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Mathew New | Weekend

Misfits and monsters

The Best of 2012 (so far)

WEEKEND's staff picks for some of the best releases of 2012 so far.

Music

“PUT YOUR BACK N 2 IT”
Artist: Perfume Genius
Throwing us a softball, Mike Hadreas  launched his album with the music video for “Hood,”  which was banned from YouTube  for its costar, Arpad Miklos,  a gay pornstar, which deemed it not “family safe” (because the rest of YouTube  is an exemplary model for any nurturing household). We were reminded that even in the liberal world of alternative musicmaking, we withdraw into the same Puritanical  bullshit. On the title track, “Dark Parts”  and “Sister Song”  we’re introduced to a morbid (and homoerotic) underworld of inherent gay melancholy. Little did we know that not all queer anthems are candy pop and Madonna sparkle.

“REIGN OF TERROR”
Artist: Sleigh Bells
The sophomore LP can be especially daunting for a band whose debut relied on a sound that was both heralded as unprecedented and almost equally scrutinized as novelty. Sleigh Bells made sure their listeners knew there was more to them than woofer-busting levels on February’s “Reign of Terror,”  swapping blasting-in-the-red beats for squeaky clean double bass drums and more traditional metal elements that can still stun when laid beneath Alexis Krauss’ candy-sweet vocals.

“SWEET HEART SWEET LIGHT”
Artist: Spiritualized
Spiritualized mastermind J. Spaceman  said that taking experimental medication for a degenerative liver disease  while writing his latest album “Sweet Heart Sweet Light”  rendered him perpetually confused — as rel ected by the cover art — but his final product sounds anything but. Never one to aim for less than outer space with his songwriting, Spaceman  wisely lets his massive-hearted, classic rock-reverent melodies and motifs lead the way on one of the biggest-sounding rock epics of a year that has seen many.

“QUARANTINE”
Artist: Laurel Halo
If some music is cinematic, Laurel Halo’s “Quarantine” is filmed in IMAX 3-D. The album is alive with lush textures and precise samples. Halo’s unconventional songwriting and disarmingly flat voice set her apart from her experimental contemporaries. “Quarantine” is a visionary sonic universe meant for getting lost in.

“THE MONEY STORE”
Artist: Death Grips
The first of two records out this year on Epic, “The Money Store” is Death Grips’  hot-blooded follow-up to last year’s stellar “Exmilitary.” The band sutures more genres than make sense to create a blacked-out Frankenstein’s monster of noise. Intense from start to finish, “The Money Store”  is fit for those hot summer nights when you just need to let loose and scream. You have those, right?

Movies

“MOONRISE KINGDOM”
Starring: Jared Gilman,  Kara Hayward,  Bruce Willis
When we were just kids, we knew a world of possibilities not yet rendered impossible. We knew a time before the complications of commitment or the superi ciality of sexual attraction. Director Wes Anderson  remembers this world in vivid detail. With a childlike color palette, absurdist plot developments and a close study of common depressive symptoms, the iconic director does not fail us. But “Moonrise Kingdom”  lays all these cards on the table and deals us a new hand. Buried in the narrative of juvenile delinquents are the bones of every relationship you’ve ever sought as a sanctuary. Scout’s honor.

“THE AVENGERS”
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo 
The Marvel super squad was united on the silver screen for the first time this summer, and it was done splendidly. The producers faced a daunting task interweaving multiple stories and giant personalities. What’s most impressive? Director Joss Whedon  pulled it off. This movie gives the audience a glimpse into each hero’s life, from their uneasy competition for alpha-hero to the potentially world-ending battle/bonding session against alien forces (weird, but awesome).

“21 JUMP STREET”
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum
This is a surprisingly genius comedy, despite the death of a great comedian (fat Jonah Hill) and the casting choice of a man that used to “Step Up”  and ball for “Coach Carter” (Channing Tatum ). The two stars perfectly capture the jock and nerd combo, while appearances from the likes of Ice Cube  and Johnny Depp  give the movie a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

“THE KID WITH A BIKE”
Starring: Thomas Doret, Cécile De France, Jérémie Renier
Pan left, pan right, following the boy who bites, stabs, pedals to find his father. Praise “The Kid with a Bike” for doing little more. Not stylish, not stuntmen, the Dardenne brothers film with élan. Seldom preening, young troublemaker Cyril (Thomas Doret) is exuberantly private. By no means honest, the film at least is ambivalent. Hail its vision of a world in which crisis is and is not averted.

“THE CABIN IN THE WOODS”
Starring: Kristen Connoly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison
What if the best horror movie in years isn’t very scary? Joss Whedon’s  “The Cabin In The Woods”  has its shocks, but the real thrills come from the film’s wit and inventiveness. Putting more spins on the genre than “Scream,” the twists in this ingenious flick come fast, hard and early. “Cabin”  is one of those rare movies that has fun having fun with its audience and delivers on all its promises

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