‘Birdman’ is the kind of movie you know you probably SHOULD see, but you don’t know if you really want to. I honestly didn’t think the previews were all that great, but it was getting such amazing reviews I knew I HAD to see it!
I pretty much always agree with Rotten Tomatoes and use their rating system quite regularly when trying to figure out if a movie is worth seeing. 50% or less and it’s a gamble. 50% or more and it’s a safe bet. ‘Birdman’ comes in at an almost perfect 94%, and so I was sold.
Here is the movie’s synopsis:
BIRDMAN or The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance is a black comedy that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) – famous for portraying an iconic superhero – as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career, and himself.
It’s a brief description, but I’m not sure how better I would have said it. I thought the movie was BRILLIANT. Michael Keaton was amazing. Edward Norton gives one of the best performances I’ve ever seen from him. Emma Stone was perfection. I saw it with my girlfriend, and at one point in the film I leaned over and said “every line in this movie is genius.” It is just written SO WELL, that you have to just sit back, and watch in awe.
I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this movie. I think it’s pretty close to perfection. As we left the theater, my girlfriend said “yeah but who would we suggest this movie to?” It’s not the kind of blockbuster film that will make a ton of movie. If you’re the kind of person who sees movies once or twice a month – maybe less – this might not be the movie for you. This movie is much more for the connoisseur of dark comedies, artsy flicks. If you like the same kind of movies as I do, I think you’re going to love it like I did.
Of Monsters and Men is an amiable group of day dreamers who craft folkie pop songs. But last year, the normally mild-mannered six pack — who’s releasing their EP, “Into the Woods,” on December 20, 2011 — transformed into total rock stars after stomping out their competition during Musiktilraunir, a yearly battle of the bands in their native Iceland.
“We just kind of… won,” recalls co-singer/guitarist Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsdottir. “We weren’t expecting it at all. So I said, ‘Everybody come to my place!'” Beer-swilling friends spilled out of her flat. “I was like, ‘Oh fuck, my neighbors aren’t liking me right now.'”
Those neighbors won’t be making noise complaints anymore. With the group’s bright, trumpeting single “Little Talks” winning over one blog at a time, Nanna and her bandmates (co-singer/guitarist Ragnar “Raggi” Thorhallsson, guitarist Brynjar Leifsson, drummer Arnar Rosenkranz Hilmarsson, piano/accordion player Arni Guthjonsson, and bassist Kristjan Pall Kristjansson) are well on their way to becoming citizens of the world.
Their rapid rise transpired in just one year. Nanna, who began as the acoustic act Songbird, recruited extra hands to bolster her sound for a solo show. She liked how her vocals commingled with Raggi’s, so they started writing songs together and in 2010 morphed into Of Monsters and Men. As victors of 2010’s Musiktilraunir, the new group earned a slot on the influential Iceland Airwaves festival later that year, followed by Seattle’s radio station KEXP posting “Little Talks” from a Living Room Session filmed there, setting the telltale ripple effect in motion.
By the summer of 2011 “Little Talks” hit No. 1 in the band’s native country, and “people around the world seemed to be listening to us,” marvels Raggi. The band was asked to perform again at Iceland Airwaves 2011, where KEXP then anointed the group as “easily the most buzzed about band.”
Though their reach is growing broader, the group’s appeal has remained distinct: Their music is as fantastical as it is pretty. For inspiration, they often reference random stories they’ve read. The chanting, tribal “Six Weeks” was inspired by the true tale of American frontiersman Hugh Glass, seemingly left for dead after 86ing a bear that attacked him. Explains Nanna, giggling: “I was reading a post about the six most badass guys in history.” As for the swelling, epic “From Finner”? “It’s about a whale that has a house on its back” says Raggi “on which people travel across the ocean, exploring different places and having adventures.”
Their show in Portland, Oregon was SOLD OUT – and was incredible! They made it snow inside the gorgeous Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall! They performed all their hits with such energy, it was hard to not sing along with them! I could have listened to them for much longer!
I have seen ‘Bat For Lashes‘ three times now, and every time I see her, I leave thinking it’s the best she’s ever done. Best show she’s ever put on. She is absolutely stunning in person. If you enjoy her music, then you haven’t heard anything until you’ve seen her live. Breathtaking is the word I would use. She captivates you from the moment she walks on stage until the moment she wraps her show, one encore later.
Natasha Khan, the frontwoman of ‘Bat For Lashes’ is a sight to be seen. She is tiny, but her voice is powerful. She dances around on stage and plays several instruments effortlessly. When she sits at the piano and plays, you can’t help but stare. She truly is an amazing performer.
I saw ‘Bat For Lashes’ at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland, Oregon, last Wednesday. It was freakishly hot in this venue, (so hot, the woman in front of me passed out, and Natasha killed the song to make sure she was okay) I’ve been there a dozen times, and I’ve never been that hot. Natasha commented on her dress, and had she known how hot it was going to be, she wouldn’t have worn a dress made out of “drapery.’
The set went on for 90 minutes, and we all wished it would never end. She spoke with the crowd often, she smiled brightly, even though you could tell the heat was killing her.
She pulled songs from each of her three records, which I absolutely LOVED. The concert began with one of my favorite songs off her new album, ‘The Haunted Man,’ called “Lillies.” She wove in and out of her two previous albums, and sang all of her hits. When she performed “Laura” off her new album (which is my all-time favorite song, listen below) I think everyone in the crowd stopped breathing. It was by far one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. If we weren’t already all standing, she would have gotten a standing ovation for it. Everyone cheered and clapped as the song ended, it was the highlight of the evening.
If – I should say when – Natasha comes back to Portland – I will be there in a second. The performance she gives is one in a million. Trust me, I’ve been to A LOT of shows. ‘Bat For Lashes’ is a band everyone should see live. You won’t regret it.
These gorgeous pictures are from our night with ‘Bat For Lashes.’ See more photographs from TK here!
On Saturday night I had the HUUUUGE pleasure of checking out the Ryan Montbleau band in Portland, Oregon, at the Wonder Ballroom! I had heard about Ryan for years through a family member, and when he came to town, I knew I was going to have to see this guy live to see what all the hype was about!
I literally showed up – not knowing WHAT I was getting myself into. I thought he would be Bluegrassy (I know, it’s not a word), and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. What I didn’t expect was to LOVE them as much as I did! I absolutely LOVED them! The entire band was absolutely AMAZING. They each were at the top of their game. I found myself dancing to the music, watching them in awe! Amazing!
After the show was over, we actually got a chance to meet Ryan, and he was so great in person. Most of the time when you meet singers – or celebrities – they are just DYING to get away from you. But Ryan was so cool, so laid back, he could have talked to us for hours (picture below). We just had a really great night. It was incredibly fun!!
Songs for Ryan Montbleau typically need to simmer. In his 10-year career this gifted singer and his limber band have built their catalog the old-fashioned way, by introducing new songs to their live set, then bending and shaping them over dozens of performances before committing a definitive version to the hard drive.
For that and many other reasons, Montbleau’s next album, For Higher, is quite literally a departure. Well-established out of his home base in the Northeast, the singer threw himself into New Orleans, where everything is slow-cooked, for a few fast-moving days — and whipped up an instant delicacy.
A few of the cuts on the new album — the playful stomp of “Deadset” or “Head Above Water,” freshly peppered with horns — were already part of the Ryan Montbleau Band’s ever-growing repertoire. But the majority, including four handpicked cover tunes — stone soul nuggets from Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, the late Muscle Shoals guitarist Eddie Hinton and more — came together spontaneously, with little prep work.
Unlike Montbleau’s previous recordings, which showcase his own maturing songcraft, the new album draws a lot of its depth and beauty from its cover songs. Perfectly titled is the beatific “Sweet, Nice and High,” originally recorded by the forgotten soul supergroup Rhinoceros. On the other end of the moodswing, Mayfield’s “Here But I’m Gone,” written and recorded for the great singer’s last album, after the accident that left him paralyzed, is a shimmering testament to human frailty.
“Sometimes I feel like there are so many songs — who the hell needs another song?” Montbleau asks. But then he’ll discover another new inspiration — sitting at the kitchen table sipping tea, there’s a vinyl copy of an old Billy Preston album propped on the windowsill behind him — and another lyric or melody will come to him like a visitation. And when the song becomes a reality, and the crowds begin to sing it back to him, well, that’s what it’s all about.
At 34, he’s a late-bloomer who’s right on time. Montbleau didn’t start singing and playing guitar in earnest until he was in college, at Villanova. Later, working at the House of Blues in Boston, he began playing solo sets there as a warmup act. His band — there’s now six of them — came together naturally, over time, planting strong roots in coffeeshops, folk venues and rock clubs before converting audiences on an outdoor festival circuit that now stretches across the country. Through word of mouth and repeat visits, the band has built a devoted following from the Northeast to Chicago, Seattle and Austin. “It’s like watching the grass grow,” says the easygoing Montbleau.
With a run of solo-acoustic shows around the Northeast now wrapped up, the band will be hitting a few more spots to close out February, and then it’s out to the great West in support of our friends Greensky Bluegrassin March. These guys are excellent and we’re super excited to finally get back out west!
We’re also very excited to announce a run of shows in the midwest and northeast with ALO. If you know this band then you know why we’re so excited. If you don’t, then we’re even more excited for you to hear them. The vibe between our band and theirs is akin to a kin and a kin! Brothers from different mothers. Peas in a pod.
They have SO MANY shows still available on their tour! You guys MUST check them out! GO HERE for the tour schedule!