This Article was originally written for The Hartford Informer on January 28, 2010.
Vampire Weekend returned this month with a sophomore effort and follow up to the very unique and deservedly well received self-titled first album.
“Contra” picks up for the most part where their first album, “Vampire Weekend” left off. The clean and melodic music, is something that will get stuck in your head without really knowing it.
Released just shy of two years ago, the first album began with a sound which was at first hard to understand—a perky full sounding keyboard, heavy snare drum beat that left nothing to be desired, a clean guitar, almost ghostly vocal, and symphonic overtone—grew on the listener easily.
Posts Tagged ‘review’
This Article was originally written for The Hartford Informer on January 28, 2010.
Despite being based on a novel, this TV show falls flat on its face (see Dexter for TV shows that actually do well when based on a book). Billed as the next Lost, ABC’s FlashForward seemed to have a good premise. The previews looked exciting and new. What I found though was a show particularly hard to watch. Apart from the first 20 mins of the first episode which seemed to head in the correct direction, the show began a headlong spiral into obscurity and feeble stories.
Taking the stage in a nearly sold out underground, Sing it Loud played the Webster Underground this past Friday (May 1, 2009)—a night which was shared with Nightwish on the main stage. Sing it Loud brought with them their unique brand of Synth-Pop-Punk-Rock and gave their everything into their performance, capping out a night including The Morning Light, Friday Night Boys, Artist vs. Poet, The Summer Set and Thrash Unreal.
For those lucky enough to be off the side of the Underground stage prior to Sing it Loud taking the stage by storm, you would have seen two things. The first was Pat Brown (lead vocals and guitar) playing along to New Found Glory’s ‘My Friends Over You.’ Even if you were in the audience you may have heard this one as his guitar was live at that moment. Secondly you would have witnessed Sing it Loud’s team chant—which is essentially the Mighty Ducks team chant—an interesting element to a fascinating band.
Taking the stage, Sing it Loud opened with ‘I’ve Got A Feeling’, the first track off their new CD. With more energy than a toddler in a candy store, Sing it Loud bounced around the small stage. Despite the stage’s size limitations, Nate Flynn (bass) was able to pull off a full arial spin without taking out any of his band mates. Playing other songs off their new CD, Sing it Loud also included ‘Maybe I’m a Ghost’ one of the songs from their first EP. The crowd went wild for most if not all the songs. And when requested to ‘jump so high the floor caves in,’ followed without a moment’s hesitancy (and let’s just say the audience did a pretty good job). Finally, Sing it Loud closed their set at the Underground with ‘Come Around’, the title track from their new CD for which the crowd screamed harder than any other song.
From the Underground, Sing it Loud plays Bamboozle in New Jersey this weekend (May 2-3, 2009) and then joins the Warped Tour for the rest of the summer.
The Webster Star found Ben Peterson (keyboard and synthesizer) after the show and he gave us his best approximation of their set list:
I’ve Got a Feeling, We’re Not Afraid, Don’t Save Me, Best Beating Heart, Maybe I’m a Ghost, Over You, Come Around
As I read on one attendees shirt during the night, ‘pop punks not dead.’ And after this Wednesday night (04/29/2009) at the Webster Theatre, I can concur with that statement.
With a casual disregard for the last two days of the work week, New Found Glory stormed into town to play the Webster Theatre, supported by three fellow Pop Punk bands Bayside, Fireworks and Set Your Goals on April 29th. What followed was an incredible performance that I will remember for some time to come. Admittedly, I have only been a casual New Found Glory since the days of the major pop singles from 2004 (‘My Friends Over You’, ‘Failures Not Flattering’, and ‘All Downhill from Here’) but I can sincerely say I’ll be following this band a lot closer now after this performance.
The night started with Fireworks who, even for an opener, had the crowd singing along to their songs and generally built the energy through their set. Set Your Goals followed, taking the stage with their two lead vocalists, building the energy further. Finally Bayside arrived to close off the openers half of the show. Bayside, eagerly awaited by the audience was received like free candy, with a core majority of the audience singing, chanting and otherwise joining along.
Of course New Found Glory was not to be outdone and, without much time between the end of Bayside, captured the stage and the audience. Launching straight into their first song, ‘Listen to Your Friends,’ New Found glory was full of liveliness, bouncing around the stage and engaging the crowd who had gathered to see them. After their first song they quickly swung into second gear with ‘Coming Home.’ Interspersed in some of the crowd favorites and unique songs (like ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ which was only released as an EP) were two of the songs I was dying for, ‘All Down Hill From Here’ and ‘Failures Not Flattering’.
Sidetrack: The only thing more disturbing than Ian Grushka (bass player) wiping the sweat off his naked plump upper half, was the supposed addiction the band has to Miley Cyrus. This stemming from a set of banter in which Chad Gilbert (lead guitar) announced he now has a twitter and is addicted. And in doing so tweeted this picture. Talking about twitter, there were rumors that New Found Glory might play one of the 5 Green Day songs they sound checked with. But no luck on that one.
Finishing up their main set, they played their ‘fake last song’ as they proclaimed it and marched off stage before their encore. They came back and sidestepped their set list, brining one of the audience members, who had brought a sign, up to play drums for their first song. Not only did this guest drummer nail the song, he also got the live ending down which impressed the band. After that they took an audience vote over which song to play next, ‘2s and 3s’ or ‘3rd and Long.’ Finally, New Found Glory played their last song and a half, Finishing with ‘My Friends Over You,’ to complete my (and others) trifecta for the night.
While there was so much that made this show great, it was perhaps the crowd that really made it. New Found Glory has more than a ten year history, and it was particularly exciting to see the reaction received when they played songs from their more obscure catalog. Overall it was a spectacular night, proving that pop punks still kicking.
There are two new shows on my radar right now. The first is a comedy from the creator of my favorite comedy show that used to be on television (that is, arrested development), Mitch Hurwitz. In fact it even features some of the stars from that amazing TV show including Jason Bateman and Will Arnett. The show is sit down, shut up. Based on the Australian show of the same name (except animated, where the original was a live action sitcom) the show fits nicely into its 8:30 slot in FOX’s (fox the same company that cancelled arrested development) Animation Domination Sunday.
So why is it good?
Well I haven’t actually said it was good yet. But I will. Though it might be a little too soon to tell (having only seen one episode), the half hour comedy has the potential to be a spectacularly good program. Mixing animation on top of real photographs the show does something I’ve never seen a network animation do before. Next is the comedy. While some have called it nothing “above sniggering double entendre. Seemingly preoccupied with impressing teenage boys,” I think the comedy works well. One of my favorite parts of the show is Mitch Hurwitz style of comedy which includes the small double entendre (small nuts, rush the d, Miracle Grohe), which then builds to a bigger joke later in the episode/season.
Another Arrested Development?
The show would appear to be off to a start that mimics arrested development, creating a core group of viewers who truly enjoy the show. But then again it might be too early to tell. The whole show is very fast paced, and the number of cast members is somewhat astounding I can definitely see the point that the show is abrasive and a little off putting. In my half asleep state I was caught unawares as the show launched quickly into motion. Regardless what anyone else thinks, or any of the critics think, I’m going to continue watching this show, because I’m interested to see where it goes from here.
…Although for it to fail would be alright so long as Mitch Hurwitz moved straight to the Arrested Development movie…
you can watch it on hulu.com here!
I finally got the new Lily Allen album last week (It’s Not Me It’s You was released at the beginning of February) and I’ve chosen the fourth song off the album as my song of the moment.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were bopping along to smile, and hearing tales of people getting robbed in LDN. In each there was a crude note of truth, a revelation of the terrible nature of human society—each and every vice. Well I’m happy to say that this latest album is exactly the same. In fact the album opens with Lily Allen singing about how everyone is on antidepressants. One of my favorite songs off the album is 22 (coming in a very close second in F*** You, which might equate to how sesame street would tell someone to go F*** themselves in a song). Well 22 is like all other Lily Allen songs in that it tell a story, this one happens to be about a girl who, even though she’s only 22, her life would seem to be over. ‘She’s got an alright job, but it’s not a career.’ The song itself is upbeat, starting with a humming organ and moving into a finger snapping beat. The sung lyrics of the verses are nicely contrasted with descents and ascents in the music behind. You’ve also got to love the electric-xylophone type sounds (or perhaps the piano in the bar of old western films) that make up the background of the verses. Overall it’s a very sing-along-able song, and despite its ‘down’ sort of nature is very ‘up’.
My only complaint about the song is how it ends. The song is in a nice little solo, and all of a sudden its over (I guess a bit like the life of the character).
Derived from the comedic genre that gave the Office life, this sometimes vulgar, always awkward and mostly funny comedy stands apart from its competition. The premise: what if a guy never had any guy friends, only girl friends. What if he then had to find a guy friend(s)? The abstract and ridiculous premise sets the tone for the overall movie staring Kevin Rudd (finally he takes lead actor in something), Jason Segal, the ever-funny Jaime Presley, and two parts of NBC’s up and coming show Parks and Recreation.
Why it Works
It is a comedy after all, and like I stated the movie derives a lot of its comedy from the absurd proposition around which the movie is based. How exactly does one go about finding a best friend? NBC’s the Office’s lifeblood during its first season was the awkwardness that surrounded the central character Michael Scott. It would seem in this movie that Kevin Rudd is channeling his inner Michael Scott as he looks for help to find a friends from his brother (the more and more popular Andy Samberg) or goes out of dinner dates with Thomas Lennon (aka short shorts from Reno 911). Whether is Rudd’s inability to formulate complete and coherent sentences in short succession while nervous, inability to do any type of accent or interactions as he try’s to make a best friend the comedy shines through leaving you laughing for most of the time.
Some critics have called this movie smart and intelligent. And while I can’t say I totally agree with them wholeheartedly (screaming in peoples faces on the boardwalk, and falling on your ass while playing Rush on guitar), I do believe there was some level of smart occurring here. The relationship between Rudd and Segal is something I haven’t seen on screen before. Through this chemistry we find both the most bizarre and the most truthful lessons of the movie.
This was overall a good movie, very funny in places and a good use of good and underused comedians. However, I don’t think it lived up to the hype I at least had for it in my head.
1) Watchmen 2) Benjamin Button 3) I Love You Man 4) The International 5) Taken
So I actually got to see this movie last Sunday, but have until this point not had a chance to go back over it and to write up a review. Easily it’s the best movie I’ve seen this year, but I’ve only seen four movies. And to put it bluntly, this desk lamp sitting next to me is more entertaining than one of them (Taken). But it does go up against Benjamin Button, which shares the category of really good (and really drawn out) movie—but they need to be to get the story told.
As you should probably be aware, even if you didn’t see the movie, that Watchmen is based on comic book—nay graphic novel—written by Alan Moore in 1986. It’s one of the most well respected graphic novels around and even features on the Time’s 100 top novels of all time. I managed to finish the book a week or so before the movie came out, this after starting it in mid January. For me I wasn’t terribly pleased with the novel. It was good, yes, it wasn’t amazing though. There was a great story, and great characters and a set of good overreaching archetype that blended together fairly seamlessly, but it failed in certain key aspects. The Biggest was the ending, gripping as it was I didn’t like it. It may have worked back in the 1980’s but it just didn’t feel right or suitable an ending for a book I was really into at that point. Clarification: it wasn’t the why of the end, rather the how of it (without giving away any spoilers).
So I’d read and liked the comic book, and the trailers looked amazing for this film (although I can’t help but think they marketed it wrong—a superhero movie verses a movie of the morality of people). I personally loved the movie, and got a lot of satisfaction from seeing scenes from the pages of the book recreated on the big screen with startling precision. I also loved most of what they did with the story line. Contrary to what some might think or say it wasn’t exactly page for page, there were parts that were abbreviated and done exceedingly well. The flow was done well, especially when its source is jumpy and staccato. And the new ended tops that of the comic book in my mind, much more plausible (although less gory). So for that I commend Zach Snyder. Of course there were things that I really didn’t like. One was what I just commended Zach Snyder for, and that was story modification. Who is that cat with Ozymandias at the end? Well that’s part of the story that never made it to the screen, so what point does that cat have there except to satisfy some watchmen fanatics personal contentment. Choice a storyline and stick with it, don’t include the unnecessary. Also what was up with some of the songs? ‘99 luftballoons’, really Mr. Snyder? This is given that some of the music was very fitting (critically praised opening credits). Over all I was more than content with the movie.
“The Times They are a Changin’”
There have been so many blog posts, stories and articles over the past week about just of good/bad (circle one) watchmen really is. One of my favorites explained that every showing really had a different feeling to it depending on the audience. ‘Who Watches who walks out of the watchmen’, describes how many people he saw leaving the theatre during the movie.
Whether you thought it was good or bad, I think watchmen (as screen writer David Hayter says), should be admired as a one of a kind, and one of the best, (almost) literal translations from story to film. Also I think I probably liked it more than most people just because I had the prior knowledge (reading the comic) to add the necessary connectors to this monstrously long movie.
…and all of that without mentioning big blue penis…
Unlike Friday night’s concert, Brand New, Saturday’s was a concert I had some tangible excitement for. It was officially the last stop of the Secret Valentine Tour (though not technically), headlined by We the Kings and supported by the Cab and two other smaller bands.
I’m going to keep this short and just say that they were decent. The second band, There for Tommorow, did a good cover of Icebox by Omarion.
The Cab was a band who, although I had heard their hit single before, Bounce, I had only gotten their Album that week. Regardless of this fact, I was still enthused to see them perform live. And I was not disappointed. Live, they put on a good show. The audiences really seemed to enjoy their performance and they went particularly crazy when they played their sole hit single. The band from Las Vegas—I know this because they said it about twelve times—didn’t disappoint from any angle, and very overall very satisfying. If you want to read an interview with Cash from the Cab, my friend did one last week. (continues below)
We the Kings
Without much further ado, the lead singer with the red hair was on stage and We the Kings was kicking off their part of the concert. They sounded great, very tight very solid. With a set of super bright lights surrounding the elevated drum in the shape of a W, the feel of the show was full of energy. Despite two things, a) the guitarist not actually being the recorded We the Kings guitarist (real one somewhere in New Mexico?) and b) some technical problems with the guitars near the end, We the Kings kept the show moving. Engaging in Banter, and even singing happy birthday to everyone in the crowd, it was obvious that they had formed a relationship with the Webster (having played it 5 times in 12 months or something ridiculous like that).They also pulled off a good cover of Mr. Brightside in which the drummer from the cab jumped back on stage with drum set to drum along. Finally they came back on to the encore shirtless (at concert goers request), before spitting out their three most famous songs in quick succession Check Yes Juliet, Secret Valentine and their closer Skyway Avenue.
With just a weeks notice Brand New, a band that has been fairly obscure (at least to me) since their big radio hits from 03/04, managed to pack the Webster Theatre in a sold out, limited tour schedule show. I have to admit, that prior to this concert the only two songs were those radio hits. Songs “Sic Transit Gloria” and “The Quiet Things that No One Ever Knows.”
Not the best of bands, but their certainly made their fill as openers. The first band managed to break the record for number of guitars being played on stage that I’ve seen. Including 4 guitarists and 1 bassist (although 3 of the guitarists were sometimes keyboard player’s as well). The dear hunter, under which this feat happened, was probably the better of the two. The other, mewithoutyou, failed to sustain any kind of music I would listen to in any substantial form. In fact they all looked mentally handicapped up on stage—no wonder they ran all their names letters together!
Wait…NeverShoutNever! Is in the other theatre?
Fun story: NeverShoutNever! sold out the underground at the Webster Theatre before Brand New was even announced as an event. The show was packed and screams arose anytime the lead singer, Christopher Drew, said anything in his unusually squeaky voice. For a time I traded one band who scrunched the words in their name together for another. Except the second was actually good. It wasn’t long before we went back to the main stage for the event that packed the larger of the two venues.
The stage filled with fog, two drum sets sat alone on stage and the crowd roared. What followed was only slightly short of impressive. I said before that I had only heard two songs before, but the energy of the crowd combined with the solidity of a show that this band put on really raised my opinion of them. The lighting, a mix of white and yellow mainly from the back gave the theatre an epic feel. This was then combined with the songs in which two drummers kept the beat for the song (Jesus Christ and Millstone?)—breaking the record for number of drums I’ve seen played on stage simultaneously. Overall they sounded good, the crowd was responsive and they were a pleaser. Perhaps I’ll think about finding their albums…