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by Sarah Zupko

16 Jul 2009

Arlo Guthrie
Arlo Guthrie: Tales of ‘69
(Rising Son)
Releasing: 18 August 2009 (US)

Arlo Guthrie is a certifiable folk legend, plus the son of another one, and a true ‘60s icon with a fine pedigree in the field of protest music. Perfect for these troubled times for sure and his music has a certain timeliness to it in the face of a rather famous anniversary this summer—yes, it was 40 years ago that the cultural event that was Woodstock took place in a muddy field in rural New York. To celebrate, Guthrie is releasing some live recordings he made right before Woodstock at a venue on Long Island. Tales of ‘69 features nine songs from that event and we have an exclusive one for you in “Coming into Los Angeles”.

Guthrie is going to have a very busy fall as he heads out on a massive tour being labeled as the “Guthrie Family Rides Again”. The tour will feature Arlo’s classics as well as a bunch of his father’s unreleased lyrics recently set to music by a stellar cast of collaborators, including Billy Bragg and Wilco. The tour will truly be a family event as Guthrie will be joined by his son Abe and daughters Cathy, Annie and Sarah Lee. The tour begins in October and runs all the way through next May (dates below).

SONG LIST
01 The Unbelievable Motorcycle Tale
02 What a Gas
03 Coming into Los Angeles
04 If You Would Just Drop By
05 If Ever I Should See the Mountain
06 Finger Pickin’ Good (Simply Tuning)
07 Alice—Before Time Began
08 Road to Everywhere
09 Hurry to Me

Arlo Guthrie
“Coming into Los Angeles” [MP3]
     

TOUR DATES

Friday, October 2, 2009: Old Trinity Church in Housatonic, MA
Saturday, October 3, 2009: Old Trinity Church in Housatonic, MA
Sunday, October 4, 2009: Old Trinity Church in Housatonic, MA
Friday, October 9, 2009: Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts in Storrs, CT
Saturday, October 10, 2009: Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts in Storrs, CT
Friday, October 16, 2009: Soaring Eagle Casino in Mt. Pleasant, MI
Tuesday, October 20, 2009: Barrymore Theatre in Madison, WI
Wednesday, October 21, 2009: Schauer Center in Hartford, WI
Friday, October 23, 2009: College of Dupage Arts Center in Glen Ellyn, IL
Saturday, October 24, 2009: Genesee Theatre in Waukegan, IL
Tuesday, October 27, 2009: Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts in Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, October 28, 2009: Dominion Chalmers Church in Ottawa, Canada
Thursday, October 29, 2009: Outrement Theatre in Montreal, Canada
Sunday, November 1, 2009: Homer Center for the Arts in Homer, NY
Thursday, November 19, 2009: The Flynn Centre in Burlington, VT
Friday, November 20, 2009: Merrill Auditorium in Portland, ME
Saturday, November 21, 2009: Hutchins Concert Hall in Orono, ME
Saturday, November 28, 2009: Carnegie Hall in New York, NY
Sunday, November 29, 2009: New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ
Friday, February 19, 2010: The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA
Saturday, February 20, 2010: McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ
Sunday, February 21, 2010: Patchogue Theatre in Patchogue, NY
Tuesday, February 23, 2010: Grand Opera House in Wilmington, DE
Thursday, February 25, 2010: The American Theatre in Hampton, VA
Friday, February 26, 2010: The American Theatre in Hampton, VA
Saturday, February 27, 2010: Paramount Theatre in Charlottesville, VA
Monday, March 1, 2010: Newberry Opera House in Newberry, SC
Wednesday, March 3, 2010: Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place in Asheville, NC
Thursday, March 4, 2010: Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place in Asheville, NC
Friday, March 5, 2010: Ferst Center for the Arts in Atlanta, GA
Monday, March 15, 2010: The Lyric Theatre in Stuart, FL
Tuesday, March 16, 2010: The Lyric Theatre in Stuart, FL
Saturday, March 20, 2010: Bartlett Performing Arts Center in Bartlett, TN
Tuesday, March 23, 2010: Miller Outdoor Theater in Houston, TX
Friday, March 26, 2010: Sheldon Concert Hall in St. Louis, MO
Wednesday, March 31, 2010: Long Center for the Performing Arts in Austin, TX
Saturday, April 3, 2010: Journal Theatre, National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, NM
Thursday, April 8, 2010: Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts in Wickenburg, AZ
Friday, April 9, 2010: Centennial Hall in Tucson, AZ
Saturday, April 10, 2010: Mesa Arts Center in Mesa, AZ
Wednesday, April 14, 2010: California Center for the Arts in Escondido, CA
Friday, April 16, 2010: Royce Hall in Los Angeles, CA
Saturday, April 17, 2010: Irvine Barclay Theatre in Irvine, CA
Tuesday, April 20, 2010: Clark Center in Arroyo Grande, CA
Thursday, April 22, 2010: University of CA at Davis in Sacramento, CA
Friday, April 23, 2010: Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA
Saturday, April 24, 2010: Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, CA
Wednesday, April 28, 2010: Rogue Theater in Grants Pass, OR
Friday, April 30, 2010: Corvallis Center in Corvallis, OR
Saturday, May 1, 2010: Kentwood High School Auditorium in Kent, WA
Sunday, May 2, 2010: Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham, WA
Tuesday, May 4, 2010: Metropolitan Performing Arts Center in Spokane, WA
*Additional dates TBA*

by PopMatters Staff

16 Jul 2009

Wildbirds & Peacedrums
The Snake
(The Control Group)
Releasing: 25 August (US/physical) / 7 July 2009 (US/digital)

SONG LIST
01 Island
02 There Is No Light
03 Chain of Steel
04 So Soft So Pink
05 Places
06 Great Lines
07 Today/Tomorrow
08 Liar Lion
09 Who Ho Ho Ho
10 My Heart

Wildbirds & Peacedrums
“There Is No Light” [MP3]
     

by PopMatters Staff

16 Jul 2009

Olivia Broadfield
Eyes Wide Open
(Vagrant)
Released: 14 July 2009 (US)

Olivia Broadfield is a new singer-songwriter from the UK whose tunes have been featured on MTV’s The Real World and The Hills. The video for “Silence”, which you can check out below, is a certified hit, making VH1’s Hot 20.

SONG LIST
01 The Weight
02 Don’t Cry
03 Indescribable
04 Holding Onto You
05 Hang On
06 Lost In You
07 Safe
08 Probably Nothing
09 Don’t Let Go
10 Silence
11 Eyes Wide Open
12 Crashing Down
13 Save Me (With Day Life)

Olivia Broadfield
“Don’t Cry” [MP3]
     

 

by Bill Gibron

16 Jul 2009

It’s a film criticism cliché - remakes suck. Sure, there are exceptions, but for the most part, taking an already established film and “updating”/“reimagining” it, for whatever reason, routinely turns up junk. In recent years, it was Asian horror films that received some unnecessary Westernization. One Missed Call my Eye! Now, Tinsel Town is casting an even wider international net. With the announcement that Cloverfield‘s Matt Reeves is taking on the English version of the Swedish masterpiece Let the Right One In, perhaps we should go back to last October and see how successful Sony’s remake of [REC] was. Wait, you never heard of [REC] ? Really? Well, that’s not surprising. For some reason (read: clear commercial competition), the studio sat on the brilliant Spanish production, giving it a lukewarm festival like release schedule before hiding it away. Clearly they were waiting until Quarantine, their take on the material, had its day in the cinematic sun.

With the release this week of [REC] on Region 1 DVD - again, held up for some unknown ($$$) reason - we can do a little compare and contrast. But first, a couple of caveats. To be on the up and up, this critic liked both films. Actually, that’s not right. He ADORED [REC] , finding it one of the creepiest films of the last few years. Oddly enough, he appreciated what Quarantine tried to do with the material. While not always successful, it definitely stands on its own. Secondly, this discussion will be inundated with spoilers. Spoilers, Spoilers, SPOILERS!!! So if you want to experience one or either of these films without knowing the many plot contrivances and twists, go check out [REC] and Quarantine first and then come back to this piece. Only then will you fully appreciate the specifics we will be dissecting, beginning with:

The Story


First, both [REC] and Quarantine make the wise decision to not “pretty up” their storylines with unnecessary subtext or pointless subplots. Each movie gives us the same set up (reporter tagging along on a routine fire call) and takes it to its logical, logistical ends. Certainly, the effectiveness of how it manages this straightforward narrative device is one of the crucial differences between the two.  While it plays like a virtual shot-for-shot recreation of [REC] , Quarantine does contain elements that try (some successfully, some not so) to expand on the original idea. One of the Spanish spook shows many delights were its menacing inferences, from the standard zombie machinations to the horrific demonic possession material at the end. Quarantine goes for (SPOILER ALERT), “mutant rabies strain”. Similarly, the remake discharges all of the original’s religious overtones to expand on the whole “animal” angle. Quarantine also adds a couple of unique kills - one featuring a video camera, another involving an infected dog. All in all, however, it’s the same basic movie. 

The Characters


The biggest difference between [REC] and Quarantine is how each film handles its cast. For directors Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza, there was a drive toward anonymity. There was a real desire on their part to use the (mostly) unknown quality of their performers to sell the reality of what was going on. As a result, they picked individuals like Manuela Velasco - some notoriety, but not enough to stick out in her native land. Naturally, when Hollywood cranks up its remake machine, they have to pepper the personalities with recognizable (or at least quasi-recognizable) actors. That’s why our lead is played by Jennifer Carpenter from Dexter, or why the fireman she follows are Jay Hernandez (of Hostel fame) and Johnathon Schaech (perhaps best known for That Thing You Do). While they attempt to override their celebrity with some halfway decent turns, the production clearly mandates more screen time for all of them. That’s why we get elongated sequences inside the firehouse, and the budding (if quickly tossed aside) sexual advances. [REC] views its characters as fright fodder. Quarantine is looking to pad some up and comers slight resumes.

The Actors


Oddly enough, the application of real thespians into this found footage conceit does Quarantine a grand disservice. While Hernandez actually helps in the heroics department (giving us a viable victim to root for), Ms. Carpenter is so over the top and fake that we wonder how anyone would ever take her seriously. As with most horror heroines, her character substitutes fear for common sense, leading to actions that would probably get her killed within the first five minutes. Unlike Angela Vidal, her Hispanic counterpart, she falls apart almost immediately, forgetting the story and her position as a member of the press. Similarly, the residents of the American apartment complex are all vying for screen time, preening and preparing when they should just be reacting. The best part of [REC] is how authentic the obviously fake situation feels. This is because the Spanish cast was kept in the dark, limited in how much they were told about what was going to happen. Such an approach makes the original play as real, something Quarantine has to work hard at - and that’s never a good thing. 

The Direction


For John Erick Dowdle, who along with his brother Drew came up with the so-so found footage film The Poughkeepsie Tapes a few years back, Quarantine represented a substantial step up. They were helming a Hollywood film for the first time, and recreating a favored foreign fright film at that. One would expect a few novice jitters, but for the most part, Dowdle does a great job. He doesn’t abuse the hand held element, going gonzo with shaky cam chaos. He even gives his shooter some onscreen time, making the “manual” aspect to the filming that much more important. For Balagueró and Plaza, there is no such need for added affectations. Instead, they want to treat this material as up front and formal as possible. When Angela screams about securing the camera, it’s because it is there to record the truth, not add some kind of cinematic “style” to the experience. As a result, [REC] feels like a newscast gone horribly wrong. While equally effective, Quarantine does have just the slightest twinge of cinematic self-indulgence.

The Gimmick


This is where [REC] runs roughshod over its Tinsel Town twin. Even though it’s obvious that both films are trying to copy real life, only the original succeeds as a shocker. The set-ups work better, the over the shoulder reveals and diminished peripheral vision functioning better than say, random shocks and sudden looks in the lens. In fact, almost every set-piece sequence (the falling fireman, the textile factory attack, the little girl transformation, the last ditch escape to the penthouse, the discovery of what’s inside) is handled better by [REC] than in Quarantine. Most would chalk this up to the work of cinematographer Pablo Rosso who really did handle the duties as Angela Vidal’s cameraman. He understands both the overall big picture of what Balagueró and Plaza want to accomplish while seamlessly fusing into the film’s premise. Never once do we see “Pablo”, nor is he a player in this particular drama. He is merely a member of the media, doing his job and hoping not to get killed in the process. His efforts make the found footage of [REC] look flawless. Quarantine, on the other hand, suffers from being too fussy and flashy.

by Diepiriye Kuku

15 Jul 2009

Please play more Michael Jackson. He is an original humanitarian. Michael Jackson was more than a pop star; he defined modern popular music. It’s basic ignorance that leads anyone to continue to discredit the way this artist lived. Fans, and anyone else listening to the words written, composed and performed by Michael Jackson would not be so greedy, angry and stupid of the sort that leads us to destroy the planet and divide people.

Earth Song, Heal the World, and of course, We are the World. This man clearly propagated ‘love’ as the way forward. This nation desperately needs to reconcile with Michael Jackson and come to terms with the fact that we created a monster. In spite of the self-mutilation, abuse of credit and addiction to “consumerism,”—you know, sex, drugs and rock-n-roll—we cannot deny that he was an apt mirror of this society. As a pop star, Michael Jackson mirrored the iconic status the United States enjoys in the world- and embodies the unreconciled contradictions as well.

I’m startin’ with the man in the mirror.
I’m asking him to change his ways.
And no message could have been any clearer:
If you wanna make the world a better place,
Take a look at yourself, and
Make that change.

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