DID YOU READ

Viral signs: Sony’s obsession with the Internet

Viral signs: Sony’s obsession with the Internet (photo)

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Last week, the hyperpolarizing California hip-hop collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All–or OFWGKTA, or Odd Future, or those 11 dudes who have become as much of a meme as a musical outfit–confirmed that they’ve signed a deal with RED Distribution/Sony. It’s not a record deal, per se; rather, it is the launch of a new, largely autonomous label beneath Sony’s enormous, multinational umbrella. Odd Future’s members will make the records and all of the decisions about them; if all goes well, RED will simply make sure they’re sold where and how they’re meant to be sold.

Whatever your opinion of Odd Future, it is, at the very least, a victory for a group who’ve gotten this far by saying (sometimes regrettably) exactly what they’ve wanted to say. By the looks of it, they’ll be able to keep doing just that on a much grander and potentially more lucrative scale. The flipside, though, is that it’s another indication that major labels–epitomized here by the ostensibly Internet-interested Sony–are eating whatever the Web serves them and hoping it makes them money. Late last year, Sony (or the imprint Columbia) signed Cults, a retro pop outfit of art-school kids from New England; their charming four songs, all distributed through their Bandcamp website, got a lot of attention, and they got a record deal out of the hubbub. Last month, Sony signed 2Cellos, a subject-says-it-all European duo who quickly clocked 5,000,000 YouTube hits with their cover of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” (It’s bad when a band makes you miss Alien Ant Farm.) In short, labels are looking for salvation in the same network that threatens to kill them; taking the long view, you have to think it’s the customer who’s going to suffer.

Labels, at their best, serve both as filters and fertilizers, selecting worthy bands and sometimes investing time and money to make those bands better. These roles aren’t always concomitant, of course. An excellent little experimental label like Family Vineyard, for instance, can’t really squander resources grooming Paul Flaherty’s beard for a press photo, but they do consistently seek out and release compelling music. It’s a brand you can trust. Major labels aren’t always the best at selecting compelling bands, but they can take a band with loads of potential and prepare their sound and story for the masses. The Avett Brothers are a recent Sony success story (also via Columbia) of just that. Signing viral bands–or acts that amass popularity and buzz via the Internet first–shortchanges that whole process a bit. The intended audience already knows what the product is all about; now, the label’s just have to hope there’s enough product to actually sell something. The consumer is no longer trusting a brand; the consumer is trusting brands that trust in the Internet. Typing that was scary enough.

Signing bands with a built-in fanbase is nothing new. A load of very popular bands that now call independent labels home once got a push from major-label bucks–Spoon, for instance, were on Elektra before finding sanctuary at Merge. And reality-cum-game shows like American Idol find fans by the millions for unknown teenage country boys like Scotty McCreery, who will, no doubt, find a label to call home no matter how the votes soon fall. But both of those models seem more diligent and demanding than simply going for whatever’s got Twitter all aflutter. Hell, Osama bin Laden isn’t even trending today.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. 

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number! 

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time. 

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by. 

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo. 

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim. 

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t? 

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?” 

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud. 

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.