The leadoff track to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds’ 2013 LP Push The Sky Away was “We No Who U R.” The misplaced negative in the song’s title serves as more than clever wordplay. It speaks to the lack of certainty any one person can assume in truly knowing another. As such, it would have served as an appropriate title for Cave’s new, pseudo rock documentary 20,000 Days On Earth, which will play as the final installment of Indy Film Fest’s Rock + Reel series on Nov. 13 at White Rabbit Cabaret.
20,000 Days On Earth turns the typical rock doc format on its head. The film follows Cave on a fictional journey through his 20,000th day. Directors, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, cowrote a script with Cave, which incorporates both fact and fiction. Cave plays himself, but it should be viewed as a performance more than a documentary in the traditional sense. The cinematography benefits from the decision to work within a script and storyboard. Its beauty puts the typical handheld point of view that we’ve come to expect from rock docs to shame.
In some ways, 20,000 Days On Earth is simply the latest chapter in the stage persona that Cave has created since launching his music career in the mid-1980s. It takes a special kind of narcissist to fill the role of lead singer. The film acknowledges Cave’s vanity, but it points to that same trait as part of what makes him such an enigmatic and successful front man.
As an appetizer to the film, the audience will be treated to a set from Indy post-punks, The Icks. It’s the first full band Musical Family Tree‘s Jon Rogers (who has curated the musical accompaniment to Rock + Reel) has booked for the series. The band should prove an ideal pairing to Cave’s dark, brooding musical. Listen to The Icks’ debut LP Little Rotten below. To purchase tickets to the show, visit Eventbrite online.
Written by Rob Peoni
Upon hearing of Brooklyn’s TEEN, you will likely be fed a shallow narrative that unfolds something like this: Rock chick leaves successful up-and-coming band. Rock-chick joins up with sisters and friends to form all-girl electro pop group. Look at them now. Aren’t they cute? (For evidence, see our Band to Watch post)
While this storyline is an accurate assessment of how Kristina “Teeny” Lieberson’s new project TEEN came to be, it fails to do their debut LP In Limbo justice. The album kicks off with “Better.” A song whose girl-power infused hook could be easily substituted for the shitty rendition of Irving Berlin’s “Anything You Can Do” from that old Mia Hamm vs. Michael Jordan Gatorade commercial. Yet, set against the backdrop of intricately woven synth and vocal lines and a foot stomping rhythm section, the chorus proves more irresistible than trite.
Follow-up “Come Back” is my favorite cut from the LP. The song turns the traditional narrative of the desperate female on its head. Here, Teeny spends the chorus begging for the return of a lost love. In the verses, though, we learn that her loneliness comes as the result of loving and leaving too many half-forgotten names on the road to now. Her regret stems not from whether she may one day find love, but rather the thought that she may have already cast it aside. A familiar storyline from your male rock n’ roller, but rarely one told from the female perspective.
Rather than present their brand of girl-pop in concise, pre-packaged three-minute infomercials, TEEN has chosen to challenge its audience. Seven of In Limbo’s 11 tracks stretch beyond five minutes. The band’s attempt to break down and re-purpose the traditional notion of a pop song is an admirable one, but testing the limits of listeners’ ever-shrinking attention spans proves a dangerous decision on a debut.
The B-side of In Limbo occasionally loses its focus, dissolving into trippy meditations. Even those moments manage to hit their mark on tracks like “Sleep is Noise” and “Fire“. The good news is that the few songs that fell flat for me on the album, I found captivating in the stripped down space of TEEN’s Secret Garden video session. Typically the reverse is true, a successful cut off the LP proves completely dysfunctional in a live setting. It’s an encouraging trait for a new band in an era in which live gigs provide the meat and potatoes and album sales increasingly cover dessert.
With a four-track EP and a fascinating mix tape of covers under their belt, TEEN is a band that appears road-ready from Jump Street. These girls have achieved an astonishing amount of depth both sonically and lyrically on In Limbo. This is achieved largely through a masterful layering of vocal arrangements and a relentless willingness to explore. Grab your copy of In Limbo from Carpark Records. Stream it in its entirety below.
Written by Rob Peoni
A guy. A girl. Surf pop. Sound familiar? Well certainly there’s room for more than one at this table. The Parlour Suite is a husband and wife duo out of Minneapolis who certainly sound out of place for where they hail from. Combining simple, elegant pop music with pristine, gorgeous vocals, their music is a soundtrack of sensuality and soul. They dropped their latest album Everybody’s Looking in early April. And lucky for us, they were kind enough to throw it on the Internet. With 7 songs checking in at 20 minutes, what it lacks in length it certainly makes up for in quality. Don’t miss personal favorite “Window Shoppers”, featuring catchy hooks and Inga Roberts’ vocals at their best.
Those of us in the Midwest can catch the duo on 6-22-12 in Indianapolis (Monkey’s Tale) and 6-23-12 in Cincinnati (The Mainstay). So if you didn’t have weekend plans a month in advance, now you do. Take a listen to the new album below, and hopefully, I’ll see you there Cincinnati.
Written by Greg Dahman