Colin Wessman

R.I.P. David Berman

This one’s particularly hard for me to process.

As you may have noticed, I just reviewed Purple Mountains, the fantastic self-titled debut from David Berman’s new band earlier this week. The album’s only been out for about a month, but it’s already become one of my most listened to albums of the year as well as one of my favorites. I’ve just been listening to it constantly, because the lyrics are so god damn funny and wise and raw, where you know that the person writing them was clearly brilliant but also in a lot of pain (hence, my not-so-subtle review title). Continue reading

License To Killjoy

Bedouine – Bird Songs of a Killjoy

There was something very assuring about discovering Bedouine, the project of singer/songwriter Azniz Korkejian. First, because there’s something inherently calming about the familiar, but nonetheless striking way she sings and plays guitar. Secondly, because after seeing videos online of her performing, despite being a relative up-and-comer, she looked to be about my age. Granted, I can’t actually find her age anywhere, but I did find an interview where she refers to her 20s as a thing of the past. Which isn’t that important, I’m just getting a little burned out on 20-year-old indie phenoms playing bedroom pop. Apparently, Korkejian spent much her early adulthood working as a sound engineer while music was nothing but a hobby, which explains why these songs are so casual but also so effortlessly pretty. Continue reading

Patience Is A Virtue

Mannequin Pussy – Patience

I’ll be moving to Philadelphia in the next few months, and though there are plenty of things I’ll miss about Seattle, I will not miss how it’s become an increasingly hard place for musicians (or non-rich) people to live. Philly, on the other hand, seems to have been a bit more hospitable to its music scene in the past few years. Or at least, this would explain the countless Philly indie bands to break out recently, which has to some extent made it feel like the underdog version of Brooklyn, musically speaking. I can’t say whether I’ll be going to a ton of smaller shows in Philly, since that’s never been something I’ve been great at keeping up with. But a band like Mannequin Pussy has me intrigued to see what other new artists the city has in store.

Continue reading

Purple Pain

Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains

Now that we’ve made it through Criterion Month, it seems as good a time as any to talk about some music that I was grooving to during July, despite being distracted from listening to music by arthouse cinema.

Anyways, isn’t this a surprise? After spending “a decade playing chicken with oblivion”, as David Berman states in the album’s lead-off track, free from the commitments of his longtime band Silver Jews, the man is back. In the years since Silver Jews broke up in 2009, Berman didn’t seem beholden to the music world, and in fact seemed to have turned his back on it, more inclined to spend his time writing poetry and, reading books, I guess. But in the ten years since the last Silver Jews record, he seems to have gone through a lot personally. Unsurprisingly, his personal troubles (which include a divorce) make for the basis of much of the album, and makes for some of the best material of his career. Continue reading

Criterion Month Day 29: Monsoon Wedding

Monsoon Wedding (2001)

Well, I’ve made it to my final Criterion review with what feels like a good one to go out on. Mainly because this might be the most purely enjoyable film I watched all month, almost to the point where I’m a little surprised that this film is in the Criterion Collection at all. Though I suppose the Criterion catalog does have a few crowdpleasers scattered amongst their various films aspiring to be “Art” with a capital A. Also, it does share the Criterion commonality of being a mere “indie hit”, even though it seems like it easily could’ve been a cross-over sensation. Instead, My Big Fat Greek Wedding became the big indie breakout wedding movie of the ’00s. Oh well. Continue reading

Criterion Day 24: An Angel At My Table

An Angel At My Table (1990)

This was already covered a bit in Sean’s review of Mishima: A Life In Four Chapters, but I’m not sure there are many genre’s that come with as much baggage as biopics. Mostly because unlike a lot of genres, there’s this almost preconceived “greatness” that a lot of biopics seem almost entitled to, which explains their typical Oscar bait-iness. That said, I’m not sure pre-’00s biopics quite have this baggage, because their formula wasn’t so definitively in place. Which is one of many reasons that this other Criterion biopic about an author often skirts the various clichés that could accompany a famous person’s onscreen life. Continue reading

Criterion Month Day 19: Withnail & I

Withnail & I (1987)

In most American films, the ’60s are either portrayed as this time defined by hippie optimism or the social and political upheaval wrought by Vietnam. So it makes sense that a British dark comedy depicting the tail end of the ’60s would be beholden to neither sensibilities. Instead, we get a grey, dreary look at the ’60s filled with the typical amount of boozing associated with the UK, and with a little bit of drug use thrown in. That said, Withnail and I still manages to capture the freedom and wildness of the ’60s, just with a bit more of a cynical angle, courtesy of an English perspective and a couple decades of perspective. Continue reading