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I didn’t want to talk about movies this week, honest I didn’t, but the Oscars inspired me to make one last statement before I bid 2006 cinema adieu. An even later than usual rush of Oscar contenders has rendered my previous top ten list incomplete, so I felt compelled to rewrite it:


1. Children of Men

2. Pan’s Labyrinth

3. The Departed

4. Babel

5. The Good Shepherd

6. The Fountain

7. The Prestige

8. The Queen

9. Volver

10. Letters From Iwo Jima


Since my hero Martin Scorsese finally took home the two most coveted prizes, this year’s Oscars was the most satisfying I can remember. But a couple of decisions left me flabbergasted.

Why do they always try to cut the awards presentations – the reason people actually watch the show – to 30 seconds or less and then fill the time they’ve saved with retarded montages, James Taylor/Randy Newman collabos and inane banter by Ellen DeGeneres?

Come to think of it, why do they even have a host? The Golden Globes get by fine without one.

Why did they represent Ennio Morricone, arguably the most influential film composer since Bernard Herrmann, as a jazzy lounge lizard who writes weepy Celine Dion songs (they should have invited Metallica to play “The Ecstasy of Gold”)?

But I was most disappointed that Children of Men didn’t win a single award. It’s quickly shaping up as one of the best movies of the decade, let alone the year, and it doesn’t even win Best Editing?!

Oh well, time is the best judge of these things, and I think Children of Men will hold up far better than past Best Picture winners like Shakespeare In Love or, God help us, Crash.


Moving on, the first quarter may be the worst time to see new movies, but in recent years it has become one of the best to hear new music. Arriving on the heels of the ridiculously overcrowded, blockbuster-driven holiday buying season, the first quarter has turned into the music industry’s time of rebirth, where its freshest and most exciting new records are unveiled.

  Menomena’s Friend And Foe is one of those State Of The Indie Rock events, an endlessly buzzed-about album that will inspire college kids nationwide to copy its sound in hopes of stealing a little of its glory. It’s so wonderfully executed – from the production to the sequencing to the artwork – that it’s easy to forget just how unique, memorable and downright peculiar the music itself is.

They create their songs with a self-authored computer program called Deeler, which is designed to make the writing process completely democratic.

And while most bands rarely venture beyond guitar, bass and drums, Menomena use just about anything they can get their hands on, including glockenspiel, baritone sax and good old-fashioned whistling. Friend And Foe runs the gamut from majestic piano ballads to skeletal Suicide homages, but there’s not a weak link in the bunch.

We’re still dealing with the fallout from the last State of The Indie Rock record, Arcade Fire’s modern classic Funeral. How many trans-cultural art rock collectives with about a dozen members have come and gone in the two and half years since Funeral dropped (I’m From Barcelona, Annuals, etc)?

A wave of soundalikes can rob even the best bands of their shine, but have no fear. The triumphant leaders of Montreal’s thriving music scene completely dodge the sophomore slump with their transcendent new record, Neon Bible. Arcade Fire wastes no time with false modesty; they’re one of the best bands in the world and they know it.

Neon Bible is a big album full of densely textured anthems that I’m sure will be the soundtrack to a large portion of my 2007 (and beyond). I didn’t think they’d ever match the grandeur or immediacy of “Rebellion (Lies)” but then I heard “No Cars Go” and my head almost blew up.

But the record that I’ve listened to the most is LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver, which hearkens back to the groundbreaking brilliance of their early singles “Losing My Edge” and “Beat Connection”. Silver continues in the darker direction set forth by last year’s epic “45:33” (the song’s title and running time): stripping their signature sound down to the bare essentials, slowing down the tempo and adding a strong dose of 70’s soul. “Us v. Them” is the most infectious dance track they’ve recorded since the landmark “Yeah” and “All My Friends” suggests a more nostalgic Joy Division.

I never thought I’d be excited about a melancholy LCD Soundsystem record, but apparently depression can be a good thing.