THIS WEEK

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Ken Richardson Posted: Aug 27, 2013 0 comments

Bob Dylan: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 —
Another Self Portrait (1969–1971)

Archival release (Columbia)
Photos by John Cohen

Music publicity is kinda like medical ethics, in these four words: “First, do no harm.” Which makes Columbia’s campaign for the latest Bob Dylan official-bootleg extravaganza all the more remarkable. Self Portrait, you see, was almost universally derided by critics when it appeared in 1970. You might think Columbia would want to avoid that negative history in the press release for The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 — Another Self Portrait (1969–1971). Instead, the headline brandishes these four words:

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Josef Krebs Posted: Aug 20, 2013 0 comments

Boardwalk Empire: Season 3

This is a story of fathers and sons. As previous seasons have shown, every gangster, it seems, starts as a kid with a difficult relationship with their dad and every hood has an equally important relationship with their boy. James "Jimmy" Darmody (Michael Pitt) stabs his father, Commodore Louis Kaestner (Dabney Coleman).

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Ken Richardson Posted: Aug 20, 2013 0 comments

John Mayer: Paradise Valley

New release (Columbia; tour dates)
Photo by Sam Jones

John Mayer takes another journey into the Americana he explored on last year’s Born and Raised. No wonder. Paradise Valley is named for an area not far from his home in Montana, a refuge that obviously gives him great peace, inspiring him to create music that’s closer to the land. And in further evidence that Mayer has turned a new leaf after the hiatus that was necessitated by his throat surgery and his sometimes out-of-control verbal and physical behavior, this new album is all about understatement.

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Ken Richardson Posted: Aug 13, 2013 0 comments

Sam Phillips: Push Any Button

New release (Littlebox)

You make modern accommodations from audience reaction
Stereo realist
Disconnected exposure meter

Start counting everybody
It's gonna blow
Pretty Time Bomb
You're a mirror of your times

Not the average opening lyrics of your average chanteuse. But then, Sam Phillips has never been anyone's average singer/songwriter, as she herself acknowledges: "I never could go with the crowd / Even though they seemed to know where they were going."

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Ken Richardson Posted: Aug 13, 2013 0 comments
Also: Glen Campbell, Chastity Belt, Mickey Hart Band, Béla Fleck, Nirvana vinyl, and more.
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Josef Krebs Posted: Aug 13, 2013 0 comments

Shane

A cartoon I once saw depicted a middle-aged businessman staring out of his corner office window and crying out in desperation, "Shane.

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Josef Krebs Posted: Aug 06, 2013 0 comments

Oblivion

Based on director Joseph Kosinski's acclaimed graphic novel, Oblivion is set in the post-apocalyptic future in which an invading alien army is beaten but only through the use of nuclear weapons that leave the planet uninhabitable.

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Ken Richardson Posted: Aug 06, 2013 0 comments

The Civil Wars: The Civil Wars

New release (Sensibility/Columbia)
Photo by Allister Ann

From great suffering comes great art. So they say.

Need more proof? Just spin the self-titled set from the Civil Wars. It’s the follow-up to their acclaimed 2011 debut, Barton Hollow. There will be no follow-up to this album, however. As The New York Times has reported, Joy Williams and John Paul White aren’t talking to each other.

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Josef Krebs Posted: Jul 31, 2013 0 comments

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

As if the 2009 blockbuster G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra didn't have impressive enough earnings in grossing $302 million worldwide box office, its follow-up, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, surpassed it with a $320 million take (aided by the surcharges this time for a 3D viewing). At this rate, if G.I.

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Ken Richardson Posted: Jul 30, 2013 0 comments

Harry Nilsson: The RCA Albums Collection

Archival release (RCA/Legacy)

This week, it’s archival stuff first, folks, prompted by the appearance of this 17-CD set. It has always fascinated me, in a “Yesterday” vs. “Helter Skelter” kind of way, that Harry Nilsson was an artist who could create both the sweet 2-minute tune “Me and My Arrow” and the yowling 7-minute rocker “Jump into the Fire.” But that was indeed Harry, and the full range of his compositional (and interpretive) craft and art can be heard here.

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Josef Krebs Posted: Jul 23, 2013 0 comments

The Ice Storm

This 1997 tale of middle-class conformity and malaise, directed by Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain) tells of the Connecticut suburb of New Canaan circa 1973, a land of bored, half-hearted adult experimentation with long-term relationships and casual sex while their youngsters experience their own first exci

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Ken Richardson Posted: Jul 23, 2013 0 comments

Van Dyke Parks: Songs Cycled

New release (Bella Union)
Photo by Roman Cho

This is the first new album credited to Van Dyke Parks alone since 1989’s Tokyo Rose, but the dozen tracks are actually the A- and B-sides of six singles he released on his own label, Bananastan, in 2011 and ’12. Furthermore, whereas four of the A-sides are indeed new-since-1989 original songs (and another track is a co-write), five selections are arrangements of traditional, folk, or classical material, and the remaining two are re-recordings of earlier Parks compositions.

On paper, then, Songs Cycled is a hodgepodge. But when did we ever listen to Van Dyke Parks on paper? Fact is, the 12 numbers miraculously form a coherent whole — an album that, true to its creator’s longtime ambition, celebrates the glorious sound of music.

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Posted: Jul 23, 2013 0 comments
This 1997 tale of middle-class conformity and malaise, directed by Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Brokeback Mountain) tells of the Connecticut suburb of New Canaan circa 1973, a land of bored, half-hearted adult experimentation with long-term relationships and casual sex while their youngsters experience their own first exciting and troubling attempts at the same.
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Ken Richardson Posted: Jul 16, 2013 0 comments

Court Yard Hounds: Amelita

New release (Columbia; tour dates)
Photo by James Minchin

It’s instructive to remember that Emily Robison and Martie Maguire helped co-found the Dixie Chicks in 1989, a full 6 years before Natalie Maines was invited to join. Oh, and of course, Emily and Martie are sisters. Clearly, they have a bond that won’t break, and they use it to their musical advantage on Amelita, the engaging follow-up to their 2000 self-titled debut as Court Yard Hounds.

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Josef Krebs Posted: Jul 16, 2013 0 comments

42

42 is so schmaltzy, clean-cut, clean-living, and well brought up that it makes sentimental 1940s-made baseball biopics with Jimmy Stewart (The Stratton Story) or Gary Cooper (The Pride of the Yankees) seem positively cynical and bawdy in comparison.

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