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Album Review: Ellie Goulding's 'Halcyon' brightens up far beyond 'Lights'
Credit: Polydor Records

Album Review: Ellie Goulding's 'Halcyon' brightens up far beyond 'Lights'

British singer mines love and loss on U.S. debut

Prince William and Kate Middleton’s favorite  wedding singer, Ellie Goulding, finally sees her sophomore album, “Halcyon,” come out this Tuesday, nearly a year after “Lights” first illuminated the Billboard Hot 100.

The bouncy “Lights,” which was on her first album and is a bonus cut here, only hints at the depth the British 25-year old possesses. With a often trembly voice that recalls everyone from Florence Welch to Lykke Li, Kate Bush and James Blunt (seriously, listen to the first verse of the title track), Goulding inhabits an ethereal world where her feathery vocals float above often electronic musical bed.

What lifts Goulding above the raft of female singers out there currently is how she and producer Jim Eliot often use her voice as additional  instrumentation, such as on the stompy “Only You.” Her vocalization provides the melody, as she sings around it.  On “Joy,” a song about knowing happiness has to come from within and not “in your arms,” her voice, backing vocals and strings create a complete wall of sound.

Much of the material deals with love and its disappearance, whether it be the end of a romantic relationship, or, more poignantly, her father deserting the family when Goulding was five (she hasn’t seen him since). On the trembly “I Know You Care,” she forgives him in way that it’s hard to imagine he deserves. As a songwriter, she has the storytelling down already, but she needs to learn how to craft a catchier chorus. This album is more about atmospherics and emotion than hooks.

Though her voice can seem frail at times, she uses her quiver to great effect on “Dead In the Water,” a largely a cappella stunner of a song about a woman whose husband was swept out to sea while they were walking on the beach, and on the airy "Atlantis" (though the subsequent drop into a heavy chorus feels out of place).

“It’s OK to be afraid, but it will never be the same,” she sings on “Explosions,” as a angelic vocals surround her. That same otherworldly feel permeates almost every song on “Halcyon.” Violins collide with synthesizers and tribal drums and hand claps crash into many of the songs, but it’s Goulding’s confessional, vulnerable vocals that you’ll remember long after you’ve finished listening to “Halcyon.”





 

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 153

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 153

Dan and Alan talk 'Arrow,' 'Beauty and the Beast,' 'Walking Dead' and more

The

Happy Monday, Boys & Girls.
 
Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor Columbus Day can stop The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
 
We have oodles to talk about, including reviews of "Arrow," "Beauty and the Beast," "Chicago Fire" and "Nashville," plus new seasons of "The Walking Dead" and a pair of FX comedies. We also talked about "Homeland," which we aren't guaranteeing will be a weekly thing, but for now... Sure.
 
Next week, it's possible we may end up doing a Tuesday podcast do to the sheer quantity of stuff that needs watching, plus a bit of travel on my part. 
 
But here's today's breakdown:
"Arrow" (00:01:10 - 00:15:00)
"Chicago Fire" (00:15:00 - 00:27:00)
"Nashville" (00:27:05 - 00:39:40)
"Beauty and the Beast" (00:39:45 - 47:40)
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (00:47:45 - 00:52:45)
"The League" (00:53:00 - 00:56:45)
"The Walking Dead" (00:56:50 - 01:07:00)
"Homeland" (01:07:45 - 01:20:45)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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<p>Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander in Denmark's &quot;A Royal Affair,&quot; one of 71 films vying for the Oscar.</p>

Mads Mikkelsen and Alicia Vikander in Denmark's "A Royal Affair," one of 71 films vying for the Oscar.

Credit: Magnolia Pictures

Final foreign-language Oscar longlist numbers a record 71 titles

The nine-film shortlist will be announced in January

Well, we're finally there. After three months of submissions, which we reported on at regular interviews, the Academy has lowered the boom and announced the official longlist of films in the running for this year's Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. And quite a list it is too: with 71 countries represented, including a first-time entry from Kenya, it's the longest in the category's history.

Last week, after glancing over the near-final list as it stood after the October 1 submissions deadline, I mentioned that a few additions, switches and/or disqualifications would take place before the Academy set it in stone. Happily, only the first of those modifications came to pass, with three last-minute entries joining the fray: Malaysia's "Bunohan,"  Kyrgysztan's "The Empty Home" and Singapore's "Already Famous." Contrary to the title of the latter film -- a showbiz satire about a TV soap addict trying to launch an acting career -- none of these latecomers have much of a profile, though reviews from last year's Toronto fest of the Malaysian entry make it sound like a hoot: Variety calls it "a fight film with echoes of 'King Lear,' and a ghost story about living people who occupy the edge of existence." It's remake-ready, apparently. Sign me up.

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Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 153: 'The Walking Dead,' 'Nashville,' 'Arrow,' 'Chicago Fire' & more

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 153: 'The Walking Dead,' 'Nashville,' 'Arrow,' 'Chicago Fire' & more

Dan and Alan also welcome the return of 'It's Always Sunny' & 'The League' and talk more 'Homeland'

The

Week 2 of the TV season was slow. Week 3 is crazy, with many more new shows and returning shows premiering, which means it's a busy Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, as Dan and I talk about "Arrow," "Chicago Fire," "Nashville," "Beauty and the Beast," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "The League," "The Walking Dead" and "Homeland." 

The line-up: 

"Arrow" (00:01:10 - 00:15:00)
"Chicago Fire" (00:15:00 - 00:27:00)
"Nashville" (00:27:05 - 00:39:40)
"Beauty and the Beast" (00:39:45 - 47:40)
"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" (00:47:45 - 00:52:45)
"The League" (00:53:00 - 00:56:45)
"The Walking Dead" (00:56:50 - 01:07:00)
"Homeland" (01:07:45 - 01:20:45)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. Or you can always follow our RSS Feed, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.

 
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
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<p>By now, the cover art for the '50 Shades Of Grey' novels has become ubiquitous.</p>

By now, the cover art for the '50 Shades Of Grey' novels has become ubiquitous.

Credit: Vintage Books

'50 Shades Of Grey' goes classy and hires Kelly Marcel to adapt the book

The 'mommy porn' sensation gets a great screenwriter

Well, it looks like Universal is serious about a "50 Shades Of Grey" movie.

Obviously, when they spent the money to buy the books for film, they were serious, but I have trouble taking the material seriously.  Whenever I go to Costco and see a table with about 10,000 copies of this thing, I guess that means people are buying it, but I've tried three times now to read it, and I keep running into the brick wall of how painful the writing is.

Still, it's connecting with someone.  I'm amazed how often I see people reading it without any sense that it might not be appropriate in a public place.  Every time I see one of the moms at baseball practice reading it, I wonder what they'd do if I broke out a Hustler and gave it a once-over.  I had trouble imagining a classy version of this film, and was ready to tune it out as one of those things that just isn't for me.

Then they announced that Kelly Marcel will be writing the script.

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<p>Jay-Z at Barclays Center</p>

Jay-Z at Barclays Center

Credit: AP Photo

Jay-Z's releasing live album from Brooklyn concerts on Tuesday

Less than 72 hours later, Hova drops an 'optic EP' from 8 Barclays Center shows

If you missed Jay-Z’s 8-night stand to open the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, less than 72 hours after he walked off the stage, a live album from the event can be yours.

“Jay-Z: Live In Brooklyn” is available for pre-order on iTunes now and will be available on Oct. 9. On the cover, Jay-Z sports a New Jersey Nets’ jersey, which he helped design. He is also a minority owner in the basketball team.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>From the first edition of &quot;Mylo Xyloto&quot;</p>

From the first edition of "Mylo Xyloto"

Watch: Coldplay's 'Hurts Like Heaven' video previews 'Mylo' comic book

Every hero needs an origin story

It was back in June that Coldplay announced they'd be releasing a comic book series based on their album "Mylo Xyloto." With the drop of the video for newest single "Hurts Like Heaven," the British band has opened up a sneak peek into its namesake's start.

The clip is composed of comics panels rendered into 3D views, but not animated in the traditional sense. It follows a fivesome of colorful mischief-makers, oppressed by the overlord Major Minus (which, notably, is the same name as one of the tracks on the album "Mylo Xyloto). They plaster the streets in graffiti as they're chased, with two of the leaders in love.

See, it seems Major Minus hates sound, color and love. You see how this love story may end. But every comic book hero needs an origin story. At the end, Mylo is made known.

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<p>Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton in ABC's &quot;Nashville.&quot;</p>

Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton in ABC's "Nashville."

Credit: ABC

Review: ABC's 'Nashville' finds its voice early

Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere play feuding country superstars
Rayna James, whose first name points to her position as the long-time queen of country music, sits with the new head of her record label. Her new album hasn't sold well, and her tour is set to play to a bunch of half-empty venues, and the label wants Rayna to mortify herself as the "co-headliner" — a polite term for "opening act" — of a tour with rising young star Juliette Barnes, or else they'll pull all support for her record.
 
Rayna brings up all the money she's made for the label over the years, and all the loyalty she's shown it, and asks for a little loyalty in return. The executive shrugs and tells her, "Unfortunately, the older business models are irrelevant." Now it's go along to get along.
 
It's a scene that neatly establishes the stakes for "Nashville," the promising new ABC drama (it premieres Wednesday night at 10). And, as written by Oscar-winner Callie Khouri ("Thelma & Louise"), it draws a neat line from a music superstar like Rayna to every other professional in the new economy who's finding out that their skills, experience and loyalty amount are considered as irrelevant as the older business models. Like the less-famous, Rayna's not in a position to turn down work — her husband Teddy has made a lot of bad real estate investments, making them rich on the surface but cash-poor in reality — and if that means she may have to kneel before this diminutive, untalented challenger to her throne, she may not have a choice in the matter.
 
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<p>Arcade Fire</p>

Arcade Fire

Credit: Anton Corbijn

Watch: Arcade Fire perform new song 'Crucified Again' live

Beach Boys didn't split after all...

Arcade Fire seemed to be dormant there for a minute, but the band popped up late last week to perform at a  charity gig and brought a new song with them.

"Crucified Again" springs forth from a similar lyrical vein as "Neon Bible" -- religion, hypocrisy, personal value -- but has some serious '60s girl group and Beach Boys vibrations in it slow-moving organ part and three part harmonies.

The fan group over at ArcadeFireTube mentions that "Crucified Again" made its debut in 2011 in Haiti, but nobody had captured the performance on camera. This New York gig marks a first for that.

The Partners in Health 25th anniversary party was held at Guastavino's; the non-profit has been among the band's favorite groups.

No word when the Montreal-based crew will be dropping a follow-up to "The Suburbs," but they were around for the Canadian Polaris Prize last month.

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<p>Alicia Vikander in &quot;Anna Karenina.&quot;</p>

Alicia Vikander in "Anna Karenina."

Credit: Focus Features

Roundup: 'Playbook,' 'Lore' and 'Karenina' stars feted at Hamptons fest

Also: Top supporting actors, and Hollywood goes back to board games

The Hamptons International Film Festival wrapped this weekend, delivering another Audience Award to Toronto favorite "Silver Linings Playbook" -- more ammo the Weinsteins to campaign it as the crowdpleasing Oscar choice -- and a hat-trick of prizes for Australia's foreign Oscar contender "Lore." Meanwhile, the festival hosted the official celebrations for Variety's 10 Actors to Watch, a well-chosen bunch that includes Scoot McNairy ("Monsters"; "Killing Them Softly"), Nate Parker ("Arbitrage") and the film-stealing "Anna Karenina" duo of Alicia Vikander and Domnhall Gleeson. (Yep, son of Brendan.) Cheers all round. [Hamptons Film Fest

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<p>Florence + The&nbsp;Machine perform &quot;Breath of Life&quot;&nbsp;from &quot;Snow White and the Huntsman&quot;&nbsp;at the Hollywood Bowl, Sunday, October 7, 2012.</p>

Florence + The Machine perform "Breath of Life" from "Snow White and the Huntsman" at the Hollywood Bowl, Sunday, October 7, 2012.

Credit: HitFix

Florence and the Machine bring 'Breath of Life' to Hollywood

Is this the closest she'll get to the Dolby Theater this season?

HOLLYWOOD - Florence + The Machine brought their long running Celestials tour to the famed Hollywood Bowl Sunday night for the first of two sold out shows and the acclaimed singer songwriter didn't disappoint.

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"The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

 "The Real Housewives of New Jersey"

Credit: Bravo

'The Real Housewives of New Jersey' recap: Reunion pt. 2

Things get ugly when Rosie and Joe Giudice join the show

It's the second part of the three part "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" reunion, and, as Andy Cohen promises, nothing is off limits! Gosh, there really are benefits to casting a series entirely with narcissists without boundaries! Anyway, last week we left off with Rosie stomping around back stage, rending her clothes and going all She-Hulk on us, because Teresa insulted the memory of Kathy and Rosie's dearly departed dad. That's exactly where we pick up for part deux, though I'm disappointed to see that Rosie has not been put into restraints or been shot up with horse tranquilizer. But hey, there's a potential felony about to happen, so don't get in the way of that, Bravo minions!

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