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by Allison Taich

23 Nov 2009

In celebration of Miles Davis’ 30 plus year stint with Columbia Records, Columbia/Legacy present Miles Davis: The Complete Columbia Album Collection. Exclusive to Amazon.com, the set will include reissues of Davis’ 52 recordings for Columbia plus bonus tracks, an artist biography, a fully annotated discography, a complete song index and rare photos of the jazz mastermind.

The set also contains previously unreleased footage of the Miles Davis Quintet’s European tour of 1967 on DVD, Live in Europe ‘67. Shot in Stockholm and Karlsruhe, Live in Europe ‘67 includes performances by: Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. Making the box set even more irresistible is the inclusion of the full performance from the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival, which is also a first time release. Stream a few tracks after the jump.

by PC Muñoz

23 Nov 2009

Dave Fischoff is a sonic successor to the painter Georges Seurat. He thinks in colors, paints in pixels and eyelash brushes, and connects millions of dots to create his gestalt. Fischoff’s 2006 masterpiece on Secretly Canadian Records, The Crawl, is his A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (or, for that matter, his take on Sondheim’s “Sunday in the Park with George”):  an epic landscape of skin, populated with a set of characters who are all reflections of the same hive-mind consciousness.

In Fischoff’s parallel reality, acid rain turns to gasoline, Cinderella becomes Ray Charles, Chicago snowstorms are merely tiny ripples in the ocean, and marriage is either a case of sour grapes or a brilliant vineyard waiting to bloom. In this evolutionary crawl, Adam and Eve are just another middle-class Ward and June, and all of the past negatives evolve into future hopes and dreams.

Fischoff has recently re-christened himself in Brooklyn as a DJ named Spoolwork, but in his past life, he worked at the Chicago Public Library, crate-digging thousands of LPs to find the micro-samples that would populate his pointillistic masterpiece. He built The Crawl entirely within Reason (a step-sequencing software tool), but you would never guess that within the first ten listens. Like all finely detailed paintings, this one requires multiple views. And like all great albums, the cover art is central and inexorably linked to the sound, courtesy of Emme Stone.

by Alistair Dickinson

23 Nov 2009

After re-watching the entirety of the ‘70s BBC comedy Fawlty Towers on the new Fawlty Towers: The Complete Collection Remastered DVD box set, it becomes clear that iconic characters like George Castanza, Leslie Knope and David Brent (or Michael Scott) would never have existed if it were not for another abrasive, hopelessly un-self-aware oddball: Basil Fawlty. Basil, as played by Monty Python’s Flying Circus alumni John Cleese, is one of the most awkward characters in the history of television. And one of the funniest.

Having all the episodes collected together may remind the buyer that it was probably a good idea to end the show when it did, (a marathon-viewing-session pretty quickly reveals that the show’s formula only allows it to go in so many directions before it starts repeating itself) but the ability to watch classic episodes like “The Germans” or “Basil the Rat” whenever one feels like it is a prize well-worth the cost of purchase. The DVD collection also comes with a long list of bonus features, ranging from interviews with the surviving cast and crew to a documentary about the Gleneagles Hotel and it’s manager, Donald Sinclair, who inspired the character of Basil. Even better, every single episode comes with newly recorded commentary tracks from both the directors and Cleese himself.

Cleese’s narration is especially interesting, as he is not afraid to point out the aspects he is particularly proud of, while relentlessly nit-picking the parts he wishes he could change. He also waxes rhapsodic about the cast and crew, praising Booth for what he feels are her unrecognized contributions to the show as a writer and vocally admiring the physical attributes of the many female guest stars. Overall, he’s pretty pleased with what he and Fawlty Towers accomplished, as well he should be.

AMAZON

by Bill Gibron

23 Nov 2009

Fight Club is still today a definitive film, a statement as strong as any rock anthem and twice as packed with power chords. It reels from flights of vivid imagination and keens with art so impressive that few can fathom its brilliance at one sitting. To hear Fincher tell it (his commentary is one of several spellbinding additions to the Blu-ray release, along with a fabulous 1080p transfer and audio update), the movie was a compact experience—scripted, storyboarded, cast, and presented without any major studio input or interference. Even when they balked at some of Palahnuik’s more maverick ideas, Fincher fought for the essence, if not the actual scene or line of dialogue. Sometimes, the reinvention made things much, much darker (Marla’s classic “grade school/abortion” lines). At other instances, the film version of Fight Club fleshed out the author’s ideas, giving realism and authenticity to what could be viewed as the fictional version of The Anarchist’s Cookbook.

But as the wealth of bonus features argue, Fight Club endures because its about the shared experience—between cast and crew, characters and audience, philosophy and individual ethos. It’s about emasculation and the inability to overcome same. Fincher surprises us when he explains how uncomfortable the MPAA got with any questions of sex (especially Tyler’s “rubber glove” bit with Marla) but then passed on most of the violence. Instead, Britain made him trim material from the infamous Angel Face (Jared Leto) beat down, arguing it was too horrific (we see both versions, and other deleted scenes here as well). As the actors share anecdotes and discuss motivation, we begin to understand how forward-thinking this movie really was. While Fight Club argued for a dethroned patriarchy to rise up and reestablish their place on the social food chain, it also illustrated the indirect rise in geek empowerment. Of course, the men in the movie pounded each other into submission using physical force and stamina. The nerds beat them to prominence with a motherboard and a highway full of information.

AMAZON

by Eleanore Catolico

23 Nov 2009

A man’s life lived out of a suitcase, Woody Guthrie’s My Dusty Road, inaugurates the new Woody Guthrie Legacy Series on Rounder Records. This four-CD boxed set is literally packaged in a suitcase and vital remnants of Guthrie’s vagabond life: unpublished photos, lyric sheets, a business card, a post card to his wife and a booking card from the 1940s. These are also the cleanest recordings of Guthrie’s work yet to date. His unrivaled folk, full of emotional nuance impresses you upon first listen to My Dusty Road and these songs timelessly revel in the wayward traveler’s experience of America. No wonder Guthrie was Bob Dylan’s signature musical influence. This collection is for those who love Bob Dylan and want to trace the origins of his genius to Guthrie’s masterly crafted and treasured music, as well as anyone interested in American roots music and popular song.

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U2's 'The Joshua Tree' Tour Reminds the Audience of their Politics

// Notes from the Road

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