Monthly Archives: April 2012
I recently got turned onto Circle, an indie import from Australia. These guys (and one gal) are fairly new, but don’t let that fool you; their DIY electro-pop stylings are perfectly paired with a vintage vibe and just the right touch of nostalgia. Their studio debut, The Middle, is a ten-song treat featuring soaring melodies, buoyant beats, and whimsical pop magic. Think The Smiths, Belle & Sebastian, Mates of State, M83, even a little Hot Fuss-era Kilers; it’s a wide range of influences, yes, but it only makes for a layered, more interesting sound.
Circle’s full-length LP The Middle is out now on Monday Records, so you should get on that. In the meantime, though, check out the brand new video for the band’s fantastic, synth-heavy first single, “Fashion Me a Drum.” You know you want to!
Since “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” was already taken, Zambri had to name their debut album House of Baarsa; but how beautiful, dark, and twisted it is. I vaguely remember reviewing Zambri two or three years ago when I worked for The Deli, but to be honest, they didn’t leave a huge impression. Seems like a lot has changed since then. I was super impressed by the Brooklyn-based sister act’s first full length LP when I just recently reviewed it for Audiocred. Check out the video for “ICBYS,” the band’s deliciously dark and whimsical new dance single.
Zou Bisou Bisou!– whatever that means– but it certainly feels like a fitting declaration of excitement over the (triumphant) return of what must already be one of the greatest shows of all time: AMC’s “Mad Men.” When the stylish period drama first premiered way back in 2007, nobody saw it coming: the dialogue, the relationships, the characters. Each element of the show was more genius than the next. And, of course, the fan devotion. But then– out of nowhere, seemingly– it was gone. I’ll admit it; I was scared to admit that “Mad Men” might never return to me.
But return it did– capping off my birthday weekend, no less. The 2 hour premiere was everything we wanted it to be: funny, smart, sexy, and equal parts shocking and familiar. It’s taken a few weeks for it all to sink in. A lot has changed. But it feels like Don Draper and his buds are better than ever.
So– where are they now? Let’s start with the back-to-back premiere episodes, which found our foxy friends a full year older, but not much wiser. In fact, it was Don’s 40th birthday, and his gorgeous new wife Megan was insistent upon making it his best yet. I honestly was unsure whether the new season would find these two married; Don’s concerned, thoughtful stare as his lay in bed with his new fiance` at the end of last season put many doubts in my mind. But there they were, in a big, brand new apartment no less (which would probably run you an easy five million nowadays). We also learned that Pete and Trudy have moved to Greenwich, Joan is home with her new baby while her husband is in the army, and our favorite everygirl Peggy is… exactly the same. At least for now.
But no one will ever be able to mention the Season 5 “Mad Men” premiere without mentioning one specific scene, a scene which will forever live in infamy: Megan’s song-and-dance number. Don’s birthday bash was a surprise, sure, but the biggest surprise was the unexpected dose of star power from virtual unknown Canadian actress Jessica Pare`. As the new Mrs. Draper, Pare` is a stunning gap-toothed wonder– a Lauren Hutton for a new generation. The cult French pop hit “Zou Bisou Bisou” was given new life after Megan’s stirring rendition, which left not just the employees at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce buzzing, but all of America. Un! Deux! Trois! Quarte!
After we all picked our jaws up off the floor, we came to understand that Don was less than thrilled over his birthday bash (!) and for the first time, the age gap between he and his new wife (she’s 26) seemed insurmountably large. She’s young, and cute, and fun, and just wants to throw her new hubby a cool birthday party– and there’s nothing wrong with that, right? But Don is– well– Don. He’s an overgrown man-child one minute, and a curmudgeonly grandpa the next. It was the perfect way to highlight what is getting me most excited about this season: the changing dynamics between the characters.
In addition to Don and Megan, there are several relationships that seem to be in constant states of flux. Firstly, everybody hates Pete. And while that’s not really something new, it is changing the way things are done at SCDP. He’s pissing off Roger in a major way, who feels unappreciated at the firm and is thus acting a lot more grumpy than usual (but not before gifting us with his high-larious impression of Megan, in which he sauntered over to Don singing “Frère Jacques”). Meanwhile, Peggy is growing into herself a bit more. She somehow feels more mature (especially during the whole hiring process of Michael Ginsberg) and is in full command of her position.
Then, there’s my two favorite gals: Joan and Betty. I’m not going to lie– I was unbelievably disheartened to see our beautiful, fierce, almost implausibly sexy Joan Holloway Harris stuck at home and looking miserable with a fussy newborn. She’s just so much better than that! I mean, babies are great (I guess), but that’s a life for other women– ones who don’t look like Joan. She should be wining and dining around Manhattan on the arm of a handsome man (Roger would do nicely), not cleaning spit-up and waiting around for a husband who is clearly not right for her. And just two episodes in, I got my wish– Greg Harris is out, Joan “Hot Stuff” Holloway is back in action. The most shocking part of the whole Joan-Greg storyline was when Joan told her husband, “You were not a good man, even before we got married. And you know what I’m talking about.” Oh, shit. Shit! Anyone who knows the show well knows, of course, what she’s referring to: the strange and disturbing second season episode in which Greg rapes Joan in Don’s office. I know that I’m not the only one who hasn’t forgotten it. Here’s hoping that Joan quickly forgets her ex.
But while Joan’s life seems to be on the up, Betty’s has taken a sharp downward turn. Sure, she (thankfully) escaped cancer, but it seems that if she thought her life would change with a new husband, she thought wrong. She now lives in the “Dark Shadows” manor, her daughter still totally hates her guts, and she’s– jeez, I can hardly say it– fat! It’s not like she’s morbidly obese, but for the slim, gorgeous, Grace Kelly lookalike Betty, she may as well have one foot in the grave. I feel bad for her. But I feel a lot worse for little Sally. On the up side, though, Sally isn’t so little anymore, and it looks like her teen angst is going to take her character a lot of interesting places this season.
I like what’s happening on “Mad Men” season 5– I like it a lot. The excellent third episode, “Mystery Date,” gave the show a dark edge that wasn’t expected, but is greatly appreciated. Who wasn’t totally losing their shit when Don started strangling whats-her-face? The eerie dream sequence felt a lot more “American Horror Story” than anything we’ve seen from the show before, but it added an exciting new dimension. And that’s not the only mystery; where else will “Mad Men” go? Anywhere and everywhere. These characters are not simply characters, but real people that we relate to, root for, hate, love, want to kill, and want to be. For season 5 and beyond, the possibilities with Don Draper and co. are endless.