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Ray Davies, Mozart, The Boy Least Likely To, Easter Bunnies   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, April 05, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

7232 Reads

New Releases, Pink Mountaintops, a Horse, a Pig and their beer   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, April 04, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

4524 Reads

The Replacements, Cover Art, Art Brut and a Penguin on the Thames?   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, April 03, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

10445 Reads

Replacements, 50 Free MP3s, Purple Polar Bear, Robot Moose and Squirrel   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, March 31, 2006 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Karl

THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE...

...with bootleg video of Robert Pollard playing "Love Is Stronger Than Witchcraft" in Lexington, KY. Ken King and I will be seeing him in Chicago tonght.

FRIDAY TIMEWASTER: WEBoggle.

REPLACEMENTS REUNION UPDATE: It looks like the 'Mats recorded two new tracks for the Rhino comp. Pitchfork also has details o­n the forthcoming box set, which looks to have cool video.

MATT POND talks to the Anchorage Daily News about years of touring and improving: "We're getting closer and closer to closing the distance between who we are and what we mean to say or mean to play." You can stream a few of Matt Pond PA's indie pop tunes via MySpace.

BONO was thought to be the front-runner in a multi-million pound deal to buy a stake in the back catalog of Nirvana from Courtney Love. But it's been sold to Larry Mestel of Primary Wave Music Publishing, former COO/GM of Virgin Records.

BLAKE SENNETT, like a lot of people, likes sad lyrics and happy music. You can stream four and download o­ne from The Elected (his non-Rilo Kiley project) at MySpace.

SCOTT McCAUGHEY, touring with (as) the Minus 5, says the band is backing Robyn Hitchcock and John Wesley Harding o­n their next albums. And he's apparently not done with the Young Fresh Fellows, either...

50 BANDS, 50 FREE MP3s: Stereogum hooks you up to plenty 'o' indie goodness, including tracks from Rogue Wave, Neko Case, Drive-By Truckers, Shearwater, Starlight Mints, Exene Cervenka, Saturday Looks Good To Me and many more. Scroll down into the comments and you'll even find a link for The Pushtwangers, the Swedish band Music Works vets will remember for their album with the peel-off dress.

SEEN YOUR VIDEO: The Flaming Lips drop the video for "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song." The song is from the upcoming At War With the Mystics, which London's Guardian really likes, but the Village Voice really doesn't. And I just found an alternate video of "Bohemian Rhapsody" from the crowd o­n a cruise ship, with better audio than the SXSW version.

ROBERT CHRISTGAU doesn't review the Flaming Lips in his latest Consumer Guide, but you'll want to read it, anyway.

ARCTIC MONKEYS not o­nly have a new EP ready to go, but also have about ten more songs ready for the second album.

CENTRO-MATIC: "Patience for the Ride," from Fort Recovery, makes Song of the Day at NPR.

QUARTERLY REPORT: I view part of my mission here as making aging hipsters seem less pathetic. Thus, three months into 2006, I check in with Metacritic's top-scorers to date and find that I have done fairly well at keeping y'all abreast of what's now and happening in the world of music.

PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The troubled singer has gone through eight old Jaguars in eight weeks. He parks them illegally and buys a new o­ne when they get towed.

KEIRA KNIGHTLEY: Beau (and co-star) Rupert Friend drank up a storm at her birthday party and he's reportedly taking her o­n a month-long drinking binge around the US as a gift.

NOW SHOWING: This week's wide releases are the sequel Ice Age: The Meltdown (currently 61 percent Fresh o­n the Tomatometer), the B-movie homage Slither (a surprising-to me 88 percent Fresh), the Southern coming-of-age drama ATL (57 percent Rotten overall, but 64 percent Fresh with the "Cream of the Crop" critics) and Basic Instinct 2 (11 percent Rotten) which is opening o­n a mere 1,453 screens. Two rockumentaries, Awesome: I F%!#in' Shot That (The Beastie Boys, as recorded by fans) and The Devil and Daniel Johnston, which I mentioned yesterday, open in very limited release.

WHITNEY HOUSTON: In the wake of yesterday's cracktastic tabloid headlines, it's no shock to discover that the singer is broke and evicted.

NAOMI CAMPBELL with echoes of Russell Crowe, is arrested and charged with felony assault for allegedly attacking her housekeeper with a cellphone.

GWYNETH AND GUINNESS: Some were agape at the pregnant Paltrow downing a pint at a hip NYC sushi bar. But some experts recommend a little Guinness for expecting mothers, because of the brew's high iron content.

STACEY'S MOM will probably be a free woman by the time you read this.

SIENNA MILLER, naked with another woman and a couple of horses? What more could anyone ask for, except a link to the NSFW video?

BRITNEY SPEARS: Ex-beau Justin Timberlake believes that Spenderline is "gross," according to Star magazine. Really going out o­n a limb for that o­ne, Justin.

CARS: The next feature from Pixar -- o­nce rumored to be a troubled production -- gets a good advance review from an attendee at ShoWest.

LOVE MONKEY: The show about a 30-something music scout that o­nly I watched will be seen o­n VH1 in April.

LOST fans will be poring over this diagram like it's the Rosetta Stone.

MATT LeBLANC: Series cancelled, marriage cancelled. He won't be there for you.

VICTORIA SILVSTEDT: No, the Victoria's Secret supermodel didn't visit the trout pout doctor -- that's the work of a hockey puck.

CHARLIE SHEEN is miffed that people don't buy his 9/11 conspiracy theories. He says: "Do a little research o­n Building Seven. Building Seven lives at the epicenter of my entire debate." Okay, having read the interim report o­n Building Seven from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (previewed here) and discussion of the issue by folks who know physics and engineering, I conclude that Sheen is still a wackjob. Sheen adds: "A CNN poll at the time of this writing currently sits at 84 percent IN SUPPORT of my views." He's referring to a poll o­n the CNN website, which has no scientific validity -- big surprise there. Chuck, folks aren't pointing out that you were expelled from high school to avoid the issue, but to point out that people with expertise in physics, engineering, etc. are more qualified than you to render opinions about what causes a building to collapse. To put it in terms Sheen would understand, "Sell crazy someplace else, we're all stocked up here."

NANOTECH is already a part of 200 everyday items.

CULT OF THE iPod: Fearing lawsuits over lost hearing, Apple issued a software update Wednesday for the Nano and the video iPod that allows users to set how loud their digital music players can go.

IRAQ: The Iraqi commander during a controversial raid by American and Iraq forces says accusations that US forces killed innocent civilians in Sunday's raid o­n a building in Baghdad were "not true." A Soldier's Dad looks at a map of the violence in Baghdad and finds it decreasing and concentrated in specific neighborhoods.

CARTOON JIHAD: A group of 27 Danish Muslim organizations have filed a defamation lawsuit against the newspaper that first published the carricatures of Prophet Muhammed. Borders and Waldenbooks, fearing for the safety of their customers and employees, will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains the cartoons.

A PURPLE POLAR BEAR and a pink dolphin are among Hemmy's Top Ten Strangest Animals.

SQUIRREL steals a college student's ID card. The student's complaint irks a bureaucrat with Residential Life. The good news? I just saved a lot of money o­n car insurance.

ROBOT MOOSE: Bullwinkle nabs a man attempting to kill an endangered species. Nothing up my sleeve... presto!

A BENGAL TIGER weighing 300 pounds or more stalks Cullman County, Alabama.

PUPPY RESCUE: Chicago firefighters broke through a 10-inch concrete wall to rescue a puppy trapped between two downtown buildings.

DON'T PLAY WITH YOUR SNAKE while driving.

5103 Reads

Saturday by Ian McEwan (review by Karl)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Friday, March 31, 2006 - 01:00 AM
Posted by: kbade

Books

NOTE: If you're here for the usual stuff, fear not -- it's right below this entry, though music fans should read this review. OTOH, if you came her directly for the review, check the home page and poke around a bit!

Ian McEwan's Saturday was the March selection for Amber Taylor's Blog Book Club. Before review day, we alreay know that Amber liked it a lot, and it's not tough to understand why. The book's protagonist, neurosurgeon Henry Perowne, has a number of qualities she (and I) would like. He's intelligent and rational. He's also professional without being coldly clinical; outside work, he has both love and libido for his wife, with no thought of straying. He's trying to cultivate a love of literature and poetry -- the latter playing a recurring role, as both his father-in-law and his daughter are poets. In fact, poetry plays a crucial role in this chronicle of February 15, 2003, as experienced by Henry. Moreover, the contrast between craft and the creation of artistic beauty is a sub-theme of the book.

Ironically, I suspect that Henry might not like Saturday. After his daughter Daisy gets him to read Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary, he does not believe they amounted to much: "The details were apt and convincing enough, but surely not so very difficult to marshal if you were halfway observant and had the patience to write them all down. These books were the products of steady, workmanlike accumulation." That could be a desciption of this book as well, as McEwen taps directly into the inner monolgue of a man who spends his day inside the heads of other people in a more literal sense. At times, the flow of detail threatens to overwhelm; McEwan spent two years observing a brain surgeon and lets you know he did his homework. But even these passages never become o­nerous because they fit so well with the way we know Perowne's own mind works. In the less technical passages (the vast majority of the book), the reader can be carried with the ebb and flow of Perowne's day, much like the twists and turns of his quash match with a colleague. I rarely felt that McEwan was having to stretch to spend an entire novel o­n o­ne day.

The first thing I learned about Perowne from the book jacket was that he is a contented man, an observation borne out in the book. Saturday would ordinarily be Perowne's most contented day, but the main theme of Saturday is the ways in which events conspire against that contentment, starting with an omen in the early morning sky and drawing ever closer to Perowne as the day unfolds. The events can be as global as post-9/11 anxieties and divisions over the looming invasion of Iraq (the day in question is o­ne of the massive anti-war protests in London, where the tale is set) -- about which Perowne is profoundly ambivalent. Indeed, Perowne finds himself the contrarian when others speak of it, leaning against when listening to his prowar colleague Jay, and for it when confronted by his daughter.

Some may be tempted to see the events of Perowne's day as a metaphor for the larger post-9/11 issues. Is the way Perowne treats his antagonist meant to suggest the way the West has treated the Islamic world? Is McEwan suggesting the latter has defects like those of Perowne's antagonist? Fortunately, McEwan doesn't telegraph any such intent and lets the story exist o­n a more human level.

As interesting as those meditations may be, I, as a music enthusiast, found myself lingering o­n the subtheme of artistic creation. Perowne's son, Theo, is a blues musician who was partially mentored by Jack Bruce of Cream. Thus, in the midst of Perowne's rationalism, the reader is periodically surprised by references to John Lee Hooker or the Graham Bond Organisation. And my favorite passage in the book may be when Perowne's rationalism is suspended as Theo's band rehearses a new song:

"He lets it engulf him. There are those rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than theyve ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything you have to others, but lose nothing of yourself. Out in the real world there exist detailed plans, visionary projects for peaceable realms, all conflicts resolved, happiness for everyone, for ever -- mirages for which people are prepared to die or kill. Christ's kingdom o­n earth, the worker's paradise, the ideal Islamic state. But o­nly in music, and o­nly o­n rare occasions, does the curtain actually lift o­n this dream of community, and it's tantalizingly conjured, before fading away with the last notes."

With prose like that, the fact that the song being played is remarkably un-bluesy to advance another theme of the story is a nitpick.

There should be be more reviews and discussion at Prettier Than Napoleon later on Friday. Next month's selection is Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys, should you like to follow along.

5251 Reads

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