Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Looking and listening

A couple of really great music documentaries have passed before my eyes this week - if you're looking for something to watch that is both visually interesting and musically inspiring, check out either of these:

Jeff Tweedy, Sunken Treasure

It will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog to find the Wilco front man's solo acoustic DVD on this list, but even for those who are not rabid Wilco-philes, this DVD is well worth checking out for its gorgeous cinematography and the between-set interviews with Tweedy himself. The doc essentially takes you on the road with him as he plays a series of venues along the Pacific Coastline, splicing the live performances with sympathetic-yet-realistic images of America as seen from a tour bus. Meanwhile, Tweedy ruminates on the nature of being a professional musician and displays a depth you don't normally associate with rock bands. An example: "Everybody suffers. The world is built on how well you cope with your suffering, how well you transcend it and move past it, and what you learn from it." Check it out.


This beautifully crafted music documentary about Icelandic band Sigur Ros is as much a documentary about social and economic conditions in Iceland as it is about music. The documentary follows the band as they return to Iceland to perform a series of free, unadvertised concerts, many of which take place in unusual venues in small villages throughout rural Iceland. (One performance appears to take place on an abandoned fishing tanker.) The band's lush, expansive indie-pop sound (they are one of the few bands for whom I advocate use of the term "emo" and consider it high praise) creates the perfect soundtrack for the cinematic tour of Iceland. Again, interviews with the band are spliced throughout, but what really lingers after watching this doc are the faces of the Icelandic villagers of all ages who show up at town halls, empty fields and abandoned fishing tankers to hear the music. You come away with an appreciation for Iceland as an impossibly lovely and mournful place, and perhaps the only place in the world where Sigur Ros's classical-music-on-the-moon sound makes perfect sense.

The best part? You can watch the doc in its entirety on YouTube completely free. Don't miss this.

Happy watching!

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