crestfall [2021)

Starts sampledelia.

A story.

The push and pull of clunky electronics.

The goal of fucking up a sound recording to the greatest extent possible.

And then those beautiful strings come in.

Like The Cure.

All cats are grey.

Bass doesn’t drop until two minutes.

Pretty slick.

The Specials.

Ghost town.

Of James Brown pianists.

Federal.

The Bar-Kays.

Soul finger.

Spies like us.

Not so long ago now, seems it?

Have you got your anti-radiation supplements?

Let me help you out on that.

In case your city gets nuked.

And the 300 kiloton warhead doesn’t incinerate you.

Because it was dropped on the other side of town.

Maybe because the missile was old.

Or clunky.

You don’t have to be that accurate with a nuke of that yield.

Now you are battling radiation.

Stay inside as long as possible.

Days.

Weeks.

Months.

Water will soon be contaminated.

But soaking for 30 minutes in a bath of sea salt (one capful [as if it were bath salts]).

Nancarrow.

William S. Burroughs.

Has to be sea salt.

Can’t be table salt.

Pulls the radiation out of your body.

But you’ll need more than that.

Storable drinking water.

Storable food.

Air ok to breathe, but don’t go outside.

Air conditioner filter will remove radioactive particles.

But do not open any windows or doors.

[NB The EMP of the nuclear weapon will fry all electronic devices…so you will not have electricity probably for the next few months (at least). Air conditioner will not be working, but any air that passes through its filter will be cleared of a lot of radioactive particles. Phones will not work. Computers will not work. Internet will not work.]

Avoid yellow dust (nuclear fallout).

Here’s what you need to combat those radioactive isotopes (assuming you and your family didn’t get incinerated as a result of NATO’s insane and incessant eastward push over the past 30 years).

You need iodine.

Yes, potassium iodide is good.

Nascent iodine is probably even better.

But you need something to protect you from iodine-131.

Nascent iodine and/or potassium iodide will do that.

You need potassium.

You’re not gonna be making any trips to the store for bananas (unless you’re a moron).

And there will be no food arriving at any stores for quite some time (an understatement).

Potassium orotate.

Protects you against cesium-137.

You’re gonna need calcium.

Same story as with the bananas.

DO NOT GO OUTSIDE.

You don’t need milk from the store.

There will be none there anyway.

Get some calcium that includes magnesium.

If it has a little zinc in there too, that’s fine.

But you mainly need the calcium to protect you against strontium-90.

The magnesium is gonna help the calcium work better.

You’re gonna need iron.

I’d say probably take for a week or two.

No longer than that.

You need iron to protect against plutonium-239.

And finally, you need some vitamin B12.

This is gonna protect you against cobalt-60.

What a schizo record!

If you wanna bump up the effectiveness of the sea salt bath, add a cup of baking soda each time.

https://www.reboothealth.co.uk/blog/how-to-protect-yourself-from-nuclear-fall-out

Meanwhile, Pauly keeps releasing these albums.

He’s up to 24 albums (369 songs) over the course of the past year.

And we are way behind here at Pauly Deathwish Incorporated in reviewing our own albums.

But this one is pretty good.

Lots of variety.

Some Brazilian.

Hard to review your own albums.

Some might say pointless.

I disagree.

I think it’s pretty cool that this dude has put out so much music in the past year.

Something for everyone.

This is a pretty experimental album.

But has some accessible stuff too.

Dub reggae.

America is fucked!

Russia’s selling oil in rubles now.

Impressive music.

Considering this was all created with little more than an iPhone 7.

Things really start heating up with “H&mmer & Scorec&rd”.

Sophisticated piece.

Gershwin would have dug this.

So would have Penderecki.

Ligeti.

Górecki.

Bizet.

Bernard Herrmann.

A composer should be able to write about their own music.

Should be able to analyze their own music.

This album comes from the era when a Pauly Deathwish album would have 10 songs.

introversion, bucolic, MZFPK, zenith, glitch, drugs, disassemble, 41020…

After 41020, Pauly finally changed things up.

Released a maxi single.

The cover of Sonic Youth’s “Schizophrenia”.

And here he was back to another 10-song album.

crestfall.

These albums are pithy.

They are challenges.

They challenge the audience to figure out what the fuck is going on over the course of a mere 10 songs.

Let’s look at running times:

introversion 48:25

bucolic 39:59

MZFPK 35:49

zenith 48:06

glitch 54:36

drugs 55:01

disassemble 38:38

41020 48:00

crestfall 43:56

Spotify.

iTunes.

-PD

MZFPK [2021)

Breakfast cereal video game.

Pauly Deathwish’s 3rd album.

I am behind.

I can’t keep up with this guy.

Out of the gates like Flaming Lips.

30,000 feel of despair.

The gash.

Right into Isao Tomita.

Doing Debussy.

Marching.

Martial.

Fantastic noises.

Like first Stereolab album.

Here Come the Warm Jets.

Cheyenne Mountain jams.

I can no longer see what I’m typing.

  • What if I type in white?  Ahh, yes.  That does the trick.  But it ruins my style.  Louis-Ferdinand would not be happy.  Totally Air.  Pocket Symphony.  Who is Kevin?  Shields?  Ayers?  Fairlight.  Synth clouds.  Rich chords.  Very sophisticated harmonies and arrangements.  Cornelius from Japan.  This sounds very modern.  OH FUCK!  Groove is in the motherfucking heart.  Vogue!  So on track two, we are straight up on a catwalk.  But it could be Alan Vega or Martin Rev.  Kinda Sun City Girls.  Zoviet France.  Fridmann never gets this crazy with bass.  Wayne is driving it weirder.  This was, from what I hear, done with ZERO budget.  Is this a dance album?  First you have poetry.  Then you are prose.  Amateurs.  Into Odelay.  That was a good drum break.  The Strokes.  Fuzzy vocals.  Paliament/Funkadelic.  Sly Stone!  Later Stereolab.  Tim Gane processing.  Counter melody!  For fuck’s sake.  Somebody listen to this bloke.  Whoa.  What is up with this chorus?  Roland Kirk?  Like in Switzerland?  Definitely hitting some Os Mutantes twee.  Lo-fi as fuck.  Great Godard tongue in cheek.  Apparently about Neil Young and Rick James being in a band together when they were young and still in Canada.  Yonge Street?  Beats.  Drake needs to hear this.  Bit crusher lisp.  Spiritualized at the grocery store.  Swipe barcode.  Song peaks at end.  Masterful mix.  A true climax.  Savage mastering on every album.  Whole mix jumps.  It works.  Needle skipping.  American Supreme.  Claustrophobic.  COVID.  Sad.  Scared.  Apocalyptic.  The concept of the gaze in cinema.  Bass drops in.  Feel it in your sex organs.  A sexy song.  “Cobra Strike”.  This is unequivocally a dance album.  EDM all up in here.  Lots of panning.  Spliff it.  Micro gestures.  Pandemic planning.  How long will it last?  Soul-crushing.  Zombie metaphor.  Shaun of the Dead.  Masterpiece.  Beatle drums.  First Velvets album.  Rat trails.  “Black Angel’s Death Song”.  “The New Pollution”.  Dr. No.  Walther PPK.  What does this kid know?  He can’t possibly know, can he?  Pure phase.  Visconti.  Lanois.  Acid jazz.  Nick Cave.  Montage, mon beau souci.  Flaming Lips.  Jeff Tweedy drawl.  Jesus and Mary Chain team up with The Cure.  Disintegration.  Heartbreak here.  Who broke his heart?  Bleeps and bloops.  Robot noises.  Heartbeeps.  Jazz funk ’70s experimental upright.  Great lyrics.  Superimposition.  Steenbeck!  Fucking great lyrics on “Snip Snip”.  Oh, damn.  Glockenspiel at just the right time!  Icy.  Air.  Virgin suicides.  Dazed and confused.  Blonde.  Braids.  Like glazed bread.  German.  Texas.  Floating world.  Old world.  No one to smoke a doobie with and stare up at green trees.  No tits.  What is wrong with this world?  Rambo.  Fort Bragg.  Delta.  Boykin.  Intelligence Support Activity.  Send me.  George Crumb.  Black angels.  Jungle echoes.  4thPOG.  Ghosts.  PSYWAR op.  Make it loud.  Romeo foxtrot.  Shall we dance?  Charlie don’t surf.  Death on the dance floor.  Public Image Ltd.  Modes of limited transposition.  Messiaen.  Primal Scream.  Standing with Johnny Rotten.  #Trump2021 .  But this is more about big tits.  Giant opals.  Garth Hudson.  Telegraph.  Total loss.  Persona non grata.  Window still missing.  Swastika eyes.  Paul Weller.  XTRMNTR.  Shoot speed.  Kill light.  Eyes owned 2020.  The ugly had a chance.  Masks work…if you’re ugly and need to get laid.  Back with another block rocking’ beat.  Private psychedelic reel.  War metaphor.  Is this about election?  No.  Too early.  Look at liner notes.  Living in COVID times was like a world war.  War just beginning?  Got my pina colada.  Fuck it!  Arizona.  Living boldly.  Masks have lost.  Two weeks.  Could have been a contender.  Circuit bending.  Talking about big titty schizophrenic.  All footwork ruined.  Toys.  Falling apart gremlin workmanship.  Awkward line about Thora Birch.  Explicit warnings a little lazy.  Getting a bit Lenny Bruce up in here.  Russ Meyer.  Second line.  Double time.  Crazy drums.  Smooth as Sade.  Tambourine is the star.   One organic element.  Wrote a song.  She didn’t care.  Wrote her 200 songs.  She didn’t care.  One has zero plays globally.  She never bothered listening to it.  Some things not meant to be.  Liberals and conservatives.  Go and create.  Lobster.  Work wasn’t.  Bought her every flower imaginable.  Thousands of dollars on flowers.  Yoshimi laser warfare.  A piano not standard.  Some Tori Amos bullshit.  Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.  Only the finest pianos.  Internationally famous.  Neither deserve it.  Pulled the plug at the wrong time.  Would he have still kept the same track listing?  Maybe so.  Heartbreak to rehash.  Goes by quick.  Good drum programming.  James Bond future theme.  Brian Wilson.  Phil Spector.  Absolute Nigel Godrich.  Cinematic.  The album that never was.  But this one is worldwide, motherfuckers.  Third this summer.  And a fourth already out.  I can hardly keep up.  I need to review movies.  Doesn’t Pauly Deathwish know I don’t have time for Galaga?  Falling apart.  Short-circuit.  Charlotte Gainsbourg.  Flashback to Bucolic.  
  • -PD

bucolic [2021)

It starts just like Charlotte Gainsbourg.

5:55.

Air.

Nigel Godrich.

But there is something different.

A shruti box?

A little distorto guitar.

Ah, yes.

Chuchotements.

Françoise Hardy.

A little Yo La Tengo.

Built to Spill.

Guitar carries it for a second.

Good lyrics.

All mood.

And then into an Amon Düül II warble.

Like Marc Bolan.

Jim Carrey.

Most annoying sound in the world.

Into Pink Floyd.

David Gilmour.

Circa The Wall.

Strange sadness.

Almost a premonition of impending doom.

Calm before the storm.

J. Spaceman telephony.

Floating with no highs and no lows.

All mids.

Strong opening track.

Very slow-moving.

Luxurious.

Immediate Delgados shift.

Paul Savage.

Pauly Deathwish.

Glasgow effect.

Great counterpoint for a pop musician.

But if you check this bloke’s CV…

You’ll know he went through Fux.

Gonna have to say Elliott Smith.

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci.

Megan Childs violin.

Around the warm fire.

Welsh.

Expansive.

Strings open up.

Hate.

More Fridmann.

Pointillism.

Schoenberg.

Timbre.

Richard James.

GZM.

Beethoven.

Another Welshman.

John Cale.

Orchestral bass that Lou loved.

This guy’s a bastard.

Jaded.

Hurt.

Is this a breakup album?

I thought the last one was a breakup album?

Ahhh…

Into Gorwel Owen.

1968.

Floyd.

Atom.

Mad cow.

The last GZM album.

Rockfield.

Bohemian.

String band.

Money never runs out.

Cheap air organ.

Tubes?

Fan.

A very apropos album title.

Woody.

Tobacco.

Spring water Scotch.

And then the Great Reset arrives.

Like a fucking spaceship.

Dark shit.

What is this glitch business?

Thom Yorke blasts upon the scene.

Drums James Brown.

Good groove.

Savvy.

Whoa!

Marching band.

Drumline.

Snares.

Caught by Lee “Scratch”.

Guitar all mangled.

Melodies solid.

Mogwai?

Bert Jansch out of fucking nowhere.

Definitely Lips.

Pet Sounds.

Track rejected by Bond franchise.

Convincing.

Acoustic to electric.

Now it’s Serge.

Requiem.

Stereolab.

Break beat.

Absolutely boffo.

BOF.

More Brian Wilson.

Van Dyke Parks.

Phil Spector.

High Llamas.

Still a sadness.

That the old world is passing away.

FUCK!!!

Right into some Leonard Cohen shit!

Scott Walker.

How the FUCK was this recorded?

Sounds like 2″ tape.

Question:

how has this Pauly Deathwish released three albums in two months?

I can’t even keep up with this guy.

Mercury Rev.

Deserter’s Songs.

Levon Helm.

Chamberlin.

Mellotron?

Like a Christmas album.

See You on the Other Side.

David Fricke.

A review in the liner notes.

“Everlasting Arm”.

Definite vibe.

Record pillaging wizard.

Baritone.

Lots of fucking glockenspiel on this record.

But it’s nice.

Like Ennio Morricone.

Cinema Paradiso.

Mandolins.

Jackie Gleason.

Dean Martin.

Herb Alpert.

Tchaikovsky.

Again with sugar plum.

Slick!

Very light.

Chiaroscuro.

Fresher than the sweetness in water.

Hearing Dungen.

IV Thieves.

Makes sense.

“Frenchie” Smith.

Dig CV.

Light, British, airy.

Good hook.

Hooky.

Is this the single?

A little neo-psych Hendrix moment.

It’s definitely GZM.

Repetition until transcend.

Stereolab first album.

Not looped.

Manuel.

Carpenters.

Messiaen.

Definitely some breakup here.

Sonic Youth.

Sister.

Experimental.

Thurston.

Lots of drum machine.

Drum and bass.

Panning.

Definitely holds up with Radiohead.

How the fuck was this made?

PD tells us that it was all made on an iPhone with only a Telecaster.

That is some serious trickery.

Ear fooling.

This is COMPLEX music.

Mixes sound polished.

Clarity.

Some Chinese stuff.

Noise floor fucked for the first time ever.

Bacon?

Rollerskate Skinny.

It’s THAT good.

Shoulder Voices.

How was this made?

This heralds a new talent.

But this bloke is 44.

Tour sponsored by Ensure.

Not hearing a sophomore slump here.

Two albums in two months.

Review third forthcoming.

This dude is emo as fuck.

I dig it.

This guy is a mystery.

What is his deal?

This sounds more like a cohesive album that Introversion.

Introversion sounds like a debut album…in all the best ways.

Songs saved up.

A greatest hits.

Go big or go home.

This album deals much more in subtlety.

Not every song here is a home run.

This album breathes.

Ambiance.

Negative space.

More Beach Boys vibes.

70s.

Sad.

Bathrobe.

But mentally sharp.

A spark of genius.

A little bluegrass.

Bill Monroe.

Dock Boggs.

The old world is passing away.

Jonny Greenwood.

Georges Bizet.

Live forever.

Nonesuch.

Elektra.

Hoyt Ming.

Incredible String Band.

Wales, Scotland.

Back and forth.

And across to Ireland.

Oh, no.

There’s the single.

“Makes Me Wanna Stay in Bed”.

Emma Pollock.

Hate is all you need.

Coming in from the cold.

New Radicals.

Delayed bass from The Wall.

Pavement.

Spoon.

Good fucking song!

Eisteddfod.

All Is Dream.

Hard following up.

Unenviable.

Emma Pollock solo.

With Alun Woodward singing.

The Great Eastern.

New Spiritualized.

Banjo.

Let It Come Down.

Abbey Road.

Coldplay.

A Rush of Blood to the Head.

This bloke is serious as fuck.

Sad eyes.

I’m sensing a Jandek promotional strategy.

Final track Richter.

Ravel.

Emperor.

Philip Glass.

Conlon Nancarrow.

City/country dichotomy.

Urban/rural.

Urban encroaching.

Something felt.

Big symphony night.

Excitement of New York Phil.

The fucking french horns!

Automation.

A story in dynamics.

Lesson.

A folk album.

bucolic.

Pauly Deathwish.

iTunes.

Spotify.

-PD

Frank [2014)

My dear friends, it is so good to be alive 🙂

But very difficult to be sick.

I must admit, it took me two days to watch this film.

This one hit a little too close to home.

But that’s ok.

Yes, I am finally feeling better on the allergy front.

Now I am struggling with that old nemesis of mine:  nicotine.

Yep, that’s right.

Trying to kick that habit.

Whoa (woozy feeling)…

Maybe did that a little too fast 🙂

But most of all, you know, every day I struggle with anxiety.

I don’t usually address it in such naked terms.

But it is fair here to talk about this biggest of all struggles for me.

Because Frank is a film about mental illness.

You know, if you apply for a job, you might get a “questionnaire” enquiring about your health.

America is very “democratic” and “fair” in hiring processes, but still these questionnaires persist.

And I suppose the last round of jobs I applied for (merely two) opened my eyes to the reality of my situation a bit.

Looking down the list of “conditions”, I realized I must (to be honest) check two boxes.

[Though the questionnaire was “voluntary”]

So I have “anxiety disorder” (big time!) and asthma (not so bad, but it can pop up).

So wow…I thought…man, these are listed as “disabilities” (if I remember correctly).

While some people might celebrate a disability condition, for me it’s not really cause for cheering.

But then I thought, “Wait…are these really disabilities?”

Well, I’m not going to give a medical/legal ruling on that (because, frankly [no pun intended] I don’t know).

But I know one thing:  anxiety can be totally debilitating.

I’ve had a really hard time readjusting to “life” after two and a half years of intense graduate studies.

I graduated about a month ago.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the forum…

My body just kinda shut down…gradually…in different ways.

That momentum which had carried me across the finish line evaporated.

And so life hasn’t been a bowl of cherries.

Anxiety is a bitch!

When I have nothing to realistically worry about, I find something.

If there is something from which worry can be derived, I will find it.

And it will drive me nuts.

At a certain point, one has to laugh at the ridiculousness of such an impulse.

[It’s not something I can very well control, you understand.]

And that brings us to our film Frank.

Frank is a fucked up guy.

Imagine the Jack in the Box guy from the commercials with the big fake head.

And then have that guy lead a rock band.

Yeah…

This film really defies all description.

So we have to dig a bit to really delineate what is going on in this masterful film.

First of all, this film has caused me to create a new category in my global survey of cinema for a country which I love (for a multitude of reasons):  Ireland.

Yes, Frank is an Irish film.

Funny enough, no one in the film has an Irish accent.

[Which begs the question, “Is it really an Irish film?”]

But I’m calling it an Irish film because I really admire the balls it took Lenny Abrahamson to make this picture.

Our director, Mr. Abrahamson, was born in Dublin in 1966.

Ok, it’s Irish (at least as far as “auteur theory” goes).

So what?

There’s something about Ireland which I get from the eccentrics.

James Joyce was the master of them all.

I will read Finnegans Wake till my dying day and still glory in the fact that I have no REAL idea what it’s truly about 🙂

But this film, Frank, takes us to a place I know very well:  rock and roll.

And more specifically:  indie rock.

It is a “genre” which attracts the most far-out individuals in the world.

And I must say, there were several times in this film where I could feel the spirit of one of my favorite bands of all time.

An Irish group.

Rollerskate Skinny.

Our director is 50.  I’m 40.

Maybe our frames of reference are different.

Youngsters might think Animal Collective or even the arduous process which produced Arcade Fire’s tortured Reflektor.

But Frank makes me think of that early-90s noise-pop wave which was spearheaded by bands like (my favorite group ever) Mercury Rev and Rollerskate Skinny.

When I see Frank, I see David Baker.

But I know my history.

I’ve studied weirdos all my life.

So I also see David Thomas of Pere Ubu.

And of course Don van Vliet (a.k.a. Captain Beefheart).

Frank is certainly a film which the “Pitchfork generation” should be able to get behind.

I’ve had dinner with Roky Erickson.

I’ve seen what Frank is groping for.

Yes, it’s that madness which made Syd Barrett great.

But such madness comes with a price.

We can listen to that first Pink Floyd album (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn)…songs like “Lucifer Sam” where Barrett is brilliant.

And we can trace that brilliance to his solo album The Madcap Laughs…songs like “No Good Trying”.

But to be SO fucked up…to be SO far out…it ain’t fun.

I’ve heard about Roky Erickson’s time at the Rusk State Hospital for the criminally insane.

It’s not a pretty picture.

But let’s talk about this damn film 🙂

It had me hooked once I caught faint traces of those first two Mercury Rev albums (Yerself is Steam and Boces) in the sounds I was hearing emanating from Soronprfbs.

Yes, Soronprfbs.

The perfect name to describe the obtuse band at the center of our story.

Here’s a band so weird, they don’t even know how to pronounce their own name (when they show up at SXSW).

[But I’m getting ahead of myself]

First, I was wrong about Irish accents.

Indeed, Frank is such a bizarre film that one soon forgets that Domhnall Gleeson is speaking in one for the entirety 🙂

Gleeson is in the right place at the right time.

It’s happened to me.

I once got a MySpace message (remember those days?) and spent the next four years in a Cajun punk rock band.

It can happen.

Those were the best years of my life.

But it’s HARD!

Taking a van back and forth (and back and forth) across the country.

Flying (I hate flying) to awesome, bizarre locales.

For someone with bad anxiety, these aren’t easy tasks.

And we see that in the character of Frank.

As I said, Frank has problems.

Somehow, Gleeson joins Frank’s band Soronprfbs.

And the rest is a whipsaw of insanity.

No, Frank is not a relaxing watch, but it is hilarious!

And very meaningful!!

Soronprfbs, as a band, is a shambles.

[not to be confused with Babyshambles]

There were several times when I caught glimpses of the weirdness that is another of my most favorite bands:  The Homosexuals.

But, this film can hardly be reviewed properly without talking about The Residents.

Soronprfbs are mythic (if only in their own minds).

Their fame, however, grows.

And with fame, stage fright.

It happens to even the most grounded individuals (like Robbie Robertson).

But nothing fits the bill quite like Mercury Rev.

Soronprfbs are apt to have fights on stage.

Perhaps one member tries to gouge another’s eye out on a transatlantic flight.

That kind of stuff.

Sure, Oasis have had mid-air spats about blueberry scones.

And maybe The Sex Pistols only played to twelve people (or whatever) at their first show.

But Soronprfbs, for me, is that band which would hang electric guitars from the ceiling and let them feed back for the entirety of a show.

Which is to say, Mercury Rev.

But let me pull in the younger folks.

Think, for example, The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

Fights onstage.

Obvious mental problems.

Or is it just a put-on?

And let’s go back…

The Doors.

Jim Morrison being totally whacked out of his gourd onstage.

But no, Soronprfbs is weirder…and far more obscure.

Think, for instance, Alan Vega leading Suicide in a performance at CBGB’s.

The writers of our film (Jon Ronson and Peter Straughan) will probably know everything I’m talking about [were they to ever read this].

Because they (or at least one of them…Ronson?) know the mechanism which attracts so many of us to BANDS.

[“those funny little plans/that never work quite right”]

That mechanism is mystery.

But in this case, it is the mystery of reclusive eccentricity.

Put simply, madness.

[not to be confused with the band Madness]

So Ronson and Straughan even include the perfect musical instrument to act as a talisman for their tale:  the theremin.

And they even get the character’s name right:  Clara.

[after theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore]

The theremin has a long history in eccentric rock and roll.

Indeed, late in Frank when we see our dejected main character sleeping in his bathrobe at the French Quarter Inn (a fleabag motel), his sartorial sense evokes Brian Wilson’s rough years.

Yes, the theremin goes back to at least “Good Vibrations” and the zaniness which was The Beach Boys’ album Smile.

But the theremin has come to embody the obtuse and pretentious in rock and roll.

And so it is no wonder that bands such as Jon Spencer Blues Explosion picked up on this wooziest of all instruments.

Which brings us finally to a salient point.

Frank includes at least one star:

Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Gyllenhaal plays stone-cold bitch Clara:  Frank’s girlfriend.

[remember, Frank is the guy with the papier-mâché head…and he never takes it off…ever]

Gyllenhaal’s character is unlikable in just about every way imaginable.

And it makes me appreciate her acting.

Indeed, God bless Ms. Gyllenhaal for taking this film role.

It’s a lot like Charlotte Gainsbourg’s role in Misunderstood (2014) and makes me appreciate the dramatic tension of Gainsbourg’s role more than I initially did.

Which is to say, Gyllenhaal is very much the villain of Frank.

A bit like a dominatrix version of June Chadwick in This Is Spinal Tap.

Which is to further say, Gyllenhaal is playing off her typecast from Secretary of being one bad bitch.

And she pulls it off.

But Gyllenhaal is the least important element of Frank.

It would ruin things to tell you just how Michael Fassbender figures into this film, but let’s just say he’s indispensable.

[Fassbender, by the way, is half-Irish (his mother being born in County Antrim)]

A lot of our action happens in what could pass for Tarbox Road Studios.

Indeed, there is a lot of Wayne Coyne in the character of Frank as well.

But the sounds are closer to those which Mercury Rev conjured at SUNY-Buffalo for their debut album.

Likewise, the seclusion which goes into making the great Soronprfbs album reminds me of the ramshackle (yet bucolic) process which led to my favorite album of all time:  Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs.

As alluded to earlier, Soronprfbs eventually make their way to my old stomping grounds:  the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

I was a bit wistful seeing the Ritz Theater (now an Alamo Drafthouse) on 6th Street in one shot.

Indeed, I remember playing an “unplugged”, solo gig there back when it was still a cavernous, multilevel, piece-of-shit music venue (pool hall).

Funny enough, a lot of the tension in Frank revolves around that old chestnut of a band “selling out”.

Perhaps the funniest scene in the movie is when Frank presents his “most likable music ever” in the motel room.

Which is to say, this movie may not appeal to everyone.

But if you’re a rock musician (especially a weirdo like me), you’ve gotta see this.

There are a couple of scenes which make the whole thing worthwhile.

It’s funny that Soronprfbs bassist François Civil bears a striking resemblance to Dave Fridmann circa-1991.

[just another detail which cemented the genius of this film for me]

But there are other seeming references in this film.

A bit of Stereolab (with all the Moogy wonder).

The stilted “artfulness” of Blonde Redhead.

And even the bollocks, pulseless blech of Low.

Yes, Soronprfbs and their “side projects” seem to catch just about every hue in the indie rock kaleidoscope.

Director Abrahamson (and writers Ronson and Straughan) do a nice job of converting Domhnall Gleeson’s internal monologue into a social media thread which runs through this movie.

Gleeson is on Twitter, YouTube, a blog, etc.

But the funniest is the beginning…and it is the hook which reeled me in.

To hear Gleeson’s musical mind attempt to craft quirky pop songs out of mundane details of his Irish town is a real knee-slapper.

Because, as they say, IT’S SO TRUE!

So if you’ve ever written songs, witness in the first five minutes of this film the real torture it is to make lemonade out of a lemon life.

Be forewarned (or enticed):  Frank is WAY OUT THERE!

Some elements of this film are so non sequitur that they were a bit hard for my weakened, nicotine-craving immune system to handle.

In the end, this is a sad story.

But with joy, pain.

There is great joy in Frank.

Sometimes we realize we’re not in Kansas anymore…

and it’s a rough patch.

The Technicolor of life can be too much to handle.

But take courage, dear friends…

Like Gong’s great song “Rational Anthem”…from that hard-to-find Magick Brother…their debut.

[Get on that, Spotify]

Miracles can happen.

And, to quote Albert Ayler, “music is the healing force of the universe”.

-PD