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Wow. After the last few moments of the show, I feel I need to rethink everything I saw in this episode. I'm simply not sure how I feel about what happened, as I felt that what was said was the honest truth -- but absolutely calculated to change what happens as well. But let's not skip ahead just yet. There's a lot of show to talk about first, complete with compelling performances and arresting solos. And truthfully, those are happier to think about anyway.
Dave Matthews Band’s latest “Away from the World” shouldn’t be judged alone by its single “Mercy,” a rock lite Good-Feeling Word Salad that clings hard to the teeth. It means well, a sentiment that could describe just a couple of songs off of this Steve Lillywhite-produced set, but bombs compared to one of its “Worldly” companions like “Gaucho,” another and more refined expression of the disappointment and dealings with the “World’s” inequity.
For casual Oscar-watchers, the Cannes Film Festival may seem prime hunting ground for Best Foreign Language Film candidates, but it hasn't turned up much so far -- only two submissions have emerged from this year's programme. The first of these was obvious: Michael Haneke's Palme d'Or winner "Amour," eventually selected as Austria's entry.
The second is similarly predictable: eyebrows would have been raised if Romania hadn't submitted "Beyond the Hills." Cristian Mungiu's long-awaited follow-up to his 2007 Cannes champion, "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" earned a raft of glowing reviews -- if not quite the unanimous veneration that greeted his previous film -- upon its premiere back in May, and was the only film in Competition to take more than one jury award: Best Screenplay for Mungiu and Best Actress for young novices Cosmina Stratan and Cristina Flutur. (As with the recent kerfuffle in Venice, the latter prize was something of a compromise: "Amour" lead Emmanuelle Riva was reportedly the jury's first choice.)
I couldn't just weigh in on the new fall TV half-hours, of course. For the record, these aren't reviews -- those would be more in-depth and, honestly, would require more than the first episode to truly assess each show. Still, the new fall dramas are a much sturdier, more promising lot than the sitcoms, so there's reason to be hopeful. And really, even if some of the stronger shows dive bomb, the all-star casts (Connie Britton! Michael Chiklis! Andre Braugher) will be compelling enough for me to at least set my DVR each week.
Pink’s new album,”The Truth About Love,” doesn’t come out until next Tuesday, but between now and then a lyric video for a new track will debut every day on Vevo.
Today’s track, “Try” is a mid-tempo sparkler, whose melody is a bit reminiscent of “You And Your Hand.” Lyrically, the song is all getting up again after being kicked down hard. From the opening lines, “Ever wonder about what he’s doing/How it all turned to lies,” it’s clear that her man has gone astray. But, as she advises us, “Just because it burns/doesn’t mean you’re gonna die.”
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I think the thing I like most about Ben Affleck these days is that he didn't wait for someone else to rescue his career. He took control and he rescued himself.
"Argo" is the latest film from Affleck as a director, and I think it's a huge leap forward for him. I liked "Gone Baby Gone" more than I liked "The Town," which I thought was well-made but not a particularly great script. This time out, Affleck is working with a wonderful piece of material, telling a captivating true story, and he's put together an ensemble that any actor would be thrilled to be part of, all in service of a film that absolutely feels like it could make awards-giving groups happy while also serving as a cracking piece of entertainment. Those two things don't always go hand in hand, and Affleck deserves credit for taking what could easily have been a dry historical moment and turning it into as tense a thriller as you'll see in a theater all year.
Considering the production quality and sophisticated arrangements that went into previous Grizzly Bear efforts, expectations are raised with each record. The quartet’s latest “Shields,” in turn, doesn’t fail to deliver another batch of gorgeously built tunes, despite having no dramatic evolution in sound.
"Shields" is out on Sept. 18.
“If I live the life I’m given, I won’t be scared to die,” sing the Avett Brothers in the banjo ballad, “The Once And Future Carpenter.” The track opens “The Carpenter,” the new album from Scott Avett, Seth Avett and bassist Bob Crawford, out today.
Coming from less talented hands, the words may sound like an empty platitude, but over the course of their career, the Avett Bros, who are joined on the album (and in concert) by cellist Joe Kwon and drummer Jacob Edwards, have shown a knack for spinning simple truths out of complicated concepts.
On 2009’s “I And Love And You,” the album that brought the Avetts into the mainstream, producer Rick Rubin provided some needed spit and polish on the band’s material and streamlined the sound found on their earlier indie releases.
On “The Carpenter,” the Brothers Avett, take the lessons they learned from Rubin, who produces again here, and retain what they liked and discard the rest. The result is an album that has a shine but is never overly glossy. Guests like Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers’ keyboardist Benmont Tench and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drummer Chad Smith are there to add a certain texture, not for bragging rights.
Like contemporaries Mumford & Sons, the Avett Bros. have found a new way to make acoustic instruments rock and roll with passion and intensity, while keeping the instruments’ authenticity. They also aren’t afraid to get noisy, loudly building their songs with a confidence that brims through on “Pretty Girl From Michigan,” and the irrepressibly jangly “Geraldine,” as well as the shape-shifting, psychedelic “Paul Newman Vs. The Demons.” Melodically, they are deeply rooted in folk and country, but access rock, grunge and pop with ease. They owe as much to Kurt Cobain as to Levon Helm.
Despite the often light melodies and glorious harmonies, there’s a certain gravitas to much of “The Carpenter,” as the band explores death and all his friends in its many different guises. “Through My Prayers” is a tender tearjerker that anyone who has lost someone with words left unspoken will understand all too well.
If it’s not physical death, there’s also the death that comes from heartache, as poignantly expressed in the stark “Winter In My Heart.” As the months tear off the calendar, the protagonist stays in a perpetual winter, unable to move on from a romantic loss. The music on “I Never Knew You” may be bright and sparkly, but the lyrics detail a disenchanted, heartbroken lover, who goes out “Friday night and talk(s) to anyone I can.” As he looks back on his past relationship, he realizes that his former paramour was a stranger even though he believed he was deeply in love.
It’s not all darkness on “The Carpenter.” On “A Father’s First Spring,” Scott Avett sweetly details the first blushes of fatherhood and how painful it is leave his newborn daughter. On “Paul Newman Vs. The Demons,” the group salutes the legendary actor for the exemplary way he lived his life: “Oh to be like him and walk a path/To lend a hand, do something worth a damn.” As much as the song is a paean to Newman, it’s also an exhortation to find a way to give up one’s demons. It’s the biggest stretch on the album, and its adventurous rambling doesn’t always work.
“The Carpenter” isn’t as bright as “I And Love And You,” but it has a depth of feeling that surpasses its predecessor and an understanding of life’s vicissitudes that anyone who has experienced them will appreciate for its honesty and, ultimately, hope.
Not to be crass, but it struck me yesterday that a screening of "Anna Karenina" followed by moderating a Q&A with Kristen Stewart (along with Walter Salles and Garrett Hedlund for "On the Road") was an interesting juxtaposition. Young lady errs and gets maligned by society. Hmm. But stripping the tabloid away from a persona is always a good thing, and spending a few hours with Stewart, first on stage then later in the evening at an after-party, really endeared me to her, I must say.
People put their best face on in this game so you're always going to be charmed, seduced, wooed by the "please like me" thing of it all. But Stewart (who was nevertheless exposed to the film industry from a very early age) is a very normal girl in the throes of very abnormal circumstances. And her "best face" is difficult to manage. She squirms on stage in between the smoothly collected Hedlund and the cerebral Salles. She feels like she doesn't belong, but she desperately wants to. Indeed, she thinks she deserves to.
Don’t count Missy Elliott out. She may have been absent lately, but it’s the top of the ninth and she’s coming back. In this 85-second snippet from “Ninth Inning,” the female rapper declares, over an ominous horn droning that gives way to a bright, classical-sounding piano melody, “Now i’m in the ninth inning/thought I fell off/I ain’t finished.”
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