A brand new sonic explosion from the Texas quintet

At The Drive-In in 2016 (photo by Jonathan Pirro)

At The Drive-In in 2016 (photo by Jonathan Pirro)

It was never predicted to happen again, but it has: after nearly two decades, the El Paso post-hardcore masterminds of At The Drive-In have not only continued to stay united AND tour, but now there is finally new studio material in recorded form available! Now on Rise Records, the group has released their first single, “Governed By Contagions”, on YouTube and their official website. Read on for the lyric video!

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San Francisco is one of the more prominent hubs for music festivals in the country, if not the world. Starting with Noise Pop in February and reaching peak saturation in the Summer, and early Fall, with Outside Lands, Phono del Sol, and Treasure Island Music Festival, just to name a few, seeing an influential or up-and-coming artist perform live is an easily attainable feat (and a mere Lyft ride away for most people). We’ve even coined the term “Fauxchella” in honor of the fact that most of Coachella’s top headliners flock our way, year after year, in between weekends performing in the Indio desert.

Despite this embarrassment of riches, in a few weeks, I’ll be hopping on a plane and joining a group of Bay Area natives heading to a city in Texas that isn’t Austin, known as the live music capital of the world, for an event not related to SXSW in any way.

Day for Night, set to take place Friday, December 16th, through Monday, the 19th, is offering an experience that transcends the boundaries of the traditional festival circuit. One of many examples: they’ve managed amazing feats by booking Aphex Twin, who hasn’t performed live in the US for over 8 years, and Björk, who doesn’t perform often, either, and left many an Iceland Airwaves attendee, including myself, crestfallen with her sudden cancellation last year. Add in DJ Windows 98 (Arcade Fire’s Win Butler), who’ll be spinning Ticketfly’s annual Holiday bash, the night before he’s set to appear in Houston (let’s hope he doesn’t crash, ha), and the it’s clear that Free Press Houston and New York-based creative agency Work-Order know how to curate a festival fitting for a city that is rapidly approaching the distinction of becoming the third largest in the US.

Add the likes of Squarepusher, Run the Jewels, ODESZA, Kaskade, Ariel Pink, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Liars, Washed Out, SOPHIE, and SURVIVE – the creators of the hypnotic Stranger Things theme music – and you have a stellar, unconventional, and sought after group of artists that are extremely selective about which bills they attach their name. There’s a reason for this and it transcends the musical aspect of this event. Read on to find out why you should purchase tickets and book your flight immediately.

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Film Review: Moana

by Chad Liffmann on November 23, 2016

Moana is beautiful, adventurous, and musically gifted.

Animated Moana gives a miraculous multi-dimensional performance.

Animated Moana gives a miraculous multi-dimensional performance.

Yesterday I watched Moana. Today I listened to the soundtrack about eleven times through. Yesterday I questioned the benefit of seeing films in 3D. Today I feel a film can truly benefit from non-gimmicky 3D. Yesterday I wondered when there’d be a Disney song, besides “Let It Go”, that I welcomed getting stuck in my head. Today I’ve had three Moana songs stuck in my head and love’em all. Do you catch my drift? Disney has delivered a beautifully animated film that holds to the traditional spirit of the Disney animated feature canon while adding new depths to the characters and story structure. Moana is a true gift — a film that is accessible and enjoyable to all audiences, re-watchable, boasts a stellar soundtrack, sets a new standard for animated environments (I feel like I say that every six months), and has one of the most admirable female heroes ever put on screen. Yup, I mean it, too.

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Film Review: Allied

by Chad Liffmann on November 23, 2016

Polished, pulpy WWII tale how they used to make’em, for better or worse.

Brad and Marion play the WWII spy game.

Brad and Marion play the WWII spy game.

Like reading a dime novel from off the shelf of your local supermarket, Allied supplies a quick dose of melodrama, suspense, humor, and twists. It’s similarly digested easy, immediately emotional, and just as quickly forgotten. Director Robert Zemeckis has delivered his fair share of sensationalism, from Romancing the Stone to Forrest Gump to The Walk, and many memorable films in between (trust me, you’ve seen a lot of them). My semi-belabored point is, Zemeckis is no stranger to managing exaggerated storylines and overly dramatic plots. In Allied, he sets each scene like a stage play, without any noticeable complexity or vagueness. The complexity is left up to the characters. Yes it may be subtle, but while creating a blatant sense of the time period, the old school art direction also compliments the twists at the heart of the story — after all, this is an elaborate spy game. Pitt and Cotillard bring their serviceable ‘B’ game (not their best work but far from their worst), inflicting just enough charm and charisma into the plot to carry the somewhat nonsensical and ultimately forgettable story forward. 

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Ford’s newest picture well worth the wait     

West Texas ne’er-do-well Ray Marcus (Aaron Taylor-Johnson, middle) warily answers questions from lawman Bobby Andes (Michael Shannon, l.) and crime victim Tony (Jake Gyllenhaal, r.).

Tom Ford, the American fashion designer turned filmmaker who first garnered accolades for his cinematic talents back in 2009 with his Colin Firth-helmed picture A Single Man, finally returns seven years later with his follow up, another film inspired by a novel. With Nocturnal Animals, based on Austin Wright’s 1993 novel Tony and Susan, Ford again both directs and writes the screenplay, and proves that his first success was no fluke. Ford’s patient fans have been rewarded for their long wait with another visually stunning, captivating picture.
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Fantastic beasts are plentiful in this magical yet slightly subpar re-intro to a familiar wizarding world.

Newt and a Fantastic Beast

Newt and a Fantastic Beast…and Dan Fogler.

I want a fantastic beast of my own! I’m incredibly relieved that there are moments in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them that made me wish the wizarding world was real, and that I was privy to it. (I guess if I wasn’t privy to it, I wouldn’t know if it was real.) Anyway, one of the most wonderful characteristics of the Harry Potter books and early films was the wonder and charm they emitted. Sadly, as the trio of young wizards grew up, the plots became less warm and wondrous and more cold, pale, and dark. David Yates directed the final four Harry Potter films, and he’s back in the helm for the first return to that universe since 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. This return, the first installment of a new Fantastic Beasts series, isn’t as light and funny as The Sorcerer’s Stone, so despite a five year wait-time since the last movie (and 15 since the first), it’s very reminiscent of the dark Deathly Hallows. Part of this is due to the main characters being in their adulthood to start, so the inexperience and innocence of young wizards isn’t front and center. Another part is due to the 1920s New York setting of Fantastic Beasts — whereas most of the Harry Potter series took place in and around Hogwarts and fantastical woodland areas. And this new story is also a bit weaker than the initial Harry Potter entry. Needless to say, there are many reasons why Fantastic Beasts doesn’t capture the charm and magical pull of the original Harry Potter films, yet the beasts and characters fit right in to the world we’ve been missing for half a decade.

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Film Review: Arrival

November 11, 2016
www.youtube.com/watch?v=tFMo3UJ4B4g

Arrival arrives at just the right time to make us think. It feels like it’s been some time since a thought-provoking science-fiction film has come along. One that makes you really think. Now, before you come to the conclusion that more thinking equals less entertaining, think again! Arrival is a spectacular blend of drama, suspense, […]

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Show Review: Live in the Vineyard 2016 at Uptown Theatre Napa, 11/4/2016

November 9, 2016

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time again: Live in the Vineyard. For those unfamiliar, this is a biannual celebration of food, wine, and music, featuring a mix of hit artists and those that are up-and-coming. Events take place in locations all over the Napa Valley, typically culminating each (weekend) day in a concert at Napa’s […]

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Film Review: Doctor Strange

November 4, 2016
www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSzx-zryEgM

It takes an amazing cast to make goofy material work, and this movie has both.   Marvel movies have been around so long, they’ve transitioned from feeling like momentous events to being like episodes of a very expensively made television series. We see the same characters interacting with each other in different ways, with plot […]

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Treasure Island Music Festival 2016 Journal, Day 1

November 3, 2016

For 10 years, the Treasure Island Music Festival has been one of the best-run and best-booked music festivals in the world. Situated on Treasure Island’s west lawn, we got to experience picturesque views of San Francisco, along with some of the best weather and some of the most innovative performers of our time, often just […]

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