Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rachael's Top Ten TV Shows of 2009

I know a hell of a lot more about television than music. See for me, music is still very much a mystery to me. I cannot comprehend how a person can create such magic and I'm the first to admit that I still have much to learn. Television, however, is very familiar to me. As a tiny tot I was watching British soap operas, and at 10 years old the Walsh family felt like close relatives. And while I've been very close to this medium for a very long time, 2009 completely wowed me with a real move towards sophistication and utter creativity (and hopefully away from bad reality TV). Watching television can no longer be considered a passive activity -- it may even (gasp!) make you think.

1. Lost
The opening scene of Season 5's finale sealed the deal: there is, and may not ever be, a show like Lost. I cannot wait to see how this grand saga finally plays out -- and you can bet I'll still be dissecting (and watching) these episodes for many years to come. Who knew time travel could be so much fun? Thank you Damon. Thank you Carlton. And thank you every Lost fan out there -- for making this show such a frustrating treat.

2. Mad Men
Many complained that this season was far too slow, but for me this show has always prided itself in an incredible build up. And what a release it was -- from the incredible performances of Jon Hamm and January Jones (that kitchen scene was unreal) to the thrilling season finale, Mad Men paid off in a very big way.

3. Bored To Death
Oh Jason Schwatzman, how I love thee. Team up with Zach Galifianakis and Ted Danson on a show set in Brooklyn that's equal parts funny and clever and you really can do no wrong. Thank you, Jonatham Ammes and HBO for bringing this new show into my life (and renewing it for season 2 already!)

4. Fringe
I couldn't imagine how J.J. and his team could follow up a season finale like Fringe's season 1. I mean, that last shot totally blew my mind. But thankfully, this serialized drama is still mixing this massive overarching story line with little one-episode plots that keep you coming back for more. And when John Noble and Leonard Nimoy come head to head in some version of our reality, I'll be there, on the edge of my couch with extreme anticipation.

5. Dexter
If it was not for the final three episodes of this season, Dexter probably wouldn't have been on this list. It was a torturous season,which in retrospect was probably intentional given Dexter's own mindset. John Lithgow gave a hell of a performance as the Trinity and caused serious anxiety when he walked into the Miami Metro Police Station that day. But of course, it all came to fruition at the dramatic end, a shocker that no one saw coming. When a show takes that risk, and even makes its loyal viewers mourn a character they mostly hated -- all I can say is bravo!

6. Skins
I didn't want to embrace a brand new cast, but I had faith in the awesomeness of this show. And look at that -- I wasn't disappointed! While I sincerely miss the old clan, Effie and this messed up bunch provided just enough (if not more) drama to keep me watching. If you aren't watching this show, you are really missing a no holds barred gem that could only be created by our friends overseas.

7. Rescue Me
Tommy, Tommy, Tommy. There really is no other character on TV that you give as many chances to as you do with Tommy Gavin. He'll screw up left and right, and then screw someone else left and right and no matter what you are still rooting him on. Which, of course, made that last shot (literally) so hard to bare, and this wait between the last season of this remarkable show pretty damn rough.

8. Modern Family
I have never laughed so hard at an ABC show in my entire life -- and that's a feat in itself. Dare I say it's a bit reminiscent of another fav Arrested Development? It'll never quite live up to the oddity of that show, but the pace and definitely the laughs and easily comparable.

9. Glee
My friend Conor explained this show perfectly: High School Music meets Election. There's something for everyone -- attractive people singing and dancing, hilarious quips from Sue Sylvestor, and a whole lot of dark humor for all you odd balls out t here (myself included). I'm pretty sure the majority of Americans that watch this show aren't picking up on those twitsted subetlies, but that's fine by me -- anything to keep this show on the air!

10. True Blood
I watched this season's premiere without ever watching the show before and was instantly hooked. It was the perfect perscription for Sunday nights in the summer -- a guilty pleasure that refuses to take itself seriously and is all the better for it. I often compare it to my adult TV version of Goosebumps, as each final moment kept me wanting much more.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Rachael's Top Ten Movies of 2009

Hellooooo (oooo) (ooo) (ooooo)

I know it has been a while. I feel like I have started every post in the past year with that statement. I'm not going to make excuses about why I don't really blog anymore, sometimes you just lose interest, or mostly time (in my case). I'm glad I still have the option to get on this space and share some opinions once in a while, so don't worry -- Underrated will never be gone for good. Over the next week or so I'll be providing some top ten lists. I'm sure there are a ton of better ones out there, but if you care -- here's how I spent my last year.

Rachael's Top Ten Movies of 2009

1. An Education

With Carey Mulligan's brilliant performance + Nick Hornby's long-overdue first screenplay + one of the best soundtracks I've heard in a long time, An Education was an easy choice as my personal favorite of 2009.

2. Up
After 10 minutes, there were tears streaming down my face, but at the end I was cheering along. Providing a full scale of emotions in this wonderful Pixar film, Up is yet another sophisticated animated film that totally knocked me off my chair.

3. Inglorious Basterds
There really isn't a Tarantino movie I haven't liked, and this ambitious movie showed why I love this director so much. It was a heavy story to tell, but I don't think anyone could have done it so well -- the ending scene? I couldn't turn away as much as I wanted to!

4. (500) Days of Summer
I'm a total sucker for all things romantic comedy, but I like to see an effort in this easily repurposed genre for something truly unique. Thankfully (500) Days Of Summer was more charming than cheesy, and with many a fun tunes to boot.

5. The Fantastic Mr. Fox
I was a bit surprised when Wes Anderson announced he was making an animated film. Would kids get his type of humor? The answer was a huge YES for creating a classic kids tale in a way that anyone would feel part of the adventure.

6. The Hangover
Two words: Zach Galifinakis

7. Funny People
Many people panned this Judd Apatow flick, but I found it an ambitious attempt at expanding his audience. Sure, it wasn't perfect (the last 3rd of the film could have been cut down drastically) but I appreciate this ode to comedians and their complicated lives was sweet and real, and yet Mr. Apatow was smart not to stray too far from what made him famous.

8. Star Trek
It's a commonly known fact that I obsess about anything J.J. Abrams related, but I never was a total geek when it came to Star Trek...until now. This was everything I wanted this movie to be -- didn't take itself too serious and a ton of fun. Plus, it was fun to see some Felicity alums make cameos. Ah, J.J. You are my hero.

9. Where The Wild Things Are
While watching this film, there were times that I had to remind myself that I was in a movie theater and just watching a movie on the screen. I became so involved in Spike Jonze's world that I almost forgot this was just a story and this wasn't in fact real. It reminded me why I loved this book so much as a kid, and I wasn't at all disappointed by this fantastical film.

10. Away We Go
The plot itself wasn't anything spectacular, but the performances and feelings associated with this film really made it stand out. John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph were so subtle in their actions that it almost felt invasive to be part of their story line. And as great as the two of them were, it was really the supporting actors that became the stars -- I'll never look at Maggie Gyllanhaal the same way again.

Monday, September 14, 2009

I'm back on the decks...

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Vote for me....please?

If you have a few minutes to spare on, it would be a HUGE help if you could go to the website below and give me the thumbs up for a panel I am trying to put together for next year's SXSW.

You will have to register with the site in order to vote, it will prompt you to create an account when you click on the thumbs up. It takes just a few minutes to sign up, and the if you receive any future emails from them I give you full permission to unsubscribe (there's my email marketing lingo for y'all).

Please pass on to your friends/family if you don't mind.

Thanks in advance!!!



If you aren't already registered it will ask you to create an account.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Tumblr Away

I get bored of things way too easily, so we'll see how long this lasts. But for now, you can find me posting away at the new Underrated Tumblr.

Click here to check it out: The Underrated Tumblr

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mid Evenings With Jay Miller

This is how I like to spend my Thursday nights...

That was the opening video last week and the evening only got better from there.

Mid Evenings with Jay Miller is a weekly show at Martini Red on Staten Island that features comedians, musicians, and special guests (last week was an amateur wrestler). Think of it as a Tonight Show with actual jokes and stranger guests. Jay Miller is hilarious...I've consistently left with my cheeks hurting from so much laughter.

FYI -- The place gets packed each week, so be sure to get there early for a seat!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pool Party Fail

Looks like the beer tent at the Pool Parties couldn't handle the storm.

I'm glad i sat this one out!

(Photo by Mike Grubbs)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

So Insane

I've officially decided that Discovery's LP will be top 10 albums of 2009, if not top 5. The side project of Ra Ra Riot's Wes Miles and Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij is so deliciously poppy that there's no reason to turn it off. From a MJ cover (RIP) to the brilliant opener "Osaka Loop Line", these two boys have produced a unique conglomerate of nostalgic funk and ultramodern electronic. This is the soundtrack to the summer, ladies and gentleman - 100% guaranteed. I sure hope that this Discovery project isn't a one time deal because all I want is more.

Check out some tunes below on this nifty player, and links to buy the album are below. Trust me, you will not be disappointed!

Buy on iTunes or at Amazon immediately.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Mission of Burma, Fucked Up, Ponytail & Jemina Pearl | Pool Parties 2009.07.12

Pool Parties 7.12.09

I couldn't have been more excited for the first "Pool Party" of the summer, this year at Brooklyn Waterfront. For the past three years, these events have been a staple in my summer weekends, having the luxury of spending the day outside with free music and hipster watching. I frankly was thrilled to hear that the pool was getting a new location -- the vast amounts of concrete and lack of shade was not a friend to my Irish skin. Down at the waterfront there still was a good deal of concrete, but luckily there was some grass and a nice breeze from the beautiful view of Manhattan. Plus, I remembered sunscreen this year.

For a day filled of sets from bands I wasn't completely familiar with (other than Mission of Burma who I saw last year at Pitchfork) I ended up having quite a fun time. Up first was Jemina Pearl of Be Your Own Pet fame, who's spunky tunes made for a great kick off to the day. I was surprised at how melodic her songs were, and impressed when hearing it was their first official show. Sure, there were some misteps here and there, but their energy under the hot Brooklyn sun sure made up for it.

Jemina Pearl @ Pool Parties 7.12.09

Ponytail was up next, and I think I may have caught them once before as I remember asking Pat how old the lead singer was. Not totally my type of music, I still enjoyed seeing a crowd go bonkers with each new sound emoted from her voice.

Ponytail @ Pool Parties 7.12.09

The most surprising set of the day goes to Fucked Up who, if you know my musical taste at all, usually wouldn't be my cup of tea. But I can't help but encourage bands who give it their all, and lead singer "Pink Eye" did just that. Playing most of the show from the crowd, I was in awe of his dedication as he poured sweat and tears all over the hands and faces of the kids up front. Like I said, the music itself wasn't exactly what I'd listen to on a rainy day, but they put on one hell of a show.

Fucked Up @ Pool Parties 7.12.09

Next up was headliners Mission of Burma, who I decided to take in from side stage sitting in a nice green pasture. I couldn't help but be distracted from the incredible views the Waterfront offers of the Manhattan skyline. And while listening to the band, I couldn't have asked for a better closing to the day.

Mission Of Burma @ Pool Parties 7.12.09

All in all, it was a great start of what looks to be an incredible line up of shows. Hopefully the crew will think twice about the roped off beer area (boo) and provide more choices of food (sorry vegetarians, you'll find no luck here). There were definitely some aspects of the original location that I'll definitely miss (long live slip 'n slide) but I'm definitely embracing the change!

Pool Parties 7.12.09

Friday, July 10, 2009

dark winters wear you down, up again to see the dawn

Ah, vacation. There are few things better than getting out of the city and escaping to places where the water is that surreal shade of blue and everyone waves hello. I had the pleasure of heading out of town, and have the sun burn to prove it! And when I got back, I think I finally realized it was summer. It wasn't until I headed to the first Seaport show that it hit me.

For the past few years, summer has always been a time where I've tried to spend as much time outside at free concerts. It's pretty remarkable how many shows are open to the public in this city, and I do not want to take it for granted! From the Pool Parties to the Seaport, and everything in between, there's nothing better than having a cool drink in your hand while checking out some great tunes. I'm particularly thankful this summer, as I've been a bit out of the loop with all these cool new bands that now I'll have a bit of a crash course into what I'm missing.

Tonight I'm heading to the Seaport for the Pains of Being Pure At Heart. Diggin' this band and excited to see them live. Come on down and help me celebrate this beautiful weather and summer in the city!

  • The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Come Saturday[mp3]
  • The Pains OF Being Pure At Heart - Everything With You [mp3]
  • Friday, June 12, 2009

    The More I See The Less I Know...

    Yesterday was one of those strange days where everything seemed a little off. I was late for work for the first time in years (I'm one of those rare breeds, a morning person) and from then on in I just didn't feel right. Life has been a bit busy lately, as I've started taking classes two days a week after work in web design. In retrospect, I probably should have picked a different semester other than the summer to try and tackle on all these things, as every other day it seems like someones having a baby, getting married, or making some other large life decision that warrants a celebration.

    As soon as I made it home last night, all I wanted to do was throw on comfortable clothes, pour myself a huge glass of water (I was thirsty, ok?) and veg out on the couch. I finally watched this week's season finale of Weeds and by the episodes end I was off my feet dancing around like a chicken with its head cut off (luckily Pat was out so he didn't have to witness this moment). Why, you ask? Well the episode ended with this fabulous "dance" number with a song called "Say Hey (I Love You". Since then, I haven't been able to stop listening.

    Check out the video of the scene here.

    However, the point of this post (sometimes I find one) is that I am djing tomorrow night for the first time in what seems like forever and I'll probably play that awesome tune above (see the correlation?) The night is to celebrate the release of second EP Restaurant Airport. I caught the boys last month for the 1st EP party (there will be 3 in this series) and it was surreal to see how they've transitioned over the years. Their new work is really something to get excited about, and judging from the turnout last month, I think tomorrow is going to be a pretty crazy night.

    More details on the event can be found here and make sure you download Restaurant Airport (FOR FREE) before coming out to the show.

    DOWNLOAD: Restaurant Airport

    See you tomorrow!

    Wednesday, May 27, 2009

    The air is feeling good to me, just as cool and ripe as air can be

    I can't remember the last time I saw Jukebox The Ghost. I have a feeling it could have been exactly this time last year, when I offered to do merch for the funny little trio when they opened up for the Wombats. Okay, so it wasn't exactly a year ago but it was pretty darn close.

    I had just turned 24 and was unemployed. I didn't have the greatest of greatest birthdays, in fact I turned into that rare form of myself when I drink to calm nerves or anxiety and I can't seem to shut my mouth. Or refrain from yelling at strangers who just wanted to play foosball. Either way, I remember heading to the show a bit down in the dumps and by the end of the night there was a faint smile on my face. There are a few bands that can evoke that reaction, and Jukebox the Ghost is most definitely one of them.

    (However, now I realize that wasn't the last time I saw them, but for the purpose of this blog post I'll continue.)

    So I remember the band wishing me Happy Birthday. They may have even sung, but my memory is failing me quite a bit. And less than a week later, I landed a great job that I'm still at now. Am I saying Jukebox the Ghost is magical? Absolutely.

    Come see the magic tonight at Bowery Ballroom. Yes, those boys who I called my new favorite band all the way back in 2007 have hit the big time. Hope to see you there!!

    Thursday, May 21, 2009

    I Know Which Way To Run

    As soon as I wrote that post yesterday I wanted to delete it, but I suppose that would go against everything I wrote. I'm a bit out of practice I suppose.

    I've found myself oddly addicted to this solitaire game on my iPhone. When I say oddly addicted, I really mean that it's an unhealthy obsession. I can't seem to go more than a few hours without playing this Pyramid game, where you have to match each card with its opposite (Queens with Aces, Jacks with 2's, 10's with 3's and so on). It's all very therapeutic, I suppose, matching everything up it's in right place until they are all gone could be some inane metaphor for my life.

    In other news, I'm attending what could be classified as my most anticipated show of 2009: Antlers/Cymbals Eat Guitars/White Rabbits at Bowery Ballroom. Have you heard the White Rabbit's new album, It's Frightening? It's calling out for a horrible pun in that it's frightening how much I love it.

    This is probably why I stopped blogging.

    Watch this instead:

    Wednesday, May 20, 2009

    The Burning City Smoking

    So most days I can't put to rest the burning city smoking in my mind
    And I play pretend the principals are nothing more than actors running lines
    And I stumble through a movie set where torture victims laugh
    An abandoned journalist who juggled knives and daggered glass
    While they entertain the marble Heads of State and CEO's
    Oh whoa oh woh
    I stagger past anarchist extras through saloon doors painted gold

    I attended this panel recently about publishing and I remember someone saying, "If you love to write you'll find a way to do it." That line lingered in my mind for a few days, as I thought about coming to this page, or any blank page, to try and form some thoughts. I wrote posts in my minds, found lines from songs and subway stations that I found interesting, but not enough to sit and write them down. It's funny. There was a time not too long ago when you couldn't tear me away. It defined me. It was what I aspired to, longed to do, and when I got it, I no longer wanted to do it anymore.

    I had struggled to find the point where it all just stopped. I now blame the fact that I finally started writing professionally, in a profession that I dreamed about for years. It was there that this act of expressing thoughts in words no longer appealed to me. I was writing about things I didn't know or didn't love, and felt like I was never good enough or would ever be. I know I'll look back last year as as a major turning point. My life was dismantled, this dream job wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and everything I knew to be true was dispelled. So I changed courses, moved out of the city, and found a new job. One year later, I am starting to feel the urge to return to writing, for the right reasons.

    Walking through Manhattan these days is more than a scrapbook of memories. I've tried to take time now to look around me instead of rushing from place to place, remembering the late nights, the apartments, the roommates, the gigs, the bands, the shows, the streets, the bars, the friends -- all these things that have affected me, for better or for worse.

    I almost prefer that no one really reads this blog so much anymore. It makes it easier for these self-deprecating posts. There have been little signs in the past few months that reminded me of just how far I've come, of the years that are now adding up, and the back and forth of every day life. I'm not quite sure if there was a point to all of this, or to any of that, but it's nice to have the space, even platform, to work it all out.

    So that's that. I'm still listening to the exact same bands I was listening to a year ago. There's plenty of other more informative, and definitely entertaining out there. But I can't deny that I once was, or always will be, a writer. So every writer needs their page and this one happens to be mine.

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