Sight & Sound

Fall Out Boy saves rock and roll?

As absurd as it sounds, Fall Out Boy’s new album is called Save Rock And Roll. But perhaps, Pete Wentz and company are much smarter than we give them credit for. Perhaps they too know the absurdity of “saving rock and roll”, but know a clever marketing plan if they saw one. Their new album, featuring guest spots from Courtney Love, Elton John and Big Sean is everything you’d expect from Fall Out Boy; loud guitars, radio friendly melodies and Patrick Stump’s signature falsetto. Who said rock and roll needed saving?

Stream the entire album below and decide for yourself.

 

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In a great step for Australian hip hop, Melbourne MC Seth Sentry became the first of his genre to perform on a US-based talk show. Sentry, already a big name on home soil thanks to festival, radio and Channel [V] exposure, performed the song “Dear Science” on Jimmy Kimmel Live.

While his performance was a first, it hopefully won’t be the last from the burgeoning talent pool of Australian hip hop. So many great artists and such limited opportunities at times, it’s great to see Sentry become the first to make waves in the US. Let’s hope we’ll see more local hip hop talent cross borders and make it on to more big stages.

 

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Album Reviews, Featured, Music

Review: Brad Paisley – Wheelhouse

There is an unspoken idea that country music artists can’t be relevant or aware in music’s often self-indulgent meta-isms of today. That someone wearing cowboy boots or a stetson is somehow unqualified to talk about pop culture and the ‘in and now’ the way someone in shades and a designer leather jacket is. Somewhere along the line, our trust in understanding the world through music shifted from the endless plains to urban hooliganism and hipster clubs. While some country music can be hokey, the bad kind is not any less irrelevant than “musicians” who use computer programs instead of guitars.

Brad Paisley, now on his ninth studio album, is as relevant and eloquent as any musician who uses their music to express the world’s trials and tribulations through notes and lyrics. Wheelhouse, 17 tracks in all, is a lesson on how country music can be as smartly written and urgent as anything written from the underbelly of London or New York. While strongly rooted in Southern traditions, the album makes it a priority to stretch far past the borders of Nashville. The album’s first single “Southern Comfort Zone”, sets this tone early on, making the earnest concern that country stereotypes are just as poorly formed as any other. It waxes lyrical about how you don’t have to be country to be country, set to the backdrop of uptempo guitar-driven country rock and easy-to-digest lines; “Not everybody goes to church or watches every NASCAR race / Not everybody knows the words to “Ring Of Fire” or “Amazing Grace””. It’s perfect for the radio- any radio- replete with just the right amount of melodic resonance. The song’s message is something that permeates through the rest of the album too, that a good ol’ Southern country boy can be as worldly as just about anyone else.

In “Pressing On A Bruise”, Paisley shares the song with singer/songwriter Mat Kearney, resulting in the album’s most alterna-ready tune. Kearney’s vocal imposition and contrasting beat leaves the song somewhere between Paisley’s more traditional numbers and Third Eye Blind. The song’s accessible nature isn’t far from opening credit music for everything that was on the old WB channel (ie. Teen dramas and young adult shows).

The distinctly country-heavy tunes of the album, “Harvey Bodine” and “Outstanding in the Field”, bounce with enough country fervor but avoid the hokey Billy Ray Cyrus-ness trap. Interestingly, some of the album’s most memorable songs are when Paisley slows down the tempo- like the quietly somber “I Can’t Change The World”. In it, Paisley’s melancholic tone is a little defeatist, surrendering to the idea that we cannot affect change on a grand scale, but when it comes to the matters of the heart, we are in fact in control of that destiny; “I can’t change the world / maybe that’s for sure / but if you let me girl / I can change yours”.

He tightropes blasphemy (in the piano-clad “Those Crazy Christians”) with humor and aplomb, while doing the old-fashioned romance with style (“Beat This Summer”), but the one time Wheelhouse stumbles, is in the LL Cool J featuring “Accidental Racist”. It’s a well meaning song, about Paisley’s awareness of the sometimes ugly side of being Southern, but the LL rap verse/bridge come off as clunky. It’s not that LL can’t do his thing, it’s just that on here, he comes across as “rap for mainstream country folk” (LL actually uses the lines “I wish you understood what the world is like livin’ in the hood / just because my pants are saggin’ it doesn’t mean I’m up to no good”).

The album however, ends on a terrific note. The closer, “Officially Alive”, is everything great about Wheelhouse. Guitar soaked, upbeat and uptempo, it is a song about feeling alive while being aware that you’re alive- spreading the gospel of being happy, being in love, and being aware of impending mortality. It’s all parts Southern soul coated with the shine of radio friendly country rock and good time vibes.

It is unfortunate that country, great country especially, isn’t perceived to be as culturally relevant and/or powerful as something written by Jay-Z or Thom Yorke or whatever it is that is being pushed as the new wave of significance. The truth is, like his country contemporaries, Paisley is as in-tune with the world around him as he is the world in which he calls home. It just seems that the majority of country artists aren’t always concerned with reminding us constantly. Tastemakers are quick to push country aside, away from the lens of indie trends, flashy hip hop and schizophrenic dance music. It’s too bad because Wheelhouse is modern reflection with great conviction; clarity amongst the distortion and noise found in our current surrounds. (Arista Nashville)

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Swedish electro artists The Field have remixed At the Drive-Ins iconic single “One Armed Scissor”. The remix will appear on the upcoming reissue of the single in May via Transgressive Records.

I’m not sure how editor and long time fan Brad feels about this one, but let’s just say this hideous remix goes on for nearly 10 minutes and goes absolutely nowhere.

For a comprehensive look at At the Drive-In, check out our spotlight and a story about their return.

 

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You may be wondering why this trailer has been posted here. Sure, this movie is going to be pretty average, but no matter how many bad things you, or I, or any five-star critic says about it, it will undoubtedly do well where it counts; at the box office.

Just as Grown Ups the 1st pulled in almost $300million at the bank, Grown Ups 2 is expected to fill up seats come the American summer. Once again starring Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, David Space and Kevin James, the sequel is an almost identical flick to the first (but as a small bonus, it is Rob Schneider-less). Bad jokes, cheesy one-liners, and a deer pissing on Adam Sandler’s face (that will probably be the best part of the movie). Also making appearances in the second caper; Shaquille O’Neal and Stone Cold Steve Austin.

It is also of note that all the people involved in the film, while deserving of a critical backhand, look to be having more fun making a crap movie than anything else. Good on ’em. Grown Ups 2 is set for release July 12, 2013.

I’ll probably watch this on the plane sometime…

 

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Film

Roger Ebert: 1942 – 2013

Long time film critic Roger Ebert has passed away after a decade long battle with cancer.

The man known for his incredible 46-year career with the Chicago Sun-Times had been battling cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands, and faced a recurrence of cancer after a recent hip fracture. The long serving film critic had lost his lower jaw in 2006, losing his ability to speak and eat. Yet even under tough circumstances, Ebert continued to write his much loved movie reviews for the Sun-Times.

Known for his movie-critiquing partnership with Gene Siskel until Siskel’s death in 1999, Ebert continued on with At The Movies with Richard Roeper until 2008. Ebert was also the first film critic to receive a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005.

Tributes have been flowing in from around the world of film, but perhaps, the best and most simple came from Steve Martin:

 

 

Roger Ebert was 70 years old.

 

ROGER EBERT

[xrr rating=5/5]

 

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Album Reviews

Review: Alkaline Trio – My Shame Is True

Matt Skiba has confessed that the songs he wrote for My Shame Is True are very much catharsis for a romantic relationship gone sour. Yet as one wanders through the Alkaline Trio back catalogue, it is not a stretch to say that much of the agony, anger and melancholy heard seems to come from this very source; that a complicated connection between two people is as friction fueled as a power chord. One listen to classic tracks like “Radio” and “Stupid Kid” and one can see a bright bitterness resonate through both the words and the music. So perhaps this, their ninth studio album, as Skiba notes, wasn’t meant to be a “personal record”, it just turned in to one. The results are the most profound they’ve been in almost a decade.

Gone are the more punk rock oriented numbers like “Private Eye” and “Goodbye Forever”, their ethos replaced by the more languid, fluid sounding song writing they began to explore in Crimson. Much of My Shame Is True takes its cues from what they laid down in 2010’s This Addiction; mid-tempos, extended bridges, more succinct melodies that while tone down their angst, are no less urgent. This includes some of the album’s best tracks, “Kiss You To Death” and “Midnight Blue”- all while keeping Skiba’s lyrical ability for being emotional without sounding over dramatic; “I don’t care if we fuck / or we if talk / or we cry / I just miss you / I want to kiss you to death tonight”.

Pleasantly surprising, is the quality of the Dan Andriano-sung work this time around. He’s sung on one of the best Alkaline Trio songs to date (“I’m Dying Tomorrow”), but perhaps down to personal tastes, there’s always been a preference to Skiba-sung tracks. On My Shame Is True however, the Andriano numbers are brilliant. “Only Love”, with its piano-laced contemplations, and the live-for-today ode of “Young Lovers”, come across as some of the best post-Crimson tracks the band have written.

It is foolish to think the band will ever write another Maybe I’ll Catch Fire or From Here To Infirmary. But with My Shame is True, Alkaline Trio, along with the Blasting Room crew (who seem to be busier than ever), have produced their most assured record to date. They are sounding as comfortable with their sound as t they’ve ever been, and with it comes the creative freedom to write songs that resonate on both a personal and aesthetic level. This is the record that Agony & Irony and This Addiction wanted to be. (Heart & Skull / Epitaph)

[xrr rating=3.5/5]

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