Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Tunesday With George

Will Johnson may be the most prolific man in music. Aside from fronting two bands, Centro-matic and South San Gabriel, and releasing numerous solo albums, he also may be the king of indie-rock-folk collaborations and "supergroups." He was a touring member of Monsters Of Folk (that was the one with Jim James, M. Ward, Conor Oberst and Mike Mogis), released a great album with Jason Molina of Magnolia Electric Co. (R.I.P.) called Molina & Johnson, and he was also 1/4 of the Woody Guthrie inspired project New Multitudes with Jim James, Jay Farrar and Anders Parker.
His latest project, Overseas, pairs him up with David Bazan of Pedro The Lion, along with brothers Matt and Bubba Kadane.

AthFest Recap:
AthFest 2013 was a busy one for New West / Normaltown Records. We hosted the Friday night show at the 40 Watt, followed immediately by our Saturday morning Breakfast of Champions party at Normaltown Hall...overall, we had 6 bands in town playing a total of 11 shows. Below is a list of all the bands I was able to catch throughout the weekend:
White Violet (2X)
Quiet Hounds
Modern Skirts
New Madrid (3X)
Buxton (2X)
The Whigs
Daniel Romano
T. Hardy Morris
Thayer Sarrano
Ruby The Rabbitfoot
Patterson Hood

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Bachelorette Recap: German Invasion

Ratings for Des' season are The Lowest In Bachelorette History. I know, I am not surprised either. In an interview, Chris Harrison promises that the season is about to heat up. The intro before this episode is a montage of tears from Des and the guys. It is a pretty desperate attempt to reel in new viewers. Originally, I thought all this crying was happening in this episode, but instead, it only gave us a bunch of outerwear in Munich, Germany. 

The guys arrive in Munich via public transportation. Zak doesn't have a jacket, or anything that hides his abs, so he borrowed his little sister's camel pea coat for his big trip.
Swap to Des who is walking pigeon toed around Munich. I was hoping after watching Sean's season she would ask the producers to skip any walking b roll, but we're not so lucky. 
Des talks about how this is her first trip to Europe - because she is poor, and her family couldn't road trip across the Atlantic. 
Chris welcomes the men to Munich looking like a show choir member in a very royal blue scarf. 
Chris drops a bomb that there will be 3 dates this week. A group date, a 1-on-1 and the dreaded 2-on-1. The men, mainly Michael, whimper about who will have the 2-on-1 date as Chris sends them to their hotel, the Munich Kempinski. ABC has really upped the ante on the hotel. Mr. Fonty and I stayed at a Kempinski in Turkey, and it is probably the nicest hotel I've ever stayed at. The guys are obviously fitting in well in their v-neck t's, hoodies, and SWEATPANTS!  Way to represent America, Ben, in your "I've given up on life" clothing.  
Now that he is international, #Kasey has replaced hashtagging with speaking in German.  
 The men settle in, and the date card arrives. It goes to Chris, the poetry writing pansy. The date card is in German, so the guys have less of an opportunity to decipher what lines like: "Love is like a rock" means for the date.  Even though he has no idea what they are doing, Chris is "JACKED!"

He sets off to get his hair gelled to perfection for his date.
Turns out Des has a great day of "exploring" Munich with their "trusty phrase book". As usual Des "couldn't have picked a better guy" for this date. You're going to need to come up with some more one liners, Des. 
At the hotel, Bryden has crossed an ocean to continue his pouting about not getting time with Des - and Michael is complaining about anything he can think of. Rather than be normal and wait until he gets a group date card to head back to Montana, Bryden must.tell.Des.NOW.  He leaves the hotel, and sets out to the streets using his military training to follow the scent of Chris' Axe body spray. 
The date seems to be going swimmingly as they take pictures with what I am guessing is the German equivalent of the silver painted robot street performer. 
After encouraging panhandling, they try on lederhosen, because that is what Americans do in Germany. 
Just as Chris prompted by the producers says, "nothing could go wrong", we see Bryden tracking Chris' scent through the streets of Germany. He asks locals in broken English if they have seen television cameras, film-film, taking-film, camera with film. I am not entirely sure how the film crew kept a straight face. 
Finally Bryden talks to someone who can interpret "television-film, film-film, camera on film", and we get to see Des and Chris hamming it up dancing in a courtyard, embarrassing America. 
Bryden stands among the on lookers, and then chases them down. 
Des is breathless and taken aback. 
Chris says that the only thing that will bother him is if Des comes back sad, because having to comfort her instead of trying on lederhosen (which they do) would be a buzzkill. He sits with the pigeons and ponders his date crashing and burning. 

Des and BRYden say goodbye forever, and I am 90% sure she calls him Brandon. 
Bryden's deception makes Des wonder if the guys are here "for the right reasons", just like how everything the guys do make Des wonder who is here for the right reasons. 
Chris capitalizes on the opportunity to tell Des that he is here for the right reasons, and really enjoyed their 7 minutes on top of the roof 4 weeks ago. 
Flash to the guys who are talking about Des and relationships - the only thing guys talk about when left to their own devices. A date card arrives. It is the group date for: Juan Pablo, James, #Kasey, Zak, Brooks, Drew,  Mike-Y. Which means (one-sided) mortal enemies Michael and Ben have the 2-on-1 which is AMAZING! 
Michael reveals himself as a secret assassin who is not here for the right reasons when he says that his plan for the date is to "convict Ben as a fraud". He then takes it to the next level saying, he is going to "go and murder Ben" in this "gladiator style setting". I don't have a lot of experience with guys who go on dating shows to promote their business, but I think I would rather be with a guy who "is here for the wrong reasons" than someone who plans on murdering an opponent, gladiator style.  
Back from commercial, and Des & Chris are all dressed up. Des eats it in the street, but Chris saves her from falling, and she says "I knew you'd catch me". Is part of Bachelorette prep to watch a marathon of Nicholas Sparks books adapted to film? There is no excuse for using lines like this.  
The couple arrives at a palace for dinner. They sit at the dinner table and talk about past relationships. Once Chris is sufficiently bored of listening to Des talks about her ex-boyfriend, he pulls out his journal to read her another poem, an original entitled "Thoughts So True". This gem not only utilizes the word "cute", but rhymes "you" with "true". Whitman would proud. 
In an effort to get him to shut up and put his journal away, Des gives Chris the rose. 
Just when Chris thinks the date is over, a pianist starts playing, and there is more awkward slow dancing. Chris says this is a fairy tale. Maybe these 2 really are meant for each other. Making his fairy tale comment even more manly, Chris says he knows Des is falling in love, but she doesn't have to say it. She can "say it through her kisses". Looks like Chris learned a lot from his marathon watching of A Walk to Remember. He's a huge Mandy fan.
Time for the group date. The men meet Des at the highest peak in Germany wearing Bachelorette issued parkas. 
James is feeling like a commoner again after the magic of his 1-on-1 date. 
Atop the mountain is a real live yodeler. Each of the guys tries to yodel with him, and it is only cute when Juan Pablo does it. 
Once they finish their episode mandated singing, they come upon a row of sleds. The group sleds down the mountain. Zak compares love to sledding down a hill. He is coming up with ideas for his next original song to please the masses, "Love is Like Sledding Down the Tallest Peak in Munich, Germany While a Camera Crew Is Filming You."
The sexy, boozey part of the group date takes place in an igloo lounge covered in fur throws. The rose sits upon a pile of ice. 
Brooks pulls Des aside and eats her face. They can barely hug with all the down feathers between them. 
Mike-Y, per usual, talks intensely about the rose with the guys. He then gets some one on one time. Des acts like his idea to make mini snowmen in replicas of their future Buttafucco family of 5 is the greatest idea of all time. The two are talking about Mike-Y's family in Chicago when Zak, scheming behind them, yodels Des over to his snow bank o' wine. I hate Zak, but wine beats a snowfamily any day. 
Next up, James and Des are having some time together. Brooks can't take it anymore. He wants Des to know the house has picked another villain, and James is vulgar with the guys and not the sweet guy he seems to be with her. Brooks stands like a creeper watching them kiss, but then wimps out and can't interrupt them. He doesn't have Michael's gladiator spirit.  
Despite his sweet kisses, James is denied the rose, and it goes to Brooks.
Two-on-one date time. Let the television gold begin! 
The guys ride in the limo in silence. Michael's voice over says he will use his attorney tactics to reveal Ben as "a fraud and impersonation of a Southern gentleman". I am not lying. This was really said!
It's a battle of egos from the start. Michael one ups Ben by learning "you look beautiful" in German. And then Ben one ups him by bragging that Texas is flat. The guys talk past Desiree in sarcastic jabs about confrontation.
They arrive at a dock, and Des tells them that they will do a polar plunge, because she wimped out last season. But, hardy-har-har, that Des is such a jokester! At the last minute a floating hot tub dubbed "The Hot Tug" pulls up. They are going to cruise around the lake ina  hot tub. Ratings gold. 
In the Hot Tug, Des brings up her favorite date topic - past relationships. For the record, in the real world, this woman would never have a date talking about fairy tales and ex-boyfriends.
The men share politically correct cliches to answer Des' questions about love and if opposites attract. I am really surprised no one quoted Paula Abdul. 
Ben talks about his son and Michael tries to call him an absentee dad. And uses this time to talk about how his dad abandoned him as a child. Hey, Michael, rough childhood is Drew's angle! 
While Mike-Y is manhandled by James, Brooks, Chris, Drew and #Kasey hide out in a room talking about guys who are not there for the right reasons. 
The new target is James. #Kasey and  Drew were hiding in a van playing magic cards, when they over heard James tell Mike-Y "when this is all over they will run Chicago" and take "tall, good-looking chicks, with a lot of money" on Mike-Y's boat in an "intimate setting". Pretty sure that direct quote was cleaned up by Drew.  
On the date, the trip is enjoying dinner. Michael tries to make conversation about how Ben doesn't have friends in the house. Des isn't interested in this topic, so to change the subject, she asks "what are some new traditions you want to start with your family". What?!
Michael nit picks at Ben about fatherhood and attending church on major religious holidays. Ben excuses himself to literally blow off some steam. 
Michael has over-prosecuted the situation, and Des is not impressed. But, because she is someone who thinks that ex-boyfriends is an interesting dinner topic, Des somehow finds Michael's nasally whining endearing, and  Michael gets the date rose. Ben storms out. Des tries to follow to calm him down. 
Ben is super creepy and seems a little bit on drugs as he says, "Hi, Hollywood" to the camera and tells the camera that they are missing out on the single dad from Texas. Then he asks where they are getting drunk tonight. Ben is redeeming himself. 
 It is time for the rose ceremony. Des and Chris have some irritating small talk about who is the best kisser.
Brooks, #Kasey, and Drew are on a mission to tell Des that James is... dum dum duuuuuum... "not here for the right reasons. 
But much to their dismay, Des does not want to have a cocktail party, because her mind is made up. 
#Kasey is nervous because "James is here for the wrong reasons, and it will be really disheartening if somebody with the right intentions gets sent home." #Kasey I'm impressed that you have found a synonym for "reasons"!
Final rose comes down to Mike-Y and James. Looks like Chicago ain't bringing it. 
James gets the rose. It's a party for one on Mike-Y's boat
Mike-Y barely says goodbye before racing the limo. Wearing his plaid on plaid, he says goodbye as ungraciously as a meathead can. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bachelorette Recap: Meet Me In Atlantic City

Things are heating up on episode 4. There are thirteen remaining dudes in hoodies men. 
Chris lets the guys know that they are leaving the mansion, and will be embarking on a journey around the world. First stop, Dubai? Monte Carlo? Nope, Atlantic City. HEY-O, Mike-Y is PUMPED.

Flash to Des who has already jetted to Long Island. She poses by the ocean dressed like a toy soldier talking about falling in love in Atlantic City - every girl's dream. 
The men arrive at their penthouse to much beefcake body flopping on the beds. #Kasey calls it "Las Vegas on the ocean". #Kasey, you are very #astute. Was it the ocean or the casinos that brought you to this conclusion? 
With barely anytime to unpack their v-necks, the date card arrives. Michael thinks that crossing his fingers and wishing pretty, pretty please will make up for the fact that he is madly in love with Ben and has no chance with Des. Zack K. knows he is a goner.  
Sadly for Michael, Brad and his teeny tiny voice that doesn't match his big bad muscles gets the date. Des meets Brad on the boardwalk. They walk arm and arm and talk about how Brad has never walked on boardwalk. Brad spots a giant sling shot and they take a ride.  
Then there is more tin soldier arm in arm walking, riding roller-coasters, and pushing each other around in a pedi cab thing. First date stuff. 

Brad, the dad, tells Des he has never eaten salt water taffy. WHAT!?! Was he too busy impregnating teenagers as a youth to eat candy? First boardwalks, now saltwater taffy. Did this man not have a childhood?
From their penthouse in the sky, the guys creepily spy Brad & Des on the carousel. Zak with no C but with the abs calls this "A DISASTER. Everything happens on the carousel". Like what, Zak? Apparently, Zak had a racy childhood where things happened on carousels. 

After shattering the other guys' dreams by getting to ride on a robotic, rotating horse with Des, they depart the carousel, and sit on the beach in front of a massive sandcastle. It's really romantic seeing that Des is wearing 4 scarves, a pea coat and a down comforter. Looks really relaxing and completely unstaged. 

Once they are officially frozen, the couple goes to dinner. Des drops the kiss of death for a date: She likes Brad, but just doesn't know if they have that connection. 
The camera swoops in on a super uncomfortable date where to make conversation flow, Brad tries to come up with the word for slingshot. He finally gets it with the help of Des, and once they reminisce on that crazy slingshot ride from 2 hours earlier, the conversation lulls again. Des can't stand looking at him across the table any longer, so she takes him up to a lighthouse. 
Meanwhile, back at the house while the guys sit around and analyze the date, as the group date card arrives. It goes to: Brooks, Bryden, Zack K, #Kasey, Drew Juan Pablo, Zak, Mike-Y, Ben, Michael, and Chris. This means that James the Thickneck gets the one on one date. 
Des and Brad hike up 55 flights of stairs, and at the top, completely out of breath, she tells Brad to pack his bags. Dumping him would have been far less awkward had she done it at sea level. Poor guy had to descend 100 ft trying to hold in his tears while Des' voice over drops the golden line: "I want a love that can light the darkness". Did you doodle that line in your journal, Desie? Was this date planned specifically around that pearl of wisdom?
Brad takes the long walk down and weeps in his confessional. His voice gets even higher and more pre-pubescent with every choked word. 
Once Brad is out of the picture, it is group date time - aka an opportunity for ABC to live out it's humiliation dreams and preform psychological tests on how far people will go to get TV airtime for love. Today's date is no different.  
Chris meets the group standing next to Miss America. The men will be competing in a Bachelorette Mr. America competition. In his confessional, Michael tells us that as a child he dreamed of becoming Mr. America. I am so not surprised. 
Chris tells the guys there will be 3 categories: Question & Answer, Talent and Swimsuit. Each of the guys tries to figure out what their talent will be. Michael calls it "A train wreck at every station". I'm not sure that is how the phrase works, Michael. 
Zak picks up a guitar, and says that he is going to write an original song about his experience living in a house with a group of guys who all want the same girl. This song will have mass appeal and relate to everyone in the general public. Can someone tell me when men will realize that being the Indigo Guy playing an acoustic guitar and singing off key if not attractive to any woman? Do men learn this at the same place where women learn that acting like dumb ditz makes guys like you? 
Chris puts on high heels as his talent, #Kasey is going to #tap #dance, Brooks will wing it while Drew is going to preform Shakespeare. Fine programming, ABC. 
To add insult to injury, the pageant will be in front of, you guessed it, a live audience. 
Chris is the shows emcee looking dapper in a black suit. The pageant will begin with the question & answer. First up, #Kasey who comes out looking like the giant dork he is. I think he was going for a J.Crew prep looks, but his pants are less "Nantucket Red" and more cherry popsicle, and instead of a cute plaid shirt, he chose to wear a nasty black button down. He should have been docked points for wardrobe. 
Mike-Y is about to bust out of his shirt. For his answer, he rambled something about how women see men as meatheads. Sorry, Mike-Y, that's only you, because you are one, and being seen as a meathead is your ultimate goal. 
After the question and answer portion of the evening, it is time for the talent. #Kasey is first up tap dancing in his heinous bright red pants and black shirt. Mike-Y does a striptease and looks straight out of The Thunder Down Under. (For the record, Mike-Y, this is not a compliment)
Brooks does a joke-y song with a ukulele. Something tells me this will be better less cringe inducing than Zak's original composition.  
And, I am right. Zak sits down and is super serious with his acoustic guitar. It's painful, but being delusional, Zak thinks he has it in the bag.
Time for the swimsuit competition. Mike-Y flexes his pecs. Brooks pops his hip and gives sexy eyes. 

After we have seen more than enough upper thigh hair for a lifetime, it is time to announce the winner. 
Second Runner Up: Brooks
First Runner Up: Zak with no C, but with abs and in a speedo
Mr. America: #Kasey
I wish I could say this reaction was in jest, but it was not. This is the face of pure, unbridled girlish excitement.
Can I please remind everyone of exactly who #Kasey is (and, so you can hear his voice for yourself)?
Once the pageant is over, it is sexy boozey time, this time in swimwear. Chris has some solo time with Des in the pool. He confesses to her that he writes poetry... and then reads her an original limerick about their 7 minutes on top of the building.... FROM HIS JOURNAL. 
 As per usual, while someone else is making out with Des, the guys are sitting around talking about the rose and how much they hate Ben. 
Ben has the audacity to pull Des aside and have his one on one time with her 6 feet from the guys. He talks about his "humble beginnings". Good play Ben, we all know how Des loves to talk about being poor. 
Since James is alone in the penthouse, he treats himself to a bubble bath and chocolate covered strawberries. 
Zak finally gets his alone time with Des, and he takes this moment to "finish" his song. He only got to sing half of his 14 minute rock opera at the pageant. What a shame. I feel robbed. Watching Des get serenaded is incredibly painful. I wonder if the camera crew was chuckling and/or cringing in secondhand embarrassment. 
Time for the climax of the date, the giving out of the rose. And the rose goes to... Zak. AHHHH! Come on Des. Stop making men perpetuating the myth that women like being serenaded! Acts like this force men to think that singing and playing a guitar is attractive and appealing. It is neither of these! It is humiliating, just like the flashing of his abs. 
Then, James is up for his one on one date. He preps for it by oiling his hair with a tub of Crisco. For their date, Des planned to have a fly over of the Hurricane Sandy damage. I hope they are landing in these places to do something to help, and not just staring at other people's misfortune. 

The couple is joined in a very small helicopter by a red Cross agent. They found the only attractive woman working for the foundation to handle this job. Des comments "James' first helicopter ride" will be a little different, because they are looking at destruction. Are you trying to rub in that you are an experienced helicopter flier who usually flying over jungles in St. Lucia? Des, try to remember you grew up in a teepee with nothing but the undying love of your parents. 
Flying over the Seaside Heights boardwalk, James says he "hurts for those people", and looking at the roller coaster makes in the ocean makes James cry, because he thinks this is what Des wants to see.

Walking around Seaside Heights, not helping in the relief effort, Des and James meet a thick accented Jersey couple, Manny & Jan. 

They talk to them about living through the hurricane. Riveting television. James says this is a bittersweet moment because he "is there to start a new life with Des" and he has to listen to Manny and Jan. Not sure if that is bittersweet, so much as a buzzkill,James. 

Des decides to give the sexy, boozey portion of their date to Manny and Jan. James has to say yes. Manny and Jan are visibly moved, and it is actually very sweet... until James opens his mouth and grunts talks about it. 
When the show comes back from commercial, we are treated to a 5 minute montage of Manny & Jan's date.
 It's cute and all, but let's get back to The Thickneck. 
Thankfully we do. Des and Thick Neck are eating pizza. Des (predictably) brings up her parents, and how she grew up poor. The girl has no other topics. 

James decides he needs to be "honest" with Des. He has major build up about how he hurt an ex of 5 and a half year. He hurt her by cheating on her... his FRESHMAN year of college. So, for the record, James, you dated that girl from 8th grade to leaving for college. Did y'all pass love letters in pre-algebra? He tells Des that he wants a family, and he learned that "a man can't love until his heart has been broken". Deep thoughts. I wonder if a line like that can "light up the darkness". 
Back to Manny and Jan. An ABC intern hand-delivers their restored photo album. Suddenly, we see that giving up the date was about as much of Des' idea as the dancing on the side of the building. 
Des and James crash their date and look at the wedding album. Des finishes Manny's sentences in the a super overbearing and condescending way. 
Des tells Manny & Jan there is more to the date, and James watches with hate as they get to go dance to Darius Rucker. Pretty sure Hootie's new turn to country is lost on Manny and Jan.
With Hootie playing in the background, Des gives James the rose.
After one song, Manny and Jan get kicked out so Des and James can slow dance and make out. And Hootie shows us why all lead singers should play or at least hold an instrument. "What do I do with my hands?"
Time for the rose ceremony. Bryden is getting antsy with not getting enough time with Des. He says the blasphemous line that if Des gave him a rose he may not accept it since they haven't spent enough time together. 
Michael and Des get some alone time and he pulls out a pen and paper and does a one of those poems every 3rd grader had to do with their name. Michael's is a play on all the reasons why he likes DES. GAG!
D own to earth 
E asy to talk to
S mile lights up a room
and the last letter, G - his last initial - is Great if this worked out or some sort of nonsense. He mauls her face. 
Then Chris is up. Des talks about how her family is poor... again! Chris says he thinks it is "cool" that Des is independent and does a pinky swear for a "BFF, Friends Forever". I am not joking! It's like a video for Dating Don't 101. 
Bryden gets melodramatic about 12 other guys dating his girlfriend, so he pulls her aside to talk to her about his angst. He rambles on about connections and blah, blah, blah. Des nods along as bored as me. 
Flash to the guys talking about how Bryden should pack it up if he's having a hard time. I'd listen, but I am too distracted by Ben's outfit. He is wearing a tux jacket, a yellow oxford and dark denim jeans. I am guessing his son picked this outfit out.
The rose ceremony begins. Des calls Bryden's name second to last, and after all his whining (and the dramatic music), he accepts the rose. Like we didn't see that coming.  
The rose comes down to  Mike-Y and Zack K. 
Mike-Y gets the rose. And while they both seem pretty lame, I was ready for the Muscle Milk to be sent packing. 
In next week's episode, the group will be headed to Munich. Can't wait for this group to embarrass Americans abroad.