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Wednesday, Sep 2, 2009

Michelle Branch
Everything Comes and Goes
(Warner Bros.)
Releasing: 10 November


When I think of Michelle Branch’s forthcoming country album, Everything Comes and Goes, I think of a conversation about God I had with an old girlfriend. I said that I didn’t believe but thought that true belief exists as a part of someone, on an essential, inviolable level, and there’s nothing anyone can say or do to compromise it. She looked at me like I was a third-degree blockhead, so I conceded that yes, perhaps the belief or disbelief that at first blush seems so essential and inviolable is actually the product of eons of cultural conditioning, concerted assaults from sinister, powerful forces in the world; this made sense intellectually, but was still a viscerally unsatisfying concession.


Judging from her new single, “Sooner or Later” (not a cover of the 1971 Grass Roots hit), Michelle Branch country songs aren’t all that different from Michelle Branch pop songs. The guitars are a bit twangier, and when she pronounces “about” it sounds more like “abayowt”, which is not a word, but the chords are still simple, and the lyrics are still melodramatic in so calculated of a way as to remain completely unobtrusive.


It won’t be her first country crossover effort (see: the Wreckers’ Stand Still, Look Pretty), and she’s still cooing just as coyly as she was when she first came out with whatever song it was that made so many of the shy brunette girls in my high school class want to learn guitar. She was speaking to people then and she’ll speak to people now. All the PR dollars in the world can’t mess with that certain je ne sais qoui that connects artist and patron: you’re going to love the new Michelle Branch, or you’re not. It comes out November 10th.



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Wednesday, Sep 2, 2009

Agora
Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac
Releasing: 18 December 2009


Set in Roman Egypt, Agora concerns a slave who turns to the rising tide of Christianity with the hopes of achieving freedom while also falling in love with his master, the famous philosopher and atheist Hypatia of Alexandria.


Please take a step back so that American audiences may begin mass exiting the theater. But seriously….

This is the second English language film from acclaimed Spanish director Alejandro Amenábar, whose first- The Others, was an enormous critical and box-office success. Will he be able to repeat that with Agora? Well, early reviews have been generally positive and have not given much reason for audiences to suffer through another Troy-esque debacle. And although it sounds as if the stunning visuals and great performances (led by the stunning and talented Rachel Weisz) don’t quite overcome the bloated 144-minute running time or a sometimes unfocused script, this certainly seems like one to mark the calendar for.



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Wednesday, Sep 2, 2009

The Arctic Monkeys new album Humbug officially debuted at number one on the UK charts this week making it the band’s third album to do so. Trying to follow up the success of 2007’s Favorite Worst Nightmare, the band went out into the American west to record with Queens of the Stoneage frontman Josh Homme in search of a new sound. Loosing none of their trademark cynicism or wit, the band slows down their tempo and brings up the low end crunch to create a powerhouse new album where lead singer Alex Turner abandons his snarky British punkboy voice to become what PopMatters’ Emily Tartanella calls “a husky voiced crooner”.



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Tuesday, Sep 1, 2009
by PopMatters Staff

Nick Cave
The Death of Bunny Munro
(Faber and Faber)
Releasing: 1 September


Nick Cave
The Death of Bunny Munro, Chapter 5 [MP3]
     



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Tuesday, Sep 1, 2009
by PopMatters Staff

PopMatters praised Dirty Projector’s latest album, Bitte Orca, this past June and slapped an 8 on the Brooklyn band’s latest opus. Matt Fiander said of album opener and the song the group played last night on Letterman, “Quite a communal statement to start the record, but it sets the tone for an album that does, unsurprisingly, make you work to figure it out, but while you’re doing that you’re also dancing, smiling, even laughing. In other words, you are feeling this music throughout.”



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