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Hajooj Kuka's short yet powerful Beats of the Antonov is a poignant documentary on the war-ravaged border between North and South Sudan, set against the backdrop of refugee communities who have only one another to cling on to. Yet thanks to Kuka's insistence on giving...

Oftentimes, a complete change in sound and a long delay between full-length albums marks the death knell of a band, or at least a rebirth. After a long brainstorming session -- during which the band lost a guitarist, put out an EP without that guitarist, and gained another in time for the latest record -- Metavari has returned, and the Metavari you hear on Moonless is not the Metavari you heard six years ago, during the release of Be One of Us and Hear No Noise. This time around, the quartet from Fort Wayne, Indiana, seems to have found its niche in the instrumental world, eschewing the grand sonic explosions commonly associated with post-rock in favor of analog and electronic sounds and samples.
Metavari Press Photo

Pickathon Festival started out as a much more roots, folk and bluegrass-oriented festival. As those genres were gobbled up by eager indie-whatever kids looking to break into a new style, Pickathon adapted with the change. Although bands like Nickel Creek, The Barr Brothers, Shakey Graves and Della Mae hearkened back to the festival's old style, a surprisingly rock-heavy lineup was the face of the 2014 version of Pickathon Festival. Bands like The War on Drugs, Foxygen, Mac DeMarco and Brownout/Brown Sabbath were the big draws -- but looking back at it, you couldn't really tell much of a difference in the end. The 2014 version of Pickathon was still the excellently curated, family-friendly (and even more adult friendly) affair that the 2013 Pickathon, and every year before that, was. Pickathon Festival 2014The reason for that is that in this day and age where festivals are hardly differentiated by anything except for stage names, Pickathon sets itself apart from the rest of the musical wasteland by removing its wasteful tendencies. Everything happens at Pickathon for a reason. The end result means that the random stages set up throughout Pendarvis Farm are stellar and sound issues are rarely a problem. Many of the shows are recorded and broadcast live courtesy of a horde of volunteers, which also creates a massive musical archive in the process. Beer, medical attention, phone chargers and general information are all handed out by bright-eyed and cheerful volunteers who are as excited to be there as anyone else. The devil is in the details at Pickathon, stretching from wall art in the portable bathrooms to showers set up within earshot of a stage. For one weekend a year, Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Oregon, becomes the happiest place on Earth for a few thousand people smart enough to know one of the best festivals in the country is happening on someone's backyard. There is every reason to trek down the dusty roads to any of the stages at Pickathon, and no reason to leave.
Pickathon Festival 2014

 

"Let’s cut down this forest with a buzz saw army of guitars.” Jordan Smith, of Diarrhea Planet

Diarrhea Planet

This year, it seemed like the Pickathon lineup was for the boys and girls of rock and roll. No band epitomized that approach like a double billing of the six-piece Diarrhea Planet. The band has four guitarists all shredding a pop sensibility through the power of metal and punk, and in the grand scheme of things, their music sounds like their name -- explosive and relentless. A band of this magnitude of rock can sometimes be a bit off-putting, but a smart time slot and the jovial approach the band takes live makes it seem like you are watching your best friend's band play its first real show. Pickathon Festival 2014 Their first set of the weekend began at 1 a.m. on the first night, with an apology to Gavin, the sound guy in the Galaxy Barn, for helping four guitarists and four vocalists close out the night. Once apologies were dispensed, Diarrhea Planet proceeded to relentlessly shred through their material, and despite the oppressive temperature inside the barn, the crowd responded accordingly. A new song devoted to the lost art of crowdsurfing had Pickathon attendees leaping on top of each other as the sweating, seething mosh pit took over the whole barn. When all was said and done, a hundred-plus people made the long walk back to their tents covered in a variety of different sweats, only to do it all again the next day. Diarrhea Planet’s second set at the famed Woods Stage Saturday afternoon was just as raucous. Although the cry for crowdsurfing fell on deaf ears, perhaps due to the gentle nature of the stage setup, the six-piece had no issue picking up the slack. Amplifiers were climbed on top of, crowd members were thrown on top of band member's shoulders mid-guitar solo, and outside of the fact that the sun was still up, it was hard to distinguish any less enthusiasm from the drunken barn burner less than 24 hours previous. At the end of it all, it could all be summed up in guitarist/vocalist Jordan Smith's approach to the afternoon, as he said, “We are playing in the woods. Let’s cut down this forest with a buzz saw army of guitars.”

 

"Dams don't just blend in as part of a landscape anymore. Knowing what I know now, it's impossible for me to look at dams in the same way as I did a few years ago -- or even rivers, for that matter. Dams and hydropower...

Class Enemy Film Review
Nusa (Masa Derganc), every student's favorite teacher, goes on maternity leave and is replaced by Robert. Robert is everything that Nusa isn't -- a man who believes in rigid authority and an older style of teaching. A private meeting with a struggling Sabina (Dasa Cupevski) sends her out of Robert's office in tears, and it is the last memory her classmates have of her. Sabina later commits suicide, and the class, left struggling to comprehend their own emotions, squarely places the blame on Robert. Rok Bicek's debut feature-length film, Class Enemy, is an interesting exercise in grief, and Bicek undertakes the painstaking task of showcasing how it hits the cast of characters differently. Luka (Voranc Boh), who has just lost his mother, uses Sabina's death as a way to shield himself from his own pain. Mojca (Doroteja Nadrah), Sabina's best friend, blames Robert as a way to avoid the reality she had no idea her friend was in such a spot. Spela (Spela Novak), sees Sabina's death as a symbol of everything that is wrong with the school. As pressure starts to mount from his rebelling class, Robert has to wishstand even more from the school's administration, who feel that he is losing control of the people he doesn't really know in the first place.

Four Corners Film ReviewFour Corners Film
The narrative of Four Corners is equal parts Tsotsi and City of God, set in the sprawling South African ghetto of Cape Flats and following the people that struggle to survive it. At times, the dialogue is sparse and the acting is relatively wooden, but the overall message, and the despair of the situation, makes it an engaging film worth noting. Selected as the official South African submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards, Four Corners missed out on a nomination, but remains a bold undertaking by director Ian Gabriel, who chose to tell the story in Sabela, the secret language of certain gangs in South Africa), Tsotsi taal and Afrikaans.

Four Corners Theatrical Trailer

Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) 2014 is here, which means another few weeks of impressively-curated film-going madness for everyone in the Puget Sound Region. Below, we've once again given you our top selections for the year, grouped by world region. Stay tuned in the weeks to come, as we offer updates throughout the festival's progression, with general thumbs up and thumbs down summaries of the films we will painfully and enjoyably slog and float through, as well as one-off full-length reviews. Happy SIFFing!

Here is a quick summary of GOAT, and the story is meant to be taken with as many grains of salt as possible. GOAT originally hail from Korpilombo, Sweden, from a community that has a history of voodoo worship. At various times, the incarnation of GOAT has lived on for 30 or 40 years amongst members of this village, and now, the current incarnation of GOAT contains three members from Korpilombo, augmented by a few folks from Gothenburg. All bands need good stories, and GOAT’s is one of the better ones. A quick Google search of Korpilombo and voodoo yields nothing but GOAT-related results. Combine this wonky backstory with the fact that live, the members of GOAT all wear cloaks and masks and operate in a shroud of mystery, and it is enough to be almost too much of a schtick. But what makes the tradition of GOAT work is that the band doesn’t let this aura undermine the music.

Iceland Airwaves 2013
Iceland Airwaves started back in 1999 in an airport hangar outside of Reykjavik. Since then, it has grown into one of Europe's premiere music festivals, showcasing the insane amounts of musical talent coming from the land of few people and many sheep. Each year, the festival curates some of the best up-and-coming international talent to supplement the Icelandic artists, and introduces a ton of off-venue shows. The total schedule is 10 pages long, and the whole festival turns Reykjavik into a musical paradise for five nights. It is all incredibly overwhelming, so let's break it down into two parts to try and help you out:

 

The Icelandic Musicians Amiina Daníel Bjarnason FM Belfast For a Minor Reflection Ghostigital Hermigervill múm Samaris Sin Fang Sóley
The International Musicians Anna von Hausswolff (Sweden) Electric Eye (Norway) Fucked Up (Canada) Goat (Sweden) Jagwar Ma (Australia) Kithkin (United States) Kraftwerk (Germany) Royal Canoe (Canada) Stealing Sheep (United Kingdom) Yo La Tengo (United States)

The Icelandic Musicians

For a country of under 350,000 people, Icelanders sure love their music, enough so that just about everyone and anyone forms a band -- or two. The Iceland Airwaves Festival showcases this proud musical tradition perfectly, and many of the Icelandic bands hop on board in support, sometimes playing over five times throughout the festival. Iceland isn't all Sigur Ros, Bjork and Of Monsters and Men. There is a lot of fantastic music coming from the island, and here are some bands to check out, many of which we have covered in the past. (Those who would like a more intimate understanding of the country's musical climate are encouraged to read our essay, The Real Icelandic Music Scene: Interviews, which include excusive mixtape downloads and Icelandic musician interviews, or explore all of our articles related to Iceland).

Amiina

Gamla Bíó - Saturday @ 22:00 Amiina are well-known for recording and touring with Sigur Rós; any of those strings you hear underneath Jonsi’s howl: that is Amiina. The band combines a contemporary classical style with a minimalist’s touch, ambient littered throughout.

 

Daníel Bjarnason

Harpa Kaldalón - Friday @ 23:20 Daníel Bjarnason is an Icelandic composer of the highest caliber, who has had works commissioned and debuted by the Los Angeles Philharmonic. His pieces are emotive, complex and riveting. That should be no different in a live scenario.