Young Coconut: I Got a Vibe – A Music Review

I Got a VibeI know it was only a few days ago that I was writing about Kitchener’s solo rock/punk/funk musician Young Coconut, but here I am again, with a different album of his. The album I reviewed last week, On Vacation, was one of his earlier works so I figured it would be fair to review something more recent. His latest album I Got a Vibe came out in January 2013, so approximately 3 years after On Vacation, and it’s a very different album.

On Vacation was an album that was having a hard time finding its place in any specific musical genre. I Got a Vibe gets rid of the eclectic mess of genres and really does find itself in a core rock state of mind. While Young Coconut is a solo act he definitely shares the limelight in this album by bringing in many other talented musicians to aid him through this project. They all help add a much more polished sound than his previous albums, while still holding true to his indie-garage roots.

Young CoconutThe album starts off with Pity Junction which is the perfect example of how Young Coconut has evolved as a musician. In his previous works he would mix genres into a song and it would sound muddied and unbalanced, with Pity Junction we have a rock background with jazz and country overtones, yet everything is held together from the beginning to the end of the song. The Right Foot is just so damn fun and catchy. It has a Flight of the Concords feel to it and was the one track that I would constantly go back to listen to repeatedly.

It should be noted that for the most part Young Coconut’s lyrics have deepened through the years as well, no longer is he singing about Justin Bieber in a weirdly obsessive way, yet he’s still able to write lyrics that are very tongue-in-cheek, playful and most importantly intelligent.

Sumotuwe is another one of my favourites on the album, but maybe that’s just because deep down inside I have a weird guilty pleasure for mixing country and hip-hop together, which it does around the 2:30 mark. Torch Bearer, which follows Sumotuwe, is by far one of Young Coconut’s most polished rock songs on the album; unfortunately, I just found it to be extremely generic in its sound. I felt like it was an homage to Rush which just kept missing the mark. Another song on the album that just didn’t mesh for me is called Lazy Liars, it just felt off tempo and a little scattered and I had a hard time really finding myself in the music.

Young CoconutOther notable and fun tracks on the album include Bye Bye Ninja and Give to Get. It is however, the last song on the album, Cat’s Pajamas, that is indeed one of my favourites. I accidently listened to this song first when I checked out the album and definitely fell in love with it the moment it started playing. This was not the same Young Coconut that I had been listening to the week before and actually put him on my radar as a musician that is a serious contender in the indie-garage band market, and one that I will definitely be following from here on out.

Young Coconut’s Website

Young Coconut’s Bandcamp

Young Coconut: On Vacation – A Music Review

Young Coconut 1

Young Coconut is a solo funk/punk/rock solo act out of Kitchener, Ontario. On the independent music scene for over 5 years, Young Coconut eventually started his own independent label, Fauxtown Records, where he helps produce and distribute up and coming artists of genres similar to his own. His album, On Vacation, was originally released in 2010, but is possibly getting the re-release treatment.

On Vacation

Young Coconut’s music is unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. And that’s not necessarily a good thing, but at the same time, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. When I listen to some of Young Coconut’s stuff I feel like I’m on an acid trip. I’m unsure if the ride will be bumpy or smooth, but I’m definitely taking the trip and don’t know when or where I can get off. While Young Coconut describes himself as a rock/punk/funk sound it’s hard to tell which of those categories he actually fits into. Perhaps acid jazz meets funk meets 1980’s MTV meets Bieber obsession. I don’t get the Justin Bieber obsession, but it’s there.

Young Coconut

Young Coconut does have some strong pieces, but he’s very sporadic with his choice of track placing because the songs really don’t flow well into each other as it feels like the album is constantly genre-jumping. His opening track, Life and Nothing More feels unpolished. The musical transitions feel slightly off kilter, there’s too much going on instrumentally and the vocals are muddied, yet I can hear a very distinct Nirvana feel to the song. He follows it up with a super catchy piece that just has a je ne sais quoi feel to it called New Book of Rules. It’s almost the anti-Nirvana. And then to prove that no box can contain him Young Coconut does a song called City Block which has a semi-ska, mixed with urban hip-hop, feel to it, with the makings of Latin fusion in the background.

The album continues to have this very schizophrenic feel to it through its progression. Wisest of the Animals is straight out of the 80’s with an early Bowie feel to it, followed by Dutch Elm which is just a disaster from start to finish with a female vocalist who lacks tonality and range. Dutch Elm actually could work as a theme song to a very low budget James Bond parody, but definitely needs to tone down its creepy synthesizer layers.

Bieber HeadsMy favourite song on the album is China Town. It had an extremely peculiar and underground feel to it. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before. By the time we hit Better to Forget Her and Scarlet Teacher the songs started to sound the same. The album then indulges in its Bieber fetish with the most bizarre song I have ever heard: Bieber Heads. Seriously, what the hell is this song? I’m unsure if it’s a parody or a serious song. But it’s catchy. It gets stuck in your head. And if you watch the music video (YOU NEED TO WATCH THE MUSIC VIDEO) you will be haunted by floating Bieber heads through your mind for hours. I felt like I needed counselling after watching the music video.

There is definitely a market for this genre. It’s a market that I personally don’t fully understand. I don’t know what the social commentary implications are, maybe they went over my head, but usually this type of music comes with a message. If there’s a message I’m sure it’s hidden on Young Coconut’s website, which has a slightly drab feel to it, despite constant updates with articles that sometimes border on sarcastic arts, media and music commentary.

Young Coconut Art

The last thing I feel that is important to mention is how I have been able to compare Young Coconuts to so many different artists, yet he still manages to make everything sound unique. I’m on the fence about whether I liked this album or not. There were really some strong pieces on it, but there seems to be a lot of filler. I’m definitely going to take the time to scour Young Coconuts Band Camp page and listen to his other music because if he has 3 or 4 strong songs per album I’m sure that we can piece together a Best Of album for this musically inventive individual.

Young Coconut’s Website

Young Coconut’s BandCamp

Theatre Reviews – On Stage: Ottawa’s Theatre Arts Magazine

On StageIn my first post on this site I referenced the fact that I have written theatre reviews in the past for Production Ottawa. Well, Production Ottawa has officially been retired and is being reborn as On Stage: Ottawa’s Theatre Arts Magazine. On Stage is a weekly e-newsletter that is sent out to all subscribers with latest updates on the Arts Scene in and around Ottawa, Ontario! The website will be running previews of upcoming stage performances as well as reviews of shows (up within a timely manner) so that if you are in and around the Ottawa area and want to take in a show you can find out what’s worth seeing, and what’s worth avoiding.

I have been recruited to the team of reviewers for On Stage and any shows I see in Ottawa will be put up for review on their main site.

I am going to be checking out Plosive Production’s presentation of Detroit tonight at The Gladstone Theatre for review.

For all movie and music reviews continue to come back here. My goal is to still be writing 2 – 3 new articles each week for the website throughout the New Year. For theatre news and reviews make sure you check out On Stage.

 

Tiffini Truth – A Music Review

FEAR1Tiffini Truth presents the G.R.I.N.D. (Ground Right into Dust) experience with her solo musical performance art. It’s painfully important to define her talents as much performance art as it is so much more than just music. Tiffini is a “grinder girl”. For those of you who don’t know what “grinding” is, basically Tiffini straps steel plates to her chest, stomach, and other body parts, and then grinds power tools against the steel to create music. She isn’t the first person in the world to do this; however, she is the first person “to hone the dual grinder pose where two grinders are used simultaneously at over 14,000 RPM’s to produce two way sparks creating a horizontal line effect over the body.” (http://www.tiffinitruth.com/)

Tiffini Truth GrinderTiffini was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, and it’s nice to be able to highlight unique talent out of Canada. Tiffini is a one-stop shop when it comes to talent. She has her female prowess rooted in modelling, where she has been featured as a Suicide Girl and done shoots for other various publications. She has a robust vocal range when it comes to singing. She has a strong internet presence with an amazingly manicured website and YouTube channel that is constantly providing fresh updates in the form of music videos, promotional videos, and making of videos.  Tiffini is also a contortionist and certified pyrotechnician, which would have to help with this very dangerous, yet breath-taking talent.

FEAR2

Tiffini’s music can’t be listened to without the visual stimulation that comes from her performance. It’s what makes YouTube the perfect venue for her material. I mean, you can go ahead and download her music, or check out her Soundcloud, but you won’t get the same experience as you will seeing Tiffini decked out in, what appears to be, a latex suit covered in steel plates as she boldly and dangerously grinds these power tools up and down her body, creating a cascade of fiery sparks as an addition to the music.

ContortTiffini has a strong voice. And I’ve always been a sucker for strong female vocalists. So even with the grind show in progress before my eyes I found myself enjoying her music as well as becoming engaged with what Tiffini was singing about. Tiffini doesn’t have many songs on her YouTube channel right now, but it’s understandable that to create these videos would take an extremely large amount of work and they can’t be pumped out one after another. The songs that she does have are definitely worth the watch because Tiffini’s exceptional talent alone, even if you didn’t find the music appealing. It’s not every day you see people rubbing power tools across their bodies. Tiffini does promote that she releases new material every month from her website and I am excited to see what’s next for her.

SinnerTiffini’s big song right now is F.E.A.R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) and it’s an emotional song with an extremely dark-bluesy feel to it. It is an excellent follow-up to her other soulful performances Make Me, Stay and Sinner. The video for Sinner actually sent shivers down my spine. I don’t know if that was because I found the video enjoyably disturbing or if it was the music or a combination of both.

Tiffini SingingTiffini Truth is definitely a talent that will only continue to rise. I can’t wait to see one of her shows. It’s on my bucket list now. I should also note that while the music videos are great, the EPK’s that show behind the scenes aspects of the music videos are extremely interesting and informative to watch.

Tiffini Truth’s Website

Tiffini Truth’s YouTube Channel

Tiffini’s Sound Cloud

What Movies to Look Forward to in 2014

2014 FilmsNow that we’re into 2014 I think it’s vital that we take a look ahead at some of what’s to come. Obviously some of the following movies won’t be the best movies of the year, some may simply be overhyped, but others have the potential to be phenomenal. Here are the films I am looking forward to the most in 2014:

Labor DayJanuary: January is always a weaker month at the box office. Other than the fact that Labor Day is getting its wide release this month there isn’t really anything else to look forward to. If you are interested in reading a bit more about Labor Day you can do so in my post on the Top 10 Films of 2013.  

Lego MovieFebruary: The two movies I am looking forward to the most in February 2014 are The Lego Movie and The Monuments Men. The Lego Movie just looks fun and charming and brilliant for an animated film. The Monuments Men is a biographical war film that puts George Clooney behind and in front of the camera again, alongside Bill Murray, Matt Damon and Cate Blanchet. Robocop is going to bomb. That is my prediction.

grand budapest hotelMarch:  March is a much stronger looking month for film. We start off with Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anderson always makes those cute, quirky dramedies that feel good, and The Grand Budapest Hotel has a look to it that will make it fit right in. If you know anything about me you would know that I am a huge Muppets fan, so it’s also obvious that Muppets Most Wanted will make my list of most anticipated films of 2014. While not a musical, if done properly, this heist comedy could be just as brilliant as the reboot was a few years ago. Muppets Most WantedOn a more dramatic side, Darren Aronofsky’s re-interpretation of the Biblical events surrounding Noah and the flood look fantastical and epic. Excited to see how that comes to screen. Also Enemy, a second collaboration by Prisoners director, Denis Villeneuve, and actor, Jake Gyllenhaal, hits theatres in March 2014. With the tagline: “A man seeks out his exact look-alike after spotting him in a movie” and the pension for creating extreme tension and suspense through a movie, this will definitely be a great one. Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning The Raid 2, which follows the Indonesian hit, The Raid (obviously), which premieres at Sundance in just a week or so.

captain america 2April: April is a much quieter month than March. The only one that truly hits my radar is Captain America: The Winter Soldier. That could solely be because I’m a comic book geek who loves what Marvel has been doing to their movies as of late, but I’ll definitely be looking forward to this one.

Amazing Spiderman 2May: Another superhero sequel starts off April, this time The Amazing Spiderman 2. With the announcement of multiple Spiderman movies and spinoffs made recently I am excited to see what direction Marc Webb will be taking this film. Will we encounter the tragic events of Spiderman 121, or do we have to wait for Spiderman 3 for that? Will we start to get the hint of a Sinister 6 being formed? Perhaps a taste of what a Superior Spiderman might look like? All will start to be unveiled over the next few films. Neighbors also comes out in May. Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne play the down to earth characters in what is expectedly going to be a hard-R comedy pitting neighbor (Rogen) against neighbor (Efron). Rogen’s character will be a slight change of pace for him, but with Nick Stoller behind the camera, it’s going to be a riot from beginning to end. Finally Seth MacFarlane has A Million Ways to Die in the West at the end of May, featuring a great combination of A-List actors (Liam Neeson, Neil Patrick Harris, Amanda Seyfried, and Charlize Theron, amongst many others). If Ted was any indication to how MacFarlane writes and directs live comedy than this film will be hilarious.

22 jump streetJune: I seem to be looking forward to a lot of comedies this year. A big surprise in 2012 was how good 21 Jump Street was. I’ve watched it a handful of times and still laugh, so with the release of 22 Jump Street in June of 2014, I am excited to see where Channing Tatum (who is surprisingly funny) and Jonah Hill can manage to take this series.

dawn of planetJuly: Another surprise hit in the past few years was Rise of the Planet of the Apes, so I am decidedly looking forward to the return of Cesar and the addition of Gary Oldman in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Another July release that looks like great is the Wachowski sibling’s release of Jupiter Ascending. I had read somewhere, probably IMDB, that it’s been over a decade since the siblings made a profitable movie for Warner Bros. but that the studio is sticking with them and Jupiter Ascending looks like it may break the trend.

sin city 2August: As we near the end of the summer August has a few promising surprises as well including Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. People either loved or hated the first Sin City film. I honestly loved it. I was very young when it came out, and was blown away by the darkness of it. It actually helped reignite the passion I have for comics and the stories they tell. So I’ve been waiting eagerly for this much delayed sequel.  The Guardians of the Galaxy. I do not follow this comic. I think the premise looks a little off, maybe it’s just the whole Rocket Raccoon thing, but nonetheless, it’s coming out and people are excited. Maybe I’m jumping on the bandwagon, but I am interested to see how it plays out. The only reason I’m adding The Expendables 3 to this list is because I’m interested to see if Snipes, Gibson, Ford and Frasier (I mean Grammer) can add anything to this already faltering franchise.

Expendables 3September & October: September and October are slow months as most of the studios are working on their festival pieces and preparing for the upcoming release of their Oscar-bait films. Nothing looks exciting for these months as of yet, but that may change, especially after studios pick up films at Sundance and other festivals. Unless you’re in the mood for more Paranormal Activity films come October.

InterstellarNovember:  While there will likely be more release dates announced for November & December three big named films are coming out that I am excited to take a look at. Christopher Nolan directs Interstellar, a Christopher Nolan sci-fi story featuring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain with wormholes! Dumb and Dumber 2Dumb and Dumber 2 reunited Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels as Harry and Lloyd on another adventure. Who knows if this will be just extremely overhyped or not, but as Dumb and Dumber is still one of my favourite comedies, I will definitely look forward to checking this out. Finally Hunger Games Mocking Jay Part 1. I wish it was Part 1 and 2. I don’t know why I enjoy these movies so much, they do pander to the lowest common denominator, but end up being so damn good. Don’t believe me? My review for Catching Fire.

the hobbitDecember: I like the whole Biblical epics, and December 2014, brings about Exodus. I don’t know much more than its title, that Ridley Scott is directing, and that it stars Christian Bale as Moses, Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad, bitch) as Joshua, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver and Joel Edgerton, and I am already sold.  Finally, The Hobbit: There and Back Again. I have been known to speak out about my extreme dislike for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The Desolation of Smaug was slightly better. The only reason this makes the list is because it brings an end to this damned trilogy. Shame on Peter Jackson for making this into almost 9 hours of drivel. This trilogy could have been told in 1 long movie of 3 hours, or if you wanted to push the boundaries a touch 2 2-hour movies. I would have still rather paid a touch more to watch them all in one go than have to wait years between releases.

Honorable Mentions: Pompeii (February); Transcendence (April); Godzilla (May); X-Men: Days of Future Past (May); Maleficent (May); How to Train Your Dragon 2 (June)

2013 A Year in Review: The Top 10 Best Films of 2013

10 bestI am finally at the end of my Top 10 Lists for 2013. I saved, what I hope, is the best for last, the TOP 10 FILM of 2013. I’ll be honest; I didn’t find 2013 to be the best year for films. The most hyped up films of the year for Oscar Buzz, American Hustle & 12 Years a Slave, were good, but they didn’t blow me away. And I think that was the problem with 2013. There were a lot of REALLY GOOD movies, but not a lot of AMAZING ones. There were only a few movies that I will and can call, in my opinion, truly amazing this year. The top 3 were the easy part of making this list. Numbers 4 – 10 were difficult because they could be replaced and moved around with the Honorable Mentions with ease as they were all good, solid 4 star movies, whereas the top 3 movies are the only 5 star movies, in my opinion, of the year. It should also be noted that there are a few movies that I did not have the pleasure of seeing this year that have been extremely well received; those films include: Gravity, Mud, and Nebraska.

american hustle10. American Hustle – The performances were amazing. Jennifer Lawrence, Christian Bale, Amy Adams & Jeremy Renner were superb. Bradley Cooper was good; he just didn’t seem to be at the same level as the other four actors though. This film had an interesting premise, but was so drawn out and took so long to go anywhere that I started to lose interest at the mid-point. Thank God Robert DeNiro had an amazing cameo, brought me back into the film and from there the movie just continued to get better. David O. Russell makes great films, but compared to Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter, American Hustle falls slightly short.

this is the end9. This is the End – This was by far the funniest movie of the year. I laughed so hard I cried. I have a lot of Canadian pride in Jay Baruchel, but all the performances across the board were top notch. This was by far James Franco’s best performance in quite some time. The image of Jonah Hill being raped by a demon-monster will forever be scarred into my brain tissue. Also it should be noted, I hate Danny McBride.  I think he’s loud, obnoxious, and not very funny at all. Yet his performance in this film, where he plays loud, obnoxious and stupid, just worked perfectly. My wife hated the film. I nearly pissed my pants.

Stoker8. Stoker – This movie was bizarre. And it took a second watching of it for me to truly appreciate the complexity of its simplicity. Wentworth Miller writes an overtly pretentious script that is surprisingly tamed by Chan-Wook Park’s debut into directing in the North American market.  The casting was superb, Mia Wasikowska steals the show and Nicole Kidman is to die for, and while the first viewing of it left a sour taste in my mouth I found myself falling in love with this film on a second viewing.

Philomena7. Philomena – Judy Dench will receive an Oscar Nomination for her superb performance in this film. I made a comment that this film was like The Guilt Trip but international and with less laughs, and then someone told me, that’d be hard to do as The Guilt Trip had so few laughs.  Philomena manages to break your heart and then warm it through its progression and it was just a delightful time at the theatre. You can read my full review here.

star trek into darkness6. Star Trek Into Darkness – I really don’t know if I have to justify this film’s place on the top 10 list. J.J. Abrams has breathed such fresh life into this franchise that I can’t wait to continue to see what happens. Khan may have been the worst kept secret of the entire production, yet when we screened it in Ottawa and Benedict Cumberbatch announces that his name is Khan the entire theatre erupted in cheers and hoots, it just felt so right. Star Trek Into Darkness wasn’t as good as the first one, but it was still so much fun, and still is on multiple viewings.

Labor Day5. Labor Day – This was a hard one to decide whether to put on this list or not, as technically it only received a very limited release at the very end of December 2013 and doesn’t officially get a wide release until January 31, 2014. However, as it premiered at TIFF 2013 and will be in Oscar contention for the 2013 season I feel like it deserves its place on this year’s list. Labor Day is Jason Reitman’s adaptation of Joyce Maynard’s novel by the same name. Brolin, Winslet and Griffith are phenomenal in this film. Gattlin Griffith is going to be big, you heard it here first! Well – maybe not first – but its true – this kid is a rising star. He comes across as one of the most talented actors I’ve seen this year. I had the pleasure of working as a publicist on this film during TIFF 2013 and have had the chance to see it, and cannot wait to see it again when it comes out at the end of January. It also made me want to learn how to make a homemade peach pie.

12 years a slave4. 12 Years a Slave – This story is a spectacular story. I really did enjoy it. Perhaps it was simply because of how hyped up this film was to be the best film of the year that I felt slightly underwhelmed by the end of this film, or perhaps it was because it felt so long. Steve McQueen is a very passionate filmmaker who knows what he is doing when he is behind the camera, and he’s able to draw the right level of emotion out of every single character. Chiwetel Ejiofor was a phenomenal casting choice as the main character, Solomon Northup. Even still, the rest of the cast, especially Benedict Cumberbatch, Taran Killam, Paul Dano, Brad Pitt and Michael Fassbender were an amazing supporting cast. This film is going to take home A LOT of Oscar’s. It’s only real competition is The Wolf of Wall Street.

Prisoners3. Prisoners – This is the second Paul Dano film to make the top 10 list. Paul Dano is such an under-rated actor, but he is just so damn good on the big screen. Prisoners is heart-wrenching. It’s raw. It’s powerful. It makes me never want to ever have children. Denis Villeneuve makes me proud to be a Canadian. His next film, Enemy, coming out March 2014, is definitely on my must-watch for list. I felt physically and emotionally drained after seeing this film. Hugh Jackman’s performance was phenomenal. It won’t win him an Academy Award, but it will certainly get him damn close.

wolf of wall street2. The Wolf of Wall Street – This film was either loved or hated. Scorsese hits The Wolf of Wall Street out of the park as he re-tells the sordid past of Jordan Belfort and his lust for money, drugs and sex. The film was fascinating. Full disclosure, it has a run time of 2 hours and 59 minutes, yet to me it didn’t feel nearly that long. I want to see the Extended Director’s Cut and see what Scorsese had to cut to keep it under 3 hours. This film would have worked better as a 12-part miniseries on HBO or something closer to that, because the story is so complex, and there are so many chapters to Jordan Belfort’s life that I feel were left untouched, probably due to time constraints. Leonardo DiCaprio was absolutely phenomenal. If this doesn’t win him an Oscar I don’t know what will. Jonah Hill was also superb (also the second Jonah Hill film in the Top 10). He definitely deserves Best Supporting Actor when the time comes. In my opinion, this is Scorsese’s best film to date.

BLACKFISH_Film_Poster1. Blackfish – When I wrote my initial review of Blackfish I only gave it 4 stars. I regret that decision. I have watched and re-watched Blackfish (or at least big chunks of it) at least 4 times and every time I watch it I get more and more passionate about the message that they’re selling. If I could go back and re-write my review it would definitely be a 5 star review. It’s a film that is a must-see. It changed the way I look at marine parks and hopefully will change the way you think of them too! Check out my full review here.

Honorable Mentions: The Conjuring, Thor: The Dark World, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, The Way, Way Back, How to Make Money Selling Drugs, World War Z