Archive: February, 2010
We like American Idol. Too much.
Tommy Button: Last night was ladies' night in Hollywood so you know what that means ... standard text messaging rates do apply. Rawr. The girls were seriously bringin' in da noise and bringin' in da funk despite the ridiculous set. I forgot how bad the stage is for this portion of the show. There's the weird screensaver background and lights that make the whole thing look like a Bar Mitzvah dance floor. It's nice to see that me and Simon are in agreement about it being a girls year but handsy people tend to think alike.
Molly Eichel: I'm going to have to disagree with you Tommy. For all the talk to a girls' year, this was a particularly weak show. Not to say that everyone was as terribly as Lacey Brown vocals-wise but the song choices were disastrous. C'mon, Alicia Keyes? That never works well. Have these girls never watched the show before?
Paige Miles "All Right Now" by Free
ME: I had hope for Paige, especially because they seemed to be handicapping black female vocalist (see: ANGELA MARTIN) and we hadn't seen much of her. I think she was nervous, but nerves tend equal mediocrity at best and shitshow at worst. This was just aw'ite. She could handle the big notes but she lost it in the chorus.
Ashley Rodriguez "Happy" by Leona Lewis
ME: I loved Ashley when I first saw her. Totally cute, nice voice. But she keeps sliding downhill for me. Pick it up Ashley, because you look great in heels.
Janell Wheeler "What About Love" by Heart
TB: And the trophy for 'Worst Place' goes to Janell Wheeler. Molly got it right with the whole white girl thing. This girl is about as exciting as a glass of milk. Her song was way too big for Babysitters Club over there. What's most frustrating about the whole Janell Wheeler thing isn't just that she should really be Angela Martin, but is that the judges all seem to really like her. I do not see what the fuss is about. She is by no means any American's Idol. But hey, "former contestant on American Idol" will look great on your Match.com profile.
ME: Janell Wheeler right now up on top of My List of Reprehensible People List alongside High School Musical's Ashley Tisdale and Hilary Swank. They're not bad people at heart, but all of their creative output makes me want to commit random acts of violence. Viva Angela Martin, down with White Girl Extraordinaire.
Lilly Scott "Fixing a Hole" by the Beatles
TB: Lilly Scott was a close second when it comes to faves. She had an interesting song choice which means she's probably an interesting person, but she could have fooled me. She has a sweet voice but I can't decide whether I like her or not. I need a little more. Right now she seems like she's just trying to fit in with what she thinks people want. Lilly Scott is one of those contestants that will swear up and down she is only being herself on that stage but unless I get something else, I probably won't believe her.
ME: Totally digging White Storm as well (or Baby GaGa, depending on your nickname preference). But here's my problem with Lilly: She picked a song few people actually know. Yeah, she did a nice job but come outta nowhere, talking about how you lived in a car Jewel-style, I need a crazy balls out performance with a recognizable song. People aren't going to vote for her if they can't remember what songs she's singing. But then again, she has the power to change the weather, so she's got that going for her.
Katelyn Epperly "Oh Darlin'" by the Beatles
ME: She looked straight up prostitute last night, like a street walker with an Oxy habit.
Haeley Vaugh "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles
TB: Just realized I've been spelling Haeley Vaughn's name wrong this whole time. I'm pretty sure that means I'm not qualified to be saying anything right now. But I am positive that outfit was terrifying. It seemed like something out of a Roman Polanksi's closet. I thought she probably did as good as she ever has before but for the first time I was a little creeped out watching. Maybe it was the outfit, the body glitter or the mouth the size of a Sarlacc but I wasn't really feeling it. I hope next week that country strut comes back.
ME: We all know I'm on Team Haeley 2012, and at first I dug this performance. But the more I've let is marinate, all I can think about is those ridic high notes she tried to hit, which ended up just sounding like she was the best actress in some community theater musical. I like that she switched up the song, but I need the twang turned way, way up for this to work. Don't fail me now Black Carrie Underwood. And, oh god, her mouth is huge. But the nose ring story? A-fuckin-dorable.
Lacey Brown "Landslide" by Stevie Nicks
ME: I never really get along with crazy colored hair girl, but I had love for Allison Iraheta last season, 'cause that girl had pipes and said hilariously inappropriate things on live television. But she used up all my love. And now Lacey Brown is on my shit list. She couldn't handle this song. All I gotta say is leave it to Stevie. The Wispy Witch of the West put a lock on this song and the chubby one from the Dixie Chicks turned the key. So. Just leave it. Also: WHY IS ANGELA MARTIN NOT IN THE TOP 24. WHY? WHHHHYYYYYYY?
Michelle Delamor "Fallin'" by Alicia Keyes
ME: Forehead slap. Super hot. Still. Forehead slap.
Didi Benami "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson
ME: One of my faves of the evening. She's got a really interesting voice and I thought she sang this song exquitely. I don't know why the judges were hating on her so bad but this girl is Top 5 material to me. But just like Lilly Scott, I'm worried about her ability to switch genres. And, she's gonna need to get the audience on her side during her next performance.
Siobhan Magnus "Wicked Games" by Chris Isaak
TB: A wincer for me. Do not like. She seems a little like a cyborg, or whatever Robin Williams was in Bicentennial Man. Her song choice was pretty poor and I was surprised when Simon didn't call it indulgent, because he was pretty in love with that word last night, and Siobhan the Glass Apprentice was fuckin self indulgent. I get why they like her, she kicked as at Stevie but maybe she just got lucky.
ME: Look, I don't know this girl personally, but when she sings, her face looks straight up evil. It's not Bitch Face. That's what Kara has. It's Diabolical Face, like she could be the female Lex Luthor or something. But then she asked what a dark horse and I knew the truth. Instead of Lex Luthor, she's one of those girls that hangs around with Lex Luthor and wears fur coats and holds a small yapping dog and when Superman foils Lex's plan she plays all innocent like she wasn't also trying to take over the world. That being said, I'm glad she didn't do a big song, despite what Randy said, becuase she proved she's just not screamer.
Crystal Bowersox "Hand in My Pocket" by Alanis Morrisette
TB: My favorite of the night was Powersox. If anyone had the odds stacked up against them it was this girl. Just looking at her in the line up you can tell she's a bit the odd man out. Never the less, she hammered it out the park. And I love a good harmonica jam. Typically when it leads in to "Thunder Road" but I'll take this too.
ME: Dude, would you just shit your pants if she sang some Boss? I'm buying some Depends in preparation for how pants shittingly awesome that would be.
TB: Alanis Morissette was kind of a lame choice. If you must sing an Alain Morissette song, it better be the one about fucking Dave Coulier. I don't think she'll make it to the end but you can bet she'll give a few of those Duffyish girls like Lilly Scott a run for their money.
ME: I agree that this was a safe song and not the best choice (my Idol viewing party agreed that "You Learn" would have even been better), but when it comes down to it, Powersox is who I want to listen to the most. But I agree with the judges, she needs to change up those arrangements if she wants to take on GangDad Andrew Garcia, who judging from last night's performance has this in the bag.
Katie Stevens "Feeling Good" by Michael Buble
TB: I was a big Katie Stevens believer in the beginning and as far as her being a Top 5er, I still stand my ground. But maybe I just got excited because she seems like the person who wins this show. Last night, however, she showed some weakness. Poor girl wanted to get up there and kill but instead she left everyone a little confused.
ME: I think the producers were counting on her to bring it home too, the gave her a prime spot. But then she choked. She looked like a little girl wearing her mom's high heels. But I still have faith in Even Stevens. She couldn't hear herself last night and that got the better of her. I'm not worried about her, though. She's got at least Top 7 written ll over her.
TB: Dapper. That is the word I would use to describe Ellen last night. Perfectly dapper. I wonder where she gets her suits. She also is proving to be the positive influence in the group. She made a point to remind everyone that being in the Top 24 means they're great. Although, we would disagree on Janell Wheeler. To be honest, it was a little startling to hear someone sober say it. For their first live run as a quartet everyone was on. Once we get a few weeks in and everyone starts getting pissy with each other, then we'll be in business.
ME: Tommy, did we watch the same show? I thought it was a mess. Kara wasn't paying attention half the time, Ellen couldn't make a concrete criticism for her life (and she revealed that she doesn't really have the vocab to talk about music) and Ryan was teenage-girl-pissy like someone took him off his Midol drip. Let's hope tonight's boys round is a little more on point.
You won't see our review of Cop Out in tomorrow's paper because it didn't screen in time for publication. But we went anyway.
Cop Out is not a Kevin Smith movie. He directed it, as the credits will tell you. But it also marks the first time that the director has taken the reins of a film without writing its script, and the once-wunderkind leaves little trace of his presence. Jimmy (Bruce Willis) and Paul (Tracy Morgan) are longtime partners with an outside-the-box (to say the least) approach to police work. A swirling plot that involves Jimmy's daughter's (Michelle Trachtenberg) wedding, a precious Andy Pafco baseball card, a parkour-practicing bandit with a surfing wiener dog tattoo (Seann William Scott) and a Mexican drug dealer (Guillermo Diaz) serves as a vehicle for the pair to play their respective badass and batshit archetypes (when they go off type though, they're essentially useless). Actors Jason Lee, Rashida Jones come and go, often wasted in Mark and Robb Cullen's sprawling script. But Willis and Morgan know their roles and play them well. Watching Morgan chase a perp wearing a cell phone costume or scream movie lines as her interrogates an informant is gratifying enough. Too bad Smith never shows up to the party.
City Paper Grade: C
Neighborhood Watch finds fashionable folk all across the city. But Fairmount needs to step up their game.
|Photos | Josh Middleton and Julia West
We were faced with our most difficult challenge this week yes, even worse than N'East and the airport. We began in Fairmount where we found nary a fashionable soul, and then headed to Rittenhouse, where we're always sure to find someone looking snazzy. It still wasn't easy, but we found a few cute cats among the blobby regalia of North Face'd snores.
Hailing from Boston, Drew A. (24) put his outfit together that morning because he wanted to impress his lady friend. "Before I met her I was a slob," he says. We find that hard to believe, coming from a dude who actually ties his own bowtie. He accumulated his complex, but sophisticated, outfit from places like Urban Outfitters, thrift stores and a men's boutique in Boston called Uniform.
|Photos | Josh Middleton and Julia West|
When we first saw John J. (24) in his bright blue ski jacket and oversized gray boots we thought he had just stepped off the slopes, but he was actually out enjoying an afternoon stroll. With all kidding aside, we love those boots, which he says were purchased online from a Danish company called Rubber Duck. European fashion influences his style even though he confesses grad school has made him apathetic.
|Photos | Josh Middleton and Julia West|
We stopped Josh C. (22) because he was giving us those same sexy eyes you see in the photograph. He says his fashion choices are inspired by his accomplishment as a certified Eagle Scout, which actually translates to indifference. "I stick my head out the window to check the weather but it really doesn't matter," he says, "It's always the same jeans, same jacket and about five shirts."
|Photos | Josh Middleton and Julia West|
Our one well-dressed lady this week is Taryn Z. (25), who makes a bold statement wrapped in a plethora of colorful layers. She says this style choice could be the reason she's alive and well today. "Wearing so many different shades makes it harder to get hit by a car," she laughs. It's too bad we didn't catch her wearing one of her recycled umbrella hoods that she sells on Etsy under the pseudonym Recycling Zychal.
|Make candle holders or watch RuPaul's Drag Race ... decisions, decisions.
Every Tuesday, Critical Mass pokes around the art blog world so you don't have to.
I'm going through a phase where I can't get enough of that shmarmy music played during romantic '90s movies. Something about the Spinto Band's cover of "Brazil" for Art in the Age makes me think of Ray-Bans on Robert Downey Jr. and Marisa Tomei in a one piece.
Speaking of future snow, you may want to whip out this little DIY ditty from Free People before the next power outage. The fancy light from these purty little candles may help wane the pain of missing RuPaul's Drag Race.
The mavens over at Shmitten Kitten have once again stumbled upon a fun little site to share with other rowdy singles. Ex-Boyfriend Dead Letter Office solves one glaring problem of the Internet â a place to go to anonymously rant and rave about your now insignificant other. It may not be a solution to world peace, but it's something.
The old adage, "You learn something new everyday," was never more true thanks to PW Style. Like, did you know that Johnny Depp has a lazy eye? File that under "flaws that only men can pull off and still be sexy," along with peg legs and cute little stutters.
Along with the typical growing pains of high schoolers, the students of the Texas School for the Blind must cope with the challenges of being nonsighted in a society hostile towards difference and perceived disabilities. Following the lives of four blind teenagers, The Eyes of Me asks the audience to ponder: How do you see yourself, when you can't see at all?
Our society, has created a very rigid conception of abled versus disabled persons. Basically, any variation of our slim idea of healthfulness is cast as a "disability." The Eyes of Me has the wisdom to illuminate a narrow, human scope on the issue of disability and blindness by focusing on intimate moments in the teens' lives. Instead of grandious pleas for pity, the filmmakers focus on simple acts like crossing the street or taking a test to illustrate the full spectrum of being blind.
None of the four teens were born blind; all recently become blind because of a disease or an accident. Instead of showing anger or demands for pity, the profiled teens (Chas, Isaac, Meagan and Denise) view blindness as part of their identity, like having red hair or weak ankles. After losing his sight, Isaac says, "I don't know how to be a blind person." All four of the teens express their excitement at finally finding acceptance at the Texas School for the Blind. Everyone can relate to the feeling of not being accepted in high school, and this is particularly prominent sentiment throughout the film. Denise is overwhelmed by emotion at her Sweet 16 party when so many of her friends show up to celebrate. At her old school, she never got invited to parties.
The most poignant moments come in these simple lamentations, as when Chas mourns the fact he doesn't know what his sisters look like grown up. None of the teens use blindness as an excuse to not be ambitious. Chas writes and produces his own music, Isaac is a drummer, Denise participates in a school play and Meagan becomes the valedictorian. But, the film is careful to depict, these achievements are not because or in spite of their blindness. Like their musical ambitions or academic excellence, the teens' blindness is just another aspect of their involved personalities
The Eyes of Me (2009, U.S.), Wed., Feb. 24, 7 p.m., free, Overbrook School for the Blind, 6333 Malvern Ave., 215-877-0313, ext. 405, whyy.org/memberexperience.
The thousands upon thousands of Trailer! followers out there who wait with bated breath for my every posting will know that I've actually already featured a preview for Valhalla Rising (coupled with Danish director Nicholas Windig Refn's Bronson, which was released here last year). But this trailer is beautiful, so I couldn't resist. According to writers who have already seen Valhalla (it was at Toronto, like our film critic Sam Adams), this is all of the film's violence compacted into about two minutes. Rather than a bloody viking epic, it's more a slow-moving film about one man's journey this man just happens to be a savage, Norse killing machine played by the great Mads Mikkelsen.
The juxtaposition of extreme violence and classical music isn't new (hello, A Clockwork Orange), but that doesn't mean it isn't jarring to watch. Tchaikovsky has never been so primal.
Valhalla Rising has a U.S. distributor but no Philadelphia date as of yet.
A concert a day keeps the doctor away.
Monday: Listen to The Clientele on your headphones while you ride the subway and suddenly everything is lovely and romantic: the high school kids starting some shit, the homeless guy splayed across two seats sleeping and the creep standing way closer to you than necessary. With Clientele's sweet pop sound your morning commute could turn into a cartoon music video with budding flowers and frolicking woodland creatures. Now imagine seeing them live. With Vetiver, $13, 9 p.m., Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 215-739-9684.
Tuesday: With their second wave ska, The English Beat remind us of the days of pork pie hats and two-tone wing-tip shoes. They're peppy and fun by nature of the genre, but these British brats have always been snarky and complex. The better-than-you attitude that seeps from their pores is no reason to miss out on these ska legends. With Fishbone and Outlaw Nation, $28 - $40, 7:30 p.m., World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
Wednesday: Pattern is Movement made up of two bearded locals spin wispy songs that bleed effortlessly into each other. They sound like they brought keyboards and a bass drum into a graveyard to record, san goth lameness. I'm talking some serious ghosts in here, people. With Via Audio and Whales and Cops, $10, 7 p.m., Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
Thursday: Le Fits are quirky and frantic like Animal Collective, with equal helpings of roots and blues. They're a jam band, yes, but at no point do they sound anything like Phish or Dave because they've got indie pop intentions. They're slightly unfocused in the best way possible. This makes them ping-pong across music styles and genres enough to be fun, and sometimes enough to make you dizzy. With Jupiter One and Smiles, Everyone, $8, 8 p.m., North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St., 215-684-0808.
Friday: Brooklyn jazz-pop trio the Mumbles revive jazz vocal and mesh it with contemporary pop to produce a sound much classier than what's the norm coming from Hipster Capital, USA. With Mel Flannery Trucking Co., $10, 9 p.m., World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., 215-222-1400.
Saturday: If Grandchildren were at a job interview and they were asked to give three words that best described them, they probably wouldn't get the job. Luckily the words spacey, obscure and psychedelic are great ones to describe a band rather than a perspective employee. Also, most of the proceeds from this show will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House charity. With The National Rifle and The New Connection, $5, 7 p.m., Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St., 215-291-4919.
Sunday: Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears make funny garage rock. They're a more talented version of the band your dad and your uncle tried to form when they met up with middle age. Black Joe and his buddies nail the harsh, jangly garage sound, and add plenty of humor with songs like "Bitch, I love You." With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, $10 - $12, 9 p.m., The Note, 142 E. Market St., West Chester, 800-594-8499.
|Screenshot of Izzo from Ronnie's Facebook profile.
There's only so much a guy can do to salvage his dignity after getting the shit kicked out of him on national television. South Jersey's Stephen Izzo Jr., the recipient of a Ronnie beat down on MTV's Jersey Shore (the juicehead took him down in one hit), went to court to stop the season one DVDs from hitting shelves. Izzo's lawyer Eugene M. LaVergne says that Ronnie and the rest of the MTV crew are financially profiting from illegal activity, i.e. Izzo's ass whupping. Don't remember Izzo? He's the dude who started it up with Ronnie for seemingly no reason at all, while girlfriend watched.
Rather than demand the DVDs remove his notorious episode, he wants the whole thing vanquished. Good for you, kid. You got punched once and America thinks you're a loser. Deal with it. The most obvious battle plan should have been to get in on the contract for royalties. He could be making big bucks off the upcoming DVDs just for taking a beating. I would go out of my way for that kind of luck. And if he doesn't really care about money and just wants to repair his reputation, then this kind of scheming is way more respectable in that subversive, stick-it-to-the-man kind of way than what he is actually doing.
The DVDs were slated for release tomorrow, February 23.
|Sara Watkins, not at the Merriam|
The lobby of the Merriam Theater was packed with old folkies in well spun wools. On stage, beyond a sea of bald heads twinkling like stars in the limelight, stands Sara Watkins barefoot and alone. By the time I find my seat, Watkins, formerly of Nickel Creek fiddles and croons her way through her first two songs. (Read my interview with Watkins)
"Oops," says Watkins as she straps on an acoustic guitar for her next tune. "How about you guys have a conversation with your neighbors for 15 seconds while I go get a few things I need, starting ... now!" After scampering back on stage, Watkins dove right into the first of three songs off of her 2009 acclaimed self-titled debut. Watkins isn't known for her guitar-playing, and her slender hands don't always hit the note they reach for, but it only serves to punctuate her voice calling out "Lord Won't You Help Me" to the rapt house. Watkins' set, like her album, was a beautiful arrangement of heartfelt originals intertwined with folk classics. Her transition into Robert Earl Keen's "Feelin' Good Again" was met with raucous applause. Sandwiched between "My Friend" and "Where Will You Be," two originals that could very well become every bit as classic as the standards she sings, Watkins went straight for the audience's jugular with Linda Ronstadt's "Different Drum" and Nickel Creek's "Anthony." Watkins sparsely plucked her fiddle through the verse of her closer, John Hartford's "Long Hot Summer Days," before the instrument erupted in a bellowing wail as the tune progressed, and ended with her stepping away from the microphone to howl out the chorus into the night.
Amid great applause and anticipation, headliner John Prine, and his band, including Dave Jacques and Jason Wilber, entered a stage where guitars outnumbered people 3:1. I had never heard of John Prine before this show (gasp!), and besides some serious folk-crunch, didn't know what to expect. I quickly saw what all the fuss has been about for the past ... oh ... four decades. Prine can spin some serious yarn, and I soon found myself wrapped up in the stories each song served to tell
"I wrote this song with a buddy of mine from Bristol, England. But I prefer to write songs by myself," croakeds Prine, before belting out "Glory of True Love." "That way, I know when they're over with. Plus, there always comes a time when I look over at the other guy and wonder 'What in the hell is going on in there?' With this particular song, I had my wife in mind at the time, and I was kinda hoping he didn't."
Not long after, Sara Watkins joined me for a few of Prine's songs, including a rendition of "That's the Way the World Goes 'Round." In my good ear, I heard her softly singing the chorus in harmony, under her breath: "That's the way that the world goes 'round, you're up one day, the next you're down. It's half an inch of water and you think you're gonna drown, that's the way that the world goes 'round." She told me to pay special attention as Prine goes into a story of a woman who misheard the line about "half an inch of water" and instead asked him to play his song about "a happy enchilada." "You must have me confused with Jimmy Buffet," he cracked. Not long after, Watkins headed back to the stage to join in the grand finale, her sweetly powerful voice knitting together with Prine's raspy growl on each of the three duets they left audience with to savor.
Where not three hours before there had been a room of old folkies' reminiscing of John Prine concerts long since passed, the lobby was abuzz with talk of Watkins. As she made her way into the foyer, barefoot and beaming, new fans quickly swarmed around her; she took the time to personally thank them on their way to the door, signing autographs and scurrying backstage for more CDs once the first batch sold out.
1) ??? Anyone know? Hit me up in the comments!
2) Miss My Kisses
3) Lord Won't You Help Me
4) Feels So Good, Feelin' Good Again
5) My Friend
6) Different Drum
8) Where Will You Be
9) Long Hot Summer Days
John Prine Set:
1) Spanish Pipedream
2) Picture Show
3) Aimless Love
4) Six O'clock News
6) Grandpa Was a Carpenter
7) Fish and Whistle
8) Glory of True Love
9) Angel from Montgomery
10) The Sins of Memphisto
11) Bruised Orange (Chain of Sorrow)
12) Please Don't Bury Me
13) Donald and Lydia
14) That's the Way that the World Goes 'Round
15) Sam Stone
16) Hello in There
17) Lake Marie
1) In Spite of Ourselves
2) Late John Garfield Blues
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