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  • In 2012, Emily Hakes and Eric Osman started the Philadelphia-based independent label Lame-O Records. A two short years later Lame-O has bands like Johnny Foreigner, Ma Jolie, Steady Hands, The Hundred Acre Woods, The Weaks and Three Man Cannon on its roster. Pulling from this pool of young talent and the surrounding state, Lame-O has compiled a six-way split entitled Strength In Weakness. The album includes songs by all Pennsylvania-area acts. From West Chester’s Spraynard to Philadelphia’s Marietta, bands from all over the PA (and one by way of Maryland) contributed a track. Proceeds from the album sales will benefit the Philadelphia area chapter United Cerebral Palsy.

    Strength In Weakness is available for purchase from the label’s website as of today. For this eye-catching limited pressing, Lameo released 100 Black/Clear Half and Half, 150 Transparent Sea Blue and 250 Grimace Purple vinyl records; however, when the record was made available for pre-order early last month all 500 copies of the pressing sold out immediately. If you did not get your hands on one or if you prefer digital media, the album can be downloaded from Lame-O’s Bandcamp.

    One of the most anticipated songs on the album is  “Alpha Kappa Fall Of Troy The Movie Part Deux” by Modern Baseball. Brendan Lukens, Jacob Ewald, Ian Farmer and Sean Huber, members of the Brunswick/Frederick, Maryland band, attended Chestnut Hill College and Drexel University in Philadelphia, which explains their connection to the PA label. “Alpha Kappa Fall Of Troy The Movie Part Deux” is the latest from the band since their widely successful album You’re Gonna Miss It All, which was released off of Run For Cover Records in 2014. Lameo released the band’s debut full-length Sports in 2012.

    The two teamed up again for Strength In Weakness, releasing behind-the-scenes footage of the recording process via the label’s YouTube. In the Modern Baseball segment, the band’s guitarist/vocalist Jacob Ewald explains, “The reason I kind of know about cerebral palsy is because our friend James who runs Modern Vinyl has that. We care a lot about him. He was one of the first people, who didn’t hate our band on the internet. That was really neat and we have a pretty cool relationship with him. It’s really awesome to be involved with something that supports research in that area…I’m really glad that I can be involved in such a cool project and lend a #helpinghand.”

    Ewald also touched on the label itself, which Modern Baseball still calls home, adding, “Lame-O Records is doing a lot of cool stuff right now. They’re putting out a bunch of great bands. It’s such a cool little team that they have going on. It’s a very down to earth, person-to-person operation. They really, really care about all their bands and don’t worry about how many millions and gillions of records they’re gonna sell, although they are infinitely destined for greatness.”

    Lameo also recorded similar videos with the other bands that contributed to Strength In Weakness. The rest of the album includes “Haulin’ Oats” by Spraynard, “Call Me Away” by The Weaks, “Old Joe” by Marietta, “Too Late To Die Young” by Beach Slang and the Hurry’s TSwiftian “Shake It Off.”

    -Zoe Marquedant

  • My cousin, Carine Williams, a litigation lawyer based in New York, represents people and companies who are under government investigation or prosecution. Her pro bono work has included helping to overturn the convictions of people like Herman Wallace, who spent nearly 42 years in solitary confinement, longer than any other person in the United States, for a crime he didn’t commit. “I enjoy working with folks through what can be a very harrowing ordeal–the criminal legal process,” Williams shares.  Despite her heroic work, Williams remains modest: “There’s no single achievement I’m most proud of, but I am especially honored (and humbled) that my clients trust me, value my judgement, and seek my guidance with mammothly difficult decision-making.”

    Click on link below to find out more about this crusader’s most prized fashion items after the jump.

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  • Given the racial landscape of the US in recent months surrounding the decisions in both the Michel Brown and Eric Garner cases, RESPOND which is currently on view in Brooklyn at Smack Mellon, really gets at the heart of the matter. Smack Mellon organized the show given the public response to the controversial verdict in the grand jury decision not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Garner. Garner was killed on July 17th in Staten Island when a New York City police officer put him in a choke hold.

    Smack Mellon directors Kathleen Gilrain and Suzanne Kim, changed their exhibition schedule to accommodate this show. The show features the work of two hundred artists and the gallery received over six hundred submissions for the exhibition. The 200 pieces of art fill the Smack Mellon space to an overwhelming capacity. Almost every square inch of the gallery is being occupied by a work of art. Many of the works are displayed salon style in the two story high gallery space. The works in the RESPOND show are diverse and feature a range of artists and mediums including video, sculpture, installation, photography and even textile work.
    Skinned by Hannah Hart

    Given the show’s theme and the overwhelming response to the call for work, the pieces featured in the exhibition are on point. Some of the artists featured in the show include Dread Scott who has also had work shown at the Whitney Museum of Art, Heather Heart who currently has work on view at the Brooklyn Museum, and Mel Chin who has exhibited at the Museum of Modern. There are also other artists featured in the show who are not as well known such as Rashid Johnson, a prison inmate from Texas. Johnson had his drawing mailed to be included in the exhibition. Johnson’s piece like several others within the exhibition looks at the way in which history informs the larger social times we live in; and how history does repeat itself.

    Red Light, Green Light by Jeffery Sims

    Smack Mellon is also one of the latest galleries that has organized shows around the Garner and Brown cases which calls to attention the protests surrounding racial tensions across the U.S. The Alliance of Black Artists Galleries located in St. Louis held an exhibition in October entitled Hands Up: Don’t Shoot Artists Respond which took place in several venues throughout the city including Ferguson. There has even been a push within the art world to involve museums in the growing movement to call attention to these senseless acts of violence through art.

    For Til (Quilt Collage #1) by Damien Davis

    RESPOND taps into feelings of anger and grief which are still very fresh in the public’s mind. The exhibition also points to the overwhelming issues of racial and economic injustice, class, and how these elements have contributed to the cycle of violence. Change and how people can move forward from these tragedies is also another huge underpinning of this show. Many of the pieces in RESPOND are calling for this larger change and point the the power that art has to do just that.

    The show is on view until February 22. Smack Mellon is located at 48 Plymouth Street in DUMBO and is open 12-7 PM Monday-Friday. There are also various events related to the exhibition that will be occurring in the gallery throughout January and February. Please refer to Smack Mellon’s webiste for a listing of these events.
    –Anni Irish

  • Xavier Dolan/Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

    Xavier Dolan/Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

    The words “prodigy” and “wunderkind” have often been used to describe filmmaker Xavier Dolan, with good reason. Not yet 26, the French-Canadian auteur has recently released his fifth feature, Mommy, to general acclaim, including a Jury Prize win at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. A sort of bookend to his first film, 2009’s J’ai tué ma mère (I Killed My Mother), Mommy stars Dolan regular Anne Dorval as Diane, the desperate mother of violence-prone, ADHD-addled Steve (a very believable Antoine Olivier Pilon). Their raucous, codependent relationship is tempered by the arrival of a quiet, secretive neighbor, played by Suzanne Clément (in a complete departure from her outgoing persona in Dolan’s 2012 Laurence Anyways). As each of the characters in this unsettling, emotional film struggles with personal demons, they form an unusual bond.

    Contrary to his previous films I Killed My Mother, Heartbeats (2010) and Tom at the Farm (2013), Dolan — an actor since toddlerhood — did not cast himself in Mommy. Like most of his movies, Mommy features complicated mother-son dynamics, arresting visual sequences and a potent soundtrack. In just five years, the filmmaker has created a distinctly unique body of work, all the more remarkable considering his relative youth.

    Recently I sat down with a few other journalists for a conversation with Dolan, who was both introspective and forthright. The following are excerpts.

    Do you feel different now that you’ve received all this acclaim? Maybe you can no longer be insecure…?
    I was never insecure; I am passionate about what I do. I love working with actors and I love acting and writing these stories and nothing has ever made me feel insecure. Some reviews have hurt me, but they’ve always been educational at the very least.

    What inspired you to include the introduction about a fictional healthcare law [allowing parents to bypass the courts and have their difficult children committed]?
    When we started scouting locations for the film we went to a correctional facility and the principal who took us through the place told me that the first scene didn’t make sense, because the movie starts with Steve being expelled because he’s misbehaved, which a correctional center would never do. I realized that I had a choice to make between telling a story that was rigorous in terms of research, or just the story I wanted to tell, which was the story of mother love and friendship. Had I not opted for that, I would have had to incorporate social workers, police officers, court scenes. It’s not a documentary.

    Antoine Olivier Pilon/Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

    Antoine Olivier Pilon/Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

    Also, I thought that this law would create and elicit a natural moral dilemma, because of course a mother would say she’d never never drop her child, but I personally have friends with a child with a behavioral disorder or mentally ill, and they told me that what was most heart-wrenching for them was when Diane drops Steve at the hospital. They said, “It’s awful to say, but I often think about that, and I see myself doing that.” Hearing that from a mother made me think there’s got to be a choice because when you can’t do something because it is illegal, of course you tell everyone, “I would never do that.” But when it’s possible, it’s another conversation.

    Could you talk about the process of casting Antoine as Steve?
    It was a process of one second and a half. We shot this short (College Boy) where his character was a bullied kid, which is pretty much the opposite of what he is in Mommy. It was not in his performance but in his attitude on the set; he was such a professional young man and he was so kind and listening. (Somehow he wasn’t exactly that way on Mommy; he was definitely more rambunctious. We had this complicity so he had more familiarity, which was great.) So the process of casting him was just believing that we could do it together and that he could listen to my directions and that he would bring that character to life, which he did.

    Compared to some of your other films, this was a bit more adrenalized, faster paced. Was that a reflection of the film itself or a process in you yourself?
    I think it’s probably more about the story and the script. A lot of people have said that Laurence was long, but Laurence is a movie that would have felt twice as long if it was 25 minutes shorter. It needed to span that much time because the story itself spanned so many years. There’s nothing worse for me than trying to tell a long story in a really short way, in a skit-like fashion where it becomes anecdotal and you can never have any pace because you’re always jumping and in motion. But Mommy was about the hysterical rhythm of these peoples’ lives, so the film mirrored that.

    Anne Dorval/Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

    Anne Dorval/Courtesy of Roadside Attractions

    Anne and Suzanne both acted in your previous films. How has your working relationship evolved?
    There’s two ways of looking at it: I’ve learned more about acting. In Laurence Anyways, I wasn’t acting, so I literally spent a year — 75 days of shooting, a very long shoot — watching actors, watching their strengths, their weaknesses, learning about how they work and think. In Tom on the Farm I tried to apply these things to my own craft. Mommy was  number five; by then I’d learned enough that my experience with Anne was completely different from I Killed My Mother. What also changed was that in these years, I’ve grown closer to both women, and I know them in their intimacy, their private lives, how they laugh and how they cry; who they are. What’s fun about this is not only to write characters as far away and different from what they’ve done in their careers, but also as different as can be from who they are in their lives.

    One thing that’s consistent in your films is that your characters seem to be stepping out of a cocoon of one kind of another.
    They’re about characters breaking free, breaking the rules, but also trying to fit in society and being ostracized by that society because they are different. It’s always the same theme coming back.

    Upcoming projects?
    I think that within the next two years, I’ll be working on my own movies as a director. There might be a project from a script I’ve not produced, but I really need to act. If I want to keep having a healthy relationship with actors, I need to act myself, because I give a lot of my time and energy to writing dialogue for actors and finding costumes for actors, and directing actors, working with actors, filming actors, doing CGI for actors. At a certain point I need to act too.

    Mommy is playing at Landmark Sunshine Cinema and Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (Lincoln Center).

    Marina Zogbi

  • Over the course of the past few years, vinyl has made something of a comeback. Spurred on by nostalgia and hipster culture, records sales are once again on the rise and the average person has a turntable. This renaissance has changed not only the popularity of vinyl, but has also changed the access to records. You can find them everywhere from Amazon to Urban Outfitters. Younger artists, who may have missed the vinyl boat all together, are releasing new music in this older format. To meet the demand, several services have surfaced to supply music fans with the newest pressings. Here are a few options to help you expand your record collection and/or just explore new music:

    Vnyl is a record subscription service that has gotten a lot of press lately, both good and bad. Using Vnyl, subscribers can determine the contents of their delivery by indicating which “#vibes” they would like to go with. The hashtags to choose from range from #betweenthesheets to #cooking to #work to #danceparty and more. Once the records have been put togethers, they’re mailed to the user, much like in Netflix’s old DVD-in-a-paper-sleeve model. From there Vnyl allows subscribers to hold on to records they love and return the ones they don’t. Subscribers can also track the journey of each record, from one Vnyl user to the next. Each person can comment on their experience and inform whomever gets the album next.

    Vinyl Me, Please funtions in a similar way. Much like a book of the month club or the free iTunes song of the day, VMP delivers new albums right into your hands, but not one of your choosing. After requesting and invite, users can choose from a Monthly ($27), 3-Month ($75) or Annual ($284) subscription plans (International plans are also available.) According to the company’s website, the record will also be accompanied by “a custom cocktail pairing (recipe) and an album-inspired piece of art from one of our favorite artists.” A subscription includes “access to The Standard, a weekly music digest highlighting the best new music and gear from artists and brands you need to know.” One subscriber will also receive a gift via VMP’s Golden Ticket Giveaway. The record each person receives, the Record of the Month is chosen by the VMP staff. In the past this has included Courtney Barnett, The War on Drugs and Diarrhea Planet.

    If you like this element of surprise, but also want to sponsor a smaller bands, unable to independently press their own records, check out Feedbands. For $14.95 a month, users are able to vote on participating bands and ultimately receive the winning release. The service utilizes a sort of crowdsourcing to both pick the music and to fund the operation. They also support independent musicians and give them the chance to have their music on this old, but increasing popular format. Plus, if a subscriber doesn’t like the record they can return it and receive their money back. The records are always first pressings and come with a biodegradable download card, embedded with wildflower seeds.

    Label and/or Artist specific vinyl subscriptions are another way to control the content of the records you’re receiving each month. If you tend to buy records from a specific label, but want to never have to worry about how many records are going to be pressed/released, a subscription might be the answer.  Subscriptions like No Sleep Record’s Vinyl Subscription and Jack White/Third Man Record’s The Vault subscription are both specific enough that users know for the most part what they’re signing up for.

    Time will tell whether or not these newer options will hold up against the greats like Sub Pop’s Singles Club. Also whether or not all these records survive the process of being shipping in the mail. If all else fails there is always the option to browse what records stores are left in the city, like Rough Trade and Academy Records & CDs. Play Rob Gordon for a day and support the scene.

    -Zoe Marquedant