Aziz Ansari is ready for his blurry phone photo (source)
Sunday night in Boston, comedian Aziz Ansari performed a benefit for the Boston Marathon bombing victims at The Wilbur Theater. Tickets for the show, announced only hours before they went on sale, sold out in five minutes. Ansari’s fans, hooked into social media, were ready to pounce at noon causing him to say that those in attendance Sunday frightened him a little. Ansari went on to stand still center stage encouraging everyone to take their photos of him before he started any jokes. Anyone who didn’t have a camera out proceeded to hold up their phone and snap away. Ansari remarked, “This is what I have to do now.” (more…)
The Americans, the new TV drama on FX, follows married KGB sleeper agents living in the US as they carry out missions that are too violent, or sometimes sexually explicit, for a primetime audience. Hopefully this new drama won’t die in the mid-week, late-night spot.
Watching Beyonce swing her hair around during the Super Bowl halftime show, my mind started to wander over to another dynamic and extremely different musician I had seen recently. Reflecting on Kathleen Edwards‘ performance last week at Brighton Music Hall, I came upon a version of the same question I ask myself about most of my favorite artists: Why isn’t Kathleen Edwards more popular? I might append “in the US” to that as all of Canada will politely remind you that Kathleen Edwards and hockey belong to them.
The Magnetic Fields – “Andrew In Drag” – ATP Festival
The lyrics to any Magnetic Fields song, if read, appear overly simplistic and often disturbing. The voices of Claudia Gonson, Shirley Simms, and Stephin Merritt easily recreate them as lighthearted, humorous or heartbreaking –sometimes all in the same song. (more…)
Describing Stephen Tobolowsky as “the bald guy in Groundhog Day” is guaranteed to get one of two reactions: “I never saw Groundhog Day” or “Ned!”
Tramp, Sharon Van Etten’s third album, is washed in a plaintive mood but is driven by an urgency that keeps it interesting. On more optimistic songs like “Leonard”, Sharon Van Etten’s vocals become operatic, one word stretched across a few scales creating constant crescendos. Where someone like Rufus Wainwright would break into a falsetto with a horn section blaring, Van Etten lets the sound swim around as an accompaniment to her voice. At times her slight lilt is taunting the music to catch up to her. Songs like “All I Can” that build softly musically would benefit from a little more variation that the welcome back up vocals from Beirut’s Zach Condon on “We are Fine” bring. Produced by Aaron Dessner of The National, Tramp is a nice medium between Van Etten’s quieter singer-songwriter style and the strong, loud work she jumped to with 2010’s Epic.
Sharon Van Etten performs Thursday, February 23rd, at The Paradise.
Matt King doesn’t have time for his emotions. He’s in the middle of a real estate deal that could result in signing over to developers of a large plot of virgin Hawaiin land entrusted to King’s family by their ancestors. Even when taking care of a schoolyard quarrel between his daughter and a classmate, he is reminded that everyone is anticipating his decision. On top of that, he’s clumsily caring for his two daughters and trying to figure out the logistics of his wife’s impending death. The responsibility of being the public face of both a well-known ancestral lineage on large, public scale as well as on a personal level with friends and family takes precedence over his own feelings. (more…)
Any song Elvis Costello sings sounds like an Elvis Costello song, so I’m always surprised to find out about songs he didn’t write. Possibly his most well-known song, “(What’s so funny about) Peace Love and Understanding” was written and first recorded by Nick Lowe, later Elvis’ producer on Armed Forces. Elvis recorded it as a B-side to a Nick Lowe single and tacked it onto Armed Forces for the 1979 American release when his cover became a hit in the UK. This was back in the days when a hit single could make a hit record. The album went gold in the US and has been hailed as helping define New Wave by Rolling Stone. Elvis was at the height of his popularity and it’s impossible to know how big an impact the addition of “Peace Love and Understanding” had on record sales. Still, these days you know you haven’t come to the end of an Elvis Costello concert until the short, sweaty man in huge glasses sings “Peace Love and Understanding” (the suit in the above photo began as the same shade of gray). (more…)
Mary Timony (photo by Catherine Maldonado)
Janet Weiss, Carrie Brownstein, Mary Timony, and Rebecca Cole, collectively called Wild Flag, returned to Boston after their summer show at The Brighton Music Hall, for a concert at The Paradise.My favorite line from their self-titled, debut album as a group is in the song “Something Came Over Me.” The phrase “let the good times toll” which, despite the double meaning, connotes “ring out.” Mary Timony couldn’t help letting a “let the good times roll” squeak out at least once. The lyrics, many of which are directly related to sound and listening to music, truly come alive in concert. The joy and enthusiasm of the performance demonstrates just how much desire all the members of Wild Flag have to continue making music. Having spent time in well respected bands like Sleater Kinney, Helium and The Minders, they’re proving that their time’s not up yet. (more…)
Josiah Johnson & Charity Rose Thielen (photo by Catherine Maldonado)
The Head and the Heart energetically performed their travel-weary, pop-folk pastoral songs where roads, bridges and streams are so prevalent you’d think they wandered back to the city after a few years with some woodland creatures. Many of the songs are geared to the high schooler looking to take “a year off to travel” before college who ends up broke in a small town romanticizing the life they had before. Someone’s always leaving or missing or being missed. Surely “Rivers and Roads” will be the indie student vote for graduation song of the year. (more…)