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Album Review: Will you 'Believe' in Justin Bieber's new album?
Credit: Island Records

Album Review: Will you 'Believe' in Justin Bieber's new album?

Is he still a boy, not yet a man, on new set?

Justin Bieber finds himself at an important, but tricky, intersection with his new studio album, “Believe,” out June 19. Now 18, can Bieber transition from his teen idol status to an artist that transcends that nearly  unbreachable hurdle?

It’s unclear on the mixed-bag “Believe,” a 16-track collection that takes a certain scatter shot, cut-and-paste musical approach. It’s like that saying about the weather: if you don’t like it, stick around for five minutes and it will change:  If you don’t like it when Bieber delves into electroclash as he does on “All Around the World,” then wait a few minutes and he’ll be imitating his retro soul musical heroes on the Motown-inspired “Die In Your Arms” or taking the listener to church on the title track. “Believe” is an album for those with short-attention-spans, i.e., anyone under 21. In fact, it would be fascinating to see if his fans can even digest the whole set in one sitting. Probably not.

Bieber is in the dream business: he wants to love you and support you and remind you that you’d be nothing “if your heart didn’t dream/if you didn’t believe.” R. Kelly’s “I Believe I Can Fly” has nothing on Bieber’s positivity. And that’s not meant as a bad thing. In a craven world, Bieber remains overtly non-cynical.

Pivoting around themes that strike a direct bulls-eye into the heart of his tween/teen female fanbase—almost every song is based on love and infatuation, Bieber continues to have A-List rappers on speed dial, all of whom seem only too happy to pair with the Biebs. On this album alone, Ludacris, Drake, Nicki Minaj and Big Sean show up, but they add nothing other than their name value.

Instead, “Believe” is about showcasing Bieber as a singer. He positively croons on sweet, gentle, mid-tempo R&B ballad “Catching Feelings.”

 There’s the obvious comparison to be made with the other Justin— Timberlake—who, himself, extremely successfully transitioned from pop star to highly respected artist before pretty much abandoning music to focus on acting and other endeavors. Bieber, while no slouch, doesn’t have Timberlake’s vocal talent but he surpasses Timberlake in the vital ambition department. For anyone who follows Bieber on Twitter, being Bieber is a 24/7 job. No artist has ever tried so hard to stay in constant touch with his millions of fans and let them know how much he appreciates them.

There’s some delicacy here that Bieber dances through beautifully, to his credit. He may have come of age, but many of his fans are much younger, and he wisely knows that indulging in the raunch that even artists only a few years older, like Rihanna, routinely turn to is a one-way trip to Nowheresville at this stage. To that end, the album is G-rated from start to finish, without ever seeming Disney-fied. That is a noteworthy feat in and of itself. Even on “One Love,” in which he declares he wants to “lie down beside you,” he pledges fidelity.

Bieber’s greatest assets are his likability, his musical curiosity and his almost preternatural ability to balance being a regular teen with the pressures and responsibilities that come with being a multi-million dollar enterprise. The only time Bieber ever addresses such conflicts is on closing track “Maria,” a direct response to the woman who accused Bieber of fathering her child last year. The thumper, which sounds like a companion to his hero Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” or “Dirty Diana,” is one of the most interesting musically on the album in part because it’s clear that the incident, understandably, really riled Bieber. There’s a bite to the song that no other material on “Believe” possesses.

For all his rampant popularity (his upcoming tour was a quick sell out) radio has been a little fickle with Bieber. He has yet to score a No. 1 single (contrast that with Rihanna, who has 22 top 10 hits). “Boyfriend” made some headway, but only with a with his label mightily pushing that rock uphill. “Believe” seems to acknowledge that gap between his massive fan base and radio play by containing tunes that would fit right in with current radio playlists, but doesn’t pander to them.

Bieber’s voice is now recognizable, but the problem with “Believe” is too many of the songs sound generic, as if they come from the same music factory pumping out every song on the radio today, except for “Somebody That I Used To Know” or “We Are Young.”  Every tune is catchy, but not particularly memorable. There’s nothing on here that comes close to the earworm-ability of “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen (who is now signed to Bieber’s manager’s label).  Bieber is great at selling sincerity, emotion and inspiration. Now he just needs to work on getting some great hooks.

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<p>Cat Power's &quot;Sun&quot;</p>

Cat Power's "Sun"

Credit: Matador

Listen: Cat Power returns with 'Ruin' from her first new album in six years

A travel song, post-break-up

The wait for a new Cat Power record was, in part, due to a relationship and a break-up, but fans' first taste of Chan Marshall's next "Sun" is more about travel than anything.

"Ruin" bops along to the sounds of the various countries to which Marshall's travel -- not the native styles of music, mind you, but the actual names of the countries. Can't say I'm wild about the silly over-pronunciations of said countries, like Meh-heeko and Great Breht-ahn, but it's a driving, cool-eyed song with a undeniable refrain.

Cat Power played all the instruments on "Sun," and produced it herself too. Which is always impressive. She and her mixer  kinda pulls the whole thing on "Ruin" back a bit much (around the 2:15 mark) but damn if she didn't do a nice job driving the whole jangly, piano-rocking thing.

"Sun," as previously reported, arrives on Sept. 4 via Matador. It's the follow-up to 2008's covers set "Jukebox" and the first set of originals since 2006's "The Greatest." Marshall explained to the Stool Pigeon recently that the wait was because she was working hard at making her relationship with her boyfriend -- now ex-boyfriend and actor Giovanni Ribisi -- work. But a woman who changes her hair changes her life: after years of also dabbling on the record, she split, three days later cut her hair mad short, and then went to France to finish this album.

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<p>They can remake the 'Twilight' films if they want, but they'll never top the sheer comedy genius that this image suggests.</p>

They can remake the 'Twilight' films if they want, but they'll never top the sheer comedy genius that this image suggests.

Credit: Lionsgate/Summit

Lionsgate says they don't plan to remake 'Twilight,' but is this a sign of the future?

Franchise filmmaking hasn't reached its lowest point yet, but it could soon

Here's how you know "Twilight" is a giant pop culture phenomenon:  even the denial of a story about the series becomes a headline across the entire Internet.

Bloody-Disgusting ran a story over the weekend saying that Lionsgate has begun having internal conversations about the idea of rebooting "Twilight."  Considering they haven't even released "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II" yet, it seems premature to start having these conversations, but that would suggest that there is some sense of logic or rational behavior that drives the decision-making process in Hollywood.  Lionsgate has denied the report, of course, but it makes sense.

Here's the cold hard truth.  "Twilight" is giant business, and one of the reasons Summit was such an attractive purchase for Lionsgate this past January is because they own the "Twilight" franchise.  While Open Road Films certainly hopes to have a success on the same scale with their upcoming adaptation of the Stephenie Meyer novel "The Host," my guess is that lightning will not be striking twice.  With nothing else to sell, Meyer has pretty much reached the end of her commercial lifespan unless she finds a new way to exploit Edward, Bella, Jacob and the rest.

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<p>Sleigh Bells</p>

Sleigh Bells

FYF Fest brings Beirut, Sleigh Bells, Refused and Against Me! to Los Angeles

September indie fest expands to two days

Refused, M83, Beirut and Sleigh Bells will headline the 9th FYF Fest, to be held Sept. 1-2 at Los Angeles State Historic Park. This indie-music festival expands to two days this year, a first since it moved to its current location four years ago.

Among the other acts on the 75-artist bill are Against Me!, Cursive, Quicksand and Wild Flag.

Tickets for the all-ages festival go on sale June 22 and start at $77 for a weekend pass. The festival, which is put on in conjunction with concert promoter  Goldenvoice, runs from noon-midnight.


FYF FEST LINE-UP

AA Bondy
Aesop Rock
Against Me!
American Nightmare
Atlas Sound
Paul Banks (Interpol)
Baroness
Beirut
Black Dice
Black Mountain
Ceremony
Chairlift
Chromatics
Cloud Nothings
Converge
Cursive
Dam Funk
Desaparecidos
Devin
Dinosaur Jr
DJ Coco (Primavera Sound)
DJ Harvey
Doldrums
Father John Misty
FIDLAR
Fucked Up
Future Islands
Givers
Gold Panda
Health
Hot Snakes
I Break Horses
James Blake
John Maus
Joyce Manor
King Khan & the Shrines
Kishi Bashi
Liars
Lightning Bolt
M83
Moonface
Nick Waterhouse
Nite Jewel
PAPA
Purity Ring
Quicksand
Redd Kross
Refused
Sandro Perri
Simian Mobile Disco (Live)
Sleigh Bells
Tanlines
The Allah La's
The Field
The Growlers
The Men
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
The Soft Pack
The Suicide of Western Culture
The Vaselines
Tiger & Woods
Turbonegro
Twin Shadow
Two Gallants
Tycho
Warpaint
White Arrows
White Fence
Wild Flag
Wild Nothing
Yeasayer


 

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<p>Fleetwood Mac's picture from &quot;Rumours&quot;</p>

Fleetwood Mac's picture from "Rumours"

MGMT, Best Coast, Lykke Li cover Fleetwood Mac for tribute album

'Just Tell Me That You Want Me' out in August

MGMT, Best Coast, New Pornographers, Lykke Li and The Kills are among artists contributing to “Just Tell Me That You Want Me: A Tribute To Fleetwood Mac.”

Out Aug. 14, via Hear Music/Concord, the 17-track set features indie rockers and Fleetwood Mac contemporaries such as ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons examining the popular group’s catalog.

Some acts, such as Best Coast and Karen Elson, took on more familiar Fleetwood Mac tunes, while others, such as Shudder to Think’s Craig Wedren paired with St. Vincent to dive deeper into the group’s 45-year catalog. A complete track listing is below.

Movie music supervisor Randall Poster and Geyla Robb put together the collection; they were also behind last year’s “Rave On Buddy Holly” compilation that included reinventions of Holly tunes by such artists as Paul McCartney, The Black Keys and Cee Lo Green.

As longtime Fleetwood Mac fans know, former member Bob Welch committed suicide earlier this month.  MGMT covers “Future Games,” a tune recorded under his tenure in the group. The current members of Fleetwood Mac—Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and John McVie—are expected to tour again, perhaps this year. The band’s website notes “check back soon for more details on the upcoming tour.” Fleetwood told Billboard last November “we’re all up for touring in the early summer of next year.” That timeframe is clearly not happening, but look for an announcement here once details are firmed.

'Just Tell Me That You Want Me' A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac' Tracklist:

1. "Albatross" - Lee Ranaldo Band Featuring J Mascis (4:16)?
2. "Landslide" - Antony (3:33)?
3. "Before The Beginning" - Trixie Whitley (4:46)?
4. "Oh Well" - Billy Gibbons & Co. (4:45)
5. "Rhiannon" - Best Coast (3:07)
6. "Think About Me" - The New Pornographers (2:56)
7. "Angel" - Marianne Faithfull (4:59)?
8. "Silver Springs" - Lykke Li (4:11)
9. "Gold Dust Woman" - Karen Elson (5:43)?
10. "Storms" - Matt Sweeney And Bonnie 'Prince' Billy (4:46)?
11. "Straight Back" - Washed Out (3:44)?
12. "That's All For Everyone" - Tame Impala (3:43)?
13. "Sisters Of The Moon" - Craig Wedren with St. Vincent (3:45) ?
14. "Dreams" - The Kills (4:46)?
15. "Gypsy" - Gardens & Villa (4:40)?
16. "Tusk" - The Crystal Ark (5:30)
17. "Future Games" - MGMT (9:02)
 

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<p>Shia LaBeouf in Sigur Ros' &quot;Fjogur piano&quot;</p>

Shia LaBeouf in Sigur Ros' "Fjogur piano"

Watch: Shia LaBeouf stars in serious and NSFW Sigur Ros music vid

'Fjögur píanó' next in line for experimental short film series

You've probably never seen actor Shia LaBeouf like this.

The "Transformers" star co-leads the music video to Sigur Ros' new "Fjögur píanó," the third song to get an experimental music video treatment from their album "Valtari." LaBeouf and actress/dancer Denna Thompson perform as “a man and woman locked in a never-ending cycle of addiction and desire,” forcing them through some high-stress, abstract dream sequences during which both stars appearing completely in the nude.

It is emotional and also very beautiful. I found it kind of hard to watch more than once, with all its lacerations and breaking glass and the weirdo car scene -- with the actors kidnapped and licking insect-filled lollipops -- with all its sharks. But the performances are worth while and the styling is absolutely breathtaking. The track didn't stand out much from the album for me, but now it doesn't seem as interstitial.

Also, Shia should stick to the ponytail. It's kinda working for me. Reminds me of Milo Ventimiglia on Fergie's "Good Girls Don't Cry" music video.

Oh, the things I'm finding myself say today.

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<p>Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg play two different versions of the same character in the most successful of the multiple storylines in Woody Allen's new anthology film 'To Rome With Love'</p>

Alec Baldwin and Jesse Eisenberg play two different versions of the same character in the most successful of the multiple storylines in Woody Allen's new anthology film 'To Rome With Love'

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Review: 'To Rome With Love' is Woody Allen on automatic pilot

Is that necessarily a bad thing, though?

"To Rome With Love" is the 11,000th motion picture by writer/director Woody Allen, and he deserves congratulations for the sheer volume of work he's produced, if nothing else.

Perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but I do find myself often pleased by the mere existence of a new Allen film because of the place it occupies in the natural order of things.  A new Allen film every year.  That's federal law at this point, right?  And when people talk about what distinguishes Allen's work, you'll hear them talking about dialogue rhythms or the font he uses for his titles or his soundtracks, but those are mere gravy on the actual meat of what it is he does, and I think he's fascinating for the way he basically found his own approach to storytelling and he's worked variations in that same form ever since.

He's taken steps away from his main approach a few times, but he always eventually finds his way back, and it's been true from the jokes he wrote as a stand-up to the short pieces he collected in books like "Without Feathers" and continued directly into his filmmaking career, one of the richest and most fully explored of any American director, now or in the past.  Woody Allen worships at the altar of the high concept.  He loves to imagine a mundane world where one crucial detail is tweaked to comic effect.  Sometimes, those high concepts are super high concept, like "The Purple Rose Of Cairo" or "Midnight In Paris" or "Zelig." 

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<p>Ariane Labed in &quot;Alps.&quot;</p>

Ariane Labed in "Alps."

Credit: Kino Lorber

'Alps' wins big in Sydney, but 'Lore' is the one making waves

Dogtooth' director's latest beats such films as 'Beasts of the Southern Wild'

"Alps," the follow-up feature from "Dogtooth" helmer Yorgos Lanthimos, didn't get quite the push it deserved out of last autumn's festival season. Well-received by critics upon its debut at Venice, where the Best Screenplay prize it eventually took was the very least it deserved, Lanthimos's glassily menacing comedy of extreme appropriated identity went on to provoke and perplex festival audiences at Toronto and London. Somehow, however, it acquired a reputation as more of a niche proposition than the already gruelling, yet astonishingly Oscar-nominated, "Dogtooth" -- a shame, really, since it's no less accomplished, and arguably more ambitious, an achievement. 

New York cinephiles have only until mid-July to wait for the film, which you may or may not remember cracked the top five of my Best of 2011 list. (It's not the last title on that list awaiting US release, either.) Thanks to its tough-sell status, the rest of us may have to be very patient indeed -- here in the UK, a release date has yet to be confirmed.

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<p>Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring on &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring on "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

If I had an Emmy ballot 2012: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

The toughest category on the whole ballot, with more than two dozen worthy performers

Okay, it's part 3 of our look at the Emmy nominations process for 2012. As always, Fienberg and I are going to approach things in two ways. I'll pretend that I have an Emmy ballot and make my picks for the six actors or shows I would put on my ballot, while Dan will rank the potential nominees from most likely to least. And, as always, we are working off of the actual Emmy ballot, so we can't consider people who didn't submit themselves, nor can we reassign anyone to a more suitable or easier category.

This time up, we're dealing with the candidates for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. Dan's predictions are here, and my picks are coming right up...

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Jacqueline Laurita in 'Real Housewives of New Jersey'

Jacqueline Laurita in 'Real Housewives of New Jersey'

Credit: Andrei Jackamets/Bravo

Real Housewives of New Jersey' recap: 'Best Friends for Never

Teresa accuses Jacqueline of turning into 'Hekyll and Jyde'

In the world of Real Housewives, this qualifies as a can't miss episode. No more fun and games, bratty kids, gay weddings or passive aggressive catfights. This hour is all about the big inevitable showdown between Jacqueline and Teresa. And Caroline's inner timebomb finally goes off.

This involves a lot of screaming, yelling, petty accusations and even tears (mostly from Jacqueline). It's exactly what "Housewives" fans love to see, and exactly why so many people can't stand the show.

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<p>Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is forced to learn some unconventional definitions of the word courage over the course of the new Pixar film 'Brave'</p>

Merida (Kelly Macdonald) is forced to learn some unconventional definitions of the word courage over the course of the new Pixar film 'Brave'

Credit: Walt Disney Company/Pixar

Review: 'Brave' takes Pixar in some new directions by embracing some old forms

The trailers may not tell the whole story, but Pixar's not playing games

Pixar finds themselves at a particularly vulnerable moment in the mythology that surrounds the studio.  Since the release of the first "Toy Story," they have released a string of movies that have been nothing less than dazzling, a series of films that have both commercial and critical hits.  Last year's release of "Cars 2" was the first moment where they seemed to be operating like any other Hollywood studio, putting commerce ahead of their craft, and for many fans of their work, it was a moment that rattled their faith.

Since we live in an age where each and every decision during the production of a motion picture can be scrutinized, often free of the context that led to the decision, much has been written about the process by which "Brave" emerged from what was originally known as "The Bow and the Bear."  Brenda Chapman was the first director on the picture, and she still gets a co-director credit as well as a "story by" in the credits.  She was set to be the first female filmmaker to direct a feature for Pixar, and she absolutely deserves credit for getting this original fairy tale from her first idea to the final film that is about to open.  But it's hard to get upset about the process when we have no idea what happened that resulted in Mark Andrews and Steve Purcell getting co-director credits with her.  After all, Andrews has been kicking around the business for years, working on the storyboard department for "The Iron Giant," working as head of story for "Osmosis Jones," "The Incredibles," and "Ratatouille," and directing the short film "One Man Band."  Purcell has paid his dues as well, creating the popular "Sam and Max" computer game series and working as one of the many screenwriters on the original "Cars."  Chapman put in years as an animator, working on TV shows like "The Real Ghost Busters" and "Heathcliff" before working in the story department on films like "Beauty and the Beast," "The Lion King," and "Chicken Run."  She was one of the directors of the very ambitious "The Prince Of Egypt," and that was a milestone at the time, making her one of the few women to ever reach that sort of position on a major studio animated movie.

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<p>Zosia Mamet and Allison Williams in a scene from the &quot;Girls&quot;&nbsp;season finale.</p>

Zosia Mamet and Allison Williams in a scene from the "Girls" season finale.

Credit: HBO

'Girls' producers Lena Dunham & Jenni Konner finale interview, part 2

An extra-long interview concludes with talk of the season's high and low points

So it turns out there sometimes are word limits even on the internet, and a 9000-word interview with "Girls" producers Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner was too much to try to squeeze into a single post. So you can read the first half here, and after the jump, the two women continue to talk about the first season — including more on James Franco, and how fellow producer Judd Apatow predicted every stage of the show's public and critical reaction — coming up just as soon as I drink some expired Milanta...

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