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by Jonathan Kosakow

24 Jan 2012


Atmosphere

January in Colorado, to anyone who doesn’t live on the front range of the Rocky Mountains, seems like the coldest and stupidest time to be outside listening to music. But if you spend some time in or around Denver, you’ll know that’s not true. It might snow a foot on Monday, and hover between eight and ten degrees on Tuesday, but Wednesday, Thursday and Friday still have a chance of hitting 60. In fact, the entire winter is like one long game of frostbite roulette. On January 27, the first ever winter concert at the open air, naturally formed Red Rocks Amphitheater will take place, inviting 9,000 people to play this only-sane-if-you’re-in-Colorado game with some of hip hop’s finest – Atmosphere, Common, and Rocky Mountain State native Grieves. 

It’s the brainchild of Ben Anderson, founder of Icelantic Skis, who couldn’t wait to pair his love of winter with his love of summer. While Red Rocks is flocked to by thousands of concertgoers every summer, it is practically uninhabited during the colder months – except by the most extreme athletes found running the stairs in the thin air every morning. It’s a little crazy to think that the amphitheater will be full of people in snow gear rocking their arms back and forth as Atmosphere rhymes about Lucy Ford, or as Common waxes and wanes over water and chocolate, but it’s also completely believable. To everyone there, it’ll just be a matter of chance if they go home with blue fingers or if they have to shed a couple of layers. As always in Colorado, it’s a time for the risk takers, and there’s no telling what can happen.

by Sachyn Mital

23 Jan 2012


The Boss has an announcement. Bruce Springsteen is releasing a new album (his 17th), Wrecking Ball on Columbia Records in March (5th March UK, 6th March US). The album will was produced by Ron Aniello with Springsteen and includes appearances from Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello and former Pearl Jam member, Matt Chamberlain as well as members of the E Street Band.

To coincide with the album, Springsteen has also announced a European Tour with plans for a US tour to come. He’ll be stopping by SXSW as a keynote speaker before then. And out now, is the lyric video for the first single, “We Take Care of Our Own”.

by Jonathan Kosakow

23 Jan 2012


With his first truly exciting album in a number of years, and a tour on the way, Ryan Adams is making the most of his time right now. His 2011 album Ashes and Fire was highly regarded as one of the best records of the year, and his sold out, intimate shows late last year made him seem like less of a commodity than a rare stone. He just released his second video for the new single “Chains of Love” off Ashes, in advance of his tour, which begins on January 24. Check out the video and tour dates, below.

by Jane Jansen Seymour

23 Jan 2012


The live sessions at Seattle station KEXP give new meaning to the term ‘intimate’ with a tiny studio for recording visits by various bands. Neon Indian stopped in recently, and among all their gear around there certainly wasn’t room for much else. But the quintet seems perfectly comfortable in this tight space—with each other and creating the music at hand. Frontman Alan Palomo provides easy banter to introduce the four-song selection from last year’s Era Extraña and 2010’s Psychic Chasms, which put his band solidly on the indie electronic map. The cameras capture every knob turn, layered sound loop and drum beat for an up close and personal look at the group.  Fans can see how every blip and guitar chord is executed, along with who is singing what vocal when. As Palomo says, “Cool.”

by Cynthia Fuchs

23 Jan 2012


“Here’s me in pink stretch pants,” notes Mary Bubb. She’s a space reporter in Cape Canaveral, Florida, at the moment sharing some of her memorabilia with filmmakers Ross McElwee and Michel Negroponte. She smiles as she remembers a friend telling her, “Not everybody has their pink ass on the cover of Newsweek.” Mary’s recollections as a pool reporter provide something of a background for Space Coast, a film McElwee shot while he was still a graduate student at MIT in 1979. Like his subsequent, more famous documentaries, this one appears mostly observational, with subjects occasionally speaking directly to his camera, addressing him as Ross. As it shows the early version of what came to be his signature visual style—handheld, amiable, incisive—the film also indicates his inclination to see in everyday stories the significant rhythms and substance.

And so: even as Mary pursues her work, showing up at each launch (always with a new hat of her own devising, fashioned to be “very symbolic of the mission,” she explains), the film follows two other residents of the Space Coast, Papa John Murphy and the Reverend Willie Womack. All offer their wisdom on the landscape changing around them, the declining economy, the closing of launch pads, the frustrations of the community, the way the world works. For the most part, Papa John keeps himself distracted with TV and his family, wrestling with his daughter Diane (currently unable to find a job) and watching Happy Days and religious programming. “Jesus had to have been an extremely rugged individual,” he submits, “He lived the life of a fisherman, he wasn’t no pansy.” Willie takes his sons hunting, narrates McElwee, in “an abandoned housing development.” Each scene in the film offers a small glimpse of the various lives in Cape Canaveral, and together, they reveal the reshaping of a culture, built on ambitions unmet and options unknown.

Space Coast screens on 23 January at The DocYard at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, followed by a Q&A with McElwee and Negroponte. It’s the first in this season’s terrific biweekly documentary series, conceived to showcase “what is innovative, interesting, and inspiring in documentary.” Space Coast is all of that.

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