Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reflection Pond #19

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - It's Blitz! (2009)

It's really interesting to follow the arc of popular music. There's a subtle shift that happens as each sound gets co-opted and regurgitated and flounced and flayed and splattered on our airwaves. There's a trend going around called electro-pop and it's roots flow back to 80's new wave dance music. I hate to do that, consummately disliking those people who try and compare today's music to past trends with a lazy critical eye. So I must acknowledge that new music will always have its own voice and though it may have a residue of a forgotten era, it still reflects what is happening today so much more clearly. What does this have to do with the new Yeah Yeah Yeahs recod? I don't know. It has an elctro-pop-punk-riotgrrl sound but it's very distinctively Yeah Yeah Yeahish. Sleek and polished and aggressive and earnest, It's Blitz is about as perfect an album that you'll hear. It's so much fun to catch the wave of a band as it really tunes into the underbelly of what makes music alive. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have always been a remarkable aural experience but with this album it just feels like they now know how to make magic with an awareness for the subtle superb. I'm eager to hear what they have in store for us next.

The Bicycle Thief - Vittorio De Sica (1948)

I'd forever heard of the wonders of The Bicycle Thief, listening to crotchety old timers praise the accomplishments of this Italian masterpiece. I love film so I am always looking for a great cinematic experience, whether it comes from the grainy days of yore or is a bright young star upon the map. I often find that even though there are some nice qualities with a movie from before my time, they can leave me feeling like life has left them behind, that they are forever scrambling to keep up with the changes that happen so naturally to all of us. Nobody wants to be left behind and fortunately for us, The Bicycle Thief still resonates in our modern world. It's a story of a nation struggling to rebuild after the destruction of war, of a family trying to hold onto a life filled with love and a father desperately trying to maintain his integrity in front of the most important lens, his child. After his bike is stolen, a man struggling with poverty in post-war Italy searches the city for it with his son in tow. The bicycle is his livelihood and in order to support his family he must find it or fall to ruin. It's a simple story but it shows the difficulties people had to face following the devastation of war. The evil seed that is planted by the thief as he makes off with the man's very existence, slowly transforms the film into an allegory of desperation as the father eventually turns into a thief himself. This is the message that comes through and pierces my heart. The only way that we can build our communities into a thriving and generous place is through love and respect. That is how we nurture the world around us. If one person within the community undermines that love with neglect or malice then it may bring about a domino effect where the society begins to break down. When good people become desperate, sometimes they make bad choices. It was true back then and it's still true today.

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