Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in new releases, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our money. And remember my friends – new releases such as these will affect you in the future. And now – for the first time – we are bringing to you, the full story of what happened on that fateful Tuesday. The movies…the music – my friends, we cannot keep this a secret any longer! Can your heart stand the shocking facts of CHUD SPECIAL ED??
I’ve not seen this, but c’mon? Jason Statham, Paddy Considine, Mark Rylance and Aiden Gillen? I’m IN.
The great Florent (The Nest) Siri directs Bruce Willis in a surprisingly amoral and nihilistic thriller. Lionsgate handles this Miramax title, so chances are it will look decent, despite being a single-layer disc.
LITTLE BIG SOLDIER
When he’s had enough of having his soul and legacy ground to dust in American garbage, Jackie Chan heads home and proves that he’s still a filmmaking force to be reckoned with.While not a showcase for his martial arts prowess, Little Big Soldier (paired with the Karate Kid remake) makes a pretty damned great case for Jackie Chan as a fine actor – something few seem interested in giving him credit for.
IT MEANS EVERYTHING: THE BLU RAY OF THE WEEK!
Now this is Kubrick I can get behind. Sketchy, funny, depressing – Kubrick is at his best depicting people at their worst. This is a great film from a great book.
ALL IN – THE REST OF THE BLU:
Eden of the East
Little Big Soldier
POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Road to Nowhere
Samurai Girls: The Complete Collection
Secret Sunshine Criterion
Sympathy for Delicious
The Tie That Binds
Tom and Jerry & the Wizard of Oz
The War At Home
The Women in Cages CollectionWWE OMG! The Top 50 Incidents in WWE History
AND NOW THE DVD STARTS:
ROGER CORMAN’S CULT CLASSICS SWORD & SORCERY COLLECTION
One day, I’m going to stop talking/writing about the fact that Jim Wynorski’s DEATHSTALKER II: DUEL OF THE TITANS – included in this collection – is one of the greatest films ever made. But it is not this day. This day…DEATHSTALKER II sees DVD – along with three other Corman cheapies from Argentina. This set gets my highest possible recommendation, and my review of every film in the package – along with stunning comparisons to previous home video releases – is coming soon.
THIS IS THE DVD:
Alfred Hitchcock: A Legacy of Suspense
The Angry Beavers: Seasons 1 & 2
Apocalypse 2012: World After Time Ends
Assassin’s Creed: Lineage
Battle New York: Day 2
Betty White Collection: America’s Funny Lady
Beverly Hillbillies: Meet the Clampetts
Beyblade Metal Fusion: Volume 4
Big Gay Love Collection
Big Lesbian Love Collection
Black Belt Magazine: Tonfa Karate
Blade/Ring of Death
The Bleeding House
Blues & the Alligator: First Twenty Years of Alligator Records
Bonanza: Adventures with the Cartwrights
Boys of Fall
Brothers & Sisters: The Complete Fifth Season
By The Devil’s Hand: The 666 Killer
Chet Baker: Candy
Classic US Combat Aircraft of WWII: P-51 Mustang
Closed for the Season
Deray Davis: Power Play
Dinosaur Train: Dinosaur Big City
Dirty South Movement: Lil Jon & Three 6 Mafia
Eclipse Series 28: Warped World of Koreyoshi Kurahara
The Event: The Complete Series
Exhale: Core Fusion / Cardio Pure Intensity
Family Adventures Collector’s Set
Family Animal Adventures Collector’s Set
Family TV Classics
Gangsta Rap Icons: Snoop Dogg & Ice Cube
The Garfield Show: Spooky Tails
Gliding Graceful with Shannon Grifiths Fable
Godfather Squad / Bruce’s Last Battle
Gossip Girl: The Complete Fourth Season
House of Fallen
I Will Follow
The Jesus Lizard: Club
John Wayne: The Tribute Collection
Johnny Carson: Late Night Legend
The Legend of Rin-Tin-Tin: America’s Canine Hero
Little Big Soldier
Live From Tokyo
Lucy: A Legacy of Laughter
NCIS: Los Angeles – The Second Season
NCIS: Seasons 1-8
NCIS: The Eighth Season
The New Adventures of Captain Amazing-Lad
Newsreel History of the Third Reich: Volumes 16-20
Off the Map: The Complete Series
Peter Erskine: Everything I Know, A Work In Progress
Phineas & Ferb: The Movie – Across the Second Dimension
POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
Road to Nowhere
Robert Plant’s Blue Note
Rowan Atkinson Presents Canned Laughter
Samurai Girls: The Complete Collection
Secret Societies & Sacred Stones: From Mecca to Megaliths
Sergeant Frog: Season 3, Part 2
Shark Men: The Complete Season Two
Shirley Temple: Everyone’s Little Princess
Sonic Rock Solstice 2010
Sons of Guns
Stone: No Soul Unturned
Sword & Sorcery Collection
Sympathy for Delicious
TNA: Sacrifice 2011 / Slammiversary 2011
To Die Like a Man
Toddler Favorites: The Movie
Tom and Jerry & The Wizard of Oz
Uncle Farts’ Dirty Movie Theater
Wainwright Walks: Lake District
The Women in Cages Collection
WWE OMG! The Top 50 Incidents In WWE History
Wyatt Cenac: Comedy Person
Zoot Sims: In a Sentimental Mood
NOW THAT’S WHAT CHUD CALLS MUSIC – WITH JEB DELIA!
STEPHEN MALKMUS & THE JICKS – MIRROR TRAFFIC
One of the more pleasant musical surprises of recent years was 2010’s Pavement reunion tour: loose without being shambolic, crisp without being rigid, and even the planned spontaneity of Gary Young wandering around in his bathrobe before sitting down to his drumkit had the feel of orchestrated offhandedness that’s been so important to Malkmus’ music. I’m generally not a fan of bands reuniting just to run through their old favorites, so it’s good to be reminded that, even if Pavement’s not reforming as a going concern, we’re not lacking for strong new material from its leader.
The fact that he’s hooked up with Beck for production duties on the latest Jicks’ album (their fifth, amazingly) isn’t surprising, but the result might be: rather like the Pavement tour, the album is tight without feeling strained, accessible without seeming compromised; no album that begins with the line “I caught you streaking in your Birkenstocks,” or follows that up with “What the Senator wants is a blow job” is making any concessions for airplay, and the lyrics, as usual, teem with Malkmus’ oddball humor: ”I cannot even do one sit-up / Sit-ups are so bourgeoisie!”‘
Musically, there’s variety without vagueness: plenty of guitar-hero workout on “Tune Grief” and “Spazz,”, but the acoustic picking of “No One Is (As I Are Be)” is so well anchored by Joanna Bolme’s rock-steady bass that it’s nearly of a piece with the full-band stuff. Besides Bolme. Malkmus gets great support from Mike Clark and drummer Janet Weiss (who has already moved on to start yet another new band), and the recorded sound is lean and sharp.
In sum, a terrific album, but I’m afraid I have to take issue with Malkmus on one point: just imagine how easy life would be if all our elected representatives really did want was “just a blow job.”
DAVE STEWART – THE BLACKBIRD DIARIES
Given Stewart’s impressive track record as a producer (Tom Petty, Bob Geldof, Bryan Ferry, etc.), he’s been a little under the radar as a performer since his Eurythmics days; maybe he was having difficulty finding another strong female voice to partner with, so he’s addressing the problem on this album with a batch of female guest vocalists, and achieving mixed results.
The lead track, “So Long Ago” sets the tone: autobiographical lyrics set against a wall of 70’s Stones/Allmans bluesiness. Followed by the chunky piano-driven groove of “Beast Called Fame,” and the slide guitar underpinning the rapid-fire narrative of “Magic of the Blues,” Stewart’s laying out the story of one self-effacing Englishman coming to terms with his obsession over music from across the Atlantic, and the life path it led him on. And while it’s a good story, by now it’s a pretty familiar one: no one who’s read Keith Richards’ book, or followed the careers of, say, Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton, will find anything in Stewart’s catalog of rock and roll depredation worthy of a raised eyebrow. Making an old story new is tricky enough when you’re mostly employing tried-and-true rock and blues stylings; that pretty much leaves the vocals to put things across, and Stewart’s low-key murmur really isn’t up to the task of making the generally listenable music more than the sum of its parts.
Which is where the ladies come in. The presence of the drippy Colbie Caillat on “Bulletproof Vest” doesn’t do much to elevate the strained metaphor; “All Messed Up”, with Martina McBride, is a bit more successful: cliché-ridden, but her natural phrasing and sheer power give it a bit of life. Pick of the lot is probably “One Way Ticket To The Moon,” matching its loopiness with the slightly unearthly harmonies of the Secret Sisters. Stewart’s duet with Stevie Nicks on the midtempo weeper “Cheaper Than Free,” is situated as the center of an odd triptych (bookended by songs called “Stevie Baby” and “The Gypsy Girl and Me”), but it doesn’t do much more than reinforce the impression that he and Nicks enjoyed working together on her album last year.
Stewart’s a canny enough producer, and capable enough musician, that every lick, beat, and riff is deployed for maximum sonic effect: this album sounds great. Memorable, not so much.
ROCKPILE – LIVE AT MONTREUX 1980
Though they only released one album under the name Rockpile (1980’s Seconds of Pleasure), the combination of Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Terry Williams and Billy Bremner was among the most important bands of the wonderfully chaotic period that followed in the wake of the Ramones and Sex Pistols, with labels like “punk,” “new wave,” and “power pop” being tossed around interchangeably. They were the engine of Nick Lowe’s pop masterpiece Labour of Lust, and of Edmunds’ FM radio breakout with songs like “Queen of Hearts,” “Girls Talk” and “Crawling From the Wreckage;” and when Lowe’s “Cruel to be Kind” went Top 40 in 1979, it shook up the rigidity of the American charts, and before you knew it, weirdos like Moon Martin and 20/20… and, from the perspective of the time, Tom Petty… were getting radio exposure, helping to reopen the American musical landscape to the wide range of pop possibilities that had characterized the 60’s, when you could hear, say, The Supremes, Roger Miller, and the Standells side by side. Rockpile was also a formidable, and very different, stage presence, leaving behind the gentility of the studio, its overdubs and production niceties, in favor of old-fashioned four-piece rock and roll assault. And while this indifferently-recorded set from the Montreux Jazz (!) Festival only hints at their greatness, it’s at the very least a wonderful souvenir.
In fact, Seconds of Pleasure is almost ignored here (only two selections, including the single “Teacher Teacher”), but the blend of songs from the Lowe and Edmunds catalogs has the same rough and ready rock and roll feel: the smooth pop edges of “So It Goes” and “Queen of Hearts” get sanded off in favor of the same hard-charging attack as “They Called It Rock” or “Crawling From the Wreckage.” What always elevated Rockpile above the norm, beyond Lowe’s sharp songwriting and Edmunds’ keen ear for the ideal cover choice, was their ability to hit those Everlys/Lennon-McCartney harmonies over even the most breathless riffing, and they’re in generally fine voice here on songs like “I Knew The Bride,” “Teacher Teacher,” and “They Called It Rock.”
I could wish for better sound: there’s some dropouts here and there that sound like mike problems, and Edmunds’ fluid leads are sometimes too far down in the mix; sonically, it’s hardly a match for Jesus of Cool or Get It. But one of the reasons that the punk/new wave movement survived and effected actual change was the fact that guys like pop visionary Lowe and traditionalist Edmunds knew that Hank Williams and the Bay City Rollers had more in common with the punks than most of them suspected, and this album’s a nice reminder of that.
VARIOUS ARTISTS – MUPPETS: THE GREEN ALBUM
I’m all in favor of seeing The Muppets resume their place of honor in pop culture, and I’m convinced that the upcoming new film was made out of a genuine love and respect for the property; I’m also willing to believe that the musical contributors to this album were motivated more by that same love than by a paycheck. But we’d do well to remember that the Muppets existed long before Sesame Street, and that the subversive nature of their humor often found expression in their music as much as in their more overt comedy; while any “various artists” tribute album will have the pitfall of inconsistent results from artist to artist, this one’s particularly tricky because it doesn’t sound as though everyone was in on the joke.
Watching the opening to The Muppet Show, having Statler and Waldorf pop up in the balcony to demand “Why do we always come here / I guess we’ll never know / It’s like a kind of torture / To try and watch this show ” is funny; hearing OK Go simply sing the line with no context sort of demands they examine its implications, but it’s just another bouncy rhyme in their chugging performance of the main theme. For better or worse, most of the other contributors simply skirt around such questions (The Fray’s take on “Mahna Mahna” is one of the few exceptions), to focus on the most easily-parsed song choices: Weezer and Hayley Williams play it straight and sweet on “Rainbow Connection,” while Andrew Bird gives “Bein’ Green” a quiet dignity that avoids the preachiness inherent in the material. My Morning Jacket fudges a bit by snagging “Our World” from Emmet Otter’s Jugband Christmas, but the song’s obvious country corn is a good fit for the band. There’s also some fun with Alkaline Trio’s take on “Movin’ Right Along,” and Airborne Toxic Event’s “Wishing Song,” but the gee-whizziness too often feels like a compromise with the material: these guys sound as though they think these songs are cute but dumb, and what they’re putting across isn’t sly understanding, but simple nostalgia.
Still, I don’t undersell the strength or limited values of nostalgia: if you’re looking to get pumped up for the new movie, and if names like Sondre Lerche, Matt Nathanson, and Amy Lee, along with the others, get your ears perked up, you’ll probably have fun with this.
OTHER NOTABLE 8/23 RELEASES:
Glen Campbell – Ghost on the Canvas Not available for preview, but announced as Campbell’s farewell to the music business, due to his advancing Alzheimer’s. The fact that the man was always comfortable with schmaltz just means he was a product of his times, and his typically impeccable Chet Atkins-inspired guitar work will be paired here with logically chosen guests like Jakob Dylan and Chris Isaak, contemporaries like Dick Dale, and left-field choices like Paul Westerberg, Billy Corgan, and Robert Pollard.
Robert Earl Keen – Ready for Confetti If you picked up Guy Clark’s recent Songs and Stories album, and you’re looking for a followup, Keen’s your guy: steals a car to escape from an orphanage, paints the town beige, and even gives a cliché like “The Road Goes On and On” some punch (“You’re a regular Jack in the Box / In your clown suit and your goldilocks / The original life’s paradox / You’ll have to google that“).
Sunny Sweeney – Concrete Based solely on her blond good looks, I’ll confess that I was prepared to dismiss this just as quickly as I would a new Colbie Caillat album, but actually “Drink Myself Single” is pretty amusing, “From A Table Away” is nicely observed, and stuff like “Worn Out Heart” is catchy enough, even if Sweeney’s voice is a little pinched and edging toward the whiny. The whole enterprise has unexpected honky-tonk toughness, and at ten songs, doesn’t overstay its welcome.
The Game – The R.E.D. Album Production by Dr. Dre and Pharrell, single collab on “Pot Of Gold” with Chris Brown. West Coast rap shoots for double platinum again, likely hits the target.
Ry Cooder – Pull Up Some Dust & Sit Down Always more convincing as a musicologist than a singer, Cooder pulls together 14 songs that link the Great Depression with… whatever the hell we’re living through today. And any shortfall of imagination or vocal technique fades under the righteous anger, sincere humanity, and supple guitar.
Patti Smith – Outside Society Unlike the rather scattershot 2-CD Land, this single disk collection hits most of the obvious high points of Smith’s career. It also tends to highlight the fact that the craft, if not the intensity, often fell victim to diminishing returns after album #3 (#4 if we’re being generous). Still, you probably haven’t heard “1959” or “Glitter in Their Eyes,” and you really should. And I happen to love her banjo-driven take on “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
Original Soundtrack – O Brother Where Art Thou (Anniversary Edition) Remastered, with an extra disk of new and classic old-timey goodness, the perfect gift for the Dapper Dan man in your life.
Dee Dee Bridgewater – Midnight Sun Unusually for a reissue collection, the great jazz vocalist selected these tracks herself, and allegedly supervised the remastering. She seems to think it’s a song cycle on “the arc of a love affair in all its stages.” Not sure I buy that, but it’s a dozen standards delivered with staggering artistry, and that’s good enough for me.
Lil Wayne – Tha Carter IV Not available for preview, but I’m guessing you’ve already heard volumes I, II, and III.
Stephin Merritt – Obscurities Sort of the opposite of the Patti Smith collection, this highlights early Merge work from Merritt, as well as some unreleased tracks. Most of it was new to me, and it’s lovely, twisted stuff.
We Are Augustines – Rise Ye Sunken Ships Pela never got off the ground because Billy McCarthy had to endure the deaths by suicide of his institutionalized mother and brother. Instead, he and Eric Sanderson managed to channel the nu-folk instrumentation into a raw nerve of pain (“New Drink for the Old Drunk,” “Book of James,” “Patton State Hospital”), only slightly salved by the benediction of “Barrels of Leaves,” wrapping up with “The Instrumental,” which travels its whispering path from a wail of pain to an upbeat horn chart, before fading into a disturbed nothingness. Possibly the least-easy listening album of the week.
CSS – La Liberacion More wonderfully snotty dance-pop from these Brazilian cutups. If there’s nothing quite as snarky as “Meeting Paris Hilton” or “Art Bitch,” the sheer inescapability of tunes like “Partners in Crime” and “Echo of Love” provide ample compensation.
From Bikes to Trains to VIDEO GAMES – WITH BRIAN CONDRY!
GAME OF THE WEEK:
DEUS X: HUMAN REVOLUTION (PS3; 360; PC; retail)
Deus Ex is a fucking classic. A CLASSIC. It’s hard to return to now, but there’s still joy to be found in that code. And…um – the less said about Invisible War, the better.
Ah…but a new Deus Ex is here. And I couldn’t be happier. It looks brilliant. Plenty of previews have come away glowing and talking about the variety of crazy shit to do. Plus – you can use your super arms to throw a fridge at people. VIDEO GAMES. At the end of the day, all I know is that I’ve got this bitch pre-loaded and ready to rock as soon as the working day is done.
THE REST OF THE STORY:
STREET FIGHTER II: THIRD STRIKE (PS3; XBLA; download)
Super-charged and ready for action again, SFIII hits the download stream today. It’s looking really good, too. Lots of cool shit in it, great training modes – everything you want from a remake/remix.
TROPICO 4 (PC)
Now, Tropico 3 is cool. Sim City as El Presidente. This, well…it looks more like an expansion pack than an actual real, live sequel. Only time will tell, but you should be buying Deus Ex, anyway.
Not that this is a bad thing, but Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked is out for the 3DS. It’s a remake of the original DS version. I never played it, but the Shin Megami games are usually worth a trip.
Also, King Arthur: Fallen Champions hits PC. I THINK it’s an expansion. King Arthur is kind of a low-rent Total War game.
ROCK BAND DLC:
Incubus – Adolescents
Incubus – Pardon Me*
Incubus – Wish You Were Here
* means you can buy Pro Guitar and Pro Bass modes.
When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?
When the hurlyburly’s done,
When the battle’s lost and won.