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Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s new album “Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” -- for fans in waiting for 10 years – succeeds not in its tightness, but where the bolts are loose and their joints feel flung everywhere. Given the space of five minutes or 20, they fill up the moments with large and small matter, for the listener to apply their own context and analysis as the band grinds, heavy-lidded, through the noise-making they love.
Well, it's Tuesday night, and that means it's elimination night. And presidential debate night, in case you're on the East Coast and were planning to watch something else on network television after "Dancing with the Stars." Or hey, you could watch the debates, too. It's a free country.
First up, Bristol & Mark, Kelly & Val, Sabrina & Louis, Shawn & Derek are on the block. The package is pretty zippy, but we do get at least one intriguing moment. We see Val kiss Kelly on the sternum before they go on stage. Okay, this has to be dating, right? Or they are just the absolute best of friends.
And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.
It's a very late in the day installment of the Firewall & Iceberg Podcast, as Dan and I talk about shows returning and new, discuss the season's first cancellations and some other moves of note, and continue what's for now been a weekly "Homeland" segment.
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, download the MP3 file or stream it on Dan's blog.
Hear that sound? That’s the sound of Taylor Swift waving country music goodbye. Today, she released her fifth song from “Red,” her fourth studio album out Oct. 22.
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Bon Iver's "Beth/Rest" from last year's self-titled album was songwriter Justin Vernon at his Steve Winwood-iest. The project mastermind has embraced that inner-bygone-era and wrote a treatment that looks just how the song sounds.
The last time Brandy reached No. 3 on the Billboard R&B chart was in early 2002 with “What About Us,” George Bush was president, the Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City and NASA sent Odyssey to probe Mars’ surface.
It has been a lean chart time for the R&B singer since then, so much so that Brandy wondered if she still had a career in music, but this month the answer came back a resounding “yes.”
“Put It Down,” a a sultry stomp featuring Chris Brown, reached No. 3 on Billboard’s R&B chart earlier this month. The track is from Brandy’s album, “Two Eleven,” out today.
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Now that lyric videos are a necessarily intermediary step between when an artist releases a new single and the “official video,” some artists are using them as a chance to make a video that is much more than simply slapping words up on a screen as a placeholder.
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Other than Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean is the biggest star country music has produced in the last few years. Unlike Swift and Lady A, he has not crossed over into pop, so the first time many folks heard his name may have been when he got caught a few weeks ago canoodling with someone he shouldn’t have been canoodling with.
If the broader name recognition (regardless of how ignominiously it came about) causes potential new fans to check out his music, then “Night Train” is a good place to come in on. Out today, “Night Train,” which is almost certain to top the charts next week, continues the story started on 2010’s “My Kinda Party,” one of the top-selling albums that year for all genres and a Grammy nominee for best country album.
The 15-track “Night Train,” Aldean’s fifth album, doesn’t necessarily advance Aldean’s artistry beyond “Party,” but that’s because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The songs here are uniformly punchy, catchy, well-played and well-sung in Aldean’s slightly nasally, sturdy vocals. Country radio still sells albums and Aldean easily has five singles here, including first single, the invitingly breezy “Take A Little Ride,” which already topped Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart.
Aldean embraces the usual country tropes about life in a small town —its virtues and its claustrophobia— and cars In “Night Train.” The title track serves up that one of the few escapes from daily life includes going to listen to the train roll through town with his lover. They get to the look-out spot in their truck, of course. On “Talk,” the time for chat is over: “I don’t want to waste that moon and the heat on the hood of this Ford.”
Most of the songs here are mid-tempo, and the album could definitely use a little more variety in that regard, but mid-tempo is Aldean’s sweet spot, especially when it comes to loves lost and found. On both “When She Says Baby” and “Staring At The Sun,” he extols the virtues of coming home from a long, hard day to the woman he can’t forget. Sure single, “I Don’t Do Lonely Well,” conjures up the pain that heartache brings in those moments when he has have nothing else to distract him from the hurt that still coats him.
Aldean hit it big on the last album with “Dirt Road Anthem,” which featured him rapping. He’s comfortable enough to return to that trick, speaking much of the lyrics on “The Only Way I Know.” He’s joined by his buddies Luke Bryan and Eric Church on the anthem to going “full throttle” 24/7.
Aldean wrote none of the songs on “Night Train,” but at this juncture in his career, he is going to get the absolute pick of the litter when it comes to Music City songwriters pitching him their Grade A material. He also knows what works for him and what his male fans want (songs to raise hell by) and what his female fans want (songs to romance by) and he sings each style with equal conviction. There’s nothing here that sounds inauthentic.
While undeniably country, Aldean grew up on rock, and screeching guitar solos rise out of almost every song. They’re a bit cliche and overdone at times, but the songs will undoubtedly benefit from the rock treatment when he cranks them up on the road, especially on “Wheels Rollin’,” a meaty tour anthem that combines Bob Seger’s “Turn The Page” with Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead Or Alive.”
That’s not to say everything here works. “Black Tears” is a song about an exotic dancer and her sob story that goes nowhere. “1994” is a very silly, though very catchy, song about longing to turn the clock back and contains a major shout out to Joe Diffie, who scored a number of hits in the mid-‘90s. The “Hey Joe, c’mon and teach us how to Diffie,” line will either make you laugh or drive you crazy, as will the “Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie” chant. The novelty song sounds something much more akin to a tune Big & Rich would do, but Aldean’s earned the right to be goof if he wants to. And Joe Diffie owes him a big old thank you.
“Night Track” seldom slips off the tracks. It’s a sure-wheeled, confident album from a superstar with a very firm grasp of what works for him. It may not be adventurous, but it’s more than enough to keep his millions of fans eager to hop aboard.
NEW YORK -- The first time actor John Hawkes heard about Mark O'Brien, the polio-afflicted author, journalist and poet he portrays in the new film "The Sessions," it was due to the Oscars. Documentary filmmaker Jessica Yu had just won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short for 1996's "Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O'Brien." Hawkes read a quote from her in the newspaper basically noting that the dress loaned to her for the evening cost more than the budget for her film, and he enjoyed a chuckle over that.
Hawkes knows a little something about low-budget filmmaking, too. After working consistently for years as a character actor on screen and TV, he's become something of an indie darling. "The Sessions" in fact marked his third-straight trip to the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year (at which point the film was titled "The Surrogate"). And 16 years after the Oscars managed to put O'Brien on his radar, he looks entirely likely to pop up on Oscars' radar for his performance of the man.