Events

SXSW Music Day 4: Highlights - MOG Showcase + Norah Jones

Bob Mould’s set was followed by the only SXSW performance by the Roots, one of the most anticipated sets of the conference (as evidenced by a near three-block long line).

At the MOG Showcase, Bob Mould joined the likes of War on Drugs and Gary Clark Jr. to perform the entire 1992 Sugar record Copper Blue. Though older in years, Mould led his trio through a near note-perfect rendition of such perennial favorites as “A Good Idea” and “Hoover Dam”. Mould looked positively jovial, attacking his guitar with trademark fervor and belting out the raucous melodies that have endeared fans to him for years.

Mould’s set was followed by the only SXSW performance by the Roots, one of the most anticipated sets of the conference (as evidenced by a near three-block long line). The Roots took on songs off their newest release Undun as well as crowd pleasers including a searing version of “Here I Come” off of Game Theory. The Roots may very well be one of the tightest bands around, as evidenced by these past years of honing their chops each night on Jimmy Fallon. Musically ubiquitious and masterful performers, they seamlessly transitioned from their unique fusion of soul-rock and hip hop to "Sweet Child O’Mine" by Guns and Roses and Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song". In the audience was the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff who accepted an invitation to come up on stage to do a joint drum solo with ?uestlove.

Later in the evening, Norah Jones took the stage at La Zone Rosa to debut her new band and new album to a capacity crowd. Jones informed the audience that they were only going to be performing tracks from the new record and the audience was clearly delighted by the knowledge of what they were about to hear. A departure from earlier material, Jones’ new songs show evidence of her work with Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi on last year’s Rome. Alternating between a Wurlitzer electric piano and upright piano, Jones led the band through a mix of ethereal and moody western-tinged tracks and melancholic balladry.

One of the highlights of the evening was the final set by Subpop’s own Blitzen Trapper, who turned in a standout performance at Stubb's. Pulling heavily from their newest album, American Goldwing, Eric Earley and co. opened with “Might Find It Cheap” and knocked through blistering renditions of “Your Crying Eyes” and “Street Fighting Sun”. Mid-set found them pulling back to quieter acoustic moments playing a gorgeous “Furr” and a hushed version of “Love the Way You Walk Away”. Towards the end of the set they welcomed Peter Buck and Mills of REM, as well as Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, to cover Big Star’s “Feel”. To close the night they unleashed Led Zeppelin’s “Good Times, Bad Times” and brought the crowd to a frenzy.

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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