Weekend Reads: Hood, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Spotify's Greed, Movie Science, Chinese Sci-Fi

Recommended weekend reading material for August 22, 2020.

Every week, I compile a list of interesting, thought-provoking, and enjoyable articles. I hope they provide you with some good weekend reading material.

Hood (RIP) has long been one of my favorite bands, thanks to their nostalgia-soaked blend of pastoral post-rock and fractured electronica. In this in-depth interview, the band discusses their 2001 masterpiece, Cold House.

Looking back our records always seem like postcards of where we were at the time. Cold House could be our loss of innocence record in that it was a collective realisation that everything is going to be shit. We had pretty golden childhoods and our early records reflected a kind of rural melancholy and yearning for the countryside we grew up in, where everything was safe. By Cold House, we were firmly ensconced in the city and so it has a much more fraught and nervous feel to it that reflected our surroundings.

Hood’s Cold House was featured in the “Chilled Time” subscriber playlist and the February 2020 episode of my Playlist Breakdown podcast. You can also read my review of Cold House here. (Note: The interview was conducted by Glen Johnson, the founder of Piano Magic, another favorite band of mine.)

Andrew Paul reflects on the beauty, majesty, and terror of Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s landmark sophomore album, Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven.

Two decades after its stateside debut, the otherworldly transmissions received and recorded for Lift Your Skinny Fists are somehow even more terrifying, beautiful, and awesome. But like many biblical visions, the feelings and messages evoked are so subjective and personal that it’s often a struggle to put them into words.

Has it really been two decades since this album came out? There was a time when Godspeed was the most important band in the world for me and my friends, but it’s been a long time since I’ve listened to them. As it turns out, time really has done nothing to diminish this album’s beauty (read my review).

Slicing Up Eyeballs — an excellent blog for fans of ‘70s and ‘80s alternative music — recently asked readers to vote on their favorite Joy Division songs.

Based on a total of nearly 16,000 votes, the results are presented below. Garnering 1,228 votes, the No. 1 selection topped the No. 2 pick by a mere two votes, one of our closest top finishes. This poll also featured just one tie — “The Sound of Music” and “Wilderness” — which we settled with a coin flip.

The blog has done similar readers’ polls for The Cure, The Smiths, and Depeche Mode, among others.

In a recent interview, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek stated that if musicians want to make a living, they need to release more music (“you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough.”) Ek’s comments have rubbed many musicians — e.g., Sebastian Bach, Neko Case, David Crosby, Massive Attack, Mike Mills — the wrong way.

Remember: the best way to support your favorite musicians is to buy their music, not simply stream it.

There are thousands of movies available on streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime. So it can seem odd when you can’t find that one movie you really want to watch. Like Cocoon, for example.

That poster tagline is, perhaps, fitting in that if you’re dreaming about watching Cocoon right now, not only is it everything you dreamed of, you’re just going to have to keep on dreaming — because Cocoon isn’t available for you to watch. Anywhere. One of the most ubiquitous movies of the ‘80s is just gone. Vanished. Nowhere to be found on any platform in the era of streaming, a moment in time where seemingly everything is available within seconds via the push of a few buttons.

One of the biggest concerns with streaming services is that, as they rotate their lineups, it’s possible for titles to become completely inaccessible. In other words, maybe keep those physical copies of your favorite movies and TV shows. Via The Retro.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with a movie sacrificing scientific accuracy if that allows it to tell a good story. However, some movies have particularly bad science, and physicist Dominic Walliman can help you know which is which.

[H]e is not the kind of person to ruin a movie by going on about how goofy its scientific ideas sound, though he’s likely to express appreciation for films that get it right. He doesn’t get bent out of shape by artistic license and can appreciate, for example, the creative use of visual effects in Interstellar to represent a black hole, which would otherwise appear onscreen as, well, a black hole.

The Chinese government wants more sci-fi movies like The Wandering Earth and Shanghai Fortress (which are currently streaming on Netflix) — but only if they promote Chinese values.

Based on the Chinese president’s past pronouncements on film work, filmmakers should follow the “correct direction” for the development of sci-fi movies. This includes creating films that “highlight Chinese values, inherit Chinese culture and aesthetics, cultivate contemporary Chinese innovation” as well as “disseminate scientific thought” and “raise the spirit of scientists.” Chinese sci-fi films should thus portray China in a positive light as a technologically advanced nation.

Science fiction’s power lies not only in its ability to fire the imagination, but also to challenge and critique society and those in power. The Chinese government’s (unsurprising) emphasis on ideology may very well hamstring good sci-fi movies before they even begin production.

The Polygon staff revisits some beloved animated classics like The Iron Giant and Treasure Planet that were actually duds when they were originally released.

If you grew up in the late ’90s or early 2000s, there’s a strong chance your favorite childhood movie was a total box-office dud. The animated movies that defined the transitional era are beloved by a generation that grew up watching them on VHS, but many of these nostalgic favorites were critical failures, box-office disappointments, or both. Unlike Disney animated classics, these movies tried to break free of the fantasy musical formula, which were seeing diminishing returns even for Disney itself. The rebellious results were movies that experimented with genre and tone — the successes and failures of which helped to define the more successful era of animation which followed.

It’s easy to say that Weekly World News invented “fake news” with its stories of Elvis sightings, alien senators, and of course, Bat Boy. But those who worked there and wrote its outlandish articles see it as something else:

I think it invented the format of made-up news before it was popular. I think it’s something that has influenced a lot of people; people put references to it into shows like The X-Files and Supernatural. It was kind of how it was for people who grew up with The Twilight ZoneMad magazine, or National Lampoon. I think it was an influence on creative people. I hope that’s how it’s remembered and not just as fake news as it’s brought up today.

Via 1440.

H.P. Lovecraft’s “Weird fiction” was incredibly influential on the horror, sci-fi, and fantasy genres. He was also an outspoken racist.

Lovecraft leaves no room for a debate about separating the artist from their art. He injected many of his most famous and beloved stories with overt racist metaphors and frequent blunt literal racism. For the past decade or so, as the extent of his racism has become more widely known and acknowledged, horror and fantasy writers whose landscapes are saturated with Lovecraft’s influence have been trying to figure out what to do about him.

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