For Your Consideration

Congress of the Animals. Plus, a documentary on vinyl toys and new music from Helms Alee.


The Vinyl Frontier

Stamp collectors are philatelists. Coin collectors are numismatists. So what are toy collectors? Nerds? The Vinyl Frontier, a new documentary on DVD, interviews all of the biggest players in the urban vinyl toy world, from Frank Kozik to Gary Baseman to Spokane’s own Jim Koch, about the collector culture of urban vinyl toys. The pricey, limited art pieces have stormed big cities, pushing the boundaries of medium and form in visual art. This film discusses what makes a vinyl toy more like a Picasso than a cereal box trinket.


Congress of the Animals

In the world of alternative comics, Jim Woodring is a mystic. His first graphic novel, Weathercraft, was lauded for being told with no dialogue and only pictures, but also criticized for being too metaphorical. Woodring’s characters, for years, have lived in the Unifactor, a place where its dwellers can never change. And in his latest, the heady Congress of the Animals, someone escapes. Change is upon them. What will life be like when it’s never the same? Congress is winning over critics and reinforcing Woodring’s place as an oracle in the wide world of graphic lit.


Weatherhead, Helms Alee

If the cats with lasers for eyes on the cover of Helms Alee’s new record, Weatherhead, aren’t enough for you, then perhaps the gravelly riffs within are. The follow-up to the Tacoma band’s excellent 2009 debut, Night Terror, is an album of surprises: a record that is equal parts pleasantry and assault. The band constructs complex, technical storm clouds (see “8/16” and “Music Box”) — songs that erupt violently before blooming into soft, melodic rolling landscapes of introspective guitar work and delicate harmony. The calm, for Helms Alee, always comes after the storm.