Spectrum Check

So I had a busy week at Spectrum Culture. Almost too busy. I’m not sure anyone needs that many of my words.

It started with my latest contribution to the Revisit series over on the film side, a consideration of Wayne Wang’s Smoke. I recently confessed to the site’s editor-in-chief that this is the toughest feature for me to crack, trying to find something freshly pertinent to write about films that I know well. And I want to write about something that’s a somewhat unique selection, not simply celebrate films that have no shortage of advocates. I think I did all right with Smoke, but I worry every time my turn in the rotation comes up.

As for new movies, I wrote about the profound and often powerful new documentary How to Survive a Plague. It’s odd that eras of American life that I well remember can now be viewed as history, forgotten just enough that filling in the details is a vital step. Part of what’s most revelatory about the film is the contrast of the firm but thoughtful fight that was engaged by AIDS activists beginning the nineteen-eighties and the somewhat maudlin recoloring present in much art about the time. Sadly, there are also reminders, such as in the scene in which a man talks about having no recourse within the system when his longtime partner dies, that the same damn battles still being fought decades later.

On the music side, I wrote about the new album from Bob Mould, a daunting task given my long history as a fan. Luckily, the album is terrific, so drawing on that history to inform my discussion of the current work was a true pleasure. And, yes, the album really does remind me of Sugar’s Copper Blue, and does so more strongly the more I listen to it.

I also delivered a review of the sophomore release from the Seattle band Seapony. With this album, I had fewer kind things to say. On first listen, I thought it was fine, but as I dug deeper–a necessity for writing the review, after all–it turned out there simply wasn’t that much of interest there.

Finally, I kicked in a few thoughts on a new song for our regular Montly Mixtape. I wrote about a track from an album that I suspect will factor in the “best of the year” pondering that I’ll need to start soon.

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