Welcome to summer with overwhelming humidity in Florida and temperatures set to cross the 100-degree mark up north. So stay inside. Turn up the air conditioner. And treat yourself to a good book or some good music. Here's what I've been enjoying this past week ...
Getting to the Point is Beside It. I Love Math.
This isn't calculus or trig. Nothing fancy. Just basic math. This Texas indie supergroup of sorts (the musicians come from several bands, including the Old 97s and Apples in Stereo) plays it very well. Drummer Philip Peeples pounds out simple swinging rhythms. Singer John Dufhilo comes across as a mix between John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants and a less downbeat Elliot Smith. The 11 songs that make up Getting to the Point (not counting a 38-second reprise) are a wonderful combination of indie-pop, alt-country and garage rock. The members of I Love Math are less rawkous than they are in their other groups. But the album is filled with tons of melody and clever lyrics. Go ahead and listen to These Paper Thin Walls and try not singing the Ba-da-da refrain. I Love Math is opening for the Old 97s on their current tour (Peeples is handling drums for both groups). This is a fun album and I hope the participants find time to make more together.
Them: Adventures with Extremists. Jon Ronson
What do radical Islamic militant Omar Bakri Mohammed, former BBC sportscaster David Icke, American militias and the KKK have in common? Besides the fact that they work on the outer fringes spouting hatred, they also all believe that the Bilderberg Group runs the world, using its annual meeting to set the "New World Order." These secret leaders are mostly Jews who worship owls. Oh, and Icke thinks all these people are descended from lizards.
British journalist Ronson, who is Jewish, doesn't really infiltrate these camps, as much as he develops relationships with the leaders. The result is that you almost feel empathy for these extremists. They are a bunch of buffoons. There's Mohammed, the self-declared Osama Bin Laden of London, who gives wrong directions to his followers and ends up giving a speech to a sparse crowd. Or the emerging KKK leader who passes out self-help books and implores his followers to not use the n-word. In other words, Ronson, doesn't expose these haters. He lets them expose themselves.
Oh, but there is a Bilderberg Group (our weekly Wikipedia link). And Ronson gets pretty close before he ends up being chased down by a henchman.
An interesting note: According to the Internet Movie Database, a movie script of Them is currently being written by Ronson and Mike White (School of Rock).
This independent film is a touching story about the life of Richard Pimental, a Vietnam vet and disability activist. The relationship between Pimental and his buddy Art, who has cerebral palsy, is the heart of the often-funny movie.
Maybe It's Reno. Maybe It's Reno.
This is a reunion album of sorts. Members include the former members of 1990s indie-pop band Unrest. But this is clearly singer/bassist Bridget Cross' show. Maybe it's Reno takes the 90 alt-rock and plows it into wide open spaces. A unique album, that will grow on you in time.