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Wednesday, Nov 5, 2014
First Aid Kit put out their beautiful and bittersweet Stay Gold this year and it's helped them draw bigger audiences including their even bigger and more golden CMJ show at the start of their Fall tour.

Swedish folk sisters Johanna and Klara Söderberg of First Aid Kit had played New York City earlier this year at a sold-out show at Webster Hall. They had also played Webster Hall during CMJ in 2012 at a sold-out show supporting their album The Lion’s Roar but this year, during CMJ, the duo moved across town for a show at the larger Hammerstein Ballroom. This year saw the release of their third album Stay Gold a bittersweet work that I’ve listened to frequently. Having missed the earlier show, I had to catch them this go around and they did not disappoint. Their opener was Oklahoma singer-songwriter, 28-year-old Samantha Crain, another folk rocker that was a good match for First Aid Kit as the front row fans watched and listened to her very appreciatively.


First Aid Kit were accompanied by a drummer and a string quartet to bring their Stay Gold and older material to life on stage and their intimate, bittersweet songs drew the audience in. The intimacy of the show was enhanced by the confession that Johanna doesn’t like the time between songs, though it allows her to share jokes, like the one about a scarecrow winning the Nobel Prize. As they performed, through “Cedar Lane” and “My Silver Lining”, two of my Stay Gold favorites, as well as a cover of Jack White’s “Love Interruption”, an acoustic “Ghost Town” and into the closer “Emmylou”, the sisters beautiful voices shone with the finesse and beauty of folk singers more than twice their age.


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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Is Buster Poindexter an alter-ego or has the persona fully subsumed David Johansen? Either way, the lounge lizard leads an awesome evening of cabaret.

A couple of years ago, I went to see a performance by Chip Taylor without really knowing what to expect. I left the show very impressed and glad I got to see a classic singer-songwriter. This week I had the opportunity to see Buster Poindexter, the alter-ego of David Johansen, a singer-songwriter who was part of the early-punk band New York Dolls, at Café Carlyle, the spot where Woody Allen is known to play jazz flute. I went into this performance knowing only that he does a rendition of the perennial calypso favorite “Hot Hot Hot”. I left thoroughly entertained and amazed, thinking, ‘wow, wow, wow’.


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Friday, Oct 24, 2014
CMJ Night 1 photos including Chelsea Jade and Doprah from the New Zealand Showcase, Jukebox the Ghost, Stone Cold Fox, Tiny Victories and Little Daylight.

CMJ 2014 started off on a Tuesday and continues through the weekend giving a lot of unseen, unheard and unsigned bands a chance to catch the attention of a music blogger or critic (of which there are plenty at any given showcase). As I have done for the past couple of years, I made my first CMJ showcase stop the New Zealand showcase, though this time it moved from LPR to Webster Hall. While enjoying some savory pies, I caught electro-pop singer Chelsea Jade and the band Doprah. However, I knew that Jukebox the Ghost were doing a launch party for their latest, self-titled album at a swank hotel’s rooftop, so I had to cut out early to see the pop band. It was the first time drummer Jesse Kristin sung a song in public (from what I understood)! But their set ended around 9 and, as the CMJ schedule has music for hours and hours, I just wandered back to Webster Hall to see another poppy band, Little Daylight as part of a showcase with Tiny Victories, Carousel and more. For a while it seemed like Tiny Victories set would be cut short as the showcase was behind schedule, but they did get in a song or two after doing a Tom Petty cover. The light crowd appreciated the extra opportunity to dance along. Then the crowd continued to dance stage during Little Daylight’s set, which too had a cover, Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”.


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Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014
Marvel superheroes, DC supervillians, video game characters and cosplayers (including Jessica Nigri) of all sorts make New York Comic Con a blast to attend.

Just outside the convention floor, DC Comics was celebrating the 75th anniversary of Batman with a showcase of costumes while the US Postal Service was selling a limited print of stamps honoring the Caped Crusader. But for several blocks around the Javits Center, superheroes like the Caped Crusader, supervillians, video game characters and cosplayers descended upon the 2014 New York Comic Con to share their fandom and enjoy the company of like-minded folks. Attendees wore spandex, painted their hair, crafted cardboard weapons and masks and basically tried to differentiate themselves from the twenty plus other Spiderman or Harley Quinn variations that were around. Some people, like Doc Ock, struggled to make their way around the convention floor given the width of their appendages especially in the areas where fans were lined up in droves, like those gathered well in advance of the appointed time for famous cosplayer Jessica Nigri’s appearance. Then there were those who planned collective costumes with their friends, like the Tetrominos or the Batman villians or the LEGO Marvel characters. Check out some photos of the cosplayers below and see why NYCC is a blast to attend.


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Monday, Oct 20, 2014
We conclude our coverage of this year’s London Film Festival with Mike Leigh’s long-anticipated biopic of J.M.W. Turner: a languorous, immersive, richly detailed work that surpasses expectations.

The popular perception of Mike Leigh remains that of a supreme anatomist (or, for those less kindly disposed towards the filmmaker, broad-brush caricaturist) of contemporary British experiences: a sharp, sensitive observer of the myriad ways in which modern life can be rubbish (or great). Yet, weigh it up, and it quickly becomes apparent that it’s actually the director’s period work that’s proved most rewarding over the last 15 years.


The peerless Gilbert & Sullivan opus Topsy-Turvy (1999) (a film that never ceases to reveal new treasures no matter how many times it’s viewed), the ‘50s-set abortion-themed drama Vera Drake (2004) and Leigh’s last play at the National Theatre, the Rattigan-esque Grief (2011), have all been among the director’s finest-ever pieces. Moreover, each has far surpassed the two rather minor contemporary films that Leigh has turned out during the same period, >Happy-Go-Lucky (2008) and Another Year (2010), both of which found the film-maker falling back in a sometimes tiresome fashion on all-too-familiar situations, conflicts, character types and tropes.


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