DeVon Manier Don't Talk To The Cops Dyme Def Film Review Hype Jake One Jr. Larry Mizell Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Shabazz Palaces SIFF Cinema at the Uptown Sportin' Life Sub Pop THEESatisfaction

SIFF Review: The Otherside

This was an interesting time for director Daniel Torok to do a documentary on underground hip-hop in Seattle. In a strange way, it either seems a little late, or a little too early. (Maybe that means it's right on time — the way a new record doesn't quite make sense, recalling memories of other music while transitioning the mind into a new situation, the heart into a fresh appreciation.)

It's a period in which people who have been enlivening the scene for years, like Larry Mizell Jr. of Don't Talk To The Cops and Sportin' Life owner DeVon Manier (two of the most thoughtful, generous, and charismatic men you will ever meet in the music business), are enjoying the vivified, elevated energies of a scene they dug out swell up with new talent coming up around them (muchly due to them). It's also a moment in which irresistible, invigorating breakthroughs come from unexpected sources, such as the comeback of Macklemore from a once-doomed grid, jacking into gold sales from as near middle America as 206 hip-hop has ever gotten.

Torok gets down the cagey disemboguing on stage along with mad dance scrambles of the B-boy Massive Monkeys, diverse crowds full of old heads and neos all smiling and feeling it together in a brave new world of beats, primed for every pensive vibe-dangle between verses. In this, you get introduced to some new game whilst seeing Sabzi exude Clint Eastwood-level cool and Prometheus Brown breaking it down (Blue Scholars); Jake One candidly admitting his success with writing beats for the big boys in El Lay still blows him away; and for a way too freaking bit-brief glimpse of Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction Seattle Calling the future (like magus-musical spectres over crap-rap dystopia).

But Torok also knows how to make music doc-heads talking like attached to people you want to spend a great deal of time with; you hang on every syllable of hard-fought-for wisdom from vet Dyme Def like it's going to come in handy in your next life-battle. He shows 'em nervous, anxious, or best of all excited to be part of something that's really happening, because it actually is. I could have used a little bit of what the plans might be besides the next joint, the upcoming release. The ad filmed for the new Blue Scholars album is pretty overt; someone needs to crack Sabzi himself open and find out what's juicing that glint in his world-dominating gaze. I know he has subliminal plans that are extra-musical, the way that other artists are attached to helpful causes. Of course, there is the inherent paradox of hip-hop self-promotion: Saving most of it for the art itself. 

Torok uses less than an hour to display the rappers and DJs and dancers confident about the peaks they're about to hit. Even in that sleek time frame, maybe there are a few too many scenes of people insisting we don't have a cohesive sound when about a third of the acts are trying to sound like each other at least a little bit. (Mom and/or pops just have to have a Sonics LP or Patrinell 45 side among those old art-lounge jazz recs, maybe?) And we all agree the rent is too damned high here.

But then punk rockers Sir Thomas Gray and Pearl Dragon switch-fling a scenario to a love-swarm at Neumos with more energy and charm than you ever see on the what-is-now-the-MTV, and my stomach hurts waiting for what will be Champagne Champagne's Raising Hell. Because I know that's happening as I type these words. 

{The Otherside screens at the 39th Annual Seattle International Film Festival on Friday, 5/31, 7:00 pm, and again on Sunday, 6/2, 8:30pm at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Director Daniel Torok and producers Vinny Dom and J.R. Selski scheduled to attend both screenings.}

Cinerama (theater) Film Review Hype

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

{The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey opens in Seattle on Friday, 12/14 and is screening pretty much everywhere, but I personally recommend the Cinerama}

In order to talk about Peter Jackson’s much-anticipated The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, you have to talk about the craziness of him creating a new 3D film technology and deciding to use it—even at the risk of alienating some hardcore fans, and also, uh, making some of them literally throw up. But, we’ll get to that later. Let’s start with the actual plot first.

I was worried going into this that the dwarves would mean a lot of slapstick-y nonsense, and my fears were proven true as soon as the prologue about the dwarves was over, and they reached Bilbo’s house. It’s absolutely true that the dwarves are so similar that outside of the leader, Thorin, you can’t really tell them apart. It’s also absolutely true that the quickest way to make me facepalm is to have a bunch of characters sing while juggling dishes, but I digress.

The plot (like any of you going to see it DON’T know—humor me here) is thus: the dwarves were once rulers of this incredible mountain kingdom, and had more gold and jewels than they really knew what to do with, which unfortunately attracted a greedy dragon named Smaug who forced them out in order hoard the treasure.

Then the dwarves were scattered across the land without a home something-something, something-something, and the King’s grandson Thorin fought a bad-ass scar-faced thing called Azog (aka: Amie’s new favorite villain) and chopped off his arm, obviously leaving him pissed off and looking for revenge.

Much later, Gandalf gets bored and decides to trick mild-mannered Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (is there anything Martin Freeman can’t do? Because seriously, he’s perfect. Just like he is in everything — /fangirl Amie) into helping the dwarves “steal” their fortune back. Which for some reason works, even though the dwarves eat all of Bilbo’s food and kind of act like jerks.

So they all set off on an awfully big adventure involving spiders, and some dude who has a bunny sled, and trolls that make a lot of a fart jokes, and a stupid moonlit map, and Rock’em Sock’em Robots giant rock monsters, and a globular Goblin King who lives in a not-very-well constructed kingdom, and giant eagles, and killer wolves and, most importantly: GOLLUM and his shiny precious. 

To be honest, since I took motion sickness meds to avoid hurling my mixed chocolate/regular popcorn all over the Cinerama, I was kind of drifting in and out of sleep from about 20 minutes in until the rock monster boxing match—which caught my attention and then held it steady through the non-stop action from then until the end of the film.

So is it good? Well, I’ll say this: it’s quite a ride. And I think it’s a fine follow-up to the LOTR movies, and a solid beginning to this installment of Jackson’s incredibly detailed Tolkien tribute. It’s not perfect, but it is enjoyable, and I think fans of the first three movies will dig on this one … even if it’s just for Gollum and Bilbo’s scenes alone (a more than worthy reason to really like it).

One of the problems I had—and I anticipated this going into it—is that outside of Gandalf, Gollum, and brief appearances by Elrond & Galadriel, everyone you cared about from the original trilogy is gone. You’re basically starting from scratch with all new characters (I KNOW Bilbo’s in the first three, but Ian Holm doesn’t exactly have a meaty part), and this movie doesn’t have time to spend on developing characters on most of them, because it’s too busy focusing on the WOWTHATLOOKSNEAT stuff.

Here’s hoping Jackson straightens that out in the next two, learns to shave some (serious) time off each scene, and continues to improve on what I think is a pretty promising start.

Now, about that whole FPS thing: Honestly, seeing a film shot at 48 FPS (frames per second) as opposed to the usual 24FPS is REALLY jarring. Everything is clear. Like super clear. Like preternaturally clear. So clear, it no longer looks like you’re watching film; it looks like some crazy combination of animation and HD TV. And the contrast between real live characters and CGI-d creatures or backgrounds is super-super obvious.

At times, that clearness creates an effect that looks cheap. As the camera panned down over Hobbiton, the clarity of the colors and costumes made the scene look like a local RenFair—except, not even as gritty as that. Which is a shame. Because what I want from big, fantasy action-adventures like this is some grittiness … some reality to ground me, so I can really get into the characters and believe that this world exists.

Where the faster frame rate does work is in the gigantic, largely CGI-populated long shots, where complete environments are created, and when the focus is on armys of fantastical creatures. Rivendell has never looked so lush and ethereal; the Goblins’ mountain domain is well executed, and the piles of gold hidden away by the dwarves are insanely beautiful. Plus, both Gollum and the BIG BAD Azog look really f’ing cool.

But as a whole, 48FPS seems to be at best an unnecessary enhancement, and too much of a distraction to really praise. I think my friend Matt said it best (when I was discussing the film with him yesterday), in that it’s a technology that definitely still needs a lot of work before it’s perfect.

James Cameron is probably going to strike me down for saying this, but if you choose to see it in the non-3D 24FPS version, you’re not really going to miss anything; and you might even like it more.

So (as if I could stop you), sure! Go see it. It’s a fine way to spend almost three hours. 


Damien Jurado Hey Marseilles Hype Imaginary Scoop Pickwick Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside The Cave Singers THEESatisfaction We Are Augustines Yellow Ostrich

Did you catch our post on Daily Candy yesterday?

{Matt and Kim at Sasquatch! by Christopher Nelson}

True story!

The fine folks over at Daily Candy featured a playlist of ours, on the heels of Imaginary Victoria's what-you-can't-miss-at-Sasquatch post we ran last week. It's a quick drive-by of some local (and farther-reaching) favorites that we're excited to see this weekend, and includes tracks from Yellow Ostrich, Pickwick, THEESatisfaction, Hey Marseilles, We Are Augustines, Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside, Damien Jurado, The Cave Singers, and more!

Pop on over to Daily Candy's site to check it out — there's even a playlist with (most) of the tracks that you can spin(?) on Spotify.

{Photo by Christopher Nelson.}

Barboza Hype Imaginary Scoop Willis Earl Beal

Recommended Show: Willis Earl Beal at Barboza {5/4}

You know that feeling you get when you hear a band or musician, and within about 20 seconds say to yourself, "Wow, this person is going to be pretty big before too long"? That's the sense I get when I watch videos of 27 year-old Chicago musician Willis Earl Beal

Beal just put out his debut album Acousmatic Sorcery on Hot Charity, an imprint of XL Records, earlier this month. While the album itself has drawn a good amount of attention, Beal's backstory is equally intriguing: he gained attention around Chicago from flyers he hung up saying that he'd sing you a song if you called him, and that he'd draw you a picture if you wrote him. Seriously, you can still find his phone number and address right here on his website!

Beal wrote the songs for Acousmatic Sorcery while living in Albuquerque, NM before moving back to his native Chicago. His music is very raw, often accoustic, and dripping in soul and emotion. He often gets compared to Tom Waits, a comparison that Beal himself does not shy away from, and as he told Pitchfork in an interview in February, Waits is his favorite artist — stating clearly that he "want[s] to be the black Tom Waits." Musical styles on the album range from slow acoustic ballads to stomp-and-clap roots numbers.

You can catch Beal this Friday, May 4th at the brand-spanking-new Barboza, which is located downstairs from Neumos. 

{7p doors / $12 adv / 21+}

4AD Grimes Hype Record Review


What's up, haterade-makers? Are you ready for the next Wavves or Coco Rosie to dump "comments" scorn on in this city of ciphers? Well, Claire Boucher (who is Grimes) sees herself as Phil Spector per Pitchfork, and the multiple internal personalities she evokes through her Nylon magazine collage of fashion-friendly-but-flirting with sounding roguishly ugly, J-Pop and K-Pop, and astrology-reading cassette-funk, is prime target for chillwave lads imagining their jittery jams have some sort of deeper meaning. (You can start that process by comparing yourself to Phil Spector and not sounding anything like Ronnie.)

I don't know if any in the bloggy woggy boy glitchy gang has any scholarly Scott Walkers (crazy cosmopolitan craftsmen) compared to this expressionist Nico (who used cigarette-scarred vocals to paint romantic distance as Grimes uses sugar-stuffed pixie-sticks from-the-diaphragm sprays). I don't listen to their mates closely enough. I do know Visions is a very pleasant trip through Asian pop plagiarism meets Flying Lizards novelty rock, and if the deeper ideas Boucher espouses in interviews don't seem to quite make it into the sequence, there is historical precidence for enjoying weird stuff for just being weird stuff. Grimes for me falls somewhere far away from Tuneyards' ecstatic, erotic, energizing DIY cosmic body rock, and maybe a little closer to Amy Grant's cute, pure odes to some theocratic order based on a monotheistic editor. 

My utterly reductivist wife, walking through the living room while this played, was like "Oh, the new Cocteau Twins." That's a little shorthanded, but my wife really likes the Cocteau Twins, so you know — so what? (Her tone was pretty whelmed.) I enjoy young people making sonic kipple with machines and piling their shrieking and swooning vocals all over the heap, and in certain cases, if they're all Manic Pixie Dream Elf about it, I'm happily entertained. In the 80s we called this fashion-victim shiny-slaughter "grebo" — every generation has its urgent pop overkill from the glossy trenches.

I am a little weirded out how much Boucher sounds like Robert Palmer on "Oblivion" and Stacey Q ("Two Of Hearts") on "Circumambient" and "Be A Body" though. (A sweet dose of Robyn echoes througout, and she says her brother is a fan of hers, so I think a bit seeped in through their adjoining bedroom walls or something.) Also, I have to recommend the latest n+1, possibly the nation's best literary magazine now, which has an excellent article from James Franco (writing with Deenah Vollmer) about how he would spend two hundred grand on horse riding training, horribly blowing out his knee learning fencing skills, just to star in a shitty version of Tristan and Isolde that insantly bombed. For several pages he details how overpreparation never really paid off for him as an actor, and when it comes right down to it (*spoiler alert*) "if you have a part, all you have to do is learn your character's lines."

Because I know I'm going to keep playing this for a little while, but then probably delete it from my stream, maybe next time out an actual Phil Spector type could be brought in, to either allow Boucher to become all the actors she wants to be in her songs, or at least to scare her into being more compelling ones. Because though I often play a couple of songs several times in a row, I know there's not much to hear a year from now.

Hype Imaginary Scoop Nada Surf Tennis

Heavy rotation: Nada Surf, Tennis

{Nada Surf}

In a land where we are inundated by new music on a weekly, if not sometimes daily basis — few things feel better than starting a nice, fresh playlist of tracks that have made the cut (in both the new-release new and new-to-me new ways). I like to organize mine by month, so at a moment's glance, I can see what's new when a friend is looking for something to woo her ear, or what to pull from for a DJ night. That first playlist in the first folder of the year holds special appeal for us over-organizing audiophiles, and while it's already starting to flesh out with some new-to-my-rotation tunes — "For The One" / WATERS, "Goodness Gracious" / Heligoats, "The Dreamer" / Tallest Man On Earth — one of the first outright new tracks of 2012 that's become stuck in my proverbial craw is Nada Surf's "When I Was Young".

Slated for release later this month, and undoubtedly one of the many songs the crowd will be set to swoon for when they take the stage at the Tractor on February 2nd, this song has the same kind of intimate-cum-cinematic appeal of Band of Horses' "Funeral" — the kind of track you turn up because the opening strains start to pull at your heartstrings, and before you know it, you're thrown into this building, accelerating wall of indie-rock, while those signature vocals hold steady and soothing. If the rest of the album is anything like this, The Stars Are Indifferent To Astronomy will absolutely have a firm place in your top-ten list of 2012, local or otherwise. {band official} {preorder at Barsuk}

The other track that just won't allow a yield from repeat status this week is "Origins" by Tennis. It's got that super appealing happy-chord-sad-sound kind of vibe, and since getting a first ear-glimpse of it on Troy Nelson's set on KEXP last week, the jangly guitars and that familiar (but not too familiar) sound just won't leave me alone. Think Lemolo + a pinch of post-twee sensibility + a sideways glance of indie rock, or a modern sound for that part of you that still loves the Cardigans but refuses to back up bands that go contrary to your Phil Spector roots. Whatever way you slice it, it's just a damn good track and you'd do yourself a favor to pick it up ASAP. {Tennis on Facebook}

Feist Hey Marseilles Hype Imaginary Scoop Pickwick Tune-Yards Visqueen We Were Promised Jetpacks

Heavy rotation: fall edition, part I

Autumn is upon us, and once again, we've found ourselves happily submerged in a sea of grey mornings at the local cafe with headphones on, poring through new releases and marking our calendars for upcoming shows. And in case you're in one of those spots where you had to put New Release Tuesday on the back burner for a bit, we'd love to help you catch up! Part one of two, this post features stuff we heart to the maxx that also has a live show coming up in November — and PS, we've got tickets to give away for almost everything featured here! Read on:

Who: tUnE-yArDs, aka Merrill Garbus

{tUnE-yArDs at Sasquatch! 2010 by Victoria VanBruinisse}

What: new(ish) album from earlier this year, upcoming show, all-around awesomeness
Sounds Like: super-melodic, experimental freak-out tribal chanting over sweet beats + some very catchy sing-a-long-y vibes
More info at:
Playing: The Neptune on Sunday, November 20th

Short version? One of the stand-out small-stage acts at Sasquatch! 2010, plays huge venues now, not to be missed. Long version: tUnE-yArDs — which is comprised mostly of a lady-genius named Merrill Garbus, along with some loops and accompanying musicians depending on where and when you catch her — is not like any other band out there today. It's part crazy catchy beats, part tribal warpaint, part musical catch-and-release, and all amazing. 2009's Bird-Brains kicked our asses, and 2011's w h o k i l l took things to a whole 'nother level. Buy both albums and make sure you're front and center for her Neptune appearance later this month.

Who: We Were Promised Jetpacks

What: new album, upcoming show, mosh potential
Sounds Like: straight-up indie rock, big guitars, angst, Scottishness
More info at:
Playing: Neumos on Tuesday, November 15th

Holy shit, you guys. If you thought true indie rock was dead, these guys are here from Scotland to prove you wrong. Another band from the successful 2009 / 2011 release model, they came on strong with These Four Walls two years ago and haven't looked back since. TFW has steadily progressed in our rotation from "really good" to "fucking great" to a true go-to, up there with big-guitar legit indie rock staples The Meadowlands and every electric-guitar-laden blissfully loud-ass track the Frames ever laid down. Last time they came through town, we practically moshed! Their Neumos headline is another not-to-be-missed. Keep an eye out on the site next week — we'll be giving away a pair of tickets to the show and talking more about their newest equally indie-cred-worthy release, In The Pit Of The Stomach. {Get a taste by digging on the video above for one of their newest singles!}

Who: Hey Marseilles

{Hey Marseilles / by Hayley Young}

What: new single, upcoming show, all-around swoonworthyness
Sounds Like: three parts heartfelt, no-parts triteness alt.orchestra.symphonic European carnival pop
More info at:
Playing: The Neptune on Saturday, November 12th

Pardon the double negative, but you can't not get caught up Hey Marseilles show. Their newest release — a 7" with their latest effort, "Elegy" — is yet another notch on the bedpost of this incredibly capable group, proving once again that these seven gents are a force to be reckoned with. "Elegy" as a standalone track is simultaneously intricate and clean, and very… Hey Marseilles-y — yet manages to deliver a new dimension of everything that makes this band great. Add in the B-side "Cafe Lights" that any fan will recognize from it's appearance in the live set, and you've got a win that leaves us clamoring for a new full-length. Come celebrate with us on the 12th at the Neptune, and stay tuned for a ticket giveaway next week!

Who: Visqueen

{Rachel Flotard / by Christopher Nelson}

What: {temporary} {we hope!} early retirement
Sounds Like: a modern take on everything that's fantastic about late 90s legit indie rock girl-fronted music
More info at:
Playing: The Neptune on Saturday, November 26th

Tears of sadness and joy!! While we congratulate, adore, and encourage Rachel Flotard & Co. on all their past, present and future efforts, we've got to admit that we are very, very sad that we've come to the end of an era. Visqueen as we know it will be taking an indefinite hiatus, capping off a brilliant run with a homecoming (going?) weekend show at the Neptune on November 26th — and we wish them the very best that we can possibly wish, having been a staple here at imaginary headquarters for pretty much ever. It'll be a "see you soon" more than it will a "goodbye" — so mark your calendar with a big red Sharpie for that Saturday night and come swoon in the front row with us one last time… for now.

Who: Feist

{Feist / by Mary Rozzi}

What: new album, all-around gorgeousness
Sounds Like: beautifully deconstructed musical things…
More info at:
Playing: The Moore on Thursday, November 17th

It seems as though Leslie Feist can do no wrong. From her catchy releases back in '04 – '06ish, to the brand-new Metals, and everything in-between — including those under-the-radar bedroom demos we caught wind of earlier this year — everything she touches turns to some kind of naturally sweetened (but not too sweet) gold. It goes without saying that you need to get your hands on everything she's done, absorb it, and then get your tickets to see her live next time she comes through town: in this case, she'll be gracing the stage of the Moore on November 17th. We'll be giving away tickets to this show as well, so check back in the next week for more details!

Who: Pickwick

What: new video, upcoming show
Sounds Like: the "blue-eyed soul" movement, achy-tinged dance party fantasticness
More info at:
Playing: The Neptune on Thursday, December 8th

This show is still a ways off, but we can't possibly finish out a what-is-hip heavy rotation post without mentioning the fine folks of Pickwick. They're blowing out stages left and right, packing rooms, starting dance parties, and making hearts flutter and swoon from the front row to the soundbooth. We'll chat about them a little more as the Neptune show draws closer, but for now, check out the sweet video they put together with some love and direction by Tyler Kalberg and Chris Proff. Killer!

Also, a few other big don't-miss -slash- we-recommend to put on your calendars: Wild Flag with Drew Grow & the Pastor's Wives at Neumos on Thursday, November 11th; Mike Doughty at Neumos on Tuesday, November 8th; They Might Be Giants at Showbox SoDo on Wednesday, November 9th; and Amanda Palmer at the Moore on Saturday, November 19th.

Rocktober? More like Rock-vember!!

{Photo credits, from top: tUnE-yArDs / Victoria VanBruinisse, Hey Marseilles / Hayley Young, Rachel Flotard / Christopher Nelson, Leslie Feist / Mary Rizzo}

Cinerama (theater) Film Review Hype Majestic Bay Metro Thornton Place Theater

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

{Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 opened in Seattle on Friday, July 14 and is playing at the Majestic Bay, the Pacific Science Center IMAX®, the Cinerama, and other area theaters}

THE END of Harry Potter is here. And as I’ve said before, I’m not a huge fan. But Amie! You’re nerdy. And you love supernatural things. And you heart the crap out of reading. All this is true, but the first 5 HP books (won from a work contest many years ago) sit dust-covered and untouched on my bookshelf.

See, Harry Potter is one of those things where every single person and their brother’s brother said some variation of this to me, “OMFG they are so amazing you will totally love them read them all right now whatiswrongwithyou?” – which is the best way to make sure I NEVER do something. So instead of reading, I just went ahead and cheated by seeing all the films. And while there were a few moments I appreciated, they kind of all blended together and I just wasn’t that impressed.

So I wasn’t really expecting to be blown away by this, but I joined in the hype just because it was fun. And on the day of the press screening for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, I had to go ahead and post this smartass tweet:

HP Tweet

Which naturally totally screwed me, because I ended up pouring out some serious waterworks over the course of 2 hours and 5 minutes. So I’ll just say it: this movie surprised me.

Pretty sure I don’t need to explain the plot, but just in case, this movie continues Harry’s quest for the remaining horcruxes—which each contain part of the Dark Lord’s soul—so he can destroy them and make sure Voldemort is easy to defeat. Problem: V has amassed a pretty large army of baddies to back him up, most of which are skilled in some major dark arts, and Harry’s group of good guys has suffered some serious losses. Even with backup from Hermione and Ron, his chances aren’t looking so good.

And so it keeps going, with more bleakness descending on Hogworts, a huge amount of wand-slinging, scary floating mummy-ghosty things, Helena Bottom Carter’s hair in a starring role, a mineshaft cart chase crazier than the one in Temple of Doom, one of the best dragons I’ve ever seen, and tons of shit blowing up and catching on fire all over the place. And yes, more people DIE. (applause)

Of course there were a lot of cheesy, over-the-top moments that made me grimace (most notably the felt like it was tacked on ending, showing the survivors 19 years later, but still looking exactly the same except for some bad wigs)—but I recognize that they all had to be there, because they were all paybacks for the shitty things that had happened in the 10 years it took for Harry to become “the chosen one” and do battle with the creepy no-nose Ralph Fiennes Voldemort.

For the most part, I was impressed with the incredible amount of edge-of-your-seat action, and the brilliant ways in which they worked the 3D effects in (it was pretty stunning at the Cinerama), and just the way the whole thing came together. I’m positive Potter fans will be pleased, and even if you’re dragged along to a screening, you’ll probably enjoy it too.

HPATDHP2 just might have changed my mind enough to make me pick up one of those books…anyone wanna place some bets? Also, I don’t really know why, but this makes me laugh so, so, so hard.


Film Review Hype

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

On Stranger Tides

Well thank god Disney for a swashbuckling return to form after the last two abysmally long and confusing PotC movies. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides has cast off the dead weight of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightly’s complicated romance in favor of focusing solely on the star of the show: the scruffy, drunken, and hilariously awesome Captain Jack Sparrow (obvs. played by Johnny Depp).

After seriously botching an attempt to break first mate Gibbs out of jail, Sparrow discovers the nefarious Barbossa (Geoffery Rush – now one-legged) has joined sides with the royal guard, and is now seeking legendary Fountain of Youth–which only Sparrow knows the way to.

What follows is a kick-ass adventure involving a very sultry Penélope Cruz as Angelica, the former scorned lover of Sparrow, and the recently reunited daughter of the evil and ruthless Blackbeard–played by Deadwood‘s Ian McShane with heaps of Al Swearengen swagger, if Swearengen had a foofier outfit, a magic sword, voodoo dolls, and the power to raise the dead that is.

As Blackbeard’s crew races to beat both the Spaniards and the King’s army to find their prize, they have to battle each other on and off ship too as they gather all the needed pieces for an ancient ritual, and trickisly try to one-up each other for selfish motives.

As for the rituals, one of them involves a mermaid tear, which sparks two of my favorite scenes in the whole movie – because, omg, you guys. THE MERMAIDS ARE AWESOME. Heart-poundingly awesome, actually. Beautiful and vicious, these girls sling whip-like seaweed at potential victims, wreck docks, drown men, and then eat them with their pretty fangs. The special F/X throughout the movie were spectacular, but they really killed it on the mermaids. The only weak link is the budding romance betwixt a captive missionary and one of the mermaids – but hey, they had to throw in some melodrama somewhere, right?

And of course, like in previous versions, there are plenty of slapsticky moments interspersed with the action (dude. is that DAME Judi Dench in a ridiculously contrived cameo?), but not so many that they distracted from the intense sword battles, chase scenes, and spicy banter. It all adds up to another fun way to spend your cinema dollars this weekend, for sure.

Fleet Foxes Hype Imaginary Scoop Live Show Review Moore Theater The Cave Singers

Fleet Foxes + Cave Singers = a mindbendingly beautiful night at the Moore

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

There’s one word that comes to mind above all others in regards to Monday night’s Fleet Foxes / Cave Singers show at the Moore — and that word is simply stunning. The impeccable sound, lighting, and setup of the Moore made for a veritable breeding ground of amazing, as two of the Pacific Northwest’s best alt.beardcore bands brought their respective brands of greatness to the stage. The Cave Singers let loose with a tight, polished, best-of catalog-spanning set that washed over us like the force of nature they are — followed by this imaginary’s inaugural live Fleet Foxes set.

{The Cave Singers / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{The Cave Singers / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{The Cave Singers / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{The Cave Singers / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{The Cave Singers / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

There’s a damn good reason why those Foxes have been getting so much press, and that reason is sheer, unadulterated talent — delivered with some of the best overall musicianship around, in our humble imagianry opinions. For well over an hour and a half, we were assaulted {in the very best of ways} with flawless harmony, a warm stage presence, and builds inside of songs that amounted to literal arsenals of sound which seemed to be coming from a bigger place than just those five-odd folks. Their own brand of personal creativity, spliced through with moments of old Crosby, Stills and Nash albums and patches of sunlight — the kind that bursts into the car windows outside of a clearing of trees on a back road with your favorite records on the stereo — made us see why this band is a force to be reckoned with.

Bound together with love, some kind of raw, unprocessed organic not-too-sweet honey and a dedication the craft of songwriting, the Fleet Foxes deserve every instant of success they’ve earned. Believe the hype.

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{Fleet Foxes / by Victoria VanBruinisse}

{All photos by Victoria VanBruinisse. Fleet Foxes photos appear here courtesy of permission from the band and are not to be reproduced without permission.}