With his elaborate stunts and lady killer smile, Giuliano Gemma ranks among the most popular spaghetti western stars. He’s not the greatest actor in the genre, but he’s one of the most fun to watch, easiest to root for, and most productive. While his films range in quality, which is only natural for a spaghetti western actor, his productivity has led fans of the genre to develop a familiarity with him that makes his presence a pleasure, regardless of how mediocre the film he stars in is.
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Sorrow and loss are deeply woven in to the country music fabric, but they’re especially critical elements to the new LP by Jeremy Pinnell, OH/KY. With a gruff voice and a strong grasp on what real country sounds like, Pinnell spins a series of compelling yarns on the album that document the hardships of the past 18 years of his life, from drug addiction to failed relationships. On the cut “Big Bright World”, Pinnell takes the former head-on, singing, “I love the needle, son / And the needle loves me / It wants nobody to be free.” As Pinnell puts it in describing OH/KY, “You live the life I live, and you will know the way that country sounds.” Fortunately, as “Big Bright World” attests, Pinnell’s life isn’t all loss: “I’m lucky to be in this big bright world”, he sings.
OH/KY received a limited Kentucky/Ohio release back in 2014, and is now seeing its national United States release this summer. In his 7 out of 10 review of the album for its limited release in 2014 for PopMatters, Eric Risch calls these tunes “a tutorial on classic country music”.
The folk and singer/songwriter genre has become increasingly oversaturated in the past ten years, as there appears to be no shortage of white dudes who air their problems out over fingerpicked acoustic guitar. Finding a songwriter in this mass who knows how to properly execute a good melody or hook is often a difficult task. Fortunately, that feature is what New York City musician Tyler Lyle has in spades, as his new LP The Native Genius of Desert Plants shows. Much like the English guitar picker Ben Howard, Lyle strikes a happy medium between the introspection of the “guy with an acoustic guitar” format and sophisticated pop smarts. Tracks like single “Winter is for Kierkegaard” also show that he knows his way around lyric writing, to boot.
For a variety of reasons, the need for a feature piece among them, I was going to review the new Lamb of God album this week. Never mind the fact that it doesn’t come out for another two months, or that the band’s American PR is only just starting to get the hype machine rolling; these days, I couldn’t care less about publishing a review before such absurd press announcements as an “album artwork unveiling” and “track listing unleashing”. Besides, no band should ever complain about getting press, especially if the review is positive, so why not hammer out a fun piece about a rare 2015 album that’s captured my attention?
Yeah, I like the new record, VII: Sturm Und Drang. Quite a lot, actually. Given the freedom I have with this weekly column, the urge to sit down and slap together a thousand words about why I enjoy VII: Sturm Und Drang so much is near impossible to resist. It’s the same for any music fan: when you hear great new music, you have to gush, you need to run out and tell people about it. Yet at the same time, as a writer there’s also something stupid, trite, and narcissistic lurking underneath that desire, too: the fleeting satisfaction of being first.
One year ago I started what turned into a “season” of Mario Kart 8, complete with gameplay tweaks and paid downloadable content (DLC). It’s the first time I’ve played a Nintendo game that has bought into the “long-tail” content and add-on strategy that is so prevalent in the large publisher space. Instead of a capsule frozen in time, Mario Kart 8 got something similar to the season pass and map pack treatment. The question is: how did this work out?