This is Staff Picks, a monthly round-up of what staff at The Capital City Weekly and Juneau Empire are reading, watching and listening to.
Every month we’ll recommend our favorite music, movies, TV shows, podcasts and books.
These are our November picks.
What We’re Watching
Ben Hohenstatt, arts and culture reporter, “Wildland” (Movie): This documentary was co-directed and co-produced by Juneauite Kahlil Hudson. It takes a look at the band of misfits who fight and prevent forest fires. While it is a PBS production, the movie isn’t dry or didactic. “Wildland” is fairly gritty and was made for the Independent Lens series is more person-focused than didactic. It’s available to stream online through PBS’ website.
Angelo Saggiomo, digital content editor, “The Haunting of Hill House” (Netflix series): What better way to get in the Halloween spirit than binging this terrifying 10-episode haunted house creep show. Created and directed by horror film veteran Mike Flanagan, and based on the novel of the same name by Shirley Jackson, “Hill House” follows the Crain family as they experience paranormal occurrences and tragedy from their time living in an old mansion. The show’s narrative moves back and forth from past to present as the Crain siblings confront their inner demons from childhood. I still haven’t finished the series because I can’t watch more than 1-2 episodes a day — it’s THAT scary! (Update: I’ve finished the series and can’t wait to watch it again!)
Alex McCarthy, reporter, “Big Mouth” (Netflix series): When I needed something to relax after the chilling cliffhangers on “The Haunting of Hill House,” I usually put on an episode of this animated Netflix series that stars Nick Kroll and John Mulaney as pubescent boys. While the first season was a bit raunchy, this second season is even more willing to dive into the dirty minds of teenagers. A constant in this season is the embarrassment that often comes as one’s hormones go wild (or stay dormant for longer than others).
What We’re Reading
Ben Hohenstatt, arts and culture reporter, “Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001–2011” by Lizzy Goodman (Non-fiction): I’m finally getting around to reading this oral history of the turn of the century rock revival that came out last May. There’s insights, funny anecdotes and self-aware stories of scuzzy rock star excess told in the words of the people who were there, including members of The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and many others. It’s a must-read for music lovers.
What We’re Listening To
Angelo Saggiomo, digital content editor, “A Star is Born” (Soundtrack): A film this good deserves an epic soundtrack, and Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga deliver. We all know Gaga can sing, but who knew Cooper could belt out tunes as well. The 19-track album ranges from anthem rock and country tunes to catchy pop songs and memorable duets, including “Shallow,” a sure bet to win the Oscar for best original song. Standout tracks: “Black Eyes,” “Always Remember Us This Way,” “Look What I Found,” and “Heal Me.”
Kevin Gullufsen, natural resources reporter, Kurt Vile, “Bottle it In” (Album): Vile’s inimitable brand of psychedelic folk-rock is perfect for coping with the existential dread of a rainy fall day in Juneau. “On Bassackwards,” the baggy, looping 10-minute centerpiece to this album, the melancholy is savory as Vile sings “The sun went down, and I couldn’t find another one… for a while.” The Philadelphia solo act compares well to Nick Drake or Bill Callahan, and turns in the same audio orbit as former collaborator The War on Drugs.
Alex McCarthy, reporter, Titus Andronicus, “Home Alone on Halloween”(EP): This three-song EP takes listeners on a half-hour journey into a hard-rocking darkness that includes spooky sound effects, a Bob Dylan cover and a 17-minute song that includes more than 1,200 words in its lyrics. The “Only A Hobo” cover is a sparse, gritty take on a little-known Dylan cut, and “Home Alone (on Halloween)” is basically the catchiest song from their last full-length album with a seasonal twist. Titus Andronicus isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and this EP in particular might have a fairly niche audience because of the length of the songs. Punk fans with a long attention span might get down with this one.