Posts Tagged crazy heart

The Week That Was (25-02-2010): Joanna Newsom; Liars; Roman Polanski; Pantha Du Prince; Devo

Last week it seemed like there was only one record release: Joanna Newsom’s third album’s triple extravaganza has taken the media by storm. Newsom has never been short of ambition and her former opus “Ys” became such a landmark that few thought it could be matched. But the first reactions to “Have One On Me” have been superlative. However, a couple of listenings have left us still unsure if three albums worth of material were necessary or “Have One On Me” would have been much better if shortened. Listen in full during this week at NPR and take your own conclusions.

Joanna Newsom casts a shadow over the rest of the week’s releases, among them ‘Similes’, the new record by Phil Elverum’s ambient project Eluvium and the rather lackluster posthumous sixth volume of Johnny Cash’ “American Recordings”.

Haiti and the many charitable musical causes to help with the earthquake’s aftermath were still generating news. After the devastating catastrophe the world had to suffer –for a good cause- reinterpretations of R.E.M.’ s ‘Everybody Hurts’ performed by Simon Cowell’s puppet factory next to some other British stars and in the US ‘We Are The World’ by a large list of A, B and even some C list artists that happen to be around on Grammy night; now its time for an all-star record that you may actually want to hear: Shane MacGowan and friends covering ‘I Put A Spell On You’. The Pogues’ frontman got Nick Cave, Johnny Depp, Mick Jones, Chrissy Hynde and a few other friends involved in the recording.

Primal Scream generated some headlines by announcing they will be touring in the autumn playing their seminal album “Screamadelica”. The band joins an illustrious list of artists that in recent times are following the trend of playing classic albums in full. More live news, Fleet Foxes’ frontman Robin Pecknold will be touring with Joanna Newsom in what’s likely to be one of the most talked-about double bills of the year and Fairport Convention veteran Richard Thompson will be the curator of London Southbank’s annual festival Meltdown.

Roman Polanski was the toast of the Berlinale after being awarded as best Director for his new film ‘The Ghost Writer‘. The filmmaker was not able to collect the prize as he’s still in house arrest waiting for new developments in his long-standing conflict with the US law. The winner of the Golden Bear was the Turkish film ‘Bal’ (Honey). More details about the rest of the festival’s winners here.

More movie news, Oren Moverman, whose striking debut ‘The Messenger’ has earned an Oscar nomination for best script, will be the director of a film about Kurt Kobain’s life. Moverman is no stranger to writing about music. He earned rave reviews for the imaginative script of Bob Dylan’s biopic ‘I’m Not There’. This week also saw the Oscar nominated shorts hit the American cinemas, a look at this year’s contenderds here.

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Pantha Du Prince offered an excellent show at Cargo, mostly based on the tracks of his magnificent recent album “Black Noise”. The project of Hamburg producer Hendrick Weber showcased his excellent melting pot of shoegaze; Detroit and minimal techno influences in front of an ecstatic audience.

Last week we finally finished watching all of this year’s Oscar nominated films, reaffirming our overall impression that 2009 won’t go down in history as a vintage year for movies. The last two films on hitting British cinemas are ‘Crazy Heart’, Scott Cooper’s debut as a director, which tells the story of a country singer whose career is fading. There’s nothing new or ground-breaking about it, but Jeff Bridges and Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s performances elevate it from being just an average fare. At this state nobody doubts Bridges will grab the statuette on Oscar night.

Other film whose actors have scooped some nominations is Michael Hoffman’s ‘The Last Station’, a period drama about the last days of Russian writer Leon Tolstoi; the peculiar cult surrounding his ideals and the conflict they generate between him and his wife, played by the always excellent Helen Mirren. Both Mirren and Christopher Plummer are nominated and deservedly so, but the film shifts between comedy and drama, failing to feel truly accomplished as either.

New and noteworthy tracks of the week: Beach House, fresh from having released one of the best albums of the year, unveiled a new track “The Arrangement”, destined to be a B-side for an exclusive single the Baltimore couple is releasing for record day. This week also saw the return of the Canadian supergroups, with both The New Pornographers –‘Your Hands (Together)’ and Broken Social Scene ‘World Sick’ offering the first taster from their respective new projects. Bill Callahan was also in the news with the announcement of an imminent best live moments compilation. The anticipating track “Bowery” hit the blogs a few days ago.

Video of the week goes for Vampire Weekend’s star-studded new promo in which the preppie New Yorkers have called their celebrity friends to be filmed during a strange tennis match. Jake Gyllenhaal; RZA; Lil Jon & Joe Jonas helped putting images to “Giving Up The Gun”.

Other interesting clips: Liars finally offered a video for “Scissor”, the first single from their imminent “Sisterworld”. Xiu Xiu’s “Death Grey” and Kanye West still releasing tracks from his tepidly received latest record “808’s & Heartbreak” brought us a disturbing video for “Coldest Winter

And the best free stuff of the week includes surprises such as a new track by Devo. The American new wave masters, after their successful return to the live circuit, announced their first studio album in two decades with the free download of the rather excellent new track “Fresh”. The band is also asking their fans for help choosing colours for their new art and image through a curious marketing research happening at their website.

Antifolk supergroup The Bundles, fronted by ex-Moldy Peaches Kymia Dawson and Jeffrey Lewis, introduced themselves by giving away one of their songs, ‘Pirates Declare War’.

And three top-notch mixtapes for your collection: The way for the imminent collaboration between Method Man; Ghostface Killah & Raekwon –finally under the name of Meth, Goth & Rae- is being paved with a mixtape full of both classic moments of the Wu-tang members and new track premieres. “Avenging Angels” can be downloaded here. Canadian electroclash purveyor Chilly Gonzales is back with his “Pianist Envy” mix; and for the lovers of nu-cumbia DJ Orion has compiled another scorcher called “Carajo Colombia” than can be downloaded on a pay as much as you like basis.

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2009 The Year In Movies: 3-Drama

THE BURNING PLAIN (Guillermo Arriaga)

A look at this year’s Sundance winners and the backlog of US independent films awaiting international release makes us believe dramas are prevailing among 2009 cinematographic offer.

Of Imminent arrival is Guillermo Arriaga’s debut as a director, “The Burning Plain”. Arriaga was the screenplay partner of Alejandro Gonzalez-Iñarritu (“Amores Perros”; “Babel”) but after famously splitting up with the Mexican film-maker, he decided to swap roles. His first project, also self-penned, shows again his trademark multiple stories in multiple geographical locations with a final link style. Kim Basinger and Charlize Theron figure on its cast. However, and regardless of the brilliant standard of his work in the past, this directorial debut received mixed reviews in Berlin.

Not only writers want to turn into directors, some actors also will take the lead, among them Samantha Morton. The Academy Award nominee British actress will debut with “The Unloved”, a view of the UK’s care system for orphans and children in danger, from the perspective of one of them. Little else is known so far. Read the rest of this entry »

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