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Discover New Music with Great Music Documentaries Available from Kanopy

14 Aug

JohnFahey
I love discovering new music, especially stuff that is strange and forgotten. I’ve spent hours countless digging through the crates of record stores looking for the weirdest albums I can get my hands on. Kanopy has a ton of great music documentaries that have exposed me to artists I would have never heard of otherwise. If you are looking to expand your musical palette to new realms, I highly recommend the following three music documentaries.

Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll
Very few people will go into John Pirozzi’s Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten knowing anything about the vibrant rock and pop music scene in that existed in Cambodia in the 1950s and 60s. Much like how the U.S. and Europe celebrated The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, Cambodia had its own mega-succesful stars during this time who turned the city of Phnom Penh into a flourishing center of the arts. I had previously known absolutely nothing about Cambodian rock music and was blown away by the talent of the performers showcased at the beginning of the film, leaving me to quickly wonder why all of the country’s biggest stars are so unknown.
The modern history of Cambodia is one of tragedy. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. carried out a secret bombing campaign of the country that killed tens of thousands and devastated the rural countryside. Out of the rubble rose the Khmer Rouge, an extremist group who systematically killed artists, musicians, and intellectuals. The Khmer Rouge almost entirely wiped out any memory of the Cambodian rock scene. Many of the most talented performers died in the notorious Killing Fields and the only surviving recordings were ones that were hidden or smuggled out of the country. While the film is ultimately a tragedy, the fact that the legacy of these incredible musicians has finally been resurrected is nothing short of a miracle.

THEORY OF OBSCURITY: A FILM ABOUT THE RESIDENTS
Are The Residents the strangest band to ever exist? Are they even a band or are they something else entirely? Theory of Obscurity documents the Resident’s 40+ year career as closely as you can follow a group whose members conceal their identities with giant eyeball masks and top hats. The Residents have always thrived on anonymity and experimentation, creating elaborate performances that appear more like avant-garde theater than a rock show. Playing a Residents album at a party could quickly clear the room. They are the type of band that takes many listens to “get” if it is ever possible to get them at all. With that said, I think everyone should at least experience this film to see if they are one of the “weirdos” who might be strange (or cool) enough to enjoy the Residents.

In Search of Blind Joe Death: The Saga of John Fahey
John Fahey was an acoustic guitarist who influenced everyone from Pete Townshend of the Who to Sonic Youth. While lots of famous musicians cite his influence, he is little known to mainstream culture, some of which can be attributed to his style of playing called “American Primitivism” which harkens back to the early delta blues and ragtime. Even though he started making records around the same time that rock music was breaking out, Fahey’s playing sounded so rustic that he liked tricking people into thinking he was forgotten early 1900s blues musician named Blind Joe Death. Fahey was also notorious for self-sabotage. He was an alcoholic who was too eccentric, too difficult to work with, and too out of step with the modern world to have material success. Despite his shortcomings, one cannot deny that Fahey was a breathtaking guitar player and entertaining personality. There’s a reason so many musicians talk about him in reverence and In Search of Blind Joe Death makes a compelling case for his importance.  BCCLS patrons also have access to the documentary on DVD.

Written by:
Karl Schwartz
Young Adult Librarian

Solving Murders in Many Languages: TV Mysteries from Around the World

1 May

If you didn’t already know – for all you non frequent readers – I love a good mystery series. I’ve noticed there aren’t quite as many being made in the United States as we had in the past when CSI dominated ratings. So I’ve been delighted to check out all the variety of mysteries from around the world that are available to stream from Hoopla. If you are a Hoboken Resident with a library card click on the links and find your new favorite mystery series.

The Undertaker (Der Bestatter)

Undertaker

all images in this post from hoopladigital.com

The Undertaker is a mystery show from Switzerland that centers around a former detective who left the police force to take over the family’s funeral parlor after his father passed away.  He still has contacts with his old coworkers, but my favorite supporting characters are his cynical mom and Fabio, the gothy misfit he hires after Fabio gave up learning to be a beautician.  There are occasional moments of humor that lighten the darkly serious mood.

Murders at BarLume
BarLume

The older gentlemen who meet up at BarLume can’t keep their noses out of other people’s business.  These quirky characters manage to drag former mathematician and now bar owner Massimo Viviani in on their capers. If you enjoy mysteries, quirky characters, and beautiful Tuscan views, then you will want to check out Murders at BarLume.

Baantjer Mysteries
Baantjer

If your taste runs more towards procedural cop shows, then check out Baantjer Mysteries, a long running Dutch series starring Piet Romer as Jurriaan DeKok who, along with his fellow police detectives, solve crimes in Amsterdam.  The mysteries are based on the novels of A.C. Baantjer.

No Offence
No Offence

This British mystery series pokes fun at some serious issues and its puny title refers to both offence as a crime and the offensiveness of some of the characters.  The first season features a serial killer story line that the mostly female detectives are trying to solve along with other crimes in each episodes.  If you enjoy dark dramedies then No Offence may be your cup of tea.  The series is also available on DVD from Hoboken and other BCCLS libraries.

Also check out my previous posts about the Canadian Murdoch Mysteries and Australian Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and the Russian series The Sniffer.  All three of these series are also available to stream from Hoopla.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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