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by Cynthia Fuchs

17 Aug 2011


In the mid 1970s, Glenn Burke came out. A Major League Baseball player, he had not kept his identity secret from his colleagues or friends. But his decision to come out was something else, apart from best guesses or ugly rumors or even confidences. And that decision was costly, as recounted in Out. The Glenn Burke Story, re-airing 17 August on Versus. As his teammates struggled with their own feelings, management was less ambivalent. The Dodgers dealt him to the As in 1977, where manager Billy Martin notoriously called him a “faggot” in front of his teammates. That same year, the As sent him down to the minors. Burke retired then, at age 27, despite good stats and an unfinished career. The documentary, produced by Doug Harris and Sean Madison, tells a story that is remarkable for a number of reasons, not least being Burke’s courage and determination: to this day, he remains the only Major League Baseball player to come out during his professional career. The only one.

See PopMattersreview.

by PopMatters Staff

16 Aug 2011


Photo: Amanda Johnson

Minneapolis’ Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps release their latest album Little Wind this coming September 20th. The new work sees the band still rooted in folk rock, but expanding their sound into contemporary indie rock. The catchy hooks thankfully remain, but broadening their approach seems destined to win the group a new set of fans, while keeping their old ones quite happy. Smith said of the new album, “This record took a lot out of us as a band. We were in a huge transitional period when we were writing these songs and still not completely comfortable with any of them when we finally went into the studio. But because we were so unsettled with everything, the songs and the band, the record means so much more to us now because we got to see it all come together in front of our eyes and turn in to something we are all so proud of.”

Previously, Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps made the lead track of Little Wind, “Tanktop”, available for download and you can check that out below. Today, we bring you the online premiere of another new tune from the record, “Calliope”. This song is emblematic of the catchy folk-pop married to indie rock that is the new aesthetic for the group. Smith’s voice is stronger than ever and the band is super tight in their backing, evidencing a high level of musicianship. Smith says that “Calliope” “is my older brother’s favorite song. I remember playing it for him in our living room when I was first writing it and he just leaped into the air and started dancing around and fist pumping. I wanted to capture that with the production of the song—I wanted to see how much harder I could get him to rock out once he heard the produced version. I think it worked.”

Look for Little Wind and live performances this fall as Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps tour through September and October (dates below), kicking things off in Minneapolis naturally.

by Cynthia Fuchs

16 Aug 2011


Driving a taxi in Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, Abu Jandal says the job lets him “go out and mingle with people,” and as often as he jokes and exchanges stories with fares, he also lies outright, telling one nervous client the camera on the dashboard is turned off. “It belongs to a foreign company making a film about the daily life of taxi drivers,” he says, “Because they hear there’s an economic crisis and life is hard.” The questioner doesn’t know that Abu Jandal is Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard, that he was imprisoned in Yemen for his participation in the U.S.S. Cole bombing, or that he is, at the time of filming, concerned that his brother-in-law, Salim Hamdan, is imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay. Such storytelling seems to come easily to Abu Jandal. Throughout Laura Poitras’ superb documentary, The Oath, he appears to be a good father, a deeply charismatic and manipulative interviewee, and a thoughtful former jihadist. Maybe. Though the film has no access to Hamdan, it cuts between Yemen and Guantánamo, where lawyers report on Hamdan’s trial by U.S. military commission. Abu Jandal says more than once that he feels responsible for Hamdan’s trouble, that he helped him to get work as bin Laden’s driver, a job that led to his imprisonment. Asserting his sense of responsibility for what happened to Hamdan, Abu Jandal also remains elusive, asking that Poitras “delete” an answer he’s made the day before. She does not, but rather includes the request, but it’s an inclusion that complicates Abu Jandal’s allure and credibility rather than undermining them.

See PopMattersreview.

by PopMatters Staff

15 Aug 2011


Tomorrow Detroit’s Prussia are kicking off the release of a series of 10-inch singles with “Mediator”. This three-part series is titled “Poor English” and will roll out over the next three months while the band heads out on tour with El Ten Eleven. “Poor English” is an ambitious undertaking from a group known for tackling serious subjects underneath glossy pop melodies; in this go-around they sing tales of “suicide, misogyny, sexual vacancy, and the crippling ennui of illusory love”. The band describes it best as “T.S. Eliot’s drunken scribbling on a bathroom wall”.

by PopMatters Staff

15 Aug 2011


Brian Eno recently praised the 21-year-old Cosmo Jarvis, “he is a very interesting example to me of a new kind of person; a new kind of artist.” Considering that Eno has been something of a trailblazer his entire career, it’s pretty impressive to be labeled a “new kind of artist” from the likes of him. Jarvis has a restless creative spirit that seeks many outlets, as songwriter, musician, actor and director, who has apparently already created 300 songs. He will be following up his self-titled debut with Is The World Strange Or Am I Strange?, releasing 11 October via Frame / The End Records. The new album includes the viral smash hit “Gay Pirates”, which made fans of Stephen Fry and the NME, and was intended as pro-gay sing-a-long to be sung by the “rowdy lads”. While this album is in the midst of being unveiled via singles and videos, Jarvis is hard at work directing his first feature-length film, which he also penned the screenplay for. Today we’re proud to present the US online premiere of Jarvis’ latest video for the anthemic and punky, “My Day”, a tune with rousing choruses and sneering attitude up the wazoo.

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