By Jason ‘Kantrip’ Calhoun
When it comes to video games my normal fare includes RPGs with deep stories, open worlds, and rather flexible mechanics. I’m a sucker for atmosphere and narrative, and the games industry has been lush with both lately. However with the past 2 generations of video game consoles, I had forgotten that challenging platformers were one of the formats that I cut my gaming teeth on as a kid. I forgot about the whole weekends I lost trying to clear Dr. Wily’s fortress in Mega Man 2, or solving those unsolvable stages in Mendel’s Castle. I’ve spent too much time getting lost in fantasy kingdoms, nuclear wastelands, and insidious science facilities that encouraged me to “break” the world rather than play by its rules.
Enter Spelunky. A deceptively cute platformer that seems rather easy at first but after your first 15 deaths, you realize that what lies before you is a true test of your video game skills. Spelunky is a rogue-like platform game where you play an Indiana Jones style adventurer exploring a series of caves in search of riches. The levels are full of monsters, traps, and environmental dangers, all of which can quickly kill you. One wrong step and you set off an Arrow Trap, which then propels you down a long fall, and in to the waiting jaws of a snake. The challenge of the game comes from the random level layouts. Once you start over, the level rearranges itself and seeds new treasure, items and dangers. It is up to you, the Player, to learn how the game operates and succeed despite its random nature.
The current version is a updated version of the Free-To-Play game released in 2008. Creator, Derek Yu of Mossmouth games re-released it with new graphics, updated music, zones, and smoother controls. While the original version is still available for download and play on PC, the new version of Spelunky is available on XBox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and PC.
By Mandy McGee
Wilmington, Delaware’s Teen Men has a new video, an EP and they are going on a mini tour with Work Drugs. Teen Men are Catharine (a photographer), Albert (a filmmaker, who has done videos for Spinto Band and Ra Ra Riot), and Nick and Joe (from Spinto Band). They mix synth, samples and ambient tones in perfect crafted pop songs. Live they have a projector with interactive visuals.
I am posting their newest video as well as another video from a month or so ago that I didn’t around to posting for you. Their EP is free for download on their Bandcamp til the 19th of April and if you are on the east coast check out one of their shows; they are opening for Work Drugs.
Apr 11 Boot and Saddle Philadelphia, PA
Apr 12 Union Pool Brooklyn, NY
Apr 16 Bug Jar Rochester, NY
Apr 17 Rumba Cafe Columbus, OH
Apr 18 Underground Lounge Chicago, IL
Apr 19 The Basement Nashville, TN
By Mandy McGee
The Dum Dum Girls didn’t just make a video for their new song “Are You Ok” they got Brett Easton Ellis to write a short film for it. It is a surreal and beautiful thriller. See for yourself!
"The psychological thriller, which stars Dee Dee Penny and Shiloh Fernandez, was directed by Brewer (Alt J, Purity Ring, Passion Pit), and produced by Braxton Pope, with additional musical score composed by Tamaryn and Drew McDowall. The video also includes Charles Ray’s artwork Two Boys (2010), courtesy of the artist and Matthew Marks Gallery."
You can also watch a making of the video here:
By Mandy McGee
Music Monday is back finally. Here are a few new videos out from some amazing bands.
I have spoken of Gretchen Lohse before and this won’t be the last. This new video of “Spider at the Gate” from her debut album Primal Rumble is both mesmerizing and beautiful just like the song. I love the violin in this song.
Teen Men have a new video and song out called “Rene”. It is a cute video that slightly reminds me of a Wes Anderson film. They are also going on a small tour with Work Drugs on the east coast. Check out the dates and don’t miss them.
Night Terrors of 1927 are a new band out of LA featuring Blake Sennet (The Elected and Rilo Kiley) and Jarrod Gorbel (Honorary Title). The video is creepy but beautiful. I love the pastel colour palette they chose. The music is very different from the bands they have come from, using poppy synths, dramatic guitar and sad romantic lyrics. I am excited for this collaboration between two amazing musicians. Everyone in this band brings something great to the table. Night Terrors are currently on their first tour and have an EP out called Guilty Pleas. Check them out.
By Mandy McGee
Laurel Dodge is a Seattle native and third generation artist who works mostly with linoleum block printing. I have featured her several times at a club I curate art for and I finally got to sit down and have a chat with her.
Mandy: What is your style of art?
Laurel: I paint mostly narrative works that are influenced by myth, folklore and fairy tales. Figurative with influences of both classical and illustrative styles.
Mandy: Who influences your art?
Laurel: I would say in subject, it is books mostly. In style I really try and do my own thing. I have a lot of art its who I love like Egon Schiele, Frances Bacon, Siolo Thompson, Crystal Barbare, Redd Walitzki, Artemisia Gentileschi. I spent a lot of time really finding my own voice for my work. My mother, Jessica Dodge, who is a professional painter, was a deep influence.
Mandy: What are your favorite tools/mediums/brands to use?
Laurel: Lino-block printing for sure if my favorite right now, I have been working in ti almost exclusively for the past 5 years. I like the almost sculptural aspect of it as you carve the block, working in revers, hand pressing the block to paper. I do everything really lo-fi. All my blocks are held with my hands, I have cut myself so many times. I use to go to Utrecht, but they got bought out by Blick, so I go there now. I have also worked in ink and oils.
Mandy: Have you always been an artist? Did you go to school for art, take independent classes or are self taught?
Laurel: I have done art since I was a small child. My mother is an artist and I grew up in an artist co-op. I have taken a class here and there but never went to school for it. Mostly self taught. Never took a class in block printing, that is totally self taught.
I did art because I had to. It was one of the many ways i learned to express myself to the world.
By Mandy McGee
So, this is a little late but it’s here. I have a small list of my favorite albums of 2013. They are in no particular order and it was very hard to narrow it down to just a short list; so much good music last year. I suggest you check out the bands on this list and also find me on various social media to chat about music.
This album was inspired by abandoned houses and made into a story about a couple trying to find each other in a post-apocalyptic world. It is tricky making an album that sounds monotonous in tone but Houses makes it work adding in samples they have made, including making drum sounds from light switches, sweeping around dust and stomping on the floor of the abandoned houses they found. This is the perfect album for finding sleep or just calming your mind.
Their best album yet! I did a review of this when it came out in early 2013. It really shows off their talent in song writing and creative composition. One of my favorite indie pop albums and band!
Kantrip’s Top 13 Comics of 2013
2013 was a great year for comics. Almost every single release from Image was an instant classic. Vertigo began putting out some iconic and very rich tales, and both Marvel and DC launched some ambitious events sprinkled with some hit and miss solo titles. So what made my top reads for 2013?
In no particular order:
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark
Genre: Science Fiction, Action, Political
When it was announced that Greg Rucka was releasing a sci-fi series with themes of financial collapse, cutting edge medical technology, and a character that couldn’t die, I couldn’t order the book fast enough. Lazarus is about Forever Carlyle, an nigh-unkillable warrior who’s sole purpose is protecting her family’s property and interests in a future where 1% the 1% controls the world’s resources. While Forever is loyal and sees her family as the most important thing in her life, however internal conspiracies and the treatment of those not working for the Carlyle family start to put cracks in that devotion. Rucka cites the most recent developments in Stem Cell research, as well as several economic predictions as the basis for his tale. The world of Lazarus isn’t just a possibility based on a few things gone wrong, it is a world that we may be sliding into without realizing it. Forever herself is a testament to the level of detail in the book. While the character is a beautiful female warrior, she is presented with a realism I would like to see spread to every comic book in the industry. It’s obvious that she is a woman, but she is not sexualized. From her muscle tone to her body language, Forever is depicted as a warrior through and through. Michael Lark’s pencils create a very grim future for our hero to wander around. As Forever strolls among the Waste of L.A you can smell the dirt and trash fires. When she resurrects in a barn after being shot by thieves, you feel the confusion and vertigo she does. It feels like every broken house and dead body was accounted for when designing this world. My love for Rucka’s work is no big surprise to anyone, but I was amazed at how much depth and realism was put into Lazarus. Once you get to the last page of each issue, it is hard to break free from Lazarus’ hold. I find myself reading the letters and back matter a few times until it is “okay” to let go and move on to the next comic. This is hands down one of my favorite books from him. I hope it sticks around long enough to take us all around this broken and very possible future.
By Mandy McGee (via The Mary Sue)
This is amazing armor! Deakath is a 26 year old self-taught artist from France. She makes items out of vegetable-tanned leather for herself and her husband to go LARPing. She has only being began doing armor in April of 2012.
She currently is not taking commissions, unfortunately. See more on her DeviantArt page.
By Mandy McGee
Aurora Pringle is a mixed media artist & illustrator. She adores vintage issues of Sassy, girls-girls-girls, & projects of heart-wrenching proportions. I found her fun and whimsical art through musician (and her husband) Ben Pringle (The Rentals and Nerf Herder) and fell in love her brilliance right away. She has amazing style, not just in her art but in the way she dresses too. Aurora is talented and creative from head to toe. I am glad I got to interview her and pick her brain about how she creates her work and views art.
Mandy: What first got you into art?
Aurora: I was never not into art! I was always drawing. I can’t remember not having a pen or a marker in my hand.
Mandy: Have you always wanted to be an artist and how long have you been doing art?
Aurora: I always wanted to be an artist in some capacity; I just didn’t know how it would turn out. And it certainly wasn’t anything I gave serious thought to- until I decided to have some serious confidence in my work.
Mandy: How long have you been getting paid for art?
Aurora: My first paid job was in college. My roommate commissioned a portrait of her and her mother. It was black and white with an orange background, acrylic on canvas. Oh, how things change.
Mandy: What mediums do you use for your work
Aurora: I generally am a mixed media artist. That means I’ll use whatever I can to make my vision a reality. Lately I’ve been drawn to watercolor, ink, and gauche.
Mandy: What do you use for inspiration?
Aurora: I keep inspiration notebooks where I cut and paste ideas, magazines, and other pieces. I also use Tumblr and Pinterest like scrapbooks. I follow friends and other artists on Instagram. I read. A lot.
Mandy: How do you describe your art style?
Aurora: I don’t I’m trying to create a mindset, and my art is a key component. I’m a Girl Pop Visionary, and I think that aptly describes everything I’m about, everything I put out into the world.
Mandy: Do you compare your own work to the work of others?
Aurora: Yes and no. I’m always loving on other artists, and assessing what I adore about them. I know their influence makes it into my work. I have moments of hurtful comparison, of course, but I do consciously try to turn it around and ask what I need to learn from the comparison.
Mandy: When you are first trying to come up with an idea do you sketch it out or do you go straight into the work?
Aurora: It really depends. With clients or professional pieces, part of my process is to sketch. When I’m doing a morning drawing on my Instagram or Facebook, I typically won’t do a separate sketch.
Mandy: What else do you do for work?
Aurora: For me, being an artist isn’t just sitting down and drawing, although that’s a huge part of it. I seek opportunities to share my passion and vision online (blogging at www.auroralady.com, or other platforms on social media) and off (in person appearances and workshops).
Mandy: Any hidden talents?
Aurora: It’s hardly hidden but I do a fantastic karaoke medley. I won’t tell you the songs, because I want you to be surprised if we ever go out together!
Mandy: What is important in contemporary art today?
Aurora: Accessibility. Not just being able to get into museums and shows—but creating at the ground level. DIY is seriously important. Zines are important. Messages are important. Finding a way to express at any economic /social level is glaringly important.
Mandy: What is your favourite piece(s) you have done
Aurora: It changes all the time. Right now, it’s my Fang Gang triptych, which has spawned photoshoots, makeup, buttons, and a zine to be released for LA Zine Fest in 2014.
Mandy: You and Ben Pringle are so adorable together…I personally want to know how you met?
Aurora: I was working an office job at a music magazine in Fresno, Ca, and was invited by the company to see The Rentals when they toured through town. Ben was playing in the band at the time. The rest is a story meant for a rock and roll love song.
Mandy: If you could have a super power what would it be?
Aurora: Muscle Memory! We just finished watching season two of Heroes (the whole trajectory of the show is just so tragic), and I loved the woman with muscle memory. Definitely the most useful superpower!
Mandy: What advice have you been given?
Aurora: I seek out advice all of the time! Feedback and dreaming are brain food. I don’t really know where to start answering this question, but I always go back to “Always be making”.
Mandy: What advice can you give those who aspire to be artists?
Aurora: Don’t aspire. Just do. That’s how you become an artist.
Mandy: Do you have any art shows coming up?
Aurora: I’ll be at LA Zine Fest with my best friend and fellow zine maker, Kim Burly. That’s in February and I really hope you come because it is the epitome of all that is wonderful, inspiring, and active in LA. We are both making new zines for the event and have a few surprises up our glittered, colorful, sleeves.
Mandy: Where can people find out more about you?
Aurora: I’m all over the Internet, and I really love interacting. My website is filled to the brim with fun stuff and is constantly being updated. Hang there, and let’s definitely be friends on instagram (@auroralady)!
By Morgue Anne
It’s that time of year again! Time to start thinking about what made-in-China crap you should buy your family to ensure their love for another year. I know this because my neighbor has put up a freakishly bright LED countdown sign in their front yard, and every time I drive past I am filled with increasing dread. Oh, how I wish there was a way to celebrate the holidays with gifts that not only proved my love for the recipients but also rewarded those who hardest with monetary rewards as well. Oh wait, there is!
Seriously, people, how many times do we have to tell you to Stop. Shopping. At. WalMart. You’re hurting everyone. And if you’re one of those people who starts to complain at the very idea of raising the minimum wage because you think people should work hard to strike it out on their own, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is. That’s right, this is the Morgue Anne Independent Artist Holiday Gift Guide!
Who are you wearing right now? What is the name of the person who made the clothing you have on? Let me guess, you don’t know. Which means it was probably made in a factory somewhere, way off on the other side of the world where you don’t have to think about it. Allow me to back off the negativity for a moment and say that there is nothing in this world that feels as good as clothing that was made just for you.
By Mandy McGee (via Huffington Post and Green Eyed Gator)
Dolls of Eerie Golgothia opened on December 7th at The Green Eyed Gator in New Orleans and will be open throughout the holiday season. If you are in that area I recommend checking it out. There are some amazing works presented by the gallery owner and artist Shannon Kelley and artist Kook Teflon, and the dolls were created by amazingly talented artists across the United States and Canada. If you can’t get to the gallery then give them a call if any of the dolls strike your fancy.
Here are samples of the show.
Peaches by Ida Harris
Snow Queen by Christine Benjamin
Ghost Princess by Sheri DeBow
By Mandy McGee
Austin, Tx shoegaze band Ringo Deathstarr is releasing a new album called “God’s Dream” is coming out in Japan on December 18th, 2013 and then soon after to the USA and Europe. They have put up the song “Flower Power” from that album to tied you over. Take a listen.
Do you remember Nerd Punk Rockers Nerf Herder? They had a song on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the theme song! Well they are back. They have a song for free download on Pledge Music and are keeping us in anticipation of amazing things to come. Go download the song and rock out to their 90’s classic video below of their hit “Mr. Spock”.
Light hearted folk country by story teller Laura Shepherd from Virginia has a new video out for the song “Stone Soup”. Take a look at look
By Mandy McGee (via Moon Sounds Records)
I work PR for the label Moon Sounds Records and we have an announcement.
The pre-order for Ceremony’s – ‘Distance ‘is now up!!!
Set to come out December 17th and start shipping December 26th!
Pre-ordering will give you an immediate download of the albums two singles ‘I Want To Kiss ‘and ‘Send Me Your Dreams ‘(Previously only available on the delicious Famous Class Records as part of their LAMC series that Ceremony was a part of as a split 7” with A Place To Bury Strangers)
The other tracks from the album will be on CD when it comes out and will be available for streaming from our BandCamp page then.
All international orders will come with extras from Moon Sounds to offset the shipping costs.
Album mastered by Oliver Ackermann (A Place To Bury Strangers /Skywave)
We are so excited to finally bring you this album. It’s been a long time waiting.
By Mandy McGee
I found this little gem a few days ago. Just watch.
For a period of time, while we believe it to be perfectly still,
lifeless flesh responds, stirs and contorts in a final macabre ballet.
Are these spasms merely erratic motions
or do they echo the chaotic twists and turns of a past life?
The co-director of the upcoming TRIPTYQUE, Pedro Pires ushers in his cinematic collaboration with the legendary Robert Lepage with the short film DANSE MACABRE. Thus began a formidable adventure throughout over a hundred festivals and more than 40 prizes, including Best Canadian Short at TIFF, the Grand Prix National at Regard sur le court métrage au Saguenay as well as the doublé : both the Jutra and Genie for Best Short Film, in the same year.
Scenario and Director: Pedro Pires
Concept: Robert Lepage
Original Idea, Choreography and Interpretation: AnneBruce Falconer
Artistic Direction: Catherine Chagnon
Images and Editing: Pedro Pires