Music

The Lone Bellow - "Fake Roses" (video) (Singles Going Steady)

Critically acclaimed Americana band the Lone Bellow shares their latest video, "Fake Roses", which is "suitably melancholic and tinged with pathos".

John M. Tryneski: So I admit to never having heard the Lone Bellow before this, but that's probably a good thing for the band because there was so much here to sucker me into being a fan. The achy pedal steel, the sweetly sad lyrics, the building beat that makes it perfect driving song -- it's got everything I need from a country song. The fact that the song was apparently and ode to songwriter Zach Williams mother-in-law ups the ante even further. And, to top things off, the video is perfectly suited to its material. Shot in Lafayette, Georgia and starring a well-utilized Virginia Madsen, it does an impressive job of capturing small-town isolation. Madsen's expressiveness also impressively conveys the constant weight of life's daily grind heard in Williams' lyrics. Tomorrow I'll check out the Lone Bellow's other songs with fingers crossed, but for right now I'm happy to just enjoy this little slice of something wonderful. [8/10]

Paul Duffus: I'm a sucker for this kind of thing: Earnest, sombre, uncomplicated Americana. That Grant Lee Buffalo fixation has been hard to shift. The analogy to that band is only one of tone though. Long Bellow don't share GLB's penchant for grand dramas. With "Fake Roses" they're closer to the territory of Richmond Fontaine, all "tail lights", "smokes", "TV", "work", "postcards", and broken hearts. The video is beautiful. Director Ryan Booth's photography is feature quality. Regardless of the presence of a Hollywood star, it looks and feels like a trailer for a movie, the kind of small town drama of hardscrabble life where nothing happens for 90 minutes and then someone looks mournfully into a coffee cup and finds extraordinary meaning and revelation before going back to their job at the world's most depressing launderette, forever changed. All of which flippancy is not a criticism. It's a gorgeous video, perfectly pitched to its soundtrack. [8/10]

Timothy Gabriele: If it wasn’t so literal an interpretation of the song, the music video would be even more moving. I feel like the song actually sabotages what is a pretty decent short film. Man, even that non-flatscreen TV at 1:56 is sad. Song’s not too bad either. They’re just operating on different aesthetic levels. [5/10]

Lee Zimmerman: Dark, dramatic, and, it might be said, somewhat depressing as well, "Fake Roses" is nevertheless a richly beautiful track from a band whose penchant for enlightened introspection has quickly made them ones to watch. [8/10]

John Bergstrom: It's textbook alt-country, but it's done so well it's tough to resist. It's a weepie, but they earn the tears. The video is suitably melancholic and tinged with pathos. Get me a craft beer to cry in. I've been had. [8/10]

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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If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

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Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

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