The Neighbourhood: I Love You


California band The Neighbourhood grabbed my attention when I first saw them open for Paul Banks a few years ago. Their sound which is a mixture of indie pop and hip hop had me hooked from the onset. Immediately after the show I researched the band and saw that they had a particular aestheic for everything they did. Their music videos are shot in black and white and their lyrics and sound is dark inclined.

The band’s debut album “I Love You” is a phenomenal album that displays singer Jesse Rutherford’s yearning vocals and the band’s great guitar work. The lyrics delve into topics of lost innocence, failed relationships and wanting to escape. The album as a whole has a dark tone that is more upbeat and fun than gloomy such as lead single “Sweater Weather”.

The best tracks on the record are “Alleyways”, “W.D.Y.W.F.M.?” and “Float”. Each track is sonically amazing especially with the shogaze-ish sound that encapsulates Jesse’s vocals. I have listened to this record countless times over the past few months and still can’t get enough of it.


Short Term 12


I have seen so many articles about how great “Short Term 12” is that I decided to check it out. Brie Larson stars as Grace, a young woman working at a foster care facility with her boyfriend Mason (John Gallagher Jr). Grace and Mason try their best to help kids struggling with a variety of issues while dealing with their own problems especially Grace who tries to come to terms with her past and the knowledge that she is pregnant.

I liked this movie from the first scene and became quickly invested in the characters’ lives. Grace is as emotionally scarred as the children she is in charge of. She pushes Mason away whenever he tries to get too close to her or asks her to open up to him. She develops a kinship with a withdrawn girl that comes to the facility for a while and this leads to Grace finally confronting her own haunting demons.

The only problem I had with the film was the ending which I felt was too contrived and in complete opposition to the movie entirely. I felt let down and confused by the ending which could have been so much better and as a viewer you want to feel a sense of some sort of resolution to these characters’ lives after becoming completely involved.

Actress Brie Larson had a breakthrough year in 2013 by starring in 3 well-received films: “Don Jon”, “The Spectacular Now” and “Short Term 12”. Her performances in all three are very different but seminal to each film. I am definitely interested in what roles she will choose in the coming years because I know she is on her way to becoming a force to reckon with. Her performance alone in “Short Term 12” showcase an actress that is unafraid of challenging roles.


Real Estate: Talking Backwards

New Jersey band Real Estate first came to my attention back in 2010 when I developed a fascination with everything surf rock/pop. A handful of bands popped up in 2010 that fell into this category including Best Coast, The Drums, Beach Fossils and Surfer Blood. Out of all of these bands Real Estate really seemed the most confident and sincere in their music. They didn’t change their sound drastically like all of their contemporaries did on their sophomore efforts. They remained easygoing and steadfast as they matured as a band. Both “Real Estate” and “Days” are records that remain in total opposition to the “what’s hot right now” trend that fluctuates from year to year. This band is able to stay true to themselves and continue to produce music that undeniably have that Real Estate sound.

Real Estate’s new album “Atlas” comes out in March and here is their first single “Talking Backwards” from the album.

Kings of Leon: Mechanical Bull


Kings of Leon first came to my attention back in 2009 when the radio kept playing their songs continuously from their album “Only By the Night”. I checked that album out and it shaped my life in countless ways including getting me through a breakup.

Their followup “Come Around Sundown” was also a great album which had the band delving into more emotional and darker territory. Critics did not take kindly to the album and viewed it as a letdown which to this day I don’t understand because to me it was even better than “Only By the Night”.

“Mechanical Bull” is the band’s sixth studio album and actually took a while to grow on me. At first listen it just sounded like any other garage rock album but after a few more listens I noticed how much the band’s guitar work has improved. There are countless amazing riffs that abound on many of the albums songs including “Comeback Story” and bonus track “Work on Me”. The album has more of garage rock feel than the band’s previous two albums and is more lighthearted. Tracks like “Supersoaker” and “Don’t Matter” display the band’s going back to basics approach to music with simple chords and feel good lyrics. The band actually sound like they had fun recording the album and it is definitely one of their best.

Good Will Hunting


Gus Van Sant’s “Good Will Hunting” is one of the best films ever made. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck wrote one of the finest screenplays for the big screen. I have watched this movie countless times and never tire of it. The acting as well as the soundtrack which heavily features Elliott Smith makes for a very satisfying movie.

“Good Will Hunting” is about Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a young man who works as a janitor at Harvard University. Will has a high IQ and is discovered by a math teacher after he solves several problems that the teacher puts forth for his students on a chalkboard outside his classroom. However, Will has anger issues and is told to see a therapist in order to avoid jail time for an assault charge. Will tries to sort through his past and future with his therapist while also falling in love with a British student at Harvard.

The standout performances in this movie definitely go to Matt Damon and Robin Williams. Williams who is mostly known for his comedic roles takes on a dramatic role as Will’s therapist that shows not only the character’s depth but his own. Damon delivers one of his best performances of his career as a man who is afraid of getting too close to anyone or becoming the person that he knows he can be.


The Curious Case of Benjamin Button


I re-watched David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” and there was so much that I realized that I missed from my first initial viewing. I had forgotten the significance of the clock that turned backwards and that Benjamin had a daughter with Daisy. I was completely surprised at these additions and asked myself if I really did watch it the first time around or just skimmed it?

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” is about a man named Benjamin (Brad Pitt) who is born old and keeps getting younger as the years past. He meets and befriends Daisy (Cate Blanchett) when he is physically an old man but is actually seven years old and immediately falls in love with her. When he turns 17 he heads out into the world and experiences a series of adventures and the love of a woman. He still has feelings for Daisy who is also living her own separate life and he sets out to reclaim that love while dealing with his reverse aging.

David Fincher is a favorite director of mine to which I have watched all of his movies and the Netflix online show “House of Cards” which he was involved with. His penchant for dark tones in his films caught my eye especially while watching “The Social Network”. He does a tremendous job  with his source material and tries to show that human life is precious.

The cast also deliver great performances especially Brad Pitt who portrays Benjamin as a honest man who never loses his integrity no matter what situation he is in.

Two Gallants- Untitled (live)

I have been listening to a lot of Two Gallants lately. For those of you who are unfamiliar to this amazing band, they are an indie folk rock band from San Francisco. They have released four albums with “The Bloom and the Blight” being the most recent. They have been touring behind this album consistently since its release.

I was able to finally see them about two and a half years ago after a long wait. They were playing their first couple shows after a five year hiatus and they did a tremendous job at that sold out show.

In this video the band plays a still untitled song that has that quintessential Two Gallants feel; abrasive and soulful.