* "2011 Annual Summer Invitational" @ Jonathan LeVine Gallery / 529 W 20th St 9th Fl. Deep w/in the August heat, amid the shuttered galleries on holiday in W.Chelsea, there's a shining beacon of ABSOLUTE DOPENESS that is Jonathan LeVine Gallery. I am STILL talking about last year's summer invitational, which introduced me to EVOL (startlingly photorealistic spraypaint on cardboard cityscapes) and Nicoletta Ceccoli (fantastical acrylic on paper), amid many others. The gallery selected eleven this year, including Melbourne painter Melissa Haslam, Japan-born, NY-based illustrator Yuko Shimizu, Brooklyn's ubiquitously irreverent street artist Dick Chicken…and the awesome Ceccoli, returning with another chapter of her dreamlike oeuvre. Recommended!
* "Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow" (dir. Sophie Fiennes, 2010) @ Film Forum / 209 W Houston (1 to Houston, ACE/BDFM to W 4th St). To witness an Anselm Kiefer work, whether it's an entire installation of mixed-media paintings, dioramas and sculptures or "just" a single piece, is to be thrown into a palimpsest of architectonic history. Fiennes begins with the world-renowned artist's studio and leads us deep within Kiefer's methodology and expression as a postwar master.
* Noveller @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 10p/$10. I've been a Noveller fan since before I realized its one-woman juggernaut Sarah Lipstate was also an accomplished experimental filmmaker and alumni from my university (UT Austin for the win) — I knew her as the axe-slayer Brooklyn's eminent noise-rockers Parts & Labor, and caught her opening for them as Noveller, conjuring these stunning soundscapes w/ just her guitar and effects pedals. Her latest LP "Glacial Glow" takes me back to that night at Union Pool when I first discovered how awesome she is.
* Memory Tapes + CSLSX @ Glasslands / 289 Kent Ave, Williamburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$12. Philly is a hotbed for Nouveau Wavers. Don't believe me? Check Dayve Hawk, founder and frontman for Memory Tapes, who channels the '80s in streamlined pop morsels. CSLSX are more obscure (their first live show in NYC as a band was just last month) but their dreamy disco conjuring is circa '86 bliss w/o the shoulder-pads. w/ BELL
* Yellow Fever @ Mohawk / 912 Red River St, 9p/$7. It was the awesomest thing seeing this local indie-pop trio just totally OWN the Big Apple like two years ago, amid Brooklyn's fertile garage-rock scene. But seeing Jennifer Moore & crew on their home turf is even sweeter.w/ Boy Friend
* This & That Café Vol 5 w/ Metro-Ongen @ Super Deluxe / B1F 3-1-25 Nishi-azabu, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station), 10p/FREE. The quirky venue's recurring multilinear showcase feat. Tokyo's decidedly indie and untrendy '80's-rock quartet Metro-Ongen, whose design prowess is equalled in their hook-driven songwriting. w/ Remedy's Library (pop trio), Shimpei Kashihara (live "suiboku-ga", ink painting) and more.
* "Littlerock" (dir. Mike Ott, 2010) @ Cinema Village / 22 E 12th St (NR/L/456 to Union Square). I'm pretty stoked about this quiet indie film, a tentative tale of love in discovery b/w two Japanese siblings and the titular dusty California town.
* "Final Destination 5 3D" (dir. Steven Quale, 2011) in wide release. The fifth (and hopefully final? Like, unless this one is totally badass?) installment of Death-comes-back-to-get-you in new and increasingly violent ways has a few awesome things going for it: 1) Jacqueline MacInnes Wood. 2) it's 3D. 3) horror god Tony Todd returns as the truth-telling undertaker….or is he? Muah-ha-ha-ha!
* "Cannibal Holocaust" (dir. Ruggero Deodato, 1980) midnight screening @ Sunshine Cinema / 143 E Houston St. In an era of Italian exploitation-style gore films, none reigns so notoriously extreme as "Cannibal Holocaust". From the creepy synth-driven soundtrack to the director's arrest for creating a supposed "snuff film" (its found-footage style and convincing special effects — like the impalement! — definitely didn't help his case), to the genuine animal cruelty. Now, I've only seen this w/in the comfort of my own home, so magnify that on the big screen and you'll not be able to escape the shocking sequences. Not for the faint of heart. ALSO SAT
* The Naked & Famous @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / 66 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/SOLD OUT. I fell hard for these Kiwi cuties, and not "just" for singer Alisa Xayalith. Their entire debut LP "Passive Me, Aggressive You" is essential listening, from lead track "All of This"'s coed vocal urgency to "Girls Like You"'s dreamy soundscapes and the fractured disco of "Punching in a Dream", like New Zealand's answer to DFA.
* Heliotropes + deVries @ Shea Stadium / 20 Meadow St, E. Williamsburg (L to Grand), 9p/$7. This double-whammy of dreamy fill-in-the-blank -gaze, via Travis DeVries and his powerhouse band deVries, and smoky/searing doom-pop via Jessica Numsuwankijkul and Heliotropes is JUST THE THING to float you out of humid NYC and onto some higher plane of dopeness.
* "Bellflower" (dir. Evan Glodell, 2011) @ Alamo Drafthouse S. Lamar / 1120 S Lamar. The "Mad Max" undertones in this contemporary apocalyptic landscape run deep and apparent, but I'm particularly stoked to see the molotov let off by the sexual tension b/w main bad boy and his new "flame". Plus there's something to be said about the custom flamethrowers and muscle cars (just check Mother Medusa in the trailer).
* "30 Minutes or Less" (dir. Ruben Fleischer, 2011) @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St. This high-octane action-comedy is incredibly nerve-wracking if you realize it's slightly adapted from a real incident, i.e. a guy forced to wear a bomb and rob a bank — but Fleischer's film delineates quickly into a nonstop barrage of actually really incredible humor, thanks to "straight man" Jesse Eisenberg and buddy Aziz Ansari, possibly the funniest man on Earth.
* Dum Dum Girls (guitar duo set) @ Mohawk / 912 Red River St, 8p/$15. Plugged in Dum Dum Girls equals gritty West Coast pop, channelling your parents' favorite '60s girl groups. But acoustic they hold their own, 'cos frontwoman Dee Dee has a killer voice and her 'mates know how to harmonize. w/ Mark Sultan/BBQ and Night Beats
* Crisis Hotlines + Ichi Ni San Shi @ Beerland / 711 Red River, 9p. Local punks Crisis Hotlines have a potent 7" of buzzsaw guitars and shout-alongs feat. such fun tracks like "Punch Me in the Face" and "Flying Razorblades". Beerland's calling this showcase "The Holy Matrimony of Pop & Punk", w/ Ichi Ni San Shi providing the former, Crisis Hotlines the latter, and Coyote Slingshot (check their addictive anthem "Go to the Place Where Everything Suxxx and Leave Again") occupying that happy in-between space. w/ Best Fwends
* "Rashomon" (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1950) screening @ IFC Center / 323 Sixth Ave (ACE/BDFM to W 4th St), 11a. One of this epic director's most famous films and the watermark for a memorable detective story: a multiple-POV scenario set in 12th-C Kyoto, and feat. Machiko Kyo (the conflicted noblewoman) and Toshiro Mifune (the wildin' thug) at perhaps their most iconic roles. ALSO SUN
* "The Dark Crystal" (dirs. Jim Henson & Frank Oz, 1982) screening @ Museum of the Moving Image / 36-01 35th Ave, Astoria (E/M/R to Steinway St), 1p. This one always scared me more than "Labyrinth", despite the inclusion of awesome dog-thing Fizzgig. I think it's due to the elaborate animatronic puppets, which I appreciate now for their genus-blurring beauty but freaked me out as a kid. ALSO SUN
* The Naked and Famous @ Brooklyn Bowl / 61 Wythe Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 11:30p/$10. So the Kiwi cuties' big show at Music Hall (see FRI) has been sold out like forever, so they just added this late-night bonus at the relatively smaller Bowl in the neighborhood! The Big Apple brings it once again. w/ Yeasayer (DJ set)
* Warm Up: Black Dice @ MoMA PS1 / 22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City (E/M to 23rd St/Court, 7 to Courthouse Sq), 2p/FREE. Brooklyn avant-electronic collective Black Dice have spearheaded local experimentation since their formation in '97, segueing their earlier hardcore sound into a hypnotic motorik session. Plus a strong showing from Tri Angle Records, incl Cali's oOoOO and Water Borders.
* Kool Keith + Miho Hatori @ 285 Kent Ave, Williamsburg (L to Bedford, JM to Marcy), 8p/$20. Wow, Babycastles just brought the heat by having the indomitable freak-funk poet Kool Keith headline this sweaty bash. This guy is capable of most anything, from porn-bounce to spacey lyricism, but if he starts spitting "Dr. Octagon" you BET the room's gonna go mad. w/ Miho Hatori's New Optimism project and MC collective Nine 11 Thesaurus
* Woods + Ducktails @ Bowery Ballroom / 6 Delancey St (F/JMZ to Essex/Delancey), 8p/$15. Woods manhandle the finest E. Coast instance of psych-tinged freak-folk, in my opinion, whilst co-running the awesome indie label Woodsist. Pair 'em w/ Matt Mondanile's gossamer guitar project Ducktails (now a full-out band!), and you've got one trippy party!
* Oneohtrix Point Never @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 8p/$10. Brooklyn's Daniel Lopatin sweetens his drone project Oneohtrix Point Never by using a bunch of vintage synthesizers to create those unearthly, silken soundscapes. Animal Collective tapped him to perform at All Tomorrow's Parties this past May, if that's any further indication of his dopeness.
* TADZIO @ Club Wire / B1 5-17-6 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku (JR Lines etc to Shinjuku Station, East Exit), 10p/2000 yen. Yeah they're cute, TADZIO's tag-team duo "Leader" (guitars/vo) and Bucho (drums/vo), but don't underestimate 'em. In the vein of Afrirampo w/ a more punk edge, these Sendai girls will melt your mind and elicit stage-diving and swooning. Their debut LP just came out, too.
* C. Spencer Yeh w/ Meg Clixby @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 10p/$10. F-ed up strings, courtesy electronic violin-mangler C. Spencer Yeh and frequent collaborator and bassist Meg Clixby.
* "Blue Velvet" (dir. David Lynch, 1986) 25th Anniversary w/ PBR screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, 10p. A good Lynch film burrows deep under your skin, requiring a hot shower to wash off the visual/emotive grime. This one, at the apex of his oeuvre thus far (before he went all nightmarish w/ "Lost Highway" and "Mulholland Drive"…and like ketamine trip w/ "Inland Empire" — which, mind you, I dug all those), requires multiple hot showers preceded by lots and lots of legendary madman Dennis "Frank Booth" Hopper's booze of choice: PABST BLUE RIBBON! Lock yourself in tight for this bad boy.
* "Kati With An I" (dir. Robert Greene, 2010) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse Ritz / 320 E 6th St, 7p. A girl's maturation amid uncertainty around her high school graduation, set in rural suburbia that, for those of us raised in towns with backyard pools, moderate entertainment venues that doubled as hangouts, and not a whole helluva lot b/w point A and point B, comes off refreshingly relatable. A little indie that works and deserves our attention. w/ dir. Greene in attendance!
* "Immersion!" showcase @ Salvage Vanguard Theater / 2803 E Manor Rd, 7p/$5-$15. Musician/engineer Matthew Burnett curated this challenging showcase of sound's spatiality, utilizing his custom quadrophonic projection system to full effect. Makes me miss ISSUE Project Room in Brooklyn's Gowanus 'hood. Feat. Vanessa Rossetto's "Linet" piece for viola, plus textural sonic experimentation from Christopher Petkus ("A Pale Young Woman Appears in the Window"), Andy Hendrix and Rick Reed and a particularly intriguing water-torture performance b/w Waco Girls and audience volunteers.
* Mikiya Takimoto "Land Space" artist talk @ MA2 Gallery / 3-3-8 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line to Ebisu Station), 5p. The exhibition focuses on Takimoto's photographs of space shuttles, begun in 2009 during trips to Florida, which also incorporate detail shots of jet engines and natural rock formations that resemble one another. Takimoto converses on his practice and experience in the gallery's closing reception.
* "Club Nicola" (dir. Makoto Tezuka, 2011) premiere @ Nicofarre / 1F 7-14-23 Roppongi, Minato-ku (Hibiya/Oedo Lines to Roppongi Station), 12:30/4:30/8:30p/1000 yen. Two reasons I'm focusing on this summer J-Horror detective story, directed by the Neontetra head and son of the famous Osamu Tezuka: 1) the venue is utilizing its 360-degree screens, projecting the film in an immersive environment of cute girls and revenge! and 2) Cay Izumi (Tokyo Dolores) stars as a stylized pole-dancer. ALSO MON-TUES, 8:30p
* Miminokoto + ASTRO @ Penguin House / 3-24-8 Kita-koenji (Chuo Line to Koenji Station), 7:30p/2500 yen. Check the pedigree in underground psychedelic supergroup Miminokoto to understand their smoked-out dopeness: frontman/guitarist Junzo Suzuki played with Astral Traveling Unity, bassist Takuya Nishimura w/ Che-Shizu and the mighty Koji Shimura drummed w/ Acid Mothers Temple, High Rise AND Mainliner. ASTRO is noise king Hiroshi Hasegawa. w/ Uchu Engine (Fumio Kosakai from Hijokaidan/Incapacitants)
* Project FUKUSHIMA! @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 8/10p, $20. The movement FUKUSHIMA!, instilled for humanitarian aid via music mobilization and creativity, is necessarily situated in Japan and curated by three heavyweights: experimental musician Yoshihide Otomo, poet Ryoichi Wago and punk musician MIchiru Endo. However, its reach is global, hence this double showcase by NYC's creative community, feat. The Stone's founder John Zorn, Ikue Mori (electronics), Hideki Kato (bass), Ha Yang Kim (cello), David Watson (guitar), Ned Rothenberg (sax) and many others of the improvising persuasion. Plus Dominique Balaÿ broadcasts the night live over Websyn radio.
* " Cold Fish - UNCUT" (dir. Sion Sono, 2010) screening @ Alamo Drafthouse S. Lamar / 1120 S. Lamar, 10p. Sono's bloodied barrage of domestic violence, deception and dismemberment around a tropical fish store will leave you gutted (pun intentional!). Luckily the Drafthouse serves alcohol, which you might need to propel yourself into the 2nd half, a propulsive ride towards a brutal — perhaps even cathartic — finale. All said, this is a phenomenal work and super-rare to see it uncut off the festival circuit. It'll give you nightmares, but it's worth it. THROUGH THU
* Deerhunter @ Liquidroom / 3-16-6 Higashi, Shibuya-ku (JR Yamanote Line etc to Ebisu station), 6p/6000 yen. Despite their prowess for tightly honed pop tunes, Atlanta's Deerhunter unleash furiously intense live sets, drenched in reverb-saturated guitar and pummeling rhythm. Brooklyn's indie four-piece Morning Benders support (plus they've got a new EP called "Japan Echo")
* Tokyo Boredom x FUKUSHIMA! @ Goodman / B1F 55 Kanda-Sakumagashi, Chiyoda-ku (JR Yamanote Line to Akihabara Station), 5p/2500 yen. A massive benefit concert tied w/ Project FUKUSHIMA! (see my comments on The Stone, NYC, above), feat. a huge lineup of noise, experimentation and lots of guitars, incl. Melt-Banana, Limited Express (has gone?), TACOBONDS, Akai-Giwaku and Kirihito.
* FUKUSHIMA! new music benefit @ The Stone / 16 Ave C (F to 2nd Ave), 8p/. Nonoko Yoshida curated this six-band, three-hour fest that benefits Project FUKUSHIMA! Feat. Rapstar (Paul Wheeler and Justin Veloso's guitar/drum combo), Yukari (flute), Lindenbomber Fleet, John Stanesco (saxophone w/ electronics), Go-Zee-Lah (Kyoko Kitamura and Yayoi Ikawa duet) and Yoshida's own Pet Bottle Ningen trio.
* Little Dragon @ Music Hall of Williamsburg / 66 N 6th St, Williamsburg (L to Bedford), 8p/SOLD OUT. The NYC setting for these Gothenburg lovelies' "Ritual Union" LP release party, all smoky-cool Bristol-style R&B with electro-pop finesse. Count yourselves lucky, ticketholders, as when the Swedes return to the Big Apple it'll be at the massive Terminal 5.
* The Sour Notes @ The Palm Door / 401A Sabine St, 7p/FREE w/ RSVP. The Sour Notes are local indie's irresistible force: they just completed a big tour that returned them to Austin in July (plus self-released their four LPs, since 2008)….and yet, and yet, they bless us w/ a sweet little one-off, part of The Austin Chronicle's monthly "Paper Cuts" live music series, one more chance to be enveloped in hook-driven melodic pop before they set off again.
* The Beat Dolls + Inches to Pixels @ Beerland / 711 Red River, 9p. That The Beat Dolls blend upbeat third-wave ska (their frontwoman Angie Munsey hails from a Dallas punk/ska background) with propulsive garage rock is like they formed just for me. Pflugerville grit-rockers Inches to Pixels remind me a bit of Enon (post-punk hooks, squiggly keyboards, surf guitar). w/ Cities of Enemies
* SCARLET + Plastic Girl in Closet @ High / 4-30-1 Koenji-minami, Suginami-ku (JR Yamanote Line to Koenji Station), 6:30p/2500 yen. Tokyo power-pop trio SCARLET and shoegazers Plastic Girl in Closet both balance tight compositions and rhythm sections with dreamy vocals and just enough guitar noise to get me going. w/ Nudge'em All
* Miku Sasao + the milky tangerine @ Shimokitazawa Shelter / B1F 2-6-10 Kitazawa, Setagaya-ku (Keio Inokashira Line to Shimo-kitazawa Station), 7p/2800 yen. Hokkaido-born singer-songwriter Miku Sasao does this great folk-tinged acoustic thing. She's joined by Tokyo's the milky tangerine, who infuse their indie-rock sound with an intriguing retro vibe. Check "Image Town" and "Shiawase no Butterfly" off their Soundcloud page (http://soundcloud.com/themilkytangerine). w/ Shiho Nanba
* Christopher Wilmarth @ Betty Cuningham Gallery / 541 W 25th St. A startling array of the late genius' etched glass and steel moquettes and drawings. Despite his brief career, few artists conjure such emotional resonance in cold materials and minimalism as Wilmarth (think Eva Hesse, but more contemporary).
* Kal Spelletich "Where's My Jetpack" @ Jack Hanley Gallery / 136 Watts St. The San Fran-based artist received his MFA from UT Austin and went on to found SEEMEN, a collective of "extreme machines and robotics" builders. Which totally figures into his steampunk-ish motorized jetpacks and related source ephemera in this exhibition.
* Luisa Lambri "Certain Variables" @ Luhring Augustine / 531 W 24th St. Lambri has continually focused her lens on modernist residential buildings, but she abstracts them to the finest of details, ever mindful of light, space and shadow. Her latest exhibition documents cyclical changes in unique locations, revealing how the spaces transform for every viewer.
* POWHIDA @ Marlborough Chelsea / 545 W 25th St. Pretty cool: usually Marlborough, like most Chelsea galleries that shun the summer "European holiday", gathers a big-ass group show, which is sometimes dope, sometimes very much NOT dope. This time, though, they gave Bushwick referentialist and "art world vigilante" William Powhida the run of the place. Dear LIST readers: if you find yourself in NYC — and you care even a tiny bit about scenester cultural stuff — you sure as hell better be at this opening, or at least see the show. I foresee performances, sponsored parties, paintings that Powhida may or may not have created, though they will resemble him, because in the end this is POWHIDA's show, the shining beacon in a miasma of counterculture. (ENDS FRI)
* "In the Waitingroom" @ Waitingroom / 3F 2-8-11 Ebisu-nishi, Shibuya-ku (JR Yamanote Line to Ebisu Station). This pretty neat indie Ebisu space fills up w/ like three dozen artists, from Yohei Watanabe and Makiko Nawa to Mayumi Oku and mumbreeze (a collab b/w mumbleboy and Kao).
* Tomiyuki Kaneko "Yokai Substantiations" @ Mizuma Action / 2F 1-3-9 Kamimeguro, Meguro-ku (Tokyu Toyoko Line to Nakameguro Station). The young Saitama-born artist infuses his renderings with traditional Japanese folklore, as he visually confronts the demons of history and contemporary society. (ENDS SAT)
* Mikiya Takimoto "Land Space" @ MA2 Gallery / 3-3-8 Ebisu, Shibuya-ku (Yamanote Line to Ebisu Station). The exhibition focuses on Takimoto's photographs of space shuttles, begun in 2009 during trips to Florida, which also incorporate detail shots of jet engines and natural rock formations that resemble one another.
* "Outside the Garden" @ Art Front Gallery / Hillside Terrace A, 29-18 Sarugakucho, Shibuya-ku (JR Lines etc to Shibuya). I love this gallery: it's near the neighborhood where I stay whenever I am in Tokyo. So earlier this month they mounted a show "Inside the Garden"; now they spin that off into explorations of space and perception. Megumi Sato, Yuri Kabata and Makoto Abe participate, each modifying their usual oeuvre and experimenting.
* "Female Composition 12" @ Gallery Cosmos / 3F 3-1-22 Shimomeguro, Meguro-ku (JR Yamanote/Namboku Lines or Tokyu Meguro Line to Meguro Station). A pretty wicked group photography show where the twelve women artists hand-treated and printed their respective works. Feat. Karen Nomoto, Natsuko, Mayumi Tanaka, Chisato, Rie Oshima, Miki Ishida, Yuki Imaizumi, Kyoko Shimamura, Mari Hashimoto, Mayumi Hidashida, Kimiko Ishikawa and Chieko Ioku. (ENDS SUN)