Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Best. News. Ever. The Cure will be releasing a three-disc remastered version of the greatest album of all time, Disintegration, in May. The package includes a remastered version of the record proper, a disc of demos and rarities, and a third disc of the album performed live in its entirety. More details via the Pitchfork link below because I'm too busy drooling to contribute any more.

The Cure's Disintegration Reissue

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quick 'N Dirty Review: Parenthood

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

100-95 - Classic Show; (In best Bill O'Reilly voice) "WE'LL DO IT LIVE!!"
94-85 - Upper Echelon Show; You Should DVR This And Watch It The Same Night
84-75 - Very, Very Good; You Should Make An Effort To Watch This Within A Few Days Of Airing
74-65 - Not Bad At All; Let These Shows Pile Up On Your DVR But Watch 'Em Eventually
64-55 - Fold The Laundry While You Watch These
54-0 - Don't Waste Your Time; You're Smarter Than This (Probably)

Now... onto the review:


2010 has not been kind to NBC. The Jay Leno Show was a debacle of historic proportions and the ridiculously clumsy way that the no-talent, big-jawed Leno (thanks for the characterization, David Letterman) was reinstalled as the host of The Tonight Show left the network with a metric shitton of bad press. Due to their boneheaded decision to not only hand over 20% of their primetime slate to Leno's trainwreck but then abandon it after five months, NBC was left scrambling to fill out their schedule post-Lenogate. Enter the latest iteration of Parenthood.

Originally a 1989 Ron Howard dramedy starring Steve Martin (and very young versions of Keanu Reeves and Joaquin Phoenix), Parenthood was adapted for TV in 1990 and starred the before-they-were-famous Leonardo DiCaprio, David Arquette, and Thora Birch but the series was cancelled shortly after debuting so, combining NBC's woes with an idea that already failed on television wouldn't really be a recipe for success, would it? So, how does Parenthood Version 3.0 come off? Pretty well, actually.

Boasting an impressive cast of TV veterans including Peter Krause (Sports Night, Six Feet Under), Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls), and Craig T. Nelson (Coach) and helmed by showrunner/producer Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights), Parenthood follows the ins and outs in the lives of the Braverman clan, a Northern California family whose closeness is rivaled only by its neuroses. Imagine Brothers And Sisters were it not so soapy and histrionic. Krause and Graham play grown siblings Adam and Sarah Braverman, along with Dax Shepard (Idiocracy) as younger brother Crosby Braverman and Erika Christensen (Traffic) as youngest sister Julia Braverman-Graham, all of whom are dealing with issues with their own children. Krause's eight-year-old son has just been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, Graham and her teenage children have just moved back in with her mother (Bonnie Bedelia, Die Hard) and father (Nelson), Shepard is dealing with the five-year-old son he just found out he had, and Christensen is balancing being a working mother with spending enough time with her preschool-aged daughter.

One of the biggest things that Parenthood has in its favor thus far is its cast. Krause does solid work as a father struggling to help his son with a problem that there seem to be few answers for even if the character of Adam Braverman does seem to be drawn a little too perfectly four episodes into the series' run. It is encouraging, though, that the show is treating the Asperger's storyline as carefully as it is as Asperger's is a disease that needs more attention, but Parenthood isn't using it in a sensationalistic manner. The way that Krause and his wife (played by Monica Potter, Boston Legal) deal with their son's diagnosis cuts to the bone of any parent.

Graham was a late addition to the cast when the original portrayer of Sarah Braverman, Maura Tierney (ER) had to bow out due to her battle with breast cancer. Tierney is a more than capable actress and, while the circumstances of her exit were unfortunate, I'm a big fan of having Lauren Graham back on my TV. It would have been very easy for her to fall back into her old Lorelai Gilmore single mother beats, but it's to her credit as an actress that she embodies Sarah as a completely new kind of wounded character than Lorelai, not to mention that the mother/daughter dynamic in Parenthood could not be more different from the Gilmore Girls relationship.

On the downside, Shepard's and Christensen's storylines have been skippable and add to the grab-bag nature of the show. Half of the storylines are interesting and half of them are forgettable but, with an ensemble this talented (and a network this desperate for programming) the show is going to receive a decent amount of slack. The cast does have amazing chemistry early on which adds an intangible element to a series like this, but the producers do need to find a less contrived way to get the extended family all in one place at the same time as every episode seems to have some kind of forced family get-together. Parenthood, through its first four episodes, isn't quite what I'd hoped it would be but because of its cast, I'll keep watching at least through the end of the first season. And, really, can NBC ask for anything more at this point?

Dirty Rating: 72/100

Monday, March 29, 2010

The New Shit | 3/30

THE DIRTYWHIRL'S PICK OF THE WEEK: Erykah Badu | New Amerykah Part II: Return Of The Ankh
Neo-soul is a genre that doesn't get nearly as much respect as it deserves and one of its innovators, Erykah Badu, is back with her fifth studio album, New Amerykah Part II: Return Of The Ankh. Coming on the heels of 2008's very well received New Amerykah Part I: 4th World War, Part II finds a host of guests including ?uestlove, Lil' Wayne, and Bilal and featuring production by J Dilla, ?uestlove, and Madlib (among others) on another set of tight grooves. We saw her do "Window Seat" on Fallon a few weeks ago and... well, DAMN.

Barenaked Ladies | All In Good Time
I get that not everyone's excited for a new Barenaked Ladies record. It's not 1998 anymore but, as a longtime fan, it's going to be interesting to see how BNL fares on their first record following the departure of founding member/co-lead vocalist Steven Page. Getting caught with hookers and blow in a hotel room is never a good career move -- unless you're a Dallas Cowboy in the '90s. Ed Robertson takes over lead vocals on the majority of All In Good Time's tracks, which could be a good thing as his songs were some of BNL's strongest on past records.

Method Man, Raekwon And Ghostface Killah | Wu-Massacre
As arguably the three most talented MCs in the Wu-Tang Clan (and don't give me ODB -- he's basically a jester and his flow wasn't THAT good), the trio of Meth, Rae, and Ghost putting out a record is the next best thing to a proper Wu-Tang album. And here it is.

Other Releases:
Frank Black/ Nonstoperotik
Dum Dum Girls/ I Will Be
Turin Brakes/ Outbursts
Dignan Porch/ Tendrils

Remember when Guy Ritchie was a promising filmmaker? The one-two punch of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch to open his directorial career hinted at a possible British Tarantino future. Then, he married Madonna and it all went to shit. The stink bombs Swept Away and Revolver followed and it looked like Ritchie was over. Thankfully, he was able to extricate himself from Madge's clutches via divorce and released the flawed but fun RockNRolla and followed that with this week's top release, a modernized retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey, Jr. (on an incredible winning streak of his own) in the titular iconic role. Lesson to be learned? Madonna's lady parts are talented directors' kryptonite. True story.

An Education
Carey Mulligan is film's new It Girl and was nominated for an Oscar for this. Also... I've got nothin' else. It's a shitty week for DVD releases.

Alvin & The Chipmunks: The Squeakquel
I like to think that I'm fairly liberal with what I'll let my four-year-old watch. I don't think that covering kids' eyes to what goes on in the world is necessarily always the best thing to do and that, as a parent, your job is to explain things to your children in a calm and rational manner so that they understand as best as they can. That being said, Alvin & The Chimpmunks: The Squeakquel is more offensive to me than any R-rated movie could possibly be and I can't, in good conscience as a father, subject my child to this abomination. Can't and won't do it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Quick 'N Dirty Reviews: Quick Hitters Edition

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:

Local Natives | Gorilla Manor
Local Natives feel less like an organic band than they do one that was cooked up in a music lab somewhere. "I need one indie band to go please. Heavy on the Afropop." This is not to say that their debut, Gorilla Manor, feels fake in any way but there are so many reference points present, ranging from Cold War Kids to The Walkmen to the Afropop fad that's prevalent in indie music lately (think Vampire Weekend and Surfer Blood) that the band ends up feeling like a synthesis of these other acts instead of creating their own identity. It's like they're chemists mixing and matching popular indie conventions yet, strangely? Their experiments end up yielding some pretty enjoyable results. Test driven in the UK last fall after success at last year's SXSW, Gorilla Manor finds the Los Angeles-based act playing to their strengths on slow burners like "Cards And Quarters" and "Who Knows Who Cares" as the three-part combo of keyboardist Kelcey Ayer and guitarists Ryan Hahn and Taylor Rice combine to sing, "You figure it out, I can't stay/ Water's in the clouds/ Is my life about to change?/ Who knows who cares." Local Natives prove to be equally adept with bursts of raw emotion on "Shape Shifter" and lead single "Sun Hands," both of which are anthemic as they build to a final catharsis as each track fades. Gorilla Manor, while a grab bag as many debut albums are, is good professional work that suggests that Local Natives are one day going to stumble upon the perfect formula.

Dirty Rating: 79/100

Midlake | The Courage Of Others
A record that seemingly melds the pastoral 70s AM sound of Fleetwood Mac with the experimental side of Fleetwood Mac should probably be more intriguing than Midlake's The Courage Of Others proves to be at the end of the day. Unfortunately, many of the tracks on this record blend together to form an amorphous blob of pleasantness but nothing approaching the exceptional sounds of either of its influences. There's a much stronger British vibe to this album than there was to Midlake's last, The Trials Of Van Occupanther, but there's nothing as strong as that record's "Roscoe" either. "Core Of Nature" and "Children Of The Grounds" are mildly successful but aren't strong enough to carry the record. The Courage Of Others ultimately is an interesting approximation of classic sounds but it's done in neither a way as to add something new to the genre, nor as a perfect enough recreation to stand confidently on its own.

Dirty Rating: 56/100

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New The National - "Bloodbuzz Ohio"

May is shaping up to be a packed month of new music releases with Band Of Horses, Broken Social Scene, The Hold Steady, New Pornographers, The Dead Weather, The Black Keys, and LCD Soundsystem all dropping new albums in month five of 2010, but there may not be any record we're more excited for than The National's High Violet. Their last album, Boxer, was not only one of 2008's best but in the ensuing two years it's become one of The Dirtywhirl's all-time favorite records. The band debuted the opening track, "Terrible Love," on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon a few weeks back and yesterday "Bloodbuzz Ohio" hit radio. (Side note: This is why music/technology in 2010 is great. The track plays on the radio in the morning. Someone rips it and posts it online. By the afternoon the label has released the album version as a free download. What a country). "Bloodbuzz Ohio" is quintessential National with Matt Berninger's distinctive baritone rumbling against a track that slowly builds and builds until it erupts. It's done nothing to quell our anticipation for High Violet. Check it out below via Pitchfork.

"Bloodbuzz Ohio" from The National's High Violet

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Quick 'N Dirty Review: Charlotte Gainsbourg | IRM

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 review:

Charlotte Gainsbourg | IRM
When it was announced that Charlotte Gainsbourg, sometime actress and daughter of notorious French freak Serge Gainsbourg, was going to be releasing a record it was natural to be skeptical about whether or not this was a wise idea. Although Charlotte Gainsbourg had released two other records prior to this year's IRM, it's fair to say that this is her highest profile release (and by extension her introduction to a wide audience) and the odds are stacked against her. Plenty of non-musicians have released records and 98% of them are garbage. Remember Kevin Federline's Playing With Fire or Paris Hilton's imaginatively titled Paris? No? You're better off for it. Gainsbourg could have fallen into a similar trap (OK... somewhat similar because, let's face it, Federline and Hilton's combined IQs equal a negative 34) if not for the news that Beck would be writing and producing IRM. This welcome bit of information went a long way towards soothing any anxiety about the record's potential. Does the pairing work? Surprisingly... yes, very well. Speaking as someone who had all but written Beck off following the lackluster The Information, it was very encouraging to see him rebound so strongly with 2008's Modern Guilt and whatever magic was left over from that collection seems to have made its way onto IRM. Perhaps his best move as producer was to take what could have been the album's greatest weakness - Gainsbourg's breathy and fragile voice - and structure the record's production to support the vocals almost to a point where they're an integral part of every track, instead of being the swollen sore thumb that they could have been. After the skeletal opener, "Master's Hands," an example of Gainsbourg's thin vocals working well while paired with a finger-picked guitar line, the title track announces strongly that this is a record that's to be taken seriously. Tribal tom-toms and an eerie electronic pulse give the track an almost M.I.A.-like feel and fashion it into the album's standout. M.I.A. proves to be a touchstone of sorts as the upbeat "Greenwich Mean Time" and the acoustic "Me And Jane Doe" also bear the Maya Arulpragasm stamp. Not surprisingly, Beck's own voice is heard both figuratively on "Les Chat Du Cafe Des Artistes" which sounds like it could have fit nicely on Sea Change, and literally on "Heaven Can Wait," a duet which melds Gainsbourg's and Beck's voices over a refrain of, "Heaven can wait/ And Hell's too far to go/ Somewhere between/ What you need and what you know." It's surely no accident that "Heaven Can Wait" was chosen as IRM's lead single and, in fact, it serves as almost a microcosm of the record as a whole. IRM is probably better than it has any right to be, largely due to Beck's efforts. Therein lies the rub - on future records will Gainsbourg need someone like Beck at the controls or will she be able to stand behind her own voice? Time will tell.

RIYL (Recommended If You Like): Beck; M.I.A.; Azure Ray; French chicks; Actors with actual musical talent
Standout Tracks: "IRM;" "Heaven Can Wait;" "Greenwich Mean Time;" "Trick Pony"

Dirty Rating: 80/100

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cover Hog

We're suckers for a good cover at The Dirtywhirl so the news that The Onion's AV Club was starting a project called Undercover piqued our interest. As one of our favorite sites (seriously -- their TV recappers are great), we didn't doubt that Undercover would come off well. In a nutshell, The AV Club made a list of 25 songs that they'd like to see covered. As bands make their way through Chicago on tour or on vacation or whatever, they stop by The AV Club's offices and get their pick of which song on the list they'd like to cover. The earlier a band comes in, the more choices they have. The series kicked off last week with Ted Leo & The Pharmacists' top-notch cover of the Tears For Fears classic "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" and continues this week with The Fruit Bats' great take on Hall & Oates's "One On One." Video below:

Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" (Tears For Fears Cover)

The Fruit Bats, "One On One" (Hall & Oates Cover)

Monday, March 22, 2010

The New Shit | 3/23

With as in demand as Zooey Deschanel (the She) has been lately, it was logical to wonder if her 2008 collaboration with M. Ward (the Him) was going to be a one-off project. Volume Two, then, comes as a pleasant surprise a short two years after their remarkable debut. Fans of 60s influenced pop, line up here.

Jonsi | Go
Intriguing for the mere fact that Jonsi Birgisson of Sigur Ros is singing in English for the first time on record. Sigur Ros somewhat fell off after their unparalleled first two records so, were Go being released in 2004 we'd be a helluva lot more excited for it. Let's call this... "tempered anticipation."

Serena Maneesh | S-M 2: Abyss In B-Minor
The Oslo, Norway's Serena Maneesh, one of about 2,398 bands that cite My Bloody Valentine as an influence, drop their second record. Expect more of the same eardrum-shattering, feedback-drenched guitars backed by barely audible shoegazey vocals.

Other Releases:
Love Is All/ Two Thousand And Ten Injuries
Quadron/ Quadron 
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy/ The Wonder Show Of The World 
Archie Bronson Outfit/ Coconut 
Boston Spaceships/ Camera Found The Ray Gun (EP) 

Without a doubt, some of the best television to air in 2009. For everyone who complains about Mad Men's slow pacing, your complaints were addressed in this, the series' best season. Without getting too spoiler-heavy, plotline seeds that had been sown since the first season were brought to fruition in season three and the series shifted into a radically new direction by the finale. Mad Men has rightfully taken its place among classics like The Sopranos and The Wire as the closest thing to literature on the small screen.

Fantastic Mr. Fox
Wes Anderson's adaptation of the Roald Dahl classic garnered some of the best reviews of 2009 and boasts an exceptional voice cast that includes George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman. We're really looking forward to checking this out.

The Men Who Stare At Goats
Everyone seemed to shit all over The Men Who Stare At Goats but Clooney (again), Jeff Bridges, Kevin Spacey, and Ewan McGregor are all in this thing. And it was directed by Grant Heslov, director of the brilliant Good Night, And Good Luck. This can't really be that bad, can it?

Natalie Portman stars as a woman torn between two brothers: one a presumed dead soldier (Tobey Maguire) and the other his brother (Jake Gyllenhaal) who comforts Portman and her children after their loss. I'm sure there's a Spider-Man joke to be found here somewhere but I'm too lazy to look for it.

The Blind Side
So... this is a movie about Jesse James cheating on Sandra Bullock with a Nazi stripper, right? What? Too soon?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

TV Boner Alert

Oh, HBO, you've gone and done it again. Three scant weeks after they caused The Dirtywhirl's last TV Boner Alert with the announcement that Dustin Hoffman had signed on to star in the new David Milch project, Luck, they went and released the trailers for The Wire creator David Simon's upcoming Treme and the Martin Scorcese-produced Boardwalk Empire. It goes without saying that these two shows, along with WWII miniseries The Pacific and the aforementioned Luck, are restoring HBO's reputation as the premium prestige project network on television. After the demise of such TV classics as The Wire, The Sopranos, and Deadwood, we've suffered through too many years where Entourage, Big Love, and True Blood were the face of HBO. It's about damn time for a renaissance. Check out the Treme and Boardwalk Empire trailers below.


Boardwalk Empire

Treme premieres on HBO on Sunday, April 11 and Boardwalk Empire arrives in Fall 2010.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What We've Been Listening To

Not that anyone asked, but here's a playlist of what we've been listening to lately at The Dirtywhirl's home offices:

The Replacements, "Here Comes A Regular", Tim
Surfer Blood, "Floating Vibes", Astro Coast 
Local Natives, "Cards And Quarters", Gorilla Manor
Jay-Z, "Change Clothes", The Black Album
Joanna Newsom, "'81", Have One On Me
The Knife, "Heartbeats", Deep Cuts
Lifehouse, "It Is What It Is", Smoke & Mirrors
Lifehouse, "By Your Side", Smoke & Mirrors 
Surfer Blood, "Harmonix", Astro Coast
Surfer Blood, "Slow Jabroni", Astro Coast
Gorillaz, "Stylo", Plastic Beach
Frightened Rabbit, "Swim Until You Can't See Land", The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
The Knife, "Pass This On", Deep Cuts
MGMT, "Flash Delirium", Congratulations
Frightened Rabbit, "Nothing Like You", The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
Lightspeed Champion, "Madame Van Damme", Life Is Sweet! Nice To Meet You
Gorillaz, "On Melancholy Hill", Plastic Beach
Frightened Rabbit, "Living In Colour", The Winter Of Mixed Drinks
You Say Party! We Say Die!, "Lonely's Lunch", XXXX
Broken Bells, "The High Road", Broken Bells
Lifehouse, "Falling In", Smoke & Mirrors
Frightened Rabbit, "The Wrestle", The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Quick 'N Dirty Review: Los Campesinos! | Romance Is Boring

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 review:

Los Campesinos! | Romance Is Boring
There's a moment - fleeting as it is - on Los Campesinos' third LP, Romance Is Boring, where everything comes together and we get a glimpse of what Los Campesinos could be. As the album is closing, "The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future" creates a foreboding awareness of mortality that builds to a cathartic release as the band sings in unison, "And all you can hear is the sound of your own heart and all you can feel is your lungs flood and the blood course/ But oh I can see five hundred years dead set ahead of me/ Five hundred behind/ A thousand years in perfect symmetry." Without a doubt, it's the shining achievement of Romance Is Boring and it's exciting to see where the Cardiff, Wales band could be heading. Until then, we'll have to make due with the rest of Romance Is Boring, an enjoyable yet flawed record. Undoubtedly, Romance Is Boring finds Los Campesinos growing up as the collective seems slightly more mature than they were on 2008's energetic debut, Hold On Now, Youngster. 2010 finds the band in their sexually frustrated teenage years as it were, as vocalist Gareth Campesinos spits, "I think we need more post-coital and less post-rock/ Feels like the buildup takes forever but you never get me off," on "Straight In At 101." The boisterous second single, "Romance Is Boring" and the opener, "In Medias Res" are also standouts but the record suffers from a pronounced lag in its midsection before rebounding to close on a high note. Romance Is Boring is somewhat odd in that it's an eminently enjoyable listen but simultaneously is one that fails to leave much of a lasting impression, other than to suggest that perhaps Los Campesinos are a band that's slowly beginning to put things together.

RIYL (Recommended If You Like): Arcade Fire; The Decemberists; Hyperliterate punk; Wales; "More post-coital and less post-rock"
Standout Tracks: "The Sea Is A Good Place To Think Of The Future;" "Romance Is Boring;" "In Medias Res;" "Straight In At 101"

Dirty Rating: 77/100

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bad-Assery. Tonight.

Springtime brings a glut of new shows hitting the television airwaves and there likely isn't any new series that we're more excited for at The Dirtywhirl than FX's Justified, premiering tonight at 10. Based on Fire In The Hole, a short story by Elmore Leonard (Get Shorty, Out Of Sight), Justified stars Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood, Damages) as a marshal reassigned to his hometown of Harlan County, KY, a sleepy mining community. If you're a fan of FX's brand of aforementioned bad-assery (The Shield, Sons Of Anarchy) this one is not to be missed. Critics everywhere are losing their shit over it and it's currently trending at a 79 on Metacritic. Despite a DVR that's bursting at the seams with countless shows begging to be watched, we're watching this live tonight. There's no higher praise than that in our camp, but Justified looks to be deserving. Get a sneak peek below.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The New Shit | 3/16

The White Stripes | Under Great White Northern Lights
Jack White starts new musical projects as often as most people brush their teeth. Between his involvement in both The Raconteurs and The Dead Weather, not to mention serving as producer for his wife, Karen Elson's upcoming album, White hasn't left much time for his main act, The White Stripes, to begin work on their new studio effort. Thus, in what feels largely like a stopgap measure, highlights from Jack and Meg's 2007 jaunt across Canada sees release as Under Great White Northern Lights (also available in Blu-Ray and regular-ass DVD editions). This should tide over the Stripes' fanbase for the time being and, stopgap or not, it's still The White Stripes playing live and it includes a version of "Black Math." We're in.

Drive-By Truckers | The Big To-Do
Alt-country standard bearers the Drive-By Truckers follow up 2008's overstuffed Brighter Than Creation's Dark with their first effort for ATO Records. Last year's odds and ends collection, The Fine Print: A Collection Of Oddities And Rarities, was actually better than either of their last two proper releases so it'll be interesting to see how this one plays. Early single "This Fucking Job" was a promising start.

Fyfe Dangerfield | Fly Yellow Moon
The lead singer of UK band Guillemots (who had a few moments of success, what, four or five years ago?) puts out a solo record. Yeah... we're padding the list. It's a light week following last Tuesday's onslaught of releases.

Breaking Bad: The Complete Second Season
No other network has a track record of original series like AMC does. Granted, their slate consists of exactly two shows but when those shows are Mad Men and Breaking Bad, someone's clearly doing something right. Never has the old adage, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely," been more true than in the story of an Albuquerque chemistry teacher who partners with a former student to become a meth kingpin. What started out as a morality tale of a low-wage government employee with terminal cancer doing what he could to provide for his family before checking out has evolved into an examination of the allure of power and influence. One of the most powerful and absorbing series currently airing on television.

The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Oh, God. There's the twitching again. We're still recovering from seeing the first Twilight debacle a few weeks back. (Look for a rant on that one as soon as we develop our screed into some coherent thoughts.) And to think that some people think that this one was WORSE?! What? Does it actually give you Hepatitis while you watch it?

The Princess And The Frog
Screw you. We think this looks interesting. Look... it's a return to the classic Disney animation style in a digital age. Any true film fan has to have at least a passing interest in that.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Look! Live Music

There's no denying that NBC has been a clusterfuck of epic proportions lately but, in the past week, they've been home to a handful of great musical performances. First, on Wednesday The National debuted "Terrible Love," the first track from their forthcoming and highly anticipated album, High Violet, on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Then, last night, Pearl Jam was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live where they performed two tracks from last year's admittedly disappointing Backspacer that definitely played much better as live tracks, "Just Breathe" and the record's standout track, "Unthought Known." NBC, you may not know how to spend money wisely or how to get rid of cancer like Jay Leno, but you know how to book musical acts. So, good on you for that anyway. Check out all three performances below.

The National, "Terrible Love"

Pearl Jam, "Just Breathe"

Pearl Jam, "Unthought Known"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Quick 'N Dirty Review: RJD2 | The Colossus

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 review:

RJD2 | The Colossus

Fate can be a cruel bitch. Everything can line up perfectly for something exceptional to happen, only for things to fall apart in the end. That's the first thought that comes to mind when listening to RJD2's latest record, The Colossus. As the Philadelphia-based DJ/producer's first album to be released since his "A Beautiful Mine" was selected as the theme song to the critically acclaimed television series Mad Men, RJD2 had a chance to tap into a broader audience as there were surely a large number of Mad Men fans who discovered him on the basis of hearing "A Beautiful Mine" every week as they settled in to watch the awesomeness that is Don Draper. However, instead of making a strong impression RJD2 has offered up an extremely tepid record. Instead of tapping into the talent that made him an underground darling during the first half of the '00's, RJD2 has instead resorted to biting styles left and right, which is either a sign of apathy or laziness or both. Clearly, someone's been listening to Mark Ronson records as "Walk With Me" and "The Shining Path" attempt to capture the sunny retro style of Ronson's best work but end up coming off as anemically inferior copies. "Crumbs Off The Table" sounds like it should be backing a bad '70's cop show while tracks like "Giant Squid" and "Tin Flower" are immediately crippled by their ludicrous titles. This isn't to say that the spark shown in his previous releases has been completely extinguished as "A Spaceship For Now" has a vaguely interesting Giorgio Moroder vibe and "Gypsy Caravan's" white boy hip-hop feeling works on some level. It's very telling, however, that the record's best track, "Games You Can Win," with its extremely catchy chorus actually creates more excitement for guest vocalist Kenna's next record than anything it does for The Colossus. The truth is that The Colossus likely wouldn't have even made a good EP and, as it stands, clocks in at a very tedious 55 minutes. In the midst of the tedium, RJD2 fades into the background of his own work as there's nothing about his production that compels the listener to take notice of him at all. Chalk this up to wasted opportunity as not only has RJD2 not capitalized on a potential breakthrough but he makes it possible to wonder if he'll even be able to hold onto his existing fanbase after the utter impotence of The Colossus.

RIYL (Recommended If You Like): Kenna; El-P; Mark Ronson for dummies; The '70's; Wasted opportunities
Standout Track: "Games You Can Win (Feat. Kenna)"

Dirty Rating: 31/100