Friday, May 30, 2008

Then, he did a spot-on "Idioteque"

So, during his performance at Coachella last month, Prince apparently covered Radiohead's "Creep," which, by itself, isn't especially amazing. While the choice may initially seem curious, think about the song's funkiness potential for a second, and it kind of makes sense.

But the real story is that recordings of the event posted online have been quickly removed by The artist formerly known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince - that joke never gets old - citing copyright infringement. Yeah, doesn't really work when the song isn't yours. Radiohead, for their part, find the whole thing "hilarious." Said Thom Yorke to the AP, "Really? He's blocked it? Surely we should block it. Hang on a moment. Well, tell him to unblock it. It's our ... song." (I'm guessing the ellipsis there is substituting for the Eff Word.)

Anyway, telling the kids on the internet they can't do something is clearly just asking for it be posted all over the place. Right here, for example. (Please don't beat me up, New Power Generation.)
Sounds pretty awesome, actually. While Mr. Nelson doesn't seem too concerned about the original lyrics, the spirit of the song is certainly intact...only, y'know, all sexy. And it's not like Radiohead's gonna play it anymore. Game: blouses?

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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I appreciate the Muppets

(...on a much deeper level than you.)

As if new Transformers, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, and Ninja Turtles movies weren't enough to satisfy your 80s nostalgia itch, the wheels are in motion for Fraggle Rock: The Movie.

SlashFilm shares my relief, as well as surprise, over director Cory Edwards's aversion to "'Shrekking it up' for easy jokes," since Edwards's last (and only) movie was Hoodwinked, which seemed thoroughly Shrekked up. But - as opposed to most remakes of Things Important to My Childhood - I'm actually enthusiastic about this idea, in much the same way that I am about the forthcoming Muppet movie relaunch. It seems like both films' directors are fans genuinely interested in staying true to Jim Henson's vision...which is pretty much all a muppet fan could ask for.

All this should coincide nicely with the biopic Henson, in the works at indie studio Empire Film Group.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Which controversial, buzzed-about, anti-war cartoon, again?

Fans of Persepolis and Chicago 10, take note: Waltz with Bashir, an "animated documentary" about the 1982 Lebanon War, premiered at Cannes last week.

Directed by former Israeli soldier Ari Folman, Waltz recreates the real-life narratives of fellow soldiers by employing Flash animation, resulting in a style similar to rotoscoping. Sony Pictures Classics picked up the film yesterday, meaning a wide release is most likely due soon.

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Monday, May 26, 2008

He's pretty good

As Indy 4 wraps up its gargantuan, $151 million holiday weekend haul, The A.V. Club has a nice Spielberg retrospective - from the summer blockbusters (which he basically invented), to the darker and more personal fare, to the occasional misstep.

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Friday, May 23, 2008

Nerdily excited for this

The trailer for the forthcoming Batman: Gotham Knight, the animated feature whose story timeline takes place between Batman Begins and this summer's The Dark Knight, is now online:



Executive-produced by the co-creator of the groundbreaking Batman: The Animated Series, Gotham features writing by Begins's David Goyer and A History of Violence's Josh Olson, and some pretty sweet looking animation. If you're into that kind of thing...

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

So...

...that Scarlett Johansson album? It's not bad:



She kinda sounds like Nico. Plus, it has David Bowie, so that's pretty cool.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Get Low

Husband and wife, "slowcore" pioneers, Mormons, Minnesotans - Low are many things. Pitchfork tells us a documentary about the band, You May Need a Murderer ("an intriguing tale -- about religion, violence, questions of conscience, and madness -- that could also double as a touching love story"), will arrive on DVD June 3. The group will embark on a mini-world festival tour this summer/fall, after side project Retribution Gospel Choir finishes its more extensive North American tour in June and July (including DC's Rock & Roll Hotel on June 16).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Old McCeezy: beef with Obama, Nas

New York Magazine poses an important question: What did John McCain say to Young Jeezy?

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee made a special appearance on SNL this weekend (sample line: "I ask you, what should we be looking for in our next president? Certainly, someone who is very, very, very old"), as did the Southern rapper, backing up musical guest Usher. NY points out:

After the senator finishes speaking to Usher, he turns, pats Jeezy on the stomach, and says something — but what? "I love that song 'Go Getta'"?

Hey, considering the guy's apparently an avid fan of The Hills and Sex and the City (what a maverick!), maybe that wasn't too far from the truth...

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Friday, May 16, 2008

They're from Iceland...isn't that weird?

These new clips Sigur Ros put up on their website provide some insight into their forthcoming album (sounds pretty Sigur Ros-y...meaning, "awesome"), which just might be out this summer. Also, they're touring, including some a few random, Tom Waitseque US stops - Kansas City! Omaha!

UPDATE: The new LP,
Með Suð í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust ("With a Buzz in Our Ears, We Play Endlessly") drops June 24. Download the first single, "Gobbledigook," for free, here.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

In Concert: Kanye West (Nissan Pavilion - Bristow, VA)

Make no mistake: though he had assembled a solid lineup of opening acts who could each headline their own summer concerts, when Kanye West's Glow in the Dark Tour rolled into the Nissan Pavilion, it was all about him. And why not? When an artist's vision is as much fun as Kanye's, he can do whatever he wants...which is, approximately, what he did Saturday night.

Opener skater-MC Lupe Fiasco's set relied heavily on his solid, new effort,
The Cool. But ticket order seemed to have been determined by spectacle rather than artistry, and Lupe didn't have much of a "stage show" to speak of. The Neptunes' rap-rock group N.E.R.D. was next, amping up the crowd considerably more with hits like "Rock Star" and "She Wants to Move," as well as tracks from their forthcoming Seeing Sounds. But pop sensation Rihanna, with her slew of backup dancers and costume changes, moved the concert closer to its stadium feel, giving the crowd what it wanted with the irrepressible "Umbrella" (during which, a sea of umbrellas could be seen throughout the pavilion). But all that proved merely a warm-up for the main event.

Alone onstage for the show's duration (his band played in the darkened wings), West led the audience through a Vegas-style theme concert about the adventures of he and his spaceship, Jane, as they explore the galaxy in search of new forms of creativity, or something. Equal parts inspired and - I think - tongue-in-cheek cheesy (the whole thing wasn't far from Tracy Morgan's Astronaut Jones sketches), the show employed insane visuals, care of killer lights/smoke/a huge screen of spacey backgrounds.

But what sustained the performance was Ye's endurance, energetically spitting rhymes from his considerable array of hits while running around the spaceship (planet?) and sometimes, badly dancing. If you're going to spend 90 minutes alone on stage, you better be able to justify it - and he did, wildly entertaining the giddy crowd.

Standouts included club banger "Gold Digger," - accompanied by gyrating, gold female androids on screen - powerhouse "Jesus Walks," and, of course, encore opener "Stronger," the culmination of the show's retro-futuristic theme. But the night's most tender moment, by far, came when West ended his first set with a particularly poignant, emotional "Hey Mama," serving as a stark reminder that while the rapper's ego fuels much of his persona (having crash-landed, Jane finds her way back to Earth via the pure power of Kanye, telling him, "You're the brightest star in the universe"), it's his vulnerability and innovation that make him truly compelling.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

In Concert: Radiohead (Nissan Pavilion - Bristow, VA)

I suppose we could've seen it coming: Radiohead's track record for DC shows isn't good (two Bull Run Park shows canceled due to flooding; Tibetan Freedom Concert stop postponed by lightning). Still, when thousands of fans spent hours idling in the flooded backroads of Bristow on their way to Nissan Pavilion Sunday, only to be turned away once they reached the parking lot, it was a surprise.

I fell in the camp of those lucky enough to have merely arrived late and left early, trying to enjoy the rain-soaked, freezing set as much as possible. Maybe everyone should've left home earlier (it took me three hours to get there - and, remember, I was one of the fortunate ones); maybe we should've worn ponchos and rainboots; maybe we shouldn't have gone at all...but when faced with only mild precipitation earlier in the day, and with "RAIN OR SHINE" prominently printed on our tickets, how were we not going to see one of the biggest and best bands in the world?

I should probably back up. In February, when Radiohead announced their first proper tour in five years, many of us in the Mid-Atlantic - On Tape included - expressed dismay at their choice of venue, especially given the band's emphasis on making this a "green" tour. Located in the middle of nowhere, there is no public transportation to Nissan Pavilion (for eco-concious city-dwellers, this meant carpooling in rented vehicles).

It's admirable for an act as huge as Radiohead to try and do what they can, environmentally, given the constraints on venues big enough to accommodate them. And, I suppose, I don't expect them to know the lay of the land in each city they play. But, as others have suggested, why not play again at RFK Stadium, which seats double that of Nissan, and is conveniently located in the middle of the District - where attendees could walk, bike, take the train or bus, etc - likely reducing both carbon footprints and congestion caused by flooding?

I'd heard some folks' warnings ("I won't ever go to Nissan Pavilion again, even for Radiohead") of the nightmarish traffic and general operations at the venue, but...this was Radiohead! Worth anything, right? Well, kind of, but this show should've been canceled. The Pavilion has been around for a long time; they should know how to deal with weather, and they clearly didn't. Add this to the fact that parking there is horrible under ordinary circumstances (the previous day's traffic for Kanye West was slow - though, obviously, nothing compared to this...but more on that tomorrow), and ticket holders were in store for a night of huge disappointment.

From what I did see, though, the band sure sounded great. And what could they really do? Thom Yorke & Co. seemed eager to try and please those who did make it, with a career-spanning, two-encore set, even busting out the rumored-to-be-retired "Fake Plastic Trees," dedicating it those who couldn't get in to the show. It killed me to miss the Kid A-era "National Anthem" (during which, apparently, frontman Thom Yorke shouted "Barack Obama!") and "Idioteque," which I only heard while running for the 15-20 minutes between the car and the stage. But getting to be there for classics "Paranoid Android" (before which Yorke apologized to the crowd) and "Just" was a treat - even if, due to weather, I assume, the screens on either side of the stage weren't on, leaving most of the audience with only a distant view of any onstage antics.

While petitions demanding refunds circulate, the band seems keenly aware of their ongoing misfortune in Washington (that's guitarist Jonny Greenwood up top, post-show): "There must be some kind of Biblical fix between us and DC. Frogs next time?" asks bassist Colin Greenwood on their site. Let's hope "next time" is someplace else...


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Monday, May 12, 2008

I Want to Believe That it Will Be Awesome

The trailer for this summer's The X Files: I Want to Believe is up at IGN Movies. Nothing particularly amazing, I didn't think, but I'm pretty excited, regardless. 

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Friday, May 9, 2008

And that's fresh

Those eagerly anticipating the debut LP of Chicago's old-school-MCs-meet-21st-century-beats duo, The Cool Kids, needn't wait much longer: The Bake Sale arrives May 20 on iTunes.

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Thursday, May 8, 2008

Imagination + risk = more important than money

Gigaom has an interesting interview with Brad Bird (Ratatouille, The Incredibles, Iron Giant, The Simpsons), offering plenty of insight into why his and Pixar's work is so great.

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Wednesday, May 7, 2008

In other words, it's slightly better than "Fantastic 4"

From its funny, intense opening scenes on, 2008's first official blockbuster doesn't let up. Slick and exciting, Iron Man has all the awesome stuff one expects from a summer action movie, but, like Batman Begins and the first two Spider-Man entries, the solid cast and witty script (penned, in part, by Children of Men scribes Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby) elevate it to a higher level.

The commonality of those successful superhero pictures may just be the backgrounds of their directors: like Batman Begins's Christopher Nolan and Spider-Man's Sam Raimi, Iron Man's Jon Favreau got his start in independent film, writing Swingers and Made; the latter, his directorial debut. The movie looks great (Favreau's lack of reliance on CGI, in favor of a more organic feel, pays off), but excels because of the strength of its story and emphasis on character development.

Iron Man has taken a second-tier Marvel hero who could've seemed dated (in the comics, Iron Man fought Communists), and brought the story into a gritty, post-9/11 political landscape. Robert Downey, Jr. is a thrill to watch as billionaire
industrialist Tony Stark, who, after being kidnapped by terrorists using his own weapons against him, transforms from a morally ambiguous, war profiteering playboy into the Man in Metal. Once free, Stark reevaluates his priorities, and begins work on a "new project."

The suit (designed by Stan Winston), which Stark upgrades through a series of fun test drives, is fantastic in each of its iterations. And Iron Man's revelation scene is as cool as Batman's debut in either Begins or Tim Burton's Batman, which is saying something. Unlike countless other comic book movies, the origin story doesn't limit the potential of the likely franchise's first entry, but rather serves as an opportunity to offer a unique take on the classic redemption tale...with, y'know, a lot of ass-kicking.


Grade: A-

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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tom Waits is touring!

...and he's playing a bunch of strange places! (Let's hope more will be added?) And he broke the news with a weird video!

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Friday, May 2, 2008

It's not that weird...no, nevermind - it is

Seen Bjork's 3D video for "Wanderlust" yet?

Here it is in two boring ol' dimensions:


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Thursday, May 1, 2008

Good to see you back in a bar band, baby

The Hold Steady today revealed a tracklist and release date (July 15) for their forthcoming, 4th LP, Stay Positive.

This, combined with their smattering of summer shows - including June 27 at Ram's Head Live in Baltimore - sounds perfect, but where's the punky "Ask Her for Some Adderall"? Here's hoping it's song 5, "Yeah Sapphire," with a new title...

UPDATE: Answer here.

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