Bridging British folk tradition, jazzy chord changes and electronic distortion, the debut album from this French/UK trio fluctuates between good and very good. Singer Hélène Gautier has a lovely, soft-toned voice, blurring Stereolab-style over swinging beats and reaching tremulously for emotional purity in the folkier tunes. One partner Peter Philipson grounds her squarely in misty chords and traditional melodies, coaxed from organic instruments like guitar and harmonica. The other, Raz Ullah, complements (and to some extent, undoes) this work, putting the fine modern haze of distortion, loops and drone over pristine surfaces. There is an ominous murmur under the lattice-fine guitars and flutish singing, even in the most feathery compositions, breathy "Time for Leaving" and wistful "Birley Tree". "B.B.", a cut augmented by Paul Blakesley on bass and Brian Edwards on drums, brings the band's jazz chops to the foreground, blues-y guitar slides, string bass plucks and drum fills, cascading over one another headily, then coalescing in a breezy, narcotic beat. There's a certain impenetrable smoothness, though, that keeps you liking, not loving the album. It slips just once, and not coincidentally, in the album's best song. This is "The Bitter Cup," an ancient sounding lament that arises out of Eastern drone and weaves minor chord reels and sitar-ish flourishes into a melancholy without time or place. Gautier's voice is rougher here, more passionate, and even allowed one dramatic break, just the catch you need to hold on to the song and learn to love it.
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.
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.
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.
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 CenturyPublisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
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.
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.