Sunday, March 31, 2013

Bowie, D-Mode & Bob Mould (Music Reviews)

First Impression Music Reviews
The Next Day - David Bowie B+
Delta Machine - Depeche Mode C+
Silver Age - Bob Mould B+

The Next Day has been touted as the best Bowie album in a long time.  Several critics have even suggested that it's his best album in 33 years. I almost take offense to that because it dismisses my favorite Bowie album, 1995's Outside.  Frankly, I was only mildly interested in Bowie prior to 1995. Outside was a trippy concept album that resonated with me and motivated me to explore Bowie's back catalog more explicitly.

The Next Day, Bowie's 24th studio album, is a grower. Some songs took awhile to connect, while others ("Heat," "You Feel So Lonely You Could Die," and "Where Are We Now") stood-out right away. Additionally, this album is intriguing because of the mysterious nature of its birth and the speculation that the "Thin White Duke" is at the end of his rope. Many thought that Bowie had all but retired, others feared he was near death. But suddenly, out of the blue, a single and video for the song, "Where Are They Now." A couple months later the album dropped.

This album has a fresh, yet vintage feel. Bowie sounds like a man with a lot to say, and he should. It has been 10 years since his last release. The Next Day is nothing like Outside, but what I love about the album is the introspection and the serious emotional impact the slower tracks deliver each and every time I hear them. Eventually, the more rockin and poppy tracks clicked as well. This one is recommended for all Bowie fans, regardless of which decade you loved him most.
Favorite tracks - Heat, Love is Lost, You Feel So Lonely You Could Die, Where Are We Now, and The Stars (Are Out Tonight).

Prior to the release of Delta Machine, Martin Gore said something about the album sounding/feeling like vintage Depeche Mode... well, he wasn't kidding. This album sounds like Depeche Mode's Greatest Hits - The B-Sides. I've listened to this album about 4 times. I like it a little better each time, but initially only two songs jumped out at me - "Welcome to My World" and "Soothe my Soul," with the latter sounding more like a guilty pleasure than a great track. But, that being said, D-Mode is one of my favorite acts of all-time.  They've been my father, my son, my holy ghost and priest :-).  So, maybe Delta Machine will eventually soothe my soul after repeated listens.  
Favorite tracks - Welcome to My World, Alone, Soothe my Soul

Bob Mould's Silver Age is 38 minutes of pure power pop that's makes me thrash and dash around my living room with pleasure.  
Favorite tracks - Star Machine, Silver Age, The Descent, and Briefest Moment

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A Zipless Life (A Book Review)

Fear of Flying - Erica Jong  B-

It has been 40 years since the initial release of Fear of Flying, and unfortunately I don't think it stands the test of time like another novel I recently finished, Sylvia Plath's - The Bell Jar.  That being said, I can understand why this novel was so controversial in 1973.  I can also understand how it brought female sexuality and femininity to the forefront of social consciousness.  However, protagonist Isadora Wing doesn't seem as vital in 2013.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Side Effects - Movie Review

Side Effects (R) 106 minutes B
Pill Thrill

Starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Channing Tatum

This film is a  psychodramatic thriller that will keep you guessimg.  The less you know about this one, the better. Director Steven Soderbergh rarely disappoints.   
Rental Review
Arbitrage (R) 107 minutes C+
Power, Corruption & Lies

Home Release Date: December 2012
Starring: Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Brit Marling and Tim Roth

This film would have been better had I not expected so much.  Arbitrage is intriguing, but it also feels a little too familiar.  Unfortunately, it's not as good as the trailer would suggest or Roger Ebert's glowing review. 

Friday, March 1, 2013

Sylvia (Book Reviews)

Published in 1971 
Published in 1963
The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath A-
A poetic narrative about a talented young woman slowly slipping into the abyss. Largely based on real people and real events from Plath's life, The Bell Jar still holds up 50 years later.    

Winter Trees - Sylvia Plath B
As leftovers from the Ariel poems, this collection was composed during the last year of Plath's life (with the exception of "Three Women").  Winter Trees struck me as fire and ice wrapped in melancholy.