Posted by: on August 31, 2007 at 4:23 pm

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Listening to “demo” tracks is akin to reading an author’s autobiography or even an introduction to a novel. Typically, they give some insight into an artist’s creative process. Most demos seem to feature the real fingerprint of the band before any asshole producer label suit gives their input. These two tracks off Blur’s seminal album Parklife fit that Read more

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Posted by: on August 31, 2007 at 3:00 pm

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If bands were brands (and honestly, aren’t they a little bit?), indie rock would be populated with a pile of household names. Spoon, with their unfussy, weathered cool would be Levi’s. Devendra Banhart is very Anthropologie; he’s effeminate, eclectic and conspicuously bohemian. Yo La Tengo are classic, durable and taken for granted, much like Sears tools. And LA’s Rilo Kiley, with their stylishly sterile alternative rock and sculpted arrangements, all smooth surfaces and minimalist sheen, are the closest music comes to sounding like IKEA.

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Posted by: on August 31, 2007 at 12:30 pm

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Before she was getting pawed at by Michael Madsen in Species, and before she was the fiery pragmatist of the only “CSI” that ever mattered (Caruso observation excluded), Marg Helgenberger was KC, the hooker who was as wise as she was jaded. Her character was just one of the fully-formed female leads at the center of “China Beach,” a show that explored the Vietnam experience through the eyes of those who were still on the front lines, just not those of the Read more

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Posted by: on August 31, 2007 at 11:30 am

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Kevin Kerslake directed this clip for Nirvana. He also did the live footage montage “Lithium” for them, as well as a string of high-profile work for Stone Temple Pilots, Smashing Pumpkins, and Green Day. His love of layered images, purple and pea green gels, and camera work that moved like the shots in an underwater nature documentary help define how we view the first big budget alternative era in retrospect, since the flickering memories of videos like this are part of how we remember it.

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Posted by: on August 31, 2007 at 10:30 am

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The indie movie format was finally crushed into the shape of a big wallet by Little Miss Sunshine. It had been coming for awhile, but that film’s smarmy cocktail of dysfunction, head games, cute children, and a song-and-dance climax severely lowered the expectations for every similar film that came after it. Now that they’re all arriving, formula intact, it’s tough to consider any of them individually because they’re so un-individual in their presentation of the human condition. The American Ninja series has more surprises than this homogeneous indie kitsch.

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Posted by: on August 31, 2007 at 9:29 am

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As a genre, adult contemporary just doesn’t mean that much anymore. Plenty of contemporary artists would fit the mold, Goo Goo Dolls and Carrie Underwood among them, but most can’t get their arms all the way around the amount of cheeze required to be a lite FM powerhouse. The demands of marketing and the music industry mean that their music has to emanate from their prime genre (AAA for the Goos, country for Carrie), even if their individual songs often indulge in the sentiment and melodic sweep of classic adult contemporary. Put it another way, if you remove the pedal steel, Rascall Flatts are the Sheriff (or, to keep it Canadian, the Glass Tiger) of the 21st century. As for Kenny Rogers, he was always just Kenny.

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Posted by: on August 30, 2007 at 3:00 pm

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War is hell. It also allows time for specific reaction shots from each of the misfit pilots in your squadron. And then…Robert Conrad. Tan from taking in rays during off time on the Solomon Islands, but still ready with a balled fist to kick ass, Conrad is definitely one of Hollywood’s all time tough guys. As a precursor to Top Gun, “Black Sheep Squadron” wasn’t bad. As 1970s television it was, but we’re comparing fighter pilot entertainment from two different Read more

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Posted by: on August 30, 2007 at 2:00 pm

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Lately Hollywood has been loving its outsourcing of core creativity. Why generate ideas when you can co-opt proven properties? Thus remakes galore or films based on popular graphic novels and video games, two options that come with the added benefit of built-in fanboy audiences. There are a few good examples of this (Sin City) and quite a few bad ones (Doom).
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Posted by: on August 30, 2007 at 1:00 pm

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There’s something undeniably grand and organic about The New Pornographers, something in the mix of “Ooh-ahh”‘s and hand-claps, of falsetto cries and wandering lyrics, that has cemented this band’s privileged place high up in the pop stratosphere. Challengers is only more evidence of that. It marks The New Pornographers’ fourth proper album in a 10-year span. Mastermind A.C. Newman recently unveiled his “new empire in rags” and we have to assume it’s inspired by his new New York digs.

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Posted by: on August 30, 2007 at 11:21 am

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In this day and age, it’s quite rare to hear something new that actually sounds unique or original. Thankfully there are bands such as the Decemberists who feel the need to defy conventions and take their sound and live show to new levels.

Their recent tour, dubbed The Long and Short of it, does just that. The band will play 2 nights in each market; the “long” night falling into the more exploratory and experimental side of the band. The “short” night leaning towards the candybar pop for which they are mostly adored. Check the full post for the Capitol Records press release and tour dates. — Martin Stett

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