Monday, January 9, 2012

Criminally Underrated 2.0

I wrote a post in the past about music that I find criminally underrated.  I feel like it's time to breach that topic once again and expand it to all of pop culture.

So below is my list of bands or movies or books or whatever that should be enjoyed by so many more people.  If you've already given these a chance, good for you.  If you haven't, do yourself a favor and give these a shot.

Music: We Are Augustines
I listen to We Are Augustines' first album and hear so many emotions coming from the lead singer, Billy McCarthy.  Mostly a lot of pain and uncertainty comes through.  Come to find out that the concept was inspired by his mother and brother both being diagnosed schizophrenic and his brother later committing suicide.  Now I really get it.  McCarthy bares his soul on this album.  His lyrics only hit home that much more because of the incredible voice belting them out.  He is incredible.  I hope this is just the first of many great albums by this band because I plan on being a huge fan for many years to come.

Music: Telekinesis
Telekinesis reminds me of all the things I love about The Cure.  Catchy hooks and pop chords that grab hold of your ears like they're holding them hostage.  All the while the lyrics stem from a bad relationship or losing out on love.  But isn't all great pop music a result of some relatable pain?  Powerful and catchy all from a one-man-band.  His second album (12 Desperate Straight Lines) is all I've heard to this point, but I'm definitely ready to give anything he's put out there about 50 listens.

Movie: The Iron Giant
There are a lot of people that have seen The Iron Giant, just not nearly enough.  Everyone I know that has seen it, loves it.  It doesn't dumb itself down just because its an animated movie.  It respects the intelligence of the audience and understands that a kid's movie needs to appeal to the parents too.  It has themes that work for kids: friendship, not fitting in, respecting those who are different, etc.  It also has some very adult themes: fear-mongering, respect for life, war, paranoia, etc.  The voice acting and animation is fantastic.  You could see that Brad Bird (The Incredibles, Ratatouille) was headed for greatness when you watch this movie.  I'll just warn you that you should be ready to shed a tear or two when you do finally give it a shot.

Movie: The Salton Sea
The description of the movie via IMDb reads: After his wife is murdered, a man drifts into a world populated by thugs and speed junkies.  To tell you anymore than that about the plot would ruin it.  I guess that's part of the reason it failed at the box office.  Just know that it has Val Kilmer in a phenomenal performance.  It features Vincent D'Onofrio in a crazy role as a manic, tweaker, drug dealer.  Luis Guzman, Adam Goldberg and Peter Sarsgaard also give fantastic supporting performances.  I know what you're thinking: "All these great actors are in this movie?  Why didn't I see this one?"  Exactly.

TV Show: Sports Night
There are many shows that don't find an audience that they truly deserve and get cancelled long before they should have been axed (see: Freaks and Geeks, Firefly, Arrested Development).  But few are as good as Sports Night.  The West Wing was Aaron Sorkin's greatest work, but Sports Night isn't far behind it.  It's a show about the inner-workings of a fictional sports show like SportsCenter on ESPN.  The dialogue is hilarious and very smart.  It also comes at the viewer at breakneck speeds.  All the Sorkin-isms are there from the walk and talks to banter you'd expect in a Howard Hawks movie to perfect pitch dramedy.  It also has a wonderful ensemble that you'd expect from a Sorkin show.  Everyone brings their A-game throughout the run of it's 45 episodes.  I never understood how it didn't stay on the air, and you can wonder that yourself since it is available on Netflix Instant Queue.

That's it for now.  Go out and listen or watch.  If you give a chance to anything I've listed here and enjoyed it, let me know.  If you hated it, let me know.  At least they'll get some sort of audience.

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