Archive for the ‘jc’ Category

The Kingdom (2007)

October 11, 2007

The Kingdom is a story about a handful of FBI agents (played by actors Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman) who want to strike while the iron is hot. A civilian complex in Saudi Arabia was attacked by terrorists and these agents have reasons to believe that this is something much larger than just a random attack. Not willing to wait and go through all the red tape required to get onto Saudi soil, they find means to get into the country and connect with the local government that the bombing affected. Their desire to strike back is intensified when they arrive and see that a proper investigation is not taking place. After befriending a Saudi militant (Ashraf Barhom) they are able to meet and talk with the prince who reigns over that area. The prince gives them liberty to make a full investigation.

Through the rest of the film director Peter Berg reveals scenes that help the viewer connect with the Saudis instead of just showing things from the American point of view. It reveals the whole iceberg of Saudi Arabia, regardless of whether the American characters only want to take care of the tip or not. The impression is still given that the Americans are in the right and that their tour had a great purpose, but then a parallel is exposed at the end. Through connecting with the Saudis in the movie the viewer gets the sense that the vengeance that the Americans are trying to achieve is just part of a vicious cycle. It’s a fact that leaves the viewer feeling empty and hopeless in some ways, saying, “sure, we won this battle, but there is an entire war going on that no one knows how to end.”

-Janet Chamberlain

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Joshua Radin and Schuyler Fisk live at Club Cafe

September 5, 2007

This small venue’s setting made it noticeable that many girlfriends had “dragged” their boyfriends along in anticipation of hearing some heartwarming (and heartwretching) songs. The tight space created an awkward standing crowd, but the music was still enjoyed.

The concert began with a set from Schuyler Fisk, who is also an actress (Orange County and I’m Reed Fish). She simply walked up and began to sing and play her guitar. She had a personal yet time-limited set since she was opening for Joshua Radin. To connect some dots with Radin and Fisk you may have heard their popular song “Paperweight” from the Last Kiss movie starring Zach Braff.

Using the same band members as Fisk (a percussionist and a cellist) Radin started off by stating some background to the majority of his songs. Seeing as his songs are mainly sad, a little background about his relationships that fed off of depression gave a lot more power to the songs. They were far more appreciable even though they ended up being even more heartbreaking.

Later in the concert Fisk came back out to finish out with Radin. They relationship was undeniable in the ways they interacted and connected with their eyes as they sang their various songs. Even though the concert was filled with sappily sad songs about his ex-girlfriend he was able to unite him and Fisk’s connection through a song as well. “The Fear You Won’t Fall” is about him falling for her and the fear that she won’t fall in love with him. Radin did an excellent job describing what it’s like to go through a relationship and to feel things that he’s not all to sure he should be feeling. Whether those feelings should be concealed for later in the relationship or that this may just be an exceptional one.

Almost needless to say Radin and Fisk put on a personal show. They genuinely want to play their music to help their fans understand why they are playing those certain songs or why they were even written in the first place.

-janet chamberlain

schuyler fisk on myspace

joshua radin on myspace

club cafe

N.O.R.E. — Y la Familia…Ya Tú Sabe (2006)

April 18, 2007
This band is part of a noticeable trend that has been occurring in the past couple years known as “Spanglish.” Bands like N.O.R.E. (pronounced NOR-EE or Ene-O-Ere-Eh), Daddy Yankee and Shakira have been throwing both Spanish and English into their songs, making their potential audience larger.

Dedicated to Puerto Rico, the album features Fat Joe, Diddy, Ja Rule and many others. For the genre lovers this album is known to be reggaeton, rap, and hip-hop. The album title translates to something like, “[N.O.R.E.] and the family…Now you know.” What they are trying to relate by this is that they are going to talk about how things are in Puerto Rico. Then, in the end, you will understand.

Many of the songs have definite references to Puerto Rican culture and history. In the song “Y Voy,” they speak of a Jibaro, a specific reference to the working-class man on the island. There are also references like “Boriqua,” slang for a Puerto Rican male or female.

It is surprising that this album was not more popular. It is a great compilation of genres, cultures and artists. Though the lyrics may not be the best, it is a good album. The artists put thought into what they were making and made conscious efforts to make this album very specific to Puerto Rico.

–jc

Bayside — The Walking Wounded (2007)

April 18, 2007
This is the basic four-man band: the singer with his guitar, another guitarist, a bassist and a drummer. Singer Anthony Raneri has a unique enough voice in contrast to popular music out on the charts right now, but the band doesn’t stray much from the rock/pop-punk sound.

Regardless, they are definite material to be popular soon. It is easy to understand and sing along to the words. The rhythm is simple enough to rock and dance to in concert. And they actually have a band name that is someone easy to remember.

So, let’s suppose that this band does get popular with their new hit “Duality?” This is a song about two personalities. It is almost like any other, “I’m frustrated with everything” song. It is very insecure lyrically: “There’s no telling what tomorrow holds / There’s no telling which voice takes control / Is there anybody out there? / Is there anybody calling? / What if what I think is really wrong? / I’m not in control”

Being a fan of fun music when it comes to rocking out or dancing the night away at a concert, this song leaves me very conflicted as I see it is going mainstream and will be listened to mainly by young people.

I guess like many other bands, this band’s lyrics can not be taken all too seriously. Although, the sound is great, so have fun with it.

–jc

Lucky # Slevin (2006)

February 26, 2007
Lucky Number Slevin is delightful–not only visually, but entertaining in its twist-filled plot. In staying away from spoiling the twist and plot the movie is about two mob bosses who used to run their mobs together. The main character Slevin (Josh Hartnett) gets thrown in between these two bosses because of a mistaken identity, and has to pay off the debt by some means to each boss. To make it even more complicated, he also meets a girl.

The visual cues in the cinematography played so well together that is was almost a reminder of the Sixth Sense. With these cues in mind, not all the flashbacks would have been needed; if someone can remember something from forty-five minutes ago they could puzzle it together.

Sure, the plot isn’t completely original, but with good acting (including Morgan Freeman, Lucy Liu and more), awesome cinematography and thought-out direction Slevin is a completely pleasurable movie. So, delight yourself and watch.

–jc

of Montreal – Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? (2007)

February 26, 2007
of Montreal’s album Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer? sucks you in with a whirlwind of high pitched happy voices, poppy beats and a technoish background mix. In some ways it’s a reminder of the music of the ’70s (from the voices) and the ’80s (with computerized noises in the background), but that’s the best part of the whole album. If music videos were based on the sound of the songs then a confusing fairy land of weirdness would ensue, but it would be fun! To put it lightly, this would be a fun band to see in concert.

About halfway through the album of Montreal takes a turn into an eleven minute song, “the Past Is A Grotesque Animal.” It’s still their style, but the fact that this song goes on for eleven minutes makes the hair on one’s back stand up. Thankfully, halfway through the next song the album returns to its fun pop feel which brings joy to the soul. Simply, it’s a delightfully enjoyable album, but it’s best to skip the eleven minute song and get right on to the “so-o-o-o-o-o-o-oul” of the album.

–jc

Listen.

Damien Jurado – And Now That I’m In Your Shadow (2006)

February 12, 2007
Damien Jurado’s lyrics in And Now That I’m In Your Shadow cause mental restlessness, as the piano and guitar vitally express the intricacy of the often sad messages. Every word and note feels so purposeful in their emotional stories. It is an album that can be played while studying, hanging out in a coffee shop or falling asleep; though the messages really portray great stories that can be listened to and pondered. Some of the songs even remind one’s self of different songs that have been put to independent films.

In comparison to other Damien Jurado albums this one ranks as the favored, but that may be due to a temporary emotional inclination. Some words of advice from one’s interpretation of Jurado, “Come and rest, so quiet in the meadow” (There Goes Your Man) to this album and breath in the thoughtfully placed lyrics and notes. Otherwise you may find yourself, “broken jaw and all/crippled in your glory/restless till my death.” (Hoquiam)

If looking for comparative bands Damien Jurado are similar in ways to Pedro the Lion, Iron & Wine, Sufjan Stevens, Nick Drake, or Belle & Sebastian among others.

–jc

Mary J. Blige – The Breakthrough (2005)

January 29, 2007
In 2006 this singer, songwriter, producer, and actress known as Mary J. Blige had eight Grammy nominations (the most in the year 2006.) The album rightfully called The Breakthrough. So, what is all the hype about the Best R&B Album of 2006? Does she really live up to the title of “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul”?

The song “Be Without You” alone had four nominations. Understandably, it is a song of love and the struggles within that. It is not only a song of that struggle, but more importantly it has the message of dedication to a relationship. Blige gives the clear message that it is not an option. In her words, “I wanna be with you, gotta be with you, need to be with you.” She also pushes the message that love “like this” takes time and is not something to be rushed. Obviously a lot of people connected with this message and the desire for this and in turn are the results of her nominations.

Another notable nomination is the “Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance” for “I Found My Everything”. This song takes the tone back to the roots of the R&B style that Blige has come to know. She also has a definite flow in the album which can be encompassed in the word, “love”. This relationship filled album is definitely a good R&B album, but not a great one.

Blige is a woman who knows how to use her talents. It is an album that can definitely become close to someone’s heart if they connect with it. It does not bring a whole lot of originality though. This is probably why she has a lot of featuring artist in an attempt to bring a spice or a new aspect. Not to say she failed at those attempts, but features are not exactly original even if it is in collaboration with U2.

–jc