The Movies
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The Movies

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The best kept secret in music


"Review of American Oil"


The Movies
American Oil
Houston Party
In December 2003, I reviewed an astonishing post-punk album, cleverly titled In One Era Out the Other, by a Bostonian/Los Angelino quartet named The Movies. I had never heard of the band before, but I became an ecstatic fan in under 30 minutes. That’s how long The Movies’ flawless album of anglo-influenced post-punk mini-epics ran. Although released in Europe in 2002, In One Era Out the Other first hit U.S. shores on domestic release near the end of 2003. I have waited eagerly for a second album by this terrific group, and I finally found it on Spanish import at Ha’Ozen Ha’Shlishit (The Third Ear), Israel’s most famous indie record store, on trendy Sheinkin Street in Tel Aviv.

American Oil didn’t capture me instantly like In One Era Out the Other, but after a few listens, it won me over, and I enjoy this album more with every listen. American Oil is a louder, more urgent approach to post-punk than The Movies’ debut album, and the vocals here are more dominant. The first track, “Rock in the Slingshot,” opens with a surprising combination of swirling keyboards and heavy beats. Lead singer Timothy James sounds even more British on this album than on the band’s first release, and his repeated chorus of “We put the rock in the slingshot / Rock in the slingshot” fuses anger with determination.

“North Star” combines the aggressive tone of “Rock in the Slingshot” with spacey bleeps that imply The Movies may have spent some time listening to Air’s Moon Safari. There is also a hint of Wire’s influence in “North Star.” Brian Cleary’s organ lines on “Peck the Chick” soften the band’s harsher sound, and James sings more dynamically. The similarities to Echo & the Bunnymen, which were present throughout In One Era Out the Other, continue here, especially on the track named after the band’s lead singer. Yet, I cannot overstate how fresh and unique The Movies’ compositional style is; the band exposes its influences but never sounds derivative.

The album’s title track, a slow, lilting guitar masterpiece, carries vivid visual imagery with it, due in large part to the synthesized waves of sound in the background and the amusing lyrics: “I’ve been waiting to say this for so long / I struck American oil / My car’s electric but I can’t start it.” The most obscure piece on American Oil is “Ed (I Can’t Find Those Lyrics).” As a former Green Card holder, I have to smile when James educates listeners with “Oh my Green Card is pink / And my passport is blue” between wild, screeching keyboards and guitar feedback. The least-inspired track on the album is the repetitive, simple “How I Learned to Drive.”

On the other hand, “The Man with Two Hats” is the album’s most moving creation. Interpreted by James in a contemplative manner, the song appears remarkably like some of Kevin Wright’s work on his exquisite English pop/folk album, Looking for Mr. Wright, which he recorded under the name Always. The Movies’ rhythm section – Jessica Gelt on bass and Stevie Treichel on drums – is especially effective in setting the mood on “The Man with Two Hats.”

The album’s other outstanding track is the clever and sad “If I Had the Cash.” Treichel’s overwhelming beats and Gelt’s bass lines again realize the emotional scope, as Cleary follows their lead with brooding, restrained keyboards and James sings: “I’m dollars in debt / If I had the cash / I’d pay my friends back / If I had the cash / I’m dollars in debt / If I had the cash / I’d cut my losses / If I had the cash / I’d buy a diamond / Just to scratch my ass / A Lamborghini / Just so I could crash.”

The song that closes American Oil, “Dougie,” is structured somewhat like “Peck the Chick” but sounds more like a plea whereas the former is a directive. “Dougie” combines many of the best instrumental, lyrical, and vocal elements of the other nine tracks on American Oil and leaves listeners eager to hear where The Movies will head on their next release.


"Review of "In One Era..." Spledidzine"

There are two kinds of songs on this album -- the pretty midtempo ones and the spastic, post-punk-inflected ones. The Movies pull off both with equal conviction, and the result is not awkward and lopsided but charming, unpredictable and bordering on perfection. Guitarist and primary vocalist Timothy James's previous band, The Vehicle Birth, dealt in skewed math-rockisms; The Movies, on the other hand, distill a roster of influences ranging from Magnetic Fields to The Wake and Joy Division, resulting in impeccably tasteful, painterly mini-masterpieces. If that sounds too dry, I've misled you -- this foursome is fun. Keyboardist Brian Cleary pours swirls of color into songs like "Midnight Bloody Murder", which dodges tepidity thanks to his oscillating brushstrokes. He builds a wall of heavy synth and wave-like effects on "Truth Knocking", and dusts "Secretariat" with flakes of keyboard ephemera. It's a gentle, gorgeous tune, as good as the Field Mice's best, with James's voice at its deepest, most Ian Curtis-like pitch.
The Movies let loose on the awesome "Don't Steal My Licks", darting from slices of broken guitar in the verse to a wildly catchy refrain. Here James is terse, repeating four lines: "went to the store / I bought it / you can't steal a giveaway / don't steal my licks". His hyper-animated delivery and the band's fervency build in intensity as the song progresses; you'll wish that it lasted longer than a paltry two minutes.

It's a testament to the band's versatility that the slow songs are as compelling as the faster ones. "Creation Lake" sounds very much like the album's other slow jams, but James and bassist/co-vocalist Jessica Gelt set it apart with a fragile melody (again, but a different fragile melody this time) and poignantly wistful lyrics ("there're 24 parts in a day that divide me from you").

In One Era Out the Other borrows from some currently trendy musical touchstones, but it is so singular, and executed with such restrained grace, that it never approaches crass co-option. It might never become the sleeper hit that it could be, but it's definitely the kind of record that you can accidentally fall in love with.

-- Justin Stewart -

"Quotes from "In One Era" reviews"

********PRESS for U.S. Release (Summer 2003)*********
"charming, unpredictable and bordering on perfection."
"Impeccably tasteful, painterly mini-masterpieces" "It's a
testament to the band's versatility that the slow songs are as
compelling as the faster ones." "definitely the kind of record
that you can accidentally fall in love with..." See full review.

Delusions of Adaquecy

"a stylistically diverse and brilliant album, a record of high
quality without a weak track." "...filled with two- and three-
minute epics that suck you in with the first note. The Movies
prove that post-punk is alive and well, and they do so with the
genre’s best offering in years." See full review.

Reviewed by LMNOP
"Very subtle, very effective." "The band is playing from their
own peculiar perspective...sounding very much unlike other
current underground bands." "This disc is difficult to describe
to say the least. Yet the more we hear it....the better it

J Church Newsletter - Fall 2003
"This sublime pop is irresistible. Every note and snare pop seems
deliberate and organic at the same time creating the kind of
friction that makes records like this challenging."

********PRESS for European/UK/Japan release (Spring 2002)*********

Men’s Magazine (Germany)
“One of the best discs of the year” (Spain) - Listed #2 in the Top 20 of 2002
"distills the dismal romanticism of Joy Division and the English
scene post-punk in an elegant and sensitive design. Songs such
as 'Right Equipment’ or 'Creation Lake’ are simply irresistible.” (France)
“for a few months, the disc has returned regularly on my
turntable, and develops its disconcerting, innocent and
mysterious charm to with it.” (Spain)
“Deserves to be listened to at least twice with maximum attention.”

- Various

"Recommended over Beck"

Saturday's Pick:
Eagle Rock Music Festival (Free) – On Colorado in Eagle Rock. - The Movies (8:00PM), The Parson Red Heads (6:00PM), Future Pigeon (8:00PM), Kind Hearts & Coronets (10:00PM), Great Northern (9:30PM), Monsters Are Waiting (10:30PM) - Here’s another chance to pay a lot of money and see Beck or to go see the Movies for free. Hooray for the Movies.


LATER - his review of the Beck show and the Movies show:

Beck @ Club Element - Concert Review

Dear Bek,

What happened to you? In the mid-to-late nineties you were one of the most original musicians in the world. You had a rare combination of creative and professional drive that few artists share. When I started seeing you Joey, Smokey and Justin were the backbone of your band. It was a total party atmosphere and you left the audience wanting more. You brought fun back to live concerts for a lot of indie rockers like myself. After Smokey and Joey left the band, you surrounded yourself with more people. Along with the horn section you added soul singers, etc. While I missed SH and JW, you still put on great shows during this period. I thought the soul singers were totally unnecessary because I was there to see you. Then you toured with the Flaming Lips. While the timing wasn’t really right (given the dour material you were performing) at least it was unpredictable and interesting. It helped that you seemed very emotionally involved with the music (and played some great covers). In the end I was still there for you (and the songs).

In the past year I’ve seen you three times. The first time was at the El Rey. I blamed your lackluster performance on breaking in a new band and the bad sound at the El Rey. You didn’t seem too together but I figured the band’s chemistry would improve after a tour. You added Ryan Faulkner around this time. He reminded me of a younger version of you. He had your (former) energy and danced wildly (like the way you used to dance). Once again, I pay my money to see you, but I guess if you’re too tired to dance, I understand. The next time I saw you at the Wiltern. This time you were joined on stage by puppets. My attention was temporarily drawn away from you towards the puppets, but since you weren’t playing behind a screen, I did glance over at you. I couldn’t help but notice that you looked completely miserable. You barely acknowledged the crowd. We paid good money to be entertained and wanted to see a Beck show. The puppets might be great in a video, but they didn’t distract me enough not to notice how bored you were. After that show I blamed the lackluster performance on the distraction of the puppets and the Wiltern’s bad sound.

Then there was last night. It’s time to take responsibility. Instead of playing Orange County or Pomona (like before previous tours) or the Echo or Spaceland (where tickets are free/cheap) you decided to charge full price for tickets at Club Element. I’d never heard of Element, but I figured I’d check it out. Turns out it’s a cheesy nightclub with overpriced drinks, overpriced parking located in the heart of Hollywood. Your set started out fairly promising with a new song. The energy from the stage was higher than the last couple of times. Ryan Faulkner was there again to represent young Bek. The crowd seemed unusually restless and my attention started to drift. I noticed that the acoustics resembled a barn. There was a weird speaker setup with a second set of mounted speakers half way back. I couldn’t hear anything so I moved back by the sound board. It wasn’t any better and I was hearing exactly what your sound guy was hearing. You played some sad songs then a string of new songs. I can’t tell you if I liked them or not because the sound was so awful and you looked so bored standing up there. I’m assuming you did an encore, but I can’t say for certain because I went over to Boardner’s to see The Movies who have a singer with stage presence and charisma. My mood immediately improved. Once again I feel like a sucker for buying such expensive tickets for your “special club show” but I won’t make that mistake again. The worst part is that I’m sure with Ticketmaster, Goldenvoice, Club Cheesedick, your managers/publicists/agents/stylists, the IRS, your church, band etc. you probably lost money on the show. It doesn’t need to be that complicated. Had you walked around the corner with me to Boardner’s you would have seen a lot of people (including the artists) having a great time. Do us all a favor and learn to have fun again. The Movies could definitely show you a thing or two.
Your (former) Pal,
Duke -

"Live Review"

See "photos" - jpg of live review - see "photos"


"In One Era Out The Other" LP
2002 Houston Party Records - Barcelona, Spain
2003 Gern Blandsten Records - New York, NY

"American Oil" LP
2005 Houston Party Records - Barcelona, Spain


Houston PartyAutumn Sampler 04

appearing with: Broken Social Scene, The Capitol Years, Rogue Wave, The Shins, Iron & Wine, etc.

Houston Party6x100. CD.

appearing with The Shins, The Capitol Years, The Long Winters, The Posies, Death Cab For Cutie, All Night Radio, Portastatic, Pernice Brothers, Kim Fowley, Superchunk, The Postal Service,

Houston Party 20vs.5
20th Anniversary Compilation - Limited
Release for ROCKDELUX Magazine, Spain
April 2003 Issue

Features 20 selections, including The Movies "Creation Lake"

Houston Party "Sampler 5"
appearing with: Snowglobe, The Postal Service,
,Fruit Bats, The Tyde, The Rubinoos, White Flag,
Beachwood Sparks

Houston Party "Sampler 4"

1. The Movies: "Creation Lake"
2. Captain Soul: "Looking For Love"
3. Death Cab For Cutie: "Why You'd Want To Live Here"
4. Beezewax: "Ballad Of The Beaches"
5. Ze Malibu Kids: "Outer Circle"
6. Beachwood Sparks: "The Sun Sorrounds Me"
7. Bevis Frond: "Lifelike"
8. Cotton Mather: "Marathon Man"
9. Splitsville: "The Love Songs Of B. Douglas Wilson"
10. Jean Jacket Shotgun: "Gimme Gimme"
11. The Tea Servants: "The Man Who Rests His Soul"
12. The Posies: "Fall Apart With Me"
13. The Shins: "Caring Is Creepy"
14. Dakota Suite: "The Way I Am Sick"
15. Jon Auer. "Tears"
16. Buddy Greco: "Lovely Way To Spend An Evening"

The Movies recieve airplay in INDY 103, KPFK and KXLU in Los Angeles. They have also charted high on college/indy stations internationally.

"In One Era..." was listed as #2 on (Spain) in the Top 20 of 2002 and hailed as "One of the best discs of the year" by Men's Magazine in Germany.

Listed in Ben Gibbard (Death Cab)'s Top 10 Celebrity Plalist on Itunes.


Feeling a bit camera shy


The Movies started in Boston in early 1999 by Timothy James (former singer/songwriter/guitarist of The Vehicle Birth [Crank Records]). Shortly after forming, in September 99', they briefly re-located to Washington DC and hooked up with drummer/old friend, Steven Triechel (Pines of Nowhere, The Aerialist) and recorded their full-length CD "In one era out the other" with Jonathon Kreinik (Trans Am, !!!, Ted Leo, etc.) at National Recording Studios in four days on a shoestring budget. After the recording, they moved to Silver Lake in Los Angeles where they all live today.

"In one era out the other" was released by Houston Party Records (Barcelona; European label for Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, Postal Service, Iron & Wine, etc.). Soon afterwards (April '02), Houston Party released the CD in Europe, UK, and Japan. In October, 2002 the label and 6 sponsors brought The Movies to Spain for a 2-week tour of the country.

“In One Era” was again released in North and South America and Australia in June, 2003 by
Gern Blandsten (Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Radio 4, Liars, Watchers, Rye Coalition, Canyon, etc.). See Music to hear MP3s (live and studio).

The next album, "American Oil" was recorded by Phil Manly of Trans Am (the song "Dougie" also features Trans Am drummer Sebastian Thompson on percussion). The album was recorded--also in a few days--after touring with Trans Am and A.R.E. Weapons through the south. The album was released in early 2005 by Houston Party Records, followed by another tour of Spain in late January where the Movies played with Luna, Matthew Sweet, and former Weezer bassist/singer/songwriter Matt Sharp.

In the summer of 2005, The Movies were awarded "Best Pop/Rock Band" (as opposed to best "Pop Rock Band" by L.A. Weekly Music Awards.

The Movies are currently playing live in L.A. and developing/recording material for their next album in their new home, Chermak Studios, Burbank CA. For more info, contact Mary Rahmani at