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by John Garratt

5 Jan 2011


The Minnesota-based chamber jazz combo Fantastic Merlins launched a revamped website last year. To mark the occasion they began releasing a digital album, one song at a time. The Song of the Month is now four tracks thick and can be downloaded on a donation basis here. This means you can pay $0.00 for the album, if you are that much of a cheapskate.

In other news regarding the band, cellist Daniel Levin has now joined the Merlins full time after touring with them in France. I also spent most of 2010 thinking that How the Light Gets In, the band’s collaboration with Kid Dakota last year, was only available on import. Well, it’s closer than I thought.

by Steve Horowitz

5 Jan 2011


There’s something corny and smarmy about Matt Morris. He seems to live on the rarefied air of the priveleged; the lucky few, who have the advantage of friends like Justin Timberlake and Ellen Degeneres to shill for him. But damn if there isn’t something real at the core. Something that that comes through in the music even when he’s sentimentalizing poverty and a bastard’s bad behavior. It’s that ache in his voice and that look in his eyes that communicates across the boundaries of hype and glitz. There is something embararssing about the way he cares so much, but caring too much is a good thing. Affectation can create its own reality, one where we can imagine our common desire to make the world a better place. “Bloodline” is a guilty pleasure—the kind of song that invites wallowing—and Morris succeeds at making us want to sing along with him and dwell in the house of grit and sorrow. Feeling sad never felt so good.

by Eric Allen Been

5 Jan 2011


Scottish singer-songwriter Gerry Rafferty, who is perhaps best known for his 1972 hit “Stuck in the Middle With You” and the 1978 soft-rock classic “Baker Street”, died Tuesday morning, according to The Guardian. Rafferty, who long suffered from liver disease, died at age 63. Though his most popular songs were AM radio staples throughout the 1970s, Rafferty’s career was resurrected by director Quentin Tarantino using “Stuck in the Middle With You” in his 1992 cult classic Reservoir Dogs. The Glasgow-born singer, who once played with Billy Connolly’s folk group Humblebums and co-founded the folk rock band Stealers Wheel, released his last solo album, Another World, in 2000.

by J.C. Sciaccotta

5 Jan 2011


Back in November, Swedish band jj dropped their first post-jj nº 3 single, “Let Them”. Now comes the accompanying video, which features vocalist Elin Kastlander at the pulpit in a rural Swedish church. In other jj news, Christmas Eve saw the release of the band’s kills mixtape—which features a version of “Let Them” titled “Kill Them”—for free download from the Secretly Yours website.

by Lynnette Porter

5 Jan 2011


Starz released its brief behind-the-scenes trailer for Camelot, a new series from Chris Chibnall (possibly best known among SF circles for Torchwood but also well known in the UK for Law & Order: UK). Unfortunately, there’s so much “behind the scenes” that we don’t get to see a scene illustrating this cast’s take on the familiar characters. My first impression is that Camelot is the anti-Merlin, or the “adult” as well as “young” version, striving to be realistic for the time period (lots of swordplay!) and different from the many other Camelots, Excaliburs, Merlins, Sword in the Stones, First Knights, and Holy Grails before it. It may have to be distinctive to survive, but this brief preview does look intriguing. I worry more about its late-February sneak-peek first episode being shown more than a month before its April debut. Still, I was a fan of Xena and Highlander (lots of swordplay!), and the Arthurian legend is my favorite mythology. Perhaps Camelot will do Arthur proud.

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