Tuesday, February 28, 2006
So we await with baited breath, perhaps it's a new Powerbook, feature length movies on iTunes or something else fun and new. Who knows?
Yesterday I was walking home from the city centre and there was a strong wind. I buttoned my coat, turned up my collar and tightened my scarf. A few paces later and I felt a drop of rain. 'It's nothing' I thought and quickened my pace. No sooner had I passed the buses at City Hall then the heavens opened. I was soaked. Not some slightly wet kind of affair, absolutely drenched. When I finally arrived home, I hung up my coat and it continued to drip water on the floor for the rest of the evening.
This morning on my walk to work it started to snow. Great. But I learn from my mistakes, today I had an umbrella. This is the first time it has snowed in Belfast while I'm walking to the bus. Apparently we're set for more.
On my stereo at the moment is the new Josh Rouse album, Subtitulo. It's full of the sounds of sunny Spanish villages and summertime, unlike Belfast. Josh Rouse is featured in Filter Magazine's latest Podcast, with a couple songs from the new album and a short interview with Josh. Download it here for free.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
Ryan Adams has recorded a podcast for The Times Online. It's in the form of an interview with Pete Paphides with extracts from 29. Download it for free.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
LABEL LOST HIGHWAY/UNIVERSAL
Almost every Ryan Adams review bemoans his lack of quality control, his huge output of songs and his frustrating potential. Every music critic is willing him to make a sequel to Heartbreaker, his beautiful debut solo record, and there was great hope that 29 would be the album to deliver that promise.
29 was written shortly after recovering from a career-threatening wrist injury and recorded without the Cardinals but with long-time producer Ethan Johns at the desk. His seventh solo release finds Ryan in an introspective mood, looking back over his twenties. Nine songs cover nine years treading the usual themes of mortality and unrequited love.
Like most of his releases, Ryan wears his influences on his sleeve. The opener is a rip-off of the Greatful Dead's 'Truckin' and Strawberry Wine sounds like a Neil Young impersonation. But Adams' story telling puts him in a league of his own. 'Elizabeth, You Were Born to Play That Part' is a piano-and-vocals meditation akin to Sylvia Plath on loss, desperation and depression. Over gentle drumming and hushed arpeggios he sings 'Where ever you are/ I hope you're happy now'. Night Birds, perhaps the best track on 29, showcases a mid-twenties crisis. Over morose reverb piano Adams continues 'I feel like a body stuffed into a trunk', and later 'we sink/ into the ocean'. The song closes with unnecessary over-production and swirling reverb to produce the feeling of drowning. It's a little indulgent and typical of an album that almost delivers.
Like the nine wildly different years Adams experienced from twenty, the songs on 29 are too long, over-earnest and overdone, with the hint of a drug induced haze. Yet it delivers what it promises: a catalogue of maturing and getting older, the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows. It is the weakest effort of his three recent releases but still valuable as it shows a different side of the North Carolina troubadour to Cold Roses or Jacksonville City Nights.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Yesterday Primer was released on Region 2 DVD. Dave has promised to buy it as a belated birthday present and I eagerly await its arrival. Primer was the best film I saw last year, and since the moment the lights in the theatre came on, I've wanted to see it again.
By their nature, films about time travel are difficult to follow. Causality, paradoxes and multiple timelines do not lend themselves to 'no brainer' plots. What starts out as an innocent bit of playing the stock market turns into a matter of trust, betrayal and friendships.
So much goes on over the hour and a half that the breakneck pace is difficult to keep up with. After watching this in the cinema, we discussed it into the wee small hours. I look forward to doing so again, perhaps with a bit more insight this time.
Monday, February 20, 2006
The schedule for the greatest alt-country and americana festival in the world, South By South-West has just been announced. It takes place March 15-19 in practically every available space in Austin, Texas.
I'm not sure the line up so far is as good as previous years. Usually just about every band you ever wanted to hear performs. Some of the highlights for this year include Mogwai, Built to Spill and Josh Ritter. Of course whatever your musical taste, you'll find something at SXSW.
Friday, February 17, 2006
ARTIST JOSH RITTER
ALBUM THE ANIMAL YEARS
Josh Ritter's success to date is largely due to nurturing from the Frames. While working an awful job in Boston and performing at open mic nights, the Irish rock group stopped in for a beer, heard one song and asked him to open for their tour. Word spread and Ritter is a much bigger name in Ireland than his native America.
Frames front-man Glen Hansard sees something of himself in Josh Ritter. Both are comfortable with voice and acoustic guitar, both see the importance of good lyrics and aren't afraid to wear their heart on their sleeve.
On his V2 label debut, Josh has teamed up with Iron and Wine producer Brian Deck. Deck didn't try to make a hit single. The result is much more interesting. Ritter speaks his mind and inspired by Mark Twain, St. Paul and Dante confronts the war in Iraq and his escapist impulses at the state of the American union.
Production is unobtrusive and the instrumentation is conventional. There are hints of subtle electronic elements, but the song writing is exceptional. 'Girl in the War' is as stirring and Springsteen like as 'Born in the USA'. 'Thin Blue Flame' with its apocalyptic, gospel-like testimony is captivating.
With The Animal Years Ritter has opted out of the autobiographical, and instead stretched himself to write a philosophical and political statement. The result is something more sincere, more timely and relevant. Eleven great songs sung by a little-known talent.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
He's touring in support of the new album in the US and Europe, but at this time unfortunatly not in Belfast.
US Tour Dates:
4/1 Atlanta, GA @ The Variety Playhouse
4/3 Annapolis, MD @ Ram's Head
4/4 Alexandria, VA @ The Birchmere
4/6 Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live
4/7 New York, NY @ Town Hall
4/8 Boston, MA @ The Paradise
4/10 Montreal, QUE @ Cabaret Music Hall
4/11 Toronto, ONT @ The Mod Theatre
4/13 Chicago, IL @ Park West
4/14 Madison, WI @ The Orpheum Stage Door Theater
4/15 Minneapolis, MN @ Cedar Cultural Center
4/18 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
4/19 Los Angeles, CA @ Henry Fonda Theater
4/21 Seattle, WA @ Nuemo's Crystal Ballroom
4/22 Vancouver, BC @ The Red Room
4/24 Austin, TX @ The Cactus Cafe
4/25 Austin, TX @ The Cactus Cafe
European Tour Dates:
5/6 Bergen, Norway @ Bergen Festival
5/7 Oslo, Norway @ Rockefeller
5/9 Stockholm, Sweden @ China Theatre
5/10 Gotenborg, Sweden @ Sticky Fingers
5/11 Malmo, Sweden @ KB
5/13 Arhus, Denmark @ Vox Hall
5/14 Copenhagen, Denmark @ Vega
5/19 Sheffield, England @ Memorial Hall
5/20 Manchester, England @ Academy 2
5/22 Edinburgh, Scotland @ Queens Hall
5/23 Nottingham, England @ Rescue Room
5/25 London, England @ Shepherds Bush Empire
5/27 Newcastle, England @ Live Theatre
5/28 Oxford, England @ Zodiac
5/29 Brighton, England @ Concord 2
5/30 Milton Keynes, England @ The Stables
6/1 Dublin, Ireland @ The Village
Also eMusic is offering "O, I Need All The Love" for a free download from Josh's latest EP Bedroom Classics, Vol. 2. Check it out.
If for some reason you haven't heard Josh Rouse do yourself a favour and get Nashville
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
American comedy is having a field day:
Jon Stewart: "But why, Rob? If he had known Mr. Whittington was not a bird, why would he still have shot him?"
Rob Corddry: "Jon, in a post-9-11 world, the American people expect their leaders to be decisive. To not have shot his friend in the face would have sent a message to the quail that America is weak."
Washington Post journalist Dana Milbank turned up for interview like this:
View all the witty wise-cracks late night US tv is churning out HERE
Friday, February 10, 2006
album: (Self titled)
As a first offering, it provides ground on which to be build upon. His Ryan Adams tinged acoustic worship offerings will benefit as he finds his feet and stamps more originality on the tunes. Let's file it under work in progress; Tim has an impressive voice which always manages to sound sincere. He chooses three well-known covers; In the Secret, This is my desire and I Will Never Be the Same. His forthcoming original material should showcase the creativity and knack for a meoldy that he is capable of.
Tim already has some Spring dates lined up around London. Check out his website for further details.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Director: Steven Spielberg
Last night I went with my housemates Dave and Steven to see the new Steven Spielberg picture, Munich. Our local cinema does all films on Tuesday night for £2.50 so the bargain hunters smelt a good deal in the air.
The tea-time gnocchi had gone to Dave's head and his excitement at leaving the house was palpable by the time we neared the neon-signed building. Steven predicted queues stretching for miles down the street. As we live in Ireland, I predicted rain and grabbed an umbrella.
As it turned out, there was little rain, and not much of a queue to speak of. We purchased out half price tickets, found the cinema and then seats, almost, but not quite, neck breakingly far forward. We endured some awful trailers for trashy rom-coms before the feature began.
Munich in short is great. Action-packed, but not brainless, poignant without lecturing, fast and exciting. I'm not going to dwell too much on the ideology or political statements the film makes. There are plenty of other bloggers to talk about that. The message of Munich is essentially a call against arms, that violence begets violence, that family is important.
It follows Avner (Eric Bana), an Israeli intelligence agent tasked with killing all those involved in the Munich Olympics kidnap of Israeli athletes. Avner is a young man called to serve his country and leave his pregnant wife. He is a moral man, but as he kills, he becomes both a hardened killer, and acutely sensitive. His young family becomes more important to him as he dispatches the family of others. His new home in the underworld of espionage and assassinations takes its toll; paranoia sets in and almost akin to Jarhead the man becomes incapable of being anything other than a soldier.
Spielberg has returned to form. At one level Munich is just another racy thriller. But it works at a deeper level too: the wrestle for Israel, the wrestle for a man's soul, the questionable use of violence for political ends and the importance of spiritual and biological family. Spielberg's Jewish righteousness will offend some and please others, but whatever way you look at it, Munich is a great film.
Monday, February 06, 2006
It is a very indie film, but with much more substance than other films with critical acclaim like Garden State. July populates her story with a group of well-drawn, intertwining, unique, eccentric and familiar characters. She stresses the importance of community in a time when family is falling apart.
Richard is a newly separated shoe salesman, struggling to win the approval of his two kids, and find a role for himself. Christine (July) is a taxi driver for the elderly and video artist in her head and spare time. Christine takes a passenger into the shoe store and is smitten by the beguiling ability of Richard to convince her that things don't have to be this way. Shoes, and life, don't have to hurt.
The variety of the characters and sub-plots between fat middle aged nobodies, confused teenage girls and meandering children makes sure that the film is never less than engaging. It is riddled with subtle messages and meanings- signposts of life, the last rites of a goldfish, and the dowry of a school-girl.
July has already been heralded as the new voice of American film, a tough tag to live up to but she demonstrates enough promise in her debut outing that she just might have the goods to deliver.
01. A Kiss Before I Go (Jacksonville City Nights, track 1)
02. Sweet Illusions (Cold Roses disc one, track 2)
03. Let It Ride (Cold Roses disc two, track 2)
04. Words (Elizabethtown iTunes Music Store exlcusive, track 1)
05. Night Birds (29, track 3)
06. Hard Way To Fall (Jacksonville City Nights, track 3)
07. When Will You Come Back Home (Cold Roses disc one, track 4)
08. My Heart Is Broken (Jacksonville City Nights, track 10)
09. The Hardest Part (Jacksonville City Lights, track 5)
10. Dance All Night (Cold Roses disc two, track 6)
11. Mangolia Mountain (Cold Roses disc one, track 1)
12. The End (Jacksonville City Nights, track 2)
I agree on the most part with their list. I would include Meadowlake Street (Cold Roses disc one track 3), Strawberry Wine (29, track 2), remove My Heart is Broken and get rid of Nightbirds..
Check out the Stylus article here .
Friday, February 03, 2006
Andrew needs a belt. Andrew is showing his undies, what a classy moment.
It showed this for Heather needs:
Heather Needs Men ...Now!
Hi! My name is Heather and this is my home page! ... Because Heather
likes to play rough!!! And no hair on your back!!!
And for David:
David needs a wash - or at least a dry clean
Check it out
I was playing a bit of guitar with my blues influenced, Polish flat-mate last night, and afterwards over a glass of Chardonnay he introduced me to the full, resonating sound of Sonny Boy Williamson. Williamson was born on the Sara Jones Plantation near Glendora, Mississippi in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. He has been called by many, the most influential blues artist of all time.
Spot any similarities?
Thursday, February 02, 2006
It tells of the frustration and boredom of a soilder. "Four days, four hours, one minute. That was my war," the Marine sniper Tony Swofford tells us. "I never shot my rifle." It shows the effect of a tour of duty on the family life of a Marine, the unfaithful girlfriends, the testosterone, all-male environment, the machismo and the psycho. It has some laugh out loud moments, but ends rather unsatisfactorily. But then again, I think that is the point. There was no climax to their war, they, like us, were left feeling a little dissillusioned by it all. Not withstanding this, Sam Mendes skillfully develops his characters and creates an affecting and worthwhile film.