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April 18, 2014

How We Used to Live

Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne Go Back to the Future in a Paean to 20th-Century Living

“It’s been talked of as an ‘anti-nostalgic nostalgia film,’” says Travis Elborough, who co-wrote How We Used to Live with Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley. “We tried to make a portrait of the past but one that you can swim around in, as if you’re living it.” Excerpted in today’s retro-futuristic snapshot of the dawn of the computer age, the poetic trawl through a not-so-distant London is directed by Paul Kelly, who has already collaborated with the pioneering British electronic-pop band on Finisterre (2003), What Have You Done Today Mervyn Day? (2005) and This is Tomorrow (2007). Weaving together analog color footage of the city from 1950 to 1980 sourced from the archive of the British Film Institute, it reawakens the vibrancy of a lost time with the aid of effervescent new music by Saint Etienne's Sarah Cracknell and Pete Wiggs, as well as a narration by Deadwood’s Ian McShane. “The future is never quite what you’d expect it to be, just as the past isn’t either,” says Elborough, whose reputation as a pop-historian has burgeoned in recent years with his books London Bridge in America and Beside the Seaside. “A lot of the footage is looking towards this bright tomorrow,” adds Kelly. “We’ve used it to look back, so we’ve kind of reversed the purpose.”

How We Used to Live will be screened at Southend-on-Sea Film Festival on May 5, and with a first ever live performance of the score by Saint Etienne at the Sheffield Documentary Festival on June 12.

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Midnight Juggernauts: Systematic

Surrealistic Felines Cascade to the Beat of the Cosmic Australian Trio

If you are a dog person, look away, as an oddball troupe of cats strut to the sound of Midnight Juggernauts’ “Systematic.” Taken from the Melbourne band’s third album Uncanny Valley, the track gets its musical cues from the stardust-sprinkled harmonies of Electric Light Orchestra, providing a driving backing to this bizarre collection of furry friends. French director duo Mrzyk & Moriceau recently made an explosive phallic fantasy for Parisian electronic act Jackson & His Computerband, and have carried their signature hyper-pop stylings to today’s Division-produced romp. “They had an idea to throw dozens of cats around and we were curious to see how they could do that without offending animal cruelty groups,” says the band’s keyboardist Vincent Vendetta. “My initial reaction to the video was to laugh throughout—and obviously no animals were harmed.” Midnight Juggernauts are fresh from touring their native Australia—a jaunt that featured a trip through the crocodile country of Darwin and a marriage proposal on stage in Sydney—and plan to visit Europe early next year. In the meantime the three will attend to their corresponding pets. “Dan [Stricker] has a rabbit and Andy [Szekeres] has a sausage dog,” says Vendetta. “I have a cat that I think inspired one of the animals in the video; I bought him a mini drum kit, which I make him play when I’m lonely.”

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Jonathan Wilson: Love to Love

The Alt-Folk Guitarist Presents a Paean to California’s Myth, Nostalgia and Landscape

A glamorous LA ingénue is enticed by the allure of the big time in today’s video for Jonathan Wilson’s infectious track, “Love to Love".  Directed by Grant James and Magdalena Wosinska in collaboration with veteran documentary maker Robert Carl Cohen, the short splices archive footage with freshly shot scenes that follow actress Lexi Stellwood in a metaphor-laden role that serves as an autobiography of Wilson’s youthful move to California. “I envisioned a classic Hollywood coming-of-age story, with literal images and iconic ideals,” says Wilson of the video's birth. “Lights, elation and heartbreak—all the things I felt drawn to when I first moved there as a teenager from my small town in North Carolina.” The Echo Park-based singer-songwriter’s departure from a tiny furniture-making town of 15,000 in the Piedmont Region to Beverly Hills forms the basis for “Love to Love”. “I talk about things in the tune like Lower Topanga Canyon, where Woody Guthrie's old cabin sat that I watched get bulldozed, and speak about Yamashiro hill, which is a beautiful Pagoda garden overlooking the city that only a true Angeleno will know.” The track appears on Wilson’s recently released second album Fanfare, an intricately detailed and meandering record on Bella Union, centered around a nine-foot Steinway grand piano and featuring guest vocals from three founding fathers of his brand of rock, Jackson Browne, David Crosby and Graham Nash, and contemporary alt-folk player, Father John Misty—stay tuned for Wilson’s ambient, Terry Riley-influenced collaboration with the latter.

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