“Tomboy” by Panda Bear
Review by Arianna Vinion

Lay down in the dark.

Press play.

Let the music become the world you inhabit.

This is the ideal way to listen to the newest trance-inducing album by Panda Bear (aka Noah Lennox). “Tomboy” is a musical odyssey into expanses of inorganic sound, droning beats and washed-out vocals.

“Tomboy,” Panda Bear’s third album and April 11 release, is not as much a step away from his most recent solo album, “Person Pitch,” as a development. “Tomboy” carries over the chorused echo vocals and watercolor-washed sound, but adds to it an awareness of dubstep and a darker, nebulous sound.

This growth is evident in the song “Slow Motion.” The beat and bouncing, dub-y bass synth anchor the swooping and fluttering of unnamable noises — chimes? Kites? Mysterious beasts in the bushes? Though a bit over the top, the vocals stay synched simplistically with the beat, giving the ears a path to follow. The simplistic melodies and beats that serve as the focal point of “Tomboy” are the album’s greatest triumph. Without them, listeners would be lost in the woods.

Like its name implies, “Tomboy” is an album of dichotomies. It is unquestionably new music, taking advantage of the best in music technology, yet it has a nostalgic sound that ages it back to the Beach Boys in songs like “Surfer’s Hymn.” The song washes in as a grainy memory, as if you’re watching the seashore on Super 8, and culminates in a joyous frenzy of shakers, darting electric xylophone and a hymnal-sounding chorus.

While the surreal carnival of “Last Night at the Jetty” and the blood-pumping beat of the titular song “Tomboy” will most likely make it onto most listeners’ playlists, the quiet gem of the album is the eerie and contemplative “Scheherazade.” The piano and vocals on this track are the most organic elements on the album, and even they warp into rippled vibrato while ghostly chimes sound in the breath-like wind.

This is not a simple album. It can’t be quickly devoured. Savor its complex palette more with every listen. Preferably on nice speakers, and in chronological order.



Illustration by Matt Boblet.

“Battle: Los Angeles”
Review by Mitchell Bates

Aaron Eckhart is easy to like. Perhaps it’s his boyish good looks, or maybe it’s his effortless charm. But, for an endearing actor who so memorably co-starred in the blockbuster “The Dark Knight,” this movie seems like a poor career move.

In “Battle: Los Angeles,” Eckhart stars as a grizzled marine staff sergeant forced to complete one more mission before his retirement. Eckhart lost men — good men — in past battles and struggles to earn the respect of his new platoon. Sound familiar? It probably should. Honestly, I could write a book on all the plot points “Battle: Los Angeles” has stolen from other movies.

After a strange meteor shower is revealed to be an alien invasion, Eckhart and his team of vaguely familiar B-list movie and television stars are assigned a mission to rescue civilians from a police station. Along the way, they meet Michelle Rodriguez of “Avatar” fame, who has again reprised her cross-movie role as, well, essentially just Michelle Rodriguez.

Unsurprisingly, this particular platoon of marines experiences unparalleled success during combat with the alien invaders, and eventually succeeds in destroying the aliens’ command center. What happens in between isn’t really important, but it involves a fair share of rigid, annoying dialogue and small-scale combat with various aliens.

The movie’s inexperienced director, Jonathan Liebesman, does have an eye for action sequences. But his decision to employ the ground-level, shaky, handheld camera approach to cinematography is too reminiscent of “Black Hawk Down” to make this film memorable.

I tend to like corny, over-the-top action movies, but “Battle: Los Angeles” is just another one of the rehashed, uninspired films that have recently plagued theaters. Four of my friends fell asleep during the movie, and I only toughed it out to write this review. If you’re going to see it at all, get really drunk first — it might make the experience a bit more bearable.