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The Pipettes, Faves 2007, Cutout Bin, Thanksgiving   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, November 22, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with THE PIPETTES!  Chances are I saw them last night at the Double Door (where Barry Jive and the Uptown 5 play at the end of High Fidelity; spoiler alert).  Having reviewed their gig at the Empty Bottle in June, I'm guessing I'll still think they brought the house down -- and the video links there still seem to work.  There is actual video from that gig on the Tube now -- pretty dark, but a clip like "Pull Shapes" shows the energy these women brought, even in a sweltering, packed club.  (Update:  Another fab show, though the pre-holiday crowd was more subdued.)  Anyway, rather than rehash that review, I'll note that the discerning Frank Yang was won over by their latest gig in Toronto, esp. because his review makes a point similar to the one I have made about Pate (in the liner notes to the box set) and a select few other bands, like the Replacements (Westerberg, anyway), Guided by Voices and the Hold Steady.

The Pipettes, similar to these bands (albeit in their own way) are thoroughly post-modern.  Frank characterizes them as calculating yet genuine, which captures the idea that they (and the other bands I mentioned) really think about what they do in a field where authenticity is prized and tends to be equated with pure emotion and an anti-commercial attitude.  Particularly, they aspire to artistic and commercial success (of some magnitude) in the sub-genre of indie, which generally attracts those most likely to reflexively dismiss The Pipettes' act as phony or manufactured.   As Frank notes, they do not take themselves or the act too seriously -- even though the indie audience usually wants its bands to have some level of gravitas.  And if those were not big enough challenges, The Pipettes can veer from pure pop fluff to deliberately melding pre-feminist girl-group music with second-wave feminist lyrics.  It is quite the juggling act, yet The Pipettes make it seem near-effortless.

FAVES 2007:  I occasionally hear from folks who want to know what -- from among all of the posts I do here -- I recommend.  To some degree, I recommend all of it, unless I expressly write otherwise (e.g., it's not my thing, but it might be yours).  With the holiday shopping season upon us, I have tried to make a list of reasonable size.  It's an unordered list, some of which is not readily available in the US, and I likely will have overlooked something that I really dig.  And some of these are grouped together, because that's the way they occurred to me at the moment.  And note these are my faves; I'm not purporting to list the "Best" albums of the year.

THE PIPETTES, for the reasons stated above, I obviously recommend We Are The Pipettes, which became easily available in the US this year. Like Frank Yang, I would recommend Lucky Soul's The Great Unwanted, which is in the same retro ballpark though more Northern Soul than girl-group pop.  Unfortunately, it's an import-only at the moment, so maybe I'll list Lucky Soul again next year.  The same is true of Candie Payne's I Wish I Could Have Loved You More, the title track of which could have been the theme to a Bond movie in the 60s.

SPOON:  The commercial success of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga horrifies some hipsters, but it does not deter me in the slightest.  The LP retains Spoon's trademark minimalism, with an occasional nod to the warmth of the classic Van Morrison albums.  I have the same general attitude toward the double-bounce success of Feist, whose Reminder hit the charts in the Spring, only to return in the Fall with that iPod Nano ad as a reminder.  And, for that matter, the meteoric success of The Arcade Fire's Neon Bible.

SHARON JONES and the DAP-KINGS: 100 Days, 100 Nights puts just enough mild twists on the classic soul sound honed on their first two LP's to let you know they aren't resting on their laurels after the Dap-Kings backed Amy Winehouse to international stardom (and infamy).  Similarly, Bettye LaVette got nice, gritty backup from the Drive-By Truckers at The Scene of the Crime.  Ryan Shaw, whom I mentioned on Monday, also rolled out the retro R&B this year.

THE GO! TEAM:  Proof of Youth may not make most "Best of" lists, but it was no sophomore slump, either.  It is metaphorically like The Cars' Candy-O -- arguably a notch less than the debut, though hard to say whether that assessment is due to the loss of the element of surprise.  Ian Parton cites Sonic Youth and Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts music as touchstones, which is my musical version of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  They are still "Doing It Right."

BEIRUT:  Paralleling the prior entry, The Flying Club Cup was a nice follow-up to Gulag Orkestar -- not veering from the Gallic and Slavic-influenced sounds of that breakthrough LP.  Cabaret pop of a slightly different flavor turned up this year from the Pale Young Gentlemen.

DUNGEN:  Paralleling the prior entry, Tio Bitar cannot shock the way Ta Det Lungt did, but you'll be hard pressed to find a better Swedish psychedelic rock album this year.

JENS LEKMAN:  Speaking of Swedes, Jens Lekman hit it out of the park with Night Falls Over Kortedala, his second proper album, iirc.  Unlike Dungen, he sings in English.  Sad songs, funny songs, sometimes both at the same time.  Songs like "A Postcard to Nina," in which he tries to play the beard for a lesbian friend at her father's house.  It's one of my favorite songs of the year.

THE NATIONAL:  Boxer lacked the dramatic range of Alligator, but its subtlety gives it legs, able to withstand heavy rotation.  If Paul Miller still owned a record store, it would be the sort of LP from which you could sample bits of its brilliance as it ran all day in the background.

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS haven't made a bad album yet.  Challengers is another album I could listen to for hours without tiring of it.

OKKERVIL RIVER:  The Stage Names may have disappointed some who wanted another helping of angst in the style of OR's excellent Black Sheep Boy album (and its appendix).  But the somewhat lighter tone here shows a versatility that helps cement Will Scheff's rep as one of rock's better songwriters.

CARIBOU:  Paralleling the prior entry, Andorra sounds more like a modern take on what Syd Barrett would have sounded like fronting the latter-period Zombies.

WILCO will probably suffer a bad case of hipster backlash on "Best of" lists this year -- both for the less experimental sound of Sky Blue Sky and for licensing a bunch of its songs to VW.  But a decade from now, will we care about either issue, or appreciate the way the latest lineup can cross The Band with Television?  It being Thanksgiving, here's the bonus track, "The Thanks I Get."

WHITE RABBITS garnered blog buzz a-plenty and landed on Letterman for bringing a funky Caribbean edge to the sharp songs on Fort Nightly without sounding like an 80s ska revival band.  Nicely done.

THE WEAKERTHANS are another band I discovered via Chromewaves, though I suspect I would have found the Reunion Tour album after Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn began championing songwriter John K Samson.

PANDA BEAR:  Person Pitch was often likened to a modern indie take on Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson, which pretty much guarantees I'm going to like it.  Indeed, I liked it more than Strawberry Jam, the latest album from Animal Collective (of which Panda Bear is a member).  I'm sure that's probably heresy in some circles, but I live without fear.

RICHARD THOMPSON:  The darkly witty songwriter and guitar virtuoso transcends genre, and thus tends to get overlooked by most.  NPR has a concert from his Sweet Warrior tour for your streaming pleasure.

CUTOUT BIN:  This Thanksgiving Thursday's fortuitous finds from the ol' HM are: "Bob Dylan" - Those Fabulous Sixties; Scott McKenzie - San Francisco; Echo & The Bunnymen - People Are Strange (The Doors); Peter Sellers - Hard Day's Night; The Beatles - Here, There And Everywhere; Yo La Tengo - Fourth Time Around (B. Dylan); Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash - Girl of the North Country; Elvis Presley - In The Ghetto; Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Nobody's Baby; The Pipettes - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me; Arctic Monkeys - Baby I'm Yours; Lee Hazlewood - Boots (Original Melody); The Raveonettes - Dead Sound; U2 - Desire; The Rolling Stones - Miss Amanda Jones; Off Broadway - Full Moon Turn My Head Around; The Posies - Dream All Day; Broken Social Scene - 7/4 (Shoreline); REM - It's The End Of The World... ; The Replacements - Customer; Okkervil River - Plus Ones (demo); Supertramp - The Logical Song; Boz Scaggs - Lido Shuffle; ABBA - Take a Chance on Me; and Art Brut - Good Weekend.

A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING:  Tubed for your seasonal enjoyment (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).  BONUS:  Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz is the subject of a new biography by David Michaelis, which has received mostly glowing reviews -- including one from Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson -- but which has been sharply criticized by Schulz's family.  Michaelis recently defended the book on MPR.

NOW SHOWING:  I forgot to mention that Wednesday's wide releases for the Thanksgiving weekend are: Disney's fairy-tale come to life (and perhaps satirical) Enchanted, currently scoring 91 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Hitman, currently scoring 12 percent; Stephen King's The Mist, which again brings in Frank Darabont ("The Green Mile," "The Shawshank Redemption") for a 73 percent score; the drama August Rush, which is scoring 53 percent; and the Yuletime family dramedy This Christmas, which is also scoring 53 percent (but 70 percent with the "cream of the crop" critics).  The Coen Bros' No Country For Old Men opens near-wide on 860 screens with its 96 percent score.

THANKSGIVING has a lot of myths, both traditional and the new "Pilgrims were evil" o­nes taught in some public schools. However, if you read the journal of William Bradford -- who served some 35 years as governor of the Pilgims' colony -- you quickly discover that the Pilgrims' relationship with the natives was complex and that the colony was ultimately saved when Bradford started doing away with collectivism and granting property rights.

SPEAKING OF THANKSGIVING MYTHS, while there is an amino acid in turkey that induces sleepiness, experts say it's much more likely the reason you're tired after having Thanksgiving dinner is a combination of simple factors: you ate and drank too much and didn't sleep enough.

TURKEY ADOPTERS brave the holiday.

TURKEY WRAP:  A not-safe-for-most-family-gatherings holiday geek crunk original from Boing-Boing TV.

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Vampire Weekend, Hold Steady+Art Brut, NPs, Cowboy Monkey   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


VAMPIRE WEEKEND is a combo from Columbia U that's getting plenty of blog buzz for a sound that's sorta the indie rock version of Paul Simon's Graceland album.  Their first video is for "Mansard Roof."  Though they don't have a proper album release until next year, you can find plenty of audio to jukebox on the ol' HM at the moment.

THE HOLD STEADY and ART BRUT played DC's 9:30 Club last night, so you should be able to stream them both on demand via NPR.  Plus: Hold Steady guitarist Tad Kubler talked to Austinist about Art Brut and evocative bands.

OF MONTREAL frontman Kevin Barnes talks to Pitchfork about political songs, funk music and exploring the dark and gloriously detestable sides of his consciousness.  Idolator has posted the band's T-Mobile commercial.

THE TOP 12 VIDEOS of 2007, as nominated for the Plug Independent Music Awards.  Brooklyn Vegan rounds 'em up off the Tube.

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS did an interview and unpluggedy mini-set for KEXP you can stream via NPR.

ROBERT PLANT & ALISON KRAUSS... and producer T-Bone Burnett talk to the Scotsman about making the Plant/Krauss collaboration, Raising Sand, which to their surprise is turning out to be one of the most talked-about albums of the year.  The piece mentions that Burnett, Buddy Miller and Mark Ribot are all in the band.

THE PIPETTES:  I'm seeing them tonight, so I note that RiotBecki tells Spinner that fans are turning up knowing both their moves and their songs.  I guess I'll be brushing up with The Pipettes' instructional dance video.

SPLINTERS of ROCK:  David Brooks writes in the NYT about the fragmentation of American music and notes that Steven Van Zandt has drawn up a high school music curriculum that tells American history through music.

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE previewed new material on the BBC, which you can jukebox on the ol' HM (via GvsB.).

BOB DYLAN:  At ComingSoon.net, the director of the bizzare biopic I'm Not There, Todd Haynes, explains what he wants audiences to get out of the movie: "I just want them to have a really rich experience, and an experience that is not dissimilar from a musical experience, like listening to a whole record, listening to all of Blonde on Blonde."  I'm Not There opens on 125 screens today.

DAVID BOWIE was a ratings bonanza for Spongebob Squarepants last week.

AIMEE MANN embarks on her second annual Christmas variety show tour next week, with Josh Ritter, Ben Gibbard, Nellie McKay, and members of The Decemberists slated to cameo at various dates.  Links to Tube clips from last year's tour at the link.

BRITNEY SPEARS:  US Weekly has posted a teaser for their cover story on Britney's Twisted Childhood.  The pop tart has decided to hire a driver to avoid more dangerous incidents with the paparazzi.

THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS have sued Showtime Networks and others over the new television show called "Californication," the same name used by the band for their Grammy-nominated 1999 album.  The show has been on for months, so the RHCP is really up on things.

MARY-KATE OLSEN has been hospitalized with a kidney infection.

DENNIS QUAID's newborn twins are fighting for their lives after being inadvertently overdosed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

BRADGELINA:  Star magazine is hopeful for a disfunctional Thanksgiving at the Pitt family home in Missouri.

MADONNA hubby Guy Richie reveals they banned Christmas presents several years ago.  Does Kabbalah include Hannukah?

THE McCARTNEYS:  Heather Mills former sister-in-law says the accusations Mills leveled at Sir Paul during her recent television rants are the carbon copy of stories she made up about her ex following their divorced in 1991.

OJ SIMPSON is pleading with Cuban leader Fidel Castro to let him move to the Socialist island nation, which has no extradition treaty with the US -- according to the ever-reliable National Enquirer.  Probably untrue, but too funny to not share.

WILL SMITH tells Men's Vogue that he's studied Scientology through Tom Cruise, while a source tells US Weekly that Jada Pinkett Smith is "more gung-ho about Scientology than Will."

SIENNA MILLER is the first to enlist in the cast of Paramount's big-budget 2009 tentpole "G.I. Joe."

GEORGE CLOONEY & RENEE ZELLEWEGER talk about their upcoming movie, Leathernecks, and their longtime friendship, in W magazine.

THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL trailer is online.  Looks like it's good to be the King.

PAKISTAN:  Bill Roggio argues that the Taliban appear to have gained the upper hand in the fight against the Pakistani military in the settled districts of Swat and Shangla in the Northwest Frontier Province.

IRAQ:  Newsweek's Rod Nordland, who has periodically been to Baghdad during the past four and a half years, notes the "New normal" in the capital: "For the first time... returning to Baghdad after an absence of four months, I can actually say that things do seem to have gotten better, and in ways that may even be durable."  He notes that volunteer forces have even calmed neighborhoods like Ameriyah, where AQI fled when the Anbar sheikhs turned on them.  NPR has a similar report on Ameriyah.  Nordland reports that the US military says it has forked over about 17 million to the volunteers to enroll some 67000 fighters -- less than the cost of one Apache helicopter.  The terrorists are also cash-driven, looking more like The Sopranos than jihadis.  Iraqi refugees are returning home in dramatic numbers, concluding that security in Baghdad has been transformed.  On Monday, Iraqi Army forces killed and arrested over 75 terrorists in separate military operations in Mosul, Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk and Salahdin.  A mass grave full of dozens of bodies of men killed during the 1991 Shiite uprising against Saddam was found on Tuesday near the Shiite holy city of Najaf, an Iraqi official said.

WHIPLASH the COWBOY MONKEY:  Let's go to the video, y'all!

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  A militant squirrel knocked out electricity to 177 customers in Ashland, WI on Monday, while "by coincidence," another squirrel took dowwn the grid for 1,400 customers in Ironwood, MI the same morning.  And yet another squirrel forced the early closing of the main campus of Lewis and Clark Community College in St. Louis.  Someday, Congress will investigate how Homeland Security failed to connect the dots.

...AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:  A cat with three eyes and two faces.

A PIGLET was discovered in a truck loaded with toilet paper.  Ella Herring, deputy manager for the Radcliffe-on-Trent animal shelter, said: "There is no doubt the piglet's ordeal would have been traumatic and stressful...."

A JUVENILE HUMPBACK WHALE got tangled in fishing gear and had been stranded off the Rhode Island coast over the weekend, but freed itself and swam off Monday as rescuers sought to aid it.  Kids! What are you going to do?

PETRA UPDATE:  The black swan from Münster, Germany who fell in love with a swan-shaped pedal boat, will once again be allowed to spend the winter with her heartthrob.

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New Releases, Gang of Four, Kevin Drew, Italian Spider-Man   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


BLITZEN TRAPPER has dropped a video for the title track of the "Wild Mountain Nation" album.

NEW RELEASES:  Bloc Party, the Brit Box set, The Great Debaters soundtrack and more are streaming via Spinner.  Bonnie "Prince" Billy releases a covers collection.

SHARON JONES -- sans Dap-Kings -- talks to PopMatters about Washington, Winfrey and Winehouse. (Oh. my!)

GANG OF FOUR bassist Dave Allen has posted a demo of a new song, "Password," on his blog, Pampelmoose.

ROBYN HITCHCOCK explains to Canada's Hour how he selects a setlist from his vast catalog.

KEVIN DREW of Broken Social Scene played a solo gig at DC's 9:30 Club Sunday night. You can stream the whole gig via NPR.

BOB DYLAN & JACK WHITE are finishing some "lost" Hank Williams songs.

URGE OVERKILL:  Their killer '93 single "Sister Havana" and their even more famous cover of Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" are your Twofer Tuesday.

MAGNETIC FIELDS:  You can download and stream the opening track from Stephin Merritt's next LP, "Three-Way," via the 'Gum (and the 'Gum Mix).

BAND OF HORSES frontman Ben Bridwell tells JamBase why he started the band: "(T)he band I was in broke up and there was really nothing for me to do. I don't have any skills to go into the work force and actually make a living for myself, which I've proven by being totally down and out many times. So, if anything, there is the drive I guess to just, to fing succeed."

THURSTON MOORE stopped by the World Cafe for a chat and mini-set you can stream from NPR.  Plus, he talked to WXPN about some of his favorite acoustic guitarists.

EDGAR BRONFMAN, the head of Warner Music, admits that it probably was not a good idea to wage war on consumers.

ERIC BACHMANN talks to Donewaiting about making Cuban sandwiches and maybe another Crooked Fingers record.

BRITNEY SPEARS was out reckless driving hours after being forbidden to drive with her kids.  Video at the link.  Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton won 171K in damages and a court injunction to keep the pop tart's 2005 "Do Something" video - in which Spears, 25, drives a pink Hummer with a counterfeit Vuitton "cherry blossom"- monogrammed dashboard - from airing on European TV stations.  And a real estate broker claims Spears trashed a rented apartment in California.

JONATHAN RHYS-MYERS was arrested Sunday at the Dublin airport, facing charges of public drunkenness and breach of the peace as he tried to get on a plane to England.

THE FRENCH HOTEL:  Some old, but previously unreleased nsfw footage of the heirhead taking a shower has turned up on the Internet.

NICOLE KIDMAN told a courtroom Monday how she was reduced to tears and feared a car accident after a celebrity photographer pursued her two years ago.  She was testifying in the photographer's defamation suit against a Sydney newspaper that slammed him for allegedly hounding her.

JESSICA ALBA:  Knocked up or burned out?  Most likely the latter:  "I've worked the last two and a half years without stopping," she said to Roger Friedman. "This is the time to do it."

BRADGELINA:  Contrary to tabloid reports, Zahara's Ethiopian birth-mother is denying that she ever tried to fight Jolie's adoption.

GEORGE CLOONEY has donated 25K to writers hurting from the recent strike and plans to make periodic donations to the New York-based Actors Fund, which provides emergency relief for workers in the entertainment industry.

THE WRITERS' STRIKE, btw, has halted the sequel to "The Da Vinci Code" and Oliver Stone's planned movie on the investigation of the My Lai massacre in 1968.  So there is a silver lining.

JULIA ROBERTS and her cameraman husband Danny Moder parked their Mercedes SUV in a handicapped zone at the grocery store.  No doubt she buys carbon offset credits for the SUV, but where do you buy handicapped offset credits?

JACKO is a homeless drifter.  He reportedly spent the last three months living in Franklin Lakes, NJ, in a family's private home, trying to be normal.  Why didn't he cut a deal for that to be a reality TV show?

USHER:  The R&B artist is said to be converting to the Church of Scientology.

SPIDER-MAN TRIFECTA:  Stories about a five-year-old boy dressed as Spider-Man saving a baby girl from a burning house in Brazil, and the Spidey-inspired pepper-spray bracelet are just prelude to the sheer genius of the heretofore lost 1964 trailer for Italian Spider-Man.

SAVE THE CHEERLEADERS, save the world.

CARTOON JIHAD:  Britain's contemporary artists are fêted around the world for their willingness to shock but fear is preventing them from tackling Islamic fundamentalism. Across Europe there is growing evidence that freedom of expression has been curtailed by fear of religious fundamentalism.

MIDEAST MYSTERY:  Counterterrorism consultant Olivier Guitta looks at Iranian involvement in the Syrian arms program in light of the September 6 Israeli airstrike on a suspected nuclear site in Syria.

PAKISTAN:  Pres. Musharraf has decided to resign as Army chief by the end of the week, it emerged today.  Supreme Court judges hand-picked by Gen. Pervez Musharraf quashed 5 of 6 legal challenges to his disputed re-election as president.  The ruling paves the way for Musharraf to quit as army chief soon and perhaps ease the state of emergency, but it also enraged his most embittered opponents, who denounced the purged court's decision as illegitimate.  A new and classified US military proposal outlines an intensified effort to enlist tribal leaders in the frontier areas of Pakistan in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  The proposal is modeled in part on a similar effort by US forces in Anbar Province in Iraq that has been hailed as a great success in fighting foreign insurgents there.

IRAQ:  Despite persistent sectarian tensions in the Iraqi government, war-weary Sunnis and Shiites are joining hands at the local level to protect their communities from militants on both sides, US military officials say.    US and Iraqi troops have arrested dozens of militants loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr in a massive crackdown in the central city of Diwaniyah.  Since June, Iraqi civilian casualties were down by 60 percent nationwide, 75 percent in Baghdad.  Trendy juice bars, cozy restaurants, fruit shops, roadside eateries and fish vendors are starting to flourish in many neighborhoods of the capital.  Baghdad's hard-working ambulance drivers now find time to sit and sip tea instead of each rushing to four or five emergency calls a day.

IRAQ and the MEDIA:  According to today's NYT, "In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark."  According to today's WaPo,"Large swaths of Baghdad remain no-go zones for most Iraqis, as they were before thousands of U.S. reinforcements began arriving nine months ago in an effort to bring stability."

HEATHCLIFF the CAT somehow hitched a nearly 800-mile ride from Sicklerville, NJ, to Lawrenceville, GA.  Let's go to the video.

JACKO, an eight-year-old female Jack Russell named after Jackie Onassis, has chickens on her mind, according to a psychic.

DANTE the MONGREL is jonesing for curry.

ROBOT COCKROACHES fool the real thing.

A RAMPAGING WILD BOAR ran down a woman at a railroad crossing along along the Tobu Koizumi Line in Japan.

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Neko Case, Georgie James, Ryan Shaw, Sgt. Podge   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, November 19, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


JENS LEKMAN, playing Dallas last week, explains his unorthdox cover of Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al."

ST. VINCENT:  Annie Clark tries to explain the black humor in the title -- and title track -- of her album, Marry Me, to the Scotsman.

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE leader Tim DeLaughter talks to the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette about the band's upbeat image: "I didn't realize how much being optimistic was something that would stand out so much. It's really been a very big deal. We've been ridiculed for it. It's been kind of debilitating at times, only because it's kind of disheartening that some people would be upset about it."

NEKO CASE played Disney Hall in Los Angeles on Friday; you can stream the whole gig (and an interview) on demand via NPR.

YO LA TENGO bassist James McNew talsk to Gothamist about the acoustic+Q&A "Freewheeling Yo La Tengo Tour," where each gig starts with a two-song playlist: "The only thing I can liken it to is getting up and doing improv comedy for an hour and a half..."

THE MAGIC NUMBERS:  Daytrotter rolls out four free songs, two of which are unreleased, one of which is a cover of Lee Greenwood's "The Night Before."

LED ZEPPELIN:  A fan from Glasgow has shelled out more than £80,000 for two tickets to see the band's reunion concert next month, after they were auctioned for charity.  No wonder Jimmy Page is hinting he would like to tour.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE announced UK dates curated by All Tomorrow's Parties.

GEORGIE JAMES have a new video out for "Need Your Needs," from the album Places.

ART BRUT:  Eddie Argos and Jasper Future talked to Kansas City's Pitch about touring America, favorite bands and more.

RYAN SHAW:  The soul revivalist is profiled in the Pasadena Weekly and is slated to appear alongside Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow and Lyle Lovett on Ellen DeGeneres' special "Ellen's Really Big Show," scheduled to air on TBS tonight.  You can stream a few from his debut LP at ShawSpace.

LYLE LOVETT, btw, was recently interviewed on Talk of the Nation, which you can stream (with songs) via NPR.

INDIE SELLS OUT:  According to the 'Gum, Of Montreal and Art Brut have been shooting T-Mobile commercials in NYC.  They asked Of Montreal frontman Kevin Barnes about it; he responded with an essay titled, "Selling Out Isn't Possible."

THURSTON MOORE, out on a solo tour, talks to Harp magazine about the reax to the celebrity-chosen collection of Sonic Youth songs that will be sold through Starbucks, noting that the band "got a lot of heat when we left Homestead for SST."

FEIST:  Grayson Currin has a piece in the Nashville Scene arguing the downside of commercials replacing radio as the place where new music gets exposed:  "If '1234' had started as a commercial radio smash, it's not impossible to imagine an FM programmer at least testing the waters with Feist's boyfriend, Kevin Drew, one of the principals in Broken Social Scene. Feist's '1234' success doesn't mean Dell is fawning over songs by her electronic pop collaborators Stars."

AMY WINEHOUSE was dealt another blow Friday after her tour manager quit amid drugs accusations.  Thom Stone found working with Winehouse and her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil (now in jail), was causing traces of heroin to turn up in his blood from second-hand smoke.  Guards at Pentonville Prison searched Winehouse's trademark beehive for drugs when she visited her hubby -- and if you think that is overly-suspicious, you should watch this video of Winehouse in Zurich.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  Beowulf won the weekend with 28.1 million -- which is probably a mild disappointment.  I wonder whether those who couldf not see it in 3D syated away.  The Coen Bros' No Country for Old Men took the seventh slot with a little over 3 million -- which is remarkable from a mere 148 screens.  The weekend was pretty bad for everything else.  Bee Movie was No.2 with 14.3 million, but its 44 percent drop is a lot for a family film in its third weekend.  Indeed, Bee Movie has yet to cross 100 million, as the R-rated American Gangster did this weekend in third place and a 45 percent drop.  Fred Claus slipped to fourth place with 12 mil; Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium debuted in fifth place with 10 mil, which makes it a likely flop.  Dan in Real Life dropped about 25 percent. making 4.5 million in the sixth slot.  Lions for Lambs continued to flame out, dropping 57 percent from fouth to eighth in its second weekend with 2.9 mil.  Saw IV dropped to ninth place with 2.3 mil.  Rounding out the Top Ten was the debut of Love in the Time of Cholera, with 1.9 million.

BRITNEY SPEARS has been ordered not to drive with her sons in the car, after the judge in her custody dispute was informed that the pop tart blew a red light with her kiddies in the car last week.

JESSICA SIMPSON co-hosted The View last week, but stuck to plugging her new collection of "fashions" instead of bantering over current events - which left her with a blank-eyed stare.  To be fair to Simpson, she very often has a blank-eyed stare, even when current events are not being discussed.  Moreover, I'm pretty sure I have a stunned look on my face whenever I hear what passes for discussion of current events on The View.

ROSIE O'DONNELL was attacked by an eagle.  Video at the link.  I'm guessing the eagle had seen Ro on The View.

KANYE WEST dramatically broke down in tears onstage in Paris, after trying to dedicate "Hey Mama" to his late mother.

JOHN TRAVOLTA kissed 90-year-old Kirk Douglas on the mouth at a Los Angeles awards ceremony.  NTTAWWT.

LANCE ARMSTRONG says, "Ashley Olsen and I are strictly friends," while his ex-gf Sheryl Crow denies being upset over Armstrong's rumored relationship with Olsen.

THE McCARTNEYS:  Heather Mills had her new publicist attacking Stella McCartney as cheap and spiteful, despite attempts by Mills to forge a relationship with Stella during her marriage to Sir Paul.  Meanwhile, Mills stars in an unusual anti-global warming campaign.

JACKO turned up in an urban burqa on Melrose Ave. in L.A. on Friday.

JUSTICE LEAGUE:  IESB, AICN and CinemaBlend have casting rumors aplenty, some of them conflicting.

THE VICTORIA'S SECRET FASHION SHOW doesn't air on television until Dec. 4, but there are already scads and scads of pictures on the Internet.  Which I note because it's gratuitous Monday.

PAKISTAN:  The Pakistani Army is pressing its offensive against Taliban forces in Swat and Shangla.  US envoy John Negroponte pressed Pres. Musharraf to revoke emergency rule and make peace with opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.  Pres. Musharraf defended his decision to declare emergency rule, saying Pakistan's nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands if elections led to disturbances.  Over the past six years, the Bush Admin. has spent almost 100 million on a highly classified program to help secure Pakinstan's nukes.

IRAN:  Reports that Pres. Ahmadinejad is to discuss with Arab nations a plan to enrich uranium outside the region in a neutral country such as Switzerland have been nixed by Iranian and Saudi officials.

IRAQ:  Bill Roggio argues that Wednesday's closure of the headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars marks a dramatic shift in the Sunni religious establishment.  Iraqi and US forces have made significant progress against AQI in four northern provinces during "Operation Iron Hammer," according to Multi-National Forces Iraq.  Iraqis across Baghdad describe a welcome drop in violence in their city in recent weeks.  Rivalry between Iraq's two main Shiite movements vying for power in the south of the country has hit a danger point, sparking fears of violence ahead of the handover of Basra by British forces.  Speaking of the Brits, five British hostages who have been held in captivity in Baghdad since May could be freed within days... or held for years.

GEN. PETRAEUS has been summoned back to DC by the Army to preside over a board that will pick some of the next generation of Army leaders, an unusual decision and a sign of the Army's new commitment to encouraging innovation and rewarding skills beyond the battlefield.

SGT. PODGE disappears at around 6 p.m. every day, only to reappear a mile and a half away the next morning, when his owner picks him up and drives him home, where spends much of the time sleeping.

AN ORANGUTAN is stealing jelly doughnuts in Baker County, FL -- though some think it's just a spider monkey or a squirrel. Others are seriously investigating whether it was a "baby Bigfoot."  In any event, he wants to be like you.

A TROPICAL FISH that lives in mangrove swamps across the Americas can survive out of water for months at a time, similar to how animals adapted to land millions of years ago.

A DRUNKEN, LATE-NIGHT RABBIT SHOOT ends very badly.  Who'da thunkit?

SAHARA the SEAL has been found in Spain, 1,000 miles away from his Arctic home waters.

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Ukuleles, Rilo Kiley, Cutout Bin, Beowulf, Runaway Pigs in IA   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, November 16, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with the UKULELE ORCHESTRA of GREAT BRITAIN!  John Moore of the Jesus and Mary Chain and Black Box Recorder is appalled at the UK's Ukulele orchestra craze, but he mostly fears that uke bands will not stick to ironic cover versions -- which is what we'll hear here, starting with Ennio Morricone's "The Good the Bad the Ugly," David Bowie's "Life On Mars" (which is a bit of a mash-up); The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks," Lou Reed's "Satellite of Love" (with a dash of Pythonesque Eurovision-y goodness); and their New Year's Eve performance of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit."  BONUS:  The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra includes Bret McKenzie (of Flight of the Conchords fame) on Outkast's "Hey Ya" and A-Ha's "Take On Me."

STARS tells ChartAttack how the preemptive digital digital release of their current album worked out.

REGINA SPEKTOR was taken to a local hospital after collapsing at The Ryman Auditorium.  Her rep says it was due to a severe inner ear infection which caused a sudden case of vertigo and that she is feeling much better.  Best wishes to her.

RILO KILEY did a chat and unpluggety mini-set for KUT, streaming now via NPR.

BAND of HORSES frontman Ben Bridwell talks to PopMatters about about moving back South to record his new album, the Wal-Mart ad controversy, and indie rock's most influential beards.  He also names a few of his favorite things for Pitchfork's Guest List feature.

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED:  Tracks from Grizzly Bear, Emma Pollock, Shocking Pinks and more are featured in this week's show.

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE leader Tim DeLaughter tells the Baltimore Sun that a second mortgage and commercials keep the 22-member choral symphonic rock group going.

THE KILLERS make a second video appearance this week, bringing on The Vines, Howling Belles, and Louis XIV for a cover of "Helter Skelter."  Not as good as when Husker Du and Soul Asylum used to do it, but still...

INDIE SELLS OUT:  Harp magazine looks at the growing trend of indie artists writing 30-second, made-for-TV tunes -- which are taking on a life of their own as viewers are craving full-length versions.BEST OF 2007:  Largeheartedboy has started the List of Lists.

THE 100 GREATEST ROCK & ROLL MOVIES, according to Blender magazine.

THE 100 GREATEST INDIE ROCK ALBUMS, according to Blender, with discussion at the 'Gum.

AMY WINEHOUSE was booed and jeered by hundreds of fans after ranting on stage about her husband in jail, reports the Daily Mail.

PETE DOHERTY snorts line after line of cocaine just days after promising he would check back into rehab.

CUTOUT BIN:  This Friday's fortuitous finds from the ol' HM are:  The Beatles - Twist & Shout (Diplo remix); Futureheads - Let's Dance (D. Bowie); Silicon Teens - Judy in Disguise (John Fred); Herbie Hancock - Rockit (Single Version); J. Geils Band - Lookin' For a Love (Live); Otis Redding - Cupid (S. Cooke); Aretha Franklin - Rock Steady; Wilson De Neves - California Soul (Ashford & Simpson); The Dramatics - Hot Pants in the Summertime; Lucky Soul - Add Your Light To Mine, Baby; Teenage Fanclub - Alcoholiday; Flamin' Groovies - Shake Some Action; Pilot - Magic; Grand Funk Railroad - The Loc-o-motion; Hues Corporation - Rock The Boat; Electric Light Orchestra - Can't Get It Out of My Head; Rolling Stones - She's A Rainbow; R.E.M. - Superman (The Clique); The Sun - (Wish I Could Fly Like) Superman (The Kinks); Guided by Voices - Hold On Hope; and Matt Nathanson - Don't Stop Believin' (Live). 

BEOWULF 3D was quite the experience.  Robert Zemeckis employs the latest version of the motion-capture-based cg-animation from The Polar Express -- and while much improved, it's still not quite right.  The folks at Pixar have a theory that it is easier for audience to suspend disbelief for obvious cartoons than for "near-real" humans, as your brain is subconsciously telling you something doesn't look quite right.  The 3D effects are quite good, but (with the exception of the climactic sequence) often impressed me more when used subtly.  It's cool when Beowulf is almost hitting you with his sword, but I think it also (ironically) tends to take the viewer out of the film.  Using it to lend depth, otoh, can help draw the viewer in.  The screenplay interestingly pairs author Neil Gaiman with Roger Avary (co-writer of Pulp Fiction), who took enormous liberties with the mythical tale, if my hazy high school memories serve.  There's plenty of cg-blood and gore here -- as might be expected -- easily earning Beowulf its PG-13 rating for this and some cg-nudity (mostly posterior, though Angelina Jolie is near-topless yet nippleless).  There is also some (presumably) Gaiman-esque humor humanizing the otherwise grandiose; the movie might have benefitted from more of that.  Indeed, Anthony Hopkins (and his doppelganger) have sufficient camp among the pathos that I suspect he gets a big kick out of The Vikings.  Beowulf is not as effective overall as the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or even Zach Snyder's adaptation of Frank Miller's 300.  Nevertheless, it was entertaining and if you're inclined to see it at all, I would recommend seeing it on the big screen for the big 3D effects.  And the cool glasses.

NOW SHOWING:  In addition to Beowulf, which is currently scoring 78 percent on the ol' Tomatometer, this weekend's wide releases include: Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium, starring Dustin Hoffman and Natalie Portman, which is currently scoring 23 percent; and the adaptation of Love in the Time of Cholera, which is scoring 24 percent.

BRADGELINA:  Pitt is rumored to be jealous of Jolie's latest co-star, James McAvoy, according to the uber-reliable Life & Style magazine.  Of course, if the mag is right about the sexiest scenes being added at Jolie's urging, maybe he should be jealous.  On-set romance karma comes due.  Meanwhile, Jolie is writing for The Economist's World in 2008 about bringing war criminals to justice.

LINDSAY LOHAN checked into the Lynwood Jail at 10:30 a.m and checked out at 11:54 a.m. yesterday -- that's 84 minutes for her her wild DUI escapades this past July.

NICOLE KIDMAN confirms the kids she adopted with Tom Cruise are being raised as Scientologists, but "I don't want to go there."

BRITNEY SPEARS ran over another paparazzo's foot Wednesday night.  Video at the link.  The pop tart will likely claim that Adderall prescribed for ADD caused the positive reading on her failed drug test.  That test -- and the court hearing scheduled for today to discuss it -- reportedly caused Spears to shelve her latest video shoot.  BTW, the pop tart doesn't save or invest any of her roughly 737K monthly income.

JENNIFER ANISTON is dating Sex & the City star Jason Lewis, according to the World Entertainment News Network.  Mind you, this is the same out fit that had the French Hotel helping drunken elephants in India, so grain of salt.

JESSICA SIMPSON is through playing around with boys. These days, she wants a man. A family man, a guy that's not afraid to pick up the babies. ... somebody that wants to meet her grandparents immediately.  Which would be okay, if you could avoid her creepy dad-manager.

NATALIE PORTMAN, otoh, is not convinced about marriage.

SELMA HAYEK claims that her breasts are one of God's miracles.  Tough to dispute that.


SAVE THE CHEERLEADER:  An arrest warrant has been issued in Japan for Hayden Panettiere, arising out of her attempted dolphin-saving mission last month.  In the full story aired on cable, Panettiere told E! News that she had never been slapped in handcuffs... except possibly furry pink ones.  Which reminds me that HP did some 40s-style pin-ups for Vanity Fair that have not seen wide circulation before now.

STEVEN SPIELBERG will be honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award for his outstanding contribution to the entertainment field at next Januarys Golden Globe Awards telecast.

HEIDI KLUM is nearly nude in this month's Max magazine, but for the magic of Photoshop.  Happy gratuitous Friday.

PAKISTAN freed opposition leader Benazir Bhutto from house arrest early on Friday, hours after a caretaker prime minister was appointed in a first step towards a national election.  Bush Admin. officials are losing faith that the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, can survive in office and have begun discussing what might come next.  The US military is examining different contingencies for supplying American troops in Afghanistan if supplies can no longer be shipped through Pakistan.  The Pakistani Army and the Taliban fought a series of clashes in the North West Frontier Province and Shangla.

IRAN:  The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran has enough capacity to build a nuclear bomb within a year.  The IAEA is "not in a position to provide credible assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran," according to its latest report. The US is pushing for mandatory sanctions in the wake of the report.  Iran's government charged a former senior nuclear negotiator with passing classified information to the West in a move apparently aimed at silencing domestic opponents of Pres. Ahmadinejad.

IRAQ:  Senior military commanders now portray the intransigence of Iraq's Shiite-dominated government as the key threat facing the US effort in Iraq, rather than al-Qaeda terrorists, Sunni insurgents or Iranian-backed militias, according to the WaPo. The cabinet has approved a redrafted reconciliation law to be resubmitted to parliament. In the Asian Times, Sami Moubayed argues that Muqtada al-Sadr is reconciling with Prime Minister al-Maliki while funneling members of his Mahdi Army into the Iraqi Army.  Iran's commitments to stem the flow of weapons and explosives into Iraq "appear to be holding up" and have contributed to a sharp drop in roadside bombs across the country, a US general said Thursday.  Violence has plummeted in Basra and Iraq's security forces are in full control, a British general said Thursday.  Mansour Abid Salim of the Taji Awakening Council told Al-Jazeera television Wednesday that US troops mistakenly killed dozens of his fighters during a 12-hour battle north of Baghdad.

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  A determined squirrel swam 300 yards from the shore of ENglnad's Lake district to raid a tourist boat.  Another is learning to play possum.

CALMING A 5-FT CROCODILE:  Blindfold it with your underpants.

YOU GOTTA FIGHT!  For your right...to have a tiny horse pull your wheelchair.

A MONKEY went on a rampage in a low-income neighborhood in New Delhi, India, injuring several people, most of them children.

TWO RUNAWAY PIGS roamed across several streets in Davenport, IA Wednesday morning.  Tips on pig capture at the link.

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