Music Review: Fay Wolf – Spiders

Many of the new artists I hear, I hear first in the soundtrack for a television show. For example, I first heard Eva Cassidy‘s cover of Cyndi Lauper‘s “Time After Time” on an episode of Smallville. And I heard Alexi Murdoch‘s “Breathe” for the first time in an early episode of Stargate Universe. And I first heard Fay Wolf, though I didn’t know it at the time, on an early episode of Covert Affairs.

So when I started listening to Fay’s new album Spiders, I knew I’d heard the voice before but it took me a while to figure out where. But I shouldn’t have been surprised that I first heard her music on TV, as her songwriting and composition style effortlessly combines storytelling and drama in much the same way as some of my favorite shows. Though her style is all her own, my ear keeps comparing her to artists as diverse as Florence + The Machine and Tori Amos, who also tell stories beneath the melodies.

Since listening to the music of Spiders, I’ve discovered that her songs have also been featured on episodes of Gray’s Anatomy, One Tree Hill, and Pretty Little Liars. Beyond that, she is a classically-trained actress who has worked in theater, film and television with appearances on Law & Order, Numb3rs, Bones, Ghost Whisperer, and NCIS: Los Angeles. And if the music and acting wasn’t enough to keep her busy enough, she’s also a professional organizer with her own company “New Order,” named after the band.

Spiders is full of emotional honesty but also includes a bit of wit and humor within her lyrics. A word of advice however, she also includes a bit of explicit language in those lyrics, so though her music is amazing it might be best for a more mature audience.

The album starts with two of my favorite songs – “The Thread of the Thing” and “The Passing” – which set things off on the right foot.

“The Thread of the Thing” employs the dreamy feel of someone trying to explain how they feel. The lyrics are stream of consciousness but hit me like those conversations between lovers as they fall asleep… “And the stories of kings and the needle and the thread of the thing… in a little while I see that I love the way you came on…” Between the steady percussion like a heartbeat, the simple chording, and the atmospheric effects, it really got my attention quickly.

“The Passing” on the other hand manages to sound very different than “The Thread of the Thing,” featuring Fay’s voice and piano skills. Again, it’s like a dreamy conversation – “See here’s the thing / I love being in motion / and wrapped around you… I can hear you / and I can see the time / the time passing / the time passing by…” It’s as though her voice tells the story as her fingers dance across the keys.

In the middle of the album, “Pull” just seems to ring true again about… you guessed it. Love. This time it’s a bit more outwardly happy in the melody. “But y’figured out that the least you could understand / your heart is open to someone else’s hand…” Love sometimes manages to pull the breath from us, just like falling down in the snow. But the almost calliope-sounding keys gives this song a strong feel of fun while keeping that atmospheric piano behind the scenes.

But “In the Way” is the opposite to the languid feel of “The Thread of the Thing” with a melody that is at once sad, but honest. “How did we fall in love in a week / and how do we get away / how do we see if the cracks in the plan / are the reasons that we play the game…” Again, it’s simply Fay and a piano telling an honest story about romance. Sometimes things don’t work out and “if it’s all not fair, then why are you here.” Sometimes we have to look deeper than the fun we’re having to see that something isn’t good.

Spiders manages to express the complexities of love without seeming trite. I think that’s her gift, telling stories of love when it goes right and when it falls apart. Check it out at your favorite retailer. And for details about Fay, be sure to drop by her website FayWolfMusic.com.

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

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Trailer Time: Battle: Los Angeles – New, Intense Trailer!

I have a love/hate relationship with movie trailers. On the one hand, I love getting little flashes of visuals from upcoming movies to whet my appetite. But I hate having things spoiled for me. So there’s a fine line between “good” trailers and “bad” trailers.

Grainy B&W image of supposed UFO, Passoria, Ne...
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This new trailer for Battle: Los Angeles has to be one of the most intense I’ve seen in a long time. I actually cringed when the helicopter is shot down and Aaron Eckhart runs out of a building with a child in hand…

It’s that kind of “reality” in a science fiction film that I can really get into.

Now I’m getting excited about this film… March 11, 2011 is a ways off, but Battle: Los Angeles looks worth the wait.

Here’s the synopsis:

For years, there have been documented cases of UFO sightings around the world — Buenos Aires, Seoul, France, Germany, China. But in 2011, what were once just sightings will become a terrifying reality when Earth is attacked by unknown forces. As people everywhere watch the world’s great cities fall, Los Angeles becomes the last stand for mankind in a battle no one expected. It’s up to a Marine staff sergeant and his new platoon to draw a line in the sand as they take on an enemy unlike any they’ve ever encountered before.

And here’s the new trailer:

–Fitz

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Short Film Review: “Smoke” by Grzegorz Cisiecki (NSFW)

Hey!

With no words, a little music, and a lot of interesting visual cuts, Grzegorz Cisiecki has created a story that defies explanation in a surreal world with his short film “Smoke.” The tag line is “The story of a person who became the captive of surrealistic madness.” It definitely captures a bit of madness.

It’s tough to describe even after watching it a few times, but it’s amazingly artful in the mysterious way it gives you glimpses of a story. The glimpses provide bits of a framework and that allows you to fill in the rest in your own mind. So my interpretation of the scenes will most likely be different than yours.

The story seems to focus on a man who drives clients to a club where they can have their fantasies come true – from the usual sexual fantasies involving men and women to a scene where a man lies on the floor with a bullet hole in his forehead. Even during the drive itself where the client is eating some kind of fruit in the back seat of the car with the juice dripping down his chin and onto his chest, there’s a glimpse of gluttony.

As for the women in the story, they seem to be caught in a world they can’t escape. The tears along the side of a couple of their faces and the violent way they’re treated by clients in the fantasy club provide just enough details for you to feel badly for them.

And the man himself seems to have a tape recording of events in the club, and that’s keeping him and his girlfriend from being happy together.

All in all, it’s definitely a very surreal approach to storytelling. I love the silent aspect, with just ambient noise and music in the background. And the soft zoom effects and transitions are enough to keep you guessing as to where you’re going next. In seven minutes, you’re left wondering what you just watched – like a staged crime on Chatroulette without the “live” aspect.

Definitely one of the most interesting short movies I’ve seen in a while. The short film does offer a bit of nudity so it’s probably Not Safe For Work (NSFW). But I’d encourage you to check out Grzegorz Cisiecki’s “Smoke” on YouTube (included below) or Vimeo and let me know what you think!

–Fitz

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