Sometimes it takes ages for quality artists to get the recognition they deserved, other times deserved fame never comes. This blog sings the praises of unsung and yet-to-be-sung music, movies, books, and more.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Daytripper - The graphic novel most likely to inspire an Oscar-winning movie

Most people think of caped crusaders when they hear the term 'graphic novel' but Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba's Daytripper is quite a departure from this realm. Owing more to Tom Tykwer's Run Lola Run in theme and Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction in structure than to any conventional graphic novel, Daytripper is set in modern-day Sao Paulo, Brazil where aspiring novelist Brás de Oliva Domingos dreams of leaving his hack job as a newspaper obituary writer and striking out of the shadow of his father, a literary demigod and national treasure.
Daytripper follows Brás through the most important days of his life--meeting his future wife, the birth of his son, and the impetus for his first novel--presented out of sequence like memories drifting through his mind. Each day is revealed not as it actually happened but as it may have unfolded with highs and lows, stirring connections and missed opportunities. A jarring twist early on that I will avoid spoiling creates the crux of the story that allows this device to work and raises the scaffold on which Brazilian wonder twins Moon and Ba build drama and suspense, so much so that it's hard not to devour Daytripper in a single sitting. What's even more compelling is how each chapter and each choice alters not just what follows but what they reader has already learned about Brás and his life's story. 

All in all, Daytripper's single days culminate, as all our days do, in a life and, along with that, a hopeful and ebullient reflection on life, what it means to be loving and present, and what a weighty but joyous responsibility that is when fully realized.

Fábio Moon told Comic Book Resource News: "Any day can be the most important day of your life. Any given day, something can happen that will change your life. Any given day, you can meet someone and your life will never be the same. This is your life, one day at a time. Make it count."
....Which is why Daytripper would make a standout Oscar-worthy film and thought-piece, a gift to moviegoers who've grown accustomed to the surge in blockbusters like The Dark Knight and cable series like The Walking Dead (based on the series by Robert Kirkman) and may be open to a human drama descended from the pages of a lush and visually-stunning graphic novel. Don't wait for the Hollywood retelling of this Eisner Award winner and former New York Times #1 bestseller--see it unfold with Ba's stunning artwork as it was meant to be.

If I can't convince you, let Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance do it: ""Beautifully written and utterly gorgeous, DAYTRIPPER completely blew me away." — Gerard Way

All art displayed in this post is from Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba

Monday, March 4, 2013

15 Albums I Love From Start to Finish

1. The Clash - "London Calling" - This snapshot of 1979 London blends West Indian sounds with retro rock & roll to unspool a wealth of human stories using an amazing variety of styles. Mick Jones wrote many of these songs while renting a room from his grandmother. Perhaps that's why this classic feels like a first album--when a band bleeds its autobiography--rather than a third offing. Worth the price of admission simply for the lyrics to "The Card Cheat". Song: "Rudie Can't Fail"

2. The Four Tops & The Temptations - "T'N'T" - Is Motown the pinnacle of American music? Maybe. Even though this is a compilation rather than a true album, I've always thought of the Temps and the Tops as the milk and cookies of pop's golden era--two perfect treats that are even better together. Song: "Can't Help Myself"

3. Less Than Jake - "Borders and Boundaries" - Gainesville, Florida's hometown heroes are one of the few bands in my favorite genre: skacore. Lightning fast guitars accompanied by sax and horns pulse with the vivid lyrics geared toward anyone who ever dreamed of leaving behind a small town and/or a minimum wage job. And who doesn't fall into at least one of those categories at some point in life? Songs: "Gainesville Rock City" & "Look What Happened"

4. Social Distortion - "Sex, Love, & Rock 'n' Roll" - Most people would have chosen one of rockabilly poet Mike Ness' earlier albums but I love the soaring hope that shines through on his anthemic redemption song. Ness' gravel over velvet voice paints banged up billboards of California life more evocative of Bakersfield or Barstow than his native Orange County ("I can still hear the mission bell and the train rolling through your town"). Song: "Highway 101"

5. Killswitch Engage - "The End of Heartache" - Watching Robert Goulet sing 'without feeling' prompted Elvis to shoot his TV. He wouldn't have done that if he'd been watching lead singer Howard Jones of KSE. Jones' rich booming baritone enrobes the listener and infuses every word with such depth that poets laureate should be lining up to book him for readings. Sadly, Jones is no longer with the band and the days of seeing him trade wisecracks with guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz on stage are over. Song: "The Rose of Sharon"

6. Brooks and Dunn - "Steers and Stripes" - Dunn's passionate voice weaves tales of longing and love which are juxtaposed against Kix Brooks' wry humorous especially jaunts like "Deny, Deny, Deny" ("That wasn't me at a quarter to three in our backyard..."). Song: "Every River"

7. The Alarm - "Change" - I've always thought of The Alarm as U2's Welsh cousins because they weren't merely contemporaries playing a similar style of music but because they also wrote lyrics about the nation's history, their faith in God, and the struggles of modern times heralded by Mike Peters' unique and robust voice. Unfortunately, they were never a big hit stateside and this album makes that all the more difficult to believe. Song: "No Frontiers"

8. U2 - "The Joshua Tree" - A tour of America from an outsider's POV, the band wrote this highly-diverse and evocative album after U2's first expansive tour of the States. With so many should-be hits, I'm sure Island records had difficulty choosing singles. Song: "Exit"

9. Millencolin - "Home From Home" - Great guitars and lyrics ranging from lighthearted love songs to houseplants and motorcycles (yes, you read that right) sit alongside heartfelt ones. "Happiness for Dog" about lead singer Nikola Sarcevic's beloved brother who was mentally disabled is heartbreaking but hopeful. Song: "The Mayfly"

10. The B-52's - "Cosmic Thing" - Dance THIS mess around! From the opening jangles of the dance-frenzy "Cosmic Thing" to the rolling final credits feel of "Follow Your Bliss," this album is a montage that boasts more textures and colors than the flamboyant band's wardrobe. Song: "Topaz"
11. Riverboat Gamblers - "Underneath the Owl" - Garage rock never sounded so good. My iPod is probably sick of me playing this album. If this had been released during The Strokes' heyday in the early 2000s, everyone would be singing the road-trip anthem "Victory Lap" ("We spent half the night at Flying J"). Songs: "A Choppy Yet Sincere Apology" & "Victory Lap"

12. New Radicals - "Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too" - A one-hit wonder for 'You Get What You Give', this album boasts snarky and well-crafted lyrics as well as a huge variety of sounds and textures. The New Radicals were the brainchild of hit song-crafter Gregg Alexander wrote "The Game of Love" which won a Grammy for Santana. Song: "Crying Like a Church on Monday"

13. Rancid - "...And Out Comes the Wolves" - Chuck Berry guitars with street punk life-worn lyrics about the struggles of life, love, and making the rent in the seedier side of the Bay Area. Although it's probably my favorite album, I usually skip the first track and start with the buzzed bus ride of "Roots Radical." Song: "Olympia, WA"

14. Crowded House - "Crowded House" - New Zealand's second most famous export after kiwifruit saw a few Top 40 singles in 'Something So Strong' and 'Don't Dream It's Over' but the whole album is timeless. Neil Finn's first post-Split Enz work was something of The Beatles meets CSNY. Song: "Something So Strong"

15. Big Pig - "Bonk" - What does a band with three drummers fronted by an Aussie version of Shirley Bassey sound like? Australia's Big Pig never had any real US airplay despite seeing their songs "Hungry Town" and "Breakaway" featured on the soundtracks of the movies "Young Einstein" and "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure." Song: "Breakaway"

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Intents & Purposes

About My Blog - Statement of Purpose

A citizen of the pop culture landscape, I've often been the leading edge of what's about to be hot in entertainment. Sometimes it seems to take forever for quality artists to get the recognition they've deserved, other times deserved fame never comes. This is my blog dedicated to singing the praises of the unsung and yet-to-be-sung music, movies, books, and more. High-brow? Low-brow? No-brow? I don't care--if I like it that's all that matters. I savored graphic novels back when the self-styled intelligencia scoffed that they were infantile--now they're a one-shelf smorgasboard for big-budget film-makers. Going to the Warped Tour when you're almost old enough to be on the Legends Stage may not be everyone's cup of tea but my Ed Sullivan-wannabe soul can't get enough of the thrill of seeing emerging artists hungry to make their mark. I think skacore, 60's Motown, Veronica Mars, and USA network originals just might be the high-points of American culture.

About Me the Long-Play Version
Although I'll settle for seeing the Baltimore Orioles win a World Series, my heart's desire is to see my beloved Montreal Canadiens win a 25th Stanley Cup. Right now I'm ok with just enjoying the passionate rally spirit of Mr. Never-Say-Die Derek Jeter. When I'm not wearing my blogging cape, I'm an aspiring YA author, producer/researcher for reruns that air on Investigation Discovery, and author/co-creator of the one-man show Implosion--about an inmate reflecting on the choices that led him to death row--which has been performed at dozens of public schools, churches, and prisons in New York and Virginia. I live in Virginia Beach with my husband who makes Al Borland look like Tim "The Toolman" Taylor and my awesome toddler daughter who is already smarter than I'll ever be.