but I never knew it was a Devo song. How did I go this long without knowing that it was Devo? I am so ashamed! The rest of the songs are equally good, equally appealing. Some songs, “Jocko Homo” and “Praying Hands,” I listen to on repeat. The album was produced by Brian Eno (as are all great albums) and released in 1978.

The New Traditionalists (1981) is worth taking a listen as well.

Five: Rutu Modan, The Killing, M.I.A., Cheerios, Attack On Titan

It’s been a while since I’ve posted five things I love. Well, here they are:

1. Israeli cartoonist Rutu Modan. I’ve been a fan of Modan’s illustrations and comics for a while now. Her work melds quietly poignant stories with visual art, fully realized characters, and societal insights influenced by her own life. I highly recommend Exit Wounds and Jamilti & Other Stories. Her latest novel is The Property.

2. The Killing. This series had been on my Netflix list, lingering, for the past year or so. I knew I wanted to see it but at the same time I wasn’t too interested in “Who Killed Rosie Larsen?” and dismissed it as another Twin Peaks storyline. But a friend, whose taste I trust, urged me to watch it. So I did. I ended up watching the first season in two days. Marathoned the second. Cried during the third. Originally on AMC, the drama, set in Seattle and about two homicide detectives unraveling a series of conspiracies, was cancelled twice — and saved twice. Only last week, I learned that Netflix will produce a six episode fourth and final season. The Killing will finally get a proper send-off. I have to admit I did a little dance when I heard the news.

3. English-Sri Lankan artist M.I.A. I have always loved this woman — her music, her art, her being. M.I.A.’s latest album Matangi is ridiculously great. Non-stop, in your face, heart thumping, feel it in your bones great. Rap + dance music + social issues + politics. Just take a listen.

4. Cheerios. Friends and family know that I have always loved Cheerios. I like to say it saved my life twice. Comfort food at its best. Yummers!

5. Attack on Titan. I haven’t watch a lot of anime, but a friend of ours at Adorable People Studios recommended this series. Goodness gracious. It has to be one of the best TV shows of all time. Intriguing, intense, great characters, amazing plot. I’m not sure if I’ll read the manga on which the show is based but I’m definitely looking forward to a second season.

Rio Bravo: My Rifle, My Pony, and Me

As he does every year, my father came to visit near the end of September so that he could attend our local fall festival. Unfortunately, that weekend turned out to be a soggy one, with so much rain that the festival was drowned out and closed early. Instead of walking around and getting soaked, we stayed in on Sunday and watched a couple of westerns. Sundays are probably the best day for westerns — I remember watching Bonanza and Rawhide as a child while my parents made breakfast. I actually don’t know too much about westerns and I mainly watched so that I could hear the theme songs and the music that played throughout the show. I preferred the zany antics of The Three Stooges and Laff-A-Lympics, also shown on Sundays, but westerns were just as good at helping me forget that eventually I’d have to trudge off to church.

Shaneposter

When my dad last visited, he introduced me to Shane, which has become one of my favorite films. Recently, in the library’s 50 cent used book room, I found the paperback version of the novel. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s now part of the tall stack of books I need to read.

So. Late September. It’s raining like crazy. We managed to watch two films that day – some Spaghetti Western I found stressful and annoying and Rio Bravo. I’d read that Rio Bravo was made in response to High Noon, which I haven’t watched yet — so I can’t comment on John Wayne and Howard Hawks’ intent or which movie I preferred. But please note that Leigh Bracket was a co-writer of the script! Leigh Bracket, like Dean Martin, never disappoints.

Anyway, for now, I’ll say that I enjoyed Rio Bravo. In my eyes, Dean Martin can do or sing no wrong and Ricky Nelson plays the quiet, composed rebel quite well. Angie Dickinson as the sexy, spunky outlaw Feathers is fabulous (oh, those legs!), as are most of the feisty women who have appeared in many of the westerns I’ve watched.

The absolutely best part of the movie, however, takes place when the crew is holed up in prison, waiting for the U.S. Marshal, preventing their murderous prisoner from being rescued by his gang. In this scene, Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson pass the time by giving Stumpy and Chance — and lucky for us — a beautiful little performance.

Love.

Goldfrapp’s “Annabel”

I’ve been a big fan of Goldfrapp for years. The lush, layered sound of Felt Mountain (my go to music for writing) and the electropop energy of Black Cherry are why these have become two of my favorite albums. When I saw them perform live, after they released Supernature — WOW. I can’t even describe how awesome Allison Goldfrapp’s performance and presence were. But it was definitely one of those moments where it felt good to be alive.

Recently, I’ve been listening to Goldfrapp’s latest album Tales of Us, which is a return to the more sensuous tones of Felt Mountain but also a bit more subdued. Each track is named after a person and, I believe, each song is the story of that person. The songs are strong and controlled, as though the music is both containing and concentrating the emotions of each character. It’s not in your face or from the crotch, these sounds and feelings and stories; instead, they’re in all your senses, entangled in your nervous system, moving slowly and deeply into what connects human being to human being. It’s in that invisible, immeasureable, mysterious space where the best music resides.

There have been a couple of music videos released along with the album: “Drew” and “Annabel.” Both songs have become small films, beautifully directed by Lisa Gunning. Amazing. Watch and listen, please.

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