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Ray LaMontagne
Credit: CBS

Review: Ray LaMontagne is a shining star on 'Supernova'

With Black Keys' Dan Auerbach at the helm, LaMontagne makes breezy set

Ray  LaMontagne may be from New Hampshire, but on new album “Supernova,” he is in a decidedly West Coast frame of mind.

Time and again, he references California in the lyrics, name checking Beverly Hills, the Pacific Coast Highway, and Ojai.

And that’s not where the homage ends. Many of the songs on the singer/songwriter’s fifth studio set, out today (29), feel inspired by Southern California’s great songwriting era of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  “Ojai” would have fit right in on a Byrds album. Opening track, “Lavender,” is awash in so many Mamas & Papas and Strawberry Alarm Clock psychedelic swirls that you’ll be reaching for a peace sign, go-go boots, and a flower to  wear in your hair before listening further.

The release of “Supernova” comes 10 years after LaMontagne arrived in 2004 with “Trouble,” with his rugged, emotive vocal style drawing comparisons to everyone from Van Morrison and The Band to Joni Mitchell and his musical hero, Stephen Stills.

With his subsequent sets, the critical darling orbited around the same sun, switching it up just enough to  keep it interesting, including recording the last set, 2010’s “God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise,” with his since-dispatched Pariah Dogs.  The set snagged the Grammy for best contemporary folk album, making it understandable if LaMontagne had decided to remain on the country-tinged roads that drove the success of that album.

Instead,  the reclusive LaMontagne seems to have loosened—and lightened— up a bit. On “Supernova,” he transforms from folkie to hippie, and the breezier tone serves him well.

In interviews, LaMontagne has talked about how songwriting had been a painful process for him until “Supernova,” when the songs seemed to flow. Pulling back on the throttle works for LaMontagne. This is the first album where he sounds as if he’s not gritting his teeth at times.

Credit also goes to producer Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, who recorded the album over a three-week period at his Nashville studio. Using Auerbach’s choice of session players results in LaMontagne’s most cohesive, tight, and crisp album yet.

First single, “Supernova” is the most jubilant pop song LaMontagne has cut, even poppier than the soulful Stax salute, “You Are The Best Thing” from 2008’s “Gossip in the Grain.” Similar to that tune, he’s lavishing praise on the object of his affection, but “Supernova” has a jangle in its step that lifts it above that past effort. On ethereal “Airwaves,” light drums, a wispy organ, and a swaying hypnotic beat bolster LaMontagne’s sexy, delicate vocal delivery. On “She’s The One,” the closest thing “Supernova” has to a rocker, layered vocals and surf-styled guitars propel the atmospheric track.

LaMontagne crashes back to earth on the shape-shifting “Pick Up a Gun,” a hazy, dreamy  sonic kaleidoscope full of cascading melodies, their beauty contrasting with LaMontagne’s vitriolic refrain of  “I never want to see your face again.”

It’s never been LaMontagne’s style to go for the grand gesture; instead he draws the listener in as the courtly reluctant romantic. On “Supernova,” he does so with an easy charm, steeping his sound in the past, while sounding effortlessly fresh.

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<p>Make that a lightsaber and you pretty much know what John Boyega&#39;s going to look like when he stars in &#39;Star Wars: Episode VII&#39;</p>

Make that a lightsaber and you pretty much know what John Boyega's going to look like when he stars in 'Star Wars: Episode VII'

Credit: Screen Gems

What does the casting of 'Star Wars Episode VII' tell us about the new film?

As Lucasfilm makes it official, we dig in to discuss the choices

It seems like only yesterday I wrote that we would most likely see a "Star Wars" casting announcement soon.

Oh, wait, it literally was yesterday. And while many of the names I mentioned in that piece did indeed end up being part of this morning's official casting announcement made via the official "Star Wars" website as well as Facebook, there were still some big surprises.

Can we talk about Andy Serkis first? His casting would suggest that there's going to be a major performance capture character in the film, but that doesn't have to be the case. I think people forget that Serkis has made plenty of appearances in films as himself. Now, would I be excited if he was performing a major performance capture character in the film? Absolutely. Serkis has proven himself to be the gold standard of breathing life into digital creations, and while I think Ahmed Best became the target of untold oceans of fan hatred for doing exactly what he was asked to do with a character, I'm also sure that having a character in your film that has to be brought to life via digital effects must give all producers the shivers any time they think of Jar Jar Binks.

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<p>Yvonne Strahovski is one of the guest stars this year on &quot;Louie.&quot;</p>

Yvonne Strahovski is one of the guest stars this year on "Louie."

Credit: FX

Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, episode 228: '24,' 'Louie,' 'Playing House' & more

Dan and Alan also discuss the 'Parks and Rec' finale, John Oliver's HBO debut and the latest 'Mad Men'


Hey, so remember how the Firewall & Iceberg video show was supposed to be on Monday this week, and the podcast on Tuesday? Funny story, that. Without boring you with the details, scheduling issues scotched this week's video taping, but we decided to keep the podcast on Tuesday so we could discuss USA's "Playing House," which debuts tonight, along with the belated returns of "24" and "Louie," John Oliver's HBO debut, the "Parks and Rec" finale and the many trips on this week's "Mad Men." 

The rundown: 

"Playing House" (00:01:25 - 00:09:20)
"24: Live Another Day" (00:09:25 - 00:27:10)
"Louie" (00:27:15 - 00:34:05)
"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" (00:34:10 - 00:41:45)
"Parks and Recreation" finale (00:41:45 - 00:58:55)
"Mad Men" (00:59:00 - 01:23:40)
As always, send questions to 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, subscribe on IHeartRadio or stream it on Dan's blog.

There's also now a complete archive of all the podcasts to date.

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 228

Dan and Alan discuss '24,' 'Louie,' the 'Parks and Recreation' finale and more


Happy Tuesday, Boys & Girls. No video show this week, so it's time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.

There's lots to cover this week, including the series premiere of "Playing House," the return of "24" and "Louie" and the finale for "Parks and Recreation."

We also, of course, chatter about this Sunday's "Mad Men." It's what we do.

Here's today's breakdown:
"Playing House" (00:01:25 - 00:09:20)
"24: Live Another Day" (00:09:25 - 00:27:10)
"Louie" (00:27:15 - 00:34:05)
"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" (00:34:10 - 00:41:45)
"Parks and Recreation" finale (00:41:45 - 00:58:55)
"Mad Men" (00:59:00 - 01:23:40)

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 or subscribe on IHeartRadio.] 


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


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<p>&quot;Les Revenants&quot;</p>

"Les Revenants"

Credit: SundanceTV

A&E orders Carlton Cuse's 'Returned' remake to series

Raelle Tucker is working with the 'Lost' vet on the 'Les Revenants" adaptation

A&E has given a 10-episode series order to "The Returned" which, unlike ABC's "Resurrection," actually is a remake of the critically adored French zombie drama "Les Revenants."

"Lost" veteran Carlton Cuse wrote the pilot script for "The Returned" and he will executive produce the series with "True Blood" veteran Raelle Tucker.

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ABC to re-air Isaiah Washington’s final 'Grey’s Anatomy' episode on Thursday

ABC to re-air Isaiah Washington’s final “Grey’s Anatomy” episode on Thursday
The May 2007 episode “Didn’t We Almost Have It All” air before his return to “Grey’s” on Thursday.

Cruise ship featuring New Kids on the Block is becoming a reality show
TV Guide Network has ordered eight episodes of "Rock This Boat: NKOTB.”

Joel McHale doubts he could replace Craig Ferguson, says “Late Late Show” host earned way more money from standup
McHale tells Howard Stern that his “Community” contract would prevent him from hosting “The Late Late Show,” if the NBC comedy was renewed.

Patrick Stewart to star in Starz’s “Blunt Talk” comedy, from Seth MacFarlane
Stewart will play a British newscaster named Walter Blunt who comes to America in an attempt to conquer cable news.

A&E orders Carlton Cuse’s adaptation of “The Returned”
The French zombie drama is getting an American remake from the former co-boss of “Lost."

Christina Aguilera confirms Gwen Stefani is joining “The Voice”
Aguilera confirmed the news via Twitter, tweeting: "So excited to have you join #TheVoice squad @GwenStefani!  Welcome to our crazy fam! Kisses- xoxo #blondesdoitbest.”

OWN renews “Raising Whitley,” orders more "Deion’s Family Playbook”
“Raising Whitley” will be back for a 2nd season.

Richard Belzer returning to “SVU”
Det. Munch will be back for the season finale.

“Bachelor” Juan Pablo surfaces at “Dancing with the Stars”
He attended last night’s show with girlfriend/winner Nikki Ferrell.

Tony nominations don’t have enough big names for CBS, other than Neil Patrick Harris and Bryan Cranston
A slew of celebrities were snubbed from Tony nominations, from Denzel Washington to James Franco and Michael C. Hall and Michelle Williams.

Jimmy Kimmel wins a Webby Award for his fake twerking video
The prank won best viral video.

Lifetime orders more “Bring It!”
The hip-hop majorette docuseries will return for 10 more episodes.

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Coldplay reveals new song, 'A Sky Full of Stars,' and love for One Direction

Check out second single from 'Ghost Stories'

Coldplay has now revealed five of the nine songs on “Ghost Stories,” and it’s safe to say, based on those tracks, that the album out May 19, is the group’s most atmospheric sonically. Hazy synths inform all of the songs we’ve heard so far and there’s a dream-like quality to all of them, although new single, "Sky Full of Stars," released today,  is definitely the most commercial and dance-y track so far.

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Gaspard Ulliel in "Saint Laurent."
Gaspard Ulliel in "Saint Laurent."
Credit: EuropaCorp

Cannes Check 2014: Bertrand Bonello's 'Saint Laurent'

Continuing our annual cheat sheet for the Cannes Competition

Welcome back to Cannes Check, In Contention's annual preview of the films in Competition at next month's Cannes Film Festival, which kicks off on May 14. Taking on different selections every day, we'll be examining what they're about, who's involved and what their chances are of snagging an award from Jane Campion's jury. Next up: the second of four French entries: Bertrand Bonello's "Saint Laurent." 

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Showtime orders 'Snowfall,' a drama on the ‘80s crack cocaine epidemic

Showtime orders “Snowfall,” a drama on the ‘80s crack cocaine epidemic
John Singleton will direct the project, which will be told through the eyes of a young black kid in Compton, a Mexican wrestler and a CIA agent charged with running money to the Contras.

“Nashville” may leave Nashville
Dwindling Tennessee state tax incentives have prompted the ABC drama to explore moving to another state, such as Texas or Georgia, according to The Tennessean newspaper.

Naya Rivera fired from “Glee”?
There are rumors that Rivera is done after feuding on set with Lea Michele.

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"The Originals" - Charles Michael Davis

"The Originals" - Charles Michael Davis

Credit: The CW

Interview: Charles Michael Davis talks new 'Originals' challenges for Marcel

He says his character is 'breaking up' with Klaus

As Marcel on "The Originals" (Tuesdays at 8:00 p.m. on the CW), Charles Michael Davis is one charming (and dashingly handsome) vampire. Of course, he also seems to have a death wish, in that he's plunging into the battle for New Orleans that already has the werewolves, witches and Original vampires determined to get their slice of the deep-fried pie. I spoke to the former model about his take on the character, whose backstory with Klaus will be examined in tonight's episode as Klaus struggles with memories of his paternal relationship with Marcel -- and nightmares about his vampire hunter father. 

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Happy 60th birthday, Jerry Seinfeld!

Happy 60th birthday, Jerry Seinfeld!
Seinfeld officially enters his 60s today. PLUS: Seinfeld's wife posts a childhood photo of Jerry.

“The Following” finishes the season 4th in its timeslot
The Kevin Bacon drama did, however, have its best ratings in more than a month.

“Girls” is using a Staten Island cultural center to portray the University of Iowa
Hannah will be shown riding her bike across the Snug Harbor Cultural Center’s “campus.”

Elisabeth Moss calls “Mad Men” promos “a lie”
It’s not the final season, she says. “There’s a lot more next year."

Late-night hosts have a field day mocking Donald Sterling
The racist L.A. Clippers owner was at the top of nearly ever late-night show last night.

Why CBS shouldn’t replace Craig Ferguson with another talk show
There’s a whole late-night audience out there who doesn’t like talks shows. So why not do a show devoted to sports, music or politics? PLUS: Ferguson was unlike anything else on TV with his off-the-wall antics and great conversations, celebrities react, and why not replace him with Aisha Tyler or Neil Patrick Harris?

“Orange is the New Black’s” Laverne Cox to host "Trans Teen: The Documentary” for MTV and Logo
The transgender actress will take viewers into the world of trans youth, ages 14 to 24.

“Scandal” dropped by UK TV
Season 3 doesn’t have a British broadcasting home after Channel 4 dropped the ABC series after airing the first two seasons.

DirecTV cancels “The Artie Lange Show”
The former Howard Stern sidekick had been doing his three-hour nightly show since October 2011, but last night Lange announced that it would be his last show.

“Game of Thrones” cat won’t be back this season
Tommen’s Ser Pounce’s first and last appearance was during this week’s episode.

“Skins” could make a comeback, on the web
The British cult teenage drama’s creator said he’s in talks to resurrect the canceled series.

“Dancing’s” Amy Purdy hospitalized before the show
Producers instead used Purdy’s rehearsal footage on last night’s show.

Katie Couric will host 2 shows for Yahoo!
She’ll explain complicated topics on “Now I Get It,” while on “World 3.0″ she’ll interview key people in technology and science, plus entrepreneurs and health care innovators.

Louis CK tweets out his children’s homework
"My kids used to love mat,” he tweeted yesterday. "Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!"

Emma Stone and Jimmy Fallon battle it out in lip-syncing
Watch her tackle Blues Traveler.

Check out “Turn’s” George Washington
The Founding Father makes his first appearance on Sunday’s episode.

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<p>Kevin Bacon of &quot;The Following&quot;</p>

Kevin Bacon of "The Following"

Credit: FOX

TV Ratings: Rising 'Voice,' 'Dancing' lead Monday, while 'Following' finale is up

'Friends with Better Lives' gets a bump for CBS

Fast National ratings for Monday, April 28, 2014. 

Monday night offered more good news than usual.

"Dancing with the Stars" got a big overall bump and helped ABC win Monday in total viewers, while "The Voice" rose, albeit far less, to help NBC keep control of the night among young viewers. 

Among the other shows posting growth on Monday were ABC's "Castle," all of CBS' comedies including "Friends with Better Lives" and the season finale for "The Following," which was up a hair despite a "Bones" repeat as a lead-in.

Of course, not everything can rise and "The Blacklist" was down a hair on Monday, but not in any notable way.

The CW's dramas were down from last Monday's Fast Nationals, but in line with Monday's Finals, which accounted for baseball preemptions.

On to the numbers...

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