Film School

USA alternative music scene has never been so fervent. The East coast is as creative as the golden age of CBGB. The rocky north west mountains are inspiring Seattle again with a mix of rock music and popular roots.

New music is coming from where it never was. Have you ever heard of Florida producing an indie-rock band? Their name can be quite banal, but the Black Kids album is pure party-dance-pop and I’m Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You is without contest the best title of the year and a song so catchy that I can see all their retired neighbours dancing during the rehearsal in a Jacksonville garage.

Film School from San Francisco don’t have a great name either, but they do play quite amazing music. Yes indeed, shoegaze from California!

When the topic is California reality and common thinking coincide.
California is sunny, optimistic, fake, pop, plastic, pumped, tan, healthy, sporty.
California is celebrities, Hollywood, stardom, cinema, fiction, porn, surf, dollars, free love…freedom.
California is about excesses: huge breasts, huge cars, huge beaches, huge landscapes, huge houses. Hugeness.

California mainstream music has constantly reflected this mood. From the Beach Boys to Red Hot Chilly Peppers, from Guns’n’Roses to Metallica there has always been a mix of happiness and muscles, make-up and body building trying to cover the reality of life.

California underground music, often maintaining an optimistic twist, painted a different picture.
Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin sadly proved on their bodies. Rage against the Machine and Living Colour have managed to tell their audiences.
Punk-hardcore, which had its birth and its best in these places is another visible sign.
The endless list of punk legends born here, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Suicidal Tendencies, Minutemen, Social Distortion screamed it out loudly and angrily.
There is a world beyond surf, girls and rock’n’roll, there is an invisible dark side of bright California.

Californian alternative rock has a pivotal band for of the entire American alternative rock: Pavement.
If you want to play guitar rock, you should confront with them and their music. If you are from California, you must.

Film School moved it a step further. They worked with members of Pavement, recorded an EP with Scott Kannberg’s label and played hard for years before being signed by Beggars Banquet.

Film School two Long Playing came out in few months. Self titled Film School and Hideout sum up the experience gathered in several years of underground passion.

Structurally their music moves into standard shoegaze territory. High volume, lot of noise, the guitarists waving their pick-ups close to the ampli to seek sustained feedback.

On Hideout, My Bloody Valentine’s Colm Ó Cíosóig appears as a guest but they are still not from Dublin.
New Order electronica sometimes echoes out from the keyboard but they are still not from Manchester.
Some gloomy singing reminds of Interpol but they are still not from New York.

Film School are from San Francisco, California.
The heat wave counteracts to calm the sonic wave that the guitars borrow from the Pacific Ocean.
San Francisco adds bits of its look and memories of its psychedelic history. The hippie-ish hair-band of the pretty bassist to the long instrumental break they improvise in the middle of the songs disclose that the bay area heritage is part of their DNA.

British Sea Power allowed them to bring their music to audiences who are used to appreciating. I bet it is going to be a long love story with this old, cold world. Hopefully they will bring some sunshine along with the music.

If you are after some shoegaze with an optimistic side, if you want some feedback guitar but you also need some nice songs, check Film School [myspace] and [website], you may discover they are not playing far from you.


Photo tip

Horizontal or vertical?

It has always been such a difficult choice that I ended up finding my personal way. I tilt most of the frames.
I hate to cut guitar neck and, worse, to cut musicians’ heads.
The tilted option helps me fitting both and often can be used either ways which is handy.

Composition rules state that you have to use the format that follows the subject shape.
So said, if you are going for a portrait your choice should be vertical. If you are after a full stage wide angle shot best if you go horizontal.
It is a useful rule of the thumb and will work most of the times. Don’t apply it strictly, though. Give yourself permission to violate the rules. You will be surprised to discover that where you broke it the most interesting frames appear.

With a more professional consciousness you also need to consider which the final target of your pictures is.

If you are commissioned by a magazine, keep in mind they prefer vertical shots. It is the magazine format and the most accepted format for a cover or a full page.
Horizontal shots can be used half page. Rarely they join two adjacent pages, great opportunity but in that case you must use an image that doesn’t have the subject in the middle. The pages’ junction distorts that part of the image and should be neutral.

Newspapers have similar requirements but being their size bigger, full page images not so frequent, they are less strict and can adapt either horizontal and vertical shots.

If you are working for the net, electronic webzines requirement are exactly the opposite to paper magazines. Monitors are horizontal and horizontal images work better filling the entire screen or following its borders ratio. A vertical frame is either to small or can’t be seen in full without scrolling, which is not pleasing.


~ by Valerio on November 6, 2008.

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