Thursday, July 26, 2012

Prometheus (20th Century Fox, 2012), Ridley Scott Returns to Space With Alien Prequel

Director Ridley Scott's amazing career would ordinarily set expectations pretty high for any new movie he directs, but since this is Scott's first science fiction film since his groundbreaking Blade Runner thirty years ago, this looked to be a special movie. On the surface, Blade Runner was the story of Harrison Ford's police detective trying to find and kill four renegade androids that were so much like humans, it was hard to tell the difference. What the movie was really about was nothing less than life, death, and what it means to be human.

Prometheus is well done by almost every measure. It's extremely well directed with good cinematography, breathtaking artwork, gripping special effects, excellent acting, casting, and dialogue. Noomi Rapace excels in the lead role of scientist Elizabeth Shaw, proving that her great performance in the original Norwegian version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was no fluke; she's got a brilliant acting career in front of her.

Prometheus begins with virtually the same premise as the classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. An earth spaceship goes on a quest in attempt to find our makers, ostensibly the race of beings shown in the opening scene bringing life to planet earth, millions of years ago.

Like in 2001, we see a crewman walking the ship and doing mundane tasks and bouncing a basketball. The crewman is really an android and as in 2001, the crew are all in sleep stasis for the journey. When they reach the destination, it seems like the makers have been almost all wiped out by an infestation of other alien life forms that are apparently the ancestors of the monsters that were so lethal in Ridley Scott's earlier movie Alien (1979). These creatures still have a penchant for entering your body all sorts of ways including the mouth, and then exploding out with deadly results.

When our crew awakens the one maker who is still alive in his stasis chamber, he wants only to kill anyone in his way, aiming to take off in his enormous spaceship. When he rips the android's head off, there's a nice nod to 2001, when the now disembodied android head says "I know we've had our differences...", it's directly reminiscent of the classic scene where the HAL 9000 computer gets disconnected in 2001. For unknown reasons, his destination is earth. Noomi realizes that if he were to reach earth and infect it with the creepy alien critters, there will be no earth to go back to.

On the surface, this is a first rate science fiction movie; it's beautifully rendered, well made, and there's plenty of tension and scary special effects, but somehow, that's not enough. 2001 truly went where no one had gone before and was written with a beautifully nebulous ending that has been the subject of debate for almost 50 years.

Considering that with Blade Runner, Ridley Scott made a film for the ages, one that just keeps getting better over the years with each viewing, the payoff of Prometheus is a major letdown. I was hoping for more than the the monsters from Alien. From the look of Prometheus' vision, you might think that we are all descended from H.R. Giger.

All photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Courtney Jaye - A Tropical Nashville Five

Music and More Re-Post: M&M favorite Courtney Jaye just wrote an interesting article detailing her best tropical experiences in Nashville (where she lives), posted this week by Lockeland Springsteen, an excellent local music blog. Courtney lived for a time in Hawaii, on the island of Kauai, and while there she fell in love with the indiginous music. Courtney's unique sound reflects the influences of traditional Hawaiian music, country music, and pop. This article gives a nice glimpse into her world, and her words share more insight into how it all comes together in her music than anything we've seen. With gratitude for the permission, we are pleased to re-post the following from Lockeland Springsteen.

This week, we asked local singer/songwriter Courtney Jaye to share her top tropical experiences in Nashville – after all, she’s known for her unique sound and style that fuses the South Pacific with the American South. And when you listen to The Exotic Sounds of Courtney Jaye, you’ll see that such a combination, in her hands, works as well as a Mai Tai on a Hawaiian beach. Listen to her music here and read on to do Nashville, Courtney Jaye-style:

Anyone that knows me or has listened to my music in the last 10 years knows that even though I have lived in Nashville since 2007 and plan to remain in this fine city for many years to come, there is and always will be a part of my heart tucked away on a tiny island in the South Pacific, better known as Kauai, Hawaii. I moved to Kauai in my early 20′s and lived there long enough to develop a deep love and appreciation for its people, its culture/history, the lifestyle, natural beauty and, most importantly, ts indigenous and traditional music.

It affected me so much that I have spent a better part of a decade trying to develop a musical sound that fuses my love for authentic Hawaiian music, alongside my other musical loves of traditional country music and classic pop. Weird, right?

Why I have this connection to the South Pacific, I may never know or fully understand. But what I’m talking about is an almost daily, seemingly never-ending physical and emotional desire to be connected to that part of the world in some way, shape, or form…no matter where I am living or traveling. And while I have come to peace with the fact that my job requires me to live on the mainland full-time, I still do everything in my power to incorporate the South Pacific lifestyle into my day-to-day Nashville existence. So needless to say, compiling this list was a complete joy for me. I hope you enjoy…

Top 5 Tropical Nashville Experiences:

1. The Nashville Zoo – The Nashville Zoo speaks for itself. Any place that greets it’s guests with a Hyacinth Macaw exhibit is alright by me. Exotic animals and birds galore.

2. The Omni Hut – Located a bit south of Nashville in Smyrna, The Omni Hut is the oldest Japanese restaurant in the state of Tennessee. This place is channeling Hawaii, circa 1963. I filmed a video at the Omni Hut years ago, and I remember the owner’s daughter Polly telling me that most of the furniture was shipped over from Hawaii in the early 1960′s by her father, retired Air Force Major James Walls. Apparently, he collected everything over the course of his time being stationed in the South Pacific. And the decor IS authentic vintage-exotic.

Ancient Goddess masks, fishing nets, and other tropical art/trinkets adorn the tapa-lined walls (and ceiling)…not to mention that faux waterfall in the entry of one of the dining rooms. The recipes have been gathered from the all over the world as well: Hong Kong to Panama, Hawaii to Alaska, Tahiti, Samoa, etc. Though in all honesty, you don’t go to the Omni Hut for the food. You go for the experience. It’s the perfect destination for a group date night, or just going with a bunch of friends. And I highly recommend bringing a bottle of good rum (it’s allowed), and mixing it with the Omni Hut’s own tropical punch.

3. Tropical Cocktails – I spent a night recently doing “research” for this piece at the Patterson House, where our lovely bartendress (and local singer/songwriter) Flinn Pomeroy made an impressive array of tropical cocktails. My favorite was (no shock here), the Mai Tai. It has a slightly almond/nutty flavor from the Orgeat, but it’s not too fruity or sweet. A very balanced and classic tropical cocktail. Mai Tai: Brugal Anejo, lime, House Made Orgeat, Orange Flower Water. (pictured on the right in the cocktail photo in the slideshow below). Other notable tropical drinks: The Nacional (pictured on the left in photo): Barbancourt 3 star 4 year (Rum), lime, Rothman, Winter Apricot Liquer, Pineapple. Crow’s Nest : Sailor Jerry, Orange, Demerara Syrup, Blood Orange Bitters

4. Canoeing The Piney River – I spent an afternoon in May canoeing down the Piney River with a bunch of friends. To me, the Piney is much better (and cleaner!) than the Harpeth. On this day in particular, we were witness to quite a number of water moccasins, who seemed ready to claim their first (possibly mildly intoxicated) victim. It felt about as tropical/Amazonia as one could possibly get, for being on the outskirts of Music City. It certainly reminded me of my days on Kauai…water, friends, canoes, cliff-jumping, campfires. Oh, and it was all caught on film:

5. Thunderstorms & Old Records – Some of my favorite tropical experiences here in Nashville have occurred right in my own home during or after a mild Spring/Summer thunderstorm. I usually choose to put on 60′s Hawaiian music, open up my windows and doors, and let the sounds of the lap steels and rain transport me back to the jungles of Haena, HI (which is home to the rainiest spot on planet Earth). Then the rain stops, the sun begins to peer out from the clouds, and sometimes (as captured in a photo last week), if we’re really lucky…there’s a rainbow.

P.S.-You can find records like these at Grimey’s and The Groove.

Much Aloha, xxx.

Here are some tropical photos compiled by Courtney (we recommend you listen to her music while viewing). Once again many thanks for this article to Courtney and to Lockeland Springsteen. Photos of Courtney by Heidi Ross.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Michael Stanley - Michael Stanley (1972), Friends & Legends (1973)

Gems From the Record Room: Doubleheader gems this time, as we just uploaded the first two Michael Stanley albums. This year marks the 40th anniversary of Stanley's career as a singer, songwriter, musician, and recording artist, and he's still going strong. His first album got our immediate attention because Joe Walsh played on it and it was produced by Bill Szymczyk (Joe Walsh, James Gang). It didn't hurt that Todd Rundgren, Rick Derringer and Joe Vitale played on it too. It also didn't hurt that Stanley's voice was well suited for the songs, and he wrote some great ones. Here are two of them.

Listen to "Rosewood Bitters"

Listen to "Song For A Friend Soon Gone"

The second album had the full boat of great songwriting and high wattage guest musicians starting with Joe Walsh and Barnstorm. Be sure to play "Let's Get The Show On The Road", a song that logged a lot of turntable time back in the 70's, both at home and at the radio station. Here's the rest of the story, from Wikipedia.

Friends and Legends was the second solo album from Michael Stanley. The album title refers to the backing musicians accompanying Stanley on the album, which was recorded at Applewood Studios in Golden, Colorado. The basic band on all tracks was Barnstorm, composed of Joe Walsh on lead guitar and synthesizer, Joe Vitale on drums, flute, synthesizer and backing vocals, and Kenny Passarelli on bass. In addition, three members of Stephen Stills' Manassas performed: Paul Harris on keyboards, Joe Lala on percussion and Al Perkins on pedal steel guitar, and the band also included saxophonist David Sanborn. Among the backing vocalists were Richie Furay and Dan Fogelberg. In keeping with the collaborative spirit, J. Geils assisted with production of the saxophone tracks.

Listen to "Yours For A Song"

Listen to "Let's Get The Show On The Road"

Monday, July 09, 2012

Jessie Ware - Wildest Moments (2012), New Single and Video Just Released, 110% (2012), Debut Album Due 8/28

Wildest Moments

Ready for Liftoff: We first picked up the buzz from London about Jessie Ware back in February. Coming off her 2010 debut as as an in- demand featured and guest vocalist, she now has a string of successful solo singles. Jessie has been called South London's answer to Sade. She has just released her fourth single, "Wildest Moments". Here is the video.


We posted Jessie's first two singles last time. Here is the video for the third single, "110%", released a few months ago.


To say that expectations are high for Jessie's first album would be an understatement. The debut album, Devotion, comes out August 28th.

Photos courtesy of Jessie Ware

Jessie Ware's Website
Jessie Ware's Facebook

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Fourth of July Mix

We are pleased to offer this music mix for your Fourth of July listening pleasure. It features 27 tracks and runs just under two hours. Many of the tracks are self-explanatory but we have some notes on the mix to give you the necessary whys and wherefores. But first, here are a few songs from the mix. The Aimee Mann track is a perennial favorite on the fourth, and the Yes and Kansas tracks represent the best of what used to be called progressive rock back in the seventies. If you'd like to hear the complete mix, drop us an email.

Listen to Aimee Mann - "4th Of July"

Listen to Yes - "America"

Listen to Kansas - "Song For America"

Photo courtesy of visitphilly.Com

Notes On the Mix: First things first, you've got to have some John Phillip Sousa on the 4th of July and "Washington Post" is one of our favorites, not nearly as overplayed as "Stars and Stripes" plus this is a great performance by the Eastman Wind Ensemble. Ray Charles is truly an artist for whom the genius tag is not just a marketing concept. Both directly and indirectly, Ray did much to improve race relations in this country (see the excellent biopic Ray), so who better to sing "America the Beautiful". Bruce Springsteen's "4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy)" is another perennial 4th favorite.

Paul Simon's "American Tune" is one amazing piece of songwriting, with lyrics that seem more and more relevant with each passing year. Pieta Brown is the daughter of folk/blues legend Greg Brown. Gretchen Peters' "Independence Day" was a hit for Martina McBride, but Gretchen's own version is even better.

The Hooters' remake of the folk classic "500 Miles" is all about the quest for freedom, and being they're from Philadelphia, it's the perfect lead in to Mark Knopfler's "Sailing to Philadelphia". This duet with James Taylor tells history more tunefully than just about any other such attempt in recent memory and sets the stage for "Philadelphia Freedom". This cover of the Elton John classic is well done by Hall & Oates, who originated in Philadelphia.

Jon & Vangelis' original version of "State Of Independence", a song that was also a hit for Donna Summer. Jon is Jon Anderson of Yes and Vangelis is a keyboardist/composer who has done many incredible soundtracks for movies like Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner as well as playing keyboards for Yes on their Relayer album. Linda Ronstadt covered the Chuck Berry classic "Back in the U.S.A." back when a new Linda Ronstadt albums and what songs she did were a big deal.

Kim Wilde topped many a guilty pleasure list in the 80s with her "Kids in America". This cover by The Donnas is true to the spirit of the original. The mix climaxes with two ten plus minute tracks that represent the best of the 70s' progressive era. Yes did a lot of cool cover songs in their first few years, including an amazing cover of the Beatles' "Every Little Thing".

By their third album, they had left covers behind were doing only original material. However, they took time out during the recording of the Fragile album to cut their last cover, which retains the soul of Paul Simon's "America" while turning it into a quintessential Yes track, clocking in at 10:33.

They may be known now as the top forty band that gave us "Carry On My Wayward Son" but Kansas began life as a progressive outfit, featuring violin as a lead instrument on their first two albums. Their progressive period peaked on the title track of their second album, Song for America. We can't close without one more shot of John Phillip Sousa; "Liberty Bell" will be mighty familiar to anyone who ever watched Monty Python.

The Tracklist
  1. Eastman Wind Ensemble - Washington Post (2:30) - Sousa Spectacular
  2. Bart Simpson, Homer Simpson, Lisa Simpson & Marge Simpson - America Rules (1:25) - Testify
  3. Ray Charles - America The Beautiful (3:43) - Singular Genius: The Complete ABC Singles
  4. Bruce Springsteen - 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) (5:37) - The Wild, The Innocent & The E Street Shuffle
  5. Joni Mitchell - Night Ride Home (3:19) - Night Ride Home
  6. Aimee Mann - 4th Of July (3:21) - Whatever
  7. Paul Simon - American Tune (3:45) - There Goes Rhymin' Simon
  8. Grateful Dead - U.S. Blues (4:41) - From The Mars Hotel
  9. James Taylor - On The 4th Of July (3:26) - October Road
  10. Lori Carson - Fourth Of July (5:31) - Stars
  11. Suzy Bogguss - Baby July (4:34) - Sweet Danger
  12. Pieta Brown - 4th Of July (3:57) - In The Cool
  13. Gretchen Peters - Independence Day (3:45) - Circus Girl (The Best Of Gretchen Peters)
  14. Bruce Springsteen - Independence Day (5:10) - Live 1975-85
  15. The Hooters - 500 Miles (4:26) - Zig Zag
  16. Mark Knopfler - Sailing To Philadelphia (5:30) - Sailing to Philadelphia
  17. Hall & Oates - Philadelphia Freedom (5:11) - Two Rooms: Celebrating The Songs Of Elton John & Bernie Taupin
  18. The Byrds - Chimes Of Freedom (3:54) - There Is A Season
  19. Jon & Vangelis - State Of Independence (4:22) - The Best Of Jon & Vangelis
  20. Victoria Vox - America (3:38) - Victoria Vox & Her Jumping Flea
  21. Homer Simpson - America (I Love This Country) (1:07) Testify
  22. Linda Ronstadt - Back In The U.S.A. (3:04) - Living In The U.S.A.
  23. The Donnas - Kids In America (3:52) - Nancy Drew - Music From The Motion Picture
  24. Black 47 - Funky Ceili (Bridie's Song) (4:16) - Black 47
  25. Yes - America (10:33) - Fragile [2003 Remaster)
  26. Kansas - Song For America (10:03) - Song For America
  27. Eastman Wind Ensemble - Liberty Bell (3:29) - Sousa Spectacular