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Music Seen: Neko Case + Haru Bangs

Neko Case and Haru Bangs last weekend
First things first: Neko Case is the complete package, an unmitigated bombshell (gorgeous, wry, self-effacing) with a singular artistic vision (country/folk songs so heavy on metaphor and animistic and obscure mythological references that you could — and should — unpack them for months) and a voice like an air-raid siren.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  August 12, 2009


Shoot the piano player

Robert Stillman returns with Master Box
Robert Stillman's music is like an anachronistic, sepia-toned spin on the fanciful film scores of Jon Brion (Punch-Drunk Love, I Heart Huckabees). Both make fleet-footed, extremely visual piano songs with trotting melodies, a natural fit for an old silent short.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 22, 2009

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Born to rock

Deer Tick take it to the roadhouse
The last time Deer Tick were in Portland, at SPACE Gallery in November 2007, then-21-year-old frontman John McCauley decided to sing the national anthem. He sprung offstage and hit the floor belting the Tony Bennett standard "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" in a nasal voice soaked in equal parts whiskey, battery acid, and gravel.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 15, 2009

Music Seen: Femi Kuti, the Loblolly Boy

And Luke Kalloch
On record, Femi Kuti can't help but come off as a slightly vanilla version of his mad genius father Fela (popularizer of Afrobeat music, also known for having 12 wives at once, among other things).
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 15, 2009

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(10) days of celluloid

From the gridiron to gritty realism at the Maine International Film Festival
Among the many treats at last year's Maine International Film Festival were a future Oscar winner (James Marsh's documentary Man on Wire ) and one of the biggest art-house hits of 2008 (Scandinavian teen-vampire flick Let the Right One In ).
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 08, 2009

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Deep impact

Ron Currie Jr. has a blast with the apocalypse once more
In the most memorable piece in Waterville author Ron Currie Jr.'s 2007 debut short story collection, God is Dead (Viking), God is reincarnated as a Dinka woman in a refugee camp in Sudan, who enlists a jive-talking Colin Powell in an effort to find a young boy.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  July 01, 2009

Music Seen: Karaoke with DJ Annie; Bentley's Saloon, Arundel

No irony here
There is no irony at Bentley's Saloon. This is kind of hard to process, because the crowd at the bar is totally incoherent: there are, primarily, biker dudes and chicks, along with cowboy types, hard-drinking college kids, senior citizens, and the odd hippie with dreadlocks.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 17, 2009

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Pixel revolt

Burma VJ's heroic dissident journalists
Anders Østergaard's Burma VJ: Reporting From a Closed Country is paced and edited with the keen, polished urgency of a thriller — there are frantic, confused phone conversations, along with gloomy music and a healthy amount of ominous foreshadowing — but most of its footage is shaky, off-center, and drastically pixelated, even when viewed on a television.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 18, 2009

film list

Greetings and salutations

Aging and patriotism in The Way We Get By
The film, a decidedly unlikely crowd-pleaser, has had a charmed year so far. It won a Special Jury Award upon its world premiere at Austin, Texas's SXSW Film Festival, and an Audience Award at the prestigious Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in North Carolina, becoming something of a "little documentary that could" on the festival circuit.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 10, 2009

19-hour drives

A chat with director Aron Gaudet
An interview with Aron Gaudet
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 10, 2009

money list

Last call

Bands come, go, and get bashed
One of the big topics of social conversation in Portland last week was the anonymous Portland Point blog's ruthless, somewhat self-negating takedown of the Honey Clouds' May 23 CD-release show.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  June 03, 2009

48 list

Creative manifesto

Capturing Portland's collaborative spirit, with $90 and a borrowed car
"Is it fair to say we're a Marxist city in spirit if not law?"
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  May 27, 2009

Music Seen: Ocean and Pontiak

Ocean and Pontiak at SPACE Gallery, May 5
The day after Ocean's predictably under-attended (30-40 people) Cinco de Mayo performance at SPACE, a friend who also attended asked what I thought. "So loud," I said. "So slow," he responded. It wasn't hard to catch the reverence in both reactions.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  May 13, 2009

unfarmed list

Food unfarmed

Pollan and Schlosser, on message, in Food, Inc.
Following in the Peabody Award-winning footsteps of Aaron Wolf's congenial, informative documentary King Corn, Robert Kenner's omnibus agri-doc Food, Inc . offers a bleaker portrait of America's food economy at this year's Food+Farm event series, centered at SPACE Gallery from May 7 to 10.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  May 13, 2009


A new hope

The Thermals' tentatively ambivalent Now We Can See
Amid a barrage of assessments of our new president's first 100 days in office, it's a ripe time for the Thermals to come back to Portland and offer their two cents'.  
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  April 29, 2009


Dancing with himself

Arthur Russell's posthumous renaissance
Arthur Russell's music does little to illuminate the mysteries and vagaries of his life. It simply tosses them aside, in pursuit of moods and rhythms few have successfully replicated, two decades later.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  April 22, 2009

The way they tell stories

Local film
Aron Gaudet and Gita Pullapilly's documentary The Way We Get By has its official Maine premiere in Orono this weekend with an unusual amount of fanfare.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  April 08, 2009

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Brain strain

Jonah Lehrer on neurological warfare and picking a cereal
Those of us aching for a 300-page treatise about the crippling implications of the "build your own scramble" at Local 188 won't, at first glance, find a great deal of solace in Jonah Lehrer's second book, How We Decide.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  April 08, 2009


Escaping the life

Counseling New York's exploited Very Young Girls
Like the drug dealers in The Wire or accounts of illegal trafficking of any form, the current and former teenage prostitutes in David Schisgall's documentary Very Young Girls don't often refer to their trade as a job.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  March 25, 2009

Music seen: Christopher Teret + Huak

Christopher Teret at SPACE Gallery and Huak at Empire Dine and Dance, March 20
Chris Teret's singing is just as unassuming as his songwriting.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  March 25, 2009


Love and consequences

Three restless souls try to settle down
Two of indie music's most popular and tortured songwriters, Will Oldham and Neko Case, try to reconcile encroaching middle age with a past of bad habits on their new albums.
By: CHRISTOPHER GRAY  |  March 18, 2009

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