The Mixed Tape


5 albums that altered my music taste forever…

-By Matt Perdue-

Five albums form this past decade that have changed and formulated my taste in music to what it is today:

Enema of the State (1999) – Blink-182

Okay, so this 1999 release hardly makes it into this last ten years, but well worth mentioning. Blink-182 was the first band I ever fell in love with, their punk rock riffs, pissed-of n’ sassy attitude, and crude humor made a place in my heart for years to come. To this day they’re still one of my favorite bands. If you listened and liked this album, check out their proceeding album Take Off Your Pants and Jacket.

In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 (2003) – Coheed and Cambria

In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 was my introduction to Coheed and Cambria, and it couldn’t have been any better of one. Coheed is a progressive rock band known for the main singer’s high-pitched vocals and melodic guitar riffs. Behind their enigmatic lyrics lies a story, a space-opera epic about the lives of Coheed and Cambria and their doomed children. Each song and album is in chronological order telling this story known as The Amory Wars. With their unique sound, Coheed and Cambria has much more to offer than you’d ever expect from your typical band of musicians. If you like what you hear, check out their freshman album The Second Stage Turbine Blade, and keep an eye out for their upcoming “prequel” album The Year of the Black Rainbow.

Son I Loved You at your Darkest (2005) – As Cities Burn

I was never a fan of screamo, metalcore, or hardcore music until my best friend introduced me to As Cities Burn, a screamo/alternative rock band that acted as my gateway into finding a taste for music of the sort. As Cities Burn acted as a middle-ground between what I liked and what I didn’t have a taste for: screamo. For someone who is not into screamo, Son I Loved You at Your Darkest is a very listenable sound. They do not hurt your ears or tarnish your heart like say Job for a Cowboy, but they scream enough for your musical heart to develop a taste for screamo. If you dig this and get a taste for it, check out the band Blessthefall for a very gentle “step up”, from there you can explore what you do or don’t like.

Kaleidoscope (2009) – DJ Tiesto

For the most the decade, all of the above has summed my taste in music until this fall, when a good friend of The Mixed Tape, DJ Flavio, introduced me to DJ Tiesto with his latest album: Kaleidoscope. Most of the songs on the album being feats with other artists, this album will sure have something you like on it, whether it be pop, electro, or trans, DJ Tiesto will keep you dancing till the sun comes up. Along with this discover of electro and techno, I have discovered other artists including Deadmau5 and pretty much anything I can dance to.

Honorable Mentions

Fortress (2008) – Protest the Hero

A Canadian, calculated metal/rock band with beautiful, operatic vocals who created an album I can’t stop listening to.

Hot Fuss (2004) – The Killers

This was my in to indie rock and roll, and is one of my top four favorite bands of all time, and will probably be come known as one of the greatest bands ever.

Give Up (2003) – The Postal Service

One of those albums that just has a spot in your heart for years to come.

What albums impacted you this decade? Comment below.

-Matt

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Paranormal Activity.

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My love for horror and horror classics has forced me to adapt and find the little gems hidden beneath all the excessive, flashy “horror” films that Hollywood pushes out. One of the first gems that I found was [Rec], the original and far-better version of Quarantine, my most discovery by word of mouth was Paranormal Activity, a film made in 2007 on a $15,000 budget. It’s slow growth has gone from small film festivals to being backed by Paramount Pictures, releasing the film in cities based on demand.

A good friend and I snagged a pair of tickets for a 12:20am showing of Paranormal Activity at Arclight Theatres in Hollywood, CA. We were blown away.

The film takes on the “found footage” style of storytelling, pioneered by The Blair Witch Project, and follows a couple in San Diego who feel they are being tormented by something or some presence in the night. Upon the purchase of a camera, they decide to film themselves at night to prove their theories. The account of the 20+ days the couple were dealing with this is some of the most horrifying 95 minutes I have ever experienced. The no-name actors deliver convincing performances that make the audience able to relate to the tension in their relationship, their fear, and their shortcomings.

What makes this so scary? A question I have been asked so many times, yet words cannot depict what makes this film so scary, why? Because there’s no monster to show, no beast to depict, this film exploits Stephen Kings ideals that the scariest monster is one you cannot see. To try to imagine to be scared of something you can not see is, but to experience it will keep you sleeping with the lights on. Paranormal Activity hits this very note and keeps you on the very edge of your seat with your nose tucked under your shirt during those scenes you just know something is about to happen. You have no idea what is going to happen, but when it does, it takes you by surprise every time. Unlike The Blair Witch Project, the scary scenes are evenly sparse throughout, the day-scenes allow character development and support the progressive chaos over the 20+ days.

There’s no “in-your-face” jump scenes, there’s not excessive use of “shaky-cam” techniques, as most of the scenes of terror take place while the camera is sitting on a tri-pod. One Rotten Tomatoes reviewer brings up the idea in his review for the film that “[p]lacing a camera on a tripod suddenly seems revolutionary”. Paranormal Activity not only breaks the rules of mockumentary-style horror film with tripods, but also rises above the cheap scares and stereotypes of Hollywood funded horror films, and it truely shows you how to frighten without the use of any blood, CG or foam latex, yet special effects are not absent at all. What director, Oren Peli, was able to accomplish with $15,000, is filmmaking in its purest.

-Matthew Perdue

Photo Source: http://www.impawards.com/2009/posters/paranormal_activity_xlg.jpg



Zombieland.

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This film takes you to the world of Zombieland, post-zombie-epidemic America, following the story of an unnamed college student, nicknamed Columbus, as he travels from Austin, Texas to Columbus, Ohio in search for his family. He comes accross a fellow survivor (Woody Harrelson), nicknamed Talahasse, and they team up with two others, Little Rock and Wichita, in search for a zombie-free haven.

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Zombieland was some of the most fun I have ever had in a movie theatre. Sitting in a nearly packed-out midnight showing of Zombieland, we all “OOOH!”ed and belted-out laughing at the same moments.

The action is relentlessly brutal, ever-so-satisfying and is everything you would ever dream of doing in a zombie-infested world. From roller-coaster rail shooting to zombie  baseball, every kill is responded by an “OH” or an “AWW” of excitement, shock, enthusiasm from the crowd.

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The humor is witty and the one-liners are memorable, there was the occasional “sort of funny” part, but nothing that sticks to memory and nothing to slow it down. Another part of the story is the drama, suprisingly some of the characters revealed more sides of themselves than you thought. Talahasse was a suprising character for me, in the trailer he seemed to be a cocky, shallow zombie-slayer, but he won over hearts more than I predicted. The romance between Columbus and Wichita was well-constructed, it wasn’t extremely deep, it wasn’t drawn out, and wasn’t over dramatic. It fit into the film well. By the end of the film I actually cared about the two and wanted to see them get together, a crucial element when writing in a romantic tangent between two characters.

As much as there is good, the film had room for improvement. In a couple of spots, the acting was sub-par, and one or two special effects shots would make you recognize that it was special effects. The zombies characters, however, had top-notch makeup and special effects, as all zombie films should be! Using CGI for zombie-like characters subtracts from the believability of the antagonists, what I like to call “I Am Legend Syndrome”.

Zombieland is a fantastic addition to the Zombie-Comedy (or Zombie-Dramady) subgenre, it stays true to the vicious action and savage gore expected in a zombie film, and still succeeds at developing characters and making you laugh all throughout. It’s hard to find flaws in the film, but given its horror-comedy nature you don’t take it seriously enough to look for flaws. Zombieland is a must see if your stomach can handle the gore…and clowns… if you can’t, nut up or shut up!

(3.5 out of 4 stars)

– Matt Perdue

Photo Sources:

http://www.imdb.com/media/rm3583609088/tt1156398



Inglourious Messages

It is undeniable that Quentin Tarantino‘s latest picture was a stellar success after what some skeptics may have claimed, Tarantino’s “dry run”. With astounding performances from some big names in Hollywood, as well as a few “no-names”, excellent direction, witty and humorous writing, Inglourious Basterds satisfied both critics and die-hard movie fans.

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However, many fans of Tarantino have finally come to question the motives behind the making of his last film, and his previous films for that matter. What kind of message is Tarantino sending through his films? Some have come to call Tarantino as “wasted talent” in that he revels in glamorizing violence (and surprisingly, not sex). My first reaction is to ignore these heretical ideas given how much I enjoyed Basterds. But you have to admit: a dark comedy-themed drama about a crew of Jewish-American basterds running around the south of France brutally killing any Nazi they find sounds like a shallow plot of a film, doesn’t it? What was Tarantino’s message? Did he truely want us to laugh at the brutal murders of Nazis?

My first answer that comes to mind is the film was more or less about killing Nazis, and more about the cultural context of World War II, how back then African-Americans still were considered to be sub-human by many. Or maybe it was a potrayal of the mind of a Nazi, as seen through Colonel Hans “The Jew Hunter” Landa, who compared Jews to rats, in that we tend to show unwarranted hostility towards both.

Or maybe the answer is that his films don’t have a message and were just created for the sake of an original, interesting story, and that the message is in the reaction of the audience: did they find it funny, moving, or grotesque? Specifically, why exactly did the filmmaker have the urge to show an actual Nazi head be scalped in front of the camera? Two reactions can only come about this: thrill and disgust. With either response from the audience, this grotesque shot serves purpose to emphasize why the Nazis feared the Basterds, stress the hatred towards German soldiers in World War II, and to show what a “scalping” actually is (since scalping has not been very common since cowboys and indians).

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Ultimately, the safest answer would be that Tarantino doesn’t insert a message in his films because he just enjoys watching films. Why do all films have to have a message when any message he would put in it is going to be biased, outspoken and stir a division in the audiences that it reaches? Why can’t we enjoy the story of a motion picture without having to worry about political or social messages it retains? Messages in films are NOT bad, I just don’t think they have to be a requirement in filmmaking.

But there certainly is not a right or wrong answer, I am sure thousands of movie-goers took something different after watching Inglourious Basterds because there simply may not be a universal message from, but something different for all of us, and that is art.

Should a film always have a message, or can it be purely for entertainment? Does Tarantino glorify violence just for the sake of glorifying violence? Comment below.

– Matt Perdue

Photo Source: http://www.popcultureshock.com/papes/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/inglourious-basterds-pitt_1440.jpg

Photo Source: http://www.seattlemet.com/image_cache/assets/0002/1004/Basterds.jpg