Reviews: The Sound of Crickets at Night at LAAPFF, The Three O’Clock, King Tuff, JT Habersaat & The Altercation Punk Comedy Tour

Another year, another Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. I’ve attended such fests in the past as a member of the press, as a presenter, as a judge, and as a contributor. This was my first time it was a committee member who helped select the movies that were shown, write synopses for the program, and then introduce movies and conduct post-screening interviews. Honestly, it was a little more work than I expected but how could I say no when I was recruited by my friend/Visual Communications Creative Director Anderson Le? And the festival duties have turned out to be a lot of fun.

Last night I was assigned to The Sound of Crickets at Night. I chose to write the program’s essay about the movie because I Ioved its honesty, rawness, and creativity when I saw the screener. So it was a real treat to introduce the Marshall Islands indie flick, see it on a big screen, and then have a brief chat with co-producer/co-director/writer/gofer Jack Niedenthal. Jack is a really personable and outgoing guy with a fascinating story (visiting with the Peace Corps, staying and entering local politics, becoming a self-taught filmmaker to represent the culture after his young son asked him why there were no movies about the Marshallese) so, really, I just had to hand him the mic and get out of the way. Almost too easy, but more of him and less of me is what the audience came for.

Tonight is the fest’s closing screening of the Japanese dark comedy Key of Life, which will be followed by encore presentations of some of the its most popular movies (none of my pics, oh well) over the weekend. Support indie film! Support film festivals!  Who knows when you’ll get to see these films at the movies, meet the filmmakers again, or surround yourself with like-minded cultural connoisseurs and  patrons of the arts again?


The Three O’Clock – Live at the Old Waldorf
Sadly, I missed the Paisley Underground band’s reunion shows at Coachella, The Glass House, and The Troubadour. But I couldn’t pass up this limited-edition live album, which captures The Three O’Clock at their arguable peak in 1983 with all of the swirling, ripping songs off their perfect Baroque Hoedown EP (one of the first records I ever bought back in junior high) as well as selections from their more psychedelic Salvation Army era (Befour Three O’Clock) and previews of their yet-to-be-released pop opus, Sixteen Tambourines (alas no “Jet Fighter”). The fact that the wafer-thin audio sounds like a bootleg taped off a Walkman will alienate lesser fans and the merely curious–who should pre-order the 20-track anthology with outtakes and demos from Omnivore Records instead–but this is a real artifact and a must-have for fans and survivors of the mod revival like me. [Burger Records]

King Tuff – King Tuff Was Dead
While I don’t have one friend who isn’t addicted to King Tuff’s self-titled perfect garage pop album on Sub Pop, I haven’t known anyone who has possessed or even heard his first album. Until now. The folks at Burger have resurrected their pressing of his impossible-to-find debut LP on Colonel Records and the grooves didn’t even require any dusting. It’s practically fuzz-free compared to his universally loved follow-up but has all of the hooks and melodies. Songs like “Just Strut” and “Animal” come across like an unholy mix of T-Rex and Bob Dylan–or just plain old great, stripped-down King Tuff. If you don’t have the budget to spend 15 bucks on the vinyl you can buy the $6 cassette version like I did since you’ll want to listen to it in your car al the time anyway. [Burger Records]

JT Habersaat & The Altercation Punk Comedy Tour – Hostile Corporate Takeover
I am totally out of the comedy scene and haven’t owned a comedy LP since Dr. Demento’s Dementia Royale. But I can connect to this sampler because of its connections to punk. Beyond having cover art by Raymond Pettibon, M.O.D. and S.O.D.’s Billy Milano has an extended and hilarious gag about being a single guy on tour masturbating into all the black T-shirts that bands would gave him as a bouncer for C.B.G.B.’s  and Riverboat Gamblers’ Mike Wiebe recounts his encounter with The Boss. As for ringleader Habersaat, he is totally aware of his place in punk as well as comedy; when a comedian pal talks about performing alongside The Melvins, Slayer, and Skeleton Witch, he reluctantly recalls hitting the road with emo bands with ridiculous names like Cute Is What We Aim For on the Warped Tour. Meanwhile, his Clash of the Titans story is necessarily listening with the recent passing of Ray Harryhausen. Also features thoughts on lazy protesters, hipster chicks, and Panopticon’s Pet Money Shot by  Mack Lindsay and Joe Staats. [Stand Up! Records]