TAYLOR SWIFT AND LAURA MARLING YANN TIERSEN

Vol 2 No. 10 ///// Dec 2010
TAYLOR SWIFT
AND LAURA
MARLING
COMPARING THE
PRINCESSES
OF FOLK AND
COUNTRY POP
YANN TIERSEN
TALKS MUSIC
PHILOSOPHY
AND NEW
ALBUM
REVIEWS
including
Kanye West
& The House
of the Devil
80 Minutes
of Music for
CHRISTMAS
LETTER
FROM
THE EDITOR
CONTENTS
Vol 2 No. 10 ///// Dec 2010
FEATURE
06
Why Laura Marling and Taylor Swift
aren't as different as you might think
REVIEWS
YOU GUYS (AND GIRLS)
are going to be very angry with me. This issue does not include
our Top Albums of 2010 list. I know, the New Year is almost upon
us. Just about every major music publication has come out with
its list. But when they say the “year” they mean “year”, right?
Because last time I checked, December, is in fact one of the
twelve months of the year. The Academy does a lot of things
wrong, but one of the few things they do right is having their
awards ceremony after the year’s end. Not that we’re going to
make you wait that long like last year. But we’re going to wait a
couple weeks to let 2010 sink in. After all, some of the best music doesn’t hit you until it’s too late. So, there’s my explanation.
But why focus on what we don’t yet have when we do have
so many great things for you? We’re excited to present to you
our interview with the world-famous French composer and pop
star Yann Tiersen. We would also like to welcome to the staff
Rob DeStefano, who makes his worthy debut with “Rewind
‘Shocktober,’” a look at one of 2009’s most overlooked films.
Also, layout queen Kathryn Freund put the pen to the pad for
the first time in a while, as she helps get you in the holiday spirits with the second annual “80 Minutes of Christmas Music.”
Our two album reviews are on the opposite sides of the spectrum: Bryant Kitching’s undertaking of Kanye West’s extraordinarily anticipated album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and
my review of Blood Warrior’s self-titled debut album, one of the
quieter releases of November. Last, but not least, we have Taylor Catalana’s exploration of the striking similarities between
two very different blond, twenty-year old divas.
Then again, I suppose that’s what the table of contents is
for, isn’t it? I’ll leave you with that. Thanks for reading, and
happy holidays. You probably won’t hear from me until after the
25th (queue sigh of relief).
P.S. I would also like to apologize for Taylor Swift being on
the cover—when Kathryn showed me her idea for the cover, it
just looked too good to turn down. I promise it will be the last
time.
02
james passarelli
16
Reviews for Kanye West, Blood Warrior,
and House of the Devil (why it should be
on your Netflix queue
INTERVIEW 12
A delightful dialogue with musical
renaissance man Yann Tiersen
PLAYLIST
20
80 minutes of Christmas to tickle (or spoil) your Christmas fancy
03
OUR STAFF
ISSUE CONTRIBUTORS
Editor-in-Chief
Web Design
James Passarelli
Greg Ervanian
Rob Schellenberg
Layout
Kathryn Freund
Featured Writers
Taylor Catalana
Rob DeStefano
Kathryn Freund
Bryant Kitching
James Passarelli
Photography
Eye Magazine
Simon Fernandez
Just Jared
mxdwn
NEWSOK
James Passarelli
Pop Matters
Skins.be

We gladly welcome
any criticism or
suggestions. If you
have any ideas for
the magazine, or if
you would like to be
a part of it, please
contact us at: [email protected]
inflatableferret.com.
CONTACT US
via Email
via Interweb
GENERAL INQUIRIES
[email protected]
WEBSITE
www.inflatableferret.com
TOM KUTILEK
[email protected]
HANS LARSEN
[email protected]
JAMES PASSARELLI
[email protected]
RYAN WARING
[email protected]
04
Copyright © 2010 Inflatable Ferret
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06FEATURE
Tw o
Princesses
Laura Marling
and Taylor Swift are p o l a r
opposites...
But they might just
have more in common
than meets the naked eye.
Words: Taylor Catalana
Photos by
NEWSOK & Simon Fernandez
WHILE
scrolling through
my iPod, I frequently come across
two artists who never fail to depress
me, although not because of their
music. While I am trudging through
the gritty Bronx streets to class,
Taylor Swift and Laura Marling are
touring the world, playing their guitars, and connecting with scores
of devoted fans through their
self-penned music. The
source of this particular
strain of envy? If we
had all been in the
same place, these
singer-songwriters
and I could have
graduat ed
high
school
together.
T h e s e
young women are obviously not
leading the
lives of the average twenty-year-old,
but let’s frame this in a high school
setting. If my iPod were a high school
cafeteria, on one side, would be Miss
Taylor Swift. Under those drab fluorescent lights, her luscious waves
of golden hair would shimmer, her
mysterious good looks turn heads,
and her bubbly personality make her
the prom queen you want to hate but
can’t. She writes off herself as “that
awkward girl” who writes songs
about boys who never notice her,
but coming from a Grammy-winning
bomb shell, that act is hard to buy
into. To put it more simply, gawky, unassuming teenage girls don’t wield
rhinestone guitars.
On the other side of the cafeteria, we have Miss Laura Marling, the
oh-so-quiet, pretty,
sof t-spoken
girl.
She
would
likely
b e
reading Riverside Shakespeare or
staring into the flame of a candle,
desperately trying to disappear in
the chaos around her. Devoid of glitter or glam, she would worry little
about her homely hairstyle or plain
clothes. She could well have wowed
the crowds of rowdy teens with her
virtuosic guitar skills, but she would
have reserved them for an empty
classroom in the English department during her gym period. As a
fan of both of artists and someone
with decent taste in music, I can say
that their styles are completely different. Taylor Swift is that unbelievably successful musical experiment,
the perfect combo of country and
bubblegum teenage storytelling. Using catchy hooks and frilly dresses,
she’s a living Barbie doll—relatable,
sugary sweet, even when she goes
emo in her ballads. Laura Marling, on
the other hand, prefers to plunk a sad
guitar to match the croon of her velvety deep voice. Her music and lyrics
are more complex with less mass appeal, but certainly enough to silence
a room full of moon-eyed folk lovers.
“ She's a
living Barbie
doll—relatable,
sugary sweet,
even when she
goes emo in her
ballads."
08
feature
Photo by
mxdwn
Despite their stylistic differences, I’m inclined to argue that as
songwriters they’re more alike than
they seem. Their images and packaging differ, but fundamentally, they’re
both twenty-year-old girls who sing
about the same things. I am by no
means trying to reduce my own kind
to a one-dimensional prototype, but if
you listen to either artist, you can deduce the problem plaguing all young
women in their words—becoming
yourself, dealing with the past, toying with the future. And boys.
One of my favorite similarities
between the cutesy American and
the lithe Brit is their high-profile
dating histories. Taylor Swift dated a Jonas brother and one of the
Twilight guys (does it really matter
which one?). Both now just exes,
they quickly turned into catchy and
bankable song material. Laura Marling dated Charlie Fink, lead singer of
Noah and the Whale (her back-up in
“5 Years Time”). When they broke up,
he proceeded to write two albums’
worth of residual heartbreak, including one song called “Hold My
Hand as I’m Lowered”. Marling’s
songs allude to emotional unavailability in relationships, but she said
it all in her cheeky response on
“Blackberry Stone” when she sang,
“I’m sorry that I couldn’t hold your
hand as you were lowered.” She is
currently dating the lead singer of
Mumford and Sons, another rising
British pop folk star.
When Marling released her
second album I Speak Because I
Can earlier this year, many critics
pointed out the disparity between
her music and Swift’s. Interestingly enough, Swift’s new album is
titled Speak Now. Before I heard the
two title tracks, I wondered what
message they intended to transmit. Female empowerment? Taking
a stand? Being a talented woman
surrounded by the greedy men of
the music industry? It turns out that
Swift’s song is about begging a guy
not to marry a total wench and Mar-
“ Her music and
lyrics are more
complex with
less mass appeal,
but certainly
enough to silence
a room full of
moon-eyed folk
lovers."
09
feature
Photo by Skins.be
Photo of Laura by
Pop Matters
Photo of Taylor
by Just Jared
ling’s song is about the bitterness
and regret of being ditched by your
husband. Material not directly relevant to the women’s current lives, but
revolving around that same sphere
of finality, love gone wrong, and the
ever tantalizing idea to the twentyyear-old mistake maker—how to prevent those mistakes and the fear of
what happens once they are irreversible. One is a kicky little pop song
and the other is a slow, dramatic ballad, but they are both heavy in their
own right.
And both are easy to relate to,
as evidenced by each artist’s each
fan base. If you want your emotions
laid bare like fireworks in the last
scene of a romantic drama, Taylor
10
feature
Swift is there to provide you with a
soundtrack. She’s there when you
want the message to your new infatuation or your horrid ex made
absolutely clear and blunt. She’s
the ugly duckling turned swan who
champions everyone’s inner middle
school geek who just wanted that
cute guy to like her. With Laura Marling, you get a more intricate kind of
poetry that comes from the diary of a
brooding intellectual. A quiet storm,
slowly releasing condensed emotion.
Swift’s music is for when you want
even your deepest, darkest feelings
fringed with light; Marling’s is for the
actual dark, for moments that are too
deep to have a simple melody and set
of easy rhymes.
I draw these comparisons to dispel the commonplace shame from
which people of our generation
seems to suffer when they find themselves entertained by mainstream
pop music that most likely will not
be chosen by someone wanting to
publicly preserve the dignity of his or
her taste is music. Swift is too vapid,
her critics say, too Disney princess;
someone like her could never get to
the heart of the matter as a Laura
Marling can. But it’s just not true.
Sure, it is easy to like one of these
artists and not the other based on
style and preference, but it’s also
easy to like both.
“ Their images and packaging
differ, but fundamentally, they're
both twenty-year-old girls who
sing about the same things."
if
11
feature
12INTERVIEW
Chats with
Yann
Tiersen
Interview: James Passarelli
Photo by James Passarelli
YANN
TIERSEN
is one of the most popular and recognizable artists we have ever interviewed.
At the same time, he is also one of the
most down-to-earth. Best known as the
creator of the soundtrack for JeannePierre Jeunet’s celebrated film, Amélie, Tiersen has garnered a dedicated
worldwide following as a pop/folk/classical composer and multi-instrumentalist. At any one time, his music might call
to mind a casual stroll through Paris, an
intense longing for a lost loved one, or a
standard pop-rock song, though Tiersen
will tell you none of these directly influences his creative process.
His latest effort, Dust Lane, invites,
and requires, complete immersion in
the album, nine punctiliously produced
songs strung together: a concept album
without a concept. I was excited to learn
that he was passing through New York
this fall in support of the album. Playing
with his delightful five-person backing
band, Tiersen put on one of the most entertaining shows of the year, capped off
by a terse and penetrating violin solo
encore. The night before the show, I was
fortunate enough to sit down with him
for a drink at the Spanish Taverna. Despite a debilitating cold, he managed to
muster the voice for a lengthy and interesting conversation spanning his entire
musical career.
Photo by
Eye Magazine
IF: And then the Amélie soundtrack
was just a compilation of old stuff?
YT: Yeah, which was strange for me
because it was like covering my earlier stuff. I was so far from that even
at that moment.
IF: Do you think there was anything
really special about that soundtrack
that made it your trademark, or do
you think it was just the success of
the film?
“ For me, music is
Inflatable Ferret: A lot of people divide your music into…
Yann Tiersen: Maybe. Not me.
IF: Yeah, they divide it into your
lighter stuff and your more serious
material. But you don’t see that division then?
YT: Not at all. If there is division,
there is early stuff and new stuff.
That is the only division I can see—
it’s a slow evolution. And I think the
early stuff is…less serious, in a way
or more simple…I don’t know—I was
younger.
IF: There have been classical composers who have done rock albums,
and then there have been rock musicians—like Jonny Greenwood and
Nick Cave—who have done scores.
I feel like with you there’s not really
a distinction between rock or pop or
classical.
YT: Yeah, and if I had to be in one
category I am more in the second
14
interview
one than the first. For
me, it was more unusual to use acoustic
instruments because
it’s not my culture. But
I came to acoustic instruments just because
of the samplers in the 90’s. I
used to have a rock band from [age]
fifteen to twenty-one. And then after
my band members went to do other
stuff I started to make music on my
own. I studied violin and piano—
classical music—but really only for a
short time—from [age] six to twelve.
And I was so disgusted about this
[classical] world that I wanted to
make music that had nothing to do
with the classical world. When I was
twenty, twenty-one, and I started to
make music on my own I got bored
sitting all day long listening to tons
of CDs and vinyl trying to find a good
sample of classical stuff. So, I said
to myself, “Okay, I play violin. Maybe
I can fix it.” And just use it to be simpler and sample myself.
IF: So, you had to break free from
not a language.
It’s just a way to
express abstract
feelings—it’s really
instinctive.” being totally influenced by other
music?
YT: Yeah, you know, when I was in a
rock band I was really young. I was
mainly being what I was a fan of.
So, for me, acoustic instruments like
guitar and mandolin were completely
new. It was impossible for me to
copy something just because of the
instruments. So, I think that’s how I
found my own way of making music
at the beginning.
IF: You’ve done a few soundtracks.
YT: Not a lot. In fact, I just made two
soundtracks: Goodbye, Lenin!. And
recently I made a soundtrack for a
documentary [Pierre Marcel’s 2008
film Tabarly about French sailor Eric
Tabarly].
YT: I don’t know. It was like an open
door for people to listen to my music. But I wasn’t expecting success
with that. I even didn’t want the
soundtrack to be released because
at that time, the director wanted to
change my titles because they had
nothing to do with the movie. And I
said, “If you do that, then there won’t
be any record out.”
IF: With a movie score, do you think
the film usually dictates how a score
is written, or do you think it’s a little
bit more how the score impacts the
way the film is viewed?
YT: For me, music is not a language.
It’s just a way to express abstract
feelings—it’s really instinctive. Music for me is just sound, and that’s
means nothing, which is great. And
pure, in a way. I think you can put
whatever you want in a movie—you
just need a reason. You don’t choose
the “soundtrack of your life.” You can
think hardcore death metal is the
most romantic kind of music because
you met the love your life with it. I’m
really not as comfortable talking
about soundtracks because for me
it’s just completely another world. I
think it’s impossible to even make a
soundtrack. You can just make music,
and it can fit with a movie, but for no
reason. I made Goodbye, Lenin when
my mother was sick, and that’s one of
the reasons I said yes—because the
story is about a son whose mother
died.
IF: I was going to ask you about when
you write lyrics in French versus
writing them in English. You don’t really write the music in a different way
for French or English lyrics?
YT: Yeah, it’s the same. There is a really good interview with Elliott Smith
about his lyrics. He said that his lyrics didn’t make lots of sense—it’s
up to the listener to build the story.
And I really believe in that in any
way of expression. I don’t believe in
creation—I think you just have to let
the thing come and let it live by itself
without any direct message. You can
suggest something, but not tell it.
IF: For your new album, Dustlane,
I’ve only listened to a couple tracks. I
haven’t gotten the full album yet.
YT: Oh, it’s not yet downloadable
somewhere?
IF: Not that I saw.
YT: Really? I guess that’s maybe
good, maybe not? It’s good to listen
to it all though, because there are
eight songs that all link together.
There’s no gap, so it’s like one big
song, except “Fuck Me”, which is like
an epilogue in a way, lighter.
IF: And how many tracks have lyrics
on them?
YT: All of them. Sometimes it’s just
like a sentence, but there are lyrics
on all of them.
IF: You recorded most of it in Ouessant?
YT: Yeah.
IF: Did you record at home?
YT: Yeah, all the acoustic stuff was
recorded in Ouessant, and then all
the rest was recorded in Paris.
IF: Does it make you more comfortable to record at home?
YT: It’s nice to be independent. You
don’t have to think about money or
the record company—to know that
you can do it by yourself—to start
an album and know I can record an
entire album. And after, if I have the
budget, I can go to a studio and everything, but I like the idea of independence.
IF: And you worked with Ken Thomas, right?
YT: Yeah. He was great—he mixed
the album. I also made a tribute album to [English experimental group]
Coil. So I was listening to a lot of
Psychic TV, and one of my favorite
Psychic TV albums was produced by
Ken Thomas. And after, he worked
with M83 and Sigur Rós, and I really
like how he works with vocals. So I
called him, and he was really happy
to do it. In fact, I think he was the only
man on Earth who could have done
this album, because there are so
many layers, so many tracks. I wanted to have a mix where you can hear
everything, but still a bit blurry. And
we were completely on the same
page, which was great.

Check out some of Yann's work
Amélie, 2001
IF: You mentioned your mom earlier.
The press description mentioned
that you lost her as well as a friend
of yours while making the album. Did
that come through in the album?
YT: Yeah, but in a positive way. I
guess I made the songs happier, because you have to enjoy life. Death is
part of life, and sometimes it makes
you realize you’re still alive.
Goodbye, Lenin!, 2003
IF: What kind of music do you usually listen to at home?
YT: In the last year I’ve spent a lot
of time listening to Electric Prunes,
and also a lot of German. I’m a very
big fan of Neue and Can. Also, do
you know Brainticket? It’s a German
band, and they have an album called
Cottonwoodhill, which is really
strange, but really really good. Also
new stuff—I think Animal Collective
is a great band, and I’m not the only
one.
Tabarly, 2008
IF: Have you ever reached out to a
newer artist to ask them to collaborate?
YT: I don’t believe in asking to collaborate. I like when you meet someone, and you say, “Great, why not?”
Instead of phoning the guy and saying, “I like your work.”
Dust Lane, 2010
if
15
interview
REVIEWS
My Beautiful
Dark Twisted
Fantasy
“ Blood
Warrior
Blood
Warrior
Blood Warrior
(Ernest Jennings)
Kanye West
(Def Jam / Roc-A-Fella)
You’ve got to hand it to Kanye
West. After a string of potentially
career-ending public embarrassments, he took a break to search his
soul and reflect on his role as an entertainer and artist. What did he find
exactly? After listening to his latest,
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy,
that might be a scarier question than
one might think. This is not the work
of a sane human being. It could only
have come from someone as selfabsorbed, demented and egomaniacal as West, but it’s the product of
nothing less than a musical genius.
Fantasy is the best album of Kanye’s
career, which is saying a lot considering he has spent the better last
half of a decade redefining the world
of hip-hop. There are no apologies,
there are no attempts for redemption
—there is just a golden pedestal for
Kanye to display his inner demons to
the entire world. Fantasy takes a deep
look at what fame and power can do
to a person. Lucky for us, in this case
that person possesses a frightening
amount of talent.
On the first track of the album,
Kanye asks, “Can we get much
higher?” Throughout the album he
succeeds in crashing through higher
and higher ceilings, creating a body
of work that is big in every sense of
the word. There are more featured
artist for another two albums (Eminem, Common, Kid Cudi, Alicia
Keys, and Jay-Z, among many, many
more), even more single-worthy
tracks, and barely a moment that
West doesn’t have you hanging on
his next dark and twisted word. “No
one man should have all that power,”
Kanye growls in the epic first single,
“Power.” In perhaps the most egotis-
16
tic, but also most inspired, five minutes of music you’ll hear all year, the
track succinctly sums up Fantasy in
a thematic sense. Among countless
other one-liners sits, “I don’t need
no pussy, bitch I’m on my own dick.”
Kind of says it all, doesn’t it? Kanye
reflects on the oftentimes-negative
effects of power but doesn’t plan on
giving up his own anytime soon.
Fantasy challenges the listener
to follow Kanye down the rabbit
hole that is his inner consciousness.
“All of the Lights,” which features
an Elton John piano solo, follows a
fictional character as he fights for
custody of, and a relationship with,
his daughter. Again, Kanye displays
the cons of being under “the lights,”
but never asks for forgiveness. In the
chorus, Rhianna sings, “Turn up the
lights in here baby, extra bright I want
y’all to see this.” Kanye is calling all
eyes to him, thriving on the attention regardless of the circumstances.
He uses this power as a platform
to do what he does best and has
made a career out of: being Kanye
West. “Runaway” sits as the clear
centerpiece of Fantasy. Here, Kanye
mixes some of his most lush, ambitious beats to date with extremely
introspective and painfully personal
lyrics. When he toasts the “douchebags,” he seems to be referring to
himself. He revels in his flaws, partly
because they are what helped spawn
the song itself.
It’s almost impossible to pick a
favorite track from Fantasy. There’s
simply so much richness that every
listen allows for new perspective.The
haunting soul-inspired beat of “Devil
In a New Dress” and Rick Ross’ verse
make the track a standout candidate.
Similarly, Nicki Minaj’s appearance
on “Monster” is without question the
musical high water mark of her career, as she more than holds her own
in the company of hip-hop royalty.
My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is
not so much therapy for West as it is
catharsis. He bears his bones and
shows us his soul, twisted urges and
egotistic flaws. Back from the abyss,
Kanye does not get down on himself.
In fact, he does the exact opposite
and shatters all notions of grandiosity that contemporary hip-hop production knows. When all is said and
done, I’ll have no problem with putting up with Kanye’s shit for however
long he makes music like this.
bryant kitching
“Blood on the sheep, let all the
blood out/ Get on your knees, and
rip the scars out” goes the chorus of
Blood Warrior’s opening track, “Blood
Letting.” It’s a love song, actually,
but a disturbing one. The kind of horror song that’s almost too good and
too intriguing to end up in any horror movie. But it’s over before you
get the chance to revel in its beauty.
On the following track, however, you
have all the time you need; the slow,
solemn “Choir” leaves you wondering how you’re still hooked, even
six minutes and only three-fourths
through. It was probably unintentional, but the transition between Blood
Warrior’s first two proper album cuts
is the greatest demonstration of the
band’s versatility. On Blood Warrior,
we get the same nasally trill from
lead singer Greg Jamie as we do
in all his O’Death records, but he’s
more a singer than just a frontman
with Blood Warrior, and his choral,
female-tinged [thanks to his wife,
Kristin Kellas-Jamie] backing vocals
do him well.
Jamie’s references to Robert
Johnson and Townes Van Zandt give
you an idea of the band’s country
blues foundations, but even more
present on the record is gospel.
There’s a vague spoor of ministry
throughout the album, not least felt
on “Snake Seer”’s proclamatory air;
“Go and tell the world today there’s
nothing left of me,” it begins in a full
chorus that never lets up throughout
the duration of the song. Blood Warrior never fall into a rut of mimicry,
and they don’t even have to try—their
style is so unique and vivid it’s hard
to compare them to anyone. The album and song names themselves indicate the mood of the music (“Blood
Letting”, “Snake Seer”, “Winter’s
Day”): sometimes somber, almost always haunting.
“King Day” is short and sweet, a
song so buoyant it might sound out
of place were it not for it’s sparse
instrumentation, peculiar imagery,
and Jamie’s anchoring vocals. “Our
Ship Was Sailing” is a simple waltz
that features the muffled, words of
an elder storyteller. Jamie’s voice is
most strained and O’Death-like on
“Heaven,” but instead of the sonic
punishment you might expect from
the latter, Blood Warrior unwinds
with a softly droning chord organ.
Kellas-Jamie takes the vocal lead on
the album’s closer, “Winter’s Day,”
a fitting conclusion as we enter the
frigid months.
Blood Warrior is rough and irregular, not quite as ruthless as their
name suggests, but delivering on a
promise of unrefined emotion. It’s
not grandiose or overproduced. It
comes packaged with the flaws that
accompany a group of music-making
friends, but it simultaneously boasts
the professional product of exceptionally creative minds. Jamie tests
new waters with close friends, but
the informality and variety don’t
spoil the authenticity and flow.
Blood Warrior is a fine debut from a
band that makes its motives clear:
to release music as an end and not a
means. It’s not party music (at least,
not most of it), and it’s not study music. After several spins, I can’t tell
you what kind of music this is, but it
certainly has its place somewhere in
the music world.
is a fine
debut from
a band that
makes its
motives
clear: to release music as
an end
and not
a means.”
james passarelli
17
reviews
Rewind
Shocktober
“ The
The House
of the Devil
Directed by Ti West
(Dark Sky Films, Glass Eye Pix)
Horror Under the Radar

FOR THE PAST
two Octobers, my friends and I
have watched and re-watched
a handful of genre defining
films: classic camp as in The
Evil Dead, independent macabre gruesomely portrayed
in The Last House on the Left,
studio terror à la The Thing
and the list continues. Breaking away from some of these
staples, the following recommendation comes from off the
beaten path.
18
reviews
Most attempts at horror over the
past few years have been emulations
of the original auteurs’ works: Craven, Raimi, Carpenter, Romero. If one
was to ask a studio such as Platinum
Dunes (born from Michael Bay, of
course) why it produces formulaic reboots, it might respond with “I’m still
hungry,” also the response of Charles
Foster Kane. While Leatherface was
switching from gas to electric to
keep up with his modernizing friends
(a more economic but less effective
transition), The House of the Devil
went retro.
Having its widest release in only
seven theaters across the country,
this independent sleeper persuaded
critics with its nerving atmosphere
and homage to ghosts of eras past
such as 1986’s April Fool’s Day, though
the comparison extends only as far
as costume and makeup. The House
of the Devil follows Samantha (Jocelin Donahue), a college girl trying to
come up with enough money to rent an
apartment and escape her lecherous
roommate. Samantha finds an advertisement looking for a “baby$itter.”
Naturally she pursues, despite her
friend Megan’s advice and the forewarnings that Mr. and Mrs. Ulman
(Tom Noonan & Mary Woronov) may
want her for reasons other than taking the kids to Olive Garden. Upon
arrival Samantha learns there are no
children; instead, the eerie couple
asks her to spend a few hours in the
home to support their assumed to be
invalid and off-screen mother should
she need anything while they are away.
A paycheck is a paycheck.
Benefiting from a large depth of
field and voyeuristic framings, the
camera allows the audience to observe the story’s heroine while simultaneously basking in the 80s replication. The film begins with a lingering
encroachment on Sam while she is
previewing her coveted apartment.
The audience is eased in and accepts
the melodic pacing as a testament to
the time and method of suspense. As
for the story’s villains, we are given
more information than Samantha, predominantly through a white on black
text about peoples’ awareness of satanic cults in the 1980s. Capitalizing on
this inherent Hitchcockian suspense
as well as a structure reminiscent of
early Polanski, writer/director/editor
Ti West builds an anxious tension as
the impending doom unfolds. Though a
simple narrative with few characters,
it teems with delicacy and nuance, especially in how it depicts Samantha’s
character arc throughout its runtime.
In the final act the film crescendos
into a haunting conclusion, an ending
that is not afraid to shy away from the
warm Hollywood cliché.
The House of the Devil doesn’t
sport a whodunit mystery, a cell phone
without reception, or a pair of red and
blue tinted glasses in its packaging. It
sports a methodical, creepy, and rare
approach to horror filmmaking in the
21st Century.
The House of the Devil is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray
camera
allows the
audience
to observe
the story’s
heroine
while simultaneously
basking
in the 80s
replication.”
rob destefano
19
reviews
Naughty Nice
80 MUSIC
(FOR
MINUTESXMAS)
OF
's
This year, IF compiled a list of some of our favorite Christmas music—
including the good, bad, and the ugly. Our "Naughty List" features some of our guilty pleasures and some of the most hilarious Christmas tunes we stumbled upon this year. We hope you'll get a laugh or two out of it.
1
2:22
MXPX – “Christmas Night of Zombies”
Imagine a Walking Dead Christmas
Episode. Here’s your soundtrack.
Now go sever some zombie heads!
2
4:40
ROB THOMAS –
“A New York Christmas”
“And the sidewalk angels echo ‘Hallelujah.’” Although I’m not sure if
“sidewalk angels” realistically are
drunk homeless men or flash-mob
carolers, Rob Thomas makes me believe they exist, somewhere—it is
Christmas after all.
3
3:07
B2K – “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”
Santa in the hood, ya’ll. And if you like
this song, B2K has an entire album
of more of the same, entitled Santa
Hooked Me Up.
4
4:55
CRAZY – “We Jammin’ for Christmas”
Wish you were in Jamaica for the
holidays? Crazy takes you as close
as you can get without having to buy
a plane ticket. "They gettin’ outrageous."
20
reviews
5
3:01
GREEN DAY – “Christmas Day”
Remember when pop punk was cool?
Bring it back with Green Day’s teenangsty punk Christmas tune.
6
3:54
THE SUPERIONS – “Santa’s Disco”
WHAT?!?! Seriously, watch this video if you feel your Christmas party is
nowhere near disturbing enough. I’m
assuming B-52s front man Fred Schneider is aiming for self-parody, but
that is no excuse.
7
2:40
BARENAKED LADIES – “Green Christmas”
Feeling nostalgic about your favorite 90s alternative music, AND looking for something to get you in the
Christmas spirit? Well, Barenaked
Ladies has the perfect song for you.
You can have your egg nog and drink
it, too.
8
2:23
GUSTER – “Donde Esta Santa Claus”
I’m not sure if I can put into words
how absurd this Navidad-jam by
Guster is. But I will say, the lyrics do
include: “I hope he won’t forget to
pack his castanets into his reindeer
sleigh.”
9
2:22
LADY GAGA (FEAT. SPACE COWBOY) –“Christmas Tree”
“Yes everybody knows, we will take
off our clothes.” This just might be
the most naughty song on our list. Seriously, check out the not-so-subtle
metaphors.
or
Our "Nice List" features some of the more "culturally relevant"
Christmas songs this year, while also celebrating some of what we
consider to be timeless classics this time of year. Hopefully these can
bring a little fresh joy to your holidays. Enjoy!
1
3:04
BLITZEN TRAPPER –
“Christmas is Coming Soon”
Putting a Christmas song on a debut
album is pretty bold, and the Portland
boys pull it off with ease (or at least
that’s what they give off).
2
3:17
BLINK 182 – “I Won’t Be Home for Christmas”
“I’m growing tired of all this Christmas cheer.” A Blink song typical of
the Take Off Your Pants and Jacket
era—Mark Hoppus makes fun of his
annoying relatives and run-ins with
the cops.
5:20
THE WAITRESSES –
“Christmas Wrapping”
A new wave Christmas classic from
the band that brought you “I Know
What Boys Like,” it’s been a favorite
since the 80s. It’s funny and a little
cynical, but ultimately a great pickerupper. So what if we used it last year?
We’ll use it next year too.
11
3
10
3:28
ELMO & PATSY – “Grandma Got Run
Over By a Reindeer”
“You can say there’s not such thing
as Santa, but as for me and Grandpa
we believe.” Need I say more? This
one’s definitely a guilty Christmas
pleasure.
12
4:07
ADAM SANDLER – “Hanukkah Song”
For all our Jewish friends lighting Menorahs instead of Christmas trees—
we don’t want you to feel left out!
List
3:42
FEIST –“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming”
In her own rendition of an old German Christmas hymn, Leslie Feist’s
folk sound will help you stop to smell
the poinsettias, or watch the snow
fall during this busy season.
4
3:05
TRANS-SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA–
“Wizards of Winter”
Make sure to sync your lights up to
this one so the neighbors don’t show
you up. While you’re at it, check your
local arena calendar—these guys
probably have three or four dates in
your city.
5
4:29
LOS CAMPESINOS! – “Kindle a Flame in Your Heart”
Just the kind of X-Mas jingle you’d expect from Los Campesinos!, if you’d
expect any at all. So good you might
want to be playing it months after
Christmas.
9
6
10
3:44
BELLE & SEBASTIAN – "Twelve Days of Christmas"
Want to impress your hipster posse
with some alternative Christmas bsides? Belle and Sebastian have a
whole album of them. This one features kazoos, triangles, and a whole
slew of percussion sound effects.
7
2:02
THE BIRD AND THE BEE – “Carol of the Bells”
Inara George’s haunting croon presents this Christmas classic in a way
you’ve never heard it before.
8
1:58
BEST COAST & WAVVES – “I’ve Got Something for You”
The ultimate indie couple join forces
for a super-catchy lo-fi Christmas
tune. The woooo oooo ooooo’s will be
stuck in your head all day.
4:05
JUKEBOX THE GHOST –
“Mistletoe”
You might find yourself belting
this Ben Folds/Billy Joel-esque
ballad by Jukebox the Ghost in the
shower. Just be careful if you’re
staying with relatives for Christmas.
3:56
FLORENCE AND THE MACHINE –
“Last Christmas”
We all know Florence Welch, of
course, from her unforgettable hit
song “Dog Days are Over”—used
in almost every advertisement
that exists now, it seems. With good
reason, though, because her voice
sounds just as powerful in this live
version of Wham!’s “Last Christmas”
as it does in “Dog Days are Over.”
11
4:19
MANNHEIM STEAMROLLER – “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”
Relax with fam to this synthy
jam. Who knew that a simple
rhythm change and a drum kit
would make the most kick-ass
Christmas carol kick even more
ass? Chip Davis, that’s who.
He’s the mother of your child, and
don’t you forget that.
kathryn freund
james passarelli
21
playlist
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