The Week That Was (17-01-2010): Spoon; Owen Pallett; Up In The Air; The Messenger…

We begin our weekly recap with the shocking news about the death of Jimmy Lindsey, Jr. -better known as Jay Reatard. The young musician died at the age of 29 with the police still investigating the causes. Another sad lost this week was several times Rober nominee and veteran soul singer Teddy Pendergrass, whose career including such highlights as the theme for Alan Rudolph’s eighties cult film “Choose Me”.

CONTRAvampire weekend

Also getting –more positive- headlines were Vampire Weekend, on a non-stop activity roll to promote the launch of “Contra”, they offered a free show at London’s Somerset House from a Balcony overlooking the ongoing ice ring at the site. The band was also in the news for reigniting MTV’s unplugged series, following the steps of their idol Paul Simon, among many other legends. Their set can be watched here. Joanna Newson finally unveiled details ofher third album to be released next month. Its title: “Have one on me”. And Rick Rubin has managed to put together a posthumous new offering of Johnny Cash’s American Recordings, the sixth of the series, due in February the 26th and including covers of Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson, etc. and some original songs.

Brand new albums by Spoon, previewing their latest opus “Transference”; the first great record of the year courtesy by Arcade Fire strings arranger Owen Pallett, who has dropper his Final Fantasy moniker – due to copyright issues with the famous videogame it paid tribute to- to go and use his own in “Heartland”. Also noteworthy, folk-rock siren Laura Veirs achieves a career best with “July Flame”. The first two can be listened in full through the links. The second is available in Spotify and you can also get two tracks free through Laura Veirs’ website.

On the movie front, the ones in the road to Oscar Glory are cramming their way into our screens. This week we saw screenings of Jason Reitman’s “Up In the air”. The follow-up to Juno, mirroring the golden age of Hollywood comedy with a very contemporary touch for our recession-stricken times. George Clooney plays a corporate employee whose mission is to sack people all across America, living his frequent flyer life with no time for human connection. Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick will bring some trouble into his existence. Expect a whole bunch of nominations and a strong possibility for it to win the gong for its script. Also likely to be in the top races, including movie and actresses –hopefully not Mariah Carey, though- is “Precious”, a grim drama about incest and sexual abuse that somehow shapes itself as a feel-good movie in the end. Original, yet emotionally manipulative it gets sometimes hard to believe, even when its based on true memories. Mo’nique is favourite as best supporting actress.

The best of the lot, though, is the underdog of this year’s Oscar race. Oren Moverman’s “The Messenger”, an incredibly solid drama about a pair of soldiers in charge to deliver the news of war casualties to the families of the deceased. Woody Harrelson should be among the five supporting actor nominees; so should Samantha Morton in the supporting female race. Its script and even the whole movie also stand a big chance, particularly now that the academy is nominating ten titles for the main prize.

Back in the UK Andy Serkis’ brilliant performance as Ian Dury in the biopic of the late punk legend “Sex & Drugs & Rock and roll” is also getting a lot of acclaim. The movie is an above average rock-icon biography that benefits from an excellent cast and a strong intention, not always fulfilled, to avoid the sub-genre’s stereotypes.

A flood of noteworthy singles are also hitting the shops, beginning by Lindstrom & Christabelle’s “Lovesick”, one of the highlights of their recent joint album. A new EP by Dubstep’s rising star Joy Orbison, “The Shrew”; high hopes for 2010 Best Coast return with “Something In The Way” and Dum Dum Girls with “Jail La La”. New hip-hop from the so-called new Nas, Jay Electrónica. And the high-profile collaboration between James Mercer (The Shins) and Danger Mouse, named Broken Bells, unveiled the first single “The High Road”.

On a more frivolous note, pop starlette Gabriella Cilmi returns with “On A Mission”, borrowing the rhythm out Joe Jackson’s classic “Steppin’ Out”. M.I.A. generated some confusion and upheaval in the media dropping with little info “Space Odyssey” a first taster of her third album, inspired by a call to Verizon’s customer services; also criticizing the New York Time for suggesting Sri Lanka as the best new tourism destination, when the war is just over.

Promo video of the week, though, goes to Dan Deacon for his Sesame street-esque “Woof Woof”.

Meanwhile, lovers of free stuff have had a vintage week with Dirty Projectors; Eels;Ruby Suns, Twin Sisters and Scout Niblett offering new track downloads for free. Also TV fans were celebrating fresh news from “Caprica”, a prequel to the sorely missed sci-fi classic “Battlestar Galactica” that was anticipated with a free compilation/sountrack.

This post is also available in: Spanish

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