Yet, this music sounds utterly contemporary. Azure Blue’s debut album, Rule of Thirds, received many critical accolades back in 2011 with the culmination being a win for best pop album in the Swedish version of the Grammys last year. Now Isaksson returns with his sophomore album under the Azure moniker, the philosophically titled Beyond the Dreams There’s Infinite Doubt. Matinee Records will release the album next week in the US, but it has released today in Sweden, so here’s your official preview of the new music… that is, unless you live in Sweden.
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On his rockin’ new Americana album, High Times, Charlie Robison covers some of his favorite tunes. “Look Out Cleveland”, penned by the Band’s Robbie Robertson, is a surefire highlight, as is Doug Sahm’s “Nuevo Laredo” and Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece”. He honors his sister as well with takes on a number of Ludwick’s tunes. Great stuff all around that makes you feel like you’re downing Lone Star longnecks at the local Texas roadhouse.
“I know there’s a past and I know that I lived in it and that I gave it up, to live only in the present.” As American poet and scholar Edwin Honig describes his loss of memory, his slipping into the state called Alzheimer’s disease, you watch a bridge collapsing into water. The footage is archival and black and white, a memory of another time, abstracted into a context for which it could never have been intended. The image of the bridge collapsing, in slow motion, reverberates, a brief indication of what it might feel like to break off from the past. Just so, the process of memory loss becomes incredibly, poignantly visible repeatedly in Alan Berliner’s documentary, First Cousin Once Removed, premieres on HBO 23 September. It’s as profound and personal a film as you might imagine. That it achieves such effects even as it is, at the same time, a movie that invites you to come “inside someplace where the unspeakable, the unseeable, the unsayable can be seen,” as one interviewee puts it. “And there’s a sense in which people both want to see it and don’t want to see it.”
At work, Isaiah Owens splits his time between tending to the living and the dead. As tells his story in Christine Turner’s terrific documentary Homegoings, this funeral director—who knew what he wanted to be since he was a boy—brings you along, the camera close as he shares memories with survivors, helps them make arrangements, and then takes care of their loved ones, tenderly and compassionately. Bent over a corpse, his figure obscures your view. He wears blue medical gloves, as he injects “liquid tissue,” which he describes as “probably a first cousin to Botox,” one of many literal and metaphorical connections he draws between living and dead bodies. This lady is 98 years old, he observes, adding, “I’m going to need some Crazy Glue.” Later scenes of Isaiah at work show more, a face being made up, fingers being arranged, watery-red fluid swirling beneath a body toward a drain.