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‘The Cat Piano,’ narrated by Nick Cave
01.04.2017
10:19 am
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The Cat Piano is an award-winning short animation directed by Eddie White and Ari Gibson and narrated by Nick Cave. For some odd reason the Wikipedia entry makes note not to confuse this with Keyboard Cat. So let’s not do that, okay?

A brief summary of the animation:

In a city of singing cats, a lonely beat poet falls for a beautiful siren. When a mysterious dark figure emerges, kidnapping the town’s singers for his twisted musical plans, the poet must save his muse and put an end to the nefarious tune that threatens to destroy the city.


 
Released in 2009, The Cat Piano won “Best Short Animation” at the Australian Film Institute Awards and “Best Music in a Short Film” at the APRA Screen Music Awards. The short’s bold animation style was achieved using Adobe Photoshop, with the artists drawing directly into the computer with Wacom tablets.

Watch it in its entirety, below:

 
h/t Coilhouse on Facebook

Posted by Tara McGinley
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01.04.2017
10:19 am
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Holiday weirdness: Santa Claus battles the Devil to a psyche-rock soundtrack
12.24.2016
12:41 pm
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40 psyche-pop tunes serve as the soundtrack for the extremely wacky Santa Claus (aka Santa Claus vs. The Devil) in a special Holiday mix from me to you.

The trailer narration of Santa Claus gives you a rough idea of the bizarreness that awaits the viewer:

Whether you’re in a cave, or behind a million mountains, Santa Claus sees you through his Master Eye, and invites you to his Magic Wonderland! See Santa Claus in his magic motion picture! Come past the doors of his towering castle, into a fantastic crystal laboratory, filled with weird and wonderful secrets; into his heavenly workshop, the most marvelous toy factory of all! Watch his battle with the mischievous demon who wants to get children into trouble! You’d better watch out!

 

 
There are so many disturbing elements to Rene Cardona’s film that it’s difficult to select just one. Advertised as “an enchanting world of make-believe”, it’s a surreal battle between Father Crimbo and Satan, who sends his minion, Pitch, to interfere in the spreading of comfort and joy. Prime nuggets? Pitch whispering to the young ‘uns that Santa’s actually a murderer (classy!) and Santa’s cloud-borne castle that looks less like a cheery base for making toys and more like something from a Bond villain’s architectural wet dream.

Enjoy the music. I don’t think you’ll miss the dialog. Happy Holidays.

01. “Is Anybody Home” - The Mirage
02. “Henry Adams” - The Frederic
03. “Princess Of The Gingerland” - Glitterhouse
04. “Travelling Circus” - The Epics
05. ‘Punch And Judy Man” - Pop Workshop
06. “Red, White And You” - Sounds Around
07. “The View” - Gary Walker and The Rain
08. “Tomorrow Today” - Kippington Lodge
09. “You’ll Find Me Anywhere” - Hi-Revving Tongues
10. Mix within the mix featuring The Groop, The Kinks,
    The Tages, The Exceptions, The Cyrkle, Frank Zappa,
    The Zombies, Mark Eric, The Sidewalk Skipper Band,
    The Beach Boys, Stained Glass, The Shaggy Boys,
    Free Design, Eternity’s Children, Summer Snow,
    The Counts, Johnny Cobb and The Attractions,
    The Family Tree (courtesy of FCR)
11. “What Are You Gonna Do” - The Summer Set
12. “Stop” - The Pan Pipers
13. “My Race Is Run” - The Motleys
14. “Buses” - The Hung Jury
15. “Alfred Appleby” - The Carnival Connection
16. “You Gotta Be With Me” - The Onyx
17. “Midnite Thoughts” - The World Column
18. “In The Land Of Make Believe” Jennifer’s Friend
19. “Walk In The Sky” The Crackerjack Society
20. “Your Way To Tell Me Go” - Plastic Penny
21. “Green Circles (Italian version)” - The Small Faces
 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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12.24.2016
12:41 pm
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‘Christmas in Tattertown,’ Ralph Bakshi’s bizarre holiday TV special
12.19.2016
09:47 am
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Although famed animator Ralph Bakshi tends to be best known for racier material like his classics Fritz the Cat and Heavy Traffic, in 1988 he wrote and directed a half-hour holiday TV special called Christmas in Tattertown. It used to run every year on Nickelodeon in the 1990s (indeed, this YouTube video was taken from a Nickelodeon broadcast).

The plot is none too easy to discern, but it has something to do with a little girl who is transported, Alice in Wonderland-style, to a strange, run-down jazzy urban landscape known as Tattertown, which is redolent of the 1930s. Once there, she interacts with dilapidated toys and explains to the discarded playthings what Christmas is (they have never heard of it).

Some of the elements here are familiar from other places—the general mise-en-scene is reminiscent of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, while the talking toys can’t help but remind us of Toy Story. Meanwhile, Inside Out, the recent Pixar hit, featured a memorable character named Bing Bong who wouldn’t be out of place here.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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12.19.2016
09:47 am
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Leon Russell’s groovy Terry Gilliam-esque animated promo for ‘Roll Away the Stone’
11.15.2016
12:01 pm
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It’s been widely noted that 2016 has been an especially rough year for legendary musicians. Sunday brought news of the passing of the great and prolific troubadour Leon Russell at the age of 74. Russell routinely put out gold albums in the 1970s and was a profound influence on singers as varied as Elvis Costello and Frank Black.

A bit surprisingly, Russell never had a top 10 album or song until The Union, his 2010 album wth Elton John. His early composition “A Song for You” was covered by countless musicians, most notably the Carpenters, but his highest-charting track was actually “Tight Rope,” which appeared on 1972’s Carney.

It’s amusing to notice the high-powered talent that he attracted for his first album, which came out in 1970. Credited are three Stones (Jagger, Wyman, Watts), two Beatles (Starr and Harrison), plus Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Joe Cocker, and Klaus Voormann.

The first single he ever released was “Roll Away the Stone,” and his label Shelter put together what can only be called a “music video” but everyone insists on calling a “promo.”

The animation was by Brian Zick, a graphic artist from southern California who is known for his striking pop art illustrations. You can see the influence of Yellow Submarine but it’s also a lot like the brilliant cut-out animations of Terry Gilliam for Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which are more or less contemporaneous—I’d reckon Zick had never seen them. Zick did a bunch of album covers in the 1970s and 1980s.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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11.15.2016
12:01 pm
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A preview of ‘Häxan’ (‘The Witch’) the latest from Swedish psych-prog rockers Dungen
11.02.2016
11:29 am
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Last year my #1 top favorite album was Allas Sak by proggy Swedish psychrockers Dungen. As I prattled on at some length about it then, I’ll direct you now to that earlier post from 2015 if you are interested, but let me add that I still play this album all the time. As in all the time all the time. It’s just that good. Whenever you hear someone lamenting that they “don’t make ‘em like that anymore” sit ‘em down, stick a joint in their mouth, slap some headphones on ‘em and then play them Allas Sak and watch them convert. They do still make ‘em like that.

Before that album was even released apparently there was already another full-length Dungen project in the can, their all-instrumental original score to German director Lotte Reiniger’s early animated feature film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed from 1926.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed, based on an Arabian Nights fable by way of Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, took three years to make, and was animated with a unique silhouette “shadow show” animation technique Reiniger herself had invented using cardboard cutouts and thin sheets of lead placed under a camera. Reiniger’s original musical collaborator was German composer Wolfgang Zeller who wrote his score to match the onscreen action and “photograms” were created for orchestras to follow along with. Although all known German nitrate masters of the film had basically disintegrated, it was painstakingly restored by German and British technicians in the late 1990s using the Desmetcolor process and has become well known to modern day cinema buffs.
 

 
Dungen’s re-imagined score for The Adventures of Prince Achmed—released by Mexican Summer later this month (Novermber 25th, this year’s “Black Friday” Record Store Day, to be exact) as Häxan (“The Witch”) is a bubbling caldron of everything great about the Dungen sound, but even more dramatic, mystical and moody. Freer. More extreme. The sound of the album varies a lot, but the flute and Mellotron brings to mind Moody Blues or Focus in the prettier moments, and in the harder-rocking sections Pink Floyd’s “Nile Song” and even riff-heavy Sabbath-influenced stoner rock. As I type this, I’ve only listened to it once all the way through, but I fully expect I’ll be playing Dungen’s mighty Häxan longplayer as much as I played its glorious predecessor.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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11.02.2016
11:29 am
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Peter Murphy stars as ‘The Dead’ in the experimental Super 8 film ‘The Grid,’ 1980
10.21.2016
09:53 am
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The VHS release of The Grid (via Tumblr)
 
In 1980, the animator Joanna Woodward (a/k/a JoWOnder) cast her boyfriend Peter Murphy in a short film called The Grid. Now I know it’s hot on planet Earth, but goddammit! If In The Flat Field-era Peter Murphy playing a character called “The Dead” doesn’t put you in the holiday spirit, then maybe somebody’s forgotten the true meaning of Halloween.

Here are JoWOnder’s own notes about her movie, which she says was projected at Bauhaus shows in the 80s. I wish she explained what T.S. Eliot is doing on the soundtrack. Typos are hers.

A story about a time traveler and the search for the first cell of one’s existence. ‘The Dead’, played by Peter Murphy searches for and finds a ‘Grid’ which enables him to watch the beginning of his life -from the moment of conception.

Tip: For a better picture view: watch using the ‘Full Screen’ Option.

Filmed when, when Peter was the boyfriend of Joanna Woodward in the 1980’s, on Super 8 Film Format. This copy has been taken by Jo from the VHS which Peter sold copies of on his, 2000, international Just for Love tour. (The original a clear picture Super 8 copy having been mislaid).

The Grid, movie toured with Bauhaus and was projected on stage in the 1980s. Jo says;’ that she was much more interested in fine art and not so much commercial art or popular music. Punk was predominant at that time and it was quite common for things to get ‘gobbed at’ as a sign of appreciation.’

The closing music here is Subhanallah by Peter Murphy however, the original concluding music track, for The Grid was Kate Bush, Lion Heart. Jo finds both concluding music tracks satisfying however, the Kate Bush track was intended to echo the opera music earlier in the film and the female ‘creator of life’ bursting through. The film’s main soundtrack Jo devised herself on a synthesizer with live playing of a recorder. The tiny sound of ‘clicks’ that can be heard are, literally the sound of switching on and off equipment as she recorded live to the film picture with an open microphone.

Watch ‘The Grid’ after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.21.2016
09:53 am
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Anti-drug PSAs by Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and the rest of the ‘Looney Tunes’ gang
10.14.2016
09:23 am
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According to Discogs, the National Association Of Progressive Radio Announcers, Inc. made only three records. On the first, 72 Vote P.S.A.‘s, everyone from Howdy Doody to Daniel Ellsberg pleaded with you, the 18-21 head so lately enfranchised by the passage of the 26th Amendment, to register and vote in the Nixon-McGovern contest.

NARPA’s other two releases were Get Off (1973) and Get Off II (1975), collections of anti-drug PSAs by practically the whole cast of 70s showbiz: Alice Cooper, the Eagles, Dr. John, Brewer & Shipley, Black Oak Arkansas, Yes, Papa John Creach, Grand Funk, the Dead, New Riders of the Purple Sage, George Carlin, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Frank Zappa, War, the Staple Singers, the O’Jays, Robin Trower, Bill Withers, Carly Simon, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, John McLaughlin, Three Dog Night, Dave Mason, and Star Trek‘s Kirk and Spock all contributed. Perhaps it’s no surprise then that the great Mel Blanc appeared on Get Off II as himself and five of his Looney Tunes characters, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Porky Pig, and Yosemite Sam.
 

 
As you can probably tell by looking at the cover of Get Off II, these PSAs were strictly against hard drugs. Because I grew up during the absolutist D.A.R.E. years, I was relieved to hear that Bugs just wants me to stay away from smack and downers. He doesn’t say a word about pot, acid, or mescaline, bless him!

Blanc’s PSAs start out upbeat and lighthearted. As the band strikes up “Hail to the Chief,” Daffy addresses the nation:

Hello, America, this is Daffy Duck! I may be daffy, but I’m not crazy. I’m smart enough to know that hard drugs like heroin and downers are a bummer. Don’t fool with ‘em! Take it from yours truly—dangerous drugs are despicable! See ya.

But they quickly turn dark. Foghorn Leghorn demands, “What are those red and yellow pills you got there?” Porky Pig sounds like he has been severely traumatized by going to a party where everyone was “m-m-mumbling” and using “hard drugs, l-l-like smack and d-d-downers.” And Yosemite Sam complains that there are no tough guys left because they have all been turned to “mashed potatoes” by the ravages of skag. It’s like a real bummer, man…
 
Listen, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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10.14.2016
09:23 am
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Ramones, Butthole Surfers, Violent Femmes and more, covering Saturday morning cartoon theme songs
10.12.2016
09:22 am
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In 1995, MCA Records released Saturday Morning Cartoons Greatest Hits, a compilation of then current alt-rock stars and also-rans transforming the 30-60 second theme songs from classic children’s shows into three-minute pop songs, accompanied by a full length home video that featured all the songs on the comp with the linking device of Drew Barrymore watching them all and commenting with her central-casting Gen-X friends. It dovetailed both with the vogue for alt-rock tribute comps and the ongoing popularity of the Television’s Greatest Hits series, which by then had been around for ten years.

Though they win points for sporting cool Glenn Barr cover art, both the CD and video were pretty crummy overall, but naturally, amid the dross of tepid mid-’90s radio alt (Sponge, Semisonic, Collective Soul, Sublime—I’ll bet you just can’t wait to hear it now, right?) there were some terrific moments. How could the Ramones doing the unforgettable theme to those endearingly cheap 1967 Spider-Man cartoons be bad? IT CANNOT. Violent Femmes went on a marvelously weird tangent. Instead of covering the Jetsons actual theme song, they did a deep cut: “Eep, Opp, Ork, Ah-ah!” by the in-universe teen idol Jet Screamer. It’s pretty great. The Reverend Horton Heat did a roaring psychobilly medley of the Jonny Quest theme and another deep dig, “Stop That Pigeon” from the short-lived Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. The Butthole Surfers, though they were well past the height of their powers by then, did a mindwarping take on the Underdog theme. And there’s perhaps the album’s most perfect pairing of artist and material, the Aussie folk-pop band Frente! doing a really charming “Open up Your Heart (and Let the Sunshine In),” a 1954 song about rejecting the Devil, which became huge when the infant Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm sang it on The Flintstones.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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10.12.2016
09:22 am
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Everything you need to know about the Frank Zappa auction
10.11.2016
09:52 am
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“Auction House to the Stars” Julien’s has announced a large sale of items from the estate of the late cult rocker/social provocateur Frank Zappa and his wife Gail, the trustee of his legacy who herself passed away a year ago this week. Besides revealing a surprisingly gaudy decorating sensibility, the auction is typical rock star fare—paintings of and by the deceased musician, gold and platinum records and other sales awards, clothing, jewelry, and other ephemera that for some reason people want to possess. And of course there are some pretty tasty guitars in the offing—including an Acoustic Control Corporation Black Widow, a very rare guitar that made news about a year ago when Jimi Hendrix’s was the object of a lawsuit. But the items that make this auction truly noteworthy in our opinion are the original assemblage sculpture that served as the cover art of Burnt Weeny Sandwich, the set of apparently one-of-a-kind Zappa portrait matryoshka dolls
 

I kinda REALLY WANT these.

…and the dozen lots (324-335) of Bruce Bickford claymation figures used to make the brain-eatingly lysergic animated sequences in the classic Baby Snakes concert film.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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10.11.2016
09:52 am
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H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu gets the anime treatment
09.29.2016
01:07 pm
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The year 2018 will see the release of an omnibus anime feature film based on Force of Will, a fantasy trading card game first launched in 2012 in Japan—the project sounds vaguely similar to 2003’s The Animatrix based on the Matrix universe. Excitingly, one of the six movies is called “Cthulhu” and is based on H.P. Lovecraft‘s famous monster. Other narratives in the movie are called “Pinocchio,” “Monkey King,” and “Zombie.”

In his 1926 story “The Call of Cthulhu,” Lovecraft described his most famous creation, Cthulhu, as “a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind.”

See the trailer after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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09.29.2016
01:07 pm
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