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House Playlist: The Acorn, Brian Eno, the Weeknd, & Whirl

One of our favorite indie labels, Paper Bag Records, has released a track-for-track cover of Madonna’s True Blue album.

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House Playlist: The Acorn, Brian Eno, the Weeknd, & Whirl

The Acorn, “White Heat (Silken Laumann Remix).” One of our favorite indie labels, Paper Bag Records, has released a track-for-track cover of Madonna’s True Blue album, which turns 25 this summer (yup, you’re officially old). Highlights include Young Galaxy’s minimalist take on “Open Your Heart,” the Rural Alberta Advantage’s folked-out version of “Live to Tell,” and the Acorn’s clattering synth-rock rendition of “White Heat,” a standout cut from the original album that, save the James Cagney sample, is completely reinvented and nearly unrecognizable from the Material Girl’s version. Download the whole album for free here. Sal Cinquemani

Brian Eno, “Glitch.” After years of on-and-off collaborations, Brian Eno and poet Rick Holland are set to release their new album, Drums Between the Bells, this summer. In addition to a track titled “As If Your Eyes Were Partly Closed As If You Honed the Swirl Within Them and Offered Me…the World,” there’s also “Glitch,” a nervy track that features Holland’s new-age musings (like “Death is not an end/It’s a place to search the light with”), a fantastically rubbery bassline, some flanging reminiscent of Eno’s work with U2 (“Lemon,” anyone?), and a stuttery climax worthy of the song’s title. SC

The Weeknd, “The Morning.” The Weeknd’s House of Balloons mixtape fulfills all the requisite conditions of blogability. Lack of vowel? Check. Mysterious production origins? Check. Siouxsie and the Banshees sample? Yessir. But much like with Odd Future, it’s easy to get the sense that this is more than an Internet-hipster curio. The Weeknd pushes the sonic and lyrical boundaries of R&B in ways that suggest what might happen if Game and Kenna got together for a drink. “The Morning” starts with a soft guitar chord and some slinky synths, the sound of waking up the next day. Singer Abel Tesfaye narrates the lives of those nameless female hangers-on. Then the beat rattles and there’s that utterly cynical chorus: “All that money the money is the motive/All that money the money she be foldin’/Girl put in work girl girl put in work.” Is Tesfaye misogynistic, or like Odd Future, just reactionary? It may be too early to tell, but one thing’s for sure: This is scarred, scary music, with some very sexy production values. At a time when R&B is begging to be revitalized, it’s also nothing less than refreshing. Paul Schrodt

Whirl, “Leave.” There’s no need to remind San Francisco six-piece Whirl that My Bloody Valentine’s landmark Loveless turns 20 this year. Odds are they’ve already started lighting the birthday candles. Whirl’s blurry press shots and limited-edition cassette releases suggest that the group’s worship of the shoegazing architects stretches beyond mere sonic homage; they’re practically a tribute band. One of the highlights from Whirl’s recently released Distressor EP, “Leave” sounds like it was crafted from a veritable MBV checklist: layers of swirling distortion; loose, spastic percussion; ethereal female vocals buried in the mix. While it seems unlikely that Kevin Shields and company will produce a follow-up to Loveless anytime soon, consider Whirl a worthy constellation prize. Jaymie Baxley

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Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Gets Teaser Trailer

When it rains, it pours.

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Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Photo: Columbia Pictures

When it rains, it pours. Four days after Quentin Tarantino once more laid into John Ford in a piece written for his Beverly Cinema website that saw the filmmaker referring to Ford’s She Wore a Yellow Ribbon as Tie a Yellow Ribbon, and two days after Columbia Pictures released poster art for QT’s ninth feature that wasn’t exactly of the highest order, the studio has released a teaser for Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The film was announced early last year, with Tarantino describing it as “a story that takes place in Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood.”

Set on the eve of the Manson family murders, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood tells the story of TV actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt), as they try to get involved in the film industry. The film also stars Margot Robbie (as Sharon Tate), Al Pacino, the late Luke Perry, Damian Lewis, Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch, Timothy Olyphant, Kurt Russell, and Bruce Dern in a part originally intended for the late Burt Reynolds.

See the teaser below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Scf8nIJCvs4

Columbia Pictures will release Once Upon a Time in Hollywood on July 26.

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Watch the Stranger Things 3 Trailer, and to the Tune of Mötley Crüe and the Who

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence.

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Stranger Things 3
Photo: Netflix

A wise woman once said that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. On Friday, Jeff Tremaine’s The Dirt, a biopic about Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame, drops on Netflix. Today, the streaming service has released the trailer for the third season of Stranger Things. The clip opens with the strains of Mötley Crüe’s “Home Sweet Home,” all the better to underline that the peace and quiet that returned to the fictional rural town of Hawkins, Indiana at the end of the show’s second season is just waiting to be upset again.

Little is known about the plot of the new season, and the trailer keeps things pretty vague, though the Duffer Brothers have suggested that the storyline will take place a year after the events of the last season—duh, we know when “Home Sweet Home” came out—and focus on the main characters’ puberty pangs. That said, according to Reddit sleuths who’ve obsessed over such details as the nuances of the new season’s poster art, it looks like Max and company are going to have to contend with demon rats no doubt released from the Upside Down.

See below for the new season’s trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEG3bmU_WaI

Stranger Things 3 premieres globally on July 4.

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Who Killed My Father Is Heartbreaking but Prone to Pat Sociological Analysis

Édouard Louis’s latest is strong as a portrait of a family unable to communicate through anything but volatile, toxic outbursts.

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Who Killed My Father

Author Édouard Louis’s father has been an important figure in each of his previous works, even when he’s never seen or mostly at the periphery (as in The History of Violence). With his latest, Who Killed My Father, Louis finally turns to directly examining his most important, damaged relationship. Both in his previous books and interviews, Louis has repeatedly acknowledged this broken relationship, largely stemming from the author’s open homosexuality. Alongside this, Louis’s prior works have circled around a number of themes to which he returns here: the French political and working classes, the small-town prejudices that surrounded his upbringing and drove a closeted homosexual boy to escape to more cosmopolitan Paris, and the role of state power in producing social and physical illness.

With Who Killed My Father, Louis invites inevitable comparisons to Abdellah Taïa, another talented French writer who’s also gay and largely estranged from his place of origin, and also primarily an autobiographical novelist. Like Louis, Taïa incorporates his complicated relationship with a parent into several of his books. Taïa also connects that relationship, his writing, and his experience with the society he left behind in Morocco and the one he found in France. But what distinguishes his writing in, for example, Infidels or Salvation Army from that of Édouard Louis in Who Killed My Father is a strong sense of meaning. Taïa incorporates his relationship with his mother, M’Barka, to convey something more meaningful and developed.

Louis begins down this same road before clumsily inserting a political tract at the end of Who Killed My Father that doesn’t knit as effortlessly with parts one and two. The book situates Louis’s relationship with his father front and center as compared to his previous work. It’s clear that he’s exposing the painfulness of their relationship for the purpose of speaking about political power and its physical and social toll on those who don’t possess it, but Who Killed My Father stumbles in conveying its message adequately.

Louis’s account of his father’s suffering and violence toward those around him is both painful and sharp. Who Killed My Father is strongest when Louis is demonstrating his father’s most private acts of kindness, as when the father gives Louis a copy of Titanic for his birthday after trying to convince him to ask for a more “masculine” gift. After Louis realizes that his carefully planned tribute to the pop band Aqua at a family dinner has embarrassed his father, the man reassures Louis that “it’s nothing.” In the book’s first and strongest part, Louis expounds not only on the relationship with his father, but also excavates what might have made his father the man he grew up with. At one point, he recounts finding a photograph of his father in women’s clothes—undoubtedly some adolescent joke, but also inconceivable from the man who insisted to his son that men should never act like girls.

Regrettably, part one ends with a trite conclusion that says everything and nothing at the same time. In part two, the story attempts to braid together all the malignant threads of Louis’s family narrative. Louis recalls igniting a violent outburst between his father and older brother as a result of his mother shaming him for acting too much like a girl (“faggot” is what some others in the neighborhood more precisely call him). The insinuation hurts and angers him so much that he betrays his mother’s confidence on another family secret, setting loose a new wave of violence. Part two is short and important to moving Who Killed My Father toward some wider evaluation of the questions Louis begins the book with, but it ultimately fails to find its footing by pivoting in part three to an unearned polemic against the political classes.

Who Killed My Father is strong as a portrait of a family unable to communicate (except in brief moments of tenderness) through anything but volatile, toxic outbursts, but the book at its weakest when trying to ham-handedly force this narrative into some broad theorizing about power and society and structural violence. Part one aligned beautifully with a narrative of meaning more comparable to Taïa at his best. Unfortunately, the story quickly falls apart when Jacques Chirac is indicted for destroying Louis’s father’s body through changes in health care coverage. It’s not that the questions Louis ends with aren’t necessary and important ones; it’s that there’s so little threading the narrative together into anything cohesive. What was the point of the first two-thirds of the book? His father was cruel, occasionally loving, but never mind because the state is killing him? The life of the poor is one of abject powerlessness against an unremittingly powerful and callous “ruling class”?

Louis deserves credit for the attempt to tie it all together into some grander commentary on the political class and its ambivalence, but the conclusion is simultaneously glib and condescending. Perhaps Louis didn’t intend it, but the book’s conclusion drains away responsibility for the cruelty and bigotry of those like his father, and patronizes them as with a quick How could we expect any better of the noble, working poor? Is it the state’s or the ruling class’s subjugation of his father’s body that’s somehow also responsible for his inability to sympathize with gays or immigrants? Of course, the poor are subjugated by the rich and Louis has written more meaningfully about the implications of that relationship elsewhere. But in Who Killed My Father, he inadvertently demonstrates that the answer isn’t to sanctify them any more than it is to demonize them.

Édouard Louis’s Who Killed My Father is now available from New Directions.

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