Frontier Psychiatrist

Archive for February 2012

From Left: Cox and Baer

Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeremy Cox, guitarist for Royal Baths in a mop closet at The Empty Bottle over a few cans of Hamm’s. Their newest Better Luck Next Life is a jet-black piece of psychedelic rock, pulsing with unstable energy and reeking of bad intentions. Many thanks to Jeremy for meeting with me, and please take a moment to see Royal Baths when they come to your town, as they no doubt will. 

Frontier Psychiatrist: You guys just relocated to Brooklyn after building much of your career in San Francisco. Why move to Brooklyn, because everyone is there?

Jeremy Cox: (Laughs) We went through the City on tour a couple of times, and we noticed the audience was more receptive to what we were doing. And, obviously, there’s just a lot more people there. I was in San Francisco for about 4 years, Jigmae (vocals, guitar) was there for almost 8, so we certainly had our share of the Bay. [San Francisco] is one of, if not my favorite cities in the U.S., but obviously New York is a lot bigger, and it has a lot of history. We certainly have a budding romance with The City.

FP: Are you inspired by your time in New York?

JC: Well, we haven’t had much time, but it’s definitely inspiring and fast paced. Despite what everybody told me when I was moving out, there are a lot of very caring people in New York City; it’s quite the opposite of the notion that residents very cold and distant. I happen to think that with so much in New York, you’re bound to find a positive and supportive person everywhere and anywhere. The humanity is thick there. That said, I don’t know how much it directly affects our songwriting, but as people, it is putting us in a new headspace, which is definitely important to our songwriting process.

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Just in case you’ve forgotten, reunions are still very much an “in” thing. Bands and fans alike take the opportunity to live in the past, if even for a night. Just like getting a few beers with your college bros or finding some old family videos, live reunions can be a very rewarding experience for everyone involved.

The Promise Ring reunion is a happy surprise. The Milwaukee pop punk/emo foursome is known for their quick rise and an even quicker break-up, bringing international recognition into a once unknown subset of punk. Reigning supreme from 1995 to 2002, The Promise Ring released four full-length classics, most notably Nothing Feels Good, perhaps the most quintessential emo album of all. Born out of the ashes of Cap’n Jazz, The Promise Ring are the most popular band to come out of the tight-knit, incestuous Midwestern emo scene of the 90s. After a series of tribulations, including a violent van crash and the discovery and removal of a brain tumor, The Promise Ring broke up in 2002 following the release of their last album, Wood/Water, a bona fide classic, on ANTI- records. Members of the band went on to form Maritime, who are still active as an indie rock band.

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Esperanza Spalding

Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters is arguably the best-selling jazz album of all time and its impact on the world of music is unmistakable. Get four people who really know how to play their instruments together and I’ll bet money that they can spit out at least a functional version of “Chameleon” from memory. Headhunters has achieved widespread recognition and affection primarily through its single most defining quality: it’s a funk record. Much like its early-70’s brethren, Jimmy Smith’s Root Down and Roy Ayers’ Ubiquity, Headhunters took the Bitches Brew ball and ran with it, straight into the arms of the public fascinated with the popular black music of the time: funk and disco.

A similar revolution is afoot today in the form of Robert Glasper‘s Black Radio and Esperanza Spalding‘s Radio Music Society. Both records represent the next step in the development of each of these young and talented artists, but their significance to the legacy of Headhunters is that by embracing hip-hop and R&B in an authentic and believable manner, they should enjoy an audience beyond the Downbeat set.

Robert Glasper (feat. Mos Def), Black Radio

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2011 Oscars

To prepare for the upcoming Academy Awards, Franklin Laviola, director of the acclaimed short Happy Face, gives us his Academy Award predictions. Read what he thinks and watch the Oscars on Sunday night!


The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Help


Midnight in Paris


The Tree of Life

War Horse

Will Win: On Sunday night, Michel Hazanavicius‘ silent film simulation The Artist will take the top prize.  Over the last decade, there have been several instantly forgettable Best Picture winners — A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, Crash, and Slumdog MillionaireThe Artist will join their insipid ranks, thanks mainly to the marketing juggernaut of the Weinstein Co.

Should Win: I would be happy with either The Tree of Life or Hugo (my #1 and #2 films of the year, respectively), taking the top prize.  Scorsese’s film is his best in years, a technically dazzling tribute to the history of early cinema, as well as a personal testament to his love of the medium.  Malick’s epic poem of a film goes where few films even dare to go and will be revered for many years to come.  It’s a miracle that a film as aesthetically challenging as Malick’s was even nominated for Best Picture.

Should Have Been Nominated: Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Bertrand Tavernier’s The Princess of Montpensier, Abbas Kiarostami’s Certified Copy, Bertrand Bonello’s House of Pleasures, Xavier Beauvois’ Of Gods & Men, and, a film that many actually believed had a realistic shot at being recognized, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive.  


Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Will Win: Barring a last minute surge of support for Scorsese, the French-born Michel Hazanavicius will take this category too.  Hazanavicius won the DGA award several weeks back and the winner there, more often than not, also goes on to capture Oscar gold.

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[Singer-songwriter Alex Nackman discusses the death of Whitney Houston]

Let’s cut the bullshit for just a second. The death of Whitney Houston is irrelevant to anyone outside of her immediate family and close friends. Obviously 24-hour news cycles are now clamoring for all the details and all the rumors of what led to her death and are just foaming at the mouth that some new “news” has finally been released for them to harp on, over analyze, speculate on, dramatize, and journalistically masturbate to, but in reality, this type of thing was so inevitable, and honestly, so incredibly unimportant in the scheme of real meaningful news and issues.

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In anticipation of next week’s Academy Awards, FP film critic Franklin Laviola shares his final thoughts on film in 2011 over the next few days.  Today, he gives us his favorite films of 2011. (Read the rest of Laviola’s work for Frontier Psychiatrist here.)

10. Essential Killing, directed by Jerzy Skolimowski & Aurora, directed by Cristi Puiu (tie)

Skolimowski’s previous film, Four Nights with Anna (2008), a masterpiece, still has not been picked up for any kind of distribution in the US. His latest was relegated to a poorly-advertised VOD release, beginning last summer. Vincent Gallo plays Mohammed, a suspected Taliban member, who is captured by American special forces in Afghanistan and transported to a secret detention center in Eastern Europe, where he is tortured. Mohammed manages to escape and soon finds himself pursued by an entire army, through harsh, unfamiliar terrain. Clocking in at only 80 minutes, this is a lean and brutal survivalist action film with some of the year’s most hallucinatory imagery. From the barren canyons and caves of Afghanistan to the frozen, snow-covered forests of Eastern Europe, Skolimowski demonstrates his painter’s eye for natural landscapes. As you would expect from the director of the classic Deep End (1970), surreal humor also abounds here — perhaps best represented by a scene, in which a famished Gallo holds a breastfeeding woman at gunpoint to steal a helping of milk! Gallo’s expressive and amazingly physical work, as Mohammed, is the real silent film performance of the year.

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Frankly, I don’t love cake.  And no, I don’t even love cupcakes (sacrilege for a female 20-something in NYC).  I’d much sooner order ice cream or pie or a chocolate croissant before I’d opt for a piece of cake.  I’ve even replaced cake with pancakes as my birthday tradition.  (Hellooo, pancake month at Clinton Street Baking Co.!  Bring on the fresh coconut pancakes, with kumquat syrup, and bruleed bananas!)

Point being, it’s hard to wow me with a cake.  And chocolate cake?  Forget it.  I absolutely adore chocolate, but I’d rather have a piece of real chocolate or maybe a truffle.  But this weekend I met my match, the chocolate cake that stole my heart away.  It was light and fluffy like cheesecake, cloaked in deep, dark ganache frosting, and rich enough for just a sliver to suffice.  And the best part?  I made it myself!  Normally I’m not one to toot my own horn, but this cake was killer.

If you’ve been following my column, you’ll know that I hardly ever bake.  The way I see it, there are two types of cooks in the world (and maybe even people, if you want to extend the metaphor): the chefs and the pastry chefs.  Pastry chef-ery requires meticulous attention to detail, and by nature makes it pretty much impossible to “undo” if you mess up.  Added too much flour?  One too many eggs?  Sorry!  Ya can’t fix it, and you may not even know something’s wrong until it comes out of the oven caved in and soggy.  Whereas with most savory cooking I do, you can taste as you go and adjust for mistakes.  Sometimes you even discover something magnificent by way of error.  But baking is a science, and bakers are chemists.  Chemistry was my only C in college.  Let’s move on.

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Sons of Dionysus

A Transmedia Novel of Myth, Mirth, and the Magical Excess of Youth.