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Album Review: Kenny Chesney's 'Welcome To The Fishbowl'
Credit: Columbia Records

Album Review: Kenny Chesney's 'Welcome To The Fishbowl'

Country superstar sees life through a dark filter

“No shoes, no shirt, no problems,” has been Kenny Chesney’s unofficial motto (and title for his seventh album) for much of his career.

Sure, he’s done serious songs, like “Better As A Memory,” but on his new album, “Welcome to the Fishbowl,” love and loss rule the day much more than the beach and beer.

Opening track, the sultry “Come Over,” is a booty call, but, like Lady Antebellum’s “Need You Now,” it’s born more out of loneliness than lust. As he sings, “we’re bad for each other, but we ain’t good for anyone else,” an air of resignation and regret sets in.

Whether it’s hitting his mid-40s or other life circumstances, “Fishbowl” finds Chesney looking at life through a filter of longing, whether it be on “El Cerrito Place” or the poignant “To Get To You (55th & 3rd),” where he’s hoping for a second chance.

Hearts are broken by romance on “Fishbowl,” but they are just as likely to be torn apart by broken dreams. On “Sing ‘Em Good My Friend,” a man sells his old guitar, his only worldly possession left, in an effort to raise money for his wife’s medical bills.  “We’re all gonna die someday/You won’t remember a single word I’m trying to say/It’s all a grand illusion when you think you’re in control.” On “While He Knows Who I Am,” Chesney sings as a son whose father is dying of Alzheimer’s.

Most of the songs on here are from the perspective of someone who’s been kicked around and grown weary by life. On “Makes Me Wonder,” Chesney contemplates turning a friendship into a love affair, but fear seems to get in the way. As he sings on “To Get To You”: “Love’s become a frightening thing to do.”  The album ends with a live version of "You and Tequila," recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheater with Grace Potter. It's not as searing as their studio version from 2010's "Hemingway's Whiskey," but fits in beautifully with the themes on "Welcome to the Fishbowl."

It’s not all dark clouds, however. On “Feel Like A Rock Star” featuring his current tour mate Tim McGraw, life’s a party where the music is always free.  On “Time Flies,” the lilting island track pays homage to getting away to the sand and the surf after a heartbreak because “time flies when you’re having rum.” Bring on the Captain Morgan.

For those who like their Chesney with a side of Corona and lime and nothing but a good time, this might not be the album for you. But for anyone who’s been kicked around a little by life and knows what it’s like to wake up with your heart pounding over a lost chance that feels it will never come this way again, welcome to the fishbowl.

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<p>Fiona Apple's &quot;The Idler Wheel...&quot;</p>

Fiona Apple's "The Idler Wheel..."

Album review: Fiona Apple's 'The Idler Wheel...'

Six-year wait for songwriter's masterful anxiety is totally worthwhile

It’s taken Fiona Apple six years to get down the masterful anxiety of “The Idler Wheel…” The full title itself – “The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do” -- must’ve taken at least a couple of weeks and a few sleepless nights. The songwriter has proven over and over again to be both a slave and master to her own carefully selected words, with this current slate aching with the weight of sage, savage and self-effacing confessionals.

Good thing the arrangements never get in the way. In a year where Adele’s lush “21” still dominates the charts, Apple and multi-instrumentalist Charley Drayton produced these 10 tracks to sound like largely like two people sharing inside jokes with only musical toys and a moody upright at their disposal.
 
Take “Periphery,” for instance: the elementary piano line is answered by the instrument’s strings getting slapped, and a rhythm section consisting of what literally sounds like duct tape being ripped up from skin. “I don’t even really like you anymore at all,” Apple reveals childishly, bored and disappointed by her ex-lover’s bullsh*t. It’s all machinery and steam sounds in the intro to “Jonathan,” as she whirly-waltzes into Coney Island atop a tuneless mash of a piano pretending to be a calliope, skittering drums, screeches of “gulls” and her vocal counter-melody.
 
Featured, too, are some of the singer's finest vocal performances in her career. A few were unveiled in the weeks preceding the album’s release, like in war-crying “Every Single Night” and funny heartbreaker “Werewolf.” They're just teasers for more pressing and quixotic plot elements. Get into the guts of the thing and “Regret” pops out, or a her swing-dance version of “Revolution No. 9” (“Hot Knife”) sneaks up.
 
The jittery vibrato and broken howls on “Valentine” are closely recorded like a friend leaving you a pissy voicemail about a lousy date she had. “I stand no chance of growing up” she laments, but then puts the blame on “you you you you.” “Daredevil” shares the same slams, lacerations and tongue twisters, and puts them atop the sounds of thighs being slapped for percussion. “I may need a chaperone!” She laughs it off.
 
"The Idler Wheel's" thick language, overall, empties the listener: Apple’s all salt, and it can be terrifyingly sweet. Every song feels more valuable on repeat listens, even when she’s minimalistically and resolutely gloomy.  Its efficiencies are balanced by its voluptuous neediness, a tax that you’ll be happy to shoulder.

 

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<p>Cover art for &quot;The&nbsp;Artist&quot;&nbsp;on DVD/Blu-ray</p>

Cover art for "The Artist" on DVD/Blu-ray

Credit: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Best Picture winner 'The Artist' finally makes its way to DVD/Blu-ray

Last year's talk (so to speak) of the season is set for home video next week

The ads that have been popping up around the site lately remind me that, indeed, last year's Best Picture winner "The Artist" hasn't yet transitioned over to home video yet. The DVD/Blu-ray release is set for Tuesday, June 26, a full seven months after it opened in limited release in November of last year and of course over a year since it world-premiered at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival.

It's clear that The Weinstein Company, which owned distribution rights in a few other territories but was mainly focused on domestic totals, was looking to squeeze as much out of the film as possible, keeping it in theaters for quite a while. Things settled around $44 million, making "The Artist," along with the likes of "The Hurt Locker," "The Last Emperor," "The Deer Hunter," "Annie Hall" and "Midnight Cowboy," one of very few films from the last four decades to win Best Picture without hitting at least $50 million domestic. Still, having five Oscars to show probably helps that go down a bit better.

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<p>&nbsp;Linkin Park</p>

 Linkin Park

Credit: AP

Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda and Rick Rubin on the band's 'unusual' style

New album, 'Living Things,' marks their third collaboration

There came a moment, about six months after Linkin Park began working on “Living Things,” that it felt like it was falling apart. The band held weekly meetings to chart their progress and “it didn’t even feel like we were on the path to making a record. It was a bummer,” recalled Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda.

The group’s rapper/co-songwriter/producer played the new album, out June 26, last night for a small group at Los Angeles’ Sonos Studios. The playback included a multi-media installation programmed to each of the 12 songs on the set.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>The newly christened Dolby Theater (formerly the Kodak Theater) at Hollywood and Highland suped up for the world premiere of &quot;Brave.&quot;</p>

The newly christened Dolby Theater (formerly the Kodak Theater) at Hollywood and Highland suped up for the world premiere of "Brave."

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Disney brings 'Brave' to the new Dolby Theater

A taste of Scotland in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD - Walt Disney Studios and Pixar teamed up with Dolby last night to christen the "new" Dolby Theater with the world premiere of the new animated adventure "Brave" and, fortunately, everything sounded just fine.

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<p>A scene from &quot;Brave&quot;</p>

A scene from "Brave"

Credit: Walt Disney Pictures

The Lists: Top 10 Pixar films so far

With the studio's 13th feature on the way we take stock of the studio's best

This weekend, Pixar Animation Studios will be releasing its 13th feature film, "Brave." It's a milestone for the company in that not only is it the first Pixar film to feature a female protagonist, but a female co-director is also at the helm.

Pixar has built a business on milestones, actually. Going all the way back to its revolutionary short "The Adventures of Andre and Wally B." in 1984, and then again with the company's work in feature film development starting with 1995's "Toy Story," each step has been a willful one and a progressive one.

Indeed, in considering the studio's 10th feature, "Up," back in 2009, I wrote, "Watching Pixar Animation grow and develop as a studio has become almost more fascinating than experiencing one of the company’s many creative films unfold on screen. Beginning with an industry leap in 1995’s ‘Toy Story’ and eventually moving into its daring own with 2008’s ‘WALL·E,’ the studio has, at the very least, shown a desire for creative progression."

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<p>Ray Romano, seen here on &quot;Men of a Certain Age,&quot;&nbsp;will be doing a guest arc on &quot;Parenthood.&quot;</p>

Ray Romano, seen here on "Men of a Certain Age," will be doing a guest arc on "Parenthood."

Credit: NBC

Ray Romano to do 'Parenthood' guest arc

Can the sitcom star woo Lauren Graham away from Jason Ritter?

I was in the middle of writing a paragraph for an upcoming story about how "Parenthood" requires versatile actors to bridge the gap between its dramatic moments and its comic ones, and was citing Lauren Graham as an example of a castmember who exemplifies that versatility. And as I was writing it, news broke that she's about to get a chance to work opposite another actor who can work both silly and dark.

Ray Romano will do a guest arc in the NBC drama's upcoming fourth season, playing a photographer who befriends Graham's Sarah Braverman and complicates her relationship with Jason Ritter's Mark Cyr. When the third season ended, Sarah had accepted Mark's marriage proposal, but things in real life were more ambiguous because Ritter was starring in a medical drama pilot for "Parenthood" producer Jason Katims. That show wasn't picked up, but Sarah can apparently never have smooth sailing in her love life. (And often winds up next to men who aren't close to her in age: Romano's 10 years older, and Ritter 13 years younger.)

Romano is, of course, best known for starring in "Everybody Loves Raymond," but through two seasons of TNT's brilliant-but-canceled "Men of a Certain Age," he got to demonstrate some impressive (and, to many viewers, surprising) dramatic chops playing a self-destructive gambling addict, while still deftly handling any jokes thrown his way. I'm not sure I need more Sarah romantic drama, but I love the idea of Romano being part of a show like "Parenthood" for a while.

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<p>Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop in &quot;Bunheads.&quot;</p>

Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop in "Bunheads."

Credit: ABC Family

Review: 'Bunheads' - 'For Fanny'

Fanny plans a memorial, the girls play hooky, and Michelle finds a reason to stay

A review of last night's "Bunheads" coming up just as soon as I have a coupon to hire the Intrepid...

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<p>&quot;The Newsroom&quot;&nbsp;creator Aaron Sorkin.</p>

"The Newsroom" creator Aaron Sorkin.

Credit: HBO

'The Newsroom' creator Aaron Sorkin on Keith Olbermann and his return to TV

Why does the 'West Wing' vet want to tell stories set in the real world this time?

Aaron Sorkin loves television.

Though his career began as a playwright, though he has had a lot of success in writing for movies (including an Oscar for "The Social Network," a nominated script for "Moneyball" and an upcoming job writing a Steve Jobs biography), he keeps coming back to television — to write both for and about it.
 
His first series was the ABC dramedy "Sports Night," about a fictional rival to ESPN, the lives of the staff and what went into putting together a broadcast every night. His biggest TV hit, "The West Wing," wasn't about television — was, in fact, designed to show you the moments in between the moments that political junkies see on television — but his follow-up series, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," went back to the "Sports Night" model as it depicted life behind the scenes of a long-running sketch comedy show.
 
"Studio 60" suffered from a variety of problems and was gone after only a season, but Sorkin is once again revisiting his favorite medium and favorite subject matter with "The Newsroom," a new HBO drama that debuts on Sunday at 10 p.m.
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<p>Daniel Craig in &quot;Casino Royale,&quot; costumed by Lindy Hemming.</p>

Daniel Craig in "Casino Royale," costumed by Lindy Hemming.

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Tech Support: Lindy Hemming on dressing Bond... and Bane

The Oscar-winning costume designer is curating a London exhibition of 007 threads

Lindy Hemming -- who surely has the best name ever for a costume designer -- may have won an Oscar over 12 years ago for the fussy Victorian finery of Mike Leigh's "Topsy-Turvy," but the Welsh-born veteran's reputation these days rests on decidedly more modern-day gear. It may not be as Academy-friendly a niche, but Hemming has become something of an expert in the art of dressing the action hero -- or even, in one very famous case, the superhero.

Hemming is the woman who saw James Bond through two contemporary redesigns: boarding the franchise with Pierce Brosnan on 1995's "GoldenEye," she also clothed the character's rougher reincarnation as Daniel Craig in 2006's "Casino Royale." She's also responsible for Lara Croft's painted-on silver bodysuits in the "Tomb Raider" films, and did wardrobe duty on one of "Harry Potter" films.

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<p>Philip Seymour Hoffman is front and center in the second trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master'</p>

Philip Seymour Hoffman is front and center in the second trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master'

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'The Master' gets a second trailer and a better look at Philip Seymour Hoffman

Paul Thomas Anderson's new film is running the year's most interesting campaign

Okay, now I fully believe that Paul Thomas Anderson is a sadist.

How else do you explain his decision to start dropping these tantalizing clues about his new film "The Master" when we've still got months and months until we actually see the thing?

"Why all the skulking and sneaking?"

When I was at Cannes, the first teaser was released, and that night, I went to the presentation that the Weinstein Company held, where they showed us a much longer trailer.  I transcribed that entire footage reel in the article I published that night, and this new trailer features some of that material as well as footage that wasn't part of it at all.  This new stuff makes a really strong case for this as something special, and I find myself excited because of how much it looks like it fits with Anderson's other films, about unconventional groups that form around charismatic centers, about these charming monsters.  And if that's what Hoffman's playing, that sounds like it's going to fit him like a glove.

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Watch: 'Brave' star Kelly Macdonald discusses her plucky Pixar heroine

Watch: 'Brave' star Kelly Macdonald discusses her plucky Pixar heroine

Is her 'Boardwalk Empire' character beginning to emulate Merida?
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - Leave aside the prospect of Oscars or overflowing box office coffers. Pixar's latest feature, "Brave," will have fulfilled its destiny if children across the United States begin to inject Scottish accents into their playground adventures.
 
Sure to be leading that charge will be destiny-defying red-headed firebrand Merida, who is the first female focal protagonist in a Pixar film. An ace archer, Merida resists her mother's entreaties that she tame her unruly hair, set aside her beloved bow and accept responsibility, adulthood and marriage.
 
Much of Merida's spirit comes from her determined eyes and a fiery mane that took Pixar years to develop, but it would be hard to undersell the value of the vocal contribution from Glasgow-born Kelly Macdonald, who wins audience adoration with every exasperated grunt, spunky exclamation and crisply delivered zinger. 
 
In live action form, Macdonald has been embodying feisty heroines dating back to 1996's "Trainspotting" and following through features like "Gosford Park" and superb TV work like "State of Play," an Emmy-winning turn in "The Girl in the Cafe" and her current Emmy nominated role on HBO's "Boardwalk Empire."
 
And, in person, Macdonald is every bit as feisty. 
 
At Disney and Pixar's junket for "Brave" in Edinburgh, Scotland, I sat down with Macdonald and we discussed Merida's place among Pixar protagonists, what aspects of Teenage Kelly made it into Merida's voice and whether, in the upcoming third season of "Boardwalk Empire," Margaret Schroeder finally gets to become a little Merida. 
 
As the stand-up introduction to this interview indicates, I've got a lot of "Brave" interviews coming over the next few days. After Macdonald, I'll have interviews with co-star Kevin McKidd, Pixar chief John Lasseter, and director Mark Andrews & producer Katherine Sarafian. And, you got a snippet of this in the intro, I'll probably be posting a really embarrassing video of my attempts to master archery, Merida style. 
 
"Brave" opens on Friday, June 22.
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