Saturday, August 02, 2014

Best of the Week: 8/2/14

Quote of the Week: He does other things for me: he takes me seriously. (Virginia Johnson, Masters of Sex)

Song of the Week: What Child Is This – The Rosewood High School Choir (Pretty Little Liars)

Big News of the Week: Your Next Peter Pan Is…: When NBC announced the casting of Christopher Walken as the first addition to their Peter Pan musical instead of the titular character, it singled to me, do not get excited to have a big name star put on the green leotard (granted I did get excited thinking that a capable though not big draw Brie Larson would have a chance). NBC finally filled the role and the announcement was a bit underwhelming. The role went to Allison Williams who stars on Girls, but that pretty much makes up her whole IDMB page (it should also be mentioned she is the spawn of NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams who gave a tongue in check announcement on the Nightly News saying, “family members confirm she has been rehearsing for this role since the age of three” which was accompanying the younger Williams in costume at the age). Again, not that this matters because unless she bombs worse than Carrie Underwood, most people will be talking about Christopher Walken performance the next day anyway. There is a reason why his name was announced first, he will be the star and the face of the show. Since NBC did not take my suggestion for Peter Pan or Captain Hook (I would have tried for Jack Black for the latter), maybe they will take my advice and cast Ramona Flowers as Tigerlily.

Preview Picture of the Week:

“It’s Not For Everyone” The Strain, Sunday at 10:00 on FX

Free Download of the Week: Keys - Hooray for Earth (Amazon Digital Music)

New Album Release of the Week: They Want My Soul - Spoon

New DVD Release of the Week: Community: Season 5

Video of the Week: In a story I broke a couple lines ago that Allison Williams will star in the upcoming adaptation of Peter Pan. Her acting resume is not very long, it is basically Girls and a bunch of web stuff, but her musical resume is actually smaller. But Williams did get her role on Girls when producer Judd Apatow saw her singing Nature Boy while being backed by musicians playing A Beautiful Mine (aka the Mad Men theme song) so she apparently has the pipes. There is also a scene from Girls where her character does a hilariously over the top version of Stronger and hilariously over the top is exactly what I look for in my musical theater actors. Really I did not know much about Williams prior to her casting but after watching these two and a half minutes I am one hundred percent all in on Williams as Peter Pan and really in general. Unfortunately, that video is un-embeddable (watch it here) so here is the A Beautiful Mind / Mad Men mash-up, but seriously, click the link to hear her singing stronger too.

Next Week Pick of the Week: L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin: Friday at 9:00 on Showtime: Showtime ® gives viewers a look inside the daily struggles of a dynamic group of Southern lesbians in L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin, a 90-minute documentary executive produced by filmmaker Ilene Chaiken (The L Word®, The Real L Word®) and the award-winning Magical Elves directing and production team of Dan Cutforth and Jane Lipsitz (Top Chef, Katy Perry: Part of Me). The film spotlights the unique challenges of being lesbians in between the “coasts” in the religious, conservative deep South. Directed by Oscar® and Emmy® nominee Lauren Lazin (Tupac: Resurrection), the documentary looks at life outside more progressive metropolitan areas in America today where gay women endure hardships, bigotry, bullying, sexism and racism while trying to live among their predominantly straight neighbors. Featured stories include a newly out-and-proud former pastor banished from her church, but who later regains her self-esteem by launching a program to support her local LGBTQ community; a white mother who would accept her daughter’s black lover, if only she were a man; a couple grappling with both infertility and female-to-male gender transitioning; and a former life-long lesbian struggling to “pray the gay away,” and hoping to do the same for her openly gay son. The documentary is a continuation of Chaiken’s exploration of modern-day lesbian life: her groundbreaking Showtime drama series The L Word ran for six seasons on the network and followed a group of Los Angeles-based friends as they navigated careers, families, friendships, inner-struggles and romantic entanglements.

Friday, August 01, 2014

I Need to Be Myself, Can’t Be No One Else

Definitely Maybe - Oasis

The early to mid-nineties was a depressing time where there was not a less credible than actually caring. Which is what makes Oasis’s rise so remarkable. They wanted to be the biggest band in the world. They had the attitude of eighties Sunset Strip, riffs from the classic rock era of the sixties, mixes with a dash of the weirdness that alt-rock craze of the nineties. The first song off their debut album Rock ‘n’ Roll Star was a shot across the bow of the shoe gazers of the time. Hard partying, heavy drinking, and massive group infighting was back and for a brief moment, it was glorious. The band became so big, even a single of the brothers Gallagher charted in their native England.

Though the band did not become the global superstars until their second album, Definitely Maybe, this month’s induction into the Scooter Hall of Fame, was a great start with a few singles that should have broke the band stateside. There was plenty of cocksure in the rock anthem Supersonic which should have had a crossover with the Shawn Kemp led Seattle basketball team at the time. Second single Live Forever was more melancholy but still managed to rock hard. Though those two track stood out, there was not a skippable song on the album.

Oasis’s love of The Beatles is well documented and the influence is heard the most on Shakemaker which could have fit in their trippy period. And where the band showed they could rock hard (Bring it on Down actually would not have sounded out of place on the eighties Sunset Strip) the album is just as interested when the band slowed down; Digsy's Dinner is a fun jaunt though the British countryside. And while the Beatles influences are so abundant one can argue plagiarism at time, album closer Married with Children sounds like the best ballad the Davies Brothers of The Kinks never wrote.

Stuck between those two slower tracks is one of the great hidden gems of the nineties Slide Away, the most vulnerable the band is on the album but still exudes some English attitude on the track. There was plenty of hype surrounded Oasis when they came out, mostly created by the band itself, and the was finally realized with the release of the second album, most specifically Wonderwall, but you have to wonder if their hubris was also their downfall as went away Stateside as quickly as the conquered (though for those who stopped paying attention to the around the release of Be Here Now I highly recommend checking out Stop Crying Your Heart Out, the closest they got to recreating Wonderwall)but for one deleting moment everyone agreed with the Gallagher Bothers that Oasis, indeed, was the biggest and best band in the world.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Previewing Urban Jungle

We have all heard the urban legends of snakes coming out of toilets, seen on the news bears invading resort towns, and heard horror stories of coyotes eating household pets. All these stories are explored on National Geographic’s new three hour special Urban Jungle premiering this Sunday at 8:00 and will be simulcast o Nat Geo Wild. The event is hosted by big cat tracker Boone Smith who travels to big cities, the suburbs, and remote outposts to see how and why wild animals are invading human civilization.

he first hour of Urban Jungle focuses on major cities, coyotes in Chicago, leopards in Mumbai, bats in Austin, and yes, pythons lurking in the sewers on Bangkok that find their ways up through the toilets. Hour two moves out to the suburbs from the street dogs of Russia, boxing kangaroos on the golf courses of Australia, and of course those pesky raccoons. Be warned there is plenty of footage of wild animals on domestic pet violence in the episode (really on all three, there are wild bird on the prowl of small dogs in New York City). Finally, Boone heads to the outposts where towns pop up where the animals live like the tourist spot in Zimbabwe where people go to see Victoria Falls which just happens to be in the path of centuries old elephant migration path. The animals even take up in places where humans abandoned. It may still not be safe for humans to return to Chernobyl but wolves are enjoying the comforts of the abandoned buildings.

For the past century, humans have been building these sprawling cities to get away from the wildlife, but these metropolises end up enticing animals to leave the wild for a more dangerous area dominated by humans. The main reason aside from comfort (if you were a bear, would you rather hibernate in a cave or a heated basement in the suburbs) is Food. It is repeated multiple times how humans throw out half the food they buy and the wild animals are more than happy to finish off our table scraps and food left in the refrigerator long past the expiration date. So if you do not want Rocket Raccoon and his wild friends going through your garbage, actually eat everything you buy.

Urban Jungle premieres Sunday at 8:00 on National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

There’s a Little Bit of Magic, Everyone Has It

The Voyager - Jenny Lewis

Recently Jenny Lewis gave an interview with Grantland but the star of the podcast was not Lewis herself or even the interviewer Andy Greenwald, it was instead Ryan Adams who produced most of her new album The Voyager (you can download it on on iTunes). The interview started off in earnest with Lewis uncomfortably recounting the demise of her band Riley Kilo and her struggles with insomnia (ironically one of the better curse for insomnia may actually be hearing other people talking about insomnia) but the interview really picked up when Lewis started talking about working with Ryan at it Pax Am studio in Los Angeles.

As a long time fan of Adams I know the guy can be eccentric, this is a guy who started off his first solo album with an “argument with David Rawlings concerning Morrisey” and famously stopped a concert and would not continue until a fan who requested Summer Of '69 was removed from the building. In her interview told tales of how Adams refused to listen to playback (nor would let Lewis do the same) and when he told her to scream like John Lennon as he was leaving the studio for the day. This culminated with Adams adamantly telling Lewis to go home and write Wonderwall. The thing is I came away from the interview much more excited for Ryan’s upcoming self titled album coming out next month than the new Lewis album which came out this week.

That is not to say there is nothing worth checking out on The Voyager and it is hard not to see if Adams’ unorthodox recording techniques paid off. At first listen, The Voyager sound more upbeat and less folksy than her two previous solo albums and subsequent listens you can definitely tell the tracks where Adams contributes guitar like at the end of She’s Not Me. Slippery Stone even sounds like it could be an opening riff to an Adams song. It may actually be easier to pick out the non-Adams tracks for instance Just One of the Guys produced by Beck (yes that is him on backing vocals, the most overt indie-pop song which veers into annoyingly catchy with the oo-oo’s punctuated throughout the song. The better pop song may actually be the album opener Head Underwater.

The album closes with the title track which is also the song that came out of the Wonderwall request. It is an acoustic based ballad with strings, but that is as close to Wonderwall as her song gets (Lewis does point out in the interview if she could have written a Wonderwall she already would have done it). Nor does she find a way to scream like Lennon on the song as requested. It is the most different song on the album and actually does a good job wrapping up the album. Now I need to turn my attention for the release of the Ryan Adams album to see if there are any Wonderwalls or John Lennon screams. Okay, thinking about it, that would kin of make it li9ke every Ryan Adams album, one of which actually had a Wonderwall cover.

Song to Download – Head Underwater

The Voyager gets a Terror Alert Level: Elevated [YELLOW] on my Terror Alert Scale.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Feed Your iPod: LXXXV: Walls (Circus)

Tom Petty released a new album today and like his last couple it is good (granted the best new Tom Petty song out today is probably his contribution to Eric Clapton’s The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale), but he really has not done anything great for almost two decades. The mid-nineties was Tom Petty’s “weird period” (which was pretty weird because he has always been slightly left of center for classic rock acts) which ended with his album that served as the soundtrack for She’s the One. Maybe these songs got lost because it was a forgettable movie (Ed Burns wrote and directed the well received indie flick The Brothers McMullen and was given a bigger budget for his follow up with big name stars like Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz and a soundtrack by Petty but made about as much money as his indie debut; since then Burns is forever the fourth lead in dramas but still occasionally makes indie flicks that you probably have never seen or even heard of). The standout on the soundtrack is Walls, a Phil Spector-ish song deep in layered vocals and a wall of sound (but no Indian influence despite the music video theme). After another straight rock album that was released today that was just okay, maybe Petty should get into another “weird period.”

Walls (Circus) – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Monday, July 28, 2014

I Want My Music Television: 7/28/14

There have been a couple of videos that have caught my eye lately so I thought I’d give them some love since the death of Musical Television left a void for a forum on the art form. If you are interested in buying the video through iTunes, click the title link (where available). If you are interested in buying the song, look for a link in the analysis.

URL Badman – Lily Allen

URL Badman was probably my least favorite song on the new Lily Allen album. As a wise man once said, you never beef down an d Lily going after lowly bloggers should be beneath her at this point. This is way I liked the more grown up Lily on Sheezus. But this may be the best music video with those freaky special effects.

Do You – Spoon

I am always fascinating with one-shot music video and the new Spoon one was looking like it was going to be one of the more boring ones (slow-mo also seems like creating in one shots). Then the Godzilla sized toddlers showed up at the end. Awesome.

Oblivion - Bastille

Who knew Sansa Stark could sing? Okay it is not the best song in the world. Bastille is pulling out the big guns in hopes of not being relegated to one hit wonder bin. I am not sure it will work, should have held out for Arya, but she is probably holding out for Coldplay to be in a brit-pop-rock music video.

Girl in a Country Song – Maddie and Tae

Country radio has never been that intellectually stimulating, but last year it came to a head at just how mind numbingly clichéd at just how the genre got when someone made a video how every hit talked about trucks, dirt roads to river beds at sunset, beer, and of course girls named “girl” in tight blue jeans (see Why Country Music Was Awful in 2013). To give you a sense of just how much Bro Country has taken control of country radio, there has not been a female to top the Billboard Country Airplay Chart by herself since November 2012 when Carrie Underwood did that (female featuring groups like The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum have topped the chart in the interim). Well, it took seven months after that video exposed all the clichés but the Bro Country backlash is finally starting. First in line are newcomers Maddie and Tae taking aim at the biggest country singers like Blake Shelton and Florida Georgia Line, not so subtlety referencing Bro Country’s biggest hits in their Girl in a Country Song. The song and video are fun, but not all together great or probably a game changer. But in its second week it did move up to number 45 on the Country Airplay chart.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

57 Channels and Only This Is On: 7/27/14

Ray Donovan: So the new FBI guy’s big deep dark secret is that he is in a Bob Segar cover band… awesome. I do have a sinking suspicion his wife may have a few bones in her closet that Ray will be able to find. At least Ray had better luck with the parole officer. It is going to be fun seeing him torment Mickey all season.

The Last Ship: Sure you have to go back and kill the drug kinpin, but at least go back to the ship, unload the monkeys, get some reinforcements, and gun power before you go back. Oh wait, this is a Michael Bay production, it is surprisingly that jut one of the soldiers was not able to take down all the drug lord stooges.
You can download The Last Ship on iTunes.

The Strain: It seemed to take the CDC a little too long to discover that all the “corpses” were no longer at the morgue. Did no one notice all those dead bodies up and leave until the CDC showed up? Oh well. At least we got one really creepy gross out scene with the little girl shooting some sort of sucker out of her mouth to kill(?) her dad Alien style.
You can download The Strain on iTunes.

Switched at Birth: I would like to preface this by saying drugs are bad, do not do drugs kiddies, but Daphne taking cocaine was the most entertaining scene in the show’s history. And at least Toby is rebounding well with a new neighbor who is shoehorned into the show as his neighbor and new, in the middle of the school year, teacher at Carlton. And you thought Tank being his new roommate was forced.
You can download Switched At Birth on iTunes.

Under the Dome: So we finally learn who killed the hot chick and it was… Junior’s uncle? Alrighty. The same uncle who made it seem like he did not recognized his former girlfriend who had not aged a day since he may have killed her too. Alrighty again. Wait does this mean we can flash forward twenty-five years and have the token hot chick resurrected?
You can stream Under The Dome on Amazon Instant Video, free for Prime users.

Pretty Little Liars: Okay, so who is this new swim team member exactly? Any new character is instantly suspicious but she got extremely fishier this week. Is she going to just turn into a new Shawnna, someone the show can claim is A only to expose a deeper conspiracy later?
You can download Pretty Little Liars on iTunes.

The Bridge: I have known that drug traffickers have been using humans as mules since Maria Full of Grace, but I was not ready to learn they are now sticking the drugs up horses to get the product shipped without detection.
You can download The Bridge on iTunes.