Music

Sister Hazel: Absolutely

If you yearn for a return to the sensitive-guys-with-guitars movement of the late '90s, Absolutely is your ticket home.


Sister Hazel

Absolutely

Contributors: Shawn Mullins
Label: Wandering Hazel
US Release Date: 2006-10-10
UK Release Date: Available as import
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iTunes

Anyone who slept through the latter half of the '90s might not know at this point who Sister Hazel is, so here's the summary: Sister Hazel is an MOR rock band that deals in a vaguely Mellencampian sound with occasional harmonies reminiscent of the Eagles, wrapped up in a decidedly slick, highly produced candy shell. Absolutely is the sixth album from the five-piece, and it sounds exactly as I remember Sister Hazel used to sound -- sincere and poppy, with the vague sense of Americana wafting through. "Mandolin Moon", which features a little help from fellow '90s refugee Shawn Mullins, is the best thing here, featuring lots of beautifully thick three-part harmonies, and a short little power ballad called "Beautiful High" is concise and elegant the way these bands never were in the '90s. Still, much of the album falls into a rut worthy of song titles like "Hey Hey", "Anyway", "Truth Is", and "One Time", perfectly generic nuggets that do fine to fill out an album, but aren't going to convince anyone who isn't already under Sister Hazel's spell to give album number six a listen. Absolutely is the sound of a band that's comfortable -- comfortable with its sound, comfortable with its audience, comfortable with the amount of fame that it has been granted in the decade-plus of its career. If you yearn for a return to the sensitive-guys-with-guitars movement of the late '90s, Absolutely is your ticket home.

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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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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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Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

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Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11
Amazon
iTunes

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

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