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I love cheetahs and coffee and opening boxes.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince- Movie Review

When I came home and told my mom that this was the funniest Harry Potter movie yet, she looked at me dumbfounded and said, "Dumbledore dies at the end."

This may be true, but for the first half of the movie I was laughing till it hurt. David Yates may have ruined Order of the Phoenix for me, but he made it up in diamonds with the work he put into this movie.

For fans of the book, be prepared for extra scenes that J.K. Rowling never approved of. However, unlike its predecessor, these additions improved the pace of the movie. The sexual tension between Ron and Hermione could be felt by everyone in the audience and only added to the hilarity of the first half of the film. On another positive side, Harry showed few signs of true, teenage angst.

My only qualm with the movie is the lack of mystery surrounding the title character of the Half-Blood Prince. Harry should have been obsessed with the book that finally allowed him to succeed in potions class, but there were honestly 2 1/2 scenes depicting the book.

Dumbledore's death could have been less goofy for me, but on the bright side he didn't get slowly pushed into a veil like someone I remember.

The acting was great, I was pleased there was a lot more Snape in this movie than the previous few, and even more Ron and Hermione! David Yates should go on to direct comedies once the series is finished, but I doubt he'd take my advice on that.

The film deserves an A, through and through. Especially compared to the drivel that was Order of the Phoenix.  Finally, a film adaptation that does not make my skin crawl.

Claudio Sanchez February 2009 Comic-Con Interview

February 8th at this year’s New York Comic-Con I had the pleasure of speaking with a man whose musical genius has shaped my own interests. Claudio Sanchez is the lead singer of Coheed and Cambria, as well as the mastermind behind the lyrics that tell the story of The Amory Wars. The story has been told not only through music but through comic books that Sanchez has released. Sanchez gave me insight into his career as a musician and also as the writer of a comic with an excessively complicated story arc.

After I asked Sanchez what his primary focus is, he responded with, “Right now we are actually working on another record, it is part of the overall saga of Coheed and Cambria which is entitled The Amory Wars, it is the origin story of the two characters. I am also working on the adaptation for the In Keeping Secrets:3 record. KillAudio is my other project, which is a designer vinyl toy and a comic book.” Sanchez explained that KillAudio is a Seinfeld-like parody of himself and his friends from home where he places them in interesting scenarios and makes fun of them.

When I asked Claudio about his recent Neverender tour, where on each stop the band played an album a night for four days, he admitted the experience was very sentimental. Sanchez said memories from writing the songs and being on tour “300 days out of the year” were brought back to him each time he played. Currently, the band is on tour with Slipknot, and while Sanchez agrees it seems to be an odd pairing he believes the tour is working out and the energy from the audience is more energetic than ever.

I then asked Sanchez which venue is his favorite to play and he said, “I really like playing New York, just because it’s home and it’s my favorite city. But I also really like playing at [this one venue] in Virginia ‘cause there’s a hot tub upstairs.” Sanchez laughed at himself and explained, “I’ve never used the hot tub; it seems like a nice luxury to have.”

Sanchez and I then began to speak about how his music has always been very concept heavy, even when he was not a member of Coheed and Cambria: “if they [songs] had anything to do with me they were embellished onto the point of fiction. Around the time I created Coheed I decided to create an overall story arc within records.” Coheed and Cambria was originally a side project to Sanchez’s previous band, Shabutie, but as soon as they officially adopted the name they hold today Sanchez decided that the story of The Amory Wars would be his main focus. Sanchez’s new side project is The Prize Fighter Inferno, which retains some of the same imagery of Coheed and Cambria’s lyrics and features a linking character in both works named Inferno. Sanchez explains while his band Coheed and Cambria retains more science fiction elements, The Prize Fighter Inferno is a horror story.

Finally I asked Sanchez what changes have brought about the progression in Coheed and Cambria’s sound and I was delighted when he answered with, “The touring element.” Sanchez further explained the transformation was made because he and his band mates learned so much from each other and spent so much time together on the road that they were able to organically change their sound. “So you bonded?” I asked. “Yes, and now we make angry music.”

However angry Sanchez’s music can get, he was shy and generous at Comic-Con where he denied no fans a picture or autograph and would answer their questions without hesitation. As a fan I was thrilled to see a person whose music and lyrics have inspired me, be kind and so willing to please those who are interested in what he does. Claudio Sanchez has a lot of well-conceived projects stemming from The Amory Wars as well as his own experiences, and I am sure they will not disappoint.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Prize Fighter Inferno 'My Brother's Blood Machine'- Music Review

As an avid fan of the band Coheed & Cambria, I was interested to hear Claudio Sanchez go ahead and do his own thing. The Prize Fighter Inferno still has the science fiction elements that got Coheed noticed, but there are a lot of changes.

For those who hate tinny, electronic drums or Sanchez's high-pitched voice, this album is not for you. At first the use of electronic instruments seems to envelop the whole album, but there are a few stand-out tracks that remind the listener of good ol' Coheed.

The first track The Going Price for Home is the first taste of awkward electronica that Coheed fans aren't used to. Of course, the reference to "the wheels that round the ground across the Never" is comforting, but this is still unfamiliar territory.

The album picks up quickly, though with The Fight of Moses Early & Sir Arthur McCloud, Our Darling Daughter You Are, Little Cecelia Marie, and Run, Gunner Recall, Run! with guitar riffs that would have meshed well with Good Apollo: Volume 1.

Thankfully, Sanchez does not forget his roots throughout the album and pays homage to Second Stage Turbine Blade with The Missing McCloud Boys. Sanchez's extreme use of falsetta brings me back to a time when Coheed's sound was still rough around the edges. Sanchez harps, "They were only boys," a similar sentiment found in the Second Stage song Junesong Provision where cries, "I'm just a boy."

78 is a nice end to the album, encompassing Sanchez's tongue-in-cheek humor and the type of electronic that would not be lost on a Nine Inch Nails record.

Overall, my inital disappointment turned to love and I find myself eager for the next installment of The Prize Fighter Inferno. If not for the music, at least for the story. Sanchez will always allow us that. The record gets an A- from me, though this may be biased coming from a girl who interviewed the man and has been worshiping his music for 6 years.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

UUVVWWZ Self Titled- Music Review

The new self-titled album from the interestingly named band UUVVWWZ( pronounced: Double You Double Vee Double Double You Zee) is a little more than what mainstream indie offers. As a long time fan of Saddle-Creek records I was originally disappointed, but this is the type of album that needs time to grow.

Lead singer Teal Gardner does something fabulous with her voice. Gardner sounds like the female version of The Blood Brothers' vocalist Johnny Whitney. The motion in her voice is catastrophically haunting.

As for the guitar work, I am supremely impressed. The slips that are incorporated make me want to dance, which is exactly what a guitarist wants in a record.

So far, the stand-out song for me is Green Starred Sleeve. The band truly realizes their potential on this song. Gardner and band work well to leave you with a fun number that balances vocal and instrumental brilliance.

While the other tracks are memorable, I find the band is best suited for fast tracks. The album slows down too much for me. However, the opening track Berry Can is a great transition into this interesting record.

I wish the lyrics had more to say, but I think this band is about fun. And it's definitely fun.

I give the album a B. This band is on its way to indie greatness, it just needs a little more time to get there. In the mean time we've got these exotic tracks to dance to.