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THE 2011 JUNO AWARDS nominee compilation album is a non-profit package with proceeds going to MusiCounts, Canada’s music education charity associated with CARAS; MusiCounts is dedicated to keeping music alive in schools through Band Aid music instrument grants, scholarships and by honouring extraordinary music teachers.

AVAILABLE MARCH 8TH ...WATCH THEM LIVE MARCH 27 on CTV

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Hit the Road with Music From…

LUCINDA WILLIAMS Blessed

HAYES CARLL KMAG YOYO

Considered by many to be one of America’s greatest living songwriters, 3 time Grammy Award Winner Lucinda Williams lives up to that and more by delivering 12 new songs that cover an even wider emotional spectrum than her previous work, without moving too far in any one direction. Deluxe edition features second disc “The Kitchen Tapes,” where she does most of her writing. It features all the songs from the first disc in demo form as recorded in her kitchen.

Hayes Carll returns with KMAG YOYO (Kiss My Ass Guys, You’re On Your Own), his follow up to the critically acclaimed Trouble In Mind.

www.lucindawilliams.com

“If you’ve been waiting for Ryan Adams to put Whiskeytown back together, welcome!” - Washington Post “…a familiar type-a mushmouthed drawler who’s smarter about the beat, than his shambling ways would make you think, and funnier than shit when he wants to be, which is often.” - Blender www.hayescarll.com

BLACK JOE LEWIS & THE HONEYBEARS Scandalous 11 new songs with a modern and gritty take on classic funk, soul, rock and blues. Album Available March 15th. Be sure to catch Black Joe Lewis live in concert at The Horsehoe Tavern in Toronto on March 31st. www.blackjoelewis.com

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RYAN BINGHAM Junky Star*

BLACK JOE LEWIS & THE HONEYBEARS Tell ‘em What Your Name Is!*

LUCINDA WILLIAMS Car Wheels On A Gravel Road*

JOHNNY CASH American VI: Ain’t No Grave*

HAYES CARLL Trouble In Mind*

TOM JONES Praise & Blame*

$10

On Sale Now at

ea. CD*

RYAN ADAMS AND THE CARDINALS Cold Roses*

Quantities limited. Sale in effect until March 31, 2011 at all Sunrise Records stores while supplies last. needle 5


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Album Art

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SINGLE SLEEVE DIE CAST COLLECTIBLES (Series 2) Limited edition – one run only! 44 added added collectible collectible Beatles Beatles Corgi Corgi Taxi Taxiss featuring featuring artwork artwork from from classic classic Beatles Beatles 45rpm 45rpm Single Single Sleeves! Sleeves! Each set includes ✓ Collectible Beatles Corgi Taxi Miniature ✓ T-Shirt ✓ 45rpm single artwork wall plaque ✓ Beatles collectible Tin

Packaging dimensions: 8” (w) x 8” (h) x 3” (d)

All You Need Is Love

Eight Days A Week

Let It Be

Also Available

A Hard Day’s Night

Long & Winding Road

Yesterday

You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

Can’t Buy Me Love

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www.thebeatles.com


/music

Jumpstart Your Heart

Canadian electropop squad These Kids Wear Crowns are ready to make it reign / by Karen Bliss 10

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J

umpstart is the perfect title and lead single

for These Kids Wear Crowns’ debut studio album, considering it was MuchMusic’s disBAND reality show, which gave the Chilliwack, BC electro dance-pop band major exposure and led to its recording contract with EMI Music Canada. It gave the sextet a jumpstart, yes, but it’s not like they hadn’t put in the work long before then.


“We’re gonna give it a jumpstart / 
4,3,2,1, go! / What’s up? / When we get it going no way we’re gonna stop / And all you need is a spark, spark /
If it’s all that you got! 
Got, got, got, got / We’re gonna give it a jumpstart / 
4,3,2,1, go!” sings frontman Alex Johnson in the huge, boisterous pop song already making a mark at Canadian radio. “That song was done with producer Matt Squire down in LA at NRG Studios,” says Johnson. “We did not write ‘Jumpstart;’ Matt and Damon [Sharpe] wrote it with Kesha’s mom [Pebe Sebert], but we obviously put our little flare on it; we went down to write a new song with [Matt] and we vibed for a day or two and he said, ‘I’ve got this track for you guys.’ And, to be honest, when we heard it, it felt like we had written that song.” It’s understandable why. The lyrics have a sense of zoom, an I’m-on-myway determination that epitomizes These Kids Wear Crowns’ original mind-set and resulting career trajectory. In fact, it was drummer Josh Mitchinson who was their “spark,” otherwise these kids might still be in B.C. dabbling in music as a hobby and working full-time day jobs. Johnson, Mitchinson, bassist Alan Poettcker, guitarists Joshua “Gypsy” McDaniel and Joe Porter and synthesist/programmer Matt Vink had all played in bands before and founding members Poettcker, Vink and Johnson weren’t keen on starting another “band,” per se. “Originally, we were going to do an electro project, a three-piece dance band, just keyboards and vocals,” recalls Poettcker. “Then Josh Mitchinson contacted us and said, ‘Hey I play drums and I heard this band you used to play in a few years ago [Goodnight Medic, which placed top 10 in 2008’s Seeds competition on CFOX] and I’d like to start something with you because I like what you do with music.’ “We’d just written a bunch of songs and Josh flew over from England and he was like, ‘I’d like to play in a band like that around here.’ Alex, Matt and I were really against it; we were like, ‘No, we don’t want to do that kind of stuff; we don’t really play ‘in’ a band; we want to try something else.’ Then Josh came over to Matt’s house one

time and we watched him play the drums for like 30 seconds and we all just knew. “The first song we ever did together was ‘Fifa 99’ — that ended up on our first CD — and it has more of a rock sound. Josh was unbelievable and we knew that we wanted to start a band again. It was weird.” That was 2009, only two short years ago. A five-piece back then (Gypsy had not yet joined), they recorded a CD EP in the summer before even having what Poettcker calls a “full-on” band practice. “The priority of this band has always been writing songs over getting together and playing,” explains Poettcker. “Everyone had already played in decent bands before we all got together. So everyone knew what to do to make it sound good live.”

Everyone can enjoy dance music. Everyone can get up and dance. It’s the music that we’re drawn to.”

—Alex Johnson

The EP was released in September of ’09 and, in the fall, These Kids Wear Crowns hit the road. While on tour, the band was asked to appear on MuchMusic’s make-orbreak show, disBAND, and quickly asked Gypsy, who played in A Trophy Life, to join the lineup as a second guitarist. These Kids got the thumbs-up on the show, meaning they should not disband. “You can’t pay for that kind of exposure,” says Poettcker. “When they asked us to do it at first, we talked about it with friends and family; and they said, ‘MuchMusic’s just going to exploit you and use you.’ Then the band talked about it a lot and we just came up with the idea, ‘We’re going to make the most of this opportunity. It was great and MuchMusic had our backs from day one.” Soon there was label interest and These Kids Wear Crowns signed with EMI Mu-

sic Canada, which released a reworked version of the EP in late-August 2010 with 8 songs, including “Fifa 99,” the break-out single “Break It Up,” “Skeletons,” an acoustic version of “Break It Up” and a remix of “Holding On.” In the fall, the band returned to the studio to complete work on its first full-length. The 11-song album — produced by such names as Matt Squire (3OH!3, Katy Perry, Selena Gomez), Gggarth Richardson (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Hedley) and Jeff Rockwell (Forever The Sickest Kids) — includes “Skeletons,” “Break It Up,” “Oceans” and “We All Fall Down” from the EPs, plus brand new material. “Don’t Sweat It” is a programmingheavy come on and “Let’s Ride” a slightly more plaintive, emotional number. There’s a whirling electro version of the Whitney Houston hit “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” — the only other song besides “Jumpstart” on the album that These Kids Wear Crowns didn’t write. “Good Friends (With Bad Benefits)” is another inspiring bouncy cut and “Don’t Sweat It” is the rock ‘n’ roll song of the bunch. Of course, essentially These Kids Wear Crowns are an electro-sparked dance band and that’s their intention. “This whole album is just about getting people up off their feet and dancing,” says Johnson. “It’s much more dedicated to dance than our EPs, but still has the same These Kids flavour. It has our familiar fun melodies and lyrics for fans. Everyone can enjoy dance music. Everyone can get up and dance. It’s the music that we’re drawn to. “Oddly enough,” Johnson muses, “we’re six dudes that get along and we all understand where we want to go. We’re just really good at getting along. I have my beliefs and politics — like I’m a liberal and Alan’s a conservative, but we get along just fine. Well, I’m not a true liberal, but it’s just something we joke about — we don’t necessarily agree on political or philosophical beliefs, Jumpstart is available now but we can agree on mufrom EMI Music sic together.” Canada. needle

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/movies

Our Insatiable Hunger For The Apocalypse Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Zombies / by Andrea Trace

“Y

ou never hear from Zombies! That’s the trouble with

Zombies, they’re unreliable!” So said George Carlin. But it doesn’t matter if zombies are unreliable; we all love a good zombie. ¶ In fact, humans love the whole end-of-the-world thing. From Ragnarök to Revelations, we’ve been talking about the end of civilization as we know it for over two thousand years. Zombies may be a late addition to the story cycle, entering the culture through the West African Vodun religion, with its new world derivatives Haitian Vodou and New Orleans Voodoo, but the fascination with a day of judgment has been with us for most of our literate history. We’re apocalypse junkies. The latest entry into the mythos is AMC’s The Walking Dead. Brainchild of writer/director/producer Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) and based on the insanely popular comic books by Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead is a habit-forming, weekly zombie fest with a ferocious bite. Genre films (and TV shows), and zombie-types in particular, have much in common with the venerable sonnet. Just as a sonnet has rigorous strictures based on form- a particular number of lines and precise syllable count- there are very specific rules to be followed when building a zombie universe. However, as long as you stay inside the lines, you can be as free with the form as you choose. Darabont (as did Kirkman before him) uses that freedom to probe character and lead us to ask ourselves the big question: “If I were a survivor, what would I do?” We all assume we will be among the living after the Big Bang, but just how successfully will you negotiate the terrors of post-apocalyptic Earth? “They’re very ordinary folk,” comments Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually), who plays the apocalypsecapable Rick Grimes, “but they’re the survivors and (the show) asks that question: 14

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How far away have we gone? How sanitized hitting, story-driven series on AMC, The have we become? How out of contact with Walking Dead is almost more movie than the land have we become?” TV. The production values are high, the The rule book for the makers of The writing impeccable, the direction filled Walking Dead was written by George A. with edge-of-your-seat tension. This is Romero. “I’ve always wanted to do my not a show for the faint of heart. Daratake on the zombie mythos, since I was a bont and subsequent directors don’t pull kid and I saw Romero’s Night of the Liv- any punches when it comes to the gorier ing Dead - the 1968 black and white ver- aspects of life among the zombies. Writer sion,” explains Darabont. “For our zombie Kirkman was pleasantly surprised by the show I’m calling that the Book of Genesis, scope of the production. and whenever there’s a question about “I was on a movie set last summer that zombie behavior I go back to Night of the was like a big budget blockbuster, and beLiving Dead. Here’s my favorite thing: fore I got out here I told myself, “I’m not the endless debate among the fans about going to be seeing the same kind of stuff how fast a zombie can move. There are because they don’t have a budget like a the folks who just can’t stand summer blockbuster.” But you seeing zombies running. I’m know what? It’s almost bigger. kind of in that camp, but if you The first day I was here was the look at the very first zombie in day after they had flipped the Night - the one in the cemetery car and there was a big shootchasing Barbara, he gets up to out that we saw. It was just aba pretty good jog. I’m keying solutely mind-blowing.” our zombie behavior off of that Although the special effects film: Whether they’re in a very and action sequences are exploThe Walking languid state or they’re on the sive, the glue holding the series Dead: Complete attack, they’ll move no faster together, and binding a recordSeason One is than that first zombie in Night breaking audience to the show, available on DVD and Blu-ray of the Living Dead.” is the story. Says executive proMarch 8th from Like Mad Men, another hard ducer Gale Anne Hurd: “The Anchor Bay.


best genre films are character driven. And dream come true.” the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. A three while they have an intriguing premise and One of the hallmarks of The Walking by three block square of Atlanta was shut terrific special effects, at the end of the day Dead is the fidelity to the original matedown… you could get to a certain point they’re rooted in complex characters and rial. As Kirkman says, “Everyone is really in the area that they were shooting, and great stories… What’s so wonderful about trying to do good by the comic, and there kind of turn around in a 360 degree view, The Walking Dead is that we’re able to exare scenes that are straight out of it. I think and that’s like, ‘OK here’s what it’s like at plore human nature [at] its most depraved that fans are just going to be thrilled. But at the end of the world, and I’m standing in as well as its most humanitarthe middle of it.’ They had ian in each episode. We strip trucks turned over and a each character down to their burned out bus, they had all most basic survival instincts the stores closed and dressed -- or lack thereof. It’s actually to look like the windows had Amongst the very best the genre the zombies who are the most all been cracked. And then all has ever produced... The Walking predictable: You know what of a sudden, here’s hundreds zombies are after. What you of zombie extras walking Dead is easily the most compelling can’t anticipate is how one around.” new series on television this surviving human is going to It’s this attention to detail interact with another. And that feeds into our apocayear, and it represents a true that’s what keeps the series lypse fixation, making the achievement for the horror genre.” fresh and compelling.” show “surprisingly scary The series opens with and remarkably good,” as — Fast Forward Weekly (Calgary) county sheriff Rick Grimes The New York Times says. waking up out of a coma alone You are there, just where –really alone- in a hospital room. While he the same time, [Frank Darabont] is vastly you want to be, on the threshold of a new lay unconscious, his world has been liter- improving the material. There’s some world. What are you going to do next? ally eaten alive by a zombie epidemic and amazing stuff he added for Morgan’s charThe Walking Dead: Complete Season now he has to deal. Sound like fun? “It was acter in the Pilot episode that’s just not in One is available March 8 on DVD and the coolest thing,” enthuses Lincoln. “I got the comic.” Blu-ray. The rampant anticipation for to wear Stetson cowboy boots and a bag of Kirkman was on set for the zombie Season Two is a measure of our appetite guns on my back on a horse called Blade. A invasion of Atlanta. “That was probably for zombies. needle

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past & present

The definitive film about the unparalleled Beat Generation author

in stores March 8

WILLIAM S. BURROUGHS

Simon and Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water (40th Anniversary Edition) ALSO AVAILABLE ON

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Night At Sky Church (DVD)

Billy Joel Live at Shea Stadium

Copyright 2010 Yonilizer Productions.

Bestselling Books About Music at Indie Bookstores for March ’11

n T e p T o The

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© 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Regency Entertainment (USA), Inc. and Dune Entertainment III LLC in the U.S. only. © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Monarchy Enterprises S.a.r.l. and Dune Entertainment III LLC in all other territories. All Rights Reserved. © 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, FOX and associated logos are trademarks of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and its related entities.

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© 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Regency Entertainment (USA), Inc. and Dune Entertainment III LLC in the U.S. only. © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Monarchy Enterprises S.a.r.l. and Dune Entertainment III LLC in all other territories. All Rights Reserved. © 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, FOX and associated logos are trademarks of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and its related entities.

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© 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Regency Entertainment (USA), Inc. and Dune Entertainment III LLC in the U.S. only. © 2010 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, Monarchy Enterprises S.a.r.l. and Dune Entertainment III LLC in all other territories. All Rights Reserved. © 2011 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment LLC. All Rights Reserved. TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, FOX and associated logos are trademarks of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and its related entities.

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Music City

N Indie Queens

As Nashville reclaims its musical relevance, “ladies first” takes on a brand new meaning / by Sean L. Maloney

ashville used to be a really hip place,

and when it became not a hip place, it died and the only thing going was Music Row. Now it’s becoming that place again, where you don’t know who’s going to show up and really what’s going to happen. Nashville needs to party weird again.” ¶ Caitlin Rose—whose debut full-length, Own Side Now, hits stores stateside this month after racking up an absurd amount of critical praise across Europe last year—is sitting in a Nashville cafe as we try to ascertain exactly why the outside world seems so enraptured with the women of Music City. Three of the biggest new stars of the last few years—Taylor Swift, Ke$ha and Paramore’s Hayley Williams—all call central Tennessee home. And Nashville’s ladies of the underground haven’t been slacking either.


Rose, folk-rocker Tristen and girl-gang garage rockers Those Darlins are all releasing records this month, generating big buzz from heavyweight sources like NME, Daytrotter and Spin.com. Jessica Lea Mayfield, the Ohio native who released the stunning Tell Me on Nonesuch in January, has had her praises sung by everyone from Rolling Stone to NPR. Wanda Jackson—literally the first woman to record rock ’n’ roll in Nashville—has been brought back into the fold of popular culture with her latest record, The Party Ain’t Over, produced by Nashville transplant Jack White [See Jeanne Fury’s interview in last month’s Cowbell]. Courtney Tidwell, who’s best known for making epic art rock albums beloved in Europe but hardly heard at home, has seen her import-only album of classic country duets with Lambchop’s Kurt Wagner receive high praise from the likes of Pitch-

fork and the Onion A.V. Club, even though, you know, it’s expensive and hard to find. Nylon has a crush on all-girl punk group Heavy Cream, and it’s safe to assume that after their spring tour with Ty Segall and their all-out assault on South by Southwest, the rest of the magazines will be, to quote the old song, totally crushed out as well. And then there’s all of the ladies waiting in the wings, whose talent hasn’t been put to tape or the streets yet. In any other city, a flood of successful records from the fairer sex might be seen as either cosmic coincidence or the result of concerted effort. Here, it’s par for the course. It’s almost invisible to the outside world because each record is so unique and each artist inhabits their own corner of the music spectrum—it’s not an organized movement like Riot Grrrl or conveniently packaged aesthetic like Lilith Fair. The women of Nashville aren’t plotting to

take over the music world; that’s just what people here do. It’s the nature of the beast, even if that beast runs into some really strange places. Mama weer all crazee now

“Everyone here is fucking insane,” says Rose, whose Linda Ronstadt-channeling approach to rock ’n’ roll has captured the hearts of critics on two continents. “It’s almost like they appreciate eccentricity, but they don’t appreciate showiness. When somebody comes to town and notices that they can still be their weird little self and not have to play songs in their underwear in the middle of Times Square, then they learn how to be eccentric, as opposed to an outsider. “Nobody can really make a stink about themselves here. Even if they try, it doesn’t matter—you can’t force people to go to your show by handing out fliers. I’m not gonna 19


go—nobody’s gonna go—unless you make friends, unless you’re a pleasant person to be around.” Tristen agrees. From a van somewhere between Austin, Tex., and Nashville city limits, touring in preparation of the release of her American Myth Recordings debut Charlatans at the Garden Gate, she explains: “I think the scene is really creative; there a lot of creative people… but you don’t have as many people strolling into town that are wacky and artistic without any skill. You have to have skills to survive.” The Illinois native makes bright jangly folk with dark and clever lyrics—not unlike Nashville transplant and pioneering ’60s artist Janis Ian—that is catchy and beguiling. Imagine TV serial killer Dexter collaborating with the Lemon Pipers, and you can see why Paste and Daytrotter have been swooning over tracks like “Baby Drugs” and “Matchstick Murder.” It’s new, it’s different, but it’s natural and organic and free of artifice, much like the music scene that helped shape it. traditions collide

“I wouldn’t say it’s the region [that makes women such a prevalent part of the music scene] so much as the people [we’re] surrounded by, the people here—especially [bandmates] Kelly, Nikki, Linwood—it’s just the way that we’ve been living and the way we interact with each other,” says Jessi Darlin, one-fourth of Those Darlins, who started out as a buck-dancing trad-country trio before honing the wall of snarl psychedelic/surf/punk sound of their sophomore album, Screws Get Loose. Brash and anarchic—possibly the only band in town with lyrics about putting eggs in the microwave and a yen for songs about allergic reactions—Those Darlins are the polar opposite of the well mannered Southern Belle stereotype. Their hard-partying, humor-filled, brazenly honest music—there’s no real consideration

When somebody comes to town and notices that they can still be their weird little self and not have to play songs in their underwear in the middle of Times Square, then they learn how to be eccentric, as opposed to an outsider. —Caitlin Rose

for the rules of decorum—has won over major league tastemakers like the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, garage rock legend Jon Spencer, Rolling Stone and the Gray Lady herself, the New York Times. “A lot of people in [Nashville suburb/ indie rock incubator/birthplace of Those Darlins] Murfreesboro [have been very encouraging],” says Darlin. “The last couple of years, it was cool to be in an environment where people supported that. I think of Murfreesboro and the scene that was going on there—I don’t think that that couldn’t happen some where else, ’cause there’s crazy shit going everywhere—but I think that the specific people surrounding us really make me feel comfortable.” “I do think that [these] women have great ideas, and they’re very set in their ways and aren’t willing to compromise,” says Rose. “I do think it is a lot different from 30 years ago when all it was about was how you looked and if you had a good voice. It also has a lot to do with the way these careers are being approached. We don’t have big budgets, we don’t have big labels, we don’t have a billion-dollar industry behind us. For the most part, we’re just

Caitlin Rose

trying to figure out what works.” Songwriter Jessie Jo Dillon, who cowrote Rose’s “Coming Up,” thinks it’s about following your bliss. “Everything comes in waves, of course,” she figures. “It just seems like the time has presented itself for [these women to succeed]. I feel like what there is in common, especially with those three [Tristen, Rose, Those Darlins], and, I would like to say, me as a writer, is just trying to do something we believe in. Something that means something to you.” As an underground scene staple who’s also seen some mainstream country success—she received a Grammy nomination for her collaboration with George Strait on “The Breath You Take”—Dillon has a unique perspective on the situation: “When I think of Caitlin, her music is very her—it’s not trying to be something that it’s not. It’s just like, ‘Hey, this is me, I’m Caitlin Rose. This is my music. This is my story, my songs. I’m trying to make you feel something with my music.’ And I think, really, that’s what [the buzz is] all about.” “Back in the day, everyone knew what worked, and that was what they did,” says


Rose. “Now, nobody knows what works, so we’re all just doing our own thing. And that’s the best way for it to possibly be. I don’t really feel anything forced from any of these artists, and I don’t feel anything forced from myself. I really have no idea how it’s even happening—but I think that the main point is that there’s [no one thing] that works. “But it’s nice to see everyone finding… not their niche, but finding out how to conduct themselves in this business, ’cause it’s a weird fucking thing. Very weird. It was fucked for 10 years, and a lot of people got fucked over, but now it’s fucked in a way that people are finally admitting that nobody knows how to do it.” Generation xx

“I think that we’re in pretty modern times, and maybe in Nashville and the South— that culture—it’s a little weird to have an outspoken female, but where I’m from we’re all loud and obnoxious,” says Tristen. “Maybe it’s a novelty and a new breed of songwriter in Nashville, but the rock scene—as far as I’ve been informed—is sort of a new thing in Nashville. The whole

attitude—it’s not really about the girls necessarily changing or the new breed of women writers. I think it’s a new scene popping up.” It’s true—the last decade has seen Nashville’s nascent rock underground become a national contender, and it’s not just the ladies making things happen. Kings of Leon have become arguably the biggest modern rock band in the world, both Jack White and the Black Keys have relocated here and become part of the scene, and hometown boys like JEFF the Brotherhood, Turbo Fruits and Mona have made big splashes on both sides of the pond. The city has exploded with young, ambitious artists bent on making their own music their own way. While the outside world may still define Nashville music by the honky-tonk tourist traps and the Music Row machine, the locals are working hard to define themselves as something else altogether. House shows, home studios, self-released records and an all-encompassing DIY work ethic are the foundation for everything that’s happening here—not unlike the era in which the city first became known as a music Mecca.

The defining characteristic of this generation—regardless of gender—is that it wants to make music free from interlopers, pencil-pushers and the celebrity-obsessed culture of coastal media centers. “Nashville, we’re a really weird, eccentric group of people—we’ve got old-time business people with these really hip kids, and that’s who we are,” says Rose. “It’s the reason Mumford & Sons can move here and not be accosted everywhere they go… They don’t feel like gods; everyone in town treats them normally and they treat everyone normally. That’s why famous people move here. You have to call paparazzi in this town.” “I think the culture in Nashville—where everybody just wants to play and everyone will play for free and no one cares about money all that much,” muses Tristen, “everyone just wants to play and be a part of something interesting. That drive, that’s what separates us from other music scenes.” “It’s so unlike anywhere else—I’ve lived in Los Angeles, I have friends in New York and Chicago, but Nashville is just it’s own thing,” says Dillon. “I don’t know if it’s because it’s Southern, or really what to attribute it to, but it is sorta cutthroat in certain aspects, but not to the extreme that these other towns are. Everyone, even if they don’t like something, they try to support ‘Nashville’—especially outside of the mainstream community—because it has been so hard to cultivate something outside of country music. “There’s something about our generation that has a lot to do with it. There’s such an appreciation—male and female— for the new and the old and trying to somehow merge them and create something fresh, yet paying homage to what’s come before… and I don’t feel like you find that as much in these other music cities. I know it’s there, but people really pride themselves on it here.” 21


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The Man on the Silver Mountain pg. 24


The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle goes mystic on All Eternals Deck. story by J. Bennett / portrait by jason arthurs

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John Darnielle is pacing back and forth in what we imagine to be his living room in Durham, NC, reading aloud from the liner notes of the Mountain Goats’ new album, All Eternals Deck. We can hear the footfall, along with the enthusiasm in his voice as he tells us about the inspiration behind the band’s 18th album. From what we’ve gleaned thus far, the record takes its name from an early 20th century tarot deck that may or may not exist. “The All Eternals Deck predates Crowley’s tarot by at least 10 years,” Darnielle intones with nigh-theatrical cadence. “Its earliest known issue arises three months after the first recorded appearance of the Inhuman Impulse Deck, to which it owes stylistic debt. Beyond these few details, its exact provenance is less certain…” In the past, Darnielle has written Mountain Goats albums inspired by the Bible (2009’s The Life of the World to Come), his years as a teenage tweaker (2004’s We Shall All Be Healed) and his abused childhood (2005’s The Sunset Tree). With All Eternals Deck (his first album for Merge records), he seems to be tapping into a latent occult tendency or two. Possibly. “The working title for the album was What Young John Saw in the Entrails,” he offers. “I thought it was kind of an album about telling the future, surviving into a future, but I don’t think I would put my own name into an album title. It’s sort of about this feeling of being drawn to these dark images and being repelled by them at the same time.” He returns to the liner notes, relaying the minutiae of the different paper stock and ink used to print the All Eternals Deck and the Inhuman Impulse Deck. We cut him off mid-sentence to ask if the information he’s giving us is in any way based on historical fact. “If I was a good artist, I would decline to answer that question,” he chuckles. “So, I will answer by saying that if I was a good artist, I would decline to answer that question. But I can tell you that what you’ve just heard are the liner notes for the new Mountain Goats album, All Eternals Deck.” Cagey, that Darnielle. An artist’s artist. His lyrics—highly literary, endlessly dissectible, often very personal, always ardently delivered—have made him no stranger to popular or critical acclaim. It certainly wasn’t a typo when the New Yorker called him “America’s best non-hip-hop lyricist” in 2005. Nor when Paste proclaimed him one of the “Top 100 Living Songwriters” the following year, placing Darnielle at No. 82, right between Fleetwood Mac and the Flaming Lips. His fans are even more reverential, writing lengthy essays on, theses about and analyses of Darnielle’s lyrics, and posting them on the forum at mountain-goats.com. In 2009, New York magazine 26

followed a punk rock fan who burned his music collection in his backyard after discovering the Mountain Goats, so profound was his conversion. The band even appeared on The Colbert Report that year, as Stephen Colbert is such a huge adherent. Others have started a Facebook campaign to get Darnielle a bit part on his favorite TV show, Law & Order SVU. (“I consider my chances of getting on the show extremely faint, but I should love for them to become better,” he enthuses. “At the same time, I will act the crap out of any part they might give me.”) This outpouring of admiration can often border on worship, creating an occasionally uncomfortable reality for Darnielle. “The one thing that’s overwhelming is that people assume that I’m a good conversationalist, and I don’t really think I am,” he says. “I think I’m kind of an awkward talker. I love to hear what people have to say, but I don’t feel I have much to say outside of what I write or sing. But I do think that 99 percent of the people who listen to my music are people who are like me. They vary in terms of their beliefs and what they’re passionate about, but we tend to share one thing, and that’s that we like to listen to music, especially if it has some sort of story or lyrical focus that hits us in a certain emotional way. I’m just a guy who happens to have learned how to write this stuff. But when there’re five or six people who wanna talk to you at once, it can feel a little overwhelming.” The weekend before we spoke for this story, Darnielle, 43, got to witness firsthand how other celebrity types deal with the onslaught. He was at the NHL All-Star Game in Raleigh, watching 18-year-old Carolina Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner field questions from reporters. “He was surrounded by about 20 or 30 dudes all talking at once, and he was fielding their questions with ease,” Darnielle recalls. “For me, sometimes it feels crushing because I’m kind of a private person, but I don’t wanna be the guy who says, ‘Oh, this is overwhelming,’ because, seriously, I get to work as a musician. I hit the lottery.” Maybe we should back up and point out that Darnielle was not at the All-Star Game as an everyday fan, tucked away in the nosebleeds swilling shitty overpriced lager from a plastic cup. No, he was covering the game as a journalist for Raleigh-Durham’s Independent Weekly. “In other words, I was hitting the lottery for a second time,” he laughs. “My wife [Lalitree Darnielle] was working there as a photographer, and I was there writing about the game, typing as I was watching. It was completely awesome. I got to go to the locker room and do some interviews, too. I’m the worst interviewer on the planet, though, because I don’t have any questions. I just stood


there listening to other people’s questions, going, ‘Oh, yeah— good question!’ But it was a lot of fun. My copy is actually due at 5 o’clock today, which is so exciting and romantic to me.” (Read his coverage at ow.ly/3WU95) Darnielle’s image as a sensitive, Bible-quoting troubadour doesn’t quite square with the organized practice of toothless Canadians knocking the tar out of each other—on ice—while legions of fat loggernauts get drunk in the stands. And yet, there it is. “How can you not be a hockey fan?” he asks, incredulously. “I really can’t understand why everyone doesn’t like hockey. It is the best game. It’s like soccer, though—it’s a poem, it’s a ballet, and you can’t sell people on that. But it’s like you’re watching a story develop that is being lived in real life and will count for or against the teams that are playing it. I mean, I grew up a geek, so I wasn’t good at sports. A lot of us maintain those biases, but those biases are silly. Sports are awesome.” There is another element of Darnielle’s personality that seems

at odds with the guy who wrote an entire album of songs inspired by and named after some of his favorite Bible passages, and it is this: John Darnielle is a HUGE death metal fan. With little prodding, he will talk at length about the virtues of the triple-disc Cannibal Corpse documentary, Centuries of Torment: The First 20 Years. Or The Erosion of Sanity, the 1993 album by Quebecois tech-death dealers Gorguts (“If I had a list of my top 10 death metal albums in my head, this would be on it,” Darnielle insists). Or the reasons why he chose renowned death metal musician and producer Erik Rutan of Hate Eternal to produce four of the 13 songs on All Eternals Deck. “Death metal is a lifelong discipline,” Darnielle says with just a touch of awe in his voice. “It’s like working at an iron forge. But for a lot of people it’s kinda funny because there’s so much gore and misogyny in the lyrics. Meanwhile, I’m a feminist who plays an acoustic guitar. But what death metal is about for me is that I may be who I am now—and hopefully I’m an okay person— but I used to be a speed freak. I was not always a good person. I was a nasty piece of work at one point in my life. So, I think death metal is sort of about learning to really engage the fullness of human experience. It’s for when you have so much aggression in you that you have to put it somewhere. Which is why when I have a bad day, I listen to Hate Eternal. I’ve talked to Erik about it, and he said, ‘Dude, that’s what this music is for.’” Darnielle’s fans know all about his fascination with death metal, but it’s unclear if they really understand it. “I often get people asking me why I don’t make a death metal record,” he offers. “But it’s obvious to anyone who listens to the stuff: I’m just not that kind of guitarist. I’d have to go back to my

11th year on this planet, get an electric guitar instead of piano lessons, and then live and die with that guitar for the next 10 years before I was fit to play a riff. The metal I listen to is music of profound proficiency played by people whose musicianship I will never even be able to approximate.” Though Darnielle may live his whole life without shredding a proper Morbid Angel solo, his involvement in the metal scene runs deeper than just bro-ing down with Rutan and hitting the occasional Cannibal Corpse show. For starters, he’s been writing his hilarious back-page column, South Pole Dispatch, for extreme metal monthly Decibel [Cowbell’s sister publication] since the magazine’s inception in 2004. In 2008, Darnielle wrote a novella about Black Sabbath’s Master of Reality for Continuum Books’ 33⅓ series concerning the making of classic albums. Whereas most of the books in the 33⅓ catalog examine a particular album through the usual academic contexts—historical, critical, musical, etc.—Darnielle’s is a work of fiction. “I told them I wanted to look at the album through the lens of a 14-year-old boy being held in a [psychiatric] treatment center,” he says. “I didn’t even pitch them on the back end, in which the kid is an adult looking back on his experience, because I didn’t know it was going to go that way. I’ll never forget the morning that happened, because it came as a surprise to me. Suddenly, there was this feeling of forward motion, and I asked myself, as a former nurse, what would happen next.” This is where Darnielle’s two writerly disciplines intersect: on the grounds of a mental hospital in Norwalk, Calif. The Mountain Goats began, more or less, while Darnielle was working as a psychiatric nurse at the Metropolitan State Hospital in Norwalk, where he would record his early songs on a cassette boombox. But the man who would become the Mountain Goats wanted to be a writer first and foremost. “Sometimes it’s hard for me to think of myself as a songwriter at all because I wanted to be a writer—not a singer, not a songwriter—the longest. But I suppose it depends if you’re asking me what my ambitions are or how I would describe myself from the outside. If John Darnielle was an alien creature and I was a scientist who came to see what he does everyday, I’d say, ‘That’s a songwriter. It’s clear that’s what he does.’ That’s where I work most naturally. That’s where, when I start working, I get where I’m going quickest. Whereas the other types of writing take more effort. But I kind of hope at the end of my life I’ll write a few good novels.” With the Master of Reality novella already under his belt and a second book in progress, Darnielle is walking the talk. Just don’t necessarily expect his latest manuscript to be published any time soon.

“Death metal is a lifelong discipline. It’s like working at an iron forge. But for a lot of people it’s kinda funny because there’s so much gore and misogyny in the lyrics. Meanwhile, I’m a feminist who plays an acoustic guitar.”

John Darnielle

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“That’s the other thing: With songs, they come naturally, and I finish them,” he laughs. “Whereas I can see how people work their whole lives on a novel. It goes this way and that way—it’s a big messy thing. A song is a compact and physical experience. Songs can be written in one sitting. Novels could conceivably be written in one sitting by a tweaker, I suppose, but generally speaking, a novel is a very long piece of traveling from one place to many, many other places. As I’m working on my second one, I just feel awe of the people who write good ones.” In a January 17 interview with Pitchfork, Darnielle mentioned

that he had recently woken up in the middle of the night, listened to Joni Mitchell’s For the Roses, and then listened to All Eternals Deck. “For people trying fuse poetry and song, there’s hardly anyone higher than Joni Mitchell,” he explains. “She’s in that elite company with Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen, but for me, she’s the one who’s been most important. Listening to her stuff just opened up the sky for me when I was

younger. So, I just sort of wanted to A/B them. I doubt I will ever make a work as enduring as Joni Mitchell, but it’s interesting to sort of listen and check myself against the people I really look up to.” Whether All Eternals Deck holds up to Darnielle’s personal standards will ultimately be up to him. But if early reactions to the album’s leadoff track, “Damn These Vampires” (chorus: Damn these vampires, for what they’ve done to me), are any indication, Darnielle has at least lived up to his fans’ ever-towering expectations. “There’s a core of people who know that what I’m about is the comic power of darkness,” he ventures. “That in your personal darkness there are these moments of comic triumph that you can really revel in. People have that expectation of me, but they also wanna see where I can take it. Can I make a song where there’s a three-part male choir singing? Can I take it to places that are more interesting musically than a guy playing guitar as hard as he can? But at the end of the day, when I sit down and write, I’m doing the same thing I’ve always been doing. I’ve got a decent idea, and I try to make it a better one.”

“The working title for the album was What Young John Saw in the Entrails. I thought it was kind of an album about telling the future, surviving into a future…It’s sort of about this feeling of being drawn to these dark images and being repelled by them at the same time.”

John Darnielle

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photo by d.l. anderson


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new music reviewed and graded for your aural pleasure

Brew Crew

Minimalist Seattle supergroup the Cave Singers louden up on their junior effort

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y the time the Cave Singers dropped Invitation Songs in 2007, “folk music” had become a ri-

diculously baggy catchall used to describe everyone from Joanna Newsom to Animal Collective by way of Hoots and Hellmouth. Never mind that the trio’s early sound stemmed largely from a series of happy accidents, and that guitarist Derek Fudesco, vocalist Pete Quirk and percussionist Marty Lund all claimed backgrounds (and foregrounds) light on folk and heavy on rock. Simply playing raw acoustic music landed the Seattle-based trio in a pigeonhole that even

The Cave Singers

No Witch

Jagjaguwar

2009’s decidedly more polished Welcome Joy failed to pull them out of—though it did inspire less flexible fans to grouse about the change in emphasis. They’ll bitch even more about No Witch for one reason: It’s a fully baked rock album, rendered all the richer by producer Randall Dunn (Black Mountain, Sunn 0))), Boris). Not that the journey from coffeehouse to roadhouse has left the Cave Singers bereft of hard-earned roots: Ex-Pretty Girls Make Graves and Murder City Devils bassist Fudesco tweaks various American traditions so adroitly, you’d never guess he was a guitar noob at the band’s conception,

while Quirk now sounds like a bona fide Americana dude rather than yesteryear’s front-runner in a Devendra Banhart parody contest. They even occasionally slouch toward Appalachia, as per “Gifts and the Raft” and the decidedly campfire-friendly “Swim Club.” Plus, the band never so much as threatens to disconnect from the blues. Buttressed by Lund’s low-key tribal tattoo, “Black Leaf ” rides a riff so murderously efficient, the likes of Black Mountain (or Bob Dylan) should be willing to sell their souls for it. Fudesco even leaks a little Delta mud into 29


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reviews

raga-rocker “Outer Realms.” Gospel tendencies find a home on the chorus of “Falls”—right alongside trombone drones and radio drama organ. Even at their most eclectic, the band never overreaches— nor do they venture anywhere near the sort of playacting and minstrelsy the Black Keys sometimes lapse into. Credit for much of the latter resides in Quirk’s insistence on anchoring lyrics to everyday situations—never more than on home-base shoutout “Haller Lake.” The chorus’ “send me away in the evening sun” is notable if only for juxtaposing Sol and Seattle in the same song. Abundant assets aside, No Witch isn’t without what nitpickers might interpret as the occasional misstep—parts of “Haystacks” smack a little too much of Neil Diamond to engage listeners who, thanks to Vampire Weekend, are observing lifelong embargos on ’70s pop. But one person’s poison is another’s manna. Even the Cave Singers’ enhanced recorded presence is bound to inspire a few haters. The rest of us have nothing to complain about. —Rod Smith

Acid House Kings

Music Sounds Better With You Labrador

Wall of sunshine The Acid House Kings don’t play house, acid or otherwise. They’re a bright and sunny band that manages to distill the entire history of American and British pop music into delicious, easy-todigest nuggets. A giddy guitar line opens “Are We Lovers or Are We Friends?” for a perfect, soaring tune that suggests new wave, Motown and Merseybeat. “Where Have We Been?” blends girl group handclaps, R&B horns and flamenco guitar to support Niklas Angergård’s breezy vocal. “Windshield” suggests a low-budget wall of sound, although “wall of sunshine” might be a better description of this flighty tune highlighted by Julia Lannerheim’s breathless vocal. “Heaven Knows I Miss Him Now” uses a simple ’60s turnaround played with a slight Latin feel to close the album on a cheerful note. It’s easy to spot the influences on every song, but the music is played with such innocent enthusiasm that it’s hard to find fault with AHK’s retro obsessions. —j. poet Cloud Nothings

Cloud Nothings Carpark

Noise-pop prince goes postal While Turning On—last year’s rickety, winning debut from this Cleveland project—was lo-fi peevish, on Cloud Nothings, Dylan Baldi goes full douchebag, abandoning dashed-off fake-GBV bummers for a half-hour of noisy punk-pop pityparties-to-go. Pogo-ready tempos, chipmunk

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Space Oddities For shapeshifting trio, the only constant is change

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tylistic changeups notwithstanding,

Akron/Family hardly lack a sense of continuity. From finger-picked guitars to luminous vocal S/T II: The Cosmic harmonies by way of era-corrected hippie POV, S/T II Birth and Journey swarms with forces at work since 2002, when the bicoastal of Shinju TNT psychonauts first started exploring their shared omnivorousness and seemingly bottomless supply of chops in and Dead Oceans around Williamsburg. What gives the band a chameleonic air is its aptitude for constantly redirecting those forces. The epic schemes and West African rhythms that dominated ’09’s Set’Em Wild, Set’Em Free hardly figure on the trio’s sixth album. Songs run short—less than six minutes—while their longstanding fascination with field recordings and electronics returns to the fore. They even use their old work as raw material, dusting the entire album with sampled shards of 2005’s Akron/Family. It’s a testament to the trio’s vision that the decorative elements do nothing to make them seem less barefoot in the head, but simply yank many of the album’s mellower moments off the back porch and hurl them into orbit, as on all-purpose departure announcement “A AAA O A WAY.” Given the band’s manifest fascination with acoustically informed chill-enhancement gambits, S/T II offers a surprisingly high rocker count. Vocation milestone “Silly Bears” gallops toward a burning horizon on legs of vintage electronic drum sounds and a one-note bassline that provides the perfect backbone for its surging choral finale. Ending on the word “friend,” sung a cappella, couldn’t be more appropriate. —Rod Smith Akron/Family


fist-pump Ramones-ish choruses, bleedinglarynx throwdowns—this is the sound of spiraling, post-adolescent agony translated into three-chord ecstasy, an analogue of sorts to the mano-a-mano ferocity of Wavves’ King of the Beach. “Not Important” is screamo, idol-envying ruckus, whereas the barnstorming, puerile “You’re Not That Good at Anything” may prove that the dispensing of insults is a smokescreen for insecurities on the part of the dispenser, but it’ll stoke plenty of moshpits when Baldi goes on tour later this year. And the churning, flailing “Rock” is as bittersweet as it is Superchunk-sour: “You love me, but now we’re both dead,” Baldi yelps, ad infinitum, into the herky-jerky maw of his own maelstrom. Dick moves are rarely this striking—or this unrelentingly catchy. —Raymond Cummings

Tides,” is reminiscent of Radiohead’s “Exit Music (for a Film).” This concept of culling from varied sources, though, has always allowed the band to play with an impressive diversity. And their dexterous orchestrations and muscular production, along with singer Murray Lightburn’s Morrissey lounge act, allow them to occasionally even sound innovative. Degeneration Street is long, stuffed with a laundry list of influences. But by the end, the Dears sound less like record collectors and more like exceptional songwriters. —Shane Mehling

Death

Spiritual, Mental, Physical Drag City

Not much to live for

The Dears

Degeneration Street Dangerbird

Originality is overrated The Dears have always known that everything old is new again. While musicians are finding inspiration more and more in older, defined genres, the Montréal band has blatantly employed familiar sounds over the last 15 years. On their fifth release, Degeneration Street, they continue to prove that this is their greatest strength. “Thrones” is a glimmering ode to the Jesus and Mary Chain, “5 Chords” mixes ’80s Bowie with the Cure, and the strongest track, “Galactic

Not to be confused with the Floridian metal band of the same name, Detroit’s Death existed from 1971 to 1977. In those six years, the band made one visit to a proper recording studio, which yielded seven songs. Two of those appeared on their only official release, a self-financed 7-inch. These days, that record goes for about $600 whenever it pops up on eBay. In 2009, Death ceased to be a record collector’s secret when Drag City released their entire studio output as ...For the Whole World to See. Where that reissue unearthed a lost relic, Spritual, Mental, Physical finds the band finding themselves. Culled from even earlier demos than the previous reissue, the band dicks around with

partial covers, dabbles in some noises and tinkers with ideas that would later get reworked in that studio session they did. There’s little purpose to this record outside documentary purposes, and it’s too bad the songs mentioned above weren’t included in the previous reissue. There’s little reason to listen to this one instead. —Matt Sullivan

The Death Set

Michel Poiccard Counter

Puree at heart The Death Set, originally from Australia, then of Baltimore, and now of Brooklyn, are an archetypal post-Internet band. They hop from locale to locale musically as well as physically: Michel Poiccard’s leaps from synth-screamo (“Slap Slap Slap Pound Up Down Snap”) to the postcardperfect indie pop of “Is It the End Again?” spring up like images on a Tumblr feed. Or, more historically, like they did on the Beastie Boys’ 1992 Check Your Head, this album’s spiritual predecessor. “We Are Going Nowhere Man” is skate-video soundtrack-ready, a speedy wall of guitar with a plaintive chorus, “A problem is a problem it doesn’t matter where you from” a strange early-’90s blender of emergent rap-rock and rave synths. All of it is basically here as fuel for their live show—one of the most glorious concert experiences going, as the band leaps around ecstatically and intersperses their own songs with snippets of ’80s faves like Prince and INXS. —Michaelangelo Matos

Well-Respected No More? Ray Davies’ duets record doesn’t work out the Kinks

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eezus, Ray, what in the hell were you

thinking? We’re all for trying to squeeze a little more blood out of classic tracks, and we’re all for May-SepSee My Friends tember artistic collaborations—when they work—but why would you ever let Jon Bon Jovi and Metallica anywhere near your redecca cord? Did you need the company of other artists that hadn’t made a good record since the ’80s? And what’s with all the milquetoast modern bands? One would think, being Ray Davies and all, you’d be able to rope in more interesting artists than Snow Patrol and Mumford & Sons. Duets records are rarely more than money grabs, and this one doesn’t feel much different. Which isn’t to say that this album is completely devoid of quality—about half of it is garbage, but the other half is great. Jackson Browne on “Waterloo Sunset”? Awesome. The dearly departed Alex Chilton revisiting “Till the End of the Day”? Stellar. Same goes for the Black Francis appearance and Lucinda Williams on “A Long Way From Home.” Billy Corgan, on the other hand, should never be allowed in front of a microphone again, and his screeching more or less ruins what would have otherwise been a pretty cool medley of “All of the Day and All of the Night” and “Destroyer.” Points for trying, but I think I’m gonna just stick with your classic catalog, Ray. —Sean L. Maloney Ray Davies

photo by Lucy Hamblin

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reviews

Dum Dum Girls

He Gets Me High Sub Pop

Comfortably dum Somewhere (okay, Los Angeles), there are four girls named Dee Dee, Bambi, Sandy and Jules with the words “Dum Dum” tattooed on their fingers. They’re hanging out in a reverb chamber with Richard Gottehrer (the genius who wrote “My Boyfriend’s Back”) and the dude from the Raveonettes, recording huge jangly pop songs that stick to your brainpan like Bubblicious

sticks oh-so-tragically to the Girls’ stiletto heels. Like those of their 2010 debut, I Will Be, the cavernous, casually cool tracks on this four-song EP—which closes with a thunderous cover of the Smiths’ “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out”— are nothing short of infectious. From the ghostly vocal harmonies and slow Mazzy Star swing of “Take Care of My Baby” to the rubbery bass buzz, shimmering guitar fuzz and Phil Spector drums of the title track, the Girls’ collective sense of melody, of space, of how to wear fishnets without looking slutty—are all impeccable. So is this EP. —J. Bennett

East River Pipe

We Live in Rented Rooms Merge

Ownership issues “The whole world is made on backroom deals / You better get used to it,” F.M. Cornog tells us to start his seventh pseudonymous album. It’s equal parts tough love and tough shit as usual for East River Pipe; world-weariness is presupposed. But Cornog engages with that world rather than just falling back in despair; even a line like “You’re like a visit from the ice man, the

Ordinary People? For Portland’s baroque poppers, simplicity and subtlety are not mutually exclusive

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he King Is Dead is, unques-

tionably, the Decemberists’ most ordinary record. Markedly less ambitious (outwardly, anyway) than the byzantine story-songs and oldfangled, concept-driven folderol that reached an apogee on the thorny, toilsome Hazards of Love, these 10 relatively straightforward songs—surveying a range of resolutely rootsy American rock and folk styles—present some artistic hazards of their own. There’s an easily bungled subtlety, after all, to what troubadour-in-chief Colin Meloy calls “the complexity of simple songs.” The Decemberists But while Meloy’s distinctive The King Is Dead diction sticks out occasionally (and capitol you kinda want to hug him for it), he and his band, with a few well-chosen confederates, pull off the gambit admirably. “Don’t Carry It All” trades Picaresque’s scene-setting shofar for a gloriously shrill harmonica, kicking off a rousing, full-throttle Americana anthem (complete with Gillian Welch, the indie generation’s Emmylou Harris), while the superb, driving “Calamity Song” manages to both luxuriate in and transcend its blatant (and roundly, rightly

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reckoned) R.E.M.-iniscent qualities—Peter Buck’s presence aside, it also emphasizes Meloy’s Stipe-ian timbre and capacity for lyrical obfuscation (in this case, dreaming up the end of the world as we know it). The album’s other pleasures are often subtler: the gentle, moving “Rise to Me” (partially addressed to Meloy’s young son); the pair of sweetly breezy seasonal “Hymns,” recalling the calm clarity of the band’s earliest days. There’s no denying the familiarity of certain sounds here, but it’s always resoundingly, recognizably the Decemberists, which—given their tendency toward stilted theatricality—feels surprisingly natural and comfortable. And if it occasionally gets a little bit dull—well, such are the perils of normalcy. —K. Ross Hoffman

photo by autumn dewilde


angel of death” (“Cold Ground”) sets up a tune of surpassing warmth, with Cornog’s stately, acoustic guitar-driven arrangement and brief electric solo at the end give it a genuine lift. “Payback Time” describes a disintegrating relationship over steadily rising synthesizer

layers. And most movingly of all, “The Flames Are Coming Back” is both baleful and hopeful, a kind of torch song in reverse—he’s trying to conjure them, pleading, “Baby, can’t you see?” She probably can’t. But we can hear it. —Michaelangelo Matos

What It Isn’t Good For PJ Harvey wages a war of words

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s recording artists go, Polly Jean Harvey

is not a risk taker. She won’t touch something until she’s on top of it. She’s had her dull spots, but nowhere in her catalog has she failed to impress with PJ Harvey Let England Shake the way she grips subjects by the throat, even if they’re reciprocating the squeeze. Vagrant Let England Shake is Harvey’s first foray into the political realm, breaching themes of war and allegiance to/ abhorrence of one’s country, wherever that may be. It’s potentially disastrous territory for any artist who’s built their career dishing on human emotions, but Harvey navigates the minefield. She spent two years on the lyrics before touching an instrument, a process which has yielded some of her best material to date. From beguiling cries to dissonant caws, her vocal versatility is rock solid. And though the tunes—anchored by whimsical percussion, humid horn accents and carousel-music-like buoyancy—are often at odds with the dire lyrics, Let England Shake is remarkably harmonious. “The Last Living Rose” opens with a creeping guitar reminiscent of the Rid of Me era, while the lilt of Harvey’s tongue beautifully maneuvers through nostalgia for England’s filth and fog. A soft, dreamy hymnal, “Written on the Forehead” speaks of the battered and war-torn. A small chorus implores “Let it burn” behind the slight reverb in Harvey’s angelic voice. And while you’re clapping along to “The Words That Maketh Murder,” she recalls soldiers falling “like lumps of meat.” That Harvey is now able to reap material from the world beyond her own flesh has placed countless possibilities within her reach. —Jeanne Fury

photo by seamus murphy

Eleventh Dream Day

Riot Now!

Thrill Jockey

Chicago’s best weapon contribution since the Manhattan Project It’s been a quarter-century since Rick Rizzo and Janet Beveridge Bean began filtering their alt-rock chops through their prismatic adoration of Neil Young to create Eleventh Dream Day’s gloriously melodic cacophony. Lineup changes, fickle commercial winds and label indifference have conspired against 11DD, but it’s rarely had an impact on the honesty with which the band approaches its brash and beautiful noise. Riot Now!, 11DD’s first new album in five years, bristles with the kind of squalling intensity that defined the band’s earliest albums, an amazing accomplishment considering the nearly malicious neglect they’ve experienced. Opener “Damned Tree” is an insistent case in point, a howling mad mash-up of Dictators/Dolls punk rock thunder and Mission of Burma indie rock lightning, with the ever present Crazy Horse squeal drifting through the proceedings like a palpable cloud of feedback smoke. Anyone with memories of Eleventh Dream Day will tremble at the raw wonder of Riot Now! Anyone lacking those memories should fill in the gaps immediately. —Brian Baker Matthew Friedberger

Napoleonette

Thrill Jockey

The first of many solos for the Fiery Furnace stoker Look up “prolific” in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of Matthew Friedberger laughing at the definition of “prolific.” Friedberger and sister Eleanor have released 14 Fiery Furnaces albums in the past eight years, and his solo career began with 2006’s Winter Women and Holy Ghost Language School. His latest solo excursion is epic, to say the least; aptly dubbed Solos, it’s an eight-album subscription series (vinyl LPs, no CD or digital releases), the initial six dedicated to a single instrument. Napoleonette, the first album in the series, explores the piano with a weird pop vengeance, folding in the quirky sugar buzz of 10cc, Todd Rundgren and Ben Folds, the percussive free jazz schizophonia of Sun Ra and Tom Waits, and a lyrical perspective that would give head scratching pause to Dan Bejar and Robyn Hitchcock. Napoleonette is wildly sophisticated, wonderfully strange and the first of eight this year; there’s a whole lot of Friedberger going on. —Brian Baker Lia Ices

Grown Unknown Jagjaguwar

Cool as ices With mostly subdued, easily digestible songs and a voice somewhere between the eight-figure Irish dyad of Sinead O’Connor

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and Dolores O’Riordan, it’d be easy to dismiss Brooklyn singer-songwriter Lia Ices as a mere coffeehouse careerist destined for a lifetime of Starbucks compilations and Lilith Fairs, forever chasing the overpriced hemlines of Sarah McLachlan and Tori Amos. But really, we feel gross and vaguely ashamed for even mentioning all those tired middle-aged opiates in the same sentence as Ms. Ices. Her second and latest album, Grown Unknown, quietly transcends the mainstream female singer-pianist paradigm at almost every turn. Opener “Love Is Won” serves as a showpiece for Ices’ celestial voice and spare playing, a melancholy slow burn that builds to an ethereal hook. “Daphne,” a duet with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, is a bucolic country lament that moans and swells in weary delirium. Meanwhile, the title track— replete with strings, an acoustic guitar and extensive handclaps—is a pop revelation, a song that somehow sparkles without being happy or even upbeat. How does she do it? Carefully, we suspect. —J. Bennett

Isolée

Well Spent Youth Pampa

Monstrous no longer The last Isolée album, We Are Monster, was a watershed for minimal techno and a richly deserving crossover success, injecting unprecedented warmth, melody and personality into the genre’s steely sphere and presaging the so-called “maximalist” likes of Gui Boratto. Six years on, Rajko Müller’s third full-length reverts to the comparatively mild, mannered microhouse of his first (2000’s Rest), but it’s markedly chillier and far less engaging. Despite the intriguingly woozy claustrophobia and jagged, intermittent funk bass incursions of opener “Paloma Triste”—a twisted Prince allusion in both title and sound—there’s maddeningly little to hold on to here. Müller hasn’t lost his attentiveness to fine detail—his sonic fingerprinting is still readily recognizable—but, at least in this context, these tracks mostly seem to meander aimlessly, with too little of his trademark tunefulness (the Monster-lite of “Taktell” and the wanly pretty “Celeste” are paltry exceptions) to save Youth from being a competent but ultimately drab, generic drag. —K. Ross Hoffman Joan as Police Woman

The Deep Field 101

Arresting developments “Deep” is a good adjective for the third album by the inimitable, unfathomable Joan Wasser. So are: thick, loose, rich, raw, murky, dangerous and, without a doubt, sexy. Also, patient. It’s not

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nearly as immediate as her immaculate, crystalline debut, Real Life—tellingly, with just as many songs, it’s 20 minutes longer. Gone are the achingly spare piano ballads; in their place is another sort of ache, the kind that sprawls out over gritty, slow-boiling funk and organ-drenched soul, or— in the case of “Flash”—eight minutes of pensive, amniotic floating. Nothing’s under four minutes; the shortest cut, first single “Magic,” is taut and buoyant enough to scan as pop, but much of Field veers far from conventional singer-songwriter fare. This is a songwriter’s record—indeed, it’s a powerfully frank treatise on love, lust and positivity—but it’s also an astonishing vocal showcase, a rapturous mood piece and a killer blowing session. Wasser’s versatility and fearlessness call to mind another Joan—the likewise underheralded Armatrading—but what she’s concocted here is something entirely her own. —K. Ross Hoffman

The Joy Formidable

The Big Roar Atlantic

Feel good hit of the bummer The only reason this isn’t a 10 is that there’s no way one of these songs doesn’t wind up in, like, a Cingular or Prius ad within a year. That’s how hard I’ve fallen for The Big Roar, and we’re talking first-spin love, which is brain-scrambling to the point of perhaps rendering your humble scribe untrustworthy. Almost. The Joy Formidable are a Welsh pop-gaze trio—the guitarist/frontlady Ritzy Bryan (I know…) and bassist/occasional singer Rhydian Dafydd have been refining their shit in assorted incarnations since 2007. It worked. The moment Bryan’s icy wail infiltrates the modest new-wave lope of leadoff “The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie,” you’ll think neat, sounds like Lush. Cue endless, righteous, gorgeous avalanches of overdrive reminiscent of pretty much every unsung ’90s alt-rock band (Hum, Swervedriver, Failure), heartfelt but never cloying overtures (“I Don’t Want to See You Like This,” “A Heavy Abacus”) and the anthem to every fuck yeah moment you’ll have this year (“Cradle”). —Andrew Bonazelli MEN

Talk About Body IAMSOUND

More dance about body… well, both really You might remember JD Samson as the most willfully androgynous member of Le Tigre, the person of whom indie dorks who wanted to see Kathleen Hanna said, “Wait, is that a dude or what?” MEN is Samson’s new gender-futz project, all synth beats and post-punk guitar flickering in here and there, a post-disco, post-gender

party where everyone gets to dance this mess around, possibly while deconstructing everything in sight. It’s more fun than it sounds, but not that much more, for reasons that have nothing to do with the radical feminism and everything to do with sameness of the songs. Lines like “Radical politics / Sontag in the crib” and “Take your shirts off / don’t take your shirt off” are funnier and cannier than they sound if the beats, rhymes and life are there. One wishes for synth pop that was as progressive as the politics. —Joe Gross

Mi Ami

Dolphins Thrill Jockey

I hear that you and your band sold your guitars… Last year’s Steal Your Face was sorely underrated, a chaotic, kinetic flail, the sound of dance punk falling ass-over-tea-kettle down the stairs and making it sound like it was intentional. But now that bassist Jacob Long has left the building, founding Ami(s?) Damon Palermo and Daniel Martin-McCormick are going electronic, Palermo rocking the drum machine and samples, MartinMcCormick on scream and keys. In keeping with their punk past, this machine music was cut live, which was a smart move— Martin-McCormick’s weird wail sounds trapped in these four tracks of electro thud and twitch, a Tron character stuck in a 1982 mainframe, a little 5 a.m. hangover here (“Sunrise”), some disco panic there (“Echo”). Your move, Ghostland Observatory. —Joe Gross Monotonix

Not Yet

Drag City

Hair apparent For an all-encompassing live experience, Monotonix can’t be beat. Once you’ve had a chance to live in that moment, there’s no going back; maybe that’s why listening to Monotonix getting wild ‘n’ wooly on record will always pale somewhat to seeing the Israeli trio skirt the edge of disaster in concert. But while many bands strive to capture the primordial punk sound of Raw Power/Fun Houseera Stooges, few do it with the sweet, sweaty inspiration of Monotonix. Singer Ami Shalev goes the full Iggy on the group’s second full-length Not Yet: “Fun Fun Fun” is a modern-day counterpart to the Stooges’ “No Fun,” while “Everything That I See” opens with a throat-clearing cough that sets up a series of unseemly vocal contortions. The pace flags slightly on the languorous “Late Night,” but the rest of Not Yet—three chords or less in three minutes or less—features the band’s most undeniably groovy work to date. —Nick Green


NEeMA

Watching You Think Tonality

A Different Kind of Bends Radiohead withdraws into alluring minimalism

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adiohead are most interesting when

they’re in retreat. To reconcile the consumerist commentary and commercial success of their The King 1997 prog opus OK Computer, the band went inward, withof Limbs drawing into Kid A’s haunting world of cold minimalism and existential crises. The album was their first, best statement self-released of the 21st century, and the years since have been beset by diminishing returns. The fanatical reception of 2007’s In Rainbows might have positioned Radiohead as leaders of the industry’s new school, but that album will ultimately be remembered for its effect on retail dynamics, not its actual music. Once again on the heels of a commercial success, we see the band side-stepping the limelight on The King of Limbs—in the process, making their most satisfying work in a decade. At first, the album seems a collage of skittery beats, staccato synthesizers, vocal samples and space, anchored by two superb songs (that’s two more than the last album had): the nervy “Morning Mr. Magpie” and the unexpectedly optimistic closer “Separator.” The whip-beat single “Lotus Flower” doesn’t impress with its dull take on dependence (“I can’t kick your habit”), while other tracks (“Bloom,” “Feral”) are instrumental drivel. But Limbs rewards repeat listens. “Little by Little” emerges as a clockwork groove in step with singer Thom Yorke’s solo outing “Black Swan,” sexy but neurotic: “I’m such a tease and you’re such a flirt / Once you’ve been around you’ve been around enough.” Yorke later wails to an empty hall in the solo piano number “Cortex” (call it chamber-soul) and gets vulnerable on “Give Up the Ghost,” the couplet “Don’t haunt me / Don’t hurt me” repeated in alluring harmonies over the background. At eight songs and 37 minutes, it is indeed the band’s shortest work, but you could hardly call it diminished. Rather, The King of Limbs is the sharpest and most accessible showcase of Radiohead’s efforts to skirt convention. —John Vettese Radiohead

photo by sebastian edge

Leonard says, relax Even in adult-contemporary, winning the endorsement of a 76-year-old doesn’t count for much currency in the cred department. But when said elder is Leonard Cohen, people tend to take notice—and in the case of the living legend’s protégé, NEeMA, they probably should. Produced “in association with Cohen” by Pierre Marchand (Sarah McLachlan, Rufus Wainwright), NEeMA’s sophomore effort, Watching You Think, shows the Canadian (of Egyptian and Lebanese descent) songstress deftly navigating folk and world-infused singer-songwriter pop, inching dangerously close to the middle of the road without giving in to cringe-worthy clichés. From ruminative, finger-picked ballads (“Running”) to airy sing-alongs (“Escape”) and country weepers (“Sidewalk”), the record’s open, shimmering production and NEeMA’s smoky, sanguine delivery result in a sundry and satisfying long-player for lovelorn listeners who hanker for smart, bohemian pop and poetic lyrics, but don’t want their boat rocked too hard. —Adam Gold New York Dolls

Dancing Backwards in High Heels 429

Too much too late Without going into the whole history of the New York Dolls and why the glam-punk pioneers were so damn special, let’s just say it was a big deal that their thrilling pants-on-fire appeal crossed over to their second incarnation. Since reforming in 2004, the Dolls, with David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain as the only living members (Arthur Kane died shortly after the reunion), peeled off two fresh and bawdy rock ‘n’ roll albums. But now we have Dancing Backward in High Heels, produced by Louis XIV’s Jason Hill. Man, what happened? Spector-lite arrangements, schlocky island flavors, terrifyingly scarce electric guitar licks, and a lackluster performance by Johansen make the band sound ready for shuffleboard and piña coladas. The lively “Round and Round She Goes” has reassuring vital stats, and “I’m So Fabulous” throws down on hipster carpetbaggers with trademark sass, but it would be more effective if the Dolls didn’t sound like a cruise-ship band. —Jeanne Fury Parts & Labor

Constant Future Jagjaguwar

The chaotic melodicism of an exploding music box When Parts & Labor sprang to life nearly a decade ago, it was a noisy experimental side project for electronic noodler Dan Friel and bassist B.J. Warshaw, the musical monster stitched together by a pair of weirdly simpatico mad sonic scientists. The

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lurching path from that lightning-struck birth has increasingly proven that melodic classicism can coexist with barely tethered noise rock, each one inexplicably feeding and complementing the other. Three years after the emodelic majesty of Receivers, P&L return with Constant Future, a more finely-tuned post rock/prog/pop masterwork of epic proportions that manages to sound grand without being grandiose. Just as King Crimson’s bombast was leavened by Adrian Belew’s whimsical gravity, Parts & Labor combine serious execution with a wicked left field sensibility to create a sound that hints at Jawbox’s punk anthemics and Wire’s pop anarchy. Constant Future is uncompromisingly accessible, Parts & Labor’s perfect storm of experimental texturalism and structured rock chaos. —Brian Baker

Corinne Bailey Rae

The Love EP Capitol

Compromising position Corinne Bailey Rae clearly knows how to make the best of a bad situation. Steeped in grief over the loss of her husband to a drug overdose, last year’s The Sea found the singer-songwriter largely shelving her 2006 debut’s breezy neo-soul in favor of a wide-ranging approach and potential escape from adult contemporary limbo. With The Love EP’s five covers, she takes four steps back. Sure, Rae’s delivery is impeccable as usual, to the extent that she pretty much brandjacks Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” Arrange-

Gravel and Grit Roots rock’s grand dame returns with another sacred text

Lucinda Williams

W

illiams was roots rock before the term was coined, and spent years

struggling to get her music heard. Only after Mary Chapin Carpenter took Williams’ “PassionBlessed ate Kisses” to the top of the country charts in 1993 did people start paying attention. She nabbed a Best Lost Highway Contemporary Folk Album Grammy for Car Wheels on a Gravel Road in 1999, and she’s been going from strength to strength ever since. Blessed is a strong contender for Williams’ best album. She’s in top form here, her raw, bluesy voice moving from a soulful growl to a desolate purr on a solid collection that continues to shine a bit of light into the darkest corners of the human condition. “Seeing Black” is a song to a friend who committed suicide that’s equal parts grief and rage. On “I Don’t Know How You’re Livin’,” Williams watches another

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ments are crisp and clever, too. The fault resides in the singer’s choice of material: With one exception, tightening her grip on the Norah Jones demographic seems Rae’s number-one priority. That exception—a lurching, erotically charged rendition of Belly’s “Low Red Moon”—hints both at what might have been and what might yet still be. —Rod Smith

Rainbow Arabia

Boys and Diamonds Kompaqt

Poly-ethnic breakfast club soundtrack Tiffany Preston is at her Third World-tourista best when puking up lyrics like a woman possessed

friend going down the tubes, despite all the love and care she’s offered. Her anguished vocal here is mirrored by Val McCallum’s weeping pedal steel. “Awakening” is a deeply spiritual song about unfolding the soul to embrace the endless possibilities of life and love. It starts quietly and builds to a dramatic conclusion. “Kiss Like Your Kiss,” which got a Grammy nod for its inclusion on the True Blood soundtrack, is more subdued, given a shimmering summer aura by subtle keyboards, measured bass notes and a breathless, undulating guitar line. Blessed is also being released in a special two-disc edition. The second disc includes the demos for all the songs on the album, recorded in Williams’ kitchen, the place where she does most of her writing. —j. poet


over the synthesizer-splattered ephedrine pop she and hubby Danny brew at their Los Angeles home. Rings on their fingers and bells on their toes, the Prestons stage post-Gang Gang Dance felicities like benign WWE battle royales. Why settle for pitting delirious hand-percussive flurries against organ hiccups and buzzing bass keyboards when clucking xylophones and bonkers sampler effects could really set a smelting-pot party off right? While long-awaited full-length Boys and Diamonds doesn’t quite hit the breezy, bungee-jumble sweet spot early single “Holiday in Congo” did, it’s a tropical(ia) delight nonetheless. “Jungle Bear” sets off at a kind of wan, irradiated twee-trot, while the keeling “Hai” pulls a Drunken Master, all sloshed, crab-walking swagger and nano-blip blizzard. “Blind” bobs blithely by on needle-sharp guitars, synths compressed to croaking throbs and Tiffany’s all-out commitment to a put-on accent that’s a bastardization of a dozen put-on accents. —Raymond Cummings

Rival Schools

Pedals

Photo Finish

Reattaching the training wheels United by Fate would’ve been an interesting bookend to the music career of Walter Schreifels. Starting with late ’80s hardcore outfit Gorilla Biscuits, he went on to front the seminal Quicksand through the ’90s. Rival Schools’ lone release then seemed like a proper indie rock coda in 2001. But Schreifels continued, dabbling in pure pop and folk, and is now back with sophomore effort, Pedals, as if the last decade never existed. While a preferred alternative to his more recent endeavors, this is still light fare, a nostalgic romp seemingly tailored towards acolytes of Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed American. There aren’t any embarrassing grasps for relevance, but the material isn’t strong enough to justify being so out of step. Schreifels has put out some incredibly important records, but he seems to have lost his bearings. If resuscitating Rival Schools is an attempt to refocus, Pedals is little more than a warm-up. —Shane Mehling Caitlin Rose

Own Side Now Theory 8

Sanding the edges As a teenager playing under the moniker “Save Macaulay the Band,” Caitlin Rose wowed at Nashville’s top local rock clubs. Already an accomplished singer-songwriter with an agile voice and precocious charm, Rose masterfully synthesized trad country whimsy and adolescent snarl. Now, more than five years later, comes Own Side Now, a debut full-length crafted with an astounding amount of patience and grace. In those intervening years, Rose cultivated that

photo by dustin adams

love for classic country, dulling down the youthful bite in favor of lilting melodies and increasingly assured vocals. Standout tracks include the slow burn melancholy of “Things Change,” the bang-up breakup ballad “Song for Rabbits”—her invocation of “routine disaster” one of the album’s many lovely lyrical moments—and the acoustic swing of “Shanghai Cigarettes.” Now a wise and weary 22, Rose exhibits an exhilarating level of subtlety and intelligence in her music. —Lee Stabert

Six Organs of Admittance

Asleep on the Floodplain Drag City

Rather ripping With each passing Six Organs of Admittance record, mainman Ben Chasny affirms two common critiques of his oeuvre: he’s a badass guitarist and a pretty crappy singer. Lucky for us, his hyperprolific career has mostly counteracted the latter with his excellence at the former. Asleep on the Floodplain is no different, and the sweet licks are as sweet as ever. The songs still suffer when he sings over them, though. The vocals on “Hold but Let Go” and “Light of the Light” are distracting when, given the fluidity of everything going on underneath them, they might otherwise be ignorable. Still, there are asides like “Saint of the Fisherman” and “Poppies” where Chasny flaunts his mastery of the fretboard with simple statements, boiling bass and melodic lines down to the work of two hands. But the very best of the Six Organs repertoire is long, trippy and trance-inducing songs, and Floodplain delivers a shining example on the album’s centerpiece, “S/word and Leviathan.” —Matt Sullivan The Sounds

Something to Die For SideOneDummy

Hearts of glass For their fourth album, Sweden’s Sounds have set up a permanent residence on the dance floor. While previous releases have approached new wave via rock ‘n’ roll’s traditional guitar/bass/drums, Something to Die For is saturated in electronica. This is full-throttle moveyour-ass inspired. Fuzzed-out synths, echo effects and jittery shakers dominate; the bright beats create momentum that swirls rather than charges in a straight path. “Together we conquer our planet with dance,” sings Maja Ivarsson on “Dance With the Devil.” The uplifting sentiment hovers over a few songs, but Ivarsson also has her eye on lovers, both good and bad. “It’s not me, it’s you” she seethes on the bitter “The No No Song,” but “Diana” implores a girl to stay the night, amid a hard-driving snare and squalling guitars that craft sharp edges and a smeared, messy center. Such infectious tunes make modern new wave something to live for. —Jeanne Fury

John Vanderslice

White Wilderness Merge

Blizzard beast John Vanderslice has brought in reinforcements. Long a solo studio whiz, the singer-songwriter teamed up with the Magik*Magik Orchestra for his latest, White Wilderness. The 19-member collective of classically trained musicians, under the guidance of maestro Minna Choi, is based in the Bay Area; the album’s nine tracks were captured live over the course of just three days. The collaboration is a fruitful one—Vanderslice’s traditional studio virtuosity (he’s also an accomplished producer, working with indie stalwarts including Spoon and Mountain Goats) has been replaced with a different sort of acumen. The orchestra’s lush textures add a layer of sophisticated atmospherics that perfectly complement Vanderslice’s understated delivery and evocative lyrics. The title track is an ideal example, as talk of falling snow and obscured paths is mirrored in delicate waves of piano and violin. —Lee Stabert Wagon Christ

Toomorrow

Ninja Tune

Waiting for the miracle So, let’s see: playful, anachronistic layering of samples; cheeky track titles; stoner sense of humor—sounds like old-school bedroom electronic producer Luke Vibert’s up to his aging tricks again. Back in the day, Vibert, alongside Aphex Twin and µ-ziq, constituted the first line of defense against mainfloor dance music’s rigorous formulas. Yet on Toomorrow, Vibert’s first release under his Wagon Christ persona in seven years, he sounds like he’s falling back on the same eccentric m.o. that has characterized his work since the ’90s. To be sure, Vibert’s productions still retain a cockeyed charm. “Ain’t He Heavy, He’s My Brother” lopes along with an engagingly soulful gait, and the album closes with the effectively somber “Mr. Mukatsuku.” But the cleverness wears off by the midpoint of most of these tracks. Indeed, electronica stands still for no one, not even its pioneers. —Justin Hampton Abigail Washburn

City of Refuge

Foreign Children/ Rounder

Pop goes the bluegrass Washburn grew up playing bluegrass banjo, but a job in Chengdu introduced her to Chinese folk music, which had surprising similarities to the music she loved. Her previous albums flirted with a fusion of Chinese folk and bluegrass, and while the credits here mention Wu Fei’s guzheng (Chinese zither) and throat singing by the Beijing-based Mongolian folk band Hanggai, their contributions are buried in the mix.

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Although her long vocal lines may still reveal a Chinese influence at times, the songs Washburn wrote for this album are more folk pop, despite the often troubling lyrics. “City of Refuge” and “Last Train” have a mellow Fleetwood Mac feel, while “Devine Bell” is an almost tongue-in-cheek bit of bluegrass-tinged gospel. Washburn takes a more traditional approach on “Dreams of Nectar,” the familiar tale of a refugee crushed by the American dream, and “Bright Morning Stars,” an aching spiritual balanced between resignation and resurrection. —j. poet

Win Win

Win Win Vice

They are the champions Brooklyn producer Alex Epton, a.k.a. XXXChange, is famous for his work with rapper Spank Rock, Bloc Party vocalist Kele’s solo album, and remixes of Björk and Thom Yorke, but Win Win is where he steps out as a beat-head auteur. Win Win are a trio with Chris Devlin (Devlin & Darko) and Ghostdad, and their debut gives the sense of a notebook (or maybe a MacBook Pro) full of ideas being flipped through loosely. This being a producer’s album, there are nine guests credited: fans of Danger Mouse should try “Pop a Gumball,” which features Spank Rock, Andrew W.K. and DJ Matt Sweeney of WNYU’s Beats in Space mix show, but the track’s taut rockiness is far removed from what you’d associate with any of those three. Ditto “Victim,” which filters Baltimore club vet Blaqstarr’s sung vocal in swampy guitar and heavily distorted bass and drums like late ’90s big beat gone all the way rock. —Michaelangelo Matos Wolf + Lamb vs. Soul Clap

DJ-Kicks K7

Houses of low culture New York’s Wolf + Lamb and Boston’s Soul Clap are a pair of DJ-producer duos who make and play a pronouncedly new-era version of classic East Coast deep house, the soul-rooted, purist strain that for decades had been primarily the preserve of older dancers. Wolf + Lamb and Soul Clap’s joint volume of the DJ-Kicks series concentrates almost entirely on artists and recordings from within their homegrown scenes—unusual for DJ-Kicks, which tends to be where selectors stretch out. Its synergy works nicely: Not everything is great (you’re not going to run out and hunt down an unmixed version of W+L ft. Smirk’s “Therapist”), but the languid tempos and floating instrumental ambience are invitingly cozy. And a number of things do make you look up: W+L’s remix of H-Foundation ft. Aion’s “Tonight,” the neo-soul detour of “In the Park” by Sect ft. Ben Westbeech,

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Wye Oak

and Benoit & Sergio’s narcotic tale of an addict lover, “Walk and Talk.” —Michaelangelo Matos

Wye Oak

Civilian Merge

Citizens on patrol Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner, the partnership behind Wye Oak, are masters of dynamics. Their latest, Civilian, swoops and crashes, swells and whispers. Wasner’s voice is the perfect accent—sweet and pretty, yet willful enough to compete with the band’s occasional cacophony. Tracks like the rangy, dissonant “Dog Eyes” oscillate between nifty pop shuffle and jagged, somber guitar work, building to a wondrous conflagration of sound. The opening thrum of “Plains” lulls with its delicate melancholia before building to insistent punctuations of noise. Meanwhile the album’s opener, “Two Small Deaths,” is a swoony gem, augmented by the hum of reverb and an insistent bassline. This Baltimore duo continues to craft beautiful, challenging music, elevated by genuinely exquisite moments—a wistful melody or act of restraint that surprises and delights. Stuff this smart and accomplished should be enough to inspire aspiring bands with anemic ideas to hang up their guitars for good. —Lee Stabert Yelle

Safari Disco Club EMI

Watch out for that… Not quite the wild, equatorial jungle party its title suggests, Safari Disco Club doesn’t trek terribly far afield from the sweet ‘n’ spunky synth-pop of Yelle’s 2007 debut. If anything, Safari is actually less animalistic than its predecessor, lacking the harder edge of Pop-

Up’s gritty, electro-laced hip-hop cuts—the trio’s eponymous vocalist generally sticks to singing rather than rapping, though she’s still as sprightly as ever. The newly polished, more melodically focused approach makes a decently effective trade-off, yielding pleasantly fluffy roller-disco gems like the sparkle-eyed “J’ai Bu” (strangely reminiscent of Sally Shapiro), even if the best cuts here—the enjoyably loopy title song; the pumping fidgethouse of “Comme Un Enfant”—are often the leanest and meanest. Still, despite an occasional oversaturation of generically glossy, faceless synths, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more propulsive, exuberant set of icily retro electro-pop this side of La Roux. And those poseurs aren’t even French! —K. Ross Hoffman

Yuck

Yuck

Fat Possum

Gross profit Despite a moniker that conjures who-cares sludge, the young Brits in Yuck hark back to the kinds of homespun, enthusiastic guitar records people liked ’90s indie rock for in the first place, because that’s what it largely consisted of then. Sometimes it’s power-pop dressed up in grungy clothes, but faster and hookier, with the whiz-bang sides of Built to Spill and Teenage Fanclub coming out strongly as the tempos rev (“Georgia”), and a Yo La Tengo-ish drift in the lonesome-slide-guitar-driven “Suck.” Nominally, Yuck are a quartet, but their secret weapon—beyond guitars with the kind of scrappy texture college radio DJs go quietly nuts for—is their fifth member, Ilana (the bio dispenses with last names), the sister of lead singer/guitarist Daniel, whose chiming, winning harmonies give the whole thing just that much more depth. —Michaelangelo Matos


HOT TRACKS TEN TO REMEMBER IN STORES 3/15

The

IN STORES 3/8

Joy Formidable

The Big Roar

Lupe Fiasco

Lykke Li

Lasers

Wounded Rhymes

IN STORES 3/8

DevilDriver

Wye Oak

PJ Harvey

avril lavigne

Beast

Civilian

Let England Shake

Goodby Lullaby

IN STORES 3/15

Beady Eye Different Gear, Still Speeding

Strong Arm Steady Arms & Hammers

New York Dolls Dancing Backward in High Heels

FEATURING LIAM, ANDY AND JEM FROM OASIS

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No, it’s not a cheesesteak Mark Bittman with a chocolate, olive oil and salt baguette sandwich from Addy’s in Portland, OR.

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portrait by Leela Cyd Ross


The Opinionist

Food writer and former Minimalist columnist Mark Bittman gets expansive on the NYT op-ed page / interview by Drew Lazor

M

ark Bittman is “The Minimalist” no more. After spending 13 years exploring no-frills

home cooking in his New York Times food column, the author and journalist has moved on to a fresh challenge: a weekly slot in the Times’ Opinion section, a platform for him to discuss the far-reaching food issues that influence what ends up on the American dinner table. (He will continue to write about cooking for New York Times Magazine.) Cowbell touched base with Bittman to talk big ideas—all while he prepped a cumin- and chiliscented stir-fry of veggies, brown rice and black beans in his New York City home.

Can you pinpoint an exact moment when you knew you were going to end “The Minimalist” and move into this new role?

It never occurred to me that I could make it happen until [the fall of 2010]. I pitched the [new] column to the Opinion people, and they liked the idea. At the same time, the Magazine was going through changes, and the new editor wanted me to take over that [cooking] column. What an opportunity. The op-ed column… it’s an idea whose time had come, and I consider myself fortunate to have been in a position to pitch it. I was maybe a week ahead of the curve. [Laughs] If it hadn’t been me, it would’ve been someone else. It’s something that should be happening. The way I pitched it was to say, “Food, like economics, like politics, touches everybody’s life, all the time. It’s the prism through which you can look

at anything you want to look at.” Having been writing about food for a long time and having been making noise increasingly in the policy world… I’m sort of trying to walk a line between modesty and immodesty with this, I guess. [Laughs] But it’s not as if I’m not qualified to do this. How do you define your role now? What is your responsibility, your vocation?

It’s clear that I’m interested in food policy and what’s right and wrong in the food world. That’s what I want to be doing. Whether it becomes a political column is a long-term thing… or whether it becomes more personal and lighthearted, that’s all down the road. I’d like to think it becomes many different things—not only a weekly analysis of policy or current events, but a discussion of food in the broadest, and hopefully truest, sense.

The government is reacting to where the money and pressure is coming from. Most decisions that come from government agencies seem to be wrong about food, and wrong about everything that concerns consumers.” —mark bittman

One thing I struggle with, as far as the American diet goes, is how much responsibility falls on policymakers to shape how we eat, and how much responsibility falls on the individual to get educated and seek out sustainable choices. Is there a specific split there in your mind?

Sadly, it’s entirely up to individuals to press the government to do the right thing. It’s the government’s role to make the food supply better. That needs to happen, [but] it’s increasingly clear that will not happen without us pushing them. It’s up to us to change diets and educate ourselves. It’s all on us. The Feds are under so much corporate pressure; they’re not going to make positive change unless they’re pushed by people. And I’m not sure I would’ve said that six months ago, but things have gotten worse-looking. The government is not acting for or responding to the needs of its citizens—it’s acting and responding to the needs of its corporate benefactors. Money is coming from the corporations, but not enough pressure is coming from citizens. The government is reacting to where the money and pressure is coming from. Most decisions that come from government agencies seem to be wrong about food, and wrong about everything that concerns consumers. How do you change that? 41


A California woman recently filed a lawsuit against Nutella, claiming she was duped by an advertising claim that it was “part of a balanced breakfast.” What is your opinion on this approach to hold a company accountable for duplicitous marketing?

I think the corporations do need to be held responsible for misleading advertising. That’s part of the problem here. There are a bunch of people in the media, in the public arena and NGOs who are on the right side of this struggle, but most have no money to speak of. Meanwhile, advertising, marketing and lobbying budgets are in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The people we need to look at are the cereal companies and McDonald’s and fast food companies—big food conglomerates. Look, all marketing is intentionally misleading. Here’s the thing: If you write that you should do away with Happy Meals, a certain amount of people will say it’s a parent’s problem, parents need to be teaching their children. But parents are just as susceptible to marketing as anybody else. It’s trying to sell stuff to people who don’t need it, or trying to get you to buy more of stuff you do need. It’s about trying to sell stuff, targeting both children and adults. It’s very difficult to say to your kids, “Don’t eat at McDonald’s” when you yourself have been sold on eating at McDonald’s. It’s tough to say “Don’t eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch” when you yourself are eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs. In your mind, what is the worst eating habit Americans have, and how would you suggest we break it?

That’s simple: We eat too many animal products. Even worse than processed food, though it’s not a huge gap, is the animal product thing. We should be growing food for people first, animals second. And cars, by the way, third. What’s it going to take to fundamentally change the American attitude toward eating? You’ve mentioned the formation of a “Civilian Cooking Corps” in your new column. What is that?

I do think that people are legitimately busy, and people don’t have the cooking skills, and that’s really a deadly combo. You can’t really have an impact on how busy people are, but you can encourage and teach them 42

It’s very difficult to say to your kids, ‘Don’t eat at McDonald’s’ when you yourself have been sold on eating at McDonald’s. It’s tough to say ‘Don’t eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch’ when you yourself are eating Reese’s Peanut Butter Puffs.” —mark bittman that cooking is a high priority. There needs to be an ongoing campaign heralding the joys of cooking, if you will—and the rewards of it. Food needs to be affordable and sustainable, as we know, and available. Then people need the skills to put those things together. They need to want to cook, have the ingredients they need, and they need to have the skills. That would be the aim of the Civilian Cooking Corps. It’s funny—I’ve received maybe a dozen e-mails saying, “We’re already doing that, here’s our program.” It’s really quite cool. There’s this huge corps of unemployed people. You start a program where unemployed people are trained how to cook, and trained how to cook for other people. They have two jobs: to cook for people who are unable to do it for themselves, and to teach other people how to cook. Someone will say that’s pie in the sky. Fine. But if you end corporate subsidies on commodity foods, you have a lot of money floating around that can be put to good use for a change. In your debut Op-Ed column, you lay out “A Food Manifesto for the Future,” but point out that many of the ideas are “frequently discussed, but sadly not yet implemented.” So what’s it going to take to implement them? What’s the first step?

The [government-issued agricultural] subsidies thing gets back to that discussion. That’s huge. If we could take some of this money and turn it toward education, that would be even bigger. Ending subsidies would be a form of taxation on Big Food, taking away their ability to produce junk food cheaply. The price of some food—lousy food—would go up, and that’s not entirely a bad thing.

Speaking of prices: The argument I see coming up time and time again in the “real food vs. frankenfood” debate is money. While it’s our hope that every citizen gains access to sustainable foods, I foresee many struggling to afford to systematically change how/what they eat. How do you tackle this looming question of cost?

Look, people worldwide manage to eat better than we do with less money. I get that it’s difficult for people to get to and from real markets, and that’s a huge issue, one that has to be resolved. And surely real food is too expensive for many people. That’s why we need to subsidize food—and cooking, for that matter—for people who legitimately can’t afford it. We already do that, to some extent, but that’s one federal program that needs more, not less, money. Is it an altogether good thing that Walmart, America’s largest, most influential retailer, has teamed up with First Lady Michelle Obama to push for healthier food and more product transparency? Or should we as consumers be wary of this move?

Both. Well, not altogether a good thing, but on the whole, better rather than not. Retailers are different from producers. They can make money selling whatever you want to buy. You want to buy canned tomatoes? Fine. You want to buy Snickers? They don’t care. But the people who make Snickers cannot make canned tomatoes. In other words, Walmart is agnostic as to whether they sell you crap or real food—food you can use to cook. They’ll figure out a way to make money either way. On the other hand, the alliance to produce “better” processed food? This I could do without.


Ending Junk Mail by Felicia D’Ambrosio

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orty-one pounds. That’s how much the average American household will receive annually in postal junk mail—not including unsolicited catalogs, handbills and phone books. According to the EPA’s most recent Municipal Solid Waste Facts and Figures report, paper and paperboard made up 31 percent of the municipal solid waste stream in 2008. Even though paper is easily recycled in most communities, only about 43 million of the 77 million tons generated in 2008 were recovered for recycling. Thus, source reduction—keeping goods out of the waste stream by not generating them—is far more effective than waste reduction, a.k.a. recycling.

Reduce your junk mail and prevent marketers from sharing your information by writing “Do not sell or rent my information” any time you send in a warranty, sign up for a contest, or provide your name and address anywhere. Since a national Do Not Mail list is not yet a reality, use the methods below to beat junk mail’s primary offenders at their game. A comprehensive treatment costs less than half an hour on the Web, and is guaranteed pain-free. Credit Card and Insurance Offers TransUnion, Experian and Equifax, better known as the Big Three credit reporting agencies, supply their mailing lists to the credit card and insurance companies felling forests to send you limitless plastic opportunity. Call 1-888-5-OPTOUT (1-888567-8688) to cease receiving pre-screened

illustration by melissa mcfeeters

offers for five years. The 24-hour recorded message will ask for your name, address, phone and social security number, which is creepy but legitimate in this case. Credit reporting agencies already have this information and use it for verification. Phone Directories Though it may make it harder to find a plumber in a blackout or boost the vertically challenged at the dining room table, visiting yellowpagesoptout.com lets you quit receiving Verizon directories, Yellow and White Pages, after registering and responding to a verification email. Catalogs Have your mailing label handy when calling the customer service phone number of companies sending unwanted or duplicate catalogs. If you’d only like to receive

a certain number of catalogs per year, let the representative know how many. This approach also works for specific-source junk mail that defies categorization. Direct Mail Marketing The Direct Marketing Association represents nearly 3,600 companies utilizing direct-mail marketing. In the interest of responding to junk-mail concerns, they maintain DMAChoice.org, where consumers can register to be removed from their members’ mailing lists. Supply your name, address and a credit card number—you won’t be charged, and all info is confidential—to manage mail choices for catalogs, donation solicitations, magazine and credit card offers from national (but not local) marketers.

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Love Your Work* The Women of Big Love triangulate their fire with grace and subtlety / by Joe Gross

E

xcellent acting ensembles thrive on two things: good bal-

ance between cast members and the patina of positive peer pressure. A good ensemble cast can be prevented from being a great one if one actor is clearly operating on a different wavelength from the others. Homicide: Life on the Street had a world-beating cast packed with actors doing smart, often subtle work that was nonetheless dominated by the screen-filling, stage-acting presence of Andre Braugher as Det. Frank Pembleton. And a balanced cast can be prevented from achieving greatness if everyone seems to be playing their positions all the time. Even with Jennifer Aniston’s subsequent fame, the cast of Friends was pretty evenly matched. But you never got the impression they were pushing each other with their performances.

Then there is Big Love. It sounds like a joke: For all five seasons, Big Love has featured most of the best performances by women on television. Indeed, the punchline is obvious: There certainly are enough roles to go around. But as politically problematic as the show could be—see also Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven for a hypnotic look at the most violent aspects of breakaway, “fundamentalist Mormon” polygamy—it’s jaw-dropping how strong the female talent is in this cast. And it’s an excellent example of the core three actresses—Jeanne Tripplehorn as Barbara Henrickson, Chloë Sevigny as Nicki Grant and Ginnifer Goodwin as Margene Heffman—pushing each other to do better work simply by example and making every woman in the cast seem excellent. Take the ever-weird Grace Zabriskie, perhaps best known as Sarah Palmer,

* Directors often get all the credit

when it comes to great films, and great TV shows are often seen as ensemble pieces. But what about the actors who help elevate a flick to classic status, or the unsung stars who take a show to the next level? Each month, Love Your Work looks at the actors who rescued a project from failure or added that extra layer of awesomeness.

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frail, touched mother of the doomed Laura Palmer on Twin Peaks. In Big Love, her inherent oddness works in a completely different direction as the semi-homicidal, co-dependent Lois Henrickson, and she’s a blast. Similarly excellent is Mary Kay Place as Adaleen Grant, mother of Nicki and one of polygamist compound leader Roman Grant’s wives. Place’s best moments come in the show’s first two seasons, where she wears her queendom with a sharp humor—she’s aware of the insanity of her situation, but accepts it with a faith that’s as much bemused as humble. Even Cassi Thomson, who plays Nicki’s daughter Cara Lynn, has grown as an actress exponentially within a season. The toughest part on the show might be that of Barb Henrickson, the mainstream Mormon woman whose husband convinces her to live the “principle” and accept sister wives. Tripplehorn’s had a varied and largely low-key career, from sharp parts in big-name successes (Basic Instinct, The Firm) to, well, Waterworld. There wasn’t a lot of evidence that she could anchor a crew quite like this, and she has to do it as the Zeppo. When the others are freaking out, Barb must remain calm. When everyone gets to show their emotions on their sleeve behind closed

doors, Barb must, at least until the end of the fourth season, be the family’s public face all the time. She is the one who believes in this lifestyle the least, and has to run the show. She is Leo McGarry to Bill’s President Bartlet, and she’s never been quite sold on the administration’s goals in the first place. Sevigny’s accomplishment is even more impressive. The former It Girl proved she had chops to spare in the often unwatchably intense Boys Don’t Cry, but her work on Big Love is rich and dynamic. Nicki is a largely terrible human being, but an enormously complicated one. She’s selfcentered, easily jealous, sheltered and damaged in ways she still can’t fully comprehend. She’s conniving and more than

top Photo ron batzdorff, all others by lacey terrell


a little manipulative. But Sevigny’s (L to R) Chloë Sevigny, Jeanne Tripplehorn ability to play such and Ginnifer Goodwin. a profoundly unlikeable woman and still make her appealing (if not entirely sympathetic) is a wonder to behold. A key to her character comes in the first season. In a scene as reflective of the show’s roots in Westerns as anything else, Nicki’s father sends her faintly terrifying brother Alby to intimidate Bill’s family. Only Nicki is brave enough to confront him—they have guns and Hummers; she has nothing but mother bear rage, and she scares them off. You suddenly understand why Bill married her—she’s made of iron. If Barb is too mainstream Mormon and Margene

is essentially a civilian, Nicki is the prairie wife who will go down shooting. And what of Margene? Ginnifer Goodwin was the least known quantity when the show launched in 2006, and as the show winds down, she will leave with the biggest skill set. Margene is an innocent, a non-Mormon who babysat for the Henricksons and got caught up in the lifestyle. She adores having this instant big family, has an enormous heart and seems the least sexually jealous of everyone in the houses (perhaps because she’s the youngest). A people person in the purest sense, she’s the one to reach out to neighbors and assume the best in people, even if she is a sucker for a Ponzi scheme. Goodwin’s able to pull off the naif thing without seeming

truly dopey, embodying the old axiom that there are plenty of smart people who aren’t funny, but very few who are funny and not smart. Her comic timing is spotless, easily the best on the program. It adds a layer of wide-eyed intelligence to Margene. Three women, three very different parts, three stellar performances that make the show hustle and flow. Such is their strength Big Love: that the biggest mysThe Complete tery is what they saw Fourth Season is available on in Bill Paxton in the DVD from HBO first place. Home Video. 45


/movies

Fine Old Cannibals

The terrible truth of Soylent Green is still more haunting than hilarious / by Sean L. Maloney

S

poiler alert: It’s made out of people. Wait, no, it’s

soy-eating, unemployed layabouts. Soylent Green’s New York is one of a radical disnot really a spoiler alert when you’re talking about parity between rich and poor, where if you’re the a cultural touchstone, is it? ’Cause, really, Phil former, a beautiful woman is “furniture” that comes Hartman would have to take more of the blame for with your high-end apartment, and if you’re the spoiling the ending of 1973’s dystopian sci-fi clas- latter, you might just be lucky enough to sleep on sic Soylent Green—Hartman’s impression of Char- someone’s staircase or one of the broken-down cars lton Heston is one of the most classic gags from Saturday that clog the city streets like petrified traffic. The desperate population subsists on processed proNight Live’s ’90s heyday. Or you can pawn fault off on Matt tein wafers manufactured by the Soylent Groening, as the titular human-protein sustenance Corporation, which controls 50 percent squares have been joke fodder for both The Simpsons of the world’s food supply—think McDonald’s meets Monsanto and Walmart, and and Futurama. What we’re trying to say is that, basithen they turn up the evil just for shits and cally, we didn’t spoil it, and, really, neither did they. giggles—and there’s not even enough of the All jokes aside, Soylent Green, based on soy-saltines to go around. People are pissed. the book Make Room! Make Room! by hard Things are hectic. sci-fi master Harry Harrison, is an intense And Charlton Heston’s hard-boiled cop exploration of the effects of overpopulaThorn—along with his awesome ascot— Soylent Green tion, environmental disaster and corpoare caught up in the middle, swept into will be available on Blu-ray ratist plutocracy. Maybe it’s because the the conspiracy to create crispy, crunchy March 19 from developing world is in the midst of Days of people-crackers after a member of the elite Warner Home Video. Rage—populist uprisings fueled by rising is murdered. Thorn uncovers what’s basifood prices, sweeping unemployment and cally the creepiest approach to keeping a indifferent ruling classes have become an almost company—and a civilization—in the black with the daily occurrence—but Soylent Green’s hypothesis help of Sol Roth (Hollywood legend Edward G. Rob(freeze-dried cannibalism as a last-ditch effort to inson in his final role) as his roommate and research save a species spun out of control) doesn’t seem too assistant. What the pair discovers is a haunting and Charlton Heston far gone. Hell, they nailed the fact that New York foreboding reality that is only a few steps removed (left) with Chuck Connors City would be overrun with unshaven, vest-wearing, from our own.

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AVAILABLE MARCH 8 in stores march 8 47


/movies

Hybrid Vehicles

Sharktopus is the latest in a long and glorious line of Roger Corman schlock / by Sean L. Maloney

W

e don’t know about art, but we know what we like—

specifically, watching bioengineered mutants devour bikini-clad beach bunnies on a Saturday night. We’re not afraid to admit that, while we may live in a city chock to the brim with fine art, high culture and topnotch nightlife, we definitely stayed in to catch the premiere of Sharktopus on SyFy last fall. Let’s not mince words—we are nerds and we have no shame about shirking off socialization to watch something incredibly silly.

Sure, we set our DVR so we’d have it for posterity, and it’s not like we’ve never seen a Roger Corman-produced monster movie, but there was no way we would actually wait to watch a half-shark/halfoctopus killing machine raging through a Mexican resort town. In this time-shifted era, most things can wait—a movie about a killer shark with deadly tentacles cannot. Heck, it might have been the most important television event in a generation. Well, for us anyway. We can’t say exactly why we found Sharktopus so compelling when recent years have been glutted with compositeanimal made-for-TV monster movies: 2010 also saw Corman bring Dinoshark and Dinocroc vs Supergator to the small 48

screen, plus there was the rather prodigious output of Corman-style knock-off studio the Asylum, which brought us Mega-Piranha, Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus, Mega-Shark vs Crocosaurus and 2010: Moby Dick. Which... really, that’s just a ridiculous idea, even for us. Ahab pilots a nuclear submarine? Talk about a stretch—an even bigger stretch than, say, believing that Sharktopus star Eric Roberts is supposed to be a scientific genius. Thirty years ago it might have been a possibility, but these days Roberts comes off so stoned that he makes Keith Richards look cogent. Then again, we’re not tuning into watch Eric Roberts stumble through his lines— has anyone, ever? We’re tuning into to

watch a carnage-packed cheese-fest, which is exactly what we get. Yes, the plot is flimsy at best, the acting is, uh, not going to win anybody any awards anytime soon, and the special effects Sharktopus are special in the shortwill be bus sense, but none of available that matters—every few March 15 from Anchor Bay minutes a half-sharkEntertainment.. half-octopus-freakshow eats somebody. That’s the important thing—the script could be entirely made up of quotes from Whitney Port’s Facebook page and we’d totally be into it, just as long as someone’s blood is splattered all over sand at least once every, say, five minutes. Again, we’re talking about a mutant-shark-octopus chimera on a killing spree—it’s not exactly what you’d call high-concept, but it’s a concept that will still be fun long after folks get over Oscar-baiting ballerinas, stuttering monarchs and socially inept social-networking tycoons. It’s a shark with tentacles for crying out loud!


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/movies

Hillbilly Heaven

O

essay by

Stan Michna

h, boy. Only after watching The Wild And Wonderful

Whites Of West Virginia, director Julien Nitzberg’s disturbingly brilliant and jaw-dropping documentary on the raucous White family clan of Boone County, West Virginia, do you identify the response gnawing away at you throughout: It’s dismay. Knowing Johnny Knoxville (of Jackass and Wild Boyz rednecksploitation notoriety) served as executive producer explains it somewhat. (The Whites may be wild, but they’re hardly wonderful, jaunty title notwithstanding.) And certainly his divisive reputation contributed to the torrents of vitriol and rancour that flooded the blogosphere when this film first hit the festival circuit. But what ultimately strikes home is the realization that families similar to the Whites inhabit virtually every hamlet, town and big city in North America and, unless you live in a hermetically sealed plastic bubble, you encounter them one way or another almost every day. It’s just that camera crews don’t follow them around for a year to celebrate—and celebrate they do, if surreptitiously—their drug-and-“alky-hol”-fuelled outlaw lifestyle. Though they refer to themselves as outlaw hillbillies, the Whites, strictly speaking, are neither hillbillies (like the fictional Ma & Pa Kettle or The Beverly Hillbillies, who are from the Ozarks); nor coonass rednecks (from Louisiana); nor piney woods crackers (à la Deliverance Georgians). They’re Appalachian mountain folk smack in the middle of coal country, where for decades absentee coal barons have beheaded, drawn, quartered and gutted the landscape and kept generations of locals in perpetual poverty and virtual servitude. (There is a brief but telling segment in which a memorial service honours workers killed in various mining disasters over the years, followed by the annual Coal Festival parade, where children scramble in the gutters for cheap candies tossed from the parade floats.) The Whites, though, long ago figured out how to stay out of the mines. As various prosecutors, law enforcement officials and otherwise upstanding Boone County citizens recount in the opening frames (and interject elsewhere), the Whites manage to sustain themselves in a variety of enterprises that include, but are not limited to: theft, armed robbery, murder, fraud, embezzlement and drug trafficking. Like their distant ancestors, the borderers of northern England and Scottish lowlands, the Whites rely on their closely-knit extended family to survive by whatever craft and cunning necessary in a world where power, wealth and influence are forever beyond reach. The Wild and At least that’s one way to look at it. Wonderful Another way is to call ‘em as you see ‘em: a menacing, noWhites of West Virginia account brood of rifle-slinging, knife-wielding, beer-swilling, is available drug-snorting, gasoline-huffing white trash rednecks. Their now from lives, as depicted here, are like a surreal, 20-car pileup unfoldTribeca Film distributed by ing before your eyes, a tragi-comic, chain-reaction punctuated Entertainment by spatters of blood—beginning with patriarch D. Ray White, One. 50

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a renowned Appalachian tap-and-step dancer once profiled in a documentary called Talking Feet, murdered in 1985 while on his way to a gig. Of the three principals who form the spine of the documentary, it’s D. Ray’s son, Jesco, also a dancer and similarly profiled in the 1991 PBS documentary Dancing Outlaw—wherein he famously tells of putting a knife to his wife’s throat because he’s sick and tired of “runny and slah-my eggs” for breakfast—who is the most magnetic, if not likeable. A badass with side-by-side tattoos of Elvis and Charles Manson, he provides one of the film’s more poignant moments as he strolls through the family cemetery, pointing to the stones marking his murdered father, a murdered sister, and a brother who committed suicide, then struggling to express the existential meaning of it all. Saddest and clearly the most controversial is a sequence featuring Jesco’s niece, Kirk (she stabbed her husband, by the way; what else is new?) who with a friend crushes and snorts lines of hillbilly heroin in her hospital room, where just a few feet away her newborn baby sleeps. When state authorities seize her baby, a distraught Kirk—except for uncle Poney who hightailed it to Minnesota, she’s the only White expressing a desire for a better life for her offspring—admits herself to a drug rehab centre, a milestone celebrated with a high-octane, boobflashing, drugs-and-liquor going-away party. But to emphasize moments of genuine pathos would be misleading. More representative are those precious moments when one of the younger Whites is sentenced to 50 years in prison for shooting an uncle—who survived and still loves the boy, God bless him—three times in the face; or the crackhead who drops his pants and wags his weenie in front of his squealing-with-laughter aunt; or the tattooist who can’t spell; or learning that D.Ray had his whole family declared insane, thus ensuring a flow of government entitlement cheques and the right to fuss, fight and party even unto the final generation. Daddy always knew best after all. Questions or comments? Email stan@sunriserecords.com


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UK POP SENSATION

DEBUT ALBUM OUT NOW!

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/movies/new_releases

MARCH 1

127 Hours 420 High Desert Way 8.5 Hours Alive! Is Michael Jackson Really Dead? Allman Brothers Band: Live at the Beacon Theatre Alonzo Bodden: Who’s Paying Attention? American Experience: Triangle Fire America’s Great Westerns Vol. 2 Angelina Ballerina: Ballet Dreams Anneliese: The Exorcist Tapes Annie’s Coming Out Bambi Beautiful Life Beyblade: Metal Fusion Vol. 3 Bigfoot: The Unforgettable Encounter/Little Bigfoot 2: The Journey Home Black Whole Bleeding Boomerang Brenda Starr, Reporter Burlesque Cake Boss Season 3 Canterville Ghost Celtic Crossroads: World Fusion Central State: Asylum for the Insane Chuggington: Let’s Ride the Rails Class/Johnny Be Good/Making the Grade Classic Westerns Coll. Set Vol. 2 Clowns Cobweb Cutting Edge: Fire and Ice David Gray: Live From the Artists Den Dickens in America Dinosaurs 3D: Giants of Patagonia Disaster in the Air Dorian Gray Dr. Black and Mr. White East Coast Ryders Vol. 7: Back 2 the Streets Eddie & The Hot Rods: Introspective Family Collection Vol. 1 Faster Fernando Di Leo Crime Collection Gaiam Portraits of Inspiring Lives: Bob Proctor Gaiam Portraits of Inspiring Lives: Marcia Wieder Genius Within: The Inner Live of Glenn Gould Genshiken: Complete Collection Ghosts of Goldfield Good Boy/Fluke/Napoleon Gucci Mane/DJ Fletch: Gucci Gone Bonkers Gucci Mane: In Wonderland Gustafer Yellowgold’s Infinity Sock Half Moon Harmony’s Honeys Harry Connick, Jr.: In Concert on Broadway Hollywood Safari I.Q. If Tomorrow Comes In Loving Memory: Series One Infinite Justice Internal Affairs Joey/The Legend of Johnny Lingo/ Lightning: The White Stallion/ Virginia’s Run Just Before Nightfall Kaboom! Kids: Favorite Friends Kaboom! Awesome Adventures Kiss My Blood

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Last American Virgin/Losin’ It/The Sure Thing L’Autre Monde Leave It to Beaver: The Complete Sixth Season Let’s Go Chipper: Into the Great Outdoors Love and Other Drugs Manhunt MGM March 10-Pack #1 MGM March 10-Pack #2 Midnight Horror Coll.: Urban Legends Morgana Robinson: Morgana Show Murder Investigation Team Series 1 My Girlfriend’s Back Nancy Reagan: Role of a Lifetime Napoleon and Love NHL Pittsburgh Penguins Greatest Games Vol. 2 Noah’s Castle Complete Series Norman Conquests Pioneers of Television: Pioneers of Children’s Programs Pioneers of Television: Pioneers of Crime Dramas Pioneers of Television: Pioneers of Westerns Pop Goes Thomas Precious Life Reluctant Debutante Road Trip Trilogy Robert Kennedy and His Times Robert Young Double Feature Romance S.W.A.T. Fire Fight Satin Shin Koihime Muso: Complete Collection Sid the Science Kid: Weather Kid Sid/The Ruler of Thumb/Gizmos and Gadgets Sleeping and Waking Story of Jen Susan Lenox (Her Fall & Rise) T.A.M.I.Show Tea & Sympathy Thomas & Friends: Pop Goes … Torrent Two Weeks in Another Town Two Weeks in Hell Two Bits & Pepper Two-Faced Woman Ultimate Wave: Tahiti 3D Undercover Angel Walking on Water Walter Pidgeon Double Feature Warren William Collection What If White Sister World of Horses: Season 1 Wow Wow Wubbzy: Egg Cellent … Wow Wow Wubbzy: Fly Us to …Wow Wow Wubbzy: … Goes Green Young Jeezy: Biggest Movie Ever – The Visuals to TM:103 MARCH 8

Abducted Accused at 17 Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer Akane Iro Ni Somaru Saka: Complete Collection Alien From the Deep Ambassador: The Complete Series Aphrodisiac! The Sexual Secret of Marijuana Around a Small Mountain Asia: Spirit of the Night – The Phoenix Tour Live in Cmabridge Atlas: Uncovering Earth Away All Boats Babysitters Beware Backyardigans: We Arrr Pirates Bestia Big Night Billy Joel: Live at Shea Stadium Bionic Everafter? Black Butler: Season One, Part Two Bob Dylan: Constant Sorrow

Mar 8 Four Lions

Directed by Chris Morris The mainstreaming of “terrorist comedy” has thus far only extended to Jeff Dunham’s thuddingly unfunny Achmed puppet. Four Lions gave it a valiant go last year, but failed to break out of the indie ghetto. Here, U.K. first-time director Chris Morris follows four bumbling jihadists in Sheffield. Critically beloved, and deservedly so. Bon Jovi: Blaze of Glory British Metal Butchers Caja Negra Care Bears: 4 Feature Set Carrera Perdida Cazador De La Bruja: The Complete Series Chilly Thrillers: Dead of Winter/ Frozen in Fear/Disturbed/ Interview With a Serial Killer Clifford’s Puppy Days: 4 Feature Set Climate Change: Our Planet – The Arctic Story Colin Mochrie & Brad Sherwood: Two Man Group Dalziel & Pascoe: Season 3 Daniel Tosh: Happy Thoughts Dark Skies: The Complete Series David Murray: Saxophone Man Doctor Who: Seeds of Doom Doctor Who: The Ark Doodlebops: 4 Feature Set Dragonball Z Kai: Season One, Part 4 Eddie Ifft Live Elina Garanca: New Year’s Eve 2010 Every Day Exploitation Cinema: Supervan/ Jailbait Babysitter Exploitation Cinema: Where Time Began/Encounter With the Unknown Film Unfinished First Turn On Four Lions Frank Sinatra: A Man and His Music From Within Great Title Fights of the ‘70s & ‘80s Grim Hannah Montana: Forever – The Final Season Harry & Son Haunting of Marsten Manor/ Haunted From Within Heart: Night at Sky Church Helena From the Wedding High Anxiety

Home Fires Burning/The Harvest Ibiza 2011 Inside Job Is That Thing Diesel? Jackass 3 Johnny Reid: Live – Heart and Soul J Goldman: Harmonic Visions Judge John Deed: Season Three Kipper: 4 Feature Set Koala Brothers: 4 Feature Set Letters to Father Jacob Life, the Greatest Gift Madeline: On the Town Man From Nowhere Maneater Series: The Hive/Vipers/ Rise of the Gargoyles Matty Hanson … Invisibility Ray Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends: 4 Feature Set Morning Glor My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Mystery Science Theatre 3000 Collection Vol. 2 Nature: Birds of the Gods Next Three Days NFL: Super Bowl XLV Nova: Emergency Mine Rescue Off Limits On the Double Ordeal by Innocence Pacific Battlefront Past Lies Pelt Piece of Cake Pingu: 4 Feature Set Play Primeval Paradise Rage Railways Real Interrogations Rediscover the Ancient Mysteries of Egypt Rescue Men: The Story of the Pea Island Life Savers Rubbadubbers: 4 Feature Set Shriven Silent House Son of Terror Speed Grapher: The Complete Series Spongebob Squarepants: The Great Patty Caper Stargazers Tales From Earthsea Terminators/Universal Soldiers Through the Wormhole With Morgan Freeman Transcendent Man Triangle/2103: The Deadly Wake Vampire Boys Waiting Time Walking Dead Season 1 Zombie Farm MARCH 15

100 Years That Shook the World 13 Stripes to 50 Stars: The Growth of America Abbott & Costello Absent Alfred Hitchcock: The Master of the Macabre Andy Griffith Show Arctic Mission: The Great Adventure Babylon 5: The Movies Bailey’s Big Back Yard: The Tropical Rainforest Baker Boys: Inside the Surge Barbie: A Fairy Secret Barney: Mother Goose Collection Basic/S.W.A.T. Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Season One, Part Two Battle of Britain Be My Teacher Best Food Ever Best of Spaghetti Westerns Beverly Hillbillies 1962-1963 Blood BMX Bandits Boat House Detectives


MAR 22 Katy Perry—The Girl Who Ran Away

Out via Sexy Intellectual Studios, so you know it’s going to be quality. Have fun with this unauthorized DVD bio, which tracks Perry’s unlikely rise from teen Christianpopper to girl-kissin’/teenage dreamin’ megastar. “Rare archive footage” is promised, and should be hilarious. Candlelight in Algeria Century of Flight: 100 Years of Aviation Chaperone Charles Bronson Chicago Calling Chihuahua Child in the House Clannad Coach: The Fourth Season Complete Civil War Con Artist D. Gray-Man: Season Two Dangerous Intimacy: The Untold Story of Mark Twain’s Final Years Dinosaur Train: Pteranodon Family World Tour Adventure Exploring Alaska: The Great Outdoors Fast Track Fighter Food Wars Season 1 Footloose/Flashdance Franny’s Feet: Home Sweet Home Freestyle Gamera vs. Zigra/Gamera, Super Monster Gamines Grave Digger: Clans Will Rise Again Great Battles of WW2 Gunslinger Girl: The Complete Series With OVA Hemingway’s Garden of Eden Hereafter Hidden Love Hiromi: Solo – Live at Blue Note NY Hitler’s Defeat Hollywood Comedy Classics Hollywood Westerns Collection Home Before Dark Horror Classics Hour of 13 House of Mirth/Les Miserables How the USA Grew: 13 Colonies to 50 States Human Trace I Shouldn’t Be Alive: Season 3 In Shanghai Indochine Interplanetary

Keith Emerson Band: Moscow Killer Queens Killers of the Deep Kinks: Pictures From the Past Lara Croft: Tomb Raider/Lara Croft: Tomb Raider – The Cradle of Life Mafia: An Expose Marine Story Martin Taylor: Jazz Guitarist Mary Alessi: Pressing On McMillan & Wife Season 3 Miller Anderson: Live at Rockpalast Mimi Fox: Live at the Palladium NASA: Triumphs & Tragedies Nature: Extraordinary Birds Neil Young: Like a Rolling Stone Night Digger No One Knows About Persian Cats Operation C.I.A. Parking Lot Movie Pink: Alive and Kicking Pteranodon Family World Tour Railway Journeys: The Vanishing Age of Steam Red Green Show: The Delinquent Years – Seasons 1997-1999 Renown British Mystery Double Feature: The 20 Questions Murder Mystery/Tread Softly Rhyme & Punishment Rita Rugrats Trilogy Movie Collection Salvador Allende Shadow Sharktopus Shine of Rainbows Snoopy, Come Home/A Boy Named Charlie Brown Spooner St. Helens Step Off Sugar Boxx Super Why: Peter Rabbit and Other Fairytale Adventures Switch Tales from the Never Ending Story Thunder in ;the City TNA Wrestling: Genesis 2011 Toby Keith: 10 Top TV Westerns 1957-65 Triumph of the Will & Olympia True Believer/Only You TV Nostalgia Twenty Plus Two Vampire Knight: Guilty Vol. 1 Vanquished Vietnam: War in the Jungle Who Do You Think You Are? Season 1 Wildest Dream Wrestlemania Story WWII Crimes on the British Home Front Yes: The Lost Broadcasts Zombie women of Satan MARCH 22

2012 and the Shift: The Power of Ceremony 4 Movie Marathon: The Perfect Man/ Head Over Heels/Wimbledon/The Story of Us AC/DC: The Interview Sessions Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle Volume 1 Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle Volume 2 Affluenza Air Alien 2 OnEarth America’s Wars Animal Atlas: Family Time Anywhere U.S.A. Associate Bashment: The Fork in the Road Bat Battle of Los Angeles Bedrooms

Bee Gees: Spicks & Specks Berkeley Square Big I Am Big Noise Dispatches 07 Bill Cosby Show: Best of Season 1 Black Oak Conspiracy/The Great Texas Dynamite Chase Bleach Uncut Box Set Vol. 7 Bodl: Battle of the Dancelines Bodyguards & Assassins Boudica Brady Bunch Movie Collection Bratz: Good Vibes Bruce Lee Ultimate Trilogy Call Me Salome Carl Palmer: Drum Solos Carl Verheyen Band: The Road Carlos the Jackal Chloe’s Closet: Super Best Friends Classic War Collection: 4 Film Favorites (Wake Island/Battle Hymn/To Hell and Back/Gray Lady Down) Classic Western Collection (Albuquerque/The Duel at Silver Creek/Whispering Smith/War Arrow) Code Geass: Leouch of the Rebellion – The Complete First Season Comedy Favorites Collection: 4 Film Favorites (Cross my Heart/Fierce Creatures/Opportunity Knocks/ Splitting Heirs) Consinual Count Basie: Then … Count’s the King Creep Creepersin’s Frankenstein Criterion Collection: Eclipse 26 – Silent Naruse Crossing the American Crises: From Collapse to Action Cult Horror Collection: 4 Film Favorites (The Funhouse/ The Serpent and the Rainbow/ Phantasm II/Sssssss) Dark Comedy Collection: 4 Film Favorites (Serial Mom/Very Bad Things/Nurse Betty/Your Friends & Neighbors) Dark Fields Death Will Have Your Eyes Deeper Love Defiled Derailroaded: Inside the Mind of Larry “Wild Man” Fischer Devilles Devolved Dewey Redman: American Jazz Life Doodlebops Rockin’ Road Show: Let’s Rock! Doomsday Earth 2012: Apocalypse Duke Ellington: Remi… in Tempo Duplicity Eco-Energy Explosions Eyehategod: Live Family 4-Pack Vol. 1 Family Comedy Collection: 4 Film Favorites (Dudley Do-Right/Cop and a Half/Sgt. Bilko/Ed) Family Secret Fast and the Furious (1954) Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift Fathers of the Sport Flamebards Flashpoint Berlin 1957-1963 F Rossi: Live From St. Luke’s London Frontline: Battle for Haiti Future Flight! Future Tech! Ghost Sweeper: Mikami Collection 3 Girls Rock Collection (Clueless/ Mean Girls) Glen Washington: Live Grace O’Malley the Pirate Queen Great Steam Locomotives of France Great White: Live and Raw Guns and Weed: Road to Freedom Hawkeye: The Complete Series History Lesson Part 1: Punk Rock in Los Angeles in 1984

Hollywood Look I’m Smiling Horror 4 Pack Vol. 1: Midnight Movie/The Attic/Carver/Outrage Born in Terror House of Sin How Do You Know I Spy! Invisible College: Rosicrucians, Mandalas and Ancient … Iron Maiden: The Interview Sessions James Brown: Body Heat – Live in Monterey 1979 Joan of Arc Kanokon: The Girl Who Cried Fox – Complete Series Katy Perry: The Girl Who Ran Away Kenichi: Season Two Kid Rock: Complete Story Kiss: Lick It UP Kiss: Meet the Press Kiss; Interviews Kluge in the Beginning Last Voices of WWI: Generation Lost Little Engine That Could Looking for Palladin Lost Missile Lozen: Apache Warrior Malancholy of Harnyoron Marcus Welby M.D.: Best of Seas. 1 Meskada Michael J. Fox Comedy Favorites Collection Nature: The Himalayas Neil Peart: Fire on Ice – The Making of “The Hockey Theme” Newsreel History of the Third Reich Vol. 11-15 Nova: Secrets Beneath the Ice Oscura Seduccion Our Hospitality Palestine Is Still the Issue People I’ve Slept With Psych: The Complete First Season Psych: The Complete Second Season Punching the Clown Quiet Arrangement Reeal Mulan Residents: Randy’s Ghost Stories Return to the Dunes Revolutionary War: Heroes & Battles RIN: Daughter of Mnemosyne – The Complete Series Roger Corman’s Cult Classics: Jackson County Jail/Caged Heat Samurai Boys 3: Blood Sugar Boys Magik Saragossa Manuscript Sasha Scandalous Impressionists Scarecrow and Mrs. King: The Complete Second Season Science of Entertainment Scooby-Doo: 3-Pack Fun Sesame Street Essentials Collection: milestones Sharks of the Great White North Sheep of Stone Sherlock Holmes and the Great London Crime Mysteries Shrek Siren Skyline Smallville: Complete 8th Season Speed Strawberry Shortcake: Puttin’ on the Glitz Streetcar Named Desire Sub O: Ice Man Edition Tales From the Gypsies: Colossal Sensation/School of Senses Teen Comedy Collection: 4 Film Favorites That Kind of Girl Times of Harvey Milk Tourist Twist UFOs Do Not Exist! The Grand Deception Ultimate Death Match II Vanquisher

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/music/new_releases

MARCH 1

Icon Lives and Treasure Alexander Vol. 2: High and Inside Icon Living With the Ancients Icon Bring Him Home The Singles Vol. 10 Anna Calvi Reiki Healing Music Totem In Concert on Broadway Icon 3’n the Mornin’ Part Two All Screwed Up Saved by Fear He Gets Me High Grotesque Impalement Killing on Adrenaline Now The Valley Icon Morbid Destitution of Covenant Firebird Double Diamond Forever the Sickest Forever the Sickest Four Tops Icon Peter Frampton Icon The Gap Band Icon Gideon Costs Go Radio Lucky Street Fred Hersch Alone at the Vanguard Ari Hest Sunset Over Hope Street Buddy Holly Icon Humanity Falls Ordaining the Apocalypse Images of Eden Rebuilding the Ruins Scott Kempner Tenement Angels C King/James Taylor Troubadours Kool & The Gang Icon Kopek White Collar Lies K Kings Pres Dirtball Nervous System David Lanz Liverpool Left Lane Cruiser Junkyard Speed Ball Less Than Jake Hello Rockview Less Than Jake Losing Streak Aaron Lewis Town Line Los Peyotes Garaje o Muerte The Loves Love You Lumerians Transmalinnia Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes Loretta Lynne Icon The Mavericks Icon Middle Brother Middle Brother Buddy Miller The Majestic Silver Strings Ana Moura Coliseum Abir Nasraoui Heyma Neema Watching You Think Aaron Neville Icon Omnium Gatherum New World Shadows Paris Suit Yourself My Main Shitstain Parliament Icon Austin Peralta Endless Planets The Rural Alberta … Departing Rwake Hell Is a Door to the Sun Salt-N-Pepa Icon Scale the Summit The Collective Scene Aesthetic Brother (Deluxe Edition) Ron Sexsmith Long Player Late Bloomer Skrillex Scary Monsters and … Gina Sosa Can’t Control Myself Omar Sosa Calma Soundtrack Beastly Soundtrack Biutiful/Almost Biutiful Stateless Matilda The Tellers Close the Evil Eye Those Dancing Days Daydreams and Nightmares Tigertailz Berserk: Live… Burnin’ Fuel .38 Special Acrylics Alexander The Baseball Project Chuck Berry Blood Ceremony Bloodhound Gang Alfie Boe James Brown Anna Calvi Christopher of the … Cirque du Soleil Harry Connick Jr. Billy Ray Cyrus DJ Screw DJ Screw Dukatalon Dum Dum Girls Dying Fetus Dying Fetus Linda Eder Eisley Melissa Etheridge Father Befouled

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Icon Hawaii Five-O Icon Hyphenated-Man Chapters Blessed True Stories of Mark Wonder & Friends Karim Ziad/Hamid… Yobadi Tony! Toni! Tone! The Ventures War Mike Watt We Still Dream Lucinda Williams Mark Wonder & …

MARCH 8

Ancient Astronauts Into Bass and Time The Antikaroshi Per/son/alien Asia Spirit of the Night: Live Ava Inferi Onyx Bang Tango Ain’t No Jive Bang Tango Dancin’ on Coals Bang Tango Psycho Café John Barry John Barry Beehover Concrete Catalyst Benedictum Dominion Tommy Bolin Teaser Deluxe Bon Jovi The Lowdown M Capelli Acoustic Trio Le Nuages en France Exene Cervenka The Excitement of maybe Ray Charles The Soul Explosion Children of Bodom Relentless Reckless Forever Bruce Cockburn Small Source of Comfort Bobby Collins I’m on the Boat The Color Morale My Devil in Your Eyes Condemned? Condemned2death Luis Conte En Casa de Luis Creepersin The Rise of Creepersin The Curious Mystery We Creeling Stoney Curtis Band Cosmic Conn3ction Matt Cusson One of Those Nights Cut Copy Zonoscope (Deluxe) Dance Gavin Dance Downtown Battle … II Defeater Empty Days & … Demon Hunter Death, a Destination Destruction Day of Reckoning Neil Diamond The Bang years Bo Diddley Bo Diddley’s Beach party Dinosaur Bones My Divider Diversecity Welcome Fats Domino Rare Dominos Vols. 1 & 2 Dornereich Flammentriebe Drive Angry Drive Angry Eis Kainsmal Riley Etheridge Jr. Powder keg Sara Evans Stronger Factory of Dreams Melotronic Fen Epoch Lupe Fiasco Lasers Champian Fulton The Breeze Gehenna WW Glee Cast Glee: Vol. 5 Glen Galaxy Thankyou Gocho Mi Musica Grails Deep Politics Dobie Gray Drift Away/Loving Arms Jonny Greenwood Norwegian Wood Soundtrack Stefan Grossman The Ragtime Cowboy Jew Halfbrother Sid Crazier Than Thou The High Kings Memory Lane The Hollies Bus Stop/Stop! Stop! Stop! Sierra Hull Daybreak The Human Abstract Digital Veil Isomer Face Toward the Sun Jag Panzer The Scourge of the Light Tommy James In Touch/Midnight Rider Jib Kidder Library Catalog Music Series Billy Joel Live at Shea Stadium Rolf Julius Music for a distance Earl Klugh Dream Come True/Crazy for You/Low Ride Al Kooper Easy Does It/New York City Avril Lavigne Goodbye Lullaby Lifelover Sijukdom Lil Keke 713 Volume 4 Long Distance Calling Long Distance Calling Billy Love Gee… I Wish Lullwater Silhouette Mae Evening Phil Manzanera Diamond Head Maruta Forward Into Regression Stevin McNamara Prana Groove

Mastodon Mar 15

Live at the Aragon The older they get, the harder it is to classify Atlanta’s preeminent metal foursome. Elements of prog, stoner rock and grunge permeate breakout album Crack the Skye, played in its entirety here. If you’re too tr00 for CTS, however, enjoy a long encore of slammers from Remission, Leviathan and Blood Mountain. Here Comes a city High Tension Wire Coast to Coast Southern Steel Jazz Biography Anthology Vol. 1 Road Killer Towards the Sun Million Sellers/Rick Is 21 Despicable Moseley Shoals (Deluxe) Constant Future Make the Monkey Dance Sugartime Elvis Is Back! Legacy Edition Charley Pride Choices Quiet Sun Mainstream R.E.M. Collapse Into Now Raekwon Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang Raiders Country Wine… Plus Rainbow Down to Earth (Deluxe) Rainbow Rising (DeluxeO Red Lili Une vie De Reve Glenn Reeves Johnny on the Spot Keith Richards The Document Rival Schools Pedals Kathy Sanborn Blues for Breakfast Score The Eagle The Shangri-Las Remember Sign of the Jackal The Beyond Simon & Garfunkel Bridge Over Troubled Water (40th Anniversary Edition) Sorcerer Sorcerer Soundtrack Shelter Jimmy Spellman Doggonit: Gonna Shake This Shack Tonight Starfucker Reptilians Sufis at the Cinema 50 Years of Bollywood, Qawwali & Sufi Ya Tafari Utopia Tiger Most Wanted Daniel Tosh Happy Thoughts Allen Touissant The Allen Touissant Story Rick Trevino In My Dreams/Whole Town Blue Trust Company Dreaming in Black and White Turisas Stand Up and Fight Kurt Vile Smoke Ring for My Halo Warlock Hellbound Warlock Triumph and Agony Warlock True as Steel WC Revenge of the Barracuda Wino Adrift Wires Under Tension Light Science Withering Soul No Closure Wye Oak Civilian Natalia Zukerman Gas Station Roses Memphis Steve Morse Steve Morse Band Steve Morse Band Jelly Roll Morton Mournblade Murder Junkies Alexi Murdoch Rick Nelson Jim Norton Ocean Colour Scene Parts & Labor Danny Peyronel Charlie Phillips Elvis Presley


MARCH 15

Across the Sun Before the Night Takes us American Idol 10th Anniv: The Hits Vol 1 Anomalous Ohmnivalent As Blood Runs Black Instinct Assaulter Boundless Awolnation Megalithic Symphony Travis Barker Give the Drummer Some The Berg Sans Nipple Build With Erosion Black Joe Lewis & … Scandalous Art Blakey & The … Ugetsu Cassle Cassle Tony Castles No Service Condenados A Painful Journey Into Nihil Cornershop feat. … Cornershop & The Double-O Groove Of Miranda Cosgrove High Maintenance Crucified Mortals Crucified Mortals Curren$y Muscle Car The Damnwells No One Listens to the Band Anymore Darlings Warma The Dead Kenny Gs Operation Long Leash Deadlock Bizarro World The Death Set Michel Poiccard Devourment Butcher the Weak Devourment Unleash the Carnivore Al Di Meola Pursuit-Rad Rhapsody The Dodos No Color Does It Offend You, … Don’t way We Didn’t Warn you Eleventh Dream day Riot Now! Eternal Tapestry Beyond the 4th Door JadFair Beautiful Songs 3 Jad Fair His Name Itself Is Music The Fifth Dimension Essential Fifth Dimension Fitzgerald-Peterson Ella and Oscar The Fleshtones Brooklyn Sound Solution Sutton Foster An Evening With Sutton Foster Found Factorycraft Funeral for a Friend Welcome Home Armageddon Bob Geldof How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell Stan Getz/Cal Tjader Getz/Tjader Sextet Giant Sand Purge & Slouch (25th Anniversary Edition) Giant Sand Ramp (25th Anniv Edition) Gorgasm Orgy of Murder Grave Digger Ballad of Mary Grave Digger The Clans Are Still Marching Al Green Best of … Gospel Sessions Alan Hampton The Moving Sidewalk Heidecker & Wood Starting From Nowhere The Joy Formidable The Big Roar Eartha Kitt The Essential Eartha Kitt Deniz Kurtel Music Watching Over Me Kvelertak Kvelertak Lamorski, Jurek & … Lucky Leeroy Stagger Little Victories Nick Lowe Labour of Lust Steve Martin Rare Bird Alert J. Mascis Several Shades of Why Mastodon Live … Aragon (CD/DVD) Vashawn Mitchell My Songbook (Deluxe Ed.) Thelonious Monk Monk’s Music Mother Mother Eureka Naked and Famous Passive Me Aggressive You Near Death Condition The Disembodied: In Spiritual spheres Dancing Backwards… New York Dolls Noah and the Whale Last Night on Earth Daniel O’Donnell Moon Over Ireland Oh Land Oh Land Onward to Olympas The War Within Us Patrick M Nervous Nitelife: Patrick M The Poison Tree The Poison Tree Django Reinhardt The Essential Django Reinhardt Paul Revere & The … Essential Paul Revere … Richie Spice Book of Job Rise Against Endgame Caitlin Rose Own Side Now Rotten Sound Cursed Salt the Wound Kill the Crown Omar Santana Dub Step: Dubterranean

How Snakes Eat Scala & Kolacny Brothers First World Manifest Death and Legacy The Essential Nina Simone The Essential Ricky Skaggs Long Live Eve Luna Paul Priscilla Queen of the Desert Soundtrack Rango Soundtrack The Lincoln Lawyer Larry Sparks Almost Home Rick Springfield The Essential Rick Springfield Steel Tigers of Death Precious Moments Traffic John Barleycorn Must die Trap Them Darker Handcraft Alex Turner Submarine Steve Vai The Essential Steve Vai Various Artists Dance Mix USA: In the Club Various Artists Delta Various Artists The Rough Guide to African Guide legends Vreid V Dionne Warwick Only Trust Your Heart The Wedding Present Live 1989 Weedeater Jason the Dragon Kenny Werner Balloons Matt Wertz Weights & Wings Josh Williams Down Home Withered hand Good news Wolf & Lamb vs. … DJ Kicks Wreak Havoc Abandon Everything Yellowjackets Timeline Mathew Sawyer & … Scala & Kolacny … Screeching Weasel Serenity Nina Simone Ricky Skaggs Snowblink Soundtrack Soundtrack Soundtrack

MARCH 22

13 Featuring Lester Butler Music Sounds Better w You Lesser Known My Life My Way Perreologia Vices and Virtues United Nations of Sound Quadrant Berlin 13 Bashtown A Black Moon Broods Over Lemuria A Bhosle and S Khan Naina Lagai Ke Big Sandy and His … Best of Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys Bing Ji Ling Shadow to Shine Bizzy Bone & Layzie … Bone Brothers IV Bone Thugs Maggie Bjorklund Coming Home James Blake James Blake Bloodshot Murder the World Bobby V Fly on the Wall Joe Bonamassa Dust Bowl Born of Osiris The Discovery Chris Brown F.A.M.E. Solomon Burke & … Hold on Tight Jaki Byard A Matter of Black and White Cam’ron & Vado Gunz N’ Butta Derrick Carter Fabric 56: Derrick Carter Chalie Boy Greatest Hits 4 Peter Chilvers Piano Cipher No Ordinary man CKY B-Sides & Rarities Edwyn Collins Losing Sleep Katelynne Cox One Girl Dennis Crommett In the Buffalo surround Crystal Viper Legends CunninLynguists Oneirology Billy Currington Icon Darkthrone Total Death Anthony David As Above So Below Deep Dark Robot 8 Songs About a Girl Papa John DeFrancesco A Philadelphia Story DMX Greatest Hits With a Twist DNA Party Tested Dodheimsgard 666 International Dodsferd Splitting With Hatred the Insignificance 13 feat. Lester Butler Acid House Kings Adventure Agnostic Front Alexis & Fido Art of Dying Richard Ashcroft Astrosoniq Federico Aubele Baby Bash Bal Sagoth

Eliza Doolittle Sleep Paralyses All You Need Is Now Fragile Family Bizness Tear the Fences Down Metal Vengeance Gold in the Shadow Take a Look Missa Atropos Seen Through the veils Mother Armageddon, Healing Apocalypse D Solid Gould vs. Bill … Dub of the Passover Grasstowne Kickin’ Up Dust Grave Digger Rheingold Green Day Awesome as F**k Gucci Mane The Return of Mr. Zone 6 Jennifer Hudson I Remember Me If By yes Salt on Sea Glass Laura Jansen Bells Ke$ha TBA (remix album) Josh Kelley Georgia Clay Keren Ann 101 The Kinks Kinda Kinks (Deluxe) The Kinks Kinks (Deluxe) The Kinks The Kinks Kontroversy (Deluxe) Adam Lambert Glam Nation Live Okkyung Lee Noisy Love songs GBLeighton Hope 1 Mile Les Chauds Lapins Amourettes The Lonely Forest Arrows Mamud Band Opposite People – The Music of Fela Kuti Harvey Mandel Best Of Big Jay McNeely King of the Honking Sax Rick Nelson Rockin’ at the Universal No Man Carolina Skeletons No Man Flowermouth No Man Wild Opera Nostalgia 77 The Sleepwalking Society Odd Dimension Symmetrical Panic! At the Disco Vices & Virtues Pastor Troy H.N.I.C. Pavlov’s Dog Live and Unleashed Pet Shop Boys The Most Incredible Thing Pharoahe Monch W.A.R. (We Are Renegades) Anthony Phillips Private Parts and Pieces Vol. 9 & 10 Protest the Hero Scurrilous Reverberation Blue Stereo Music Reverberation vs. … New Soul Rocky’s Business Rebel’s Roar The Roys Lonesome Whistle Saliva Under Your Skin Sam the Sham and … The MGM Singles M Seeger & P Seeger Fly Down Little Bird Tommy Shaw Great Divide Kierra Sheard My Kierra Sheard Playlist The Sir Douglas … The Mono Singles ’68 – ‘72 Soundgarden Live on I-5 Soundtrack Saw IV Soundtrack Stripperland Soundtrack Sucker Punch Dorthy Squires The Voice of the Broken Hearted Coming Home Rod Stewart A Night on the Town Rod Stewart Atlantic Crossing Straight Line Stitch The Fight of Our Lives The Strokes Angles Quinn Sullivan Cyclone Sway Machinery … The House of Friendly Ghosts Vol. 1 Tesseract One Thorns vs. Emperor Thorns vs. Emperor Jim Tomlinson The Lyric Featuring Stacey kent Josh Turner Icon Wadsworth Mansion Sweet mary Bob Wills 1940-1947: Texas, Hollywood and Chicago Woods of Ypres Woods IV: The Green Album Yellowcard When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes Zion I & The Grouch Heroes in the Healing of the Nation John Zorn Nova Express Eliza Doolittle Dotma Duran Duran Roger Eno ESG Eulogies Evil Survives William Fitzsimmons Aretha Franklin Gazpacho Gehenna Georgian Skull

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Colin James returns with Take It From The Top: The Best Of a collection of the 15 most essential rock tracks from his impressive multi-label career, featuring hits like "Just Came Back" and "Why’d You Lie," along with two new songs recorded this month with legendary producer Bob Rock (Bon Jovi, The Tragically Hip, Metallica, Michael Buble).

Featuring the single "It’s Gonna Be Alright" co-written by Colin, the first of two new tracks fits perfectly on this album as it destined to become one of Colin's finest rock performances to date. The other new recording is a cover of the Buddy Miles song "Them Changes," in which Colin honours this classic, yet brings his own unique flavour to the arrangement.

Available March 15th

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MARCH Tour 13 15 16 17 18 19 20 22 23 24 25 26

London, ON Meaford, ON Drayton, ON Bayfield, ON Hamilton, ON Oakville, ON Guelph, ON Belleville, ON Quebec City, QC L’assomption, QC St-Hyacinthe, QC Sherbrooke, QC

Music Hall Arts & Cultural Centre Festival Theatre Town Hall Hamilton Place Centre For The Arts River Run Theatre Empire Theatre La Societe du Palais Montclam Corp. Hector-Charland Centre des Arts Juliette-Lassonde Theatre Le Granada


EXPAND YOUR FILMATIC MIND!

KISSES

THE LAW (2 DVD)

I KNEW IT WAS YOU: Rediscovering John Cazale

THE EXPLODING GIRL

Michel Gondry’s THE THORN IN THE HEART

In addition to housing the Beastie Boys’ recording studio and post-production facility, Oscilloscope Laboratories became a full-fledged independent film distribution company three years ago when launched by Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. With such films as Michel Gondry’s personal family documentary, The Thorn In The Heart, the re-release of Jules Dassin’s classic The Law, Lance Daly’s award-winning Irish film Kisses, and the upcoming Howl starring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, Oscilloscope has quickly asserted its place amongst the ranks of American independent film distributors. needle

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When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes! Featuring the new single For You, And Your Denial AVAILABLE IN STORES MARCH 22ND

ALSO AVAILABLE AMON AMARTH

AS BLOOD RUNS BLACK Instinct

Before The Night Takes Us

Street Date: 3/29/11

Street Date: 3/15/11

Street Date: 3/15/11

Surtur Rising

ACROSS THE SUN

VARIOUS

Ragga Ragga Ragga 2011

Street Date: 3/15/11

PHAROAHE MONCH W.A.R.

THE HUMAN ABSTRACT Digital Veil

WIZ KHALIFA

Deal Or No Deal

Marketed & Distributed in Canada by Entertainment One Canada 60

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CANNIBAL CORPSE

Global Evisceration (DVD)


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Canadian Essential Music

True North Records presents

Bruce

Cockburn S mall Source of Co mfort

The brilliant new studio album from Bruce Cockburn featuring 15 new songs including “Call me Rose” *AVAILABLE March 8

The

WAILIN’ JENNYS Bright Morning Stars

“One of the most exciting and polish acts in folk music” - Dirty Linen Magazine *AVAILABLE February 8

After nearly four years The Wailin’ Jennys are back with Bright Morning Stars, a melodically and lyrically lush collection of 13 tracks which is one of the most anticipated new folk albums of the year.

THE MAHONES

THE BLACK IRISH “The Black Irish will be hard to beat this year as the #1 album of the year in Celt Rock & Punk! Pick up your copy people!”- Paddyrock.com Raise your pints! The Mahones are back with The Black Irish, a brand new album filled with Celtic punk anthems. Catch The Mahones on tour across Canada beginning in Feb/March 2011. *AVAILABLE March 1 62

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! S I H T R E V O DISCew Albums You Need… Four N

STRIPPERS UNION THE DEUCE

Strippers Union is the band led by Rob Baker and Craig Northey. Poised to assail the world of rock with their own “mass of awesomeness” in sophomore opus The Deuce, Stripper’s Union are no strangers to the importance of a band being greater than the sum of its parts. Rob Baker and Craig Northey have spent immeasurable amounts of time traipsing the Great White North in revered acts such as The Tragically Hip and The Odds respectively. Pulling fellow conspirators Doug Elliott (bass guitar) and Pat Steward (drums) from Northey’s former outt, the foundation of Stripper’s Union is an impenetrable dynamo of intensity, musicality and vision. Includes the rst single “Making Strange”. Available March 8 2011.

PJ HARVEY LET ENGLAND SHAKE

PJ Harvey’s new album, Let England Shake, was recorded in a 19th Century church in Dorset, on a cliff-top overlooking the sea. It was created with a cast of musicians including such long-standing collaborators as Flood (Depeche Mode, U2, The Killers), John Parish (Eels, Tracy Chapman) and Mick Harvey (Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds). Let England Shake marks Harvey’s 8th album, following 2007’s White Chalk. Its songs centre on both her home country, and events further aeld in which it has embroiled itself. The lyrics return, time and again, to the matter of war, the fate of people ghting and events separated by whole ages - from Afghanistan to Gallipoli. The album is not a work of protest but brims with the mystery and magnetism in which she excels. Put simply, not many people make records like this. Let England Shake is “Ethereal and brutal, it’s simply stunning” – Q. Available Now.

ALEXANDER ALEXANDER

Alexander is Alex Ebert, lead singer and musical mastermind behind Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. During breaks from touring with the Zeros over the past year, Alexander began building and recording the pieces that would become the songs for this album alone in his bedroom. Before this album, all of the music he worked on had been collaborative, especially with the 10-person Magnetic Zeros. “I wanted to be able to build an album basically with my hands, like building a house by myself,” Alexander remarked of his inspiration for making this album without outside help. Alexander’s self-titled record is complete with ten songs sure to please fans of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros while welcoming new listeners with open arms. Available Now.

G. LOVE FIXIN’ TO DIE

After touring with Seth and Scott Avett (the Avett Brothers) and discovering a mutual love for back road blues, G. Love invited them not only to perform on his new record but produce it as well. The result is Fixin’ To Die, a collection of rearranged traditionals, a classic cover, and a slew of G. Love originals all sharing a common goal: to strip away all pretense and capture the original spirit and sound G. Love has cultivated over his entire career but never fully embraced until now. Available Now.

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debut album

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