Monday, May 28, 2007

Quick N' Dirty Reviews

Andrew Bird/ Armchair Apocrypha
For those who lack patience, albums that don’t reveal themselves immediately can be incredibly frustrating. As a society, we’ve become so conditioned to expect everything now, now, now that we’re unable to exhibit the stamina that it takes to fully enjoy something that requires any devotion of time. Andrew Bird’s latest, Armchair Apocrypha, falls into this category. I’ll fully admit to being guilty of this lack of patience myself, even when it comes to Andrew Bird. Despite considerable press for his last offering, Andrew Bird And The Mysterious Production Of Eggs, it never really captured my interest. And at an initial listen, Armchair Apocrypha comes off as very stark in its own right, with nothing that immediately grabs the listener and screams, “Take notice!” However, after a few listens it begins to slowly open up like the petals of a flower. One petal reveals the Jeff Buckley-esque vocals on “Armchairs;” the next, the haunting synths of “Simple X;” another, the gentle finger-plucked violin on “Imitosis;” and still another the ethereal whistle and serene harmonies of Haley Bonar on “Spare-Ohs.” Lyrically, Bird is at the top of his game, laying claim to his status as one of the most literary-minded artists in rock today. Songs such as “Scythian Empires” and “Darkmatter” are prime examples. In essence, the spare production and intelligent lyrics serve to lend gravity to Bird’s music – even the instrumental tracks serve their purpose and aren’t the filler that they could have been on a lesser record. Armchair Apocrypha, while eclectic in its nature never feels like Bird is straining to sound like his influences – only that they’re revealing themselves organically in his work.

Dirty Rating: 86/100

Andrew Bird On MySpace Music
Andrew Bird's Official Site


Albert Hammond, Jr./ Yours To Keep
The musical landscape is littered with side projects by members of various bands that failed for one reason or another. Sometimes it’s hubris; sometimes it’s that those artists are better off as part of a whole; and sometimes… those artists just flat out suck. Albert Hammond, Jr. (better known as the rhythm guitarist for The Strokes) does not fit into any of the above categories, at least not on the basis of his solo debut, Yours To Keep. After the atrocity that was The Strokes last release, First Impressions Of Earth, it’s fair to say that Yours To Keep comes as a pleasant surprise. Hammond has an appealing vocal style – to say “singing voice” would probably be a stretch – as he shares more than a little in common vocally with bandmate Julian Casablancas, with the major difference being that he doesn’t possess the cigarette stained yelp that’s present in Casablancas’s voice. Musically, it’s clear that Hammond is a classic rock fan as hints of The Beach Boys and The Who pop up from time to time, and he also proves himself more than capable as a lead guitarist. Note to the rest of The Strokes (particularly you, Casablancas): It might be a good idea to cede some of your songwriting and/or vocals to Hammond in the future. The strength of tracks like “Everyone Gets A Star,” “In Transit,” “Holiday,” and stellar second single “101,” all of which would feel right at home on a Strokes record, demonstrates this fact. Ultimately, Yours To Keep is what First Impressions Of Earth could have been and it serves as an announcement that The Strokes are (and should be) more than a one-man show.

Dirty Rating: 76/100

Albert Hammond, Jr. On MySpace Music
The Strokes' Official Site


Youth Group/ Casino Twilight Dogs
When a band gets its foot in the door in the music industry on the basis of a cover, it’s only natural to be wary of their talent. Anyone can record a song that’s already been done. That’s why we have drunken karaoke and the abomination known as American Idol. Hell, the band down at your local bar does the same thing every night – and that doesn’t make them good or worthwhile. There’s even more reason to be skeptical when the cover in question is a really bad song like Alphaville’s “Forever Young,” but when you’re able to take a crap nugget like that and turn it into a beautifully compelling pop ballad you’re gonna gain people’s attention, which is what Youth Group has done with Casino Twilight Dogs. After their “Forever Young” cover was featured prominently in FOX’s television series The OC, Youth Group began garnering some press and although Casino Twilight Dogs was released in 2006 in their native Australia, it only received a US release earlier this year largely on the strength of “Forever Young.” Luckily for fans of indie pop there’s more here than just that one track. “Daisychains,” “On A String,” and “Catching & Killing” are all top-shelf indie pop offerings, somewhat bringing to mind a poppier Stereophonics. Where their previous record, Skeleton Jar, was sketchy – a few tracks here and there, but not enough to sustain an entire album – Casino Twilight Dogs is solid from beginning to end. A few more albums like this an there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll hear Youth Group being covered by bar bands around the country.

Dirty Rating: 81/100

Youth Group On MySpace Music
Youth Group's Official Site

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Movies That Stink Like Feet

Since this is one of the the first movie reviews posted here at The Dirtywhirl, let's take a quick look at the rating system that we use to evaluate these feats of cinematic achievement (or lackthereof):

100 - Classic Film; One Of The Best Of All Time
99-90 - Exceptional Work; Rush Out And Netflix This
89-80 - Very, Very Good; You Should Still Go Out And Netflix This
79-70 - Not Bad At All; Might Actually Be Worth Your Time
69-60 - Has Its Moments But On The Whole... Meh
59-50 - Won't Make Your Eyes Bleed; Won't Make You Smile, Either
49-0 - Don't Waste Your Time; You're Smarter Than This (Probably)

Now... onto the reviews:

Pan’s Labyrinth
Pan’s Labyrinth is the quintessential example of bait-and-switch marketing. Every preview and/or still shot that was presented as part of its marketing campaign shamelessly played up the film’s fantasy aspect. From the Pale Man with eyes in his hands, to the statuesque Faun… even the movie poster itself that showed a small girl at the entrance of a massive labyrinth - all of these images were used to draw fans of fantasy/horror to a movie that actually only uses those tools for about 10% of the film. Surprise, suckers! I feel incredibly cheated. I signed up to see director Guillermo Del Toro’s (Hellboy) grotesquely freakish creatures, not a ham-handed message film about anti-fascist guerrilla soldiers in 1940’s Spain. Now, I’m not a totally unreasonable guy (despite what you may hear). Even though I was hoodwinked into this story, I would have bought into it had it been done carefully, but that’s yet another surprise – it’s not. Very heavy-handed in its message that fascism = bad while guerrilla rebels = good, Pan’s Labyrinth is downright boring and unbelievable for much of its 112 minute running time. The film follows a young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who is believed to be the reincarnation of an underworld princess. Ofelia moves with her pregnant mother to a mill in the Spanish countryside where her stepfather, The Captain (Sergi Lopez) is stationed and attempting to hold off anti-fascist rebels. Partially through boredom and exasperation with her situation, Ofelia descends into a dream world, guided by The Faun (Doug Jones, Hellboy) who presents Ofelia with a series of tasks designed to prove that she is, in fact, the reincarnation of the princess. Sadly, this sounds much more interesting than how it actually plays out as Del Toro decides to focus way too much of his time and energy on Lopez’s mustache-twirling Captain, who is one of the most ineffective film villains in recent memory. His performance (and Del Toro’s focus upon it) ends up becoming Pan’s Labyrinth’s greatest weakness. When you look through the history of film, every great heavy has some kind of motivation for his misdeeds – there’s a method to his madness, if you will. Lopez’s Captain, on the other hand, is so cartoonishly over the top in his villainy that he drags the entire film down with him. You’re never able to take him seriously, making you apathetic to the cause of the rebels and thus the film itself. Pan’s Labyrinth may have had a chance to be great had it focused on Del Toro’s strengths, but by focusing too much of its time on an ineffectual villain and becoming a message film it ends up cheating both itself and its audience.

Dirty Rating: 44/100

Other (Way Too Slobbery) Reviews Of Pan's Labyrinth On Metacritic

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

R.I.P. Veronica Mars: 2004-2007

You were just too good for a world that didn't deserve you.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Movies You Should Netflix

Since this is one of the the first movie reviews posted here at The Dirtywhirl, let's take a quick look at the rating system that we use to evaluate these feats of cinematic achievement (or lackthereof):

100 - Classic Film; One Of The Best Of All Time
99-90 - Exceptional Work; Rush Out And Netflix This
89-80 - Very, Very Good; You Should Still Go Out And Netflix This
79-70 - Not Bad At All; Might Actually Be Worth Your Time
69-60 - Has Its Moments But On The Whole... Meh
59-50 - Won't Make Your Eyes Bleed; Won't Make You Smile, Either
49-0 - Don't Waste Your Time; You're Smarter Than This (Probably)

Now... onto the reviews:

Little Children
Suburbia, for all of its cheerful brightness on the surface can often be a dark and twisted place, which is precisely what director Todd Field (In The Bedroom) examines in his latest film, Little Children. Little Children is a haunting character study on the power of secrets and frustration that is at times hard to watch but is also incredibly compelling. Kate Winslet (Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind), stars as Sarah, a housewife who is bored with every aspect of her life: her Internet-porn addicted husband, her cavernous house, even her own daughter. This boredom thrusts her into an (at first) platonic friendship with Brad (Patrick Wilson, Hard Candy) who has issues of his own – he’s a failed law school graduate who is subtly chided by his more successful and ambitious documentarian wife, Kathy (Jennifer Connelly, Requiem For A Dream) for his continued inability to pass the bar exam. On a day out at a local playground with his son, Brad and Sarah have their first chance meeting, which leads to regular outings at the community pool, which eventually leads to fucking in Sarah’s laundry room and attic while their children nap in a nearby bedroom. Simultaneously, a convicted sex offender named Ronnie (Jackie Earle Haley, The Bad News Bears) has moved into their neighborhood and is enduring a constant struggle not only with disgusted and outraged neighbors, but with himself as he struggles to ignore his urges and heed his mother’s pleas to “be a good boy.” Almost every character in Little Children wants to change his or her life, yet is either unable or unwilling to do what is necessary to enact that change. Adapted from the novel of the same name by Tom Perotta, Field structures the film so that it feels like a moving narrative as the characters’ actions slowly burn (much like the symbolic heat wave that hits midway through the movie) towards a climax where their lives intersect in chilling fashion. Although Wilson is a bit of a cipher and Connelly is somewhat wasted in her role, both Winslet and Haley give powerhouse performances that were well deserving of their Oscar nominations. Winslet deftly conveys the frustration that Sarah feels as she realizes that she’s overqualified for the life that she has come to lead, and Haley is remarkable in portraying the internal struggle and disgust that Ronnie feels for himself while still finding enjoyment in his baser instincts. Little Children is definitely not a film for everyone, but those who can stomach it cannot help but be moved by it.

Dirty Rating: 88/100

Other (Not As Well-Written) Reviews Of Little Children On Metacritic

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Quick N' Dirty Reviews

Bloc Party/ A Weekend In The City
Bloc Party’s debut, Silent Alarm, was the best album released in 2005. It was an adrenaline shot of indie rock that updated the angular guitar sounds of post-punk for the ‘00’s but at the same time was unafraid to tone it down with a mellow track from time to time. As such, A Weekend In The City was highly anticipated by many who were anxious to see how Bloc Party would follow up their masterpiece debut. The verdict is in and… it’s not bad, but it’s not great either. In any other band’s hands, A Weekend In The City, would be a triumphant album but the bar for what Bloc Party can do was raised so high with Silent Alarm that anything less is comes across as a mild disappointment. A decent bit of the repeat value of Silent Alarm is missing here, as is most of the energy that blazed through their debut. A Weekend In The City is a much colder album and is similar to the change in mood from Coldplay’s debut, Parachutes, to their sophomore release, A Rush Of Blood To The Head. Ostensibly examining the titular two days in London, the album runs the gamut from drug use (“On”), to empty, meaningless sex (“Kreuzberg”), to hung-over time wasting (“Sunday”), but despite its ambitions the album never really gels. The standout tracks really jump to the forefront but everything else tends to blend together. There are some surprises like “I Still Remember” which at first listen sounds like a crass attempt at a radio-friendly single until its lyrics about schoolboy-on-schoolboy love reveal themselves. Lead single “The Prayer” is oddly reminiscent of TV On The Radio’s “Wolf Like Me,” only not nearly as good. Just about everything else on the record stands as merely alright. Fortunately, the standouts are good enough to warrant a recommendation of the album, but a case could also be made that A Weekend In The City falls victim to a bit of the proverbial sophomore slump, mainly for having the misfortune of following Silent Alarm. On the bright side, their third album will only have to follow A Weekend In The City, which is a much less daunting task.

Dirty Rating: 80/100

Bloc Party On MySpace Music
Bloc Party's Official Site


Fountains Of Wayne/ Traffic And Weather
There’s often more to one-hit wonders than simply that one shining moment when everyone stands up and takes notice of their work for the first time. Sometimes these bands have been slogging away for decades before they are able to gain any measure of recognition. Fountains Of Wayne is one of those bands. I’ve been on the bandwagon since their debut way back in 1996, so seeing the band break through with a fairly mediocre song in “Stacy’s Mom” was a little disheartening. Little did I know that was only the beginning. After hearing Traffic And Weather, I’ve jumped off of the bandwagon so quickly that I’ve fractured both of my legs. This is such a uninspired and lazy album that it makes my parts hurt. The endearing quirkiness that fueled their early work has turned stale and grating on Traffic And Weather. There’s not one song that’s able to make its way out of this mire of crap: “Someone To Love” was a limp and illogical choice for a first single; “’92 Subaru” is basically an unfunny (and one would hope unintentional) reworking of Adam Sandler’s “Piece Of Shit Car;” “Yolanda Hayes” and “Michael And Heather At The Baggage Claim” are attempts at character sketches that just fall completely flat; and “Planet Of Weed” is simply the worst song that the band has ever written and/or recorded – period. Co-songwriters Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood think that they’re being clever by attempting to pack in a variety of pop culture references (The King Of Queens, Coldplay, Dockers, and Doritos all make appearances), but their efforts end up feeling incredibly dated and desperate. Traffic And Weather, simply put, is a very disappointingly bad album from a band who really should know (and can do) much better.

Dirty Rating: 33/100

Fountains Of Wayne On MySpace Music
Fountains Of Wayne's Official Site


Rob Crow/ Living Well
It’s hard to tell where Pinback stops and Rob Crow begins. Much of Living Well, Crow’s fourth solo album, on the surface sounds like a logical progression from Pinback’s last stellar outing, Summer In Abbadon. After a while, though, one major difference pops up – Living Well really isn’t much of a finished album. Crow is a very, very prolific artist playing in no fewer than four bands, not to mention countless other projects so maybe he didn’t, you know, have time to put the finishing touches on this one. That’s not to say that there isn’t some worthwhile stuff on Living Well – quite the contrary, actually. “I Hate You Rob Crow” in another life could have been the radio hit that Pinback has never had, while “Taste,” “Up,” and “Focus” would have fit nicely on the Pinback’s upcoming Autumn Of The Seriphs. In the end, though, Living Well suffers for feeling like close to 75% of a really good album.

Dirty Rating: 74/100

Rob Crow On MySpace Music
Rob Crow Fan Site

Saturday, May 19, 2007

TV Upfronts: Day Four And A Half - The CW

For a true TV junkie, the upfronts serve as a chance to gorge oneself on the possibilities that the coming TV season will bring. Where are your favorite shows moving to? Which ones have been cruelly axed by their network? What new shows should you most be looking forward to? It’s a great time to love TV.

One thing that’s important to remember: This is basically a multi-billion dollar game of chicken, so these schedules are most definitely subject to change but for now, here’s what The CW has to offer starting in September:

Mondays
8 – Everybody Hates Chris
8:30 – Aliens In America
9:00 – Girlfriends
9:30 – The Game

Tuesdays
8 – Beauty And The Geek
9 – Reaper

Wednesdays
8 – America’s Next Top Model
9 – Gossip Girl

Thursdays
8 – Smallville
9 – Supernatural

Fridays
8-10 – Friday Night SmackDown!

Saturdays
No Programming

Sundays
7 – CW Now
7:30 – Online Nation
8 – Life Is Wild
9 – America’s Next Top Model (Encore)

Note:
One Tree Hill, The Search For The Next Pussycat Doll, Farmer Wants A Wife, and Crowned: The Mother Of All Pageants will return/premiere at midseason.

The Big News:
*An encore (which is the politically correct way of saying “repeat”) of America’s Next Top Model. Another Pussycat Skank competition. Something called “Farmer Wants A Wife.” What do all of these shows have in common (other than that they appeal to people who are borderline retarded)? The answer: They’ve all been given a place on The CW’s schedule instead of Veronica Mars. Now, it’s hard to justify bringing back a show whose ratings were as dismal as those of Veronica Mars. I’m not disputing that – but considering what it’s being replaced by? I can feel the bile coming to the surface in the back of my throat as I write this. Veronica Mars was one of the smartest, funniest, most well-written and well-acted shows on television. Kristen Bell is a friggin’ goddess as well as being a supremely talented actress. AND it was basically the only show on this joke of a network that garnered any kind of critical buzz. You mean to tell me that there isn’t a place on this piece of shit network for a show like that? Fuck The CW with a rusty jackhammer.

*We pause now for a brief public service announcement: Anyone who finds The CW’s Sunday night lineup even remotely appealing should be kicked in the junk repeatedly and violently so as to discourage breeding.

*Although Reaper has been getting some positive initial reaction the fact remains that it is still a concept that has already been done, not to mention one that failed miserably. Time will tell, but Tuesdays at 9 were much better this season. Quick – guess what aired in that slot?

*Gossip Girl is widely anticipated as it is the latest project by the creator of The OC, Josh Schwartz. It’s got the potential for a built-in audience since it’s being adapted by the popular series of books by the same name, and it's probably The CW’s best hope for a hit. Recognizing this, it’s been scheduled after The CW’s top rated show, America’s Next Top Model (it actually pained me to type that last sentence). Veronica Mars fans like myself can take some small measure of solace in knowing that Kristen Bell is onboard as the never-seen Gossip Girl herself, who narrates the series. Hey – I takes ‘em where I can gets ‘em.

*Finally, watch Supernatural. I wish to God this show was on another network because it’s good and I don’t want to see The CW cancel another one of my favorite shows. Please watch. Please.

With that, the upfronts are over. It’s looking like a pretty lackluster slate of shows for this fall but over the next few months we’ll do our best to help you wade through the muck and find a couple that may actually be worth your time. You’re welcome.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

TV Upfronts: Day Four - FOX

For a true TV junkie, the upfronts serve as a chance to gorge oneself on the possibilities that the coming TV season will bring. Where are your favorite shows moving to? Which ones have been cruelly axed by their network? What new shows should you most be looking forward to? It’s a great time to love TV.

One thing that’s important to remember: This is basically a multi-billion dollar game of chicken, so these schedules are most definitely subject to change but for now, here’s what FOX has to offer starting in September:

Fall 2007:
Mondays
8 – Prison Break
9:00 – K-Ville

Tuesdays
8 – New Amsterdam
9 – House

Wednesdays
8 – Back To You
8:30 – ‘Til Death
9 – Bones

Thursdays
8 – Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?
9 – Kitchen Nightmares

Fridays
8 – The Search For The Next Great American Band
9 – Nashville

Saturdays
8 – Cops
8:30 – Cops
9 – America’s Most Wanted: America Strikes Back

Sundays
7 – The OT (NFL Post-Game)
8 – The Simpsons
8:30 – King Of The Hill
9 – Family Guy
9:30 – American Dad

January/Spring 2008:
Mondays
8:00 – K-Ville (January)/Prison Break (Spring)
9:00 – 24

Tuesdays
8 – American Idol
9 – House

Wednesdays (January)
8 – Back To You
8:30 – ‘Til Death
9 – American Idol

Wednesdays (Spring)
8 – Back To You
8:30 – The Return Of Jezebel James
9 – American Idol Results Show
9:30 – ‘Til Death

Thursdays
8 – Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader?
9 – Canterbury’s Law

Fridays (Spring)
8 – Bones
9 – New Amsterdam

Saturdays
8 – Cops
8:30 – Cops
9 – America’s Most Wanted: America Strikes Back

Sundays (Spring)
7 – King Of The Hill
7:30 – American Dad
8 – The Simpsons
8:30 – Family Guy
9 – The Sarah Connor Chronicles

The Big News:
*You pretty much have to be an expert in string theory to understand FOX’s convoluted schedule. Seriously, FOX execs – lay off the meth when you’re putting a fall slate together. Not to mention, maybe you should try to compete in the fall instead of putting forth a craptacular line-up like the one above. No wonder FOX is a fourth-place network. They don’t really start caring until January.

*After avoiding the temptation for years, FOX has spun-off the insipidly popular American Idol into a new atrocity entitled The Search For The Next Great American Band. Is any self-respecting band actually going to go on this show? I was discussing this possibility with a friend and, since the new show will reportedly adhere to the American Idol format, bands will be forced to perform a vast array “theme nights” during the competition. This may work for the talentless karaoke singers on the original show, but forcing a band to play outside their comfort zone? Stupid. Any joke of an album one of these “bands” puts out is going to be so unfocused and scattershot and shitty… yet people will eat it up with a spoon. God help us all.

*Can someone explain to me how the Terminator adaptation The Sarah Connor Chronicles fits with FOX’s Sunday night animation block? If there’s a correlation there, I’m certainly missing it.

*Frasier’s Kelsey Grammar and Everybody Loves Raymond’s Patricia Heaton return to TV in the new sitcom Back To You as co-anchors of a news program who can’t stand each other. That’s funny because I couldn’t stand either of their previous shows and this concept sounds about as appealing as something that I found in my son’s diaper. Pass.

*House is still on? And it gets the post-Super Bowl slot in February? Really? Why?

*Just about the only thing to look forward to on FOX is Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman-Palladino’s new series, The Return Of Jezebel James, premiering at some undetermined date in the spring. Starring Parker Posey and Six Feet Under’s Lauren Ambrose, it promises to have the whipsmart dialogue of the early seasons of Gilmore Girls which - I’m here to tell the haters - is a good thing. Other than that, do yourself a favor and forget that FOX even exists. They’re even making The CW look good, and that takes some major, major talent.

Back tomorrow (or Saturday) with The CW.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

TV Upfronts: Day Three - CBS

For a true TV junkie, the upfronts serve as a chance to gorge oneself on the possibilities that the coming TV season will bring. Where are your favorite shows moving to? Which ones have been cruelly axed by their network? What new shows should you most be looking forward to? It’s a great time to love TV.

One thing that’s important to remember: This is basically a multi-billion dollar game of chicken, so these schedules are most definitely subject to change but for now, here’s what CBS has to offer starting in September:

Mondays
8 – How I Met Your Mother
8:30 – The Big Bang Theory
9:00 – Two And A Half Men
9:30 – Rules Of Engagement
10 – CSI: Miami

Tuesdays
8 – NCIS
9 – The Unit
10 – Cane

Wednesdays
8 – Kid Nation
9 – Criminal Minds
10 – CSI: Miami

Thursdays
8 – Survivor
9 – CSI
10 – Without A Trace

Fridays
8 – Ghost Whisperer
9 – Moonlight
10 – Numbers

Saturdays
8 – Crimetime Saturday
9 – Crimetime Saturday
10 – 48 Hours: Mystery

Sundays
7 – 60 Minutes
8 – Viva Laughlin
9 – Cold Case
10 – Shark

The Big News:
*After long bearing the identity of a home for dry procedurals and older-skewing dramas, CBS is making a bold attempt to grab a younger audience with its slate of risky new dramas for fall 2007. Instead of launching a 17th different version of CSI or another Jerry Bruckheimer-helmed crime procedural, CBS will offer a Latino version of The Sopranos (Cane), a vampire PI (Moonlight), an adaptation of quirky British hit Viva Blackpool (Viva Laughlin), and a drama for midseason about partner swapping in the 1970’s (Swingtown). One thing is definitely for sure – this isn’t your parents’ CBS.

*In what can partially be described as a desperation move, Without A Trace has been returned to Thursdays following CSI. After the ancient ER was able to make inroads against Shark this past season, CBS decided to move Without A Trace back to its old stomping grounds, where it routinely trounced ER over the past few years. This will also curb Without A Trace having to air past the 10PM hour as happened so often this past season when afternoon sports overruns would wreak havoc on CBS’s Sunday night schedule. Still, it’s a bit odd that CBS chose to use its most valuable slot on an established hit like Without A Trace instead of…

*… A show like Cane. The brass at CBS must not have liked the pilot as much as they had hoped they would since almost every rumor had Cane following CSI on Thursday nights. Instead, they decided to relegate it to the spot that killed the equally ambitious Ray Liotta vehicle, Smith, after only three episodes this past fall. It will also have to contend with established hits Law & Order: SVU and Boston Legal. Cane could have really used the boost from CSI’s audience, which is a wee bit bigger than that of its announced lead-in, The Unit. Hope Jimmy Smits has another project lined up in case this one tanks, which based on early impressions of Cane would really be a shame.

*It’s a curious move for CBS to lead off Sunday nights with perhaps its most unorthodox new series, Viva Laughlin. OK – technically 60 Minutes leads off Sunday nights, but that’s a grandparents’ show and thus doesn’t count. A risky adaptation of the BBC’s Viva Blackpool, Viva Laughlin has been described as part musical, part mystery, and entirely offbeat. The series will be executive produced by film star Hugh Jackman, who will also make occasional guest appearances. Audiences aren’t usually looking for quirky as they wind down from the weekend, plus trying to launch a new series on a night when 50% of the time in the fall football overruns are going to make its starting time very fluid… this might not have been the best time or place to kick off a series of this nature.

*Jericho became yet another in the long line of serialized shows that were all the rage last year at the upfronts to not get a chance at a second season. You remember Vanished, Kidnapped, and The Nine, don’t you? The ratings sure as hell say that you don’t. It’s tragic that the American public has the attention span of an 18-month old and can’t support a long term investment in the genre, but at the same time networks have to shoulder their portion of the blame for being too quick to the trigger when these shows underperform from the get-go. It’s a chicken and egg type of deal that unfortunately doesn’t show any signs of changing anytime soon.

*One smart move that CBS made was bringing back perhaps TV’s most underrated comedy, How I Met Your Mother. The show was reportedly on the bubble for a third season but it will be back to lead off Monday nights. Its cast has gelled into one of TV’s funniest ensembles and it is one of the rare comedies that allows for casual, drop-in viewers while also rewarding its loyal ones with long-running gags. Plus, Neil Patrick Harris (that’s right – Doogie Howser) is utterly brilliant as an alternately slimy and hilarious skirt-chaser. Maybe the third season will bring with it the audience that How I Met Your Mother so richly deserves.

Back tomorrow with FOX. The CW also announces tomorrow but, as I expect that they’re about to cancel Veronica Mars, they’re all but dead to me and will have to wait until Friday or the weekend. Stupid asses.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

TV Upfronts: Day Two - ABC

For a true TV junkie, the upfronts serve as a chance to gorge oneself on the possibilities that the coming TV season will bring. Where are your favorite shows moving to? Which ones have been cruelly axed by their network? What new shows should you most be looking forward to? It’s a great time to love TV.

One thing that’s important to remember: This is basically a multi-billion dollar game of chicken, so these schedules are most definitely subject to change but for now, here’s what ABC has to offer starting in September:

Mondays
8 – Dancing With The Stars
9:30 – Sam I Am
10 – The Bachelor

Tuesdays
8 – Cavemen
8:30 – Carpoolers
9 – Dancing With The Stars: The Results Show
10 – Boston Legal

Wednesdays
8 – Pushing Daisies
9 – Private Practice
10 – Dirty Sexy Money

Thursdays
8 – Ugly Betty
9 – Grey’s Anatomy
10 – Big Shots

Fridays
8 – Men In Trees
9 – Women’s Murder Club
10 – 20/20

Saturdays
8-11 – Saturday Night College Football

Sundays
7 – America’s Funniest Home Videos
8 – Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9 – Desperate Housewives
10 – Brothers & Sisters

Note:
Cashmere Mafia, Notes From The Underbelly, and October Road will premiere after Dancing With The Stars and The Bachelor conclude their fall cycles.

The Big News:
*ABC is showing remarkable ambition by ordering an insane total of 11 new series, which is a much, much higher number than networks generally order. Since television networks have to go all out to make audiences aware of new shows, they typically cost more to advertise than established shows do. Ordering this many freshman series is a costly gamble for ABC as they seem to be throwing a bunch of crap against the wall in an attempt to see what sticks. Luckily for them, they seem to have more than a few interesting projects (Pushing Daisies, Private Practice, Dirty Sexy Money, Eli Stone) that have a chance to work.

*Networks are usually loathe to schedule an entire night of new programming but that’s just what ABC is doing with their potential winner of a Wednesday night lineup. Leading off the evening is the high-concept Pushing Daisies, which is garnering the best buzz of any new project, with one source even calling it the best pilot they’ve ever seen. It will be followed at 9PM by Private Practice, which probably has the most breakout potential of any new series as it’s a spinoff of the uber-popular Grey’s Anatomy. It even got a headstart on the 2007 fall season when it in essence aired its pilot smack-dab in the middle of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy earlier this month. Rounding out the night is a throwback to the days of the nighttime soap, Dirty Sexy Money, which has been described as Dynasty with better acting. It’s a big risk scheduling three new series on the same night but ABC has, in all likelihood, packed its three best projects into one appealing night.

*After rocking the television world at last year’s upfronts by boldly moving Grey’s Anatomy into the crosshairs of CSI, ABC has not planned any such drastic moves for fall 2007. Both of its flagship nights (Sunday and Thursday) are staying relatively intact, with the only change being the addition of newcomer Big Shots in the coveted post-Grey’s Anatomy time slot. Which leads us to...

*Big Shots winning the most sought-after piece of real estate on ABC’s schedule. This past season saw a litany of shows (let’s name ‘em, just for fun – Six Degrees, Men In Trees, October Road, Notes From The Underbelly, Traveler) try and fail to hold onto a sizable piece of the audience for ABC’s biggest hit. Big Shots, which looks like a male version of Sex & The City, will be the latest to try. Will it succeed where so many others have failed? The guess here? Probably not.

*Lost is conspicuous by its absence from the fall schedule, but this is actually a good thing. ABC will hold the former mainstream and current cult hit off until January or February when it will air its shortened fourth season over 16 consecutive weeks. This is actually the best way for a series of this kind to play out and it should prove interesting to see if viewers who bailed on the show return in the wake of ABC announcing an end date of 2010 last week. If you’re one of those who fell off of the bandwagon, you’re currently missing a resurrection that rivals Lazarus. Lost has once again become appointment television, albeit in the cult form that it really always was at heart, despite its early monster (no pun intended) hit status. ABC has not announced where the show will air but has hinted that it won’t be returning to its current 10PM time slot, which can only serve to help its ratings woes.

*Finally, one of ABC’s new sitcoms is an adaptation of the GEICO cavemen ads titled (creatively) Cavemen. This may actually be the worst idea in the history of television. Take a painfully unfunny series of commercials – I repeat, COMMERCIALS – and make them into a weekly TV show. What’s next? A series based on the creepy king from the Burger King commercials? Maybe one starring the animated mucus balls from the Mucinex spots? I’m starting to get how this works and I’ve come up with a brilliant idea. You know those banner ads that you see online that tell you that you can win an iPod if you swat the buzzing fly? Yeah, I’m gonna pitch a series based on that and make millions! I’m gonna be rich, beyotch! As a friend put it – and I paraphrase – Americans are stupid and don’t want to think when they watch TV, so Cavemen will probably be the biggest hit of the season, causing a little piece of my soul to die.

Back tomorrow with CBS.

Monday, May 14, 2007

TV Upfronts: Day One - NBC

For a true TV junkie, the upfronts serve as a chance to gorge oneself on the possibilities that the coming TV season will bring. Where are your favorite shows moving to? Which ones have been cruelly axed by their network? What new shows should you most be looking forward to? It’s a great time to love TV.

One thing that’s important to remember: This is basically a multi-billion dollar game of chicken, so these schedules are most definitely subject to change but for now, here’s what NBC has to offer starting in September:


Mondays
8 – Deal Or No Deal
9 – Heroes/Heroes: Origins
10 – Journeyman

Tuesdays
8 – The Biggest Loser
9 – Chuck
10 – Law & Order: SVU

Wednesdays
8 – Deal Or No Deal
9 – The Bionic Woman
10 – Life

Thursdays
8 – My Name Is Earl
8:30 – 30 Rock
9 – The Office
9:30 – Scrubs
10 – ER

Fridays
8 – 1 Vs. 100
9 – Las Vegas
10 – Friday Night Lights

Saturdays
8 – Dateline NBC
9-11 – Drama Series Encores

Sundays (September – December)
7 – Football Night In America
8-11 – Sunday Night Football

Sundays (January – May)
7 – Dateline NBC
8 – Law & Order
9 – Medium
10 – Lipstick Jungle

The Big News:
*The Office has been handed a supreme vote of confidence by virtue of its placement at 9PM on Thursday nights where it most likely will be staring down the formidable double barrel of Grey’s Anatomy and CSI. Although the ratings over the past season would not normally bear out such trust, The Office routinely draws in “the right kind of viewers” (i.e. – the 18-49 year-old demographic and the high-income household demographic), making it an attractive option for advertisers on a very important night. NBC has also taken the unorthodox step of ordering a 30-episode season, with five of those episodes being hour-long special episodes. The quality of the show slipped a bit this past season, so it should be interesting to see if this gamble pays off or if NBC has effectively signed the show’s death warrant.

*In an attempt to remedy the viewer drop that many serialized shows experience during extended breaks in original episodes, NBC has ordered six installments of a spin-off of Heroes, entitled Heroes: Origins. Heroes: Origins will air when new episodes of the original are on hiatus and will track a new “hero” each installment. At the end of the season, viewers will have a chance to vote on which new character will get to stick around for the following season of Heroes proper. A highly unusual way to combat repeats, Heroes: Origins is on the one hand an intriguing combination of scripted entertainment and reality programming (otherwise known as the lowest of lowbrow entertainment), and on the other is an idea that has failure written all over it, especially when you consider that Heroes is almost certain to experience a fan backlash in its second season. If you don’t believe that, just look at Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Prison Break, all of which were media and fan darlings in their debut seasons, only to be torn down by those same entities during their sophomore sets. Will Heroes be the exception to this rule?

*Before I say anything else, let me say thanks to NBC for renewing the pound-for-pound best show on television, Friday Night Lights. It definitely would have been easier for you to cancel it due to its low ratings, but then you’d be sending a message that quality doesn’t deserve a chance to find an audience, so you chose not to do that. Kudos to you. That being said, banishing it to Friday nights at 10PM (the death slot that nearly killed venerable workhorse Law & Order) and giving it the completely insipid and incompatible Las Vegas as a lead-in? What the hell kind of ridiculous decision is this?! It’s still better than cancellation but not by much, and I’d be very surprised if Friday Night Lights lives to see 2008. Sad, but probably true.

*Finally, didn’t Journeyman used to be called Quantum Leap? Just asking.

Back tomorrow with ABC's schedule. Until then...

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Quick N' Dirty Reviews: Mother's Day Edition

With Mother's Day upon us, we thought it might be a good idea to examine some recent female-centric releases. Plus, we'd love to see you try to take Amy Winehouse home to Mom. Giddyup:

Amy Winehouse/ Back To Black
Back To Black is one of two things: it’s either the quality savior that pop music has been waiting eons for, or it’s nothing more than a brief respite in the desert of garbage that it is the current pop scene (I’m looking at you, fug-ass Fergie… you too, Ciara or Cialis or whatever the fuck your name is). Either way, we’re talking about an early contender for Album Of The Year status. For her second release (and first to get pushed heavily in the US), UK soul singer Amy Winehouse has breathed new life into a dying genre by juxtaposing a ‘60’s Motown/Brill Building soul sound with lyrics that can best be described as filthy and hardcore. The combination is jarring, yet at the same time incredibly genius. Some might point to this as nothing more than a gimmick. They might be right (to a degree) but much of what we consider entertainment relies on gimmicks. It’s up to the artists to move past those gimmicks to deliver something meaningful and brimming with talent and, in this respect, Winehouse delivers in spades. First single “Rehab” details Winehouse’s management company’s (failed) attempts to send her to dry out from her proclivities towards alcohol and is one of the most singularly catchy tracks of the year thus far. “You Know I’m No Good” follows and serves as the jumping-off point for the, uh, interesting lyrics. Don’t forget to ask Amy about her carpet burns. As an added bonus, “Me & Mr. Jones” – along with its status as a stellar track – introduces us to the greatest word of our time: “fuckery.” Once the initial shock of tracks like these and like “Back To Black” and “Tears Dry On Their Own” wear off, you begin to understand and recognize the pure pop mastery of this album – the tracks stand on their own in spite of the gimmicks. The replay value of this album is astronomical. You cannot get these songs out of your head and on top of that, you won’t want to. It’s at just about this point that you realize that it’s unlikely that have heard, or will hear, anything better for the rest of 2007.

Dirty Rating: 95/100

Amy Winehouse On MySpace Music
Amy Winehouse's Official Site


Norah Jones/ Not Too Late
Zzzzzz… giant marshmallows chasing me with their razor sharp teeth. Wha… where am I? Oh, sorry, I just fell asleep listening to Norah Jones’s latest, Not Too Late. Honestly, it shouldn't be a stretch to think that by working with artists as interesting as Andre 3000, Dave Grohl, Ryan Adams, Mike Patton, and M. Ward, some of their talent would almost have to rub off in some way. Law of averages and all. Unfortunately for Norah Jones, you’d be dead wrong. Dead, dead, dead wrong. Usually in writing these reviews, I like to point out what you should be looking for as you listen to the album, marking some highlights and things to listen for and whatnot. In the case of Not Too Late, there’s literally nothing about this album that I can write about. Not. One. Thing. It’s so bland and tedious that any of the charm that was left from her debut, Come Away With Me (and sophomore release Feels Like Home to a lesser degree) has long since been dead and buried. Part of the blame may be the absence of late producer Arif Mardin, who manned her first two records. Not Too Late is also her first release to feature entirely original compositions. Um… maybe it’s time to rethink that approach, Norah. This is music that your mom could listen to… if your mom has absolutely no taste and likes to be bored to tears. Happy Mother’s Day, mom! Your music sucks.

Dirty Rating: 34/100

Norah Jones's Official Site


the bird and the bee/ the bird and the bee
Intriguing in concept yet at the same time fairly safe, the self-titled debut by the bird and the bee (a collaboration between LA singer Inara George and multi-instrumentalist/Geggy Tah member Dave Kursten) is exactly the type of thing you’d expect to hear playing in the background of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Jazz-inflected soft electronica harmonies supporting a fairly generic female voice – you can practically see the oversexed interns of Seattle Grace Hospital bedhopping around as you listen to it. That’s not to say that the bird and the bee is without merit, as there are moments on the album that will definitely pique your interest. Take first single, “Fucking Boyfriend,” for example. There’s a reason that it topped dance club charts upon its release in late 2006 – it’s damn catchy and there something captivating about a pixieish female voice asking, “Would you ever be my/ Would you be my fucking boyfriend?” over a skittering electronic beat. “Again & Again” is another highlight, as it serves as a perfect tone-setter for the rest of the record, while “La La La” is a carefree slice of bossa nova-influenced electro-pop. Ultimately, though, there’s really not enough evidence to support the bird and the bee as anything more than a wispy little record that will in all likelihood leave your mind just as quickly as it’s entered.

Dirty Rating: 65/100

the bird and the bee On MySpace Music
the bird and the bee's Official Site

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

TV Rumor Junk Drawer

With next week’s television networks’ upfront presentations rapidly approaching, we thought that it might be a good idea to look at some TV rumors and news items that are currently swirling around the industry. For those not in the know, the upfronts occur in mid-May when the four major networks (and little bastard child The CW) present their fall schedules to advertisers in hopes of garnering the sweet nectar of ad revenue. It’s right around this time of year that you start hearing all kinds of crazy shit about which shows are going to get axed, which pilots the networks have a hard-on for, and which time slot is now the home of four of your favorite shows, thus frying your poor little Tivo. Giddyup:

*ABC and the producers of Lost announced on Monday that the series will come to a close in 2010 after three more shortened 16-episode seasons (as opposed to the standard 22-24 episode variety). The seasons will also be shown in consecutive 16-week blocks each year, which should actually be the standard for serialized shows of this nature. Smart move, ABC – now maybe viewers who abandoned the show for …. moving …. at …. a …. snail’s …. pace …. and …. for …. never …. answering …. any …. questions …. will return knowing that the end is in sight. The producers will almost HAVE to answer those burning questions now, right? Right?!

*With hourlong “dramadies” like
Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty all the rage, NBC is contemplating expanding The Office to 60 minutes every week next season. To my knowledge, in the history of television a 30-minute sitcom has never been converted to 60 minutes on a regular basis. Anyone else think this is a terrible idea? While the second season was spot-on brilliant, this season has had its ups and downs and essentially doubling the output of the show might be an idea best left unexplored. When you also consider that rumors have NBC moving the show to 9PM on Thursdays (opposite juggernauts CSI and Grey’s Anatomy)… maybe it’s not the best time to be experimenting like this.

*Rumors have had
Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas pitching an idea to The CW where the series would jump into the future four years and have Kristen Bell’s titular character in the FBI as a full-fledged agent. According to a few TV writers (here and here) The CW may be sold on this idea, thereby bringing it back for a full season where it would be paired with The OC creator Josh Schwartz’s new offering, Gossip Girl. Now, due to ratings that can best be described as about as big as an ant’s cock, even the most diehard and optimistic Veronica fan (yours truly included) isn’t really expecting anything more than a half-season order with the potential for more episodes depending on the ratings. On the other hand, anything that keeps the show (and Kristen Bell) on my TV is cause for celebration. Which of course means that this has no chance in hell of happening because that’s just my luck. Fuck you, TV gods.

*NBC is still up in the air on whether to renew the pound-for-pound best show on television,
Friday Night Lights. ‘Cause, you know, everyone needs better programming like Crossing Jordan. Why reward a show like Friday Night Lights for having the best writing and acting on TV? No one wants to watch a show like that, and no one ever will if NBC follows through on the rumor of dumping it on Friday nights should it be renewed. Call me crazy, but maybe scheduling it for Sunday nights in January once the NFL season is completed might be a good idea. Here’s the reason – people are used to football on Sundays (despite the fact that even if you don’t like football, you’ll like this show). I’ll expect my consultant’s check in the mail within the week, NBC.

*Following this very mediocre sixth season,
24 may be getting a facelift (much like series star Kiefer Sutherland apparently has – Kiefer, what’s up with your face, dude?) next season by moving out of LA and ditching CTU altogether. This might be the best thing for a once-brilliant show that has relied on clich├ęs and reheated and rehashed plots. There’s nothing worse than seeing a show that was once gripping television coast along on fumes, so maybe a change of scenery will help rejuvenate 24 to its past glory.

*One of the pilots that The CW supposedly has the hots for is called
Reaper and is about a dude who is commissioned by Beelzebub to track down and capture escapees from Hell. Hey, fellow TV addicts, remember that show back in the late ‘90’s on FOX that was called Brimstone and was like, THE EXACT SAME CONCEPT? The CW thinks you’re a moron and hopes that you don’t. Remember, this is the same “network” that brought you quality programming like The Search For The Next Herpes-Ridden Skank Pussycat Doll.

*Finally, why is
House still on the air? Haven’t people grown tired of watching the same episode for three years running? Person comes in with a mysterious illness. House acts like an ass. The doctors think they figure out said mysterious illness. It turns out they were wrong. House acts like an ass. The doctors actually do figure out the mysterious illness. Again… House acts like an ass. Repeat next week. Seriously, people – what’s the deal? OK, so that’s not really news or a rumor – it just needed to be said.

With that, we’ll be back next week for a day-by-day look at each network’s schedule, highlighting what you should be excited for and what you should avoid like the gonorrhea.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Quick N' Dirty Reviews

Before we start, here's a quick look at the rating system that we use here at The Dirtywhirl:

100 - Classic Album; One Of The Best Of All Time
99-90 - Exceptional Work; Rush Out And Get This
89-80 - Very, Very Good; You Should Still Go Out And Get This
79-70 - Not Bad At All; Might Actually Be Worth Your Time
69-60 - Has Its Moments But On The Whole... Meh
59-50 - Won't Make Your Ears Bleed; Won't Make You Dance, Either
49-0 - Don't Waste Your Time; You're Smarter Than This (Probably)

Now... onto the reviews:

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah/ Some Loud Thunder
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were every blogger’s favorite find back in 2005. Their self-titled, self-released debut was hailed as the coming messiah of indie music by almost everyone who heard it. Despite its inconsistencies, it definitely marked CYHSY as a band to watch in the future. So why now, as they release their sophomore effort, Some Loud Thunder, has everyone who championed this band now turned on them? Is it the ridiculous indie mentality of eating our young (i.e. - anything we throw our weight behind that gains mainstream success)? The reviews for this surprisingly consistenly solid release can only be described as tepid at best. For all of the promise that their debut showed, it was wildly inconsistent. Some Loud Thunder is quite the opposite, beginning with the opening title track’s first line, “All this talking / Think I’d have something to say…” which is muddled underneath a mountain of Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann’s studio sludge n’ fuzz, but not in a bad way. “Emily Jean Stock” follows and is imbued with a late ‘60’s pop sound that somewhat recalls faceless British Invasion bands. And of course several tracks (which include “Love Song No. 7,” “Goodbye To Mother And The Cove,” and “Underwater (You And Me)”) recall the band that is probably the closest genetical comparison to CYHSY, Talking Heads, but Some Loud Thunder’s two standouts are without a doubt “Satan Said Dance” and “Five Easy Pieces.” The former is a trippy and danceable piece of craziness with an ear-catching (and eyebrow-raising) refrain, while the latter is the perfectly languid closer to this eclectic release. Forget every other review of this album – those jerks don’t know what they’re talking about. Besides, who do you trust? Them, or us? The choice is obvious.

Dirty Rating: 85/100

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah On MySpace Music
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's Official Site


Of Montreal/ Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
First thing’s first – if you’re stupid, don’t even bother with this album. “Heimdalsgate Like A Promethian Curse” and “Cato As A Pun” will be too much for you to wrap your pea-sized brain around. Bright Eyes just put a new album out – that might be more your speed. For the rest of us, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? is a darkly challenging listen. If there was any justice in this world (and judging by the state of today’s entertainment industry, there isn’t) “Gronlandic Exit” would be the thinking person’s summer jam. Kevin Barnes has taken his depression over his separation from his wife and young child (as well as a healthy helping of synths) and used it to craft one of the most bleakly danceable records of the past few years. Checking influences like Prince (“Faberge Falls For Shuggie”) to David Bowie (“She’s A Rejecter”) throughout, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer’s centerpiece is the near-12 minute dirge “The Past Is A Grotesque Animal” which is a gut-wrenching purge of all of Barnes’ (numerous) demons. Aspiring musicians, take note – if nothing else, pain will lead to a great record 97.4% of the time.

Dirty Rating: 83/100


Of Montreal On MySpace Music
Of Montreal's Official Site

Grant-Lee Phillips/ Strangelet
After raising the stakes with his last two releases, anticipation was high for Grant-Lee Phillips’ latest record, Strangelet. Unfortunately that anticipation has been met by a forgettable collection of songs by a musician who should know better. All but abandoning the stark acoustic arrangements of Virginia Creeper and nineteeneighties, Phillips has glammed up the instrumentation on songs that sound like T. Rex-era Marc Bolan rejects (“Raise The Spirit”) or saddled others with banal lyrics (“Hidden Hand” and “Johnny Guitar”). That’s not to say that Strangelet is without its moments (“Soft Asylum (No Way Out)” and “Fountain Of Youth” are two tracks worthy of note) but nothing stacks up to the quality and beauty of his previous two outings. Phillips has gained some modicum of notoriety as the troubadour for the fictional town of Stars Hollow in the TV series Gilmore Girls, and perhaps the lack-of-quality nightmare that has been the final season of that show has spilled over into his music. Now that The CW has put it out of its misery by canceling it, maybe Phillips can snap out of his funk and get back to putting out good records because God knows Strangelet isn’t really one.

Dirty Rating: 62/100

Grant-Lee Phillips On MySpace Music
Grant-Lee Phillips' Official Site

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

May Music Preview

OK – so I’m a few days late. Sue me. Better yet – don’t, because I’m giving you a handful of releases to look forward to over the next 30 days or so. And if you promise to be really nice, I’ll continue this on a monthly basis. Here’s May’s list:

5/1
Tori Amos/ American Doll Posse – Although many considered it a softening of her edgy early-career persona, Tori Amos’ last release, The Beekeeper, contained more listenable songs than every album in her entire back catalog combined. Will the trend continue with American Doll Posse?

Tori Amos On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Big Wheel”
“Bouncing Off Clouds”
“Teenage Hustling”
“American Doll Posse”

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club/ Baby 81 – Drummer Nick Jago returns for what has been rumored as a return to the harder-edged rock sound of their first two albums. After the left-field success of the Americana-influenced Howl, it should be interesting to see if any of their newfound acoustic tendencies pop up on Baby 81, or if their detractors will still saddle them with the “Black Rebel Mary Chain” label.

BRMC On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Weapon Of Choice”
“666 Conducer”
“Lien On Your Dreams”
“Berlin”

Dinosaur Jr./ Beyond – Indie do-it-all Lou Barlow is back, marking the first time in almost twenty years that the original lineup is intact. Band reunions are usually at the very least good for some morbid curiosity, right?

Dinosaur Jr. On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
Entire Album Streaming As Of This Writing

Feist/ The Reminder – Indie Canadian songstress (and Broken Social Scene member) Leslie Feist has been getting tons of press for her latest solo offering. Is she the new hot shit or just yet another artist pumped up by the elitist, blog-writing press? Those fuckers really suck [cough].

Feist On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
Entire Album Streaming As Of This Writing

5/8
Bjork/ Volta – Love her or hate her, as one of today’s most daring and unconventional musicians it’s almost impossible to pin down where Bjork’s going with Volta, making this one of May’s most anticipated releases.

No MySpace Available For Bjork

The Clientele/ God Save The Clientele – You say you’ve never heard of The Clientele so why should you be looking forward to their latest offering, God Save The Clientele? I say that you’ve been missing out on some reverb drenched Zombies-esque pop that’ll instantly transport you back to 1966. Thank me later.

The Clientele On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Bookshop Casanova”
“Nothing But Sunshine”

Travis/ The Boy With No Name – Sure, 2003’s 12 Memories was a very tepid offering from the band that produced stellar Britpop with earlier releases like The Man Who and The Invisible Band. But go back and listen to the Singles collection that they put out 2004 and you’ll remember why you fell in love with Travis in the first place, and why you’ll be willing to give ‘em one last chance.

Travis On MySpace Music

No New Tracks Available

5/15
Wilco/ Sky Blue Sky – Real quick and easy-like - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is one of the best albums of this decade. A Ghost Is Born (their last release) most certainly is not. As long as Sky Blue Sky falls somewhere in between, we shouldn't have a problem with Wilco.

Wilco On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“What Light”

5/22
The Bravery/ The Sun And The Moon – So… even though their debut had its moments there’s every chance that this album’s going to suck since the nu-new wave movement has long since passed. However, if your wardrobe still consists of eyeliner and skinny ties and you feel the urge to get into nonsensical feuds with The Killers (as The Bravery frontman Sam Endicott has in the past) this might be up your alley.

The Bravery On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Time Won’t Let Me Go”
“Every Word Is A Knife In My Ear”

Maroon 5/ It Won’t Be Soon Before Long – I know what you’re thinking – “You’re an indie snob and you have Maroon 5 listed on your blog?!” Um… how can I put this politely? Oh yeah… shut your face. Maroon 5 is a guilty pleasure and goddamnit if first single “Makes Me Wonder” doesn’t take up permanent residence in your head after hearing it a few times. Their 2002 debut, Songs About Jane, was decent pop and the aforementioned “Makes Me Wonder” steps up their game considerably.

Maroon 5 On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Makes Me Wonder”

5/29
Satellite Party/ Ultra Payloaded – The odds are probably against Satellite Party succeeding since Perry Farrell has already scored with Jane’s Addiction and Porno For Pyros, but with guests ranging from New Order’s Peter Hook, The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante and Flea, among others, it’s shaping up to be an intriguing listen.

Satellite Party On MySpace Music

New Tracks:
“Wish Upon A Dog Star”
“Hard Life Easy”
“Ultra Payloaded Satellite Party”