A Band Called Death – Mark Christopher Covino, Jeff Howlett
Though the story is not quite as fantastic and strange as the other long-missing Detroit musician, Sixto Rodriquez (documented in Sugar Man), A Band Called death has its own sense of mystery and wonder. The band called Death were an all black proto-punk band formed in the early 70s in the mold of Iggy Pop, the MC5 and Alice Cooper. In that time, in their neighborhood, rock n’ roll was about the most rebellious thing a bunch of kids could do. And the Hackney brothers did it well. Their sound is a well manufactured mix of that pre-Ramones, pre-101 Club sound, but with a slightly harder edge to it, like the Stooges if they were led by Phil Lynott instead of Iggy. A Band Called Death’s religious overtones do stick out as being somewhat strange in a story about a punk band and it will likely rankle the non-religious audience, but it’s more of an incidental focus of the film. There were mystic coincidences that brought this story together. The Hackney brothers believe it was faith. I don’t think there is a God, but I do like to think that he would be a guardian of music if he existed, and that he would deliver bands that deserve to be heard to us. (Available to stream)
The Other F Word – Andrea Blaugrund Nevins
When I was a kid, this is the side of punk rock I never thought I would see. Adulthood, fatherhood, sobriety, home ownership; it never even occurred to me. Punk rockers were supposed to be the true Earthly embodiment of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, never growing up, staying drunk and pissed off and young until an untimely drug overdose or something. Punk rockers are punk rockers because of having horrible parents, right? But it’s that fact that actually makes it make sense that they would end up being loving, good guy moms and dads. Still, it’s strange to see Fat Mike (NOFX) spoil his daughter; to see Lars Fredericksen (Rancid) scare the other parents away from the playground because of his tattoos and his hair. The film’s most interesting story though is ex-Pennywise singer Jim Lindbergh, who family life – wife, 3 daughters, dog – is becoming incompatible with his life in a punk band. His bandmates, in their 40s, really are the lost boys, but Jim has grown up. It’s kind of heartbreaking to see from a band perspective, but from an F Word perspective it would be heartbreaking if he stayed a lost boy forever. (Available to stream)
SoundCity – Dave Grohl
This deviates slightly from the punk rock theme, though certainly the famous recording studio SoundCity has seen its share of punk rockers over the years. Bands like Fear, Bad Religion and Rancid have recorded there, but it’s most famous for being the studio that albums like Nirvana’s Nevermind and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ Damn the Torpedoes were recorded in. During its heyday, it was one of the most popular recording studios in the world – and then the digital revolution happened and suddenly people didn’t need it so much. The film’s main focus, aside from the bands, is the studio’s one-of-a-kind that was achieved at the studio. The sound came from two sources: the drum room and the soundboard. Grohl does well for his first film, filling the documentary with every famous name he could find in his rolodex, and one more still: Paul McCartney, who, in a weird way, took the place of Kurt Cobain in an odd little Nirvana reunion that is documented towards the end of the film. It could be argued that the film loses steam once it stops being about the recording studio and becomes about the Sound City jam sessions, but only an idiot would argue that. This documentary is must see if you are even casually a music fan. (Available to stream)
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