What it is: Another Brooklyn-based hard-to-define indie-something band. UVM graduates Kalmia Traver and super-bearded trumpetman Alex Toth (John Brown’s Body) formed a crew and released their first album in 2008. They’re still going and they’re absolutely great. If I were you I’d skip all the studio stuff at first, and look into their Tiny Desk Concert. It’s so easy to see why these guys are so great if you watch them making music. Then check out Survival Sounds for a record that cleanly captures their eclectic sound and bright energy. Catchy melodies from the synth, great wail-y vocals, and multiple horns work together to make some amalgam of pop, rock, dance, and rad lady music, with brass?
Why you should listen: This is great music for cleaning, driving, getting dressed, or anytime you just generally want to enjoy yourself. Traver has some kind of stage presence and a killer haircut. She hits unexpected notes, makes weird faces, she dances, and spends breaks between verses wailing on a tenor sax. The rest of the band doesn’t have her mobility, but they’re all dancing as much as physically possible. The lyrics generally revolve around living life and having fun and doing your thing, which I’m always on board with, but Travers also puts it much better than I just did. Definitely worth a listen, though I’d recommend a watch to get the full effect. And if you get the chance to see them live, don’t miss it.
Alex: Barbarella (1968)
What it is: Otherwise known as that one with the poster of Jane Fonda in a metal bikini holding a laser gun. This is a cult-classic sci-fi B-movie written and directed by a bunch of Frenchman based off of a pornographic comic wherein a sexy but endearingly simple Jane Fonda goes on a space mission for the President of Earth, runs into all sorts of crazy characters, and learns about sex and love in the process. This movie rules.
Why you should watch it: I was immediately drawn into this movie by some of the coolest opening titles I’ve ever seen. Simply put, Jane Fonda as Barbarella floats in her shag fur-lined spaceship removing her clunky spacesuit piece by piece as the camera leisurely takes in every new bit of skin while credits play across her body and fall out of her flowing hair. It’s…more elegant than it sounds. Before you know it, she’s off on a psychedelic , erotic space adventure to stop someone from acquiring a super weapon that could be used to disrupt Barbarella’s completely peaceful society. I had so much stupid fun watching Barbarella bumble her way into classic Star Trek-y situations, meet (and sometimes sleep with) strange characters, and change into another ridiculous space outfit every ten minutes. To be clear, though this movie is innocently erotic, you don’t have to want to bang Jane Fonda to enjoy it. A huge part of what makes this movie work, aside from Fonda’s doe-eyed charisma, is the awesome use of practical effects. As someone who is used to CGI that can these days almost perfectly show anything you need, it is truly incredible to go back to Barbarella and see how much more beautifully imaginative and abstract well-done practical effects can be, whether they are depicting the rainbow colors of hyperspace or the swirling, alien, liquid embodiment of evil. The next time you’re trolling through Netflix for some silly fun, brush up on your underground sci-fi history with Barbarella.
Have a good weekend everybody!