Monday, January 30, 2012

VIDEO: Danger Mouse - Episode 01 - Rogue Robots

Nowadays, this classic UK animated series may be mentioned more often for inspiring the producer behind Gnarls Barkley and The Grey Album, but it shouldn't be forgotten that it's also an amazing show in its own right.

Trouble viewing the video? Watch on Network Awesome!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

FILM REVIEW: The Man Who Would Be Polka King

The music industry and scandal go hand in hand. From organized crime seeing easy marks in profitable night clubs and venues to troubled, drug-addicted artists spiraling out of control to record company executives engaging in white collar crime like payola to help their product sell better, people involved in music often find themselves on the wrong side of the law. But by no means is this impropriety relegated to those scenes most often associated with crime, namely rap and dance music, and in fact has little to do with the content or the perceived "outlaw" character of any particular genre. In the end, corruption is more entwined with money than with art, and even a cheesy, ostensibly family-friendly style like polka is not immune to people trying to make a buck off of it in a less than legal way.

Released in 2009, but screening Friday at Turner Hall as part of a series called "DONK-umentaries with Bob & Brian" (which, despite the name, disappointingly has nothing to do with the Blackout Crew), The Man Who Would Be Polka King entertainingly recalls the biggest scandal to ever rock the polka world. At the heart of the trouble is Jan Lewan, a Polish √©migr√© who chased his musical ambitions to Pennsylvania, where the large population of eastern Europeans allowed him to build a profitable polka empire. Unfortunately, the love of the people, and even a Grammy nomination in 1995, proved not to be enough for Lewan, who used his considerable popularity to launch a large scale pyramid scheme that swindled hundreds of his fans out of their paychecks and pensions. It's a fascinating tale of greed and delusion, one that begins with a talented and driven young Soviet defector and nearly ends in a vicious prison shanking, with plenty of detours, including his alleged rigging of a beauty pageant, in between.

But while it may be an interesting story, it's also a relatively small one, which leads filmmakers Joshua Brown and John Mikulak to make some odd choices. Chief among them is the decision to hire an actor to play a fictional Stan Tradowski, who narrates the proceedings from a bar stool at the local VFW hall. It's a distracting and unnecessary framing device, especially since the interviews with Lewan himself, who has always professed that he had no idea he was doing anything wrong, even in light of several warnings from the government, reveal a much clearer view of his pathological misunderstanding of the American dream he sought so feverishly. Being a few years old, the film is already available for free on Hulu, but given the $10 all-you-can-drink special going on during the screening, The Man Who Would Be Polka King, with all of its head-scratching weirdness, is probably best enjoyed in the company of a large, well-lubricated crowd. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

CONCERT REVIEW: Kool Keith (Mad Planet, Milwaukee)

Kool Keith may have a reputation for being late to shows, and in some cases blowing them off entirely, so it was a great relief when he showed up on time and ready to rock.

PLAYLIST: Mondo Radio (01/25/12)

Here's the playlist for this week's edition of Mondo Radio, which you can download or stream here. If you dig it, please find the show on Facebook and Twitter.

Artist - Song - Album
New Order - Chemical - Republic 
Depeche Mode - New Life - The Singles 81-85
Depeche Mode - The Meaning Of Love - The Singles 81-85
Laid Back - Elevator Boy - Keep Smiling
Laid Back - Sunshine Reggae - Keep Smiling
Prince - Do It All Night - Dirty Mind
Prince - Uptown - Dirty Mind
Cameo - Candy - The Best Of Cameo 
Cameo - Attack Me With Your Love - The Best Of Cameo
Chromeo - You're So Gangsta - She's In Control
Chromeo - Woman Friend - She's In Control
Daft Punk - Aerodynamic - Discovery
Daft Punk - Crescendolls - Discovery
Reverend Billy C. Wirtz - Will There Be A Shopping Mall In Heaven? - Deep Fried And Sanctified
The Essex - Easier Said Than Done - Girl Group Greats
Joanie Sommers - Johnny Get Angry - Girl Group Greats
Hunx And His Punx - Don't Cha Want Me Back? - Gay Singles
Hunx And His Punx - You Better Tell That Girl - Gay Singles
Shannon And The Clams - Baby Don't Do It - Sleep Talk
Shannon And The Clams - The Cult Song - Sleep Talk
Ramones - Needles And Pins - All The Stuff (And More) Volume 2
Ramones - Do You Wanna Dance? - All The Stuff (And More) Volume 2
Ramones - Surfin' Bird - All The Stuff (And More) Volume 2
Ramones - Substitute - Acid Eaters
Ramones - When I Was Young - Acid Eaters
Ramones - Have You Ever Seen The Rain - Acid Eaters
Minutemen - Don't Look Now - Double Nickels On The Dime
Minutemen - The Glory Of Man - Double Nickels On The Dime
Minutemen - Nothing Indeed - Double Nickels On The Dime
Minutemen - Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing - Double Nickels On The Dime
Gang Of Four - Ether - Entertainment!
Gang Of Four - Guns Before Butter - Entertainment!
Disappears - Revisiting - Guider
Disappears - Halo - Guider
Catacombz - ReSurf - Catacombz
Catacombz - Anhinga Tundra - Catacombz
Can - Spoon - Cannibalism 1
Can - Tango Whiskeyman - Soundtracks
Can - I Want More And... - Cannibalism 2
Steven Wright - Shopping Carts - I Still Have A Pony

VIDEO: Metal Mickey - Episode 01 - Metal Mickey Lives

Created by the British musician and record producer Johnny Edward, the robotic Metal Mickey appeared on a variety of television programs, the first being ITV's The Saturday Banana, before eventually gaining enough popularity to be given his own starring vehicle, this eponymous, lovably corny sitcom. Strangely, the series was produced by The Monkees' Micky Dolenz, though I'm sure he was hired based on his prior work in film and television and not because he coincidentally shared a name with the titular character.  

Problems viewing the video? Watch on Network Awesome!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

FEATURE: Documentary or Propaganda: Berlin (1945)

As part of their weekend long salute to Berlin, Network Awesome asked me to take a look back at one of the bloodiest, most decisive moments in the capital city's history, "The Battle of Berlin", which saw the Red Army breaching Hitler's defenses and effectively ending World War II.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

PLAYLIST: Mondo Radio (01/18/12)

Here's the playlist for this week's edition of Mondo Radio, which you can download or stream here. If you dig it, please find the show on Facebook and Twitter.

Artist - Song - Album
Bruce Haack - Listen - Electronic Record For Children
Gary Wilson - Groovy Girls Make Love At The Beach - You Think You Really Know Me
Gary Wilson - 6.4=Make Out - You Think You Really Know Me
Screamers - I Wanna Hurt (Live At The Whisky, 01/07/78) - In A Better World
Screamers - Punish Or Be Damned (Live At The Whisky, 01/07/78) - In A Better World
Suicide - Rocket USA - Suicide 
Suicide - Che - Suicide
Gary Numan - Metal (Live) - The Complete John Peel Sessions
Gary Numan - Cars (Live) - The Complete John Peel Sessions
Nine Inch Nails - Terrible Lie - Pretty Hate Machine
Nine Inch Nails - Down In It - Pretty Hate Machine
Villafontana Violines - No Puede Dejar De Mirarte - 70"
Kate Bush - The Big Sky - Hounds Of Love
Kate Bush - Waking The Witch - Hounds Of Love
Talking Heads - The Facts Of Life - Naked
Talking Heads - Ruby Dear - Naked
Roxy Music - Ladytron - Roxy Music
Roxy Music - Virginia Plain - Roxy Music
David Bowie - Watch That Man - Aladdin Sane
David Bowie - Aladdin Sane (1913-1938-197?) - Aladdin Sane
Of Montreal - Forecast Fascist Future - The Sunlandic Twins
Of Montreal - I Was Never Young - The Sunlandic Twins
Blur - Girls & Boys - CD Single
Dusty Springfield - Crumbs Off The Table - Dusty In London
Ila Vann - Got To Get To Jim Johnson - The Ila Vann Collection
Ila Vann - Flying Solo Tomorrow - The Ila Vann Collection
Ike & Tina Turner - All I Can Do Is Cry - A Date With John Waters
Dr. Octagon - Earth People - Dr. Octagonecologyst
Dr. Octagon - No Awareness - Dr. Octagonecologyst
Deltron 3030 - 3030 - Deltron 3030
Deltron 3030 - Upgrade (A Brymar College Course) - Deltron 3030
Jeff The Brotherhood - Hey Friend - We Are The Champions
Jeff The Brotherhood - Bummer - We Are The Champions
Nirvana - Son Of A Gun - Incesticide
Nirvana - Dive - Incesticide

VIDEO: Doc - Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Japan's monstrous representation of nuclear anxiety, Godzilla initially struck a chord with Japanese audiences as a thrilling and soothingly fantastical way of releasing the trauma, paranoia and fear caused by the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The titular beast proved such a powerful icon, however, that he outlived the atomic age, reinvented by its creators for every new generation. This in depth BBC documentary, which aired as part of their Monster Night programming, follows the towering, scaly monster from his creation and through its many eras before looking to the future, which, at this point, included Roland Emmerich's big-budget American adaptation.   

Trouble viewing the video? Watch it on Network Awesome!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

FEATURE: Half Shark Alligator, Half Man: The Many Faces of Kool Keith

Just for the record, I couldn't care less if Kool Keith is crazy or not, either way, the man's got skills.

Monday, January 16, 2012

VIDEO: Quark - Episode 01 - May The Source Be With You

Created by TV and film legend Buck Henry, probably most recognizable right now as Liz Lemon's dad on 30 Rock, Quark did not garner enough fans to be brought back for another season after it's debut 1975 run, but it's irreverent take on sci-fi classics like Star Wars and Star Trek remains keenly observed and funny. Enjoy!

Trouble viewing the video? Watch it on Network Awesome!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

PLAYLIST: Mondo Radio (01/11/12)

Here's the playlist for this week's edition of Mondo Radio, which you can download or stream here. If you dig it, please find the show on Facebook and Twitter.

Artist - Song - Album
Talking Heads - Blind - Naked
James Brown - Make It Funky (Part 1) - Soul Classics
James Brown - Papa's Got A Brand New Bag - Soul Classics
James Brown - Soul Power - Soul Classics
James Brown - Give It Up Or Turnit Loose - Soul Classics
James Brown - It's A Man's Man's Man's World - Soul Classics
JC Brooks And The Uptown Sound - Baltimore Is The New Brooklyn - Mojo Presents: Heavy Soul
Marion Black - Come And Gettit - Mojo Presents: Heavy Soul
Freddy Scott And The Four Steps - Same Ole Beat - Mojo Presents: Heavy Soul
Soul President - Got To Have It - Mojo Presents: Heavy Soul
Black Merda - Take A Little Time - Mojo Presents: Heavy Soul
Chuck Garbo & The Soul Finders - Can I Be Your Main Squeeze - Mojo Presents: Heavy Soul
Sly & The Family Stone - In Time - The Essential Sly & The Family Stone
Sly & The Family Stone - If You Want Me To Stay - The Essential Sly & The Family Stone
Funkadelic - The Electric Spanking Of War Babies - The Electric Spanking Of War Babies
Children Of The World - The Time Is Now - Children Of The World
The Specials - Rat Race - More Specials
The Specials - Doesn't Make It Alright - The Specials
The Specials - A Message To You Rudy - The Specials
The Specials - Do Nothing - More Specials
Nick Drake - One Of These Things First - Bryter Layter
Belle & Sebastian - The Stars Of Track And Field - If You're Feeling Sinister
Belle & Sebastian - Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying - If You're Feeling Sinister 
Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Today I Started Celebrating Again - At Home With The Groovebox
LFO - Mentok 1 - Frequencies
Squarepusher - Dedicated Loop - Selection Sixteen
Aphex Twin - Vordhosbn - Drukqs
Aphex Twin - Milkman - Richard D. James Album
Joy Division - Atrocity Exhibition - Closer
Joy Division - Isolation - Closer
The Flaming Lips - Jesus Shootin' Heroin - Hear It Is
Love And Rockets - Mirror People - Earth, Sun, Moon
Love And Rockets - The Light - Earth, Sun, Moon
Spacemen 3 - Walking With Jesus - Sound Of Confusion
Spiritualized - Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space - Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
Sonic Youth - Free City Rhymes - NYC Ghosts & Flowers
Sonic Youth - Side2Side - NYC Ghosts & Flowers
Sonic Youth - Disconnection Notice
Sonic Youth - Candle - Daydream Nation

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

FEATURE: The Future Was Awesome: Bertone Cars

I don't know shit about cars. That admission of ignorance, however, doesn't mean that I can't appreciate the work of Italy's Gruppo Bertone car stylists, whose innovative, shockingly futuristic designs not only rethink automobile aesthetics but also represent an idyllic technological future that has, sadly, yet to materialize.

VIDEO: On the Air - Episode 02

Though seven episodes of this off-the-wall David Lynch/Mark Frost sitcom were filmed, only three ended up being broadcast by ABC in 1992, which is kind of baffling given the substantial, if unlikely, success of their previous series Twin Peaks. The fact that the show was unceremoniously and prematurely cancelled would be an easier pill to swallow, however, if it eventually found wide release on video, but the suits and the fat-cats (I'm assuming) have continually prevented that from happening. The series is even rather hard to find on the web, which is all the more reason to enjoy episode 01 and 02 while you can.

Problems viewing the video? Watch on Network Awesome!

CONCERT REVIEW: Wu-Tang Clan (The Rave, Milwaukee)

Does Wu-Tang Clan require an introduction? I should think not, I mean, it's the goddamn Wu-Tang Clan, right? Anyway, they played The Rave over the weekend and the show was pretty sweet! That shouldn't be a surprise, right? Right?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

PLAYLIST: Mondo Radio (01/04/12)

Here's the playlist for this week's edition of Mondo Radio, which you can download or stream here. If you enjoy it, please find the show on Facebook and Twitter.

The Who - The Seeker - Meaty Beaty Big And Bouncy
Love - Live And Let Live - Forever Changes
Love - The Good Humor Man He Sees Everything Like This - Forever Changes
Harry Nilsson - Remember (Christmas) - Son Of Schmilsson
Harry Nilsson - Ambush - Son Of Schmilsson
Neil Young - Come On Baby Let's Go Downtown - Tonight's The Night
Neil Young - Speakin' Out - Tonight's The Night
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Someday Never Comes - Mardi Gras
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Effigy - Willy And The Poor Boys
Bob Dylan - One More Cup Of Coffee - Desire
Bod Dylan - Shelter From The Storm - Blood On The Tracks
Leadbelly - C.C. Rider - Leadbelly
Leadbelly - Baby Don't You Love Me No More - Leadbelly
Martin Mull - Trailer Waltz - Sex & Violins
ABC - Poison Arrow - The Lexicon Of Love
ABC - The Look Of Love (Part One) - The Lexicon Of Love
New Order - Spooky - Republic
New Order - Young Offender - Republic
Primal Scream - Slip Inside This House - Screamadelica
Primal Scream - Don't Fight It, Feel It - Screamadelica
Primal Scream - Loaded - Screamadelica
Happy Mondays - Donovan - Pills 'N' Thrills And Bellyaches
Happy Mondays - Kinky Afro - Pills 'N' Thrills And Bellyaches
The Stone Roses - Waterfall - The Stone Roses
Blur - Look Inside America - Blur
Blur - Parklife - The Best Of Blur
Supergrass - I'd Like To Know - I Should Coco
Supergrass - Sofa (Of My Lethargy) - I Should Coco
Super Furry Animals - No Sympathy - Rings Around The World
Super Furry Animals - Juxtapozed With U - Rings Around The World
Tricky - Ghetto Stars - Mixed Race
Tricky - Murder Weapon - Mixed Race
Saint Etienne - Mario's Cafe - So Tough
Saint Etienne - Calico - So Tough
Stereolab - Black Ants In Sound-Dust - Sound-Dust
Stereolab - Space Moth - Sound-Dust

Sunday, January 1, 2012

CONCERT REVIEW: Rio Turbo & Dude X 2 (The Cactus Club, Milwaukee)

New Year's Eve is always something of a crapshoot. Few other nights are saddled with such expectation, with such an obligation to be fun and, more importantly, memorable, and while logically we know that this anticipation only fuels disappointment, it's still hard resist. We've all had dull New Years, but most of us also harbor memories of those rare instances when the holiday delivered on its promise, where libations and laughter just seem to flow a little easier, where you can actually feel like you're moving into a brighter future, even if in the morning you realize it was just strong drink and loud music. Stepping out the door, we know we probably won't capture that communal, celebratory feeling of transition and renewal, but, hey, it's happened before, so it can happen again, right?

A good chunk of the anxiety associated with having a good New Year's Eve is deciding where to go, and if the Cactus Club turned out to be the wrong choice, on its face, it seemed to have a lot going for it, namely a performance by Rio Turbo, whose sleazy party raps are ideal for a boozy night out. The crowd awaiting his 11:00 show was hideously scarce, and while I've personally seen Turbo make more out of less, forging that connection seemed to be tricky tonight. People continued to filter in, but even a handful of slick new tracks (or his vivacious backup dancers, the Turbettes) couldn't really fill all that negative space covering the dance floor.

If he came off somewhat underwhelming tonight, though, it had less to do with Rio Turbo's act than the promoters failure to drum up a good crowd. The failure of Dude X 2 on the other hand is more attributable to the fact that, honestly, they're just kind of terrible. In many ways Turbo and Dude X 2 are the very different sides of the same coin. Both traffic in big beats and an in-your-face humor, but where the former has a good ear for well crafted tracks and an Andy Kaufman-esque ability to bait the audience, the latter brings only affected offensiveness and, apparently, an out of date copy of FruityLoops. They seem to have about one genuinely funny line for every 20 they spout, but since they sounded so atrocious, you were likely to miss it altogether. By this point in the night, the club had filled up noticeably, but the contrast between the crowded bar and the sparsely populated area in front of the stage was unmistakable, and I couldn't help getting the feeling that the only ones hanging in there were their close friends, party promoters trying to inspire interest and masochists like myself.

Still, though things as they turned out made for a pretty forgettable New Year's Eve, they didn't add up to that bad night either, after all, going from one calendar year to the next is a completely arbitrary moment to mark in the cosmic sense, but if it provides an excuse to have a drink, meet friends and make a bit merry then you ultimately can't go wrong. Hell, there were even sandwiches, and if there's anything we can reasonably expect from 2012, it's a bit of good music, a bit of bad music and, if we're lucky, the occasional sandwich.
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