While some songs suggests they’d “like to teach the world to sing”, the sad truth is that much of the world is tone deaf. We couldn’t write hit songs if our lives depended on it. We may not be able to even hum “It’s A Grand Old Flag” in key, let alone sing karaoke without humiliating ourselves. So instead of damaging the eardrums of those around us, we buy records and idolize musicians. However, save for autograph signings, impersonal if awesome videos, and concerts, there aren’t that many opportunities to get up close and personal with our idols. Then every few years comes a great documentary that shows our favorite bands in a unique light and makes us want to go buy their entire discography. Again. Currently there are some great documentaries available that give a peek into the lives of the musicians we love. Here are three to watch:
“Take One: Swedish House Mafia”
The world of superstar DJs is not something to which most of us have access. Luckily there are documentaries to introduce us civilians to the wonderfully strange world of wildly successful DJs who travel the world in private planes with half-dressed female fans thrown in their paths, exotic car collections, and stadium gigs filled to the rafters with avid fist-pumping crowds. “Take One” follows a trio of Swedish DJs Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso and Axwell– collectively known as the Swedish House Mafia — as they live the dance music dream. One of the most interesting parts of the film comes when the audience can see the DJs in action, creating the hook for their track with Pharrell, “One (Your Name)”. Directed by Christian Larson, who shot the doc in black and white, the 45-minute film is a fascinating look at a career that was definitely not mentioned in my version of “What Color Is Your Parachute.”
The film is available for purchase on iTunes.
“Color Me Obsessed”
Directed by Gorman Bechard this documentary looks at what the director considers the last best band, The Replacements. Bechard is not alone in this belief, and he gathered fans from near and far, including The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy, Craig Finn from The Hold Steady, Dave Foley, Lori Barbero of Babes In Toyland, critic Robert Christgau, producer Steve Albini, Grant Hart and Greg Norton from Hüsker Dü, and even this writer (yeah, me) to prove his point that The Replacements are often overlooked, underappreciated, and wildly influential. While at first it seems odd (or infuriating) that the movie doesn’t interview any of the members of The Replacements or feature any of the band’s songs, you soon get swept into the world of the fans. It’s like you wandered into a bar filled with Mats devotees and proceed to have the most sincere conversation about music, fandom, and the most lovable rock and roll fuckups ever.
The movie is in the festival circuit right now (head to ColorMeObsessed.com for details). Fingers crossed that it gets a distributor soon.
“New Garage Explosion: In Love With These Times”
From the filmmakers at Vice comes a look at the gritty, grungy world of garage rock. The documentary, made by VBS directors Joseph Patel and Aaron Brown with producer/journalist Mike McGonigal, kicks off with a look at the humble beginnings of the genre among kids in Detroit in the 1960s. The film then does a quick survey of the lasting influence of garage rock on ’80s punk, but the main thrust is the modern day scene. And what a scene it is: Notable acts included in the film are the late Jay Reatard, Black Lips, The Gories, The Clean, The Dirtbombs, Magic Kids, Golden Triangle, Smith Westerns, Vivian Girls and more. The documentary offers up intimate profiles of the artists working their asses off to make the garage scene and is a must see for music fans of any genre.
While this look at garage rock has been out since November, and available on YouTube for at least a month, the show has hit the road and is doing screenings in actual movie theaters. A movie this good deserves better than watching concurrent parts on YouTube, so head here for screening info