Thursday, April 30, 2015

IT Came from Kickstarter: Strange Kids Club Magazine #5

There were few things cooler growing up then being the owner of a Mad or Cracked Magazine. Possessing one was like owning a Playboy (for those who truly didn't understand what a Playboy was) and sneaking Cracked into school was like...sneaking crack into school. We imagined that the manic energy and childish parody contained within the pages was the secret formula to incite anarchy onto the patriarchal school administration.

Yeah, we didn't know anything but Mad and Cracked were still cool. Strange Kids Club has tried to re-create that zany and anti-authoritative tone with a healthy dose of nostalgia through  their publication SKC Magazine. On this, their fifth issue, they tackle that cherished trope that we all from the last two decades can identify with:

Afternoon Live-Action Adventure Shows.  

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Brazil Connection #3 - Pin Ups

This week we are going to talk about a classic Brazilian indie band, instead of a current one. This is the first time I do that, and probably won't be the last. And there's no better way to start talking about the past than with the band that started it all, at least as far as I'm concerned: Pin Ups.

Pin Ups, ca. 1993(?)

The band, which started out in 1987, certainly wasn't the first Brazilian independent act, but it was arguably the first in a certain scene, one that was never named but left its mark on many people, many of which have bands today. A scene of guitar-driven bands who sang in English and sounded like they'd just come from London, Manchester, or New York. It was a scene that was ahead of its time, taking cues from influences that were known to very few at the time, trailing a path that would later be taken by many.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Pop Culture Enamel Pins from Clark Orr Design Co.

 I recently have gotten into collecting lapel pins. Yeah, that thing that was once saved for politicians and obsessive Disney fans has become the new Patch Game. So when I heard that Clark Orr Design Co. had released some pop culture centered pins I had to take note and I was not disappointed.
Now, Clark Orr has been unleashing amazing design and brand work for quite some time now, most of it with a heaping helping of popular culture, but for the most part his own personal output has been in the print and sticker field with small runs of stylish t-shirt designs and cool things like 'The Goonies' sport pendents.

So I was going through my Instagram feed one day and found out about Clark's most release. One thing lead to another and I had ordered one of the coolest designed enamel pins ever. Being that Clark Orr is located almost in my backyard turnaround was super short and behold what I received.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Teaser Trailer Tuesday: Batman Vs Superman IMAX Teaser

M.E. Strange here. I've been trying to get the man named Quit to write on the blog FOREVER. There is no man who has his pulse on upcoming pop culture like Quit so when he told me about the special Batman vs Superman IMAX trailer that he was able to go to I begged him post about it. Hopefully this the first in a long line of posts from him. Let him finish it off...

Monday, April 20, 2015

Brazil Connection #2 - Lê Almeida

I consider myself a fairly eclectic person. If you browse through my profile, you will see I have played music by many different artists, each with their own distinct sound, and I can say I at least like about 95% of those. Still, some things just speak to us so directly that every time we hear something like that, we are instantly grabbed. To me, that’s good pop music played with loud guitars.

When I started liking music “for real”, I started listening to indie guitar bands from the 90’s. Nirvana probably started it all for me, and from thereon I got into Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Guided by Voices, Yo La Tengo, and what not. It helped that at the time the Brazilian MTV had a great show dedicated to bands like that. It would go on at 2, 3 AM, but I would watch it, every chance I got. The beautiful pop melodies led by distorted, many times roughly recorded guitars fascinated me. As I started to learn English, I also fell in love with the lyrics of most of those songs. And that’s still going strong to this day.

When I first listened to Lê Almeida’s music, I could relate to it instantly, I could tell this was someone who was into that same stuff. And he was good! Immediately I thought of Guided By Voices. The melodies, the lo-fi, DIY ethos, it was all there. And indeed, I later discovered that Robert Pollard is a major influence on Almeida.

Lê Almeida started his own independent record label in 2004, Transfusão Noise Records, out of the backyard of a small house in a Rio de Janeiro suburb. He would record his own music and friends’ bands right out on the yard, under a blue canvas. They would together records that from the beginning showed how much care went into them, inside and out.

Ten years later, Transfusão Noise moved into a building in downtown Rio de Janeiro, where they continue to record lo-fi records, as well as promote shows and other activities. They have an impressive catalog of releases, all by other excellent guitar-driven acts. Almeida himself plays on many of them as well.

His latest LP, Paraleloplasmos, just came out recently, and was recorded at the new space. The change of setting did change Lê Ameida’s music: it seems to have opened the possibility for more experimentation, with more instruments and some new tricks. Underneath it all, however, the spirit is still the same: the guitar is still loud and the hooks will still get you. And although non-Portuguese speakers won’t know it, his lyrics are even better this time around; full of honesty and emotion. The last track of the record, Lindomavel, is a little masterpiece, both lyrically and musically.

But even those who don’t speak Portuguese will have a great time with Le Almeida’s music. He has a knack for creating pop melodies and dressing them up in distortion that should appeal to anyone who loves that kind of music. If you like any of the bands I’ve mentioned here, you owe it to yourself to give it a listen. Paraleloplasmos is being released in the US via Lost Sound Tapes and Jigsaw Records. You can also get his released on Bandcamp

Here's a couple of my favourite tracks, one from each of his LPs:

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Record Store Day 2015 Live!

6:40 AM
Well once again that time of the year has come and I once again ask myself: "Why the hell am I doing this." Sure, I could be asleep in my bed with my lovely life partner or dog. Perhaps waking late to drink craft press pot coffee while watching old Law & Order episodes. Maybe we decide to go get breakfast at a small bistro just off the way. Soufflé eggs with Frech pastries. Where am I instead? Standing in a line 100 deep on the side of a busy road waiting for my local record store to open, hoping that the one limited LP I desire won't be snatched up only to end up on Ebay an hour later for four times its retail price. 

Yes, it's Record Store Day. 

For those of you not in the know this is the annual celebration of returned physical media when independent record stores sell specially made releases of all variety. Due to the small printing size of some of these releases waiting lines begin up to 10 hours before opening in some locations. My record store, Park Ave CDs in Orlando, is one of those. Last year I had a...unpleasant experience with camping out, so this year I decided to rise before the sun and get in line where Fate falls. Here's how it fell...

Mind you that's not my record store but the gas station down the street. *sigh*. 

One hour till opening, hours left in line. I'll keep posting as best I can. Till then...

7:33 AM

One thing that is, thankfully, great about overnight lines is that once everyone starts rousting from a unpleasant nice sleep the line gets shorter. The polite personal space that many have cultivated is abandoned for desperate closeness. You are now standing in a Disney line and one thing that Floridians know what to do is stand in Disney lines (make cheap meth is the other). 

At this point you may be wondering, "Hey Strange, what are you looking to get?" 

MIND OUR OWN DAMN BUISNESS!!! sleep. I will be more then happy to post images of my haul when it's safely at the secret volcano fort but until then I will remain tight-lipped. 

Why? Easy, fear. You don't talk about your vinyl list in line not because you have a fear that someone in front of you will take your one holy grail. No, you keep your list secret in your heart because of a irrational fear that by saying your dream picks outloud will make them disappear. 

It's completely silly and unscientific, if they are only so many records in a set you will not get them if you are later in line, but this is largely a game of hope. Hope that someone will overlook something. Hope that your taste is too obscure to prove fatal. Hope that maybe you will get that one-in-a-thousand release. 

It's a lie, but a pretty lie. 

8:05 AM

The doors have opened and the first customers are having their way with he fresh, prestine copies of beautiful LPs. 

This is the worst part of RSD. It's the long wait as you slowly begin to panic. You imagine every single one of your picks stolen away. All your waiting, the purpose for standing for three plus hours, will be for nothing. To paraphrase Comic Book Guy, you have wasted your life. 

And the sun is out now. 

Screw Florida summers.  

9:00 AM

30 deep now to the door. This line has moved faster ten any RSD line I have waited in. I had my doubts about getting up this morning an getting in line, but things are working out pretty good. Maybe luck will indeed smile on me...but I doubt it.

The thing is, I have no "Need" albums this year. Everything falls into that "I could own this but can live without" category. This makes the stress so much easier.

Last year I got in line so early for the Glow-in-the-Dark ParaNorman OST from Mondo. Three hours away from the "unpleasntness" I decide to spark a conversation with my line neighbor. We exchange niceties and such which eventually leads to what we're planning to pick up once inside. This was my mistake. He proceeded to tell me how not only was he going to get the only copy of ParaNorman (I already knew he was going to get in before me) but that his ultimate endgame was to flip it later online. 

Here's the thing about flippers, we all hate them. The second market for vinyl is down right demonic at times with flippers quoting hundreds of dollars on promised LPs. Records that they don't even own yet. But here's the thing: we make the market. We give the flippers money and make this sinister deed stronger. It's like paying ransom or blackmail. This all, or course, is my humble opinion.

This no sleep is really starting to kick in. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Watch This Now! presents 'Atari: Game Over'

Many sites of high regard feature usually some kind of video round-up list periodically. I love these as they feed my need for insane media while also keeping me up-to-date on what all the kids are into. 

I though how do we create a similar feature into CultSig! without re-tread? Also, what about a regular feature on films and shows that don't quite warrant a lengthy review? A place for music videos, lost gems, streaming films, and new TV. Thus we created...

Perhaps the exclamation point is too matter, our first gaze is focused on a doc that delves into a beloved topic and a hated subject: Atari and E.T. for the Atari.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Brazil Connection #01 - Bonifrate

For the first proper edition of Brazil Connection, I bring you an artist I have been listening to a lot lately: Bonifrate.

Bonifrate is one of the many bands of one Pedro Bonifrate. I already knew and liked Supercordas, arguably one of the most successful bands of the current Brazilian indie scene. Pedro sings and plays guitar in Supercordas (who are about to release a new album, I hear). This past January I attended one of their shows while visiting São Paulo, and my friends told me that the following week his solo project would be playing at a different place.

I attended that show as well, and it ended up being a very memorable night for me. Not only because of the show, but it definitely set the tone for the rest of the night. It happened at a small club, where the  audience can get really close to the band, my favourite kind of venue. The band was sharp and exciting, delivering beautiful, mainly psychedelic songs filled with many other influences. I was already into the show, but got really hooked when they played a song called “Eu Não Vejo Teenage Fanclub Nos Teus Olhos" (I Don’t See Teenage Fanclub In Your Eyes). Not only it’s a great song, but I’m a sucker for references to my favourite things like that. And on that note, they sealed the deal at the end of the set by playing a staggering version of Spiritualized’s “Home of the Brave”. A fairly overlooked song from one of my top five favourite bands. I had become a Bonifrate fan, so I went home and listened to all his stuff.

Bonifrate’s solo project bears similarities to Supercordas, as one would expect, but it’s more idiosyncratic. That is most likely because Pedro Bonifrate records all the music himself at home, making the music a full expression of his sensibilities. He does all the writing, playing, recording, mixing and producing, and it’s a remarkable job at all of those things. The sonorities he manages to imprint on his music are at once evocative of his influences and very much his own.

The Spiritualized influence is perceptible in most of Bonifrate’s music, as well as some other key bands, such as early Pink Floyd (although more grounded). As it has been pointed out, Bonifrate’s music owes almost as much to folk as to psychedelic bands, and that contrast is part of what makes the music so interesting. There’s also some reggae influences, especially in the latest recordings, though I’m no expert in the genre.

Out of all of his releases, I have spent the most time with the 2013 album, Museu de Arte Moderna. I would recommend it to anyone interested in getting to know Bonifrate’s music better. There’s a particularly killer sequence in that album, starting with the title track, which leads into a beautiful instrumental track, “Guaianá Mainline” (very reminiscent of Spiritualized’s Eletric Mainline, mixed with Brazilian influences), and culminating into “Paralaxe", my favourite track on the record. It’s the high point of a throughly impressive effort. Other highlights to me were “Sabe da Última" and the aforementioned “Eu Não Vejo…”, which I’m embedding below for your listening pleasure.

Balaclava Records, whom we talked about last week, put out Bonifrate’s two latest releases: Museu de Arte Moderna, on vinyl, and last year’s EP Toca Do Cosmos, on cassette tape. The physical releases can be purchased on Balaclava’s website, or you can download all of Bonifrate’s records directly from his website, for free. His Balaclava releases and some of Supercordas’ work can also be heard on Spotify.

"Eu Não Vejo Teenage Fanclub Nos Teus Olhos"

Monday, April 6, 2015

Brazil Connection #00 - Balaclava Records Sampler

When people think about Brazilian music, I believe they usually think of bossa nova. Maybe Tom Jobim with Elis Regina. Part of the hip crowd will think of Jorge Ben Jor, Os Mutantes, maybe some Gal Costa, perhaps Novos Baianos or some older samba, if they’re really hip. Or maybe Sepultura, if they’re metalheads. While I like all of those artists (I didn't pick these songs and albums by chance), there’s still a huge array of music from Brazil that is not very well-known even back there, let alone overseas.

Brazilians can make music with matchboxes, if need be.

I recently started going after some of the Brazilian indie bands that were active when I was a teenager, and I’m glad to say most of their work still holds up. From there, I was exposed to loads of newer bands, and was impressed with how much good music my compatriots have been producing recently.

That’s when I decided to start writing about Brazilian indie music right here at Culturally Significant! I want to make this a weekly feature, each time bringing a brief write-up on a Brazilian independent band (either current or from past decades), a track or two to listen to right here and preferably a link to where you can get their music.

Since this is the "trial run" of this feature (hence it being numbered 00), I won't recommend one band this week, but instead a record label. Balaclava Records (whose website is also in English) comes from my home city of São Paulo, and in the three years since they got started, they have managed to release a number of great records from many different bands. Some of those bands have been touring in Brazil and abroad, and this year they're bringing two bands to the excellent Primavera Festival, in Spain. Last year, Single Parents, another Balaclava band, were there.

The label has made this sampler available, with 12 songs from 12 different bands, many of which I believe I will write about in the future. They all sound different, some sing in Portuguese and some in English, but they're all good tracks that should start giving you an idea of the diverse indie scene in Brazil.

The song below is by the aforementioned band Single Parents, one of my favourites from the sampler. According to their artist page, they're influenced by Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., among other great bands, and it shows. I dedicate this song to our dear M. E. Strange, a true lover of VHS if there ever was one.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter from Culturally Significant! (and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

Hope you all enjoy the day off with your Reese's Eggs, Marshmallow Peeps, and all day Law & Order marathons (I don't know if that last one is true, but when is there not a Law & Order marathon?).  But if you can draw yourself away from the magic of Lenny then consider watching this pure Easter gem: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Turtles Awesome Easter (1992)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

It Came From Indiegogo!: The Void

Image Owned by Cave Painting Picture. Created by Justin Erickson

You know when people say "Remember when John Carpenter made cool films?" or "What happened to all the practical effects in movies?" what they were talking about was their desire for 'The Void', a new film being crowd-sourced through Indiegogo. The story, although kept mostly in the dark, the basic plot is outlined on the fund page as:

In the middle of a routine patrol, officer Daniel Carter happens upon 
a blood-soaked figure limping down a deserted stretch of road. 
He rushes the young man to a nearby rural hospital staffed by a skeleton crew, 
only to discover that patients and personnel are transforming into something inhuman. 
As the horror intensifies, Carter leads the other survivors on a hellish voyage 
into the subterranean depths of the hospital in a desperate bid to end the nightmare 
before it's too late.

The Void: Video Game

Just released, Black Goat Games will finally re-release the long forgotten NES game  
The Void: The Game.
The terrifying new film from Cave Painting Pictures is now a terrifying new game from Black Goat Games.  

Play as officer Daniel Carter as he explores a rural hospital where the patients and staff have become something inhuman. Collect items and solve puzzles to help lead the other survivors through a hellish voyage, making your way into the subterranean levels of the hospital in a desperate bid to end the nightmare before it's too late.

There is a hell. This is worse. Now it's a game.

This will be another amazing game to add to our collections of obscure horror NES games. I can't wait to see what happens. Now they just need to get the rights back for the 'Bio-Cop' game.

Discover more about 'The Void' at their Indiegogo page and read our article up now.

Happy April 1st.