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by Jessy Krupa

4 Mar 2010


NBC desperately wants its new family dramedy Parenthood to be a success. For months, the show has been advertised online and in magazines with such tired clichés as “Parenthood is realizing you’ve become your father” and “Parenthood is reading more Dick and Jane than Moby Dick”. Its premiere episode was hyped as “brought to you with limited commercial interruption by Nissan”, so I thought I was in store for a rip-off of Brothers and Sisters or Modern Family that served as a cheap infomercial for minivans. Furthermore, the show is loosely based on the 1989 movie of the same title that started Steve Martin. However, it’s better than advertised.

One problem with the show, though, is the fact that there are so many members of the Braverman family to keep track of. A large focus of Tuesday’s episode was single divorcee Sarah (Lauren Graham) who picked up her spoiled brat daughter, Amber, and seemingly normal teenage son, Drew, and moved back home to her parents. However, a more interesting character on the show is Sarah’s brother, Adam (Brian Krause). After losing his position as Little League coach when he fights with the umpire over a call involving his son, Max, he argues with his pushy dad (Craig T. Nelson) over a nosebleed he apparently caused by pushing Max to play basketball. After a violent outburst in school, Max is diagnosed with Asperger’s Disease. The two most poignant moments in the episode dealt with Adam and his wife, Kristina, dealing with this news and the grandfather’s realization that “something’s wrong” with Max. Less interesting is the plight of Sarah and Adam’s slacker brother Crosby (Dax Shepard), a recording engineer who reluctantly agrees to have a baby with his record producer girlfriend within three years, after learning that she was looking for a sperm donor. A supposed cliffhanger is his discovery that he fathered a son named Jabbar with a stripper named Jasmine. What I find more interesting is Braverman sister, Julia, (Erika Christensen) a working mom who is beginning to realize that her daughter, Sydney, prefers her stay-at-home dad to her.

As typical of a family drama, family crises occur. Amber gets herself and good-girl cousin, Haddie, arrested for drug possession and Drew runs away to live with his father after seeing his mother slugging wine in the kitchen with her new date. Also, Sarah believes her father could be having an affair. By the end of the episode, the whole clan comes together to cheer on Max at another baseball game.

For a show that proclaims to be all about family, it’s ironic that Parenthood is not a show that a family could watch together. It’s too soon to know where the series is headed, but with a little tweaking, Parenthood could become the next 7th Heaven or Eight Is Enough, or at the very least, be the show that Life Unexpected pretends to be.

by Alex Suskind

4 Mar 2010


Broken Bells
Broken Bells
(Sony)
Releasing: 9 March

Broken Bells brings together two of today’s brightest and most innovative musicians: Brian Burton (aka Danger Mouse), best known for his work as one half of Gnarls Barkley and James Mercer, principle songwriter for indie-pop darlings the Shins. According to NPR, the duo met six years ago and finally found time to record together this past year.

Despite clocking in at only 37 minutes, Broken Bells’ self-titled debut is complete with signature sounds from both members—light harmonies and catchy hooks reminiscent of Mercer’s Shins and haunting organs and dark synth riffs from Burton’s production on Gorillaz’ Demon Days from 2005 and Beck’s Modern Guilt from 2008.

The upcoming release of this album (9 March) comes as bittersweet news to Shins’ fans, who have been waiting three years for a new record. Instead, they get a glimpse of Mercer’s songwriting ability outside the indie pop sound that made him big. At the very least, Broken Bells will keep them entertained in the meantime.

The album is currently streaming over at NPR. The music video for their first single, “The High Road” is below.

SONG LIST
01 The High Road
02 Vaporize
03 Your Head Is on Fire
04 The Ghost Inside
05 Sailing to Nowhere
06 Trap Doors
07 Citizen
08 October
09 Mongrel Heart
10 The Mall and Misery

by John Lindstedt

3 Mar 2010


Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland premieres this weekend, and while some are eager in anticipation, others are rolling their eyes at yet another Burton-ization of a story they’ve heard many times before (See: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Sleepy Hollow, Planet of the Apes). While the stories themselves have been done to death, Burton’s motifs have begun to grow as tired and predictable as the story beats. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter star, check. Macabre imagery, check. Danny Elfman score, check.

Meanwhile, the good folks over at College Humor show us just what exactly goes on in a Tim Burton pitch meeting: 

by PopMatters Staff

3 Mar 2010


Kill Rock Stars completes its Elliott Smith re-issue program on 6 April with the re-release of the late singer-songwriter’s first and last albums. The label has also just released a free MP3 from each record.

“Last Call” (Roman Candle) [MP3]
     

“Twilight” (From a Basement on the Hill) [MP3]
     

by Crispin Kott

3 Mar 2010


Despite a curriculum vitae packed to the edges with brilliant music, Prince’s recent legacy has been marred by his absolute need to control how he’s seen and heard on the internet.

The debate over how the wilderness of the web affects music isn’t exclusive to the diminutive soul genius from Minneapolis, though there are few artists who’d go as far as forcing fan sites to remove their high-heeled likeness.

Prince’s paranoia has repeatedly touched YouTube, beginning in 2007 when he threatened a lawsuit against the site for allowing the use of videos featuring his music. A year later, he raised the ire of Radiohead when he forced the removal of videos of his live Coachella performance of their song “Creep” from YouTube. The videos were reinstated in that case, though other have disappeared and reappeared in some bizarre cycle of friend versus purple foe.

But what’s getting lost in the ongoing battle between Prince and the fans who love him in spite of himself is just how incredible his music can be. Whether it’s video of him stealing the show at the Concert for George with a blistering solo during “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” in 2004 or shaking his ass at the Super Bowl in 2007, Prince has still got whatever it was that made the world fall under his spell 30 years ago. Whether anyone gets to witness any of that depends upon how quickly they get over to YouTube.

Witness a series of videos posted by a user called groovytv80. The sound quality is terrible, and the video a static black & white shot in a large, but dingy basement. It’s Prince and the Revolution rehearsing for a tour in support of Purple Rain, the album and film which cemented his reputation as a superstar. “When Doves Cry” is the obvious go-to video for the casual fan, though it’s on b-side “Erotic City” that Prince’s brilliance is most apparent, on guitar, on vocals, as a bandleader and composer. It drips with sex, no mean feat for something that looks like security footage from a shopping center in the ‘80s and sounds like your next door neighbor playing their stereo louder than you’d like.

Run over to YouTube and check it out before Prince realizes it’s there. Or wait a week, and maybe it’ll turn up again. Such is the circular relationship between Prince and YouTube.

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