South By Southwest

Locked-down SXSW Review: Homecoming -The Journey of Cardboard (Yuko Shiomaki/Anna Thorson Mayer)

Posted on by Gary in Everything, Reviews, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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With the cancellation of this year’s SXSW, many of the films scheduled to screen there were suddenly left without a platform. In lieu of a proper screening, several of the short films officially selected for the 2020 SXSW Episodic Pilot Competition have been made available to screen via Vimeo. Below we review one of those films, Homecoming – The Journey of Cardboard.

Unlike the Mona Lisa or those fucking shiny balloon dogs that look like the Bean multiplied itself while rollicking in its daughters’ metallic-colored piss, your overlooked life is just as important in the daily struggle of our planet. So, where you came from could theoretically matter. And if a lack of narration from Henry Louis Gates Jr. over your ancestry is the high-water mark of failure in your life, consider the trillions upon trillions of other inanimate objects that are similarly un-celebrated. Yes. You are as useless as I myself, and will be sorted right below CARDBOARD, of all things, in the grand Excel spreadsheet listed by decreasing importance.

Except that cardboard, unlike you and I, has a newfound voice. To honor the origins of something as profound as a grapefruit carton, a Japanese reclaimed-cardboard wallet maker tries to bring his material back to its Floridian hometown for a “blessing” of sorts. Replace Dr. Gates’ baritone with that of a contemporary graphics artist dosed with a penchant for ultra-specificity, and the transformation from Finding Your Roots to a very Japanese documentary short is complete. Fuyuki Shimazu’s celebration of the mundane is not unexpected in the age of sub-sub-sub-reddits. Enveloped by oceans of potential knowledge, we are almost encouraged to diversify and become passionately focused in one thing and make irrelevant everyone else’s interests. Only, when you dig further, you find that “someone else is ALSO and ALREADY interested in this shit!?” So we reach for combinatorial esotericism: “Only I am expert on the turquoise crane hawk in the cliffs north of Tonga AND the blue hawking crane of Eastern Seychelles”. This isn’t, of course, a commentary on this short, which is warm and reverent.

But on a facile reflection: should he switch to making cardboard face masks and ventilator bellows, will it make us appreciate the world even more? When the universal units of gravitas have changed, you quickly find everything soaring or crashing on a tornado of an Excel list, which is an indication of how important the list really was in the first place.

SXSW Song Of The Day: Sports Team – Here’s The Thing

Posted on by Paul in Song of the Day, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Here’s the thing – SXSW is set to begin in just a little over one week and among the many bands that will be playing there is London’s Sports Team.

Here’s another thing – “Here’s The Thing,” the latest single from Sports Team’s full length debut Deep Down Happy, is a very good song.

With lines such as “if you work a little harder, you’ll get by”, “if your parents worked to earn it, then it’s yours”, “if you’re barely getting by, then that’s your fault” and “you’re worth as much as all the luxury you buy”, the song takes a satirical look at a certain type of thinking that we generally might see offered up as bits of homespun ‘wisdom’ but which ultimately end up being “just lies lies lies lies.” Check it out below.

SXSW Song Of The Day: Katie Pruitt – Normal

Posted on by Gary in Song of the Day, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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Photo Credit: Alysse Gafkjen

It’s no secret that I have a thing for folksy songs. The setup couldn’t be simpler – one person, few background instruments, and still air between us. There is also nowhere to hide. Here, I don’t need to be submerged by a wall of sound.

What I almost never tire of is that expansion of a voice hitting and lifting me like a perfectly timed wave, one that I can scramble to launch from, time and again. There is no strict need to overanalyze the melody, the hooks, etc. You just go with the flow until it drops beneath your feet and you go toes up into the sand with sea lions gawking at your inability to swim.

“Normal,” from Katie Pruitt‘s album Expectations, is one of these. It is authentic and heartfelt.

SXSW Song Of The Day – Lambert – Vienna

Posted on by Gary in Song of the Day, South By Southwest | Leave a comment

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Photo Credit: Andreas Hornoff

“Vienna” from Lambert‘s album True is not unsettling at all, even if it is performed by men wearing demonic leather masks in (rather sparse) traffic.

But Dear Sir, I must write to object. Why couldn’t they have chosen a garden variety ten-lane Los Angeles freeway to emphasize the contrast between the quiet, demure creeping of the keyboard over the true evil that is California traffic? I couldn’t begin to tell you the answer.

Or how about against a burning pyre that puts their instruments in real danger of spontaneous ignition from the radiative heat while their fingers dance upon the fire that crackles with the same musical intensity?

What I can tell you is that flights from Germany are not expensive and come with free beer, and… wait. OK. Maybe they also have worms in their heads to help them consume those beers and… OH that’s why the masks! Their music slides under their own skins and grows leather masks from the inside out! Everything make sense now. Forty years from now that mask will be so huge that it will begin to make its own sound and music, and it will sound, prophetically, exactly the same.

None of this will not happen if you listen to this music. Have fun!

Lambert plays the Central Presbyterian Church on Thursday, March 19 at 7:00pm.

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