George Harrison once said he didn’t recognize Beatle George. Newspaper reporters can only nail so much truth, not least for the limited glean of timed interview slots, after which informed guesswork as a kind of excusable act of fiction must fill in the gaps. Hence, George was and will forever remain in the picture—certainly as foundation—but Beatle George outgrew the source, becoming an endlessly canvassed product of hive-expectation. It happened to all of the Beatles, as it does all stars that achieve universal, celestial acclaim. They become cubistic: there were too many side to their profiles for them to be real.
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If you crave haunting melodies shaded with dark shadows, looped vocals and looming organs, I suggest you tune your ears to Bone and Bell. Hailing from Chicago Bone and Bell is the music and art of Texas-born singer/songwriter Heather Smith. Originally a solo effort Smith recently expanded her project into a quartet. Together as a full band Bone and Bell are releasing their second EP Organ Fantasies. Organ Fantasies is four tracks of melancholic complexities bound by layers of Smith’s delicate vocals and rhythmic subtleties. In a mere 11 minutes Bone and Bell create an arcane world exotic eccentricities, bound to leave you still with wonder. Bone and Bell’s Organ Fantasies came out on 7-inch vinyl and as a digital download on May 25.
To most people, the Memorial Day weekend is the start of summer so why not explore some new music for your own personal soundtrack. With a mix of recent arrivals and established artists, releases abound for the listening to heat things up. Notes are provided with background info for further discovery.
When the marines of Echo Company 2nd Battalion 8th Regiment enter Afghanistan in 2009, they’re told they’ll be enacting a “new” counter-insurgency strategy. Their commander names their essential contradictions. “Every interaction you have with the people is crucial,” he says, “We have to develop trust in them.” Strapping on gear and loading weapons, they are plainly “experts in the application of violence,” but they’re less equipped for developing “trust.” Within moments, these ideals are dismantled: a marine is badly injured, his buddies run him along a road, the camera jogging behind them. When the corporal dies, 26-year-old Sergeant Nathan Harris steps up. He will be injured too, and Hell and Back Again, airing on PBS on 28 May, follows him home to North Carolina, where he struggles to find sense in what he’s done and how it plagues him. The film cuts back and forth, between the footage photographer-turned-filmmaker Danfung Dennis shot in Afghanistan over months and the diaristic scenes he shoots of Nathan home, talking to the camera, his wife Ashley, and his doctors. In pain and on medication, Nathan seems to be remembering what you see, but the documentary doesn’t pretend to know what he’s feeling. Instead, it observes and draws connections, scenes that show battles or Harris and his team breaking down doors or not quite conversing with Afghan locals, or more plainly showing the effects of action. These involve Ashley as much as Nathan: as she describes their journey as “to hell and back again,” you realize how they’ve paid, again and again.
See PopMatters’ review.
American Idol’s fifth season was filled with shocking eliminations. Big-voiced R&B/gospel singer Mandisa didn’t make it to the top eight. Kellie Pickler, a country singer who reminded people of previous winner Carrie Underwood, didn’t make it into the top five. Plus, American Idol’s most successful male contestant and one of the biggest stars in modern rock music, Chris Daughtry, didn’t win.
Regardless of who was voted off when, it was the still the highest rated TV series of 2006. One of the show’s most successful seasons, it resulted in a record number of Billboard chart appearances, with 18 contestants from the show eventually receiving some sort of record contract!
But whatever happened to those who made it to the top that year? Let’s find out as we continue on with 2006’s American Idols.