The Raveonettes wrapped up last year with a digital release of "Pendejo", the final song in their Rave-Sound-of-the-Month series. Each month in 2016, the Danish indie pop rock duo wrote, recorded, and digitally released a new song. The material is uniformly strong, and I love how they took advantage of how digital music has changed what's possible. They'll compile the songs into an album (along with a couple bonus tracks, I think), but it was cool to have a new Raveonettes song each month. And it was smart — they were on my mind throughout the year, at least once per month, rather than only when they released a new album or I happened to think to listen to them. It's an interesting way of doing things, serializing an album like this — it hearkens back to the days of the single being the primary format for pop music, but it's now even easier to release and purchase a single song.
They took this opportunity to experiment a bit — "Junko Ozawa" pulls influence from the early video game music by the composer who gives the song its title, and "Pendejo" is a 12 minute multi-part suite. The sounds are varied while often maintaining the trademark Raveonettes blend of beautiful vocals, jangling early rock 'n' roll guitars, and Jesus and Mary Chain style feedback. The whole Rave-Sound-of-the-Month assortment is worth a listen.
I'm not usually one for musicals, but I saw the new musical film La La Land with a couple friends recently and quite enjoyed it. The artfulness was impressive, but what struck me most was the humanity in the true-to-life romance between the two talented lead characters played by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. (With this and The Nice Guys, I'm thoroughly enjoying when Gosling gets to be funny — his comedic delivery is spot-on, with fine-tuned timing.)
It's an ambitious film, and overall it works (dubbing always bothers me, whether it's in a Fellini film or a Welles film or a musical — the two or so songs in this film that were obviously sung live made such a difference, there was such an immediacy to them that I wish the artifice in the rest had been similarly stripped away). There's a lot of nuanced emotions inside and outside the swirling musical numbers, and the movie closes with a tour de force of showmanship and craft. I love contrast in art, and each moment, big or small, hit the right note. Go for the sweeping, ostentatious choreography, stay for the intimate relationship between two artists trying to follow their dreams.
I've been under the weather, but my weekly serialized science fiction comic Flesh Machine picks back up this week at michaelavolio.com. Thanks to those of you who read it every week (or save it up and read it once a month, or however you want to enjoy it). Please continue to share it with friends — word of mouth is the best marketing.
You can support my comics work with a monthly pledge at my Patreon page if you're so inclined. The more money I can make doing comics, the more comics I can make!
Till next week...