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by Andrew Gilstrap

23 Mar 2009

As part of the 40 Watt Club’s showcase of Georgia musicians, Dead Confederate set themselves apart from the indie and retro fare that dominated both stages. Dead Confederate sound (at least on this day) is a loud, tense Southern Gothic sludge punctuated only by keening slide guitar. The dynamics consist pretty much of a constant rise and fall rather than any clear peaks or valleys, and at times, this listener could have used a little more variety in the short set. Underlit by floorlights, lead singer Hardy Morris went for a spooky appearance that matched the music, sometimes resembling Kurt Cobain from the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video and at other times like the last person you’d want to meet in a dark alley.

 

 

by Matt White

23 Mar 2009

Here’s the fourth no budget music video Neil Young has made for his upcoming album Fork in the Road. “Cough Up the Bucks” addresses these hard economic times and asks “where did all the money go?”

Watch the other Fork in the Road videos here. The album hits stores April 7th.

by Andrew Gilstrap

23 Mar 2009

“This ain’t a precision rock show”, the lead singer of 13ghosts announced during the band’s set, likening their approach to firing buckshot and seeing what hit. And who’d want it to be? Cloaked in darkness by the Creekside Lounge’s black-draped walls, 13ghosts brought to mind all those not-quite-tight three-guitar rock ‘n’ roll bands you love with their mix of southern rock, boogie, and vigorous guitar squall. I knew them by name only when I walked in, but had three CDs in my pocket by the time I walked out.

 

 

by Mike Schiller

22 Mar 2009

Yes, it’s true, I wasn’t a huge fan of Guitar Hero: World Tour.  Honestly, there’s not much that can make up for when a peripheral breaks as quickly as the World Tour drums did, and the fact that Rock Band 2 had been doing what it does for a full month before World Tour came out worked against it as well.  Despite my misgivings, however, I’ve played the game plenty, and it’s come on a bit as a favorite that I’ve pulled out even more than Rock Band in recent days—granted, that might just be because I’ve played its collection of songs less, but still.  It’s not an awful game; it’s just no Rock Band 2.

That said, any fan of the Guitar Hero or Rock Band series—at least, any of those fans who have managed to graduate to Expert—should be positively stoked for Sunday’s release of Guitar Hero: Metallica.  Having played through the Death Magnetic tracks on the guitar in both Guitar Hero III and World Tour and enjoying them more than pretty much everything else in either game, the prospect of playing 30 more Metallica songs is awfully, awfully appealing.  Of course, when the demo came through, I had more fun playing Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy” than either “Sad but True” or “Seek and Destroy”.  I mean, Freddy Mercury was singing along, and it doesn’t get much better than that.  Still…I desperately want to play “Fight Fire With Fire.”  Desperately.

Also on the console front this week is Legends of Wrestlemania, in which we’ll finally be able to answer the age old (?!) question of who would win in a fight between The Rock and The Ultimate Warrior.  Honestly, just seeing the Big Boss Man on the roster brought back memories of playing the old arcade wrestling games that I used to get routinely killed in.  Even if you’ve been out of the whole video game wrestling thing for a while, THQ might be able to rope you back in with this one.

In the “Interesting Ideas” category, we have Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time coming out this week as well, which is notable because it’s the first game that will offer complete interaction between the Nintendo DS and the Wii.  The upside is that it has the potential to bring console and portable players together in a way no game has ever done.  The downside is that it could well be the worst-looking Wii game to be released at least from a purely polygons-per-square-inch viewpoint.  It’ll be fascinating to see what the response to this approach ends up being.  If nothing else, it’s another notch in the wall for innovation on the Nintendo side of the aisle, thanks to the fine minds at Square Enix.

The whole release list is after the jump - let me know what I missed and tell me what you’ll be grabbing this week.  Just don’t tell me that the rumored Guitar Hero: Van Halen is going to be better than this week’s Metallica release—I may just have to give you a piece of my mind.  You will also see something that I will never, ever be able to do on drums.

by Bill Gibron

22 Mar 2009

The sailor on shore leave - is there another war-time tenet as stereotypical and suspect as that. We all understand the basics of those enlisted in the Naval Corps.: long months at sea, limited sexual stimulation, a girl in every port, a tattoo to commemorate said conquests, and a mouth as dirty as a grease covered galley floor. Much has changed about the mariner returning home after a taste of battle. No longer are we witness to antiquated On The Town hijinx or, in reverse post modern journeys into perfunctory private Hells ala The Last Detail. No, in the hands of Australian novice Matthew Newton, our macho midshipmen have more on their plate then sewing a few wild oats. Over the course of one fateful night, our Three Blind Mice will end up making decisions that will redefine their lives forever.

When we first meet Sam, Dean, and Harry, they are checking into an Ozzie hotel for the night. Their plans are simple - freshen up, hit the town, pull some birds, and be back in time to ship out in the morning. Yes, after an already overlong tour of duty in the Middle East, the boys are returning in relatively short order. This makes Sam very nervous. Horrifically abused as part of a shipboard standoff gone horrible wrong, he’s actually thinking about going AWOL. Yet by doing so, he realizes he will disappoint his mom and his aging grandfather. As the trio take in a poker game at a local pizzeria, Sam befriends a flirtatious waitress named Emma. She doesn’t understand all the duties and dilemmas facing the young cadet. She just thinks a man in a uniform is sexy. Later on, during a dinner with his girlfriend’s parents, Dean will deliver some stunning news.

Like a younger, hipper Ricky Gervais, Matthew Newton comes across as an odd choice to make a subtle, character driven drama. His entire personality, wrapped up effortlessly in his performance as the dashing and devious Harry, seems better suited for something hilarious, not heartfelt, and occasionally, horrifying. Yet that’s the kind of creative deception the 32 year old uses to keep Three Blind Mice from becoming just another worn out ‘War is Hell’ epistle. True, the tale he chooses to tell as writer, director, and star has been done dozens of times before, the same simmering secrets coming forward at the usual inopportune times, but thanks to the cultural backdrop (Australia) and the interesting choices made by his cast, we gladly relish in the recognizability. This is indeed a talky trip through a group of individual’s inner demons, but Newton makes the journey engaging and quite effective.

Of the three male leads, Harry is clearly the center. He is the good time guy who will instantly sell you down the river once his shtick has been uncovered. We learn this during a fascinating card game where our sailors act like simps to milk locals out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars. Looking lax and nonchalant, Harry keeps the table off center by offering unusual tales of military ethos and battle weariness. When one of his marks demands to know his technique, the fool’s façade drops, and suddenly we see the manipulation behind the military man. Something similar happens to Dean when he decides to reveal what really happened to Sam during a critical night onboard ship. It’s the concept of menace behind the mask that fuels Three Blind Mice‘s fascination.

The trouble for some will come from Sam, the newly minted officer with a back full of scars to indicate his troubled professional past. As essayed with calm cowardice by Ewen Leslie, we’re not sure whether we should feel sorry for this victim or cringe at the reasons for his obvious outcast state. During a definitive moment where he calls his mother to explain his plans, the actor literally falls apart before our eyes. His interactions with Emma aren’t much better. He’s never comfortable in his skin, incapable of taking the numerous lustful hints from his red-headed pick-up. As the movie meanders toward its decisions and denouements, we wonder if Newton has more up his sleeve. The answer, oddly enough, is as unusual as the film itself.

Still, there remains an arm’s length quality that comes with such a slow, layered reveal. While our mainstream addled brain might scream for a quicker uncovering of the truth, Newton is not out to please the faithful. Instead, he wants viewers to think, to sit back within the confines of this complex situation and struggle to decipher which side you stand on. Are you part of Sam and his painful process of denial? Or do you side with Harry and Dean, willing to follow demented directives in order to maintain station? Of course, such questions have also plagued the military movie since cinematic soldiers first took up arms. But Three Blind Mice reminds us that men are typically at the center of such quandaries, and their very humanity make the resolution tricky - and sometimes, terrifying.

As a presence both behind and in front of the camera, it’s clear that Matthew Newton has a bright and brilliant future ahead in film. His demeanor may seem like he takes nothing very serious, but his sense of story, character, narrative drive, and plot dynamics indicate otherwise. Three Blind Mice is a very cautious, often serious clash between the truth and a lie, the cover-up and the conspiracy that required the cabal in the first place. By the end, nothing has really changed. Each man has simply certified his place in the precarious pecking order that is existence - especially in the Navy. Gone are the dates with golden hearted hooker. Missing are the well-meaning bar fights were steam is let off before the real killing occurs. In their place are mental challenges and undeniable moral predicaments. Oddly enough, in Newton’s world, the resolution is more harmful than any tour of duty.

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