Introducing The Coldplays

20 06 2008

The oft-labeled “biggest band in the world” has a new album out. And it’s pretty dang good.

The thing about Coldplay is that they can write a helluva single; it’s their full-length albums that don’t always hold up to scrutiny. The breakthrough “A Rush of Blood to the Head” was pretty consistent, though nothing soared to the heights of “Clocks” or even “In My Place.” 2005’s “X & Y” is neat with its Kraftwerk and U2 nods, but nothing on the disc comes close to the epic single “Fix You.” And trying to stay awake through the band’s debut, “Parachutes,” is a daunting task. At least “Yellow” was good. Oh, that was mean. The record still trumped most that came out that year.

On “Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends,” Chris Martin and company do their darnedest to craft an album — and they mostly succeed. The album is cohesive and consistent…yet somehow extremely eclectic. I mean, is that a hammered dulcimer I hear?

Brian Eno (not helping the U2-aping allegations much) jumped on board to produce the album. His touch is felt in some of the thick world music-influenced soundscapes on the record. The vocals are anthemic, the guitars are chiming and the lyrics are political. Well, Coldplay may never escape U2’s shadow, but I guess there’s enough of that soul-searching arena rock to go around.

Tight record or not, there are always some standout tracks…”42,” “Viva la Vida” and “Lost!” are my picks.

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Elvis Costello: He’s a bad Momofuku.

22 04 2008

Originally Elvis’ new album was to be released on vinyl only — the LPs would come with a voucher to download the digital tracks. Sometime in the last few weeks, Elvis chickened out and decided he would go ahead and release the CD version as well…though a few weeks later.

All that being said, it’s been about 25 years or so since an Elvis album was mixed and mastered to be heard on vinyl first. No, this doesn’t mean he’s recaptured the magic of his heady early days on the new effort, “Momofuku.” The twelve tracks do rate as darn good late-period Elvis, though.

“American Gangster Time” is rocking and great. “Pardon Me, Madam, My Name is Eve,” written with Loretta Lynn, is amazing — as good a song as Elvis has done in the last 15 to 20 years.

Omnipresent session vocalist Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) pops up for a lot of harmony vocals. She is a welcome addition to the Imposters’ fold.

I’m a little disappointed that the record will be released on CD. I had hoped I would be in some kind of cool little club. Oh well.





Michael Jackson Comeback Watch ’08!

21 03 2008

Here’s an update on the ongoing/impeding Michael Jackson comeback…

“Emo” popsters Fall Out Boy recently teamed up with John Mayer for a cover of MJ’s 1983 hit, “Beat It.” Front man Patrick Stump bares his silly putty soul and John Mayer apes Eddie Van Halen’s flawless guitar solo. It’s not half-bad. Then again, why not just listen to the original.





The great Obamination

5 03 2008

I can’t say I’m all that surprised. Clinton won Ohio. Honestly, I’m not even all that sure why I wanted Obama. He just seems to promise something…different. I’m sick of Clintons and Bushes. And something about McCain just makes me nervous.

Most of the time I feel like a Democrat trapped in the body of a Republican. Or maybe a Republican trapped in the body of a Democrat. That doesn’t exactly make me a centrist does it?

And I want this button. It’s ridiculous.

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Thundercats’ Tygra on “American Idol”

29 02 2008

My whip-smart wife pointed this out. It’s uncanny.
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I’m pretty sure that’s a mic in his hand. Here’s hoping Lion-O makes an appearance next week, although he’d probably be pitchy.





Oscar Weiners

19 02 2008

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Here’s the deal. I don’t really care about the Academy Awards. And I’m not sure anyone else does either.

We’ve (and I mean we) all decided that the Best Actor should be Daniel Day-Lewis. Most of us probably decided that when we all first saw the trailer for “There Will Be Blood” at the beginning of “No Country for Old Men” — which, incidentally, we’ve all decided should earn the award for Best Picture.

It’s all futile anyway…awards night coverage will be reduced to best and worst dressed lists.

Nevertheless, here are some hopes:

1. “Juno” takes nothing home except perhaps Best Original Screenplay. I’ll be the first to admit that I loved this movie. I’ll likely watch it many more times than any other nominated film. That being said, I also have watched “Say Anything” and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” a helluva lot of times too. What am I getting at? “Juno” was an great movie, but Oscar-worthy it was not.

2.  Ruby Dee does not, repeat, does not win the Best Supporting Actress Award for “American Gangster.” She may be a great actress, but she’s on screen for mere minutes.

3.  The awards show is apolitical. I know this is a pipe dream. In the current election season, I would love to make it through the broadcast without hearing a self-righteous Hollywood liberal preach something from the stage. (And that’s coming from a relatively liberal person!) Every year the show gives right-wing wackos more ammo for the culture wars.

4. “Ratatouille” wins Best Animated Feature. “Persepolis” is the favorite, but this deceptively mainstream film from Pixar and Disney shows that writer/director Brad Bird is a great filmmaker — by any measure. I’d love to see him make a non-family film. He’s a true artist.

5. In keeping with the majority of critics, Javier Bardem wins Best Supporting Actor for his disturbing portrayal of Anton Chigurh in “No Country for Old Men.” Daniel Day-Lewis strikes oil (or academy gold, more precisely) for his role as Daniel Plainview in “There Will Be Blood.” The film also earns Paul Thomas Anderson the Best Adapted Screenplay prize. The Coen Brothers’ evocative “No Country” snags the duo the Best Director award before going on to win Best Picture.





I’m conflicted…

29 01 2008

It seems on March 12, a new IKEA store will be opening in West Chester, Ohio. Now, that’s only marginally closer to my house than the good ol’ Pittsburgh, PA location. Needless to say, I feel a strange mix of emotions.

On the one hand, I love the idea of filling my home with cheap Swedish furniture after only an hour and 45 minute drive.

Other the other hand, I possess the same pretentiousness as many in my age group and therefore I don’t want anyone else to go to IKEA. It is popular enough as it is! Only I should get to be hip! It’s just like in eighth grade when I got upset because other people started liking Nirvana. Have I matured at all in the past 15 years? Ugh.

So don’t get me wrong — I hate this about myself.  Why can’t I just be happy? I’m an otherwise well-adjusted adult. Does 10 years of shopping at a store give me some sort of ownership? Of course not. I’m a prideful fool.

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