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Thursday, May 15, 2014
While there are obvious downsides to the kind of discography that the Beach Boys have assembled -- it's dense, lengthy, and larded with inconsistent results -- one of the payoffs deserves special mention: those moments of discovery.

You’re half-listening to 20/20, the Boys’ so/so 1969 release, and you’re more-or-less resigned to the lead track, “Do It Again”, doubling as the high point. Then Side Two rolls around, and you find yourself totally caught off guard as beauty strikes in the restful, baroque pop form of “Time to Get Alone”. If you’re unacquainted, change that. “Time to Get Alone” is a dream, right on down the line from Carl’s feathery lead vocal—and the way it contrasts with the up-and-down crunch of the waltz backdrop—to the sumptuously layered arrangement of the chorus to the immaculate production job to the unadorned coda (which is from the extended version; see below).


Tagged as: the beach boys
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Tuesday, Jul 9, 2013
When critics assail Paul McCartney for his lightweight material, it's songs like "Tomorrow" that they have in mind.

I’m glad I don’t belong to those circles because I can’t imagine not appreciating all of the melodic charm, rosewater whimsy and—believe it or not—disguised tension that “Tomorrow” has to offer. Notably more fetching than “Yesterday”, this dreamy, piano-driven cut from 1971’s Wild Life, the debut record by Wings, finds Paul beseeching his dear to stay strong and true as they map out a brighter future together. Backed by airy “ohs” and “ahs” and using an altered vocal that makes him sound younger, Paul projects hope—urgent, infectious hope—even as pain and doubt are plainly evident. “Don’t you let me down tomorrow” doesn’t exactly brim with confidence, and “Holding hands we both abandon sorrow” means there’s sorrow to overcome. And as he sings on my favorite line, “Through the week we beg and steal and borrow / Oh for a chance to get away tomorrow.” It’s a tricky balancing act, cloudy skies and uncertainty mixed with idyllic visions of picnics and “country air”. The glue seems to be those sustained, spacious “ohs” that Paul belts out again and again. They pack both anxiety and optimism. Far from merely twee, “Tomorrow” is fraught emotion made irresistible.


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Thursday, Apr 11, 2013
Broken Heads, Noses Everywhere

I realize that, technically speaking, this post doesn’t qualify as news, because it is about an event that happened over a decade ago. However, since history has shown that not enough of you know about the late great Catherine Wheel, this post, to a certain extent, does qualify as news.


In September 2012, YouTube user Michael Bond, who I can only assume is the younger brother of famed superhero James, posted a nearly complete concert of the Wheel from July 2000 at the Bowery Ballroom, when the band was touring in support of Wishville, their last record. The footage is pristine, and the sound quality is top-notch.


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Monday, Feb 25, 2013
On what would have been his 70th birthday, let's take a look at his seven biggest hits.

George Harrison was many things to many different people. He was a father, a husband, a songwriter, a guitarist, an actor, a movie producer, the organizer of the world’s first charity concert, a member of supergroup the Traveling Wilburys, a solo artist, and by the way, one of the Beatles. 


George Harrison’s solo work was introspective, inspirational, spiritual, and very successful. Though he only recorded 12 albums during his 33-year-long solo career, he sold millions of records and had several number one hit singles.


While every fan picks out their own favorite songs, you might be surprised by which of his singles actually made the most impact on the charts. As we come to what would have been his 70th birthday, let’s take a look at his biggest hits.


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Thursday, Oct 18, 2012
Andre Braugher's brilliant portrayal of Det. Frank Pembleton on Homicide: Life on the Street changed the way viewers thought about the good cop-bad cop divide on TV.

When Homicide: Life on the Street first aired in 1993, police procedurals were still stuck in a Jack Webbesque world where bad cops were rare and the men in uniform couldn’t be questioned.


In the second season of the critically acclaimed drama, badass good cop Frank Pembleton (Andre Braugher) changed everything when he used the force of the badge to extract a false confession from an innocent man. Though the confession was later thrown out, the show revealed the tightrope police walk when searching for a suspect who is one of their own.


The episode remains as haunting today as it was when it first aired almost 20 years ago.


Interrogation, Pembleton Style


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