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Things We Like: “Strange Brew,” Words on “Zaireeka” and “The Tarantino Mixtape”

12 June 2010 Things We Like 4,677 views One CommentPrint This Post Print This Post Email This Post Email This Post

Scarecrow Video’s Pick of the Week: “Strange Brew” (1983), directed by Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas
After the flop premiere of their movie “The Mutants of 2051 A.D.”, Bob and Doug McKenzie, two beer loving “hosers,” attempt to blackmail free beer from The Elsinore Brewery. Soon the donut-fueled brothers are involved in a wacky variation on Hamlet involving a beer heiress battling an egomaniacal brewmiester (Max von Sydow). Some highlights: Bob, trapped in a vat of beer, drinks his way to freedom; Doug gets a bloody nose from laughing too hard in a court room; and Hosehead the Flying Dog saves the world from poisoned beer at an Oktoberfest party. As the McKenzies say, “Strange Brew” is shot in 3-B — “three beers, and it looks pretty good, eh?” So pop a cold one and prepare to enjoy one of Canada’s greatest cinematic achievements. – Spenser Hoyt

Elliott Bay Book Company’s Suggested Reading: “The Flaming Lips’ Zaireeka” by Mark Richardson

The hallmark of good music writing is that it makes you want to listen to the music it is about, and great music writing will make you want to hear the stuff immediately. Mark Richardson’s entry in the ongoing 33 1/3 series does just this. It is a little bit problematic, though, because Richardson chose to write about The Flaming Lips’ “Zaireeka,” which is quite possibly the most experimental album to ever have enjoyed commercial release. It’s a four-CD set, meant to be listened to simultaneously on four separate stereos.

When the work “experimental” is appended to an album, it usually ends up describing something that you would not want to listen to very often. This is not the case with “Zaireeka.” The album carries the elegant mix of spastic, gorgeous melodies woven around heady and often morose lyrics, the sound that would come to be the Flaming Lips’ trademark in the following decade. It is punctuated by screams, brain-battering drum solos, and in the case of one song, a mixture of incredibly high and incredibly low pitches that perhaps can cause some listeners to become disoriented (or so reads the warning on the CD’s cover). All of this is shaped around whatever environment the listener is able to scavenge together. No two listens are ever the same.

The 33 1/3 book series is aimed at straightforward examinations of albums that were pivotal, either with regards to the outside world in the time of their release or in the scheme of the particular artist’s catalog, or, in the best cases, both. Richardson’s book places the whole mess in context, and engagingly outlines the unique forces that allowed such an album to come to be. If the whole four stereo synchronization thing seems a bit gimmicky, that is ironically a force that helped it come to be. It turns out Warner Brothers was looking for a good gimmick, one that would tell the world that they were supporting artists, not products. The wonder, as this book illustrates, is that the band was able to make something transcendent out of it. – Christopher Sabatini

“The Tarantino Mixtape”

The Eclectic Method is Jonny Wilson, Ian Edgar and Geoff Gamlen, three “audio-visual mixers” who are slowly but surely creating video mash-ups of every piece of music and film you’ve ever heard or seen. Recently, they turned their attention to the films (and the subsequent compilation soundtracks) of Quentin Tarantino, and made “The Tarantino Mixtape” — a hypnotic homage to the director’s winning eye and discerning ear. (Warning: It’s pretty much NSFW.) Bits of Tarantino’s dialogue roll over beats and melodies pinched from Dusty Springfield, Santa Esmeralda and Dick Dale; split-screens and wipes allow complimentary images from the films to shake hands. (Finally, all those car trunk-opening shots in one place!) If the inside of Quentin Tarantino’s brain were a place you could visit, this is what it would look like. At least until you get mugged. – Geoff Carter

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One Comment »

  1. “Strange Brew” is HARD to come by! Some exteme interpretation of political correctness, or an uncomfortable reminder that Canucks have access to decent free healthcare even if they garnered a health issue due to beer consumption? Hosers!

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