The Voice‘s Judith Hill may have covered Carole King’s “You’ve Got a Friend” last night, but her soulful voice and piano playing reminded me of the first time I heard Alicia Keys perform “Fallin’” on The Grammys (or was it the VMAs?) back in 2001.You can watch Judith’s performance and hear the original Carole King song below…
Little Red Lung’s self-titled EP churns the haunting folk-pop lilt of Lia Ices with the creepy chamber-goth of Rasputina. Zoe-Ruth Erwin, the lead singer of this fabulous L.A. band, calls their sound “avant-indie.”
The standout is the chilling opener “50 Fingers.” You can download the mp3 below and also watch the video, which was directed by artist Sarah Sitkin.
“Ink Blot,” “Rare Bird” and “Fangs” are also highlights. Oh and I love the unusual finale, “Strangling Tree.” So basically, the entire EP is good.
Really, my only complaint about the EP is it isn’t a proper album. Six songs just isn’t enough. Thankfully, Little Red Lung is currently working on their full-length debut. They were also recently added to the Bonnaroo lineup, so it seems their star is rising.
Little Red Lung – 50 Fingers (mp3)*
Little Red Lung – Fangs (mp3)*
*mp3s hosted by & posted w/ permission of band
I’ve waited years for Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby to be released. Not only am I a longtime fan of Luhrmann’s flamboyant directorial style, but F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is one of my favorite novels of all time.
Overall, I liked the movie very much. My preconceived notions about the beloved novel would be difficult for any director to successfully achieve, so I’m not surprised to have felt a bit dissatisfied by the film.
I had hoped Luhrmann would either transform the story into something so gloriously over the top so as to be unrecognizable and new, or stay completely true to the original. He chose to do something in between and, unfortunately, the result was a bit disjointed.
The film is visually stunning (and I didn’t even see the 3D version) and the beginning is as entertainingly lavish and carnival-like as the previews. But the hip-hop and dance soundtrack (which you can stream below) just didn’t mesh with the 1920s vibe. The reason modern music worked so well in Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet was because he placed the Bard’s play in a present-day setting. He left Gatsby back in its original era, so the music felt very out of place. I think a better choice for the soundtrack would’ve been either remixes and covers of classic jazz songs (Beyonce’s cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” was the one song that did work) or new music by retro acts like Sharon & the Dap-Kings and Fitz & the Tantrums.
As much as I like Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan in other films, they just weren’t the Gatsby and Daisy of the novel. Whether that was the fault of the screenplay, direction or the actors themselves, they just didn’t seem comfortable in their characters’ skins. I felt very conscious that I was watching Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan rather than getting caught up in what is one of the greatest and most tragic love stories in American literature. I hate to say it, but I think DiCaprio may simply be too old to portray the irrepressibly optimistic and starry eyed Gatsby. Of course, the same was true for Robert Redford and his film has been the definitive edition until now.
Though I must hand it to both Baz Luhrmann and Carey Mulligan, they added an emotional depth to Daisy’s character that is not found in the novel. I’ve personally always thought Daisy Buchanan was one of the most vapid, selfish and unlikable characters in all of literature, but Mulligan actually gave her a touch of sympathy.
The good news is that Baz Luhrmann was surprisingly effective in capturing the elements of the novel I loved best.
Tobey Maguire was the absolute perfect choice for narrator Nick Carraway, really I can’t think of anyone who could have inhabited the character better. He did a brilliantly subtle job of portraying Carraway’s duelling sense of wonder and loneliness, which is the true heart of the novel. It’s not Gatsby that makes the novel great, it’s Carraway. Carraway may be in awe of Gatsby and his glittering world, but he also sees the hypocrisy in both and stands by Gatsby when no one else does.
Maguire’s narration brings some of Fitzgerald’s best lines to the film, such as “I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life” and, of course, the novel’s last two gorgeous, poignantly poetic paragraphs.
Even the book’s iconic original cover makes a cameo in Luhrmann’s film – in the form of the billboard Fitzgerald added to the story after seeing his novel’s cover art.
The film’s ending was excellent and beautifully executed, it could not have been better or truer to the original text.
So all in all, I definitely liked it. I do wish there’d been a smoother transition from the bombastic circus beginning to the heartfelt literary end, but my complaints are minor and will really only matter to obsessive fans of Fitzgerald’s novel such as myself. Brendan, for example, had never read the novel and he liked the film much more than I did.
Whether you like Baz Luhrmann and/or The Great Gatsby or neither (in which case I question your taste!), I recommend seeing the movie. If for no other reason than to encourage a bit more intelligence in cinema – I was very happy to read that The Great Gatsby did so well its opening weekend. It’s certainly on a higher level than all the other summer blockbuster drivel currently in theaters.
Browsing Bandcamp, the Billie Holiday cover art to l’Orange’s Old Soul caught my attention. The music is not for everybody – some may find it repetitive – but I love it, film clips and all. You will hear Billie Holiday as never before, and another unique voice, that of Kelsey Lu. On “Lost Souls,” you’ll also hear Hassaan Mackey spitting those rhymes. I love the fact that “I’ll Be Seeing You” is sampled on the final track, “The Mourning.” The word transcendent is overused these days, but this one fits the definition: extending beyond the limits of ordinary experience. You can download the entire album for free below…
In addition to premiering their new No Destruction video, Foxygen has also made their 2006 album, Jurrassic Exxplosion, available as a free, legal download. Their most recent release, We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic, is our favorite album of the year so far.
Foxygen – Jurrassic Exxplosion (album download page)*
*uploaded & made publicly available by Foxygen
Foxygen’s We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic remains on heavy rotation in the Muruch household and will be hard to beat on our Top Albums list this year. The band just premiered the video for the track “No Destruction,” which happens to be one of my favorite songs on the album. The video features home movies the band has been making since they were in high school. The track will be released as 7″ on May 28th by Jagjaguwar Records. You can watch the video below…
You can read my full review of last night’s Carrie Underwood concert in Charleston, WV at The Charleston Gazette website. An edited version of the review was also featured in today’s print edition of the newspaper.
I wasn’t a huge fan of Carrie Underwood (and certainly not of opening act Hunter Hayes) before the gig, but it turned out to be one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended. Both artists put everything they had into every song. The otherwise spectacular stage lighting was terrible for photos and I forgot my camera, but I snapped a few cell pics. And thanks to YouTube, you can see some videos by other concert goers below.
Guest Post By: Brendan
The Grammys broadcast this year was perhaps my favorite of the past decade. The crossover of indie-rock artists to mainstream Top 40 radio is a welcome change. Among my favorite moments of the night was seeing pop luminaries enthusiastically joining in with the chorus to “Ho Hey” by The Lumineers. That song is included in this live set from KEXP, recorded in April of last year.
Melissa Ferrick’s new album, The Truth Is, will be released on June 4th and it is, to put it mildly, absolutely outstanding. Recorded live with a full band with a “collaborative approach” to its creation and production, the album is somewhat of a departure from the bare bones, solo sound of Ferrick’s past. I personally love the new Nashville-oriented sound (which often reminds me of Brandi Carlile) and think it’s a fine showcase for the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist’s talent.
You’re nothing but a mirror
And you can’t even look at yourself
I’m glad you cheated on me now
I’m better off by myself
I want answers, answers, I want answers
I’m gonna rise up, I’m gonna rejoice
The instrumentation is gorgeous, lush and elegantly Southern – lap steel, Dobro, pedal steel often mingle with beautiful cello. Singers Rose Polenzani and Anne Heaton lend backing harmonies to the album.
The opener, “Wreck Me,” features vocals by Paula Cole. It’s a fantastic song on its own merit, but it’s one of those sadly wasted duets in which you really can’t hear the guest vocalist well enough to warrant their presence. You can hear that song at SoundCloud.
You’ll think there’s never a song written about cheating before when you hear the blistering done wrong anthem “Overboard.”
Other highlights include the peppy love song “Home,” “Go Easy On Me,” the harmonious “Love Ain’t Afraid,” and “Time to Leave.”
The finale, “Take In All The Plants,” is a phenomenal, thought-provoking, subtle, post-apocalyptic anthem.
Melissa Ferrick – Wreck Me (SoundCloud Link)