Saturday, October 02, 2010

Best of the Week vol. XLVI

Quote of the Week: I want to rub my brain with Purell. (Annie, Community)

Song of the Week: Stand by Me – Ben E King (as sung by Ben Vereen, Wayne Brady and Barney, How I Met Your Mother)

Big News of the Week: Lone Star First to Go: In one of the least shocking news items of the week, Fox was quick to cancel a the most critically acclaimed new shows of the season, which is the very reason I haven’t bothered to watch anything on the network since the series finale of Arrested Development. With Outlaw, The Whole Truth, My Generation (Scooter's Update: My Generation joined Lone Star in the two episodes and canceled club when ABC officially canceled the show yesterday) and Undercovers also hovering just above the CW median average, Lone Star may have some company before we celebrate Thanksgiving. For other quickly axed shows, head over to The Daily Beast where they countdown 10 Most Quickly Axed Shows of the Last 10 Years. Anyone remember The Will?

Links of the Week

- For other thoughts on the new fall season, head over to The New Yorker.

- Fans of The Glades, stars Matt Passmore and Kiele Sanchez will be hosting an online viewing party during the final episode. Head over to Facebook to RSVP.

- New episode of Eastbound and Down airs tomorrow and for those that cannot wait that long can download the Kenny Powers’ Home Run Fiesta: Deep Inside Mexico app for the low, low price of free in all its 8-bit glory.

- In other HBO news, their latest documentary premieres Monday at 9:00. Sins of My Father features interviews with Sebastian Marroquin (formerly Juan Pablo Escobar) and his mother, Maria Victoria, and never-before-revealed home movies, photographs and audio recordings from the Escobar family archive.

- The new season of Don’t Forget the Lyrics premieres Tuesday on My Network TV and will feature the Backstreet Boys. No, contestants will not try to remember the next line of I Want it That Way; Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean and Nick Carter will be playing the game to raise money for UNICEF.

Lastly, here is something every straight dude can agree with: Glee Sucks.

Gratuitous Token Hot Chick Picture of the Week:

Free Download of the Week: Pilot - No Ordinary Family, Season 1 (iTunes): If you missed the season premiere, or just want to have for prosperity, here is your chance. Also, you can check out my preview of No Ordinary Family.

Deal of the Week: 100 Albums for $5 Each (Amazon MP3) This deal includes albums by Gnarls Barkley, Spoon, John Mellencamp, and Duran Duran.

Video of the Week: The Roots recently teamed up with John Legend for an album of soul covers and naturally promoted the release on Late Night. Since they are the house band, they got to perform a ten minute epic of the Bill Withers song I Can’t Write Left Handed. And as a bonus treat, another live performce by the two of the Arcade Fire song, Wake Up (not to be confused with the title track off their album Wake Up!).

Next Week Pick of the Week: The Challenge: Cutthroat, Wednesday at 10:00 on MTV: The promos have made it a little ambiguous of what “Cutthroat” will differ from other Challenges, aside from being three teams this time around. The season will see the return of CT who is conspicuously missing from the original cast list which probably someone will be kicked off before there is even a challenge, which is something CT knows a lot about.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Betty Ford, oh, Won’t You be My Valentine

White Ladder - David Gray

Throughout the nineties artist tried to marry rock with electronic music, even Eric Clapton devoted an album to attempted genre mashing (check out Pilgrim) to little effect, but no one made that merger as successful until David Gray came around. Babylon was a folksy song that was easy to sing along with, but underneath was a beat that sounded like a rap beat stripped of its bassline.

Once you listened to the album that Babylon was found on, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, White Ladder, you found more of the same. Where Babylon took the acoustic guitar route, Please Forgive Me when with a driving piano line to go along with the frantic electric percussion track before a head bob-along-bass part gets added to the second verse.

The marriage of folk and electric is most notable on drug fuel We’re Not Right which mixes advanced towards former first ladies and bouncing computer blips and booms. That’s not to says Gray fully rests on the gimmick, even if he still remains one of the few that can successfully make eclectic folk. The stand out track on White Ladder (which recently ranked as number 18 on The 100 Greatest Albums of the 00’s) is the a track that only features his voice and a piano, This Year’s Love, a sweeping ballad that deserves air time at every prom and wedding reception until the end of time.

Gray could also do a stripped down guitar song as heard on the album closer, an acoustic reworking of Soft Cell’s Say Hello, Wave Goodbye. No, seriously, Soft Cell had a song not called Tainted Love and Gray took the new wave, very eighties sounding song and turned it into a reflective, acoustic nine minute gem and fitting end to a classic album.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breaking Down the 100 Greatest Albums of the 00’s

Some say we will look back at the 00’s as the decade when the full length album died, and for the most part they will be right. Sure albums will never go away as long as there are people stupid enough to plop down ten dollars for an album with only a good song or two. But the album as an event has long passed. In this instant gratification day and age, we just want to get to the three minutes of musical joy instead of having to spend a whole album digesting an album. I cannot remember one album I sat around with a bunch of friends last decade dissecting it with friends like I did back in the ninties (granted this may be an age thing).

So my list of the 100 Greatest Albums of the 00’s is less about a cohesive album (which there were very few of in the 00’s) than just a collection of twelve good to great songs. I’m sure there can be griping of albums I left out, but when compiling a list of albums for consideration, I only included albums I actual spent money on (or had someone else buy for me, with the obvious exception of two albums on the list), and when it comes down to it, if I didn’t even bother to drop ten dollars (or even less at discount prices), it is not something worthy of my list anyway. Here is how my list broke down by the numbers.

Artists with Multiple Albums
Dave Matthews (Band) – 5
Jack Johnson – 4
John Mayer (Trio) – 4
Ryan Adams (and the Cardinals) - 4
Alicia Keys – 3
Coldplay – 3
Danger Mouse (Gnarls Barkley) – 3
Kanye West – 3
Michelle Branch (The Wreckers) – 3
The Roots – 3
U2 - 3

Albums by Year
2000 – 6
2001 – 12
2002 – 11
2003 – 8
2004 – 9
2005 – 12
2006 – 8
2007 – 10
2008 – 14
2009 – 10

Albums by Genre
Rock - 19
Rap - 15
Alternative – 14
Pop - 13
Adult Contemporary – 11
RnB - 9
Folk - 8
Country - 5
Blues - 3
Hard Rock - 3

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The 100 Greatest Albums of the 00's

The College Dropout - Kanye West1. The College Dropout - Kanye West

2. A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay

3. Continuum - John Mayer

4. The Rising - Bruce Springsteen

5. The Spirit Room - Michelle Branch

6. The Grey Album - Danger Mouse

7. The Lillywhite Sessions - Dave Matthews Band

8. Gold - Ryan Adams

9. Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King - Dave Matthews Band

A Rush of Blood to the Head - Coldplay10. Wreck of the Day - Anna Nalick

11. Final Straw - Snow Patrol

12. Only By the Night - Kings of Leon

13. Bible Belt - Diane Birch

14. American IV: Man Comes Around - Johnny Cash

15. I and Love and You - The Avett Brothers

16. Back to Black - Amy Winehouse

17. Heavier Things - John Mayer

18. White Ladder - David Gray

19. Hot Fuss - The Killers

Continuum - John Mayer20. Room for Squares - John Mayer

21. Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends - Coldplay

22. Plans - Death Cab for Cutie

23. Magic - Bruce Springsteen

24. All That You Can't Leave Behind - U2

25. Eye to the Telescope - KT Tunstall

26. On and On - Jack Johnson

27. Cardinology - Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

28. White Blood Cells - The White Stripes

29. Attack & Release - The Black Keys

The Rising - Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band30. The Renaissance - Q-Tip

31. Parachutes - Coldplay

32. How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb - U2

33. Late Registration - Kanye West

34. Bleed American - Jimmy Eat World

35. Alright, Still - Lily Allen

36. Musicforthemorningafter - Pete Yorn

37. As I Am - Alicia Keys

38. Songs About Jane - Maroon 5

39. Hotel Paper - Michelle Branch

The Spirit Room - Michelle Branch40. Whoa, Nelly! - Nelly Furtado

41. Tell 'Em What Your Name Is! - Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

42. Heartbreaker - Ryan Adams

43. Get Rich or Die Tryin' - 50 Cent

44. Stand Still, Look Pretty - The Wreckers

45. The Odd Couple - Gnarls Barkley

46. Narrow Stairs - Death Cab for Cutie

47. Extraordinary Machine - Fiona Apple

48. Get Lifted - John Legend

49. A New Day at Midnight - David Gray

Gold - Ryan Adams50. Brushfire Fairytales - Jack Johnson

51. The Diary of Alicia Keys - Alicia Keys

52. Audioslave - Audioslave

53. Graduation - Kanye West

54. In Between Dreams - Jack Johnson

55. Phrenology - The Roots

56. Fearless - Taylor Swift

57. O - Damien Rice

58. Love, Save the Empty - Erin McCarley

59. Stand Up - Dave Matthews Band

Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King - Dave Matthews Band60. Songs In A Minor - Alicia Keys

61. Easy Tiger - Ryan Adams

62. The Way I See It - Raphael Saadiq

63. Room Noises - Eisley

64. Twenty Three - Tristan Prettyman

65. Songs for Silverman - Ben Folds

66. Taking the Long Way - Dixie Chicks

67. Closer - Better Than Ezra

68. Busted Stuff - Dave Matthews Band

69. Eyes Open - Snow Patrol

Wreck of the Day - Anna Nalick70. Be Not Nobody - Vanessa Carlton

71. Hello - Tristan Prettyman

72. Emotionalism - The Avett Brothers

73. Some Devil - Dave Matthews

74. Riding With the King - B.B. King & Eric Clapton

75. Game Theory - The Roots

76. Kamaal the Abstract - Q-Tip

77. St. Elsewhere - Gnarls Barkley

78. Musicology - Prince

79. To the 5 Boroughs - Beastie Boys

Final Straw - Snow Patrol80. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga - Spoon

81. The Blueprint - Jay-Z

82. Afterglow - Sarah McLachlan

83. Stillmatic - Nas

84. Me and Mr. Johnson - Eric Clapton

85. Sleep Through the Static - Jack Johnson

86. Try! - Live In Concert - John Mayer Trio

87. Be - Common

88. This Is the Life - Amy Macdonald

89. Vampire Weekend - Vampire Weekend

Only by the Night - Kings of Leon90. Before the Robots - Better Than Ezra

91. No Line On the Horizon - U2

92. The Fall - Norah Jones

93. Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not - Arctic Monkeys

94. Shaman - Santana

95. Rising Down - The Roots

96. Taylor Swift - Taylor Swift

97. Amanda Leigh - Mandy Moore

98. Troubadour - K'naan

99. Back to Then - Darius Rucker

100. Little Voice - Sara Bareilles

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Previewing No Ordinary Family

The cast of No Ordinary Family

No Ordinary Family is the most shocking new show of the fall season. It is shocking in that it doesn’t try to be shocking at all. Every year for the past decade we have seen shows try to push the limits of what they can get away with in primetime that networks haven’t placed a family friendly program on their schedule since the heyday of ABC’s TGIF. No Ordinary Family is so safe, ABC could simulcast the show on its sister station Disney Channel.

Disney is a good reference point because you cannot write a review of No Ordinary Family without mentioning The Incredibles, the Pixar movie about a family of superheroes living in suburbia. In the live action version we get Michael Chiklis (Fantastic Four) as the super strong dad. Mom is played by Julie Benz (Angel) who can run really fast. Kay Panabaker (Nancy Drew) can read others’ thoughts while her brother Jimmy Bennett (Star Trek) who can, well; I am not entirely sure what h can do. But like every good superhero story, the blessing of superpowers can also be a curse. Chiklis realizes his mortality; Benz has to feed refuel to keep up with all the calories she burns by running a mile a second; Panabaker learns, much like Buffy Summers before her, that telepathy is not all what it is cracked up to be; and Bennett, well, I am still not sure what he does.

Yet the most entertaining characters of No Ordinary Family are the sidekick. Romany Malco (Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story) gets all the best lines as Chiklis’ buddy who he enlists to see what he can and cannot do. While Autumn Reeser (Lost Boys: The Tribe) is the frantic assistant to Benz whom she confides in about her new found power. No sidekicks for the children yet, hopefully that means they die a horrible death because they are beyond annoying in the first episode. Hopefully they bite the big one and focus on the adults or the superpowers give them an attitude adjustment because they are really dragging down the watchability of the show.

What is conspicuously missing from the first episode is that of a big bad. Hopefully someone (or something) arises because what are superheroes without nemesis(‘s-eses)? A twist at the end gives me hope there might be one.

No Ordinary Family airs Tuesdays at 8:00 on ABC. You will be able to steam episodes on Hulu. You will also be able to download No Ordinary Family on iTunes.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Previewing Explorer: Can the Gulf Survive?

National Geographic
The National Geographic family of networks is premiering three over the next week, starting with two tomorrow all of which tie into the October issue of National Geographic the magazine with a Brown Pelican on the cover with the headline The Spill. The issue features three articles about the gulf in addition to a supplement map on how the gulf works on one side and a map of the affected area on the flip side.

For those that want to learn more about the gulf tragedy and are not fond of reading, the trio of specials starts tomorrow at 9:00 on the National Geographic channel with After the Spill: The Last Catch. The show follows fisherman in Venice LA who were hoping this summer would a comeback year for their profession after Hurricane Katrina only for the oil spill to happen early in the season.

Directly following at 10:00 is Explorer: Can the Gulf Survive? the one program that I have seen prior to airing. Unfortunately it took too long for the show to get around to addressing the question with the first forty minutes devoted to a history of the spill. But Explorer did get extensive access from the coast guard and BP (when they were not getting kicked out of the viewing area because they “might be a distraction”). Below is a clip:

Then coming next Tuesday (October 5) on Nat Geo Wild at 9:00 wildlife expert Mireya Mayor joins forces with underwater cameraman Andy Casagrande for Saved from the Spill to save struggling creatures at the center of the oil spill. Mireya and Andy will work to rescue pelicans, sea turtles, dolphins and many other creatures that migrate through the Gulf.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

57 Channels and Only This Is On vol. CXLIX

Rubicon: I am surprised that Will at no point thought the chick who lived in the apartment with a clear look into his wasn’t hired by the shadowy figures that put tabs on him. When I first saw her a couple episodes back, that was the first thing that crossed my mind. You can download Rubicon on iTunes.

Chuck: The show is really getting too cartoony in this episode. Sure the “If you die, you die” quote was awesome, but with all the Meta jokes and homage I thought I was watching an episode of Community. And Olivia Munn seemed a little underutilized. And did Sarah Conner really kill Ivan Drago? I was kind of hoping he would stick around. Maybe that is why they used all his catchphrases in this episode knowing he wouldn’t stick around. But the biggest question is with the CIA taking over the Buy More, where does that leave Big Mike and Jeffster? You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Chuck on iTunes.

The Event: I didn’t want to bring this up in my preview because it would have been way spoilery, but the chick from ER and her buddies have to be aliens, right? But what happened to the plane, did Sophia (who I do not think was a coincidence was the only one that wasn’t knocked down by the blast) have something to do with it, was it some of her buddies that weren’t detained, were they enemies of Sophia. Is The Event a fight between Sophia and another alien race? They have me drawn in for at least another episode. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download The Event on iTunes.

How I Met Your Mother: So who is getting married of where Ted will meet his future bride for the first time? Since it was the story of the week, I originally thought it was Rachel Bilson’s, but how could Ted be the Best Man and not meet her roommate, unless the roommate has since moved out (and do lesbian weddings have Best Man’s anyway or just two Maids of Honor?) Next thought was Barney and Robin, but are they really going to get married before Ted? And again, how does the wife get invited to the wedding without meeting Ted first unless she is the date of someone else? But the real question is, can we just meet the mother already. Oh and I predict it is Ted’s dad who is getting married. You can stream recent episodes over at You can also download How I Met Your Mother on iTunes.

Castle: There are very few things I hate more on television then episodes that start in the third act, then gives us the “Three days earlier.” One of those things I hate more is when they do that only when the episode finally gets back to the third act and what we were meant to believe was going on wasn’t actually was what was going on. Seriously, starting an episode with a dude trying to stand up an egg wasn’t entertaining enough? You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Castle on iTunes

Parenthood: As a former driving instructor, I am fully behind Christina in being very afraid of a teen driver. And how you get back into a car with someone who leaves the side mirror hanging by a thread is insane. Not to say that my car doesn’t have its fair amount of duct tape on it. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Parenthood on iTunes.

Sons of Anarchy: Even though I did not want to actually see what he was doing, I was a little disappointed we didn’t get to hear the eighties soundtrack Stephen King was utilizing while do his “cleaning.” And what moron thought it was a good idea to let Opie be in the vicinity while his old lady was “working.” I knew how that was going to end when I first saw him. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Sons of Anarchy on iTunes.

Survivor: Nicaragua: One of the dumbest performances at a Tribal Council ever. Who comes out and threatens the swing vote right off the bat? And it was a battle of bad stereotypes at Tribal between the ignorant hillbilly and the angry black women. I was bored by the first half of the episode, but if the Tribal was any indication, the season could still prove entertaining. You can stream recent episodes over at

Survivor on iTunes

Better With You: I was hopping a little better from this show with its highly likable cast (with the exception of the younger boyfriend who got annoying fast). If it can hit some sort of stride, it can be as good as How I Met Your Mother, so I will give it a couple more tries and it and The Middle could be a nice Hulu viewing on the weekend since I will be too busy with Survivor on Wednesdays. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu.

Modern Family: I really hope that this was an indication of a sophomore slump because I didn’t find much of the episode particularly funny. But the show has always been at its best when the family intermixes, and there wasn’t much of that aside from Al Bundy helping out with the construction, which was the funniest part of the episode. You can stream recent episodes on Hulu.

Modern Family on iTunes

Terriers: What the frack is up with that ending? Maybe the most bizarre cliffhanger ever. Was someone breaking into Hank’s attic? Does he have a squatter? Did the wifey forget something important up there that she doesn’t want him to know about? You can stream recent episodes on Hulu. You can also download Terriers on iTunes

The Big Bang Theory: Yeah, this show is way better when Penny and Lenard are not dating. And though I was apprehensive of a female Sheldon, Blossom did have some good lines especially when she and Sheldon were calculating Penny’s sexual encounters. I am not sure if Penny carrying Sheldon and Blossom’s offspring would be the greatest idea even on television or the worst. Maybe hold off that storyline until the seventh season.

Community: “I’m hoping we can move away from the soapy relationship stuff and into bigger fast paced, self contained escapades.” Me too. Also I agree the blurred line between life and television was so season one. You can stream current episodes on Hulu. You can also download Community on iTunes.

Also check out my first impressions of The Event, Undercovers, and Outsourced.