the velvet underground

The Film Playlist: Bandslam

So far, every movie that has been a part of The Film Playlist has been an adult movie. By adult movie, I mean a movie that has a PG-13 or an R rating. The latest addition to the playlist is a drug, sex, curse word free coming of age film though. It’s rated PG. The first time I saw this movie was in the summer of 2010. I think I rented it from Blockbuster before all the Blockbusters closed. I decided on the flick because I occasionally enjoy the simple family style movie and this one looked pretty cool. It did have to do with music after all. To my surprise, after seeing it, I can say it’s the most underrated movie I’ve seen in the past 10 years. So if there are any surprises on the playlist, it’s this one, Bandslam.

Bandslam was released in 2009 and stars Aly Michalka, Gaelan Connell, Vanessa Hudgens, and Lisa Kudrow. It was written by Josh A. Cagan and Todd Graff and directed by Todd Graff. The movie also contains one of the final film appearances by the late great David Bowie. Yes, if you read my blog about David Bowie a few weeks ago, this is the film I was talking about. Bowie has a cameo appearance but plays a small role in the story line since the main character frequently writes e-mails to the legendary music artist and claims himself to be Bowie’s biggest fan. The first line of the film is actually “Dear David Bowie,” and then proceeds with a reading of one of the main character’s e-mails with “Rebel, Rebel” playing in the background.

In the film, the main character, Will Burton (Connell) is a new student at his high school after he and his mother (Kudrow) move because of his mother’s new job. Will welcomes the fresh start since he was teased and bullied at his old school. On his first day, he meets a girl named, Sa5m (the 5 is silent) (Hudgens) and discovers the importance of a local Battle of the Bands competition called Bandslam. He also meets a senior named Charlotte (Michalka) who takes him under her wing once she find out about Will’s love and knowledge of music. As a former member of the most popular band at school and Bandslam competitor, Ben Wheatley and the Glory Dogs, Charlotte convinces Will to be the manager of her new band. Charlotte plans on competing with her new band against Ben Wheatley and the Glory Dogs at Bandslam, since she wants to stick it to her ex-boyfriend and Glory Dog’s frontman, Ben Wheatley.

Despite the simple plot line, both Will and Charlotte have more history and depth to them than you initially realize. When I first saw the film, I was impressed at the turns the story takes throughout the film. It goes even deeper than School of Rock‘s plot, which is similar in the fact that it also involves a Battle of the Bands competition. To be honest, I feel like Bandslam is sex, drugs, and language short of what could be a PG-13 film. The movie even received positive critical reception, despite under-performing at the box office. Supposedly, Summit Entertainment, the production company who released the film was criticized for the poor marketing efforts compared to that of the Twilight Saga, which was also released by Summit around the same time as Bandslam.

The music selection featured in the film is also impressive. After I saw the movie, I looked up songs from it and downloaded several of them. The soundtrack/movie features David Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Nick Drake, Wilco, Peter, Bjorn, & John, and several other great indie bands, along with covers of “I Want You To Want Me” and “Everything I Own” by Aly Michalka and Vanessa Hudgens that were featured in the film, respectively.

Much like a hidden gem of a song you find in the middle of a playlist, mixtape, or an album, Bandslam is the hidden gem of The Film Playlist. It’s that movie you may not have heard of but is so essential for any music fan to see. I mean, there’s even a scene where Will and Sa5m visit the closed down version of CBGB’s before the legendary punk rock music club was transformed to a clothing store. Bandslam is more than meets the eye whether you’re looking for a good movie to check out or underrated music movie masterpiece. I would recommend it to huge music fans and casual music listeners alike.

 

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Fall Playlist

So this week I was pretty stuck on what I should write about. I could have easily made a post about the USWNT and the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, but I feel like I’ve written too much about sports so far (I’ll probably still write about it at some point in the next 2 weeks though). There’s been nothing in TV or movies currently that has really peaked my interest. I didn’t feel like writing about one of the shows I’ve been watching for a while or a favorite movie. I wanted music, but no new bands struck me recently. Plus, I already have something planned to write in 2 weeks about a band I’ve loved for 10 years. Then yesterday as I was driving on what turned out to be a gloomy fall afternoon, just as most of the leaves on the trees have hit their peak to turn colors, I heard a song that fit this time of year so well.

It hit me at that moment. There are tons of songs that remind me of specific seasons including fall so why not make a playlist? Some songs may be totally irrelevant to fall. I most likely associate them with the season because I probably heard them for the first time during the fall and listened to them repetitively. Other songs just sound right to me for this time of year because they either have an eerie tone (that Halloween vibe) or they’re my ideal fall indie folk style music.

So here’s my playlist for you. It’s almost like I made you a mix tape without the whole giving you the actual music thing.

1. Asleep   -The Smiths

2. Coney Island   -Good Old War

3. Come As You Are   -Nirvana

4. So Much Trouble   -Matt Pond PA

5. Blackbird   -The Beatles

6. Mad World   -Gary Jules

7. Ships   -Lady Danville

8. Pretty Girl at the Airport   -The Avett Brothers

9. New Slang   -The Shins

10. Pale Blue Eyes   -The Velvet Underground

11. Follow Suit   -Trent Dabbs

12. The Cave   -Mumford & Sons

13. Freaks   -The Hawk in Paris

14. That’s Some Dream   -Good Old War

15. Gypsy   -Suzanne Vega

16. World Spins Madly On   -The Weepies

17. Skinny Love   -Bon Iver

18. Landslide   -Fleetwood Mac

If you’ve ever heard or know all or some of these songs, you can probably tell that this playlist doesn’t seem very upbeat. It’s not. Musically, to me, that’s how fall is represented. It’s always seemed like a sad time of the year to me because where I’m from, the days get colder, the night’s grow longer, and all the life that was once flourishing seems to be sucked out. The fall also reminds me of long drives to Pittsburgh. I’ve listened to a handful of songs on the playlist on those drives while passing elegant fall landscapes. The fall is Halloween and all things creepy. The fall is my favorite book which I read for the first time in early October as a high school junior. This is what fall is and what my fall playlist represents. So enjoy it. I highly encourage you to listen to these songs. Even more so, listen to them while taking a drive and being immersed in the season.