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Review: Jp, Chrissie and The Fairground Boys Live!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 26, 2010 by thenewserials

A Complex of Complexes and Perfect Perfections

Thank You For Ruling, New York City!

New York City

September 25th, 2010

Under the lavish bright lights of the Marquee that read ‘Irving Plaza’ small black letters meekly spell out the name of tonight’s act. ‘Jp, Chrissie and The Fairground Boys’ loads of New Yorkers walk by unawares of that exactly is going to happen tonight as they do every night.

‘Jp, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys?’  A women swimming, inebriated, in her own inebriation questions out-loud to herself. ‘Never heard of em”

And that’s the classic New York City anonymity coming in to play. It’s not unbelievable but, somewhat odd to think that Chrissie Hynde who has fronted one of the most enduring rock bands, The Pretenders, for over 30 years could be looked over so easily BUT, that starts the first major appeal of this band.

Fresh of the heels off a small tour playing just acoustic sets and the release of their first studio album ‘Fidelity!’ Jp Jones a Welsh born ‘Gypsy’, Chrissie Hynde and  lead Guitarist Patrick Murdoch are somewhat used to this grind with the songs at this point. Tonight, however, is going to be a new experience as NYC is going to be treated to the first performance with (most) of the band.

It should come to no surprise to anyone that this album is nothing less than amazing. Hynde who has put out consistently good work with the Pretenders and Jones who has been creating, writing and performing music for years have created a music child that can only be described as: ‘as close to perfection as humanely conceivable’.

If the mortal existence that human life exist in is an underling to a different world where the purest forms of every possible things exist, then ‘Fidelity’ is the skyline to the perfect city of music. It has everything one could ask for, great writing, great music, great voices and great production.

Jones/Hynde and the Fairground Boys pull no punches with this album, if its what they wanted to say they say it and do it in a way that you won’t forget. From Rockers to ballads to songs that simply fit into both and neither category, ‘Fidelity!’ is a revelation of the twilight that falls on a doomed relationship.

But enough of the obvious, with the technology today almost anyone could crank out a good sounding album, the real question is: Is it really them on the album, or when we hear them live are we going to hear something else? The test of any good band is how they sound live. Even if a studio album sounds horrific (which couldn’t be further from the truth about ‘Fidelity!’) the band could gel live and create a new life.

Anticipation over how ‘Fidelity!” would sound with an entire band was somewhat eased when the album was released. After hearing acoustic shows the album sounded perfect unplugged and an initial worry set in about how they would translate electrified but, it worked out better than one could have hoped for. Yet still, could they play live?

Marred by a dysfunctional Visa renewal system the Fairground boys were grounded overseas as Jones/Hynde and Murdoch carried the fight alone. Touring most in New York City during the acoustic sets there was something special about bringing the entire band to the City.

At show time NYC Finally got its first look at the entire band (minus 1) Patrick Murdoch on Lead Guitar, Vezio Bacci on Bass and Geoff Holroyde on Drums (Sam Swallow who plays Keys and attended the Housing Works show in NYC was absent for reasons unknown to me at the time of this post) took the stage with Jp Jones and Chrissie Hynde.

“Hello,” Hynde purred in her signature voice. “New York Fuckin’ City”

And then they proceeded to teach us a lesson.

Before I mentioned that people not knowing what was happening that night was part of the appeal of the band and by that I mean, the band is a secret almost. Its something that if you know about YOU KNOW what its all about (hopefully) this isn’t the Pretenders in any sort of fashion, this is a new endeavor that is amazingly genuine and crafty in itself and when other people are worried about their big box office tickets in row Z-21 at Madison Square Garden we’re standing five feet from one of the best acts out there today.

There isn’t any pretense with this band, they know already most of the audience has come to see Hynde and that the album may have been overlooked at this point, so they go into ‘sell mode’ they’re going to prove to us that this is an album YOU want and as a Bonus to those fans who have been digging the album since it was released on August 24th they opened with a song that’s not even on the album.

‘If You Were My Age’ says it all. Its ALL about that exact line. An album borne from the frustrations of the age difference between Jones and Hynde but, also of the mutual respect as artist, ‘Fidelity!’ broadcast the message of not being able to be together but, always being tied together. A Rocker that is already sorely missed from the album ‘If You Were My Age’ blast you into the world of the Fairground Boys and puts you on their roller-coaster/Carousel of mixed emotions and unabashed honesty.

The Band then started with the songs from the Album starting with their single: “If You Let Me”. No surprises here (unless you hadn’t heard the song before) Jones and Hynde musical conversation offers dueling ideas but, a want for the same thing (is your head hurting yet?) “If you don’t want to let me in, you better lock this door” Jones warns before Hynde coos in “Cause I’m not fine by myself are going to help me survive?”. It’s than kind of unique quality to their writing that really puts the listeners in awe of what they’re hearing. They could just as easily say: “I love you…you love me…this is hard. Let me in!”  and it’d be a fine song but, the way they play off one another shows, this isn’t just a collaborative act THESE two are somewhat one musical entity on stage.  They don’t take it too seriously either, the music isn’t meant to depress you into a state of endless rumination. Jones flubs up a lyric in the first line, catches himself and smiles through it giving Hynde a smiling nod as they understand each other. Its a fun scene.

‘Fairground Luck” follows, (a phrase that apparently sparked Jones’ and Hynde’s collaboration) a sensual ballad that crescendos into the chorus: “would you whisk me away, could you kiss these lips everyday? If I was down would you pick me up, throw me a little of that, ohh fairground luck”

The show really picks up from here on:

Jones and Hynde explain for the first time that they album is not meant to be taken literally at all points. “We didn’t really go to Australia” Hynde explains and the band begins ‘Australia’. A pop/ballad with enough heart to make a mass murderer reconsider his profession. It tells the story of when Hynde and Jones met, the two open up their verses respectively with: “Didn’t you come over and say Hi to me? I was propping up the bar on me own. Mostly guys like you say Goodbye to me and they never offer me a ride home”/ “I was too loaded to think you’d talk to me, but you’re obviously used to guys like that, when you said ‘no worries’ it came to me where you’re coming from and where you’re at.”

What struck me the most about this performance was just how amazing the band sounded, dare to say better than the studio version (which is impressive on its own) Geoff Holroyde pulls off a drum beat after the bridge that brings new dimensions to the song. Its suddenly no longer a song but, an experience. Jones and Hynde are letting you into their lives…honestly, openly and unapologetically.

The Jazzy Ballad: ‘Meanwhile’ follows, Vezio Bacci’s bass skills are a highlight. The opening notes between him Geoff and Patrick are so perfect that Jones and Hynde almost don’t have to be there and then of course they begin singing and it only gets better from there. Now I’m going to say this again listen to Bacci’s bass playing on the album and if you see them live listen for it…it’s there and its amazing.

Perfect Lover is next, quoted in EVERY article I’ve read about the band but, I won’t do it.

‘Courage’ follows that, Jones explains they hadn’t normally been doing this song (WHY?!) but, they were going to do it tonight. A psuedo-1970s R&B style song. Jones and Hynde show off how well they can sing. In the middle of the song professing: “They got it wrong when they said that we were done” they repeat over and over each time becoming more and more defiant as the music builds until it explodes and overflows like a tidal wave of emotions. Also for you guitar enthusiast Patrick Murdoch pulls off some of the best harmonics I’ve ever heard.

Jones’ solo song ‘Leave Me If You Must” comes next, he puts his guitar down and Hynde keeps hers, he takes his microphone and begins. Anyone use to Hynde’s writing can hear that even though Jones’ is singing it Hynde wrote it. Aside from the obvious lyrics that somewhat bad-mouth her (something Hynde does often about herself) “I couldn’t blame a man to leave a woman past her prime” there are these moments of unrivaled poetry: “I’m the spy who had his back turned hiding in a phone booth” and the Johnny Cash-esque quality of the song also lends to Hynde’s making but, it’s Jones’ deep semi-sexual growl (as he stands on stage with his shirt unbuttoned 3 buttons, his chest showing and a brush of hair peaks out) that pulls the song back as the music pushes it forward creating the sort of result one can only think to find in complex chemical reactions.

Misty Valleys a song Hynde explains is how she imagines Jones, her voice has never been in finer form. “Rockin’ the boat, we’re going nowhere, Drift and float We’re almost there’ Hynde coos in a falsetto that’s to die for.

Portabello Road – There’s no much I can say…This song rocks beyond belief. EVERY band members adds some kind of new besieging burst. Jones’ screams the condemnation of a place where only ‘stuck up muthafuckers’ would go to. in the Chorus they don’t warn but, demand: “don’t go down, don’t you go down Portabello!” Geoff, Vezio and Patrick then show you why THEY are the band and not some other folks. Holroyde doesn’t ever relent as he blast the drums, Bacci adds a pounding pulse with the slightest inclination of a fault and Murdoch, my word Murdoch crafts a solo that never seems to end but, always seems to get better and better and better.

It was then that I realized that something had happened, that this band wasn’t going to go anywhere anytime soon and also that the people closest to me were dead inside. So starstruck and stuck on Hynde that they forget to appreciate an amazing band. Portabello has fire behind it, the fire you see under a space shuttle or erupting from a volcano. Had the show been ended there I would have been fine. Pretenders or not THIS was among the best performance I’ve seen Hynde a part of and anyone who couldn’t appreciate the Fairground Boys last night, should have their hearts checked.

Your Fairground followed, slowing down the pace to be followed then by one of the most beautiful songs Hynde has ever sung. The title track ‘Fidelity’

A uniquely different song of the album Jones and Hynde explain they consider the album their child and since it was written in Cuba they gave it its name after Castro, as the song says: “Its life, we gotta little girl…Fidelity”

They ended the set with “You’re The One” another song not on the album. It continues the theme of the album. “You’re the one That I should’ve married, you’re the one that I should have carried” A nice rocking song to end the first set with.

They came back out for the encore and performed “Never Drink Again” my favorite song off the album, the Moby Grape song: “Murder in My Heart” and ended the show their Christmas song (Jones: “Its almost…well no it’s no where near christmas) “Christmas Soon”

All in all the show was amazing and anyone who has the chance would be a fool to not go see a band in top form perform top notch music together.

This isn’t it though, Jones and Hynde have good poker faces but, not that good. One could see easily that they’ve got more songs out there waiting to be put out.

Lets just hope we as fans are ready to experience the rawest form of perfection again.

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Review: Fidelity! (Live)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by thenewserials

Love, Loss and Fidelity!

How does one begin something like this? A review of this magnitude ought to be taught as a college seminar. That’s not some overzealous view of my writing skills but, rather an understatement of what happens when two musical geniuses get lemons and make lemonade.

Fidelity!(Available August 24th)  is the newest project from Chrissie Hynde, this time she shares the stage with Welsh born singer/song writer JP Jones, along with a band, filled with talented Musicians, the Fairground Boys. The result is: Jp,Chrissie and the Fairground Boys.

Make no assumptions about this band and about this album. You may think you know Chrissie Hynde and some of you may think you know JP Jones but, this album will send you for a loop from it’s subject matter to its execution.

Monday night  I had the chance to see Jp, Chrissie and the Fairground Boy(s) at the Rockwood music Hall in NYC. To say the show was intimate would be a drastic understatement. Sitting less than 5 feet from Chrissie Hynde, JP Jones and their guitarist Patrick Murdoch, I found myself apart of the action going on onstage.

In a fine mood the three came out ready to play the ENTIRE album of Fidelity (previous shows had only showcased a maximum of 7 songs) JP Jones explained that this would be the first time they played some of these songs live at all and asked for our pardon in advance.

He wouldn’t need it.

Starting with their single “If You Let me” (Released August 10th) the band began to rock the acoustic set. Its in this song that the listener realizes that this isn’t just an album. This isn’t someone putting out music simply because they want to make money or because they like to. This is a story of why growing up is a hard thing to do sometimes.

The lyrics say: “I’m going to on this world/I’m going to make you love me/if you let me/if you let me/if you let me” sung in tandem it shows the like mind of the two songwriters. Every song is just as much felt by JP as it is Chrissie. There aren’t any petty disagreements or empathy for the other. On Fidelity! Jp and Chrissie are one and the same.

The two of them chatted with the audience adding a great deal of humor to the rather humorless chunk of music.

The set of live songs were all gorgeous and painfully honest. The whole of Fidelity! being a story in which two people are forced to understand that they cannot be together because of the age difference between them. The woman is painted as “Past her prime” (a line which sparked some surprised audience reaction and “she wrote it!” as a response from JP Jones) and the man described as a “perfect lover but, he’s only half my age”.

The entire album is of this sort of thing, the realization that it isn’t going to work between this two characters (are they Hynde and Jones?…probably) but, what sets this apart from a normal ‘I wish I could have you but, I can’t’ story is that the two decide to take their love in a different direction.

The word “Son” and “Lover” comes up so much, it’s PAINFULLY clear that they came
to a choice when they said “Hey we can’t be lovers, let me take you under my wing son”

In words like my feeble minded vernacular it sounds somewhat perverse but, when you hear this album, start to finish and hear Hynde’s cooing versus JP ranting, you’ll know.

While JP Jones seems still somewhat embarrassed to admit that this is of any truth to his life Hynde seemed casually open about the failed relationship. Whilst introducing a song named “Never Drink Again” (A quote Hynde has used before) Hynde explained the original name of the song was going to be: “Never drink again, until the pub opens up” a sentiment apparently shared by the other two and much of the audience.

It was then that Hynde does what she does. There aren’t any words to describe it, it’s either some sort of fearless truth and insight of herself or some kind of over-the-top form of bullshit but, Hynde says that she’s stopped drinking because when she does she becomes a “Cunt”.

At the sheer utterance of the ‘C’ word the entire audience gasped and moaned in disapproval but, Hynde got defensive of the choice of words. “No it’s true, he knows it. When I drink I go to the dark side”

It’s that kind of honesty (?) that fills the album, listeners will be treated to an unabashed version of their view on this tragic situation and the audience can decide if their even doing the write thing. Sure the two of  them can write a song but, what will this love affair yield at the very end? Is Fidelity! the ultimate love story or a musical tribute to the mistakes we make when we fall in love and can’t climb our way out?

Whatever it is, Rockwood Musical hall was able to get a glimpse of it. Filled with humor, fun and the passionately played out lyrics, it was hard not to get totally sucked into Fidelity!’s world. A wave of uneasy apprehension filled the room as the words: “I wish I could have met you in a former life, or seen you in a future time” Heartbreak plainly laid onto our laps with no real solution in sight.

Fidelity! is everything and nothing at the same time. Its what you WANT from an artist and yet it has no solution to its story, we’re told from the first lyric how this game is going to be played before our eyes and in the very end we still see they had not lied.

The concept of their love not being able to grow the way they want is complicated but, they treat it as a simple inconvenience. The human mind will baffle at it and enjoyed being toyed with.

Fidelity! is a complicated, perplexing view of simplicity and common sense.

As harsh as an acid and soothing as a base.

Tuesday August 10th New York City, SoHo.

After the events at the Rockwood musical hall the night before, I couldn’t pass up the chance to see the band again at the Apple store in SoHo. A free event that was set up for the store.

There’s not much to say here, they did 5 planned songs and revealed that management or Apple or some other power that be wouldn’t be allowing them to do anymore. But after some coaxing from the audience they unveiled an even NEWER song in a catalogue of new songs. Hynde explained the song is going to be released as a Christmas EP and the band had to take some time to remember how to play it but, when it was all over, the song was a beautiful christmas ballad.

Restricted by time and the store the SoHo appearance wasn’t the same glimpse into life ala Jones/Hynde but, a showcase of good songs.

I shouldn’t have to type this but, if you aren’t convinced that you should rush out and find the nearest performance by Jp/Chrissie and the Fairground Boys at this point of the review then simply don’t go. You’re not alive probably.

Fidelity! is NOT a Pretenders album and one shouldn’t convince themselves that the band will play Pretenders songs or have any Pretenders sentiments whatever. This is all new, and as real as it gets. Hynde hasn’t ever really let her audience down and Fidelity! is among the best music she’s ever put out.

Walk don’t run.

The Setlist for August 9th was:

If You Let Me

Fairground Luck

Meanwhile

Your Fairground

Leave Me If You Must

Misty Valleys

Australia

Never Drink Again

Skinny Love (not performed)

You’re The One (not on the album)

Perfect Lover

Fidelity

Portobello Road

Murder in My Heart

an encore included

If You Were My Age.

The Setlist for August 10th was:

If You Let Me

Fairground Luck

Never Drink Again

You’re The One

Your Fairground

An Encore included:

It Must Be Christmas

JP. Chrissie and the Fairground Boys will be back in NYC on September 25th 2010 at Irving Plaza. Tickets on sale now

Review: Inception

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2010 by thenewserials
Inception poster

Christopher Nolan Strikes Again

This day Two Years ago, I was eagerly awaiting the release of The Dark Knight. I was obsessed, fanatic, you name it I was it for Christopher Nolan’s new installment to the Batman series.

This year I wasn’t as excited for Inception. One could call it a quiet excitement, there was nothing that could convince me that this film wouldn’t be good. But there was nothing that would have convinced me it was going to be as amazing as it was.

Apparently written by Nolan when he was sixteen, Inception is a crime thriller revolving around stealing secrets from someone’s subconscious in their sleep. Cobb, played by Leonardo Dicaprio is the lead criminal to use the technique of stealing from dreams.  Plagued by a past that becomes more apparent as the film goes on, he is offered a way out if he can perform an ‘Inception’ successfully.

‘Inception’ is pretty much the same as stealing secrets from the mind during sleep but, instead it revolves around implanting a thought into the mind and allowing it to mature as if the victim thought of the plan themselves.

I won’t post any spoilers but, from there the movie gets complicated, a fair warning should be put in to effect here. If you aren’t planning on paying attention 100% of time during Inception then you should forget going to the film at all. Nolan’s masterful epic, insist that the entire audience be into the moment of the film at all times. Forcing you as the viewer to think constantly about the actions, ramifications and simple logistics of what’s happening on-screen.

That being said, everyone won’t enjoy Inception just as people had complaints that The Dark Knight was too complicated, Inception is far more complicated and a movie, seemingly, designed to make the viewer think before, during an after the film.

The acting in the film is solid, which is normal for Nolan. Knowing how to pick his actor’s and exploit their strong points whilst pushing them in new directions, you find yourself easily involved in the relationships of the characters in Inception.

Dicaprio is great as the scarred Cobbs as well as Joseph Gordon Levitt is a great addition as his partner ‘Arthur’. Ellen Paige is acceptable is as the moral compass: Ariadne and Ken Watanbe, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy are, all three, perfectly cast as Saito, Eames and Robert respectively. There’s not much else to say other than they play the parts with the edge that’s needed by the vulnerability that’s essential to make their plight seem reasonable.

The construction of the movie is confusing, and probably done so on purpose. The more confusing the audience feels the situation is the more acceptable it is to understand why the characters are stuck in the situation that their in. Taking place in several layers of dreams Inception dares to be bold in its ideas. Unafraid to dumb itself down for the masses, in continually builds itself up to a behemoth that can only be awed at in the end.

The movie is presented as a visual movie, its something to be SEEN. Often times people say: “this book would make a great movie” or “This movie would have been a great book” but, Inception was clearly meant to be a film. Not in the same way that blockbusters like Avatar and The Last Airbender need to be superficially seen, Inception‘s heart comes from the depth of it’s goal to be an instrument of visual story. Though there is ming boggling CGI in the film, it’s really some of the less obvious moments that stick out of my mind, such as two different reflections of one character in a mirror, A van falling off a bridge, A freight train careening down a busy city street, or simply the last image of the film. These sights are awe-inspiring because of their reasonings for being there, not solely for the aesthetic pleasure the eye receives. It’s refreshing to know that Christopher Nolan sees his world in such a way and isn’t reduced to adding pretty shots for the sake of filler, no, EVERY shot in Inception feels as if it’s purposeful and mandatory to get the story across.

Hans Zimmerman’s score is perfect and doesn’t replicate itself as being ‘Batman-esque’. Zimmerman is able to completely dive himself into the world and bring it up in music. As an owner of many film soundtracks I often say, for the best soundtracks that the score tells the story on the screen perfectly and leads the scene forward but, Inception is a welcome change. The score follows the story and the visuals, creating an audible guide-track for you musical senses to follow as you’re being thrust into a world that is defined in such detail that it arguably does EXIST in reality while it is being shown.

While everything is wonderful in Inception nothing outweighs Nolan. The acting, the visuals, the music, it’s all masterful but, doesn’t begin to touch the sheer awe of Christopher Nolan’s mind. Everything falls second to the knowledge that this man was able to think of the story and projected into a film of such high quality. It’s smart without being pretentious, fun without being campy and adventurous without being daft.

Nolan has all his wits about him and scenes like the fight in the hotel hall will show you that he is one in a million. Sure visually we have seen this sort of thing before in films like The Matrix but, we have yet to see it with such purpose that knowing WHY it’s happening is just as enjoyable as seeing the action being done.

I could gush on and on about Inception but, there’s no need. Those who know Christopher Nolan’s work and enjoy him know their in for a ride and those who don’t haven’t bothered to experience his full-house of film credits yet and deny themselves.

Inception is a glorious feat of intense, immense and refined talent and Christopher Nolan rightly earns my pass for ‘viewing without knowledge” meaning he could tell me his next movie was about the painted lines on the street and I would first in line with an ear to ear Grin on my face.

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Daytime Emmy Rant!

Posted in Entertainment, Review on June 28, 2010 by thenewserials

Yesterday I readily strapped myself in, ready to be dazzled and amazed by that one event that comes but one time a year and threatens to detonate my television with such excitement that I may have to buy a spare just to get through the second half! Filled with the hottest people on television and the more drama than the Source Awards and the G20 summit combined!

No I’m not talking about the Bachelor; I’m talking about the Daytime Emmy Awards!

I tuned in to watch my favorite soap opera rack in the awards one by one, whilst being entertained by the most genius actor/actresses and creative teams. Unfortunately this wouldn’t be the experience I would have!

Opening with David Copperfield (my first WTF moment of the night) I thought I was going to be wowed as he made some beautiful soap starlettes appear, disappear or turn into Tigers or something but, I was vastly unentertained when all he did was make Regis Philbin appear.

Philbin a competent host was interesting to watch but, even that wouldn’t save the rest of the show which would be plagued with awkward timings, strange faces, odd camera errors and a tan that could illuminate most of south east Asia.

But before I go on to the bad let me acknowledge the, very few, things I enjoyed on the show.

#1 The outfits, generally everyone looked very well, though I was only paying attention to my very lovely All My Children actors and actresses no one seemed to be hideously dressed. Special mentions: Jacob Young, Bobbie Eates , Rebecca Budig, Chrishelle Stause and Susan Lucci twice (she looked stunning in both her Black dress and White gown).

#2 Chubby Checker: is there anything else to say? It was Chubby Checker and everyone was twisting! Could they have been having more fun!?

#3 The Charity that Motel Williams broke down talking about; almost brought a tear to my eyes. It was also good to see J.R. Martinez, that guy is totally an inspiration!

#4 the Performances – The Lion King, the Blue man group and a host of others were very nice to see. It doesn’t surprise me that they would have to import talent from NYC to spice up your show (hint hint, AMC)

#5 Agnes Nixon – What can I say, she deserved it! and she got it, always good to see credit given where credit is due!

Now, the bad. some of you might not like what I have to say but, I’m sorry it needs to be said!

Marie Osmond – What is going on with her…everything? She looked like one of those strange marionette dolls, propped up onstage for the enjoyment of some crazy demon worshippers. This isn’t new either, she’s looked odd for some time now but, last night was sort of embarrassing, she stumbled through her song and just looked strange the entire time. Isn’t someone going to go to her and say: “Sweetie you need to tune it down a bit”, the botox has gotten out of control. One more facelift and her eyes will be stuck between the back of her shoulders.

Dick Clark – i like Dick Clark, despite some of his shady practices, I think he might be a stand up guy. After suffering a stroke he’s still got his sense of humor and wit. The tribute to him was fun too, minus the Marie Osmond and his break down was hard to watch. But what concerned me was how ORANGE his face was. What was going on? Is someone tanning this man to his grave? There’s no reason for him to have looked that way and I often wonder where are the people who can see and say clearly: ‘No you don’t need any more tanning spray.’  Again a great tribute but, what is going on, there’s no reason to have Dick Clark glowing like a Cheeto.

The Commercials- What was that “Safebook” commercial about? and why did it play everytime the Emmys went to commercial? It just seemed like strange propaganda.  Futhermore the show came on abruptly on during one of the commercials and everyone looked confused! There was some strange editing problems going on last night, CBS just couldn’t seem to get it together.

All My Children – How can it be one of the most popular shows on television and not have won ONE Emmy last night? And why is this chain of events so uncommon now-a-days? I’ll be the first to admit that the writing on the show has been a little shoddy as of late but, still in the past years we’ve seen the return of Julianne Barr and the exit of David Canary in one of the most endearing love stories on All My Children! That deserves some credit within itself! But, not one mention of that or the rest of the good year AMC has had! Instead I was repeatedly beat over the head with the Bold and the Beautiful winning Emmy’s! What kind of sham awards show is the academy holding out there in lala Land!? Anyone who watches AMC knows that since his return Vincent Irizarry has been acting circles around all the other soaps on television and when he acts great he pulls the great out of other actors as well. How this is being ignored is beyond me. But, you can rest assured next year I won’t be watching as intently.

As always you can find me on Facebook and Twitter at: Facebook.com/Raganork8 & Twitter.com/KeithBCovington

Tracy Bonham/Jp, Chrissie and the Fairground Boys

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on June 25, 2010 by thenewserials

The starting of a new adventure. Being a Pretenders fan, I’m always excited when I see the letters CH when referring to a first name last name. So when Jp Jones, Chrissie Hynde and the Fairground boys were announced to be coming to the city, I new I HAD to go.

Fueled by the numerous good reviews from friends who had seen the band perform live in L.A. and my own joyous feelings after viewing the KCRW show on the internet, I knew this was going to be something I wouldn’t forget and through the graces of a VERY good friend my ticket was secured.

Fanatical and obsessed may be one way to describe my feelings, the show started at around Seven and I arrived at about One. Sat in the Cafe read a Star Wars comic and enjoyed my time.

By the time the show was starting I was surrounded by many of my Pretenders friends, ready to experience this very familiar but, very different event that is Chrissie Hynde. Not too familiar with JP Jones I was totally clueless about what exactly I was going to be seeing and hearing.

Tracy Bonham’s opening set was the perfect way to start this show, sitting in seats that weren’t my own my friend and I reveled in our guest sets no more than five feet from the stage, designated for “Shakira”. We were instantly impressed with Bonham’s voice, violin playing and inventive use of simple themes to get across points that are the subject of such examples of the normative flow of life. Sensual with a splash of humor and a tinge of cynicism Bonham’s writing style is not to unlike what were were going to see next.

There’s always a tinge of unexplainable excitement when I see Chrissie Hynde and tonight was going to be no different. As she walked out and took the stage with the boys I found myself smiling ear to ear, along with my friend and a very excited Sandra Bernhard. They took their instruments and sat down and smiled at the audience and Hynde uttered that phrase I’m so used to hearing: ‘Are you ready girls?’

Starting with “If You Let Me” the show was already a success, the small venue with the sound of the music echoing through it was just what we were all waiting for. Rarely do I have the experience of instant love but, it surely came over me the moment Jp Jones opened his mouth. I knew what Hynde sounded like already and I had heard the song before but, something about being there and hearing him made the whole of Fidelity! make more sense.

I suddenly got how their voices both opposed and complimented each other, an artistic foreshadowing of the content of the album. How this intensely personal album, about their relationship was being shared with us. Not just as a man and a woman coming together but, two creative forces finding a passage through the other, and event that’s not very common and even more rarely viewed by the human eye.

And as Hynde cooed: “Cause I’m not fine by myself” I could see in JP’s face a total recognition of himself in what she was singing. To hear their song being sung in front of these people, I could see everything making sense.

As the two went through the song it inflated higher and higher into a moment of complete triumph at the end (as every song would).

The band continued through their songs, a setlist that took as through want – Fairground Luck, Understanding – Fidelity and the harsh realization of ultimate loss – Perfect lover amongst others. It’s hard to fully put into words what exactly what was going through the room that night. Somewhat of a calm electricity that went through each and everyone of us, every note, every lyric and every look was something different and more exciting. Whether it was Hynde’s Harmonica Solo, Patrick’s slick and wonderful licks or JP’s powerful assertions, everything felt perfect but, not so versed that it seemed like a recital.

At the end of the night, I found myself totally sold on the project, it didn’t matter what I heard from there on I knew this was going to be an album that would become an instant classic to me. The funny thing about good music is that often times one has to look for it but, every once in a while it falls into your lap and you’re blessed with something genius without having to beseech it.

Fidelity! Promises to be more interesting than anything else around and I for one can not wait; though my patience may be an act of Fidelity itself.

Early Review: Zombieland

Posted in Entertainment, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2009 by thenewserials
Remember: Cardio, Twinkies and Bill Murray is the King!

Remember: Cardio, Twinkies and Bill Murray is the King!

Yesterday I was fortunate to catch a free, early screening of the new horror/comedy movie: Zombieland.

Normally I wouldn’t ever consider seeing a zombie movie but, zombie comedy seem to have a special place in my heart.

The first odd thing about this movie is that it had a strange appeal to me. I’m not a zombie lore fan at all. I mean I HATE zombies, they scare me, they disgust me and for some reason there’s a small part of my mind that thinks they are real. However Zombieland painted a pretty funny picture in its trailer (which is viewable at the bottom of this post) and I was very lucky to obtain free tickets to the showing last night.

The movie opens up with the explanation that there are rules to surviving Zombieland but, in terms of it’s actual originality it also sticks close to other horror and comedies of the past. There’s no denying this movie is akin to the wonderfully funny “Shaun of the Dead” and has the humor of recent blockbusters like Superbad and anything else Michael Cera has been in. In fact its not a far off thought that perhaps the main character “Columbus” was originally intended to be played by Cera, that being said Zombieland is a very enjoyable movie!

Jesse Eisenberg plays the main character “Columbus” with a neo-nerd humor that has (as before mentioned) been made very popular by Michael Cera and his films but, Eisenberg does add something new, he’s funny, he’s awkward but, he also is particularly likable and in the chaotic world of Zombieland Eisenberg plays up he’s involuntary loner attitude with the twist that it is actually what has kept him alive for so long.

Along the way he meets the wildly different ‘Tallahassee”‘ played by Woody Harrelson. ‘Tallahassee”‘ plays a very antipode character to ‘Columbus’, he’s angry, violent and totally unafraid of the zombie invasion that has taken place, He also has a strange but, humorous obsession with Twinkies and the ongoing gag of finding twinkies in the film is one that’s used just enough to be funny but, not enough to be obnoxious. Harrelson is both funny and somewhat of the action hero in this film and fans of Harrelson will get what they’ve known he’s had for years and those not too familiar or fond of him should see the great comedic timing Harrelson has had for years.

The two get together and meet “Wichita”  and “Little Rock” played by Emma Stone and Abagail Breslin respectively. The two female characters are the most cunning in the movie, their ‘bitches’ by nature but, they’re insanely entertaining to watch especially in their interaction with the other characters. “Wichita” acts as “Little Rock”‘s sister and their relationship to each other is that of the cliche protector and protected but, their serious nature as deceivers add something to it. Stone is great as the dead pan “Wichita” eventually and obviously becoming the love interest for ‘Columbus’. “Little Rock” is a product of our time several jokes in the movie poke fun at her young age as not knowing who Willy Nelson is and having to explain the complex relationship of Hannah Montanna’s fame to the “Tallahasse”.

The movie is fun and funny and, for me, had some scary moments. Any person who has seen any zombie movie before knows how this movie is going to move, it’s from obvious issue to obvious issue but, Zombieland isn’t trying to be drastically different from any other zombie movie, it’s just trying to be better. And with good writing, great actors and a hilarious cameo by the “King” Bill Murray Zombieland is bound to be a hit when its release on October 2.

Review: The Ettes, American Bang, Juliette Lewis

Posted in Review on September 20, 2009 by thenewserials

Grity, Sexy, Glamorous Rock

Irving Plaza

09/19/09

The simple joys in life are sometimes few and far between. We all live real lives; work, stress, boredom and the obligations we’re attached to can often make a sincerely good night out almost impossible to identify and even worse rarely accomplished.

But there’s something about music that seems to break that pattern and music live  in one of the greatest cities in the world; NYC only furthers that sentiment.

Last night had all the right ingredients for the great show it turned out to be; fair weather, good venue, great sound system, nice fans and three talented artist to share the experience of live music with.

At 9:00pm the first of three acts went on stage: The Ettes. The Ettes are what rock and roll is made out of. Their the fundamental core of the slightly aloof but, always caring glare that rock music embodies. Fronted by ‘Coco’ a small and very polite front-woman who on stage doesn’t need to strut and dance around to keep ones attention. From the moment she takes the mic in hand or here telecaster you know she has something to say and whether you want to or not you’re going to hear it. The Ettes music is punctuated by her distinct style of singing and the driving groan of some raw and energetic bass playing. The fuse of the crunching rhythm and her innocent sounding but, sneering delivered voice is a paradox in itself. The songs rage and the addition of a drummer who is merciless only makes the primal rage that more real.

The greatest thing about the Ettes is that their not something you couldn’t see, not on stage. They are the kind of band that seems to have just arrived from practice in their garage and are doing it from memory. There’s somewhat of a reckless abandon that makes the listener wonder: ‘did they just mess up? Or was that just something clever’. Odd time changes, feedback in strange places and possibly, a missed note. Either the Ettes are doing it all by luck or they’ve got it down better than most and I’d place my bet on saying it’s the latter for sure.

With just enough time to enter back into reality from the Ettes, American Bang set up on stage and began, what could only be described as, the purest or rock sets. This wasn’t my first experience with American Bang, they had opened for the Pretenders in January this year. There’s something about this band that is just damned sexy. Four guys from Nashville putting on a show that is just rock and roll; full of the tumultuous emotions of life, the hypocritical mind thoughts of the average person and the ever present struggle to just get it right. American Bang simply gets ‘it’.

Mainstream music keeps going on about things not real, a fantasy world we strive to live in but, this is about the world we do live in and what it means to be apart of it as an imperfect being. American Bang is not sentimental about it at all, they rock out all the varying emotions with a dash of swagger that makes them look like experts but, with a dose of vulnerability that makes them look like they still don’t understand the complexities of average life. That sometimes, the mundane is the most perplexing conundrum. All that being said they’re also amazing because they’re drop-your-camera-and-holler good. They differ from the Ettes in that they have a musicality that is more matured, they know how to put a nice sounding song together. Something that could get stuck in your head, but it’s never something you could simply hum, that driving bass, the pounding drumming and the raw realness of Jared’s voice implore you to get up and do it as good as them or at least with that amount of energy.

It also helps that these aren’t four guys who are bad to look at. Often the musical experience is akin to sex for me. Not that it’s physically as pleasing or something to that effect but, its because when you see an artist live, their either going to stand on stage and get naked in front of you or hide something from you. If they’re doing ti right, you should leave the show feeling as if you’ve seen them in their most powerful, vulnerable and enjoyable moments and if they’re doing it wrong, you feel as if you don’t know what they are. American Bang did it right. They’re so open on stage with it all, they hold nothing back, they stand on stage and let it rip. Their incredibly sexy because they give it to the audience in the purest way, there’s nothing pretentious here about their act, you can see it in their eyes, they’re still four guys from Nashville, just now they’re playing music for you. They’ve got the perfect balance of energy, knowing just when to pull it back so it doesn’t become something else. If the Ettes were a great example of raw ‘new’ rock, American Bang is the perfect example of fine tuned, understated rock. The kind of rock that can declare the hardest of heartbreak then make a offhand comment and go back to playing hard.

American Bang is one of our premiere bands today. Put down Fall Out Boy and Greenday turn off, Gym Class Heroes and Incubus, American Bang is where the real music is at and they will prove it to you everytime.

So it’s time For Juliette Lewis, whom I’ve also already seen and also from opening the Pretenders on their tour. I’m already aware that the experience I’m about to have is going to be different than that of American Bang and the Ettes. Lewis is anything but, understated, raw, new Rock. She and her band are a well polished machine that has to be seen to believe, and thats no exaggeration.

Lewis is a firecracker, her energy is endless, from start to finish she’s strutting, jerking rigidly and berating her audience with her sharp vocals. Juliette is full of this energy that is awkward to watch, akin to the humorous and odd dancing of Elaine Benes on Seinfeld but, that’s the good thing! Her awkwardness makes for a show thats +1, the music is there (and I’ll go more into in a moment) but her spectacle of simply loving being on stage is enough to ensure a good time already. You like that she’s wierd in ways because in all actuality a lot of us who love music are wierd ourselves. All three bands served as a reflection of the audience, if it was the Ettes raw and nonchalant rage or American Bangs sexual but, introverted expression of life or finally Juliette Lewis’ awkward screaming and dancing expressing, want, need desire and disgust its all somewhere we’ve all been to before. Lewis knows how to play her angle, she doesn’t pretend to be musical at all. She’s a frontwoman with a voice but, she knows that her role is to keep the energy going in front of this band that is essentially on fire the entire time.

Juliette Lewis offers a paradox that only someone in music could do: Lewis is the most expendable part of her band, yet if she weren’t there it wouldn’t be the same at all. Her voice isn’t the ‘best’ (though it’s not bad either) and she doesn’t play an instrument but, her ENERGY is like the fifth member of the band. She’s a smart enough woman to surround herself with a band that knows what its doing so that she may be able to get off with doing her thing the best she can, and if one didn’t exist the other wouldn’t be as interesting.

There’s not much else I can say about Lewis, as I prefaced this section you have to see it to believe it. Her energy is truly only rivaled by that of Sharon Jones of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and even then it’s a totally different sort of energy.

Here are a few outstanding points:

Maria aka ‘pony’ from the Ettes is a terrific drummer, she has to be mentioned again and again she has something about her that is undeniable. She literally reminds me of the muppet: ‘Animal’ of The Muppets. Her hair is flying around and she is an (with the most respect and she knows this) animal on the drums.

Irving Plaza: if you ever get the chance go see a show there, its small fun and loud. That and Highline Ballroom are the two best venues in NYC

American Bang totally nice guys, thanks to Jared and Ben especially for treating us so nicely after the show.

Juliette’s band is amazing, go see this band they are furious and unrelenting like Juliette herself.

In closing I’ll say most of all, I enjoyed American Bang Juliette and the Ettes aren’t far behind though. I’d suggest if these bands were coming to your town or city to seriously consider going, disappointment is certainly not in order.

The Ettes: B

American Bang: A

Juliette Lewis: B+