Gotham by Midnight

               I suggested the theme of coming soon without realizing how hard it would be for me to pick something to talk about. There’s a lot of new series and events going on this fall, and many of them look promising. It’s so difficult to pick one that I’ll be talking about an additional upcoming title next week. But that’s next week let’s go diving into the occult side of one of DC’s most famous cities.

 gothambymidnight

                Gotham by Midnight is going to be a supernatural police procedural set in Batman’s hometown of Gotham. For me that alone is tantalizing enough. However this book gets more promising. The main character is a lesser known character named Jim Corrigan, the human host for the manifestation of God’s wrath known as the Specter. Corrigan heads up a group known as the Midnight Shift, a small group of individuals within the Gotham City Police Department focused on supernatural cases. They have the added problem of trying to solve the case and bring the culprit to justice before the divine being inside Corrigan decides to start raining hellfire and brimstone down on the whole city. That’s a lot of tension and potential drama, and I can’t wait for the first time the Specter lets loose.

 Specter

                Corrigan isn’t the only character in the book of course, he’s getting support from a small handful of individuals working on the Midnight Shift.  Lieutenant Sam Weaver is the commanding officer, described as loyal and cynical by writer Ray Fawkes. Corrigan’s partner, Lisa Drake, is keeping a secret. That shouldn’t be a problem with the Spirit of Vengeance lurking inside her partner. The main unit is rounded out with the forensic investigator Dr. Szandorr Tar and the occult consultant Sister Justine, a nun. An interesting mix of characters, made more interesting with an internal affairs officer circling around as well. All of them are new so it’s hard to say much outside of what has been revealed in interviews, but this looks promising.

 corrigan

                There is a little more to discuss with Ben Templesmith’s art, as we’ve actually seen some samples of it. I’m not familiar with his work, and so can really only talk about the character designs, since actual panels haven’t been teased yet. His character designs are very stylized, with characters feeling just a little deformed in small ways. It gives this slightly off kilter creep factor that works so well for the tone they’ve described. The colors shown on the cover of issue one are fantastic mood coloring, adding even more eeriness to the whole presentation.

When it comes to marketing a new comic it’s all about sending a message. Gotham by Midnight sends a very clear message of supernatural suspense and horror. If it can live up to the promising ideas and visuals from its marketing campaign the series could be a break out star. Gotham by Midnight, hits shelves November 26th.

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Utopia

I’m cheating a little bit here, because this one isn’t exactly coming soon, but who can blame me with the seriously bleak looking fall tv lineup? I almost wish I hadn’t already written about Glee, because at least then I could be writing about how happy I am that the final season is upon us.

HBO has signed on Fight Club (amongst other things) director David Fincher and Gone Girl author and screenwriter Gillian Flynn to adapt the British thriller series Utopia stateside. There’s no release date and no cast, and I’ve never seen the UK show (it’s about to start its second season), but Fincher, Flynn, and the description of the show have me excited.

Fan art by Dmitri Bishop.

The UK series is about a group of conspiracy theorists who are united in their obsession with a graphic novel whose author has written a secret sequel, the pursuit of which entangles the crew in lots of dangerous situations. You can watch a trailer for the UK series here.

UK Utopia supposedly treads on some heavy and loaded topics – utilitarianism, conspiracies, overpopulation, etc. It’ll be interesting to see an American take, and to see how much those topics are addressed and how they are handled in comparison to the UK.

I’m a big fan of Gillian Flynn and Gone Girl (if you haven’t read it, read it), and the film adaptation, directed by Fincher, is set to release October 3rd in the US. Of course, I’m skeptical of any film adaption from a really good novel, but I loved Fincher’s adaptation of Fight Club, so I’m mostly looking forward to it. Given the dark content of Gone Girl and the dark content of David Fincher’s mind, I think the two will be a successful pair, and I’m excited to see how they work together.

This is a short recommendation this week, as not a lot has been announced about the show. Keep an eye on HBO’s website for updates, and I’ll be sure to post a review of the premiere when it arrives!

Ty Segall // Manipulator

This week’s theme is “Coming Soon.” In this case, the soon is very soon. As in, tomorrow. Ty Segall’s album Manipulator releases August 26 on Drag City Records and it is one KILLER record. If you have even the smallest soft spot for guitar rock and/or classic rock, you owe it to yourself to give Manipulator a shot.

manipulator

Ty Segall is a super-prolific artist who operates on the fringes of the garage rock/psychedelic rock scenes, but has been making a name for himself the last few years based in part by the number of releases his name is attached to. Between his solo and collaborative work, he’s released dozens of records and he isn’t even 30 yet. I’ve never really gotten into much of his work before because much of what I’ve heard up until Manipulator felt slapdash to me. Apparently his method of working has traditionally been something like ‘just record whatever musical thought I’ve got at the moment and move on the next thing immediately.’

Listen to All Songs Considered’s interview with Ty Segall about Manipulator.

I listen to NPR’s All Songs Considered every week and last Tuesday, they released an interview with Segall, promoting the new record. From the first clip of the song Feel, I was sold. By the end of the interview, I had heard a handful of other clips of the album and immediately streamed the whole record. What intrigued me musically was the combination of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd flourishes with riffs that would feel at home on a T. Rex record. It feels like something that could have come out in the 1970’s and if it did, it would be one of those “all-time classics” that classic rock dudes refer to all the time. I think one of the reasons this record speaks to me, in a way Segall’s work hasn’t up until now, is that he spent a month in a studio with producer Chris Woodhouse (Thee Oh Sees). This is FAR longer than he’s ever spent on one album. He mentions in his NPR interview that whereas he would normally just rip through a song in a few takes, this time he would actually spend all day recording one part if it wasn’t good enough. The extra care shows.

Watch the preview video for Manipulator.

And here’s the thing… I don’t really even like old-school “riff rock” most of the time. I certainly like my fair share of classic rock, because who doesn’t, but for the most part, distorted guitar rock doesn’t do it for me much anymore. Then something like this comes along and cuts right through that built-in prejudice against the style. I have to commend it for that. This is why I feel that I can recommend it so highly. Someone like myself who, on paper, shouldn’t be into this, already feels that it will easily be in his top 5 favorite albums of 2014.

Stream Manipulator today over at NPR. This link will be taken down when the album is released (tomorrow), so at that point, just go listen to it on Spotify. Or better yet, go buy it from Drag City Records or your music outlet of choice.

-Brandon Telg-

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10

               season 10

                With the theme of “Last media you engaged with” the task of picking something to write about was really easy. I still cheated. Just a little. I picked which book I wanted to talk about and made sure to read it last. Of the three titles I added based off a cover alone Buffy was my safest bet, and it turned out to be a good one. I’ve read the whole series up to this week’s issue six. All I can say is it feels like coming home.

                A lot has happened since I stopped reading the comics, and even more since the TV show, I’ll cover the major events as they become relevant. The big thing however, is magic went away and has come back. This is important because it seems that the major plot of this “season” focuses on the Scoobies having to take responsibility of rewriting the laws of magic after its return. If they don’t someone else will, or the universe will rewrite them on its own based on some sort of collective subconscious thing. This has already been seen with a major power up for the vampires.

blank book

                That’s is such a Buffy set up. It’s a metaphor about a new generation being unsure about their role in defining a world. The gang aren’t sure they should have the responsibility, but they do know they don’t trust the others who want to. They aren’t sure what to do, just that they have to do something or things will go to hell. Except for the literal hell in this case, that’s pretty standard feelings for a group of mostly 25 year olds. These are the best Buffyverse stories, where they put a supernatural bent on a very normal and almost universal experience.

                The other key part of any good Buffy story is the dialogue. It has to be fast, it has to be witty, it has to be just a little self-aware, and it has to feel authentic. It’s hard to achieve, it really is. Christos Gage and Nicholas Brendon do a good job of capturing that in this adaptation. It doesn’t hurt that Brendon spent 7 years speaking that dialogue on the show. I won’t lie, it’s not always perfect, but it does a good job of replicating the spirit of the source. That’s the key to a continuation like this, replicating what made it successful while expanding the mythos in your own way. This team achieves that in a very satisfying way.

I'm not just being crazy?

I’m not just being crazy?

                Artists Rebekah Issacs and Karl Moline, along with colorist Dan Jackson, do a great job of replicating the world of the show, without wasting a lot of effort on perfectly drawing the actors of the show. That may be for legal reasons, I’m not clear on the legalities of using likenesses of real peoples in comics. We get the familiar tones and balance of light and dark, realistic and horror. The art perfectly complements the story as far as moving beyond what came before while maintaining a connection to what has always been.

                I’ve read a lot of these types of adaptation comics, and it’s not an easy area to be in. Trying to balance new stories and everything that came before is no easy task. Buffy Season 10 is probably one of the best I’ve read at achieving that balance, by keeping the spirit of the original and nodding to the past stories but not allowing itself to be dragged down by it. If you liked Buffy on TV, then give this book a try. I’m sure you’ll find something to like.

Frisky Business

By Kate:

I just finished watching a Lifetime UK show called Frisky Business about an online sex toy distributor in Bath, Somerset (lovehoney.co.uk). As usual, it came by recommendation from a friend, and I watched all of it (only 6 episodes) in about two days.

I was expected to be drawn in by freaky sex toys, but to be totally honest the taboo (?) nature of the business became secondary to the truly fascinating part of watching a small internet company expand to meet demand. In addition to that, there’s a totally wacky and fun cast of characters employed at the company that keep charming British wit flowing throughout.

The show follows nearly all departments involved in the operation of the company, from the two co-founders to the warehouse staff, but my favorites are returns and customer care.

The returns department is represented by Andrea, a sassy lady who has been at the company for years and is shocked by nothing, Roy, an out of work arts educator (sads) and Jazz, who is basically a gigantic wet blanket and who I’m pretty sure quit sometime during filming, because she just disappears toward the end. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is Jazz’s “cup of tea.”

It took me five seconds to find a clip of her saying something wasn’t her cup of tea.

Anyway, the returns department gets the unenviable task of opening and sorting returned toys from dissatisfied customers.

I love Andrea. So sassy.

I’m sure you did.

Truly, though, the show maintains an unbiased position on kinks and purchases, with the occasional wry joke thrown in here or there. And the company also explores the struggle to be taken seriously despite their products. For example, when they attempt to air a television commercial and aren’t able to actually mention what they’re selling in the advertisement. One of the co-founders makes the point that Viagra commercials air in the middle of the day, but they can’t use the word “vibrator” at all, and “personal massager” only after 11pm.

I might be partial to the customer care department because I, myself, supervise a customer service call center. The show likes to cut between scenes with little snippets of overheard phone sales.

Chelsea, Laura, and Karen represent the customer care phone agents who answer some pretty serious questions as well as assist with sales.

Lovehoney is also a relatively small business, and the two directors take a refreshingly earnest interest in the well-being and the ideas of their employees. In one episode, they take a risk on the word of one of their employees who feels she knows the market for a particular product, and she turns out to be correct.

Mostly the show is just a wonderfully delightful and fun time. If you’re looking for something light to relax with after work, Frisky Business is for you.

And now I feel like I’m reviewing a sex toy. Frisky Business is available for streaming on Netflix!

Jill Scott // Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1

Who_Is_Jill_Scott_album_cover

Last week, I was handed a copy of Jill Scott’s 2000 debut Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1. Since then, I’ve listened to this CD every time I’ve been alone in my car. It has taken me multiple days to listen to the entire album because it is 73 minutes long, an uncommonly long run-time by today’s standards. Although the name Jill Scott resonated from previous collaborations such as her 2013 appearance on Robert Glasper’s single Calls, I had never heard any of her work before.

Robert Glasper Experiment – Calls

Jill Scott started her career as a poet and spoken word artist. She was discovered in the late 1990’s by Questlove of The Roots. She collaborated with The Roots, which led to a record contract and this album. Who Is Jill Scott? Vol. 1 has her spoken word poetry fingerprints all over it. The track Love Rain is a particularly good example of this. (Dig that reference to her relationship’s melody becoming staccato, which she then emphasizes by singing her next line in sudden, sharps bursts.) Her sound is this old-school jazzy R&B vibe with heavy doses of boom-bap hip-hop and soul. Her voice is buttery-smooth but with just the right amount of personality and bite, which gives her lyrics the emotional punch that they need. Her melodies are subtle but memorable. I found myself humming them while walking around after hearing them in my car.

Jill Scott – Love Rain

Jill Scott’s lyrics are probably the strongest part of this record. She tells vivid stories of love, lust and betrayal through vividly poetic imagery. Her songs are sexy, empowering and utterly relatable. Even a short song like Honey Molasses, about the feelings that arise after meeting someone special but not being sure whether they ever want to see you again is something we’ve all felt.

Jill Scott – Honey Molasses

I must say, I’m glad that I came across this record now instead of even just a couple of years ago. 2013 is what I call my year of R&B. It was the year I really discovered how great R&B is and can be. Hearing the debut album Woman by Rhye and really falling in love with the intimacy and sensuality of the record opened my ears to a new world that I’ve been slowly digging into. My interest in Who Is Jill Scott? Vol. 1 falls in line with that progression for me and honestly this album feels timeless. Just the other day, I met with fellow Rec Room blogger Billy and we had a conversation about what makes music timeless. Besides simply not feeling dated after enough time has passed, we came to this idea that the artist needs to understand their place in the spectrum and history of the medium they are working within, while adding something new to the mix. Artists that merely try to imitate popular sounds of their contemporaries may produce music that’s exciting, buzzy and attention-grabbing, but chances are high that their work will be forgotten in just a couple of years. Who Is Jill Scott? Vol. 1 is almost a decade and a half old but it feels equally like it could have come out 25 years ago as much as it feels like it could have come out today. That is a testament to Scott’s awareness of where her work falls into the spectrum of R&B.

Jill Scott – Slowly Surely

This record is the perfect album to pop in while on a night drive by one’s self. I did this more than once and it centered me and brought me back into my own reality after an evening out. I highly recommend it if you like R&B or old-school hip hop. I’m looking forward to digging into the rest of her discography.

-Brandon Telg-