Latest Blog Posts

<p>Gaslight Anthem</p>

Gaslight Anthem

Credit: Mercury

Listen: The Gaslight Anthem's new tune '45' from new album 'Handwritten'

Does the band's shift to a major label change its sound?

New Jersey rockers The Gaslight Anthem return on July 24 with “Handwritten,” their first album since 2010’s fine “American Slang.”

The set, the group’s fourth album—but first for Mercury Records— was produced by Brendan O’Brien, who has also helmed records for the band’s hero, Bruce Springsteen, as well as Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots.

The band will be previewing new material from the album starting with a show at Brooklyn’s Music Hall on May 16 and Lost Angeles’s Roxy on May 18, with a number of festival dates, including Bamboozle, Metallica's Orion Festival, and Lollapalooza, to follow.

[More after the jump...]

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<p>HBO&nbsp;has ordered a second season of &quot;Girls,&quot; along with more "Veep."</p>

HBO has ordered a second season of "Girls," along with more "Veep."

Credit: HBO

HBO renews 'Girls' & 'Veep' for season 2

Freshman shows have gotten HBO its best comedy reviews in years

HBO has renewed both of its new Sunday comedies, "Girls" and "Veep," for second seasons, each with 10 episode orders.

Though HBO has largely renewed its freshman shows on the Tuesday after their debuts in recent years, that pattern hasn't been absolute, and in this case there was the added complication that "Veep" debuted a week after "Girls," and that HBO likely wanted to renew them at the same time to avoid making the other show look/feel bad.

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<p>Usher</p>

Usher

Listen: Usher and Rick Ross combine for 'Lemme See'

Usher goes under the covers as Bawse name-drops Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

While Usher's single "Scream" was generically top 40 rhythmic, he's gone much more urban/R&B for latest "Lemme See," yet another track from his forthcoming album "Looking for Myself."

In short: Usher wants to show you his chest, girl. Y'all explicit. And then Rick Ross loosely follows the theme by promising valet service and forcing some sort of comparison to Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman. It was weird.

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<p>Carrie Underwood, &quot;Blown Away&quot;</p>

Carrie Underwood, "Blown Away"

Credit: Sony Music Nashville

Album Review: Will Carrie Underwood's 'Blown Away' blow you away?

'American Idol's fourth studio set blows hot and cold

When “American Idol” is finally said and done in the year 2143, history will show that Carrie Underwood was the finest vocalist the talent show produced.

She has a purity and power in her voice that none of the other contestants can match. In a world where we’ve grown grateful for singers who can stay on key, Underwood’s talent would stand out in any era.  She’s able to belt without her voice losing any of its strength or fire and on her fourth album, “Blown Away,” out May 1, her confidence as a vocalist and her ability to harness her talent shines throughout, even if the quality of the songs does not.

A bonafide superstar in the country world, Underwood is getting the creme of the crop when it comes to material. Plus she’s coming up with her own ideas: she co-wrote eight of the 14 songs on here, as well as tapping into such top-tier Nashville tunesmiths (and past Underwood contributors) Hillary Lindsey, Josh Kear, Luke Laird and Chris Tompkins, and pop meisters like OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder and Mutt Lange. The result, however, is a mixed bag with the songs running the gamut from ranking among her her best to wondering who the hell let some of them on the album.

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<p>Rihanna's &quot;Where Have You Been&quot;</p>

Rihanna's "Where Have You Been"

Credit: Island/Def Jam

Watch: Rihanna gets a dance video with 'Where Have You Been'

Rihanna shows off some similar moves from her recent Coldplay clip

As evident in his work with Pink and Missy Elliott, video director Dave Meyers is a big fan of darkly poppy and bold backdrops for his music videos, sometimes letting those border on fake and cheesy. Meyers has now combined with Rihanna for her latest dance single "Where Have You Been" from "Talk That Talk," and that predisposition continues.

Ri-Ri is finally featured in a dance-heavy video, leading the troupe of nation-less natives around a little bonfire, or inside a teepee or as a heavy-lidded sprite hiding in the forest. Meyers' team makes no qualms about making each locale look shallow, like a diorama from a museum, rather than sending the singer and her team out into an actual wilderness. What troubles the clip, however, isn't the dance team's navigation of these sets, but the director's constant need to shake the frame or blur the focus, like the apocalypse from Britney Spears' "Till the World Ends" apocalyptic journey.

Speaking of apocalypses, Rihanna gives a nod to "Apocalypse Now" with her half-headed emergence from black waters, as she seeks her prey, er, lover. (Lately, though, the 24-year-old lately has been promoting "Battleship," out May 18 in the U.S., which is her first major movie role. She's off the ship and now back into the waves.) The video also alludes to Rihanna's tour video clip for Coldplay's "Princess of China," with the multiple arms fanning out like a Hindu god.

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<p>Metric</p>

Metric

Listen: Metric unleashes single 'Youth Without Youth'

Band finally gets its Gary Glitter on

Metric were right in that their first single "finally" get to utilize the omnipresent Gary Glitter "Rock and Roll" beat -- it'll have you saying "Hey!" to boot.

"Youth Without Youth" is the initial track to arrive from "Synthetica," and is going on sale on May 1.

The band pushes crunchy, smarmy guitars way up front in the mix as a Muse-like synthy underbelly balances out Emily Haines' penchant creepy-little-girl voice. The child-like front is appopriate for "Youth," which explores what the band describes as a "slow sad story." It tackles "the decaying social state through the eyes of a depraved child... into a teenager," Haines explains in a song commentary, streaming after the track. It ends, predictably, with a bang and a whimper, both sonically and lyrically.

The song certainly has mass appeal, but a lot of instrumental space, too, with sparse verses and a non-traditional chorus. I don't think I'll grow out of it too soon.

"Synthetica" is due on June 12.

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<p>The new season of &quot;Sherlock,&quot;&nbsp;with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, will premiere on PBS on Sunday May 6. </p>

The new season of "Sherlock," with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, will premiere on PBS on Sunday May 6.

Credit: BBC

Keeping things in moderation: 'Sherlock'

Your local TV critic will be heading to New York to talk about a London detective

Turns out Thursday night's "Boardwalk Empire" Emmy panel (which I hope to post clips of sometime in the next few days) wasn't the only TV-related event I'll be moderating over the next week or so. This Thursday, May 3, at 6 p.m. Eastern, I'll be in New York at the Apple Store SoHo to talk about "Sherlock" with writer Steven Moffat and his producing partner (and wife) Sue Vertue, in advance of that show's American premiere on PBS on Sunday, May 6.

Where the "Boardwalk" event was streamed live, my understanding is that this "Sherlock" Q&A (some with me, some with the audience) will be available to download as a video podcast at a later date. I'll offer those details when I have them.

I've seen all three parts of "Sherlock" season 2 and am very excited to have this show back. (Though, as with the first season, the middle episode lagged behind the other two.) Based on the response last year, and my "Doctor Who" coverage during the period when there was a lag between British and American airings, my guess is that many of you have already watched the entire second season, so I'll ask you to be vague in the comments out of respect for both my spoiler policy and the American viewers who haven't seen it yet.

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<p>Michael J. Fox, Julianna Margulies and Christine Baranski in &quot;The Good Wife&quot;&nbsp;season 3 finale.</p>

Michael J. Fox, Julianna Margulies and Christine Baranski in "The Good Wife" season 3 finale.

Credit: CBS

'The Good Wife' - 'The Dream Team': Kalinda's secret stash

Michael J. Fox and Martha Plimpton team up in a memorable finale

A review of the "The Good Wife" season finale coming up just as soon as I pick out the right sledgehammer...

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<p>Matteo Garrone on the set of 'Reality.'</p>

Matteo Garrone on the set of 'Reality.'

Credit: Fandango

Cannes Check: Matteo Garrone's 'Reality'

Continuing our series of Cannes competition previews

The director: Matteo Garrone (Italian, 43 years old)

The talent: You'd have to be pretty au fait with contemporary Italian cinema to recognize most of the cast members here: the biggest name on offer is Claudia Gerini, best known for supporting turns in Italian hits "Don't Move" and "The Other Woman," as well as minor appearances in "The Passion of the Christ" and "Under the Tuscan Sun." The young actor Ciro Petrone, who made an impression four years ago in Garrone's "Gomorrah" (if the image of a gangly youth in his underwear brandishing a gun comes to mind, you're there), reappears here -- as, on the evidence of some other cast members' CVs, does the director's partial affinity for inexperienced actors.  

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Melissa and Joe Gorga on 'Real Housewives of New Jersey'

Melissa and Joe Gorga on 'Real Housewives of New Jersey'

Credit: David Moir/Bravo

Recap: 'Real Housewives of New Jersey' - 'Poker Face'

Melissa's ballad, Ashlee's goodbye and Joe Giudice's black eye

The full ramifications of Teresa's family-bashing cookbook haven't been dealt with yet, but we're not quite at the breaking point.

Everyone is still trying to play nice this week as Jacqueline deals with Ashlee, Melissa hits the recording booth, Kathy finds a X-rated surprise on her teen son's Twitter and... well... Joe Giudice winds up with a black eye.

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<p>No one has a good time at the big &quot;Mad Men&quot;&nbsp;gala. </p>

No one has a good time at the big "Mad Men" gala.

Credit: AMC

'Mad Men' - 'At the Codfish Ball': The dirty city

Disappointment reigns for Don, Megan, Sally and Peggy

A review of tonight's "Mad Men" coming up just as soon as I spread my legs and fly away...

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<p>Zosia Mamet and Lena Dunham in &quot;Girls.&quot;</p>

Zosia Mamet and Lena Dunham in "Girls."

Credit: HBO

'Girls' - 'All Adventurous Women Do': You're the inspiration

Hannah gets her STD results, Jessa gets a job and Marnie meets an artist

A review of tonight's "Girls" coming up just as soon as I pass you an STD but enjoy your quirky web presence...

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