Playlist: Pathways

It’s the first day of spring in the western hemisphere and this season is known for rebirth, life, and growth. To start off this time of renewal here’s a playlist of 10 songs about life reflection, perspective, and making choices.  Happy Spring Equinox!

In Every Direction – Junip

Silver Timothy – Damien Jurado

Biggy – Warpaint

Apocalypse Dreams – Tame Impala

Pieces of What – MGMT

Dear God (Sincerely M.O.F.) – Monsters of Folk

Maybe Not – Cat Power

Helplessness Blues – Fleet Foxes

White Oak – Kalen Nash

Paz – Zoé

Artlux Mag’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

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When not discussing Miley Cyrus, the hype machine suggested Kanye West and Arcade Fire were the primary gravitational forces of 2013. And while Yeezus and Reflektor were great records, the time and energy journalists devoted to Kanye rants and Arcade Fire dress codes could have been spent covering a wealth of genius material that flew under the radar. With that in mind, and with the acknowledgment that ranking art is a pointless (though oddly fun) endeavor, Artlux presents its top 10 albums of 2013.

10. Serengeti – Saal

King of character study and frequent Sufjan collaborator Serengeti put out a lot of music in 2013. His record under the guise of Chicago bratwurst enthusiast Kenny Dennis received the most attention, including praise from Thom Yorke, but it was the underhyped Saal alongside German producer Sicker Man that showed Geti at his most raw and revealing, singing of a recurring night terror involving his deceased girlfriend and showing up at an ex’s wedding wearing a fake nose.

9. Young Fathers – Tape Two

Artists who make music described as uncategorizable  are often doing something right. Scottish trio Young Fathers are hip hop at their core, but their experimental lo-fi odyssey routinely features elements of African music, soul, reggae and more. Their second EP on Anticon is equal parts beautiful and grimy, highlighted by the melodic might of “I Heard” and adventurous tumult of “Queen Is Dead”, which sounds like a synthy post-apocalyptic dance party set in the Grand Bazaar.

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (Review)

Ben Stiller’s fifth feature-length directorial outing, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, screened Wednesday at Bowtie Chelsea Cinemas. Adapted from James Thurber’s classic 1939 short story, the adventure comedy details a bland office worker’s attempts to subvert reality through transcendent daydreams.

Walter Mitty features beautiful cinematography, with the picturesque mountains and waters of Iceland mirroring the larger-than-life travels of its titular character (Stiller). The duller half of the movie was shot in New York City, with familiar landmarks like Rockefeller Center popping up now and then. A Junip-heavy soundtrack suits the scenery well.

From the opening scene of Walter brooding over his eHarmony account in a solitary uptown apartment, his quiet desperation is palpable. He’s a man committed to his negative asset manager (photo editor) job at LIFE magazine, one he excels at by all accounts, but he has never taken any real chances or followed through on his passions. When a shakeup at work and the loss of a
crucial negative threatens his job as well as that of Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), a co-worker he has a crush on, Walter suddenly comes out of his shell and embarks on a globetrotting adventure to track down renegade photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) and the missing negative.

Walter routinely zones out in his daily life and daydreams of heroic feats that quash his nemesis boss (Adam Scott) and win the heart of Cheryl. The scenes portraying this are all excellently shot and provide a large portion of the movie’s laughs, but it’s a tired character trait. One need look no further back than Michel Gondry’s 2006 The Science of Sleep to see a character detaching himself from the moment and blurring the physical and (day)dream realms. Hell, even Zach Braff on Scrubs went down this road in his own cheesy way. In staying true to Thurber’s story, Stiller had to explore the protagonist’s daydreams, but was trapped by the aforementioned cliché and could only hope to go about it in an original way.

The film, like so many mainstream releases of late, is marred by gratuitous product placement. A conversation between Walter and Cheryl painfully namedrops Papa John’s about five times and Patton Oswalt’s cameo is most memorable for him talking about Cinnabon while eating a Cinnabon. This is particularly disappointing given that Stiller seemed to be going for something
more artful and less commercial with the film. Product placement is not enough to ruin Walter Mitty, a charming, slightly above average flick, but it keeps it a safe distance from the lofty heights it was after.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty opens in theaters on Christmas Day.