Movie Review: This World Won’t Break

This World Won’t Break
Directed by Josh David Jordan
Whiskey Beard Films

Artists are a funny breed. It takes a strange combination of guts, naiveté, stubbornness, and, often times, pure dumb luck to create something that stands the test of time. Being an artist can be a reckless endeavor. For every artist that earns their place in our collective culture, there are thousands that spend the balance of their lives never quite making it. Josh David Jordan’s feature directorial debut, This World Won’t Break, places a microscope on the life of fictional Texas musician, Wes Milligan, and examines the cost of a life dedicated to one’s own art.

Jordan introduces Wes at a low point; a vagrant songwriter who leans on a flask too frequently and is embittered by the indifference of local barflies who aren’t there specifically to hear him play. His wife has left him, he can’t pay his bills, he lives in a trailer, and he keeps getting rejected at the one thing he thinks he’s good at. Does this sound like a blues song yet?

The common, “My baby done left me,” blues tropes are all in play but after hearing them all is where the film gets really interesting. Taken on the surface from Wes’ point-of-view, life is but a wearisome and necessary burden for the sake of his craft. However, Jordan begins dropping in hints that Wes has far more support at the ready if he ever were to acknowledge it. His ex-wife still returns his drunken calls and reminds him that he’s talented but it was his own self-sabotage that forced her to leave. He has a pure-hearted simpleton friend who is willing to sit and listen to him at any hour of the day. He has a gem of a father who believes in him and encourages him to take his writing gift to Nashville and then gives him a place to live. Even the radio DJ takes the time to administer sage advice and about getting a band together and putting out a professional quality recording so that he isn’t just spinning his wheels. And through all of this, he still wears being alone as some twisted badge of honour.

In a touching scene, the humility of Wes’ father, played brilliantly by Matthew Posey, when talking about life after the loss of a spouse acts as the emotional counterweight to Wes’ self-centered nature. Being purposefully alone might help him manufacture a few decent songs but for the first time he recognizes the profound impact that the love from others has on one’s life. That recognition is the beginning of a powerful turning point for Wes learning to accept the help from others that is readily available.

One thing that sets This World Won’t Break apart from many of its peers in the indie-character study category, is its inherent humour. Greg Schroeder, who plays Wes Milligan, has a naturally mischievous twinkle in his eye that lets him deliver even the most dour of lines with some hope that maybe he’s kind of joking. Jordan also writes incredible supporting roles that interject the absurd hilarity and awkwardness of the common man just when levity is needed the most.

As far as the technical aspects of the the film are concerned, This World Won’t Break is nothing short of stunning. Everything from the vivid colouring to those gorgeous, lingering Terrence Malick-esque shots, make it hard to believe this is Josh Jordan’s first feature-length film. Music films can always be a little dicey when it comes to believability of the performance or syncing a studio track up to a supposed live scene but the musical background of the TWWB crew creates a flawless experience.

I would be remiss if I didn’t note that this entire film was assembled for under $50k, which is less than big brands spend on creating 15-second YouTube ads. Much like Wes, Jordan has a community of support behind him and by leveraging a team of local talent, family and friends, they achieved something truly remarkable. This movie shouldn’t even exist but here it stands as maybe the quintessential movie about songwriters. Also, the local production crew and their shared experiences help make the city of Dallas as much of a character as any other character in the movie. I feel comfortable in saying This World Won’t Break has overthrown David Byrne’s True Stories as the definitive, “Dallas Music Movie.”

The only noticeable flaw in the movie is its runtime. In every slightly bloated double-album is a more succinct perfect single album but the trouble is knowing which songs to cut. I would imagine that when writing, directing, and producing your first movie, every scene and every line is incredibly personal – it never hurts to have an outsider kill your darlings for you.

Narcissism is a powerful force. A dash of it can be terribly useful and motivating – too much and you crumble under the weight of your own arrogance. Artists have to wield this force carefully. A passing theme in This World Won’t Break is the old adage, “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” Whether you are a first-time filmmaker or a struggling musician, the wooden nickel is believing you are owed a shot at glory or believing that things have to be done a certain way. The wooden nickel is believing you can do it alone. This World Won’t Break is a testament to the potential that exists in all of us…together.

peace,
daniel

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt9590954/

Album Review: Oscar Delaughter – S/T EP

For the past few months now, local Dallas radio station 91.7 KXT has been randomly dropping a few new songs by Oscar Delaughter into their rotation. Imagine catching the tail end of a song that sounded really interesting, only for Shazam to tell you that song doesn’t exist. Luckily, KXT keeps a running playlist on their website but, frustratingly enough, when you would find that the song you missed was by Oscar Delaughter, there would be no link to Spotify or iTunes. The guy was a digital ghost in an era where that’s nearly impossible.

Just a few hours ago, Oscar Delaughter decided to step out into the light and surprise released his debut self-titled EP. It’s a shame that we had to wait this long for it because it is really quite good. Over the EP’s 19 minutes, Delaughter darts from genre to genre, displaying his Timberlake-esque swagger on Grand Prize to dabbling in alt-power-pop on Lost and You Don’t Know to showing he can hang with the best of the Soundcloud group on This Feelin and You Remind Me.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love the first thing you hear from a new artist. Sometimes the artist has a crystal clear identity of exactly who and what they are and other times it’s more of a coming out party, showcasing all the different facets of their talent. On the Oscar Delaughter EP, it feels like a mix of both. Musically, Delaughter’s influences are pretty clear – JT, Post Malone, Future, and not surprisingly, his own dad, Tim Delaughter of The Polyphonic Spree/Tripping Daisy – and that’s not a bad thing. He is a young artist, still finding his style and direction, so why not use the sounds that he loves and create something of his own with them?

The reason, though, that I think this EP is more than just a collection of catchy songs in the popular styles of today, is the heart that it shows. Top 40 hasn’t ever really done a whole lot for me and it has less to do with the music than it does the content. When pop hits have nothing to say, there is no risk, no vulnerability, and no emotional connection with the listener. This EP feels, lyrically, very honest and I can’t imagine putting myself out there like that at such a young age – it seems to share more a kinship with mid-90’s emo music than it does with the music that it actually sounds like. And that, is the biggest reason to be excited about what we’ll hear in the future from Delaughter. In an age where it is increasingly easy to detach the worries and sadness from the perfect Instagram pictures, there is ever-growing need for artists like Delaughter who inject honesty and pathos into the music that already sounds perfect.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/self-titled-ep/1450439014


peace,
daniel


p.s. I have listened to Lost and You Remind Me probably 5 times each now – those two songs are simply outstanding. I also loved the nod to his dad with the vocal effects on You Don’t Know and using what sounds to me like a Spree-related Placid Audio Copperphone mic on the second verse of Lost. The production on Lost should also be noted…Greg Kurstin would be proud!

The Top Nine Albums Of 2018

I forgot to do a nice big writeup so here is my quick list. Enjoy!

9. Thrice – Palms A few rough years, a crisis of faith, and a desperate plea for human connectivity make for a very excellent record from these rock veterans.

8. Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer After 2017’s indulgently smarmy, Pure Comedy, I thought Father JohnMisty had taken his act too far but God’s Favorite Customer is incredibly sincere and just a wonderful album to sink into for a bit.

7. Monster Magnet – Mindf*cker This record is as dumb and awesome as you could possibly hope a rock record could be. The mix of classic rock riffs and psychedelia attitude comes together perfectly on the album standout track, I’m God.

6. David Byrne – American Utopia The songs on American Utopia are indistinguishable from classic Talking Heads and David Byrne songs…he is as good as he has ever been.

5. Courtney Barnett – Tell Me How You Really Feel Being clever is a blessing and a curse because you are constantly being judged on just how witty you are. On Tell Me How You Really Feel, Barnett smartly traded her stock in cleverness for punk rock cred. If Kurt Cobain were alive, I think this would probably be his favourite record of the year.

4. Amanda Shires – To The Sunset To The Sunset is a master class in songwriting. Ever song is simultaneously catchy yet mired in meaning. Having people sing along with every word and then realize how profound those words are is the ultimate goal for any musician and Shires should be extremely proud of this outing.

3. The 1975 – A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships The 1975 have yet to let me down. A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships is everything you expect from a 1975 record but it finds the band incorporating more meaning and sincerity and slowly transforming from a young rock band to a mature r&b act.

2. Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt This is easily the most beautiful album put out in 2018. It sounds so familiar, like an album that has always existed, yet brand new each time you hear it. It reminds me of the best parts of Beach Boys, Polyphonic Spree, Rolling Stones, and Girls all rolled into one fantastic album

#1 Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams This is without a doubt the most audacious and far-reaching album of the year. No matter what you think this album might be, it’s nothing like what you expect. This album is unclassifiable. It is rock, dub, punk, experimental, pretty, meta. It shifts from Jarvis Cocker to Keith Morris from one moment to the next. It’s less of an album than it is a journey and it’s hands-down the most fascinating album of 2018.

peace,

daniel

Album Review: Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams

Surprise is a rare and wonderful thing, especially in the music world. The formula for songwriting success was perfected decades ago. Since the existence of managers, musicians have had someone hovering over their shoulder whispering suggestions about fanbase expectations and brand and image. How a band should sound and look and act is all part of the “perfection” of the music machine. But, every now and then, maybe once in a generation, a band comes along and says no. Artists like Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Gang of Four, Pixies, Deftones, Sigur Ros, The Polyphonic Spree, all knew the game, they knew the stakes, and they chose to forge their own paths. Toronto’s Fucked Up has been toying with the boundaries of punk music since 2001 but with their latest release, Dose Your Dreams, they stretch further and force us to ask what it even means to be a band. Continue reading Album Review: Fucked Up – Dose Your Dreams

The Top 10 Albums of 2017

The Currency Of Cool’s Top Ten Albums of 2017
(click the album cover for a link to Spotify)



10. Anything Could Happen – Bash And Pop

Rock and Roll is expected to be raucous and rowdy but every now and again, when it’s done right, it is completely endearing. Tommy Stinson is an honest-to-goodness rock and roll legend in his own right so it’s fascinating to hear him fuse Rolling Stones type swagger with Butch Walker-esque songwriting to create an album that is essentially a love letter to the “bash and pop,” aspects of rock and roll. Anything Could Happen is hooky and energetic and feels completely earnest in its efforts. Yes, there is no new ground being broken here but in a modern music landscape that values perfection over heart, having the confidence to release an album like Anything Could Happen is admirable, and, yes, completely endearing. Continue reading The Top 10 Albums of 2017

The Polyphonic Spree

It is May of 2016. The wings of the stage at Levitt Pavilion are lined with friends and loved ones and Dallas-based rock band, The Polyphonic Spree, will begin their set in less than ten minutes. Babies with protective headphones are held up and displayed by proud members of the band. As some of the players are sound checking in plainclothes, it becomes clear that the magic and mystic of The Polyphonic Spree is not contained in the notes they play or the robes they wear but in their ability to create a sense of family and community everywhere they go. Continue reading The Polyphonic Spree

Album Review: in*ter a*li*a – At The Drive-In

In the year of our Lord, 2000, my junior year of high school, I saw The Who perform in Dallas, TX. It had been 27 years since their last album of any relevance. I went to the concert with my Dad. Seeing The Who with my Dad was special because they had been an important band in his life when he was in high school. It was an incredible memory that I’ll cherish forever; seeing a band from decades earlier because it meant something to my Dad.

At The Drive-In just released a new album, in*ter a*li*a, in 2017. For those keeping score, that’s 17 years since their last album, Relationship Of Command, in 2000. In the year 2000, I was catching oldies concerts with Dad, while the most vital new band from my state was releasing their most recognizable album. Now, 17 years later, they’re back on the scene and just released an album that spits in the face of the idea of being a nostalgia act or merely a marketing ploy to see a reunion tour with your kids. Take a high school kid to an At The Drive-In concert and see if they come away feeling nostalgic or energized to take on the world. Continue reading Album Review: in*ter a*li*a – At The Drive-In

The Best Albums of 2016

Life is rarely fair; missteps are magnified and, too often, subtle victories go unnoticed. When the World can, nearly instantaneously, absorb and forget splashes of glory, the question that lingers is, “Where do I go from here?” The answer, is only ever one of three options – Quit, Refine, or Change. In the context of music, the Quitters are the panderers – the brands formerly known as artists – and they aren’t worth the ink that will never be written about them. Those who refine, those who change, are Heroes. Continue reading The Best Albums of 2016

Appeal To Reason


Remember the feeling of pride you had the first time you voted? Even after many trips to the election booth, people are still proud of their “I Voted” stickers. Maybe some of you have a childhood memory of a parent taking you with them to vote. My dad took me with him to vote in 1992 and I thought it was so cool; we could pick who would be President. He wouldn’t tell me who he voted for…he said, “It isn’t anyone’s business who you vote for.” Continue reading Appeal To Reason

Album Review: Modern Gospel – Joshua Dylan Balis

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Sometimes opening acts are amazing. Sometimes they don’t immediately grab you by the ears, so you go the bar the get a drink. And, sometimes, while you’re at the bar, you hear something that you didn’t hear at first and find yourself drawn back to the front of the stage. Modern Gospel, the debut album by Joshua Dylan Balis, is like that slow-burning, unassuming opening act. Continue reading Album Review: Modern Gospel – Joshua Dylan Balis