upcoming releases, sentimentality, and a keen eye may make 2024 the year of keli price

upcoming releases, sentimentality, and a keen eye may make 2024 the year of keli price

You know that feeling when you sit down for a cup of coffee with an old friend. Someone it’s been absolute years since you’ve gotten to know. Part of you is nervous, but when you sit down and start chatting, the ease of the conversation dissolves all the stress and expectations around it. Before you know it, you are involved in their story again, rooting them on as you did before and invested in what is coming their way.

That’s a lot like how my chat with Keli Price, multi-talented creative (writer/actor/producer) panned out. To be fair, it had been since 2013 that I got my first batch of questions in, over a decade since we had connected with excitement over his burgeoning acting career.

In that first chat, we discussed falling into Youtube spirals and music as a really big passion of Price’s. Now, we build upon that chat, touching on his fast-paced emergence into the film production world and the attention to detail a sentimental man will pay to his work.

2024 is the year of Keli Price. If you don’t believe me, he’s currently on season 2 of Rap Sh!t, which is available on HBO Max. Plus, he has 3 film releases headed down the pike, and two east coast teams to cheer into their respective post-seasons, and that’s just the beginning. Below, words from our recent sit-down.

How have things been? It’s been a while!

Absolutely! It’s been a long time, and so many things have happened. It’s so nice to be in touch again.

You’ve gotten pretty heavily into the producing side since we last spoke, though really you have kept your toes in the acting and now producing pools as well it seems!

I was not expecting to get into the producing side the way that I did. It just kind of happened. We made this movie about my great grandfather who had this crazy sports story and people came to the screening and wanted me to produce their other movies. I did and then our company was born.

We make about 5 movies per year in the action space primarily, and we get into other genres too. It was to honor my great grandfather who lived to 100, so I got to know him pretty well.

How did you get involved with the upcoming Hellfire release?

Hellfire is coming out this year, in March or April. That movie stars Harvey Keitel, Stephen Lang, and Dolph Lundgren. It’s a really cool, sort of fun action movie. We got involved on the financing side and we’ve been taking a ride for quite a while with this movie from pre-production through post.

We’ve taken a look at the cut recently and it looks great. Saban FIlms is distributing it. I love them over at Saban, I have a lot of projects with them. They’re great. I’m excited to see what they do with it.

What was the timeline like from start to finish on this particular project? Because the adoring public might not know the ins and outs.

We’ve been involved with Hellfire for about a year and a half. Our highest profile movie Bandit, which was #1 on Apple TV and Amazon Prime and Paramount+ took about 2 years to make also. But it was because it was a period piece and a lot went into it.

The fastest movie we ever made was in 2 months. I don’t know how we did it, it was an enigma and it will probably never happen again. It was a weird scenario. It was called The Curse of Wolf Mountain. I was getting involved in another project and it kind of all fell apart. I just needed a script and I went and I wrote this movie within 2 weeks. We were on set 2 months later.

It’s crazy, but that’s how quick we can go when everything is firing. But it rarely happens that way, it usually takes years to make a movie. That’s just the way that it goes, and you put so much time into it. That’s why our company is so specific about the projects we take on. We know we’re going to be on there for what could be a few years. It could also be a few months, but movies could take time.

It’s true. This leads me to the Murder at Hollow Creek project because you told me that you’re writing, producing, and starring in it. I’ve been flummoxed by people who can do that. You come from a place where you’re kind of looking at every facet of the film. You have empathy with other people involved in the process — How does it feel different than when you are less involved in a project?

That is so true. And specifically on that set, I remember having instances where there were situations with PAs or whatever. I get very emotionally tied into people and their feelings. That’s just the way that I’m built. I’m all about forming connections with people on set, whether you’re a PA, another director, or a producer. To me, it’s supposed to be a safe place where we are literally making this piece of art.

It’s kind of like camp, we’re all together and gearing toward this goal. It’s a really special experience that you can’t explain unless you’re there and it is like summer camp. You make all these connections, you’re there for a couple of months, and then you’re just gone. And sometimes you stay in touch and sometimes you don’t but all of those memories are always there because you’re on location.

Murder at Hollow Creek was the second time that I really wore all three hats. So the cameras are rolling, I’m in a scene because I’m acting in it too. The scene ends and quickly I’m like, “Oh, shit. That light’s about to fall, can we get somebody to…” or, “Oh, God, like, we need to make sure that this actor is getting to set because their plane landed in Texas and they’re supposed to be in Mississippi and there’s a hurricane or tornado or whatever… are they on their way?” It was constantly stuff like that.

We did have an actress that got rerouted because there was literally a tornado in Mississippi. She couldn’t get to Mississippi so I was literally in a scene, I finished the scene and I walked up to the other producers. I was like, “What is going on with Penelope? Is she OK? Is she on her way? Who do I need to call?” So yeah, it’s a different experience. (laughing)

On Rap Sh!t, for instance, I was a recurring character on that show. I would just roll up to the studio and eat my Chinese food or whatever they had that day. They had EVERYTHING at the Sony lot, by the way. The best food. I’m a foodie, so when I’m acting at the Sony studio. There’s Chinese, Mexican, there’s these donuts. They’ve got a Zeppole truck. If you’re a New Yorker, you probably know what that is. (laughing) They’re the best food I’ve ever tasted in my life.

When I’m on that set, it’s so relaxing and a different experience and I just get to hang out with the other actors and not have to worry about making the day or lights falling or people caught in hurricanes. It’s just hanging out, eating Zeppole’s. Every once in a while I get a gig here and there and I’ll take it, and I’ll act, and I’ll love it. But our company, Price Productions, does take up most of my time.

Understandably so! You have so many different projects at any one moment.

I love producing. I was getting into the film business as an actor because that was the only way I knew how to do it. But if I was able to break into the business as a producer earlier on I probably would have. But I just figured I would go on auditions and I could get involved in movies that way. If I wanted to produce, I didn’t know what the first step was.

I made this movie, as I alluded to earlier, about my great grandfather where I wanted to honor him. Ended up going – in 2014 – and just started to shoot. We were at Ellis Island, getting footage there. It started to come together as a film.

Athletes were calling and saying, “We notice you’re making this movie on discrimination in sports, we would love to be a part of it and tell our story.” It ended up being something a lot bigger than I thought it would be. That’s what started our company.

But it was such a learning experience, making On Thin Ice. I packaged it, I financed it, I distributed it. I did everything on that movie – with a great team, by the way. It was really like a family project because it was a family member for all of us. My brother edited the movie. It was my mom’s grandmother, she was heavily involved in that movie. She produced the hell out of it with me. She did such a freaking great job, so it will always be special to me because of that.

How we got it done I have no idea, because we all had no idea how to make a movie. But we did. And that was our first one. And now I make about 5 per year in the action space. But everything I know came from that movie. As you go, you learn more. But that movie I had to dive in and put the talent together and put the financing together and put the distribution together in all these areas that I had no idea about, and suddenly I’m in it. That’s what gave me that education on film production in general.

Well, and also, it’s cool that you set out to kind of honor your great grandfather’s legacy and, in doing that, you kind of created a legacy of your own that you get to now build upon. That’s super dope.

Thank you! I never thought of it that way but it’s so nice of you to say. I guess there are such things as happy accidents, but they’re not really. Because, as I said, I wanted to be a producer and in film my whole life, but making this movie just to honor his legacy, it did kind of put things in place.

Out of all of the characters that you have played so far, which has been your favorite?

I like that question. That is a good question. The one I enjoyed playing… Bobby Love was so much fun to play. Just because it was the two-sider role, a guy that got to put on this facade. It was also my first role so I have to give it a shout out.

Do you have any anecdotes from filming that role that kind of sit with you?

Yeah! It was The Naked Brothers Band, if anyone needs to know. It was my first role. Bobby Love was a famous British rocker but he was really a surfer dude from San Diego. I remember we were having the balloon fight for battle of the bands. We had this scene where I was in a fight with Nat. My band was on stage, his band was on stage and we just started brawling and he was grabbing my hair, I was grabbing him. People were pulling my pants down and my shirt. (laughing) That was memorable.

Working with Richard Dreyfuss on Your Family or Mine was a highlight because I’ve always been a fan, since Jaws and Mr. Holland’s Opus. He was unbelievable in that movie. Such a powerful character and so relatable, too. That scene at the end of the movie when his daughter is on stage and he’s watching in the audience, it’s such a beautiful moment. He’s an incredible actor, so I enjoyed working with him.

It was fun working with David Walton and Dax Sheppard in About a Boy. That was a fun character. Zak on AwesomenessTV’s Side Effects with Lulu Antariksa, Meg DeLacy, Finn Roberts, and Chester See was a lot of fun. We had a few seasons of that series. Going to set with the same people all the time was fun. It’s like Rap Sh!t. When you are constantly going to the same set with the same people it becomes like a family.

Like Rap Shit, Side Effects incorporated music in the main storyline, another passion of yours. That’s great! I actually have a follow-up question to a conversation we had back in 2013. You had mentioned that you would love to work with Michael Fassbender or Robert DeNiro, which I totally agree with. But have your bucket list acting partners shifted at all?

Robert DeNiro is still the same. He will always be, probably, my #1. My grandfather and I talk about it all the time. We watch mafia movies together, we’re New Yorkers. My grandpa is from Brooklyn and he just started me on these movies early on. Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Al Pachino, Joe Pesci. I gravitate, naturally, toward Robert DeNiro. He is one of the greatest actors of our time. I grew up watching all of his movies.

I would love to work with Hillary Swank. She’s my favorite actress, she’s amazing. She’s got such vulnerability and power and she is just captivating to watch. I would add her to the list. Al Pacino, definitely, though he’s always kind of been on the list.

We can’t mention everyone!

(Laughing) Yeah, I know! Fassbender is insane. I can’t believe that was my answer. He’s unbelievable, already a legend.

Well, so seeing that list of people… when you were young, what were you guys watching at home?

Love that question. My Uncle Arthur and his husband Uncle Lenny were like a second set of parents. We were always around them. Lenny was really close with me, and Arthur too, and our entire lives, they would come over and it was always about horror like Chuckie or action movies like Die Hard. And those are primarily the movies we make now.

A Steven Seagal, a Bruce Willis, a Mel Gibson – which we have Mel in Bandit – so I grew up qatching movies like that. With my brother after school I remember Rocket Power and Hey Arnold! on Nickelodeon. Those were my go-to.

You mentioned Die Hard. We don’t have to delve into it, but is it a Christmas movie or is it now in your mind?

So funny. No. It’s not a Christmas movie in my mind. Just because movies are set during Christmas time, that doesn’t necessarily classify them as a Christmas movie. The writer definitely deliberately set it during Christmastime, but that doesn’t make it a Christmas movie. It’s an action movie.

Thank you. Alright. Time to ask you about Mad Props. It’s coming to theaters in February. I saw you worked with some big names on it. So, tell us about it.

I’m so happy that I got involved in that project, it was my second documentary. Like I said, we make a lot of feature films. But it’s been a while since I made a documentary. And I heard this guy’s story. It’s based on this banker in Oklahoma who always wanted to be involved in film, never really got a chance, and loves movies. So he started collecting movie props. Like BIG movie props, like the volleyball from Castaway. Like, Indiana Jones props. He would go around the globe finding the greatest movie props of all time.

Our movie takes us on this journey with him to find movie props. As a creative in the film business, you would get a kick out of it. It’s eye-opening to see how much these props cost, but it’s also like a history of movies too. Sometimes with a documentary subject, you’re not sure how their family will be on camera. But his family is really fun and engaging to watch!

Is there anything right now in particular that is inspiring your work?

My grandma passed in August of 2022. She is always an inspiration for me. My grandma had issues with other people, but she never had issues with me. It was all out of love, everything was out of love. I could play you voicemails where she’s like “Keli, where are you? This is my fourth call. Are you OK? I heard there was something going on in Los Angeles. Are you OK?”

And they’re so precious you never want to delete them.

Yeah, I have like 50 of them. I’m going to see if I can play you one.

**This was the piece of the interview where we paused to listen to his grandmother’s voice over his voicemail, adorable Brooklyn accent and all. We may have both shed a tear or two talking about our families. After a time, we got back on topic by speaking about Keli’s sentimentality:

I’m a very sentimental person, and I always look back at my childhood and things that I did and names of beaches and schools I went to, and I infuse them into my work life. If you look at Murder at Hollow Creek, the antagonist’s name is Bill Brooks. That’s my grandfather.

Aw. He’s an antagonist. How cute!

(Laughing) And my brother’s name in that movie is Nick. His name is Nico in real life. I’m just sentimental like that. So it’s always my family that is inspiring me.

But also, if I watch a movie or a show that can influence me. I’m really into success stories like Steve Jobs. andthat kind of stuff too. Underdogs who experience success inspire me. Steve Jobs, Michael Jordan, Evander Holyfield, Allisyn Felix, Amy Mullins, and more.

OK but yeah, you like sports. Do you have teams?

I love baseball. But I watch basketball and football the most. Die-hard Knicks fan, always have been. They’re my #1. In football, it’s the Jets. I have to pause because the last few years have been a nightmare. (Laughing) Thinking that we would at least have a nice run at The Big Game…

**This was the point of the interview where I identified with his struggles as the fan of a losing team, and we went off on a sports tangent entirely unrelated to this. Spoiler: Keli Price does know enough about professional basketball and football to engage you in lengthy conversation.

Though bummed about the current performance of his teams, Keli ended our chat as graciously as ever. “It was great connecting with you and seeing where you are in your life, and expanding on where I have been. I like doing interviews with people I trust to do great storytelling.”

___

Storytelling like Price does with every production he helms nowadays. If you learn nothing else today, understand that a next wave of independent entertainment moguls is surfacing. These people have touched many facets of the industry, and they want to tell stories with a sense of vulnerability and passion — and have fun and treat everyone respectfully while doing it.

If you haven’t caught up on Rap Sh!t, now is the time. Keep your eyes peeled for the upcoming releases of Hellfire and Murder at Hollow Creek among others over at Price Productions.

they travel at night release inspired genre-bending release entropy

they travel at night release inspired genre-bending release entropy

On Friday, genre-bending duo They Travel at Night – comprised of Chuck Howard and Lou Scanlon – released their debut EP, a 5-track feat named Entropy. Veterans of the industry in their respective rights, Howard and Scanlon’s influence is wide-ranging, a fact that is evidenced by this release, if you weren’t already familiar.

Beginning with the first track “Go On,” you can identify the quirky and endearing ways they enhance their tracks. It begins synth-heavy – like, 80s realm synth-heavy – and blossoms into something that, toned down, just as easily belongs in a 90’s movie. Cymbal-led “Fare Thee Well” changes pace for a while for dramatic effect, and lands more in the “I may belong on one of The O.C. soundtracks” category.

“Moment” begins with a guitar riff worthy of an oughts indie/emo band. The electronic breakdowns at 1:42 and 2:42 are really fun, I’m not sure how anyone could get through this song without a smile on their face. “Into It” builds dramatically, a ballad-like track that could, in my humble opinion, easily find its way to a Broadway musical. Entropy lands on “Colors,” an instrumental track that feels celebratory and squared to welcome success. I feel privileged to welcome false spring with this release in my back pocket.

Check out They Travel at Night’s Entropy below, and let us know what you think over on Instagram and Facebook!

matthew squires releases audible gem wrapped in satire, “poor men southeast of portland”

matthew squires releases audible gem wrapped in satire, “poor men southeast of portland”

Critically acclaimed Austin-based singer-songwriter Matthew Squires has been releasing thoughtful, meandering audible candy for over a decade now. While his work has taken on many forms, his vocal styling and talented lyricism have remained a constant over the years. His latest track “Poor Men Southeast of Portland” was released in January, a self-aware, modern commentary on the American dream.

For context, the song is complete satire, and was written in response to Oliver Anthony’s “Rich Men North of Richmond.” From the perspective of “a parallel universe’s version of Oliver Anthony,” Squires takes us on a ride with tortured vocals and a sense of humor that humbly brings a smile to your face, even with how hard everything seems to be right now. Further explains Squires of the song:

This song was written and passionately performed by Anthony Oliver, a parallel universe’s version of Oliver Anthony.

Oliver Anthony told Joe Rogan that he chose ‘Oliver’ as his stage
name in honor of his grandfather. He was nostalgic for a more
innocent time, when hardworking, God-fearing white men got a little
respect (he forgot to mention how that respect was at the expense of
everyone else’s, or how it was largely enabled by unions).

Meanwhile, in a parallel universe, Anthony Oliver told Roe Jogan his
name was inspired by Casey Anthony. He was nostalgic for a more
innocent time, when Americans could still unite around our fleeting
spectacles, and weren’t yet confused as to which ones were astroturfed
by right wingers.

The lyrics seem like a poignant call for justice. And they are, but in jest regarding privileged white males (who victimize themselves in a world where they have largely benefitted from every oppressive system ever built).

Baby, I’ve been working
for too damn long for too little pay
Don’t know nothin’ bout Marx or Freud
but I know what it’s like to play
the role that someone else designed
to make someone else’s day
but the tree of justice blooms upon
the top of every grave

Love’s a lot like dyin’
Love’s a lot like a Pepsi inside a church
Love’s a lot like flyin’
Love’s a lot like a heaven encased in Earth
Love’s a lot like cryin’
Love’s a lot like the space ‘tween death and birth

Poor men southeast of Portland
awake from their American dreams,
they enlist into the culture wars
to distract them from their screams
about how they feel about their shame
to look their children in the eyes
I guess the tree of justice blooms
upon the question “why?”

The unique way Squires expresses his rage is entertaining, and honestly an earworm. Check out the track below.

jake johnson’s directorial debut self reliance is a fever panic dream (nightmare?)… and we’re smitten

jake johnson’s directorial debut self reliance is a fever panic dream (nightmare?)… and we’re smitten

Run Time: 1hr 25 mins
Streaming: HULU
Genre: Comedy, Action/Adventure, Thriller, Silly Adventure, Buddy Comedy, Mystery
Suggested for: People and pets of all ages. Those who love Squid Games, Hunger Games, hunting, etc. Adoring fans of The Pepperwood Chronicles or other deep cut references from New Girl.

To tell you I know I will watch this movie a dozen times or more over the next 6 months is probably an understatement. Written, directed, produced, and starred in by none other than Jake Johnson (fka such gems as “Shady David Krumholtz” and “a deeply troubled, degenerate Oscar Isaac”), Self Reliance is a comedy thriller that pushes the needle on self-awareness. A heavily nuanced piece, it presents as a little more whacky, with adrenaline-inducing chase scenes and the inclusion of several familiar faces. My twin sister is in town, and it was the perfect way to spend the early hours of our Friday morning with Schmidt (the cat) in tow.

IMDb Description: Given the opportunity to participate in a life or death reality game show, one man discovers there’s a lot to live for.

Tommy (Jake Johnson) is a man not quite taking advantage of the prime of his life. He lives with his mom after a debilitating breakup and sticks to a daily routine that seems rigid and unfulfilling. He wakes up with a picture of his ex next to the alarm clock, rides the exercise bike watching the iPad with no sense of urgency, walks the same route to work, pushes paper at his desk all day, walks to the bar for a drink, and heads home. Everything seems gray, and very purposefully so.

One day, Andy Samberg – another producer on the project is The Lonely Island – pulls up alongside Tommy in a limo. He tells Tommy he doesn’t know why he has picked him up, but that people are waiting for him and the driver takes them to a warehouse where they drop Tommy off and urgently leave. Samberg’s quintessential over-the-top facial expressions and visible discomfort during the scene help to foreshadow a rough go for Tommy.

After following red arrows through a maze of warehouse corridors, Tommy finds himself facing a table of foreign men who tell him he has been invited to play a game where he is being hunted. It is all being broadcast to the dark web. Hunters could find him, but they might not. The only way he can avoid being killed is to stay in close proximity to another person for 30 days. If he survives that time frame, he gets $1 million. Sounds easy, so he accepts.

THIS PARAGRAPH HAS MILD SPOILERS. SKIP THIS SECTION IF YOU’D LIKE.
Until his family hears his story about Andy Samberg picking him up in a limo and offering him a spot in a game where people hunt others for sport. Because he is stuck in a post-breakup depression haze, Tommy’s family – expertly played by Mary Holland, Emily Hampshire, and Nancy Lenehan – thinks his mental health has tanked and he just doesn’t want to be alone. When he furthers their theory about his sanity by physically moving his brother-in-law from the toilet mid-shit to prove to an assassin that he isn’t alone through a bathroom window in the middle of the night, they back out entirely. He recruits a houseless man to live and work with him so he is never alone, consequently loses his job, and is thrown into a hailstorm of a month.
*******************

Joining Johnson in his debut effort is an insanely stacked cast. Aside from the aforementioned, Natalie Morales appears as Tommy’s ex. Anna Kendrick plays his love interest, a woman named Maddy who reaches out when Tommy posts a cryptic Craigslist ad to learn more about other players of this game. Christopher Lloyd makes an appearance, as well as Wayne Brady, Biff Wiff, Boban Marjanović, GaTa – whose work bringing mental health-focused projects to the table has held a healthy balance amidst his music and acting endeavors – and Eduardo Franco, who is pretty much everyone’s favorite human to be around.

My sister, Erin P.S. Zimmerman (a producer, filmmaker, and film critic) had a pointed takeaway from this fun watch. The man who wrote this movie has most likely experienced loneliness and pain, and come to his own existential conclusions. Humor and growth have been found in the process. Through Self Reliance, Jake Johnson has pinpointed the importance of community in the human experience. Though I’m sure the plotline was born from many inside jokes and comedic life experiences – and a flurry of incredible pop culture references – the core of the film is, truly, togetherness.

It is also, in my opinion, a sound testament to trusting your own gut and instincts through life. As terrifying as some of the situations were that the characters found themselves in, they had to work their their own intuition and ideas with the information they had to move forward. Watching these characters pause for thought, and then approach situations with unwarranted confidence is almost empowering. Because, truly, nothing different is happening to the people in Self Reliance than is happening to all of us at any point in our lives. Anything can happen to you at any moment. And you have to work with what you have in that moment to thrive — or even just to survive. Curveballs – like the cryptic messages from GaTa and the P.A. Ninjas – can be thrown your way at any time. You have to be aware and ready to create your own destiny. (You know, instead of meandering about as we all do from time to time for an extended period. Because meandering is cool.)

Another great piece to this film is that Tommy recognizes the people who are helping him pretty quickly. His character even goes so far as to acknowledge them along the way, and it is because he is waking up and beginning to notice the things around him a lot more — see the world more clearly. (You would too if assassins were hidden around your world, trying to take you out as soon as you’re not paying attention.)

A more detailed perspective from Erin:

As someone that works in the production industry, watching how the P.A. Ninjas were presented was lighthearted and hilarious, but also true. Knowing that Jake Johnson has touched many facets of the filmmaking workflow – writer, director, producer, and actor in this movie alone – he went into this project as a filmmaker who has a more well-rounded perspective of the process.

Though the P.A. Ninjas seem like a characature, they are very true to life in that they bend over backwards for everyone, they take care of the people who take care of them, they’re ninjas that seem to do everything and take care of everything. But they are necessary and he brought light to the fact that they are ninjas. It was a nice little nod to workforces in the industry that aren’t often acknowledged by the executives and top-billed cast, or anyone who has never been in their position before.

Coming out of the strikes of 2023, the details in this film seem all the more important as the creative community bands together again to go through a season of productivity.

Self Reliance is a little more fast paced, and it will require a bit of attention to catch all of the quips and references. Johnson’s genius mind will have you second-guessing your predictions, assumptions, and real-time assessments until the very end. Be ready to spot Ellen DeGeneres, Mario, a sumo wrestler, samurais, and more – and question everything you know – on this adventure.

dan levy’s cinematic masterpiece good grief toys with conflicting emotions and comforts viewers

dan levy’s cinematic masterpiece good grief toys with conflicting emotions and comforts viewers

Dan Levy wrote, directed, and starred in his latest creative endeavor, an incredible feature-length drama (But comedy? And adventure? And love story? And platonic love story?) titled Good Grief. Upon first hearing the idiom used as the title of the film, you can identify the double entendre and understand immediately that this film will envelop you in detail. Written in the aftermath of the losses of both his grandmother and beloved dog, Levy’s investment in the film allows you to witness a perspective both so specific and yet incredibly relatable.

Good Grief brings us Marc (Levy) and Oliver (Luke Evans), a beautiful couple residing in London, together for 15 years and living a life of luxury and cohesion. Within the first few minutes of the film, so much attention is paid to Marc’s perfect life. As he hosts a holiday party in their home, his friends keep commenting on how perfect his life is, how attractive and amazing his husband is, and every other shining detail of his life.

The concept of the film is available in every trailer and description, so I go into this without fear of spoiling this detail. As Marc’s husband Oliver leaves the party for a work trip, his cab is in an accident — within sight of their shared home. The film is about how Marc approaches everything in the wake of Oliver’s death. Dealing with the harsh realities of loss, and struggling with the way grief can possess a person’s mind, body, and soul.

While I headed into my early-morning viewing of this impossibly emotional film with the complete understanding that I would weep, I was surprised to find that I did not – in fact – shed a tear. Perhaps this is because of the impossibly difficult pill to swallow that Levy’s character – Marc – is exposed to a year into his grieving process. As one would, he experiences a bevy of new emotions around his realization.

My brain almost felt like it couldn’t keep up with the conflicting pieces of the plotline. Everyone loves Oliver. You want to love Oliver. But Oliver wasn’t perfect, because no one is perfect. How do you rectify his actions, emotions, and thoughts before he passed, when conversations were not had, apologies were never made, and closure was not experienced?

Some of us haven’t had to deal with reconciling our memories of someone we can no longer have closure with. Some of us have. Either way, this film raises so many questions about how personal coping mechanisms can heal us, and how others can be a crutch at times.

Good Grief explores how other people related to the deceased handled the loss in the year that followed. Thomas (Himesh Patel), for example, is Marc’s ex who still carries a torch for him. His supportive behavior leans adoring throughout the film, and you know there will be conflict around it at some point. (How it resolves, and the feelings you go through while witnessing it, is so much more REAL than I had expected, to be honest.)

Sophie (Ruth Negga) is a very close, old friend of Marc’s – the one who initially set him and Thomas up back in the day – who seems to struggle with identity in the year following Oliver’s death. Though the characters refer to her troubled, “messy” ways multiple times throughout the film, it seems to be reaching its peak in that timeframe.

Scene stealer Imelda (Celia Imrie) pops in and out with lessons of her own as Marc’s financial advisor. Her brash attitude makes her all the more fun to peel back the layers on as the story unfolds. And those of us more familiar with David Bradley as Filch in the Harry Potter series will adore him as Duncan, Oliver’s father, who also makes some incredibly notable remarks in the wake of his passing.

Overall, this is a wildly enjoyable watch. It’s so real. Even without tears, I was a pile of emotions and confusion and thoughts. Good Grief is definitely a conversation starter and a story of redemption — for everyone.

walking away from the workweek with the vaccines’ “love to walk away” on full blast

walking away from the workweek with the vaccines’ “love to walk away” on full blast

English indie rock outfit The Vaccines – made up of Árni Árnason (bass, vocals), Yoann Intonti (drums), Justin Young (lead vocals, guitars) and Timothy Lanham (guitars, keys, vocals) – dropped a track today that, at first look, could be considered misleading. The title “Love To Walk Away” gives off the impression that the song will be a positive one, perhaps one about finding empowerment in walking away. However, the lyrics come from the perspective of an outsider – an assumed lover – who is experiencing grief as the result of a crumbling relationship. They watch the runner prepare to run. With lyrics like “How come you’re always leaving?” it is implied that this is patterned behavior.

Sonically, there is a sunny disposition that just does not align with the lyrics, almost making the contemplative message more palatable. (Hey, who really loves confrontation or existentialism THAT MUCH?)

Says Young of the release, co-written with Andrew Wells: “This is the song responsible for the album’s direction sonically and thematically. Given the record’s central theme is not knowing what direction you’re headed in, it feels poignant that the music was so sure of itself so quickly.”

Check it out below.

The Vaccines 2024 US Tour Dates with The Kooks
Feb 29 – Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
Mar 1 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel
Mar 2 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
Mar 4 – Toronto, ON @ QET History
Mar 5 – Montreal, QB @ Mtelus
Mar 6 – Albany, NY @ Empire
Mar 8 – Boston, MA @ MGM Fenway
Mar 9 – Philadelphia, PA @ Fillmore
Mar 11 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
Mar 12 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
Mar 13 – Washington DC @ Anthem
Mar 15 – Chicago, IL @ Riviera
Mar 16 – Minneapolis, MN @ Filmore
Mar 18 – Denver, CO @ The Fillmore
Mar 19 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Union
Mar 21 – Los Angeles, CA @ Palladium
Mar 22 – San Francisco, CA @ Fox Theatre

mouths of babes celebrates life in the sunshine with “world brand new”

mouths of babes celebrates life in the sunshine with “world brand new”

If you’re looking for a warm hug in the middle of this frigid (in some places, trust us) day, look no further than the latest masterpiece from queer folk-Americana duo Mouths of Babes. The duo – comprised of Ty Greenstein (of Girlyman) and Ingrid Elizabeth (of Coyote Grace) – recently released their sophomore full-length, World Brand New.

Today, they launch the title track’s music video – a gorgeous day in the life, really – and we are thrilled to be the premiere spot. Explains Greenstein of the album as a whole:

I wrote World Brand New in 2020 during lockdown. After years of touring constantly, we were trapped in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in Berkeley. To our surprise, being forced to stay home was a relief. For the first time, the whole world prioritized rest and safety. We found ourselves delighting in simple activities: listening to records, hanging out with dogs, taking walks, playing guitars.

While we aren’t exactly ready to celebrate the new year quite yet, this song lifts the expectations for the slow, quiet respite of the holiday season. The sunshine in the music video – which features the duo and a dog, making the world their happy place – really drives home the idea that life can be simple and fun.

The slower pace of life made total sense to us both and reminded us of parts of ourselves and of life that we missed. With this video, we wanted to capture that feeling of just being humans without a lot of expectations and enjoying the analog joys of the world. Fortunately, we had a complete blast making the video with Skyler (Jenkins), so all the shots of us cracking up and making googly eyes at each other are 100% authentic.

Further expands the duo: “We felt like this video needed a dog to be complete, but sadly our dog Kali passed away last November. So we borrowed our videographer Skyler’s sweet senior pup July and she did a bangup job! Her slow, chill energy was perfect for the vibe of ‘World Brand New’ and we were fine with her stealing the show.”

Beauty can be found in the small moments, and this season we are truly ready to experience it all. (With the help of Mouths of Babes, of course.)

cold weather never felt so good until our “cold weather calling” soundtrack

cold weather never felt so good until our “cold weather calling” soundtrack

Well, it seems as though the cold weather is calling. And honestly, it’s been a minute since we curated a soundtrack for your everyday life that pulls in a multitude of brand-new tracks from a variety of genres. We’ve been plotting and scheming for 2024 and, in the meantime, want to ensure we are continuing to bring the best new music finds directly to you. Thank you for your continued friendship and inspiration as a part of this artistic, joyful community.

Well, since we are well overdue, let’s get to it. We scraped around several of our (incredibly full) inboxes. Then we sifted through an abundance of music groups and Google updates. Admittedly, we found some pretty incredible new audible art. The tone of each track brings with it a sense of appreciation. Be it a celebration, an examination of the soul, or a story of love — for anything, really. Some of the most impactful work we have heard lately has included vocal-free tracks. These have allowed us to embrace the magic of man-made instrument, and, often, to indulge in the way said instruments engage with silence.

A fun selection of new work from artists like Byland, André 3000, Kid Cudi, Semisonic, Kalia Vandever, and more await you, in our playlist suited for cold weather below.

Check back in for the latest additions to this fun, genre-hopping soundtrack. And send us your recs! Our Instagram and Facebook DMs are open!

embers truly debuts “energy x 100” with new to: the moon ep

embers truly debuts “energy x 100” with new to: the moon ep

Today, San Diego rock act Embers releases To: The Moon, a 5-track EP that will get you on your feet, jamming out to anthemic melodies about mistakes, intrusive thoughts, and other relatable material. Sleeping with Sirens’ Kellin Quinn guests his notable vocals on the EP’s second track, “eating me alive,” giving this otherwise dark track another intense and beautiful layer.

Explains Embers of the EP: “’To: The Moon’ is a melting pot of my influences using inspiration from pop punk and emo to reflect on mental health struggles, toxic relationships, and emotional turbulence. A step forward from my last EP ‘EMO SZN’, ‘To: The Moon’ finds itself a more energetic place in my catalog.”

And he’s not wrong. The energy is on another level. Get your first listen to the Embers EP in its entirety below.

Recording the EP has been an amazing journey. On my first EP, I was going through such a hard time, and it reflects in the music. I’m so proud of the lyrical content and how therapeutic performing those songs is for me and my fans, from what I’ve been told. This second EP takes the basis of the sound of the first EP, but bumps up the energy x 100. The guitars are bigger and the lyrics are less desperate and stronger to match. I can’t wait for people to hear the new music live.