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Reviews (Album, Movie, TV)
BLANK's Top 32 Albums of the Year PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 19 December 2013 01:56

 

There were a ton of great albums released in 2013.

Our esteemed panel of contributors to this list expands into many veins of local culture and we’re sure that you’ll recognize some of our guest correspondents. We had so much trouble narrowing it down that we had to make a best 32. So instead of writing a big intro explaining said albums, let’s just get right in to it.

 

32) Lorde – Pure Heroine.


When I first heard Taylor Swift, I used a pretty standard line: “She’s interesting and talented, but in the end she is a seventeen-year old girl and there is nothing that a seventeen-year old has to say to interest me.” Well, Lorde proved me wrong with “Pure Heroine,” because there is plenty that this sixteen-year old has to say that intrigues me. She is everything Swift or Lana Del Ray should have been. Hopefully she continues to light her own path because the future is bright.

-Bill Foster, BLANK Photographer

 

31) Tim Easton – Not Cool


I’ve been a big fan of Tim’s since the Haynes Boys days, and I really dig his songwriting and singing style. We always have a blast when he stops by and performs live on WUTK. Since moving from Joshua Tree to East Nashville and becoming a daddy to a precious daughter, Tim seems to be in a very good place in this game called life, and good for him! His latest record, ‘Not Cool,’ is a true, feel-good record, full of some of his best stuff, ever. Seven of the eleven songs fall under three minutes long, which help to make this an excellent rock and roll record with a nod to the past. “Tired and Hungry” is my fave on an album full of darn fine tunes. Be sure to catch Tim live at this year’s Rhythm N Blooms Festival.

-Benny Smith, WUTK Station Director

 

30) Sturgill Simpson – High Top Mountain


For years country music purists have been dogging Nashville’s Music Row for heading full speed into the pop mainstream, the only respect for the past being some mention of “Hank” or “Cash” in a sippy cup country song performed by a third string hair metal band in torn jeans. Real country music is still in Nashville and doing well. As Jason Isbell said during an interview “Lot of good burgers in this town, nobody forcing you to eat McDonald’s.” So if Music Row is the Fast Food of radio, that would make Sturgill Simpson a fresh, never frozen, local raised Angus burger topped with a homegrown tomato and a couple strips of Benton’s Bacon thrown on top for good measure. A potent mixture of honky tonk, gospel, bluegrass, roots rock and hard country singing about booze, cheating, coal mining, pills, hard times and music company BS delivered with grit and honesty, the eastern Kentucky native has been touring behind “High Top Mountain” non-stop. Songs like “Life Ain’t Fair and The World is Mean”, “You Can Have the Crown” and “Sitting Here Without You” sound like a throw back to the 60-70’s country and are proof that the marketing department hasn’t taken over the entire country music industry.

-Mark Arnold, The Shed

 

29) The Field – Cupid’s Head – Kompact


Now this is electronic music! Alex Wilner aka The Field comes by way of Sweden, having produced his version of electronic blend of loops, live drums and bass for over a decade. The master of the “loop” if you will, Wilner is not afraid to loop it and use it for the next ten-minutes or so, which can get monotonous to some, but to others, this can put them in a mind numbing hypnotic trance wanting more at the conclusion because you felt as if you missed something while spacing out. The Field is a lighter blend of electronica, where loops are layered and stretched out, never really culminating in crescendos or plateaus. This makes for music that is easily accessible, best enjoyed in office setting or road trip. The Field sound really comes together in a live setting mixed with the live drum and bass as mentioned before, the accompaniment with synths and loops really fills out the sound and makes the songs more structured. While not straying too far from the formula, Wilner did stray away from live drums & bass on “Cupid’s Head” this time around. Tracks like “A Guided Tour” and “No, No, No” offer varying percussion and vocal snippets, more so than in past releases. Dizzying vocal loops into expansive blankets of synth goodness are The Field’s recipe for success and are found throughout, especially on tracks like “Cupid’s Head” and “A Guided Tour.” While only six tracks, “Cupid’s Head” clocks at 54 minutes remaining consistent to past efforts by The Field. There’s a lot of bad electronic music out there, but The Field does not fall into that category.

- John Flannagan, BLANK Music Editor

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:58
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BLANK's Best 12 Films of 2013 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jack Evans, Matt Miller & Rusty Odom   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 16:29

12) The East


Oftentimes, filmmakers struggle to build a taut thriller even out of the most black-and-white good-guy-vs.-bad-guy scenarios. That makes it all the more commendable that, in their second feature together, Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij inject a significant dosage of moral ambiguity into a highly entertaining political thriller. No character in The East is strictly good or evil, be it Marling’s conflicted undercover investigator, Alexander Skarsgard’s eco-terrorist demagogue, or any number of revenge-fueled cell members. The East takes its punches at both sides of its central conflict, but the film is more engrossing for its richly-formed characters and speedy plot, and even with a third act that stumbles somewhat, it’s still one of the year’s most actively engaging thrillers.

-Jack Evans

 

11) Nebraska

This black and white story of an elderly Midwestern man, trying to get from Montana to Nebraska to pick up prize money that doesn’t exist, may be one of the biggest surprise favorites of the year. Although on the surface this film appears a mock of its confused protagonist, Woody, played by Bruce Dern, it is truly about a son trying to reconnect with his father one last time. Dern brings one of his best performances and Will Forte, who plays his son, David, proves that he can be a serious actor. This great acting, along with an intriguing, yet simple, storyline is what makes “Nebraska” one of the best films of the year.

- Matt Miller

 

10) American Hustle

Only David O. Russell (“The Fighter,” “Silver Linings Playbook”) could create a film about the Abscam political scandals of the late 1970s and make it such raw, emotional human drama. Not only that, but the characters developed from Eric Singer’s original script to tell this story make “American Hustle” one of the funniest movies of the year. Russell takes a historical tale almost preposterous to begin with, and tells it through the words of two con artists, played by Christian Bale and Amy Adams. Both shine in their ability to keep you laughing, and Bradley Cooper, with a hilariously bad perm, is crucial in driving the film’s momentum. Along with Jennifer Lawrence, whose character may be the craziest of the group, this cast is stellar in providing non-stop, head shaking laughs. Although “American Hustle” is structured around cynical manipulation, it is also generous and kind in spirit, making it one of our favorite films of 2013.

- Matt Miller

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 20:19
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BLANK's Favorite TV Shows of 2013 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Matt Miller, Danna Breaux & John Flannagan   
Tuesday, 28 January 2014 17:05

5) Arrested Development – Netflix


For many years the show’s creators and actors kept the idea of its return a mystery. Would it be a movie or just a few episodes? Can they even get the actors all together? Truly, it was no simple task. With the creators unable to get every actor there for large amounts of time, the show took a daring route, profiling each character in their very own episode. The approach was risky, intertwining each story, while bouncing back and forth in time through the episodes. Did we expect anything less?

The show continued to do what it does best, with each family member more extreme than ever, along with endless reoccurring jokes and a slew of celebrity guests. It’s impossible to put any character on a pedestal, as each actor brings distinct, dysfunctional qualities that make this family the most ‘unique’ ever on television. This anticipated return satisfied and thrilled those who had long yearned for it, leaving them wondering what could be next for “Arrested Development.”

- Matt Miller

 

4) Game of Thrones – HBO

First things first, George R. R. Martin has taken the genre of fantasy and lifted the whole darn thing into the realm of fine literature with his cycle of novels, A Song Of Ice And Fire. HBO has taken this series to the small screen as Game Of Thrones, the enormously involved tale of the struggle for the Iron Throne and dominion over the realm during a major preternatural upheaval of the entire world. From the 800 ft ice wall in the north keeping out scores of undead killing machines to the bizarre and savage lands of the east to the sweltering seat of power (and all the corruption you can possibly stand) in the south, this show has it all. Game of Thrones is packed with magic, romance, mystery, intrigue, knights, kings, giants, lords and ladies, and HEAPS of gratuitous violence and sex. If you haven't already seen the first three seasons, I'd tell you to go ahead and marathon the series ASAP, but then you'd just be pissed off like the rest of us until April 6th. Save the marathon for the weekend before the 6th and read the books in the meantime. Oh yeah, they've got dragons, too! And John Snow. Welcome to your new obsession.

-Danna Breaux

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 January 2014 19:54
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Broken Bells "After the Disco" PDF Print E-mail
Written by Johnny Sughrue   
Thursday, 20 February 2014 23:42

Your valentine wants this. It’s hard to resist the long awaited second album by Broken Bells featuring producer/programmer/instrumentalist Danger Mouse paired with the guitar and crooning of Shins vocalist James Mercer.

Broken Bells’ blend of boyish acoustic melodies and lo-fi electronica has been revved up this time out with the sounds of the seventies dance floors. But it’s not true disco that the guys are trying to replicate it’s more like the spirit of the late night disco party injected into their somber synthetic tunes.

Mercer’s falsetto sounds right at home, that is insecure and restless beaming over the sparse Euro-disco beats laid down by Danger Mouse.

The title track and “Holding on for Life” are prime examples of where the duo’s heading, creeping along with a Soft Cell-like groovy disco.“Leave It Alone,” however, is more dramatic and majestic with Mercer’s increasingly powerful vocals backed up by eerie vocal melodies and a finger-picked minor key acoustic guitar.

A lot of the rest of the album seems to take some clues from other new wave trash disco progenitors like Junip or even the recent Arcade Fire, but glimpses of Mercer’s past Shins syrup show through as in the slower tunes “Lazy Wonderland” and even “The Angel and the Fool.”

Feeling their way through the new sound is something that two pros like Mercer and Mouse might call second nature, and even the less memorable tunes are executed with confidence and glitz. Therefore, “After the Disco” brings lots of it to your Valentine’s Day cheer ‘cause Broken Bells are into their thing and that thing keeps chiming on.

 

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 23:45
 
Classic Review: Neil Young & Crazy Horse's "Ragged Glory" PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Ken Lay   
Thursday, 20 February 2014 23:45

Neil Young has always marched to the beat of his own drum --- both literally and figuratively --- you just never know what you’re going to get when one of his albums lands in record stores.

That is what’s both fascinating and frustrating about the rock legend that has composed both straight-ahead rock ‘n’ roll LPs and country works along with techno synth-rock, blues-jazz and rockabilly albums.

Some of these works are good, some are bad but the one constant is their originality.

In 1990, Young reunited with Crazy Horse, his longtime band, and went back to his roots with Ragged Glory.

The contents of this LP ushered Young and his band mates into a new decade with their traditional guitar rock sound. This incarnation of Crazy Horse features Young (lead guitar, lead vocals); Ralph Molina (drums, background vocals); Billy Talbot (bass, background vocals) and Frank Sampredo (rhythm guitar, backing vocals) and is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 23:48
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