Breakfast at Tiffany’s hits Blu Ray today. I think the film is a sinister piece of work on a lot of levels. There’s the obvious racism, which – let’s face it – was prevalent in the studio system entire back then. But there are deeper flaws, and they come with the severe alterations of the book’s narrative. In the attempt at sanitizing the material, the filmic Tiffany’s is stunningly irresponsible in a way that predates Pretty Woman’s let’s-change-that-downer-heroin-overdose-ending-and-make-whoring-fun style of insanity. On top of it all, female fans of the film are often scary, amoral opportunists who couldn’t pretend to the amount of class present in Audrey Hepburn’s pinky on her crummiest day – so…this is not a release I can get behind.

BRIDESMAIDS


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Haven’t seen it. Heard great things. Love the cast.

DUMBO


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One of Walt Disney’s crowning achievements, the Blu Ray is said to look incredible.

IT MEANS EVERYTHING – THE BLU RAY OF THE WEEK!

DEAD HEAT


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The Terminator. Rambo: First Blood Part II. Commando. T2. The Last Boy Scout. True Lies. Starship Troopers. Bad Boys II. Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

These films have at least two things in common. They are prime examples of pure, precision action/adventure cinema, and they’re examples of the flawless editorial instincts of Oscar-nominated editor Mark Goldblatt.  Goldblatt has utilized these sterling instincts twice as a feature director – on the 1989 New World production of The Punisher (a film superior to the other cinematic attempts at adapting the comic book – if only for its lack of “irony”) – and in this week’s prime release – Dead Heat.

Dead Heat…how best to explain it?

Imagine that Shane Black had a really immature brother, and he thought Lethal Weapon would be a better movie if it had zombies in it.

Okay – stop imagining. Shane Black does have a really immature brother. His name is Terry – and he wrote this flick. And it really does play like Lethal Weapon meets Re-Animator…or maybe Return of the Living Dead.

Without getting too spoilery on you, the film follows two take-no-shit police detectives – Doug Bigelow (Joe Piscopo – who, while largely regarded today as a mean-spirited punchline, was a actually part of a brilliant tandem with Eddie Murphy on Saturday Night Live back in the day) and Roger Mortis (the always fantastic Treat Williams. Ever see Prince of the City? Do that)

…waitasec – did I just type Roger Mortis?

Like I said, Shane Black has a really immature brother.

The two cops are trying to crack a ring of crazy-brazen – and seemingly indestructible – thieves. When they finally manage to take a couple down, forensic doctor Rebecca Smithers (who used to get a Treat now and again, if you smell what the Pollock’s cookin’) realizes that she’s already performed autopsies on them. The criminals are the living dead.

Armed with this knowledge, Mortis and Bigelow follow clues to Dante (really, Terrence?) Phamaceticals, where they meet corporate wag (and femme fatale) Randy James (Lindsay Frost). During a tour of the facility, someone decides the detective duo is getting too close to the truth – and after a prolonged battle with a really fucked-up looking fat guy, Roger Mortis is killed…

…and brought back from the dead with secret Dante technology.

Unfortunately, the process is imperfect – and Mortis is rapidly decaying. He has very little time to solve his own murder (so I guess this would be UN-D.O.A.?)

Dead Heat is totally ‘80s through and through – with a synth-heavy score, shoulder pads and pastel-clad dudes, fifty-four thousand squibs, and incredibly elaborate and amazing effects work by Steve Johnson’s XFX team. In this period in filmic history, the young bucks were still chasing Rob Bottin and Rick Baker, and there was no such thing as CG – so these guys played machinist and magician, melding the make-up and the mechanical to create seamless set-pieces that hold up amazingly well – even if the fashions don’t.

Williams’ straight-laced Mortis learns to cut loose – since he’s dead, there are no consequences to any antics, so he allows himself to be shot, bashed, and smashed – and Piscopo’s snarky asswipe…remains a snarky asswipe. Both guys are obviously having fun with the flick. The supporting cast is absolutely aces – with Robert Picardo playing fussy tight ass, and Darren McGavin adding demented quirk. The inimitable Vincent Price wisely builds in a bittersweet backend to his somber subplot. Key Luke, heavy heavy Toru Tanaka, and salty old “Judo” Gene LeBell (who may actually be unkillable at this point) are also onboard – and if you know where to look, you might just spot Shane Black himself. That’s Hollywood nepotism for you, kids!

I’ve got my pre-order in at the Amazon Sweat Lodge and Slave Labor Camp, and I suggest you do what it takes to get yourself a copy of this super-fun gore-noir-buddy-cop-action-comedy.

ALL IN – THE REST OF THE BLU:

3D Safari Africa
Breakfast At Tiffany’s
Bride Flight
Bridesmaids
Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2
Dead Heat
Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
Dumbo
Gettysburg
The Kennedys Mini-Series
Lady Death
Le Beau Serge Criterion Collection
Les Cousins Criterion Collection
Live at Montreux 2010
Mike & Molly: The Complete First Season
The Others
Rifftrax Live: House on Haunted Hill
Rifftrax Live: Reefer Madness
Scary Movie 2
Scary Movie 3
Scrooge
Set Up
Shanghai Mystery
Spooky Buddies
Sword with No Name: Live Action Movie
Tajomaru Avenging Blade: Live Action Movie
Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal
UFC: Ultimate Matt Hughes
Vamp
Visions of Europe

AND NOW THE DVD STARTS:

DEAD END DRIVE IN


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Ozzy Insane-o Brian Trenchard Smith helms this tongue-in-cheek satire. In the not too distant future, undesirable citizens are rounded up and imprisoned in Drive-In theaters. For some, this is not so bad; they get three meals a day, a place to sleep – and they get to watch Turkey Shoot as much as they want. But for one young couple – escape is the only option. Great little flick.

THE STUFF


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Larry Cohen is a master of treating B-movie material with respect, and his casts reflect his talent. Here he puts his old buddy Michael (Q) Moriarty through his paces as a corporate spy sent to investigate a new dessert sensation…which happens to be an otherworldly entity. Yeah. I know – but it’s a sharp sendup of consumer culture, and it features some really fun gross-out moments, and game perfomances by Paul Sorvino, Danny Aiello, and Garrett Morris.

HEY – THERE’S DVD DOWN HERE:

The Accidental Spy
Adam
Aliens vs. Avatars
All About You
Amagami SS Collectection 1
Amantes
Ambassadors of Hollywood
American Harmony
Ancient Secret Agents
Ancient Tank Tech
Angels Memories: Greatest Moments In Angels Baseball History
Area 51
Arthur & the Square Knights of the Round Table Volume 1
Arthur & the Square Knights of the Round Table Volume 2
The Bachelor Party
Bal
Baseball’s Greatest Games: Derek Jeter’s 3000th Hit
Bellydance 1st Steps with Neon for Total Beginners
Bellydance Shimmy Workout for Beginners
Bellydance: Travel Steps
Big Bang Theory: Seasons 1-4
Bill Moyers: The Wisdom of Faith
Biography: Celebrity Ghost Stories
Biography: George Clooney
Biography: Kurt Cobain
The Black Tent
Blood Equity
Blue Sunshine
Body of Proof: The Complete First Season
The Boys Next Door
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (50th Anniversary Edition)
Breaking the Press
Bridesmaids
British Rail Journeys: Around the Peak District
Carbon Nation
Castle: The Complete Third Season
The Catered Affair
Celtic Pilgrimage
Celtic Thunder: Storm
Christmas Tech
Chromeskull: Laid to Rest 2
Chrysanthemum
City Island
Dalziel & Pascoe: Season 4
Dead Heat
Dead-End Drive-In
Death Weapons of the East
Dem Bones & More Sing Along Stories
The Devil Within Her
The Dick Van Dyke Show 50th Anniversary Edition
Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
DNAngel: The Complete Collection
Dora the Explorer: Save the Day/Go Diego Go: Great Jaguar
Dumbo
Dumbo
Eat the Sun
FBI: Season 1, Part 2
Final Exam
Flame in the Streets
Flowers In The Attic
Forever Plaid
Fringe: Seasons 1-3
The Gazebo
George Romero’s Deadtime Stories Volume 2
Gettysburg
Glass Window
Go Hugo Go
Gun Slingers
Happy Endings: The Complete First Season
Hawaii Five-O: The First Season
Hawaii Five-O: The Eleventh Season
High Impact: M-16
History Classics: Decoding The Past
History Classics: States
History Classics: WWI
The House of the Spirits
How Do You Know
Hugo the Movie Star
In Search of Christmas
In the Weeds
In the World of Jack the Ripper
The Initiation
The Innocent
The Inspector General
It Started With a Kiss
The Kennedys Mini-Series
L.A. Zombie
Lady Death
Lamp – I LOVE Lamp!
Landmarks of Middle English Literature
Laura Pausini: Live 2001 – 2002 World Tour
Law & Order Los Angeles: The Complete Series
Le Beau Serge (Criterion)
Lee & Grant
Les Cousins (Criterion)
Little Nemo: Adventures In Slumberland
Little Rascals: Pirates of Our Gang
Little Rascals: Scary Spooktacular
Live at Montreux 2010
Love Surreal
Lucille Ball RKO Comedy Collection
MAD: Season One, Part One
Malena
Mardock Scramble: First Compression
Maria’s B-Movie Mayhem: Haunted – Maria Kanellis plays Horror Hostess? Ohh-KAY!!
Marry Me Mary
McMillan & Wife: Season 6
Mega Tsunami
The Mentalist: The Complete Third Season – Have fun eating fiber and watching this!
Mike & Molly: The Complete First Season
A Month by the Lake
Mountaintop Motel Massacre
Muckman
My First Scholastic Storybook Treasures Volume 2
My Life So Far
My Run
New Mexico State Penitentiary
Order of One: Kung Fu Killing Spree
The Others
The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend
Play BB King
Pokemon: Zoroark, Master of Illusions
Questions for Crazy Horse
Raising Hope: The Complete First Season
Reach Out to Horses: Success Foals in Training
The Red Green Show: The Geezer Years
Return to Tarawa: The Leon Cooper Story
Rifftrax Live: House on Haunted Hill
Rifftrax Live: Olde Tyme Shorts Roundup
Rifftrax Live: Reefer Madness
Rifftrax Live: Shorts to Go
The River Murders
Rugrats: Halloween
Savage
Scary Movie 2
Scary Movie 3
Scrooge
Secrets in the Wall
Set Up
Shanghai Mystery
Shanghai Red
She/Things to Come
Sinking a Ship
Sister, Sister
Slugs
Sophia Loren: Award Collection
Spongebob Squarepants: Lost at Sea / Tales from the Deep
Spooky Buddies
Spoon & More Stories about Friendship
The Stuff
Supernatural: Seasons 1-6
Sword with No Name: Live Action Movie
Tajomaru Avenging Blade: Live Action Movie
Terror Trap
Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal
That New Animal & More Stories about a New Baby
Timmy Time: Hide & Seek
TNA Wrestling: Destination X 2011
Toughest Military Jobs
Tribaret Bellydance
Two and a Half Men: Seasons 1-8
UFC: Ultimate Fighter Season 13
UFC: Ultimate Matt Hughes
Vamp
Vampire Diaries: Complete Seasons 1 & 2
Vampire Knight Guilty: The Complete Series
The Vineyard
Virtual Recall
Visions of Eight
Visions of Europe
We are the Night
Wonder Pets: Save the Bengal/Save the Wonder Pets
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
Yumurta

NOW THAT’S WHAT CHUD CALLS MUSIC – WITH JEB DELIA:

TORI AMOS – NIGHT OF HUNTERS


It’s hard to resist the clarion call of that classy yellow label. Over the years, the German classical behemoth Deutsche Grammophon has lured Elvis Costello for a mildly interesting ballet score, and for the weakest set of songs of his career; from Sting, they got a Christmas album. And given Amos’ classical piano background (you do know she’s a trained pianist, right? Right? I mean, it’s only in every goddam thing ever written about her), I’m sure the idea of her being on same label as Bernstein and Boulez (and a few ex-Nazi’s, but what the hell) seemed like a perfect fit for both parties.

And at least musically, I can’t argue. Amos has always had technique to burn, and this features some of her most impressive playing: “Shattering Sea,” which opens the album, finds Amos driving her backing musicians (including a wind quintet, and string quartet Apollon Musagéte) with furious thumped chording before exploding into a cascade of arpeggio. “Battle of Trees” is nine surprisingly intense minutes, given that it’s mostly just whispered vocals and insinuating piano against woodwind counterpoint and pizzicato strings, while “Fearlessness” seems to arise in an atonal mist out of the speakers before settling into its unsettling main theme. The fact that a number of these songs appropriate themes from composers like Satie, Schubert, and Chopin isn’t particularly a problem: Amos is skilled enough to make the music feel more like a set of variations on the source material than a simple lift.

Lyrically? Um… more problematic. I suppose we let Robert Plant get away with gibbering on about orcs and hobbits for years, so I probably shouldn’t come down too hard on Amos for her shapeshifters, ghosts and fairies. There’s a fractured narrative, which Amos has written about extensively in the notes, but in the end, the blood-stained seaside cottages and “grids of disempowerment” are as likely to get in the way of the music as to enhance it. The title song does serve as a sort of callback to the Robert Mitchum film that inspires the album title, with “dark forces” threatening “to invade children’s dreams,” and it gains some impact from the album’s use of Amos’ daughters as singers. But I can’t help it: Amos’ yelping vocal style and borrowed melodic sense always put me in mind of a badly unfocused Kate Bush (as though Bush herself were a model of clarity).  And given my druthers, I’ll take my Satie, Schubert and Chopin straight, no chaser.

RICHMOND FONTAINE – THE HIGH COUNTRY


A noir-ish song cycle about lust, despair, and murder, set in an isolated logging town, is by definition, going to be a pretty melodramatic affair. Pete Townshend and Colin Meloy notwithstanding, pop music’s not the ideal medium for the kind of observational storytelling that you can get in something like a film or a novel… but, conveniently, Richmond Fontaine, being a band fronted by a novelist (Willy Vlautin), comes up with something that works far better than it ought to, and better than such experiments generally do. Vlautin has laid out a story here of desperate romantic entanglement involving “The Girl That Works At The Auto Parts Store,” her loveless marriage to a crippled logger, the men who hit on her, and the one for whom she falls tragically in love. The Twin Peaks-like setting of the town is almost a character in the story: dark, brooding, indifferent to human suffering.

The album opens with Deborah Kelly, of The Damnations, providing an “Inventory” of her character’s desperate life: against a nagging, plaintive acoustic guitar figure, she tells a friend “I’m just fucked,” and relates the story’s background in a voice of flat desolation, followed shortly after by “Let Me Dream of the High Country,” in which The Girl sketches out her fantasy of escape from the drudgery of her hopeless marriage, with a simplicity that is just heartbreaking. The male characters are sung (and occasionally spoken) by Vlautin and bandmates Dan Eccles Dave Harding, and Sean Oldham, with varying degrees of effectiveness. Once “The Mechanic Falls In Love With The Girl,” the plot is set in motion, and two young lovers plan a hopeless getaway against a background of murderous jealousy and drug-gang violence

The High Country is very specifically constructed as a complete listening experience, rather than an assortment of individual tracks, but it’s not monotonous by any means: Richmond Fontaine branched out from alt-country a half-dozen albums ago, and, while the sinister backwoods folk of The Handsome Family is clearly an influence, musically, the album invokes the guitar frenzy of Drive-By Truckers on “The Chainsaw Sea”, the atmospheric mystery of Daniel Lanois on “Leaving,” and even goes balls-out prog on “Angus King Tries To Leave The House.” There’s black comedy in the opening of “Driving Back to the Chainsaw Sea,” as The Mechanic’s rival spins the radio dial to country song after country song, muttering “I hate this song” over and over again. He finally finds some straight-ahead rock and roll, only to segue into a horrifying tale of drug-fueled death in the garage-rocking “Lost in the Trees” (“I screamed her name till my voice broke… She said ‘We’re all gonna die! We’re all gonna die!‘). And Kelly’s devastating final number, “I Can See a Room,” set to a reverberant theme that seems like a very direct Twin Peaks callback, is placed so that the listener understands that events have already doomed its naïve last-chance hope. Not an easy album to warm to, and certainly not one to cherry-pick off iTunes. But if you can settle in with Vlautin’s characters, and lose yourself in its bleak atmosphere, it’s a rewarding, if dark, tale.

TONY BENNETT – DUETS II


It sometimes surprises people that my love of American vocal jazz, from Nat Cole to Ella Fitzgerald to Karrin Allyson, does not extend to Tony Bennett. Oh, I love the iconography: the last holdover from the great postwar resurgence, tailor-made for fans of Mad Men, the fact that he keeps on keeping on at his age, still looks great in a tux… but as a singer, I’d rate him behind someone like the criminally underrated Matt Monro, and as an interpreter, he can annoy the shit out of me.

And he gets right to the point on the first cut here, underlining my antipathy: while there is certainly no one single interpretation of most pop songs, let’s face it, “One For My Baby (and One More For The Road)” is about as clearly laid out as anything in the repertoire: “It’s quarter to three / There’s no one left in the place but you and me / So set ‘em up, Joe…” Maybe this side of suicidal, but certainly not occasion for the happy-hour gigglefest that Bennett and John Mayer engage in here (without even benefit of Mayer’s usually excellent guitar). No one will ever top Sinatra’s wounded bravado on the song, but taking it 180 thematic degrees in the other direction isn’t the answer.

Of course, even when Bennett hits his stride, the overused “Duets” format is at the mercy of the selection of partners: Joe Williams himself couldn’t have imparted dignity to “The Lady Is a Tramp” with Lady Gaga’s weird braying delivery, and in material that could have actually used the lighter touch that Bennett can bring, we get people like Josh Groban and Andrea Bocelli losing both melody and nuance to vocal histrionics. The album is not by any means hopeless, though: Willie Nelson waltzes away with “On The Sunny Side of the Street,” K.D. Lang hits a perfect blend of melodrama and kitsch on “Blue Velvet,” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” strikes just the right note of gleeful resignation with Bennett and Michael Buble goofing. And in the area of sadly morbid curiosity, Bennett makes a sympathetic sounding board for Amy Winehouse on a “Body and Soul,” whose Billie Holiday references feel just a bit too close for comfort in retrospect.

MILES DAVIS – THE BOOTLEG SERIES VOLUME 1: LIVE IN EUROPE 1967


When Sony/Columbia started the “Bootleg Series” with Bob Dylan, the first impression was that they were simply accepting the inevitability that much of Dylan’s important unreleased early work already existing in the marketplace, and figuring they might as well get a few bucks out of it. Over the years, though, it developed into an amazing, important series, with bucketloads of live and studio material that had never even been bootlegged before, and with only the odd misstep (or the peculiar decision to include the soundtrack to Martin Scorcese’s decidedly non-bootleg film No Direction Home in the series), it’s become a comprehensive reference library, as well as an often glorious listening experience, that few other artists can boast (not that Bob seems inclined to do so). I’m not sure why it’s taken so long for Sony to decide to give the same treatment to a jazz artist, but hopefully we’re about to get something similarly amazing for Miles Davis.

Certainly, the material unearthed here covers an important period in Davis’ career (did he have any unimportant ones?), with a phenomenal band that includes Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. At the time these shows were recorded, the band was four years and three albums old, and as seasoned and synchronized as any group Miles had. The music represented here covers a whirlwind European tour of five countries in as many weeks.

A number of the tracks here, including “On Green Dolphin Street,” “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” and “‘Round Midnight” have circulated in middling bootleg quality before (much like, say, Dylan’s Great White Wonder), but in their complete, restored and remastered versions, they’re revelatory: not just important souvenirs of the genius of Davis and his band, but exhilarating listening. And, to my knowledge, the Copenhagen concert on disk 2 has never even been bootlegged before, with this version of “Agitation” (the regular set opener) being among the most exciting playing I’ve heard from any Davis recording of the era: Shorter and Davis open things with a call to action, Hancock tosses time-signatures around like a juggler, and Williams drives it home with a swinging firmness.  For those who prefer to dip a toe, there’s a nicely-chosen single-disk sampler with the ungainly title of The Best of Miles Davis Bootleg Box #1 (Europe 1967). The box set also comes with a DVD of performance highlights that I’m drooling to get my mitts on.

OTHER NOTABLE 9/20 RELEASES:

Superheavy – Superheavy So the story goes that, when they finally nailed down the last member of the Traveling Wilburys, Tom Petty and George Harrison hung up the phone and shrieked at each other like schoolgirls: “Roy Orbison’s in our band!!” At least they had the good sense to leave that shit off the album itself, but no such luck here: only two tracks released so far, and already we’ve got Mick Jagger drawling a fake-sincere “welcome” to bandmate A.R. Rahman, while on “Miracle Worker,”  co-producer Gong Marley chirps “Bet you never would have believed that together you’d hear Damian Marley, Dave Stewart, A.R. Rahman, Mick Jagger, Joss Stone… imagine!”; well, that’s true enough. I also never would have believed I’d see Stringer Bell dressed up like a day-glo Viking, but that’s beside the point. Apart from the backslapping, these tracks aren’t too bad: sumptuously recorded, with nice reggae groove on “Miracle Worker,” expressive vocals from Stone and unusually committed-sounding ones from Mick. On the other hand, if this is as interesting as the songwriting on this album gets, I’m in no particular hurry to hear the rest.

Meg Baird – Seasons On Earth This one surprised me. Though Baird has the sort of light, faintly anonymous voice I associate with your garden variety heart-on-the-sleeve folkie, she’s got some grit in her worldview, and some Chris Whitley in her instrumentation and arrangements (at times, she sounds like half of the Smoke Fairies). More promising than anything else, but that’s not nothing.

Opeth – Heritage  The cover art would seem to suggest that this band has approximately twice as many former members as current, which I guess isn’t surprising after twenty years. And the nice thing about that kind of longevity is that, every few years, you get a new audience who’s impressed when you bellow “God is dead!” at them.

The Jayhawks – Mockingbird Time. The least “rootsy” band to have the word “hawk” in their name since Hawkwind welcomes back Mark Olsen after 16 years of separation from songwriting partner Gary Louris. The time apart hasn’t helped, though: the tunes sound like Crowded House leftovers. Let’s chalk this one up to shaking off the rust, and hope things are better next time.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Hysterical Who knew these guys really wanted to be The Killers?

Pearl Jam Twenty (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Hopefully, you’re lucky enough to live near a theater playing Cameron Crowe’s film. Because as nice as this CD is, with lots of unreleased goodies, just tain’t the same thing.

Duke Robillard – Low Down & Tore Up Same old, same old. But for fans of Robillard’s jump blues, naughty-uncle growl, and fluid fretwork, that’s pretty much a prescription for pleasure.

Van Dyke Parks – Arrangements Vol. 1  Last week, it was Todd Rundgren revisiting his career as an uber-producer by cutting wacky new versions of stuff he’d helmed for people like XTC and Meatloaf. Parks, being the laid-back L.A. lad that he is, settles for simply cherrypicking the original recordings. But, hey: Lowell George, Sal Valentino, Ry Cooder, among others, as well as Parks himself… them’s some damn fine cherries.

Kenny Burrell – Tenderly  In a fucking amazing week for jazz, it would be too easy to overlook this one: the first solo guitar album, in a live concert setting, from one of the alltime greats, employing a variety of different axes for a great tonal pallette, with wonderfully intimate sound. And while he kills on standards like “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Autumn Leaves,” I particularly love the perky pizzicatto of “Recado Bossa Nova.”

Bill Frisell – Blues Dream  Moving onward (and upward) from last year’s too-sedate solo effort, Frisell debuts a septet that includes bassist David Pilch, drummer Kenny Wolleson, an evocative horn section led by Ron Miles, and Greg Leisz on every variant of guitar known to man. The 18 originals range from the deeply blue (“Ron Carter”) to the lightly bittersweet (“Pretty Flowers Were Made For Blooming”); “Pretty Stars Were Made To Shine” is a country shuffle showing off Leisz’ pedal steel, “Outlaws” sounds like a Ry Cooder film score, and things wrap up with the chunky funk of “Soul Merchant.” Some of the best ensemble playing we’ve heard on a Frisell disk in some time.

Patton Oswalt – Finest Hour New fatherhood hasn’t softened the man: “Hey, if you like torture porn, check out the Old Testament.” Some hilarious shit.

Kevin Hays, Brad Mehldau, and Patrick Zimmerli – Modern Music  Duo keyboard extravaganza from Hays and Mehldau, with compositional and production input from Zimmerli. A half-dozen collaborative pieces from the three, plus covers of Ornette Coleman, Philip Glass, and an amazing two-hand “reduction” of an excerpt from Steve Reich’s “Music for 18 Musicians.”

Brad Mehldau – Largo  Hey, it’s that guy again. About as much of a 180 as you could ask for from the two pianos of Modern Music: instruments piled on instruments, including synths, horns, and Mehldau himself on vibes, all cut live in the studio, with such unexpected song choices as the pounding raveup on “Paranoid Android,” the rioutous syncopation on “Alvarado,” a cheeky nod to Ozzy and company on “Sabbath,” and some of the more ingenious Beatles covers heard recently, including “Dear Prudence” and the inspired mashup of “Mother Nature’s Son” with Jobim’s “Wave.”

Never Shout Never – Time Travel  The MySpace kid returns, and this time, he’s brought his friends. Haven’t heard it, but my exposure to Drew’s previous stuff suggests that it won’t be as high a priority for me as, say, Superheavy.

TONY RYAN PLAYS VIDEO GAMES (FOR LOVERS ONLY)

GEARS OF WAR III (360)

Get ready for some grunting, Broseph Lieberman. The only big retail release of the week is huge, bro-loving, and fun as hell. They even added a big beefy woman to loudly grunt so it doesn’t sound like gay porn to your roommates. Horde mode is revamped (and better), the campaign is epic, and Cole Train and Marcus are sooooo close to kissing it’s turning into some serious Sam and Diane shit. You’ll get it, play it, and be a little embarrassed. It’s what video games are for.

OTHER STUFF:

Kind of a slow week if you aren’t into shouting and shooting, but some good stuff on the DL front. Burnout Crash is described as Burnout’s crash mode meets pinball, which might mean it’s the only game I play until November. Resident Evil 4 gets the HD treatment, who the hell doesn’t want to buy that again? I’m already thinking of ways to drown out “What you buying?”. Persona 2 finally gets a full stateside release, anyone remotely interested in JRPG’s should take note. In the rare case you own a PSP. Finally, Supremacy MMA is hitting the major boxes giving Gears a run for it’s muscle bound eroticism. Personally, I vote for the shirtless guys, even if they have little twiggy girl necks.

And then there were none.

FIN.