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INDIE EAR MADNESS: Key First Round Match-Ups

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Tomorrow afternoon the 64-band Indie Ear Madness tournament will begin. Only one independent/indie-minded music act will be left standing following the fierce competition. Don’t forget to print out your brackets and follow the action daily. Competing this year, we have a handful of veteran acts as well as many up-and-coming new talents. Radiohead come into the tourney as this year’s favorites, but upstarts, Vampire Weekend, Gnarls Barkley, and Tapes ‘N Tapes are looking to bring home their first National Title. Here’s a look at some intriguing first round match-ups:


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8 Cat Power vs. 9 Anti-Flag (left)
These two acts bring entirely different styles to the stage. Cat Power is known for her soft-spoken, country-tinged guitar and piano ballads, while Anti-Flag is known for their fierce politically charged punk rock music. Cat Power is sometimes reluctant to perform live, while Anti-Flag has never been afraid to get behind a microphone, whether that be at a concert or protest rally. Cat Power’s last proper studio album was titled, The Greatest. Is she? We will find out tomorrow.

7 Liam Finn vs. 10 Billy Bragg
The young, talented multi-instrumentalist takes on the folk/punk inspired Billy Bragg. No doubt, Bragg’s been in the game a lot longer, but keep in mind Finn is the son of Crowded House lead singer, Neil Finn. Liam got some much-needed big-game experience last year, when he performed with his father’s legendary band at Coachella.


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8 Thurston Moore vs. 9 Liars (right)
The King of New York City experimental noise goes head-to-head against another NYC act that knows a thing or two about making experimental, noise music (some of which has been called un-listenable by several critics). During this tournament, Moore will be supporting his solo effort Trees Outside the Academy. Though he has Steve Shelley on drums, he will not be taking the stage with the rest of his Sonic Youth backcourt. This may be the break the Liars need, as they are riding the momentum of their latest groove- oriented self-titled release.

6 MSTRKRFT vs. 11 Tim Fite
This is a very intriguing first round match-up. Both acts are comprised of duos that boast a seasoned rockstar presence. Jesse from MSTRKRFT was in the buzz-worthy duo Death From Above 1979 (you may recognize their work from the Human Giant theme song), while Tim Fite–well–he’s Tim Fite. The multi-talented emcee/country blues crooner is known to put on a fierce live show, spitting politics behind his Sesame Street-like posturing. MSTRKRFT definitely has the edge when it comes to “maximal” beats, but Tim Fite with shooting guard Dr. Leisure have them beaten in wordplay. Too close to call.


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5 Rilo Kiley vs. 12 Yeasayer (left)
With college radio pin-up, Jenny Lewis running the point, Rilo Kiley is a near-perfect indie-minded band, mixing pop, country and folk in a way that seems to please all of its fans and critics. Yeasayer, the experimental Brooklyn group, will have to bring out their best African and Middle Eastern rhythms to contend with this tournament favorite.

8 Bauhaus vs. 9 The Presidents of the U.S.A.
The Godfathers of Goth against the Post-Grunge Party Starters. What a contest this will be. Both groups are seasoned stage veterans, but obviously Bauhaus has been around a bit longer than the Presidents. Many people don’t realize that The Presidents have been consistently putting out albums for years. The same can’t be said about Bauhaus, but they have recently released what is claimed to be “their new and final album,” Go Away White. Maybe Peter Murphy and Bauhaus have one more good fight left in them?


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3 Spoon vs.
14 Cool Kids


Spoon, one of the most beloved and respected acts in all of indie music take on the much blogged about Cool Kids–a throwback Chicago-based hip-hop act who like to wear bright colors and rhyme about their sneakers. Cool Kids wowed audiences at this year’s SXSW in Austin, TX, which also happens to be the hometown of Spoon, who also played the festival. Word on the street is that both groups had representatives scouting the competition. Many bracketologists are predicting a Cool Kids upset over the heavily favored Spoon.

7 The Black Keys vs. 10 Tegan & Sara
Two-man blues-rock powerhouse takes on two-girl alt-pop attack. On their latest efforts, both groups had a little help from some respected producers in the indie-minded world. Danger Mouse was behind the boards for The Black Keys’ latest effort, Attack and Release, while Chris Walla (Death Cab For Cutie) produced Tegan & Sara’s last album, The Con. Both groups give witty sound bites during interviews, are beloved in their respective circles, and are expected to go far in this tournament, despite their low seeds. However, only one band can advance in this much talked about first round match-up.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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