I’ve got to start this off with a recommendation for a film that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about since I saw it.
Christopher Nolan’s film Memento is an entirely new kind of movie-watching experience, or at least, it was for me. You may have heard about it, and you may have noticed that it’s been receiving the best reviews of any film released this year. Memento is so critically adored that pretty soon it’s going to be fashionable to hate it.
In case you hadn’t guessed, I didn’t hate it. Memento is disguised as a standard thriller – good guy must hunt down the bad guy who raped and murdered the good guy’s saintly wife. Steven Seagal’s done that plotline three or four times, I think. There are a number of things that distinguish Memento, though, and I’ll just list a few of the more interesting ones:
1) The main character has short-term memory loss. He was injured in the assault that left his wife dead, and while he can remember everything up to that point, the recent present fades away every few minutes. Hence, he must leave notes for himself and take photographs to remind himself where he has been.
2) The film is mostly edited in reverse chronological order. Each sequence you see happens in the film directly before each sequence you just saw. (It makes sense. Really.) The stunning effect of this is it puts you in the same position as the main character – each scene is like waking up suddenly, with no context. In a revenge thriller film, that effect is spine-tingling.
3) The film races towards a towering mindfuck of a conclusion that I wouldn’t even dream of spoiling here. In fact, I’ve only spoiled as much as I have to make Memento sound intriguing enough for you to hunt down. It’s playing on only about 120 screens across the country right now. Wherever you live, it’s worth the drive.
For once, I think Roger Ebert missed the boat on this one. While he dug the film, he calls the backwards editing a device. On the contrary, it’s integral to the story and the audience’s appreciation of the character’s plight. Non-chronological editing has been used as a device before – in Pulp Fiction, for example. If you re-edit Pulp Fiction chronologically, the story remains the same. If you do the same with Memento, it doesn’t work at all. The way the story is told is, in fact, more important than the story. You’ll understand when you see it.
But I digress…
It’s time for the seasonal new releases roundup here at Tuesday Morning. I’m going to try to work this out so that every three months I provide you with a handy list of the interesting new music coming your way. None of this is information you couldn’t go get yourself, if you wanted to, but why would you when I’ve been so kind as to arrange it all here for you?
Think of this as a coming attractions sort of thing. For the next few months, here’s what I’ll be writing about:
On May 8, Mark Eitzel, the most depressed man in pop music, releases his fourth solo album, The Invisible Man. Eitzel used to be the frontman for American Music Club, but his solo stuff (especially West, which featured Peter Buck of R.E.M.) has really shined.
Speaking of R.E.M., their new one, Reveal, hits the following week, on May 15. I can’t say I’m a fan of “Imitation of Life,” the first single. It sounds to me like the Out of Time-era band covering Matthew Sweet, but worse, because ordinarily that description would be intriguing. Also on the 15th is Lions, the new Black Crowes disc. The cover alone is worth it. Oh yeah, the new Tool, Lateralus, also hits on the 15th, as does Open, the new Cowboy Junkies. Oh, wait, and some band called Weezer is putting out The Green Album on that date as well. Other than that, though, nothing on the 15th.
The 22nd sees the estimable comeback of Deep Blue Something, as well as the completely unwarranted return of Stabbing Westward. Both albums are self-titled. The French invade our shores again (HA!) when Air releases their fourth album, 10,000hz Legend, on May 29.
On June 5th, I was born. As if that wasn’t enough reason to celebrate, you can also dig Radiohead’s fifth album, Amnesiac. I’m quite looking forward to this, and I must admit I caved and listened to a few seconds of the first song. Instantly better than Kid A, and I can’t wait to hear more. The 5th also brings us Fatboy Slim’s wittily titled A Break From the Norm, Rufus Wainwright’s long-awaited Poses (date subject to change at God’s childlike whim), and Starflyer 59’s longest and fullest album yet, Leave Here a Stranger. As a side note, that was produced by long-ignored genius Terry Taylor.
June keeps rocking on the 12th with Travis’ follow-up, The Invisible Band. (I’m betting this record and Mark Eitzel’s back to back would be an experience.) Plus, the debut of Brian Setzer’s new rockabilly band, ‘68 Comeback Special. They call their first album Ignition.
Perry Farrell finally surfaces on June 19 with an album long rumored to be called The Diamond Jubilee. Guess what, though. It’s now called Song Yet To Be Sung. In the immortal words of Frank Barone, I could have eaten a box of Alpha-Bits and crapped something better. You don’t work for five years on something and then call it Song Yet To Be Sung unless you don’t like it much…
The 26th of June is quite promising, promising as it does the second Basement Jaxx album Rooty, the new Lindsey Buckingham solo disc Gift of Screws (and boy, is that guy underrated), and a double-disc effort from Stone Temple Pilots called Shangri-La-Deeda. At least it’s not called Robert Downey Jr. Made Me His Bitch In Prison.
July kicks off with Slayer (yes, fucking Slayer) and their new album, which they’ve sunnily titled God Hates Us All. The 3rd also sees the re-emergence of a great pop band called PFR. Their fifth album, to be released on Steve Taylor’s financially struggling Squint Entertainment label, is called Disappear. That’s only funny if you know that they’ve been away since 1994. Squint Entertainment is also promising us the new Sixpence None the Richer album sometime this year.
Wilco checks in on July 10 with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and a week later, Built to Spill hits with my favorite pretentious album title of the year so far, Ancient Melodies of the Future. Thing is, those guys always live up to titles like that…
And now we’re into stuff that may or may not come out on these dates. No guarantees from here on out:
Fantomas is the name of Mike Patton’s (of Faith No More) and Trevor Dunn’s (of Patton’s other band, Mr. Bungle) new project, and it’s supposed to come out on July 24. They Might Be Giants are following the trend of re-naming a perfectly well-titled album with something dumb by changing their August 15 album Nooooo!! to Mink Car. Silly decision. Busta Rhymes slinks back with Genesis on August 21, and Bjork’s Vespertine is slated for August 28. Finally, the one I’m most looking forward to, and naturally the furthest away: Tori Amos returns with an album called Strange Little Girls on September 18.
Other stuff that may or may not hit this year: Brand New Heavies are rumored to be working on Heavy Rhyme Experience Volume II, and if you remember the first one, you know how cool that was. New ones this summer are expected from Cake, De La Soul, Filter, Ben Folds (making his solo debut), Garbage, Freedy Johnston, Jude, Korn, Live, Alanis Morissette, Grant Lee Phillips, Prodigy, Seal, Wu-Tang Clan and a supergroup called Oysterhead that consists of bassist Les Claypool (Primus), drummer Stewart Copeland (The Police) and guitarist Trey Anastasio (Phish). More news as I know it.
If you hate these long lists, I’m sorry. More music next time.
See you in line Tuesday morning.