Movie Review: Goldman Sachs: The Bank That Rules the World (2012) #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “G” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “G” documentaries I’ve reviewed are Galapagos: The Enchanted VoyageThe Gnomistand Gimme Shelter.

TitleGoldman Sachs: The Bank That Rules the World
Release Date: 4 September 2012
Director: Jérôme Fritel and Marc Roche
Production Company: Capa Presse
Summary/Review:

This French-language documentary explores the role of the investment bank Goldman Sachs in the Financial Crisis of 2007-2008, the Greek Debt Crisis, and other financial scandals.  It also shows the alarming number of Goldman Sachs’ alumni active in the United States government and the European Union council.

This is a movie where the expose style of documentary hurts more than helps.  Goldman Sachs and other financial services industry corporations are almost certainly bad actors in the governments and economies of the world.  But this documentary comes off as a conspiracy theory, and it doesn’t help that none of the people interviewed on screen are ever identified.  There are also cheesy factors such as having interviewees make their first appearance on grainy black & white film as if they were on security cameras and framing the film with digital stock ticker symbols that just make the movie look ridiculous.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

There are some interesting details such as former Goldman Sachs people in the government using the financial crisis to punish Goldman Sachs’ competitors at Lehman Bros while bailing out AIG where Goldman Sachs had investments that I learned, but as I noted above it’s hard to parse out the truth from the hyperbolic conspiracy theory vibe.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …: Watch The Big Short, a docu-drama about the causes of the financial crisis, or a read the book it’s based on.  For a more positive spin on an earlier era of Goldman Sachs, read John Whitehead’s autobiography A Life in Leadership.

Source: I watched this movie on Netflix streaming.

Rating: **

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Movie Review: Finding Vivian Maier (2013) #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “F” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “F” documentaries I’ve reviewed are 56 UpFour Days in Octoberand Frank Lloyd Wright.

Title: Finding Vivian Maier
Release Date: September 9, 2013
Director: John Maloof & Charlie Siskel
Production Company: Ravine Pictures
Summary/Review:

This documentary is a labor of love for John Maloof, a collector who purchased a lot of photographs, negatives, and film at auction, and discovered the work of a brilliant street photographer of 20th century Chicago.  The problem is, no one seemed to know who she was.  Through his investigations, he discovers that Vivian Maier worked primarily as a nanny or housekeeper in the Chicago area from the 1950s to 1990s, taking hundreds of thousands of photographs as well as films and audio recordings.  Maloof attempts to learn something of Maier from the archive she left behind while also interviewing people who knew her, primarily adults who had been cared for by her when they were children.  The picture that emerges of Maier is of someone who was adventurous and clever to find domestic jobs that gave her the free time to explore her photographic art.  Yet there’s also an image of mental illness.  Some of the children she cared for found her loving and fun, while others thought her scary and abusive.  Her strict sense of privacy sometimes bordered on paranoid, and her collection of photographs, letters, and newspapers tipped into hoarding. At the end it’s still very hard to get a sense of who Maier was or why she never released her photos to the world, but the pictures she took are stunning in the depictions of everyday people, particularly the poor and down on their luck.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

This movie is a lesson in the fact that great talent can be found in hidden places.  But it also brings up questions of gender.  Would a man who took odd jobs to support his lifelong passion for photography be considered so odd? Would he have gone his entire life without receiving public attention for his work?

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …: Check out the work of some women photographers who did receive acclaim in their lifetimes in books like Lee Miller’s War or Crosstown by Helen Levitt (the latter’s work is strikingly similar to Vivian Maier’s).

Source: I watched this movie on Netflix streaming.

Rating: ****

Movie Review: Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010) #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “E” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. This is the first”E” documentary I’ve reviewed.

TitleExit Through the Gift Shop
Release Date: January 24, 2010
Director: Banksy
Production Company: Paranoid Pictures
Summary/Review:

This is called “A Banksy Film,” but right at the beginning Banksy (or someone claiming to be Banksy since his face and voice are obstructed) says it’s actually about someone he finds more interesting. That person is a French immigrant to Los Angeles who runs a consignment shop,  Thierry Guetta.  Guetta has a hobby of videotaping just about anything going on his life and through a cousin known as Invader he’s introduced to the underground world of street art.  He soon begins following and filming some of the most famed street artists at work including Shepard Fairey, and ultimately Banksy.

While purportedly working on a documentary about street artists, Guetta has no experience editing and producing a movie and ends up with hundreds of hours of unwatched film.  About 2/3’s of the way through Exit Through the Gift Shop, the perspective shifts and ends up following Guetta as he takes up street art himself under the name Mr. Brainwash and setting up a ludicrously oversized gallery exhibition in Los Angeles.  The tension in the later parts of the film weighs heavily on Guetta clearly having no skill as an artist or experience putting on an exhibition, but ultimately drawing a huge audience and making huge profits in art sales (much to the disgust of the experienced street artists).

There are questions about whether this movie is a hoax and even if Guetta is a real person or an actor, perhaps even the real Banksy.  My impression is that parts of it are true, such as Guetta really being a hanger-on obsessed  with filming street artists, whereas the exhibition was likely put together by Banksy and others using Guetta as the front in an attempt to parody the consumerist culture of the art world.  At least I hope Guetta was in on the joke.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

Hoax or not, Exit Through the Gift Shop was an introduction to me of many prominent street artists and the methods of their work.  As a film it also works as a prompt to question media and learning to distinguish between what is real and what the creators are trying to make you believe.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …: Watch The Case of the Grinning Cat which documents the cultural phenomenon of a work of street art in Paris in the early 2000s. unSpun is a guidebook to sorting fact from fiction.

Source: I watched this movie on Netflix streaming.

Rating: ***

Movie Review:Decoding Desire (2014) #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “D” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “D” documentaries I’ve reviewed are Dark DaysThe Day the Series StoppedThe Day the Series StoppedDolphinsand Don’t You Forget About Me.

Title: Decoding Desire
Release Date: 2014
Director: Ryszard Hunka
Production Company: Merit Motion Pictures
Summary/Review:

This short documentary made for The Nature of Things on CBC investigates the science behind sexuality and sexual attraction in animals and how this relates to human sexuality.  A key takeaway – and one obvious to anyone who gives it a moment of thought – is that the traditional understanding of sexual desire is biased by men who didn’t try to understand female sexuality in humans or other animals.  In addition to the typical interviews with experts and film of various animals getting it on, the documentary is peppered with humorous animated segments.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

Like many documentaries, Decoding Desire is a basic introduction to a complex questions and asks more questions than it answers. But they are big questions right up to trying to understand the reality of love.

Source: I watched this movie on Netflix streaming.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …: 

Reading Out of Our Minds might give you a more expansive look into understanding human consciousness. Meanwhile, Thumbs, Toes, and Tears explores traits believed to be unique to humans, including kissing.  The Botany of Desire provides a plant’s perspective on desire and the relationship with humans.

Rating: **1/2

Movie Review: Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010) #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “C” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “C” documentaries I’ve reviewed include Cane Toads: An Unnatural HistoryThe Case of the Grinning Cat, Ceasefire Massacre, The Clash: Westway to the World,  and Constantine’s Sword .

Title: Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Release Date: 2010
Director: Werner Herzog
Production Company: Creative Differences
Summary/Review:

This documentary takes us to a place that most human beings will never have access to, Chauvet Cave in southern France.  The cave contains some of the oldest known human paintings, dating back 32,000 years ago.  Herzog’s narration tends toward the melodramatic, but the visuals are stunning, and as Herzog notes filmed under very trying conditions.  Herzog and crew are not shy about letting the camera linger on these amazing paintings and following them along the contours of the cave walls. At one point it’s noted that a painting of a horse that intersects with another horse may have been painted 5000 years apart, a stunning idea that art could be maintained and added to over so long a period of time.  In addition to film inside the cave, Herzog interviews numerous scientists and visits other prehistoric sites and natural locations in the environs that can help us understand what may have been happening in Chauvet.  But the scenes inside the cave are the stars of the film (and if you’re lucky, maybe you can see them in 3-D).

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary: This movie is probably the best chance you’ll get to see the earliest works of art by our human ancestors and take a moment to appreciate the core of humanity.
If You Like This You Might Also Want To …: Another window into early humans is the frozen remains of Ötzi the Iceman whom I visited on my honeymoon and learned more about from the documentary Iceman Reborn. The Humans Who Went Extinct explores the Neanderthals who lived alongside our early human ancestors.

Source: I watched this movie on Netflix streaming.

Rating: ***1/2

Movie Review: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “B” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “B” documentaries I’ve reviewed are BabiesBallerinaBarbosa: The Man Who Made Brazil Cry, and Boredom.

Title: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution
Release Date:  January 23, 2015
Director: Stanley Nelson, Jr.
Production Company: Firelight Films
Summary/Review:

This straightforward but powerful film tells the story of The Black Panther Party from its establishment in 1966 until it began to disintegrate in the mid-1970s.  The film’s strength lies in the wealth of archival film and photographs, as well as created by the Black Panthers, and interviews with over 30 former Black Panthers and those associated with them (including some still hostile former police offers who fought against the Panthers).  The movie explores the popular image of the Black Panther as a gun-toting, beret-wearing man, but doesn’t neglect that much of the work of the Black Panthers was done by women and involved social programs such as free breakfasts and clinics.  It also examines the ways in which the Black Panther Party helped redefine African American identity in a positive way for many Black Americans who were never directly involved with the Panthers.  Unfortunately, the peak years of the Black Panther Party are all too brief as the FBI and police successfully infiltrate and attack the Panthers, killing or imprisoning some of the Panthers’ most promising leaders, and contributing to in-fighting among the surviving leaders.  There’s a ton more that can be learned about the Black Panther Party, but this is a good introduction.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary: As noted in the summary, this is a good introduction to a larger untold story of the Black Panthers.  Since much of history and media has told the story of the Black Panthers from a privileged white perspective, this documentary does a good job of showing that the Panthers were more than militant black men with guns, but also the hard work that mostly black women did to provide community services, and the general boost to the feeling of black pride engendered by the Black Panthers.
If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:  The film Wattstax depicts a concert in Los Angeles at the same time that the Black Panther movement was at it’s peak, and depicts the expression of black pride in the musical performances and the audience’s participation.

Source: I watched this movie on Netflix streaming.

Rating:  ***1/2

Movie Review: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (2012) #atozchallenge


This is my entry for “A” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “A” documentaries I’ve reviewed are Africa: The SerengetiAmerican Experience: Blackout,  and American Experience: Into the Amazon.

Title: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
Release Date: April 16, 2012
Director: Alison Klayman
Production Company: United Expression Media
Summary/Review:

The documentary spends some time with the Chinese artists Ai Weiwei in the years between 2009 and 2011.  While Ai is shown supervising the creation of his sculpture by his assistants and attending the openings of installations in various parts of the world, the crux of this film is his activism.  Events covered include his organizing a team to collect the names and birthdates of school children who died in the collapse of substandard buildings in 2008’s Sichuan Earthquake which eventually total over 5000 names he displays on a wall.  He also is depicted being beaten severely by the police in Chengdu when he went there to testify at a fellow activist’s trial.  The Chinese government shuts down his blog and then demolishes his studios in Shanghai.  But Ai persistently attempts to work through the channels of bureaucracy to find justice, where many others would give up as intended by the system.  His family and fellow artists are interviewed and flashbacks through photographs reflect on his time in the New York City art scene in the 1980s.  Near the conclusion of the film, Ai is arrested and held for 81 days with the final scenes depicting him upon his release.  It’s a powerful film statement and surprising for the material captured on film that the Chinese government wouldn’t want people to see.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary: This film shows a good example of the role the artist can play as an activist. Ai Weiwei challenges the government’s lack of transparency through provocation and creates art to memorialize the  children lost in the collapsed schools who would otherwise be anonymous.
If You Like This You Might Also Want To …: See some of my photos from Megacities Asia exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts, which includes some works by Ai Weiwei.

Source: I watched this movie on Netflix streaming, and it is also available to Hulu subscribers.

Rating: ****

Book Review: Spinning by Tillie Walden


Author: Tillie Walden
TitleSpinning
Publication Info: First Second (2017)
Summary/Review:

Walden’s illustrated memoir tells of several years in her childhood when she was a dedicated figure skater and synchronized skater which involved rising early to get to the rink, extensive travel to tournaments, and a discomfort with the performative femininity expected of her.  Outside of skating, Walden moves from New Jersey to Austin, TX and has to adjust to a new school, deal with a bully,  and come out as a lesbian.  It’s an insightful and meditative look back on the choices made in childhood and their long lasting effects.

Favorite Passages:

“I’m the type of creator who is happy making a book without all the answers.  I don’t need to understand my past fully in order to draw a comic about it.  And now that this is a book that other people will read, I feel like it’s not really my turn to answer  that question.  It’s for the reader to decide, to speculate, to guess.  It reminds me of how in English class in high school we would always talk about the author’s intentions in every moment.  And I used to always wonder if there was ever an author who really didn’t mean any of it, and the meaning found its way in by accident.  I think I’m that author.”

Recommended booksFun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Rating: ***1/2

Podcasts of the Week Ending March 27


Radiolab :: Border Trilogy, Part 1

Stories of the Mexican-American border featuring a high school in El Paso where the students resist their harassment at the hand of the border patrol.

Risk! :: Babies

Mariah McCarthy’s story about her pregnancy, labor, and turning over her child for adoption is beautiful and weep inducing.

99 Percent Invisible :: Airships Future Never

I love airships and the future of airships that never was.

Levar Burton Podcast :: “A Fable with Slips of White Paper Spilling from the Pockets”

A humorous and touching story about a man who buys a coat at a thrift store in which slips of papers appear that have the prayers of people in the vicinity.

 

 

 

 

Book Review: Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher


AuthorCarrie Fisher
TitleWishful Drinking
Narrator:  Carrie Fisher
Publication Info: S&S Audio (2009)
Summary/Review:

Based on her stage performance, the delightful Carrie Fisher wryly reflects on her celebrity upbringing, her marriages and relationships, her mental health problems, and substance abuse issues.  An interesting memoir for fans and non-fans alike.

Recommended booksFuriously Happy by Jenny Lawson, Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, and You’re Never Weird on the Internet by Felcia Day
Rating: ***

Book Review: Black Panther. Vol. 1, A Nation Under our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, and Chris Sprouse


Author:Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze (Artist) and Chris Sprouse (Artist)
TitleBlack Panther. Vol. 1, A Nation Under our Feet
Publication Info: New York, NY : Marvel Worldwide, Inc., a subsidiary of Marvel Entertainment, LLC, [2017]
Summary/Review:

This collection includes the first four issues of this Black Panther series.  The illustrations are amazing, and Coates’ sparse, meditative text makes one thing.  I do find it hard to identify all the characters and keep up with the story, but that may just be a me problem with inexperience reading comics.  The collection also includes a reprint of Black Panther’s 1960s debut in a Fantastic Four comic when he apparently was a villain.

Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig


Author:Matt Haig
TitleHow to Stop Time
Narrator: Mark Meadows
Publication Info: Penguin Audio (2018)
Summary/Review:

The narrator of this novel Tom Hazard has a genetic condition that makes him age physically at a significantly slower pace than the typical human.  In the present day he is over 400 years old but only appears middle-aged.  The narrative switches back and forth from Tom’s present day attempt to make a normal life for himself as a history teacher in London and memories of his past.  These include the horrors inflicted upon him by superstitious people, his one true romance with his wife Rose in Elizabethan England, and his recruitment into a club of similar people who age slowly in the late 19th century.  It makes for a charming mix of historical fiction and a contemporary romance.  Haig is good at filling in the details of what it would be like to live, work, and love over the time of centuries, accumulating memories and experiences.

Recommended booksThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro, and Time and Again by Jack Finney
Rating: ***1/2

Performance Review: Così fan tutte


Così fan tutte performed by the Metropolitan Opera at the Metropolitan Opera House at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, March 24, 2018.

Composer: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Conductor: David Robertson

My mother is a subscriber to the Metropolitan Opera so she treated me to a performance of this Mozart comedy.  This is only the fifth opera I’ve seen in my life (after The Magic Flute, La Boheme, Semele, and Madama Butterfly).  This was also my first visit to the spectacularly modernist Metropolitan Opera House, and now I’ve seen a performance in all three of the main venues of Lincoln Center.

The sparkly chandeliers were a gift from Austria as a thank you for the Marshall Plan.

As for Così fan tutte, well it’s not modern at all.  The title is translated as “all women are like that” and is a misogynist depiction of women as unfaithful.  The performance begins with two sailors Ferrando and Guglielmo, bragging about the faithfulness of their fiancees, the sisters Dorabella and Fiordiligi.  Their older, wiser (creepy old dude) friend Don Alfonso makes them a wager that these women cannot remain faithful.  The young men pretend that they are called to war and return in disguise to attempt to seduce the other man’s fiancee, which of course, they do within 24 hours and lose the bet to Don Alfonso.  There’s a lot of ickiness in all of the farce and it’s disappointing that  Dorabella and Fiordiligi have to apologize for their unfaithfulness rather than ditching Ferrando and Guglielmo for their manipulative deception.

The view from our seats in the Tenzing Norgay Circle.

Of course, the singing and the music is lovely.  I particularly like Kelli O’Hara as the feisty maid Despina who helps Don Alfonso in his plot.  And some of the gags are worth a laugh, if only because the Metropolitan Opera is very loose in the translations they display on the subtitle screens (one line about a cowboy from Texas was almost certainly not in the original libretto).  What’s remarkable about this staging is that it is set in a seaside resort modeled after Coney Island in the 1950s which makes for delightful costumes and scenery.  They even have a team of actual sideshow performers (and a live ball python) performing tricks on stage. But the best part was the stagecraft, especially in the second act, when most of the scenes were set on amusement park rides. One aria in particular was set entirely on a floating balloon.

This Così fan tutte is definitely worth seeing for its adaptation through a carnival lens.

Concert Review: “Weird Al” Yankovic


“Weird Al” Yankovic at the Apollo Theater, March 23, 2018.

Special guest: Emo Phillips

I’ve liked “Weird Al” Yankovic since I was a child.  I’m not perhaps a diehard fan, especially compared with the people I sat next to on Friday night who sang along with every word.  I’ve long appreciated that Weird Al is more than a novelty, but a talented musician, one who can effectively write and perform songs in multiple genres.  I’d also heard that his live shows are terrific so I’d been wanting to attend.  The Ridiculously Self-Indulgent, Ill-Advised Vanity Tour features shows in intimates settings without props and costumes and focusing on songs Weird Al wrote instead of parodies, so I felt this was the perfect opportunity to appreciate his work as a musician.

It also provided an opportunity to attend a show at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem.  And of course my first show at the Apollo is for the whitest (and nerdiest) performer ever, which I feel a bit guilty about, but I did appreciate the photos and plaques honoring the legendary jazz, soul, R&B, and funk performers who made the Apollo famous.  The theater is gorgeous in the neo-classical style of early 20th century performance spaces.  I had a great view of the stage from my front row balcony seat, albeit at 6’1″ I felt that the seat and foot space was designed for a significantly shorter person.

“Nature Trail to Hell” was played in blood-red light.

As promised, Weird Al and his four-man band performed Yankovic originals, including many style parodies which are a pastiche of a particular artist’s music.  The highlights for me were “Mr. Popeil,” a tribute to “seen on TV” gadgets in the style of the B-52s, and “You Don’t Love Me Anymore,” a tender ballad about a young man who’s getting hints that his relationship is ending after his partners repeated attempts to kill him.  I was also impressed by the light design that matched the music and the mood – blood red lighting for the slasher film promo “Nature Trail to Hell,” and swirling paisleys for the trippy Doors-inspired “Craigslist.”

The tender ballad “You Don’t Love Me Anymore”

Weird Al concluded the set with a medley of his most well-known song parody lyrics set to the tunes of entirely different songs (for example “Eat It” was sung to the Unplugged version of Eric Clapton’s “Layla”).  It was all very meta but fun.  For an encore, they played a rocking, straightforward cover of Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl.” Al introduced the song by saying that after decades in the music business he’d finally learned how to play guitar, and this would be his live performance debut on guitar (I don’t believe either of those things are true).  The gag was that when it came time for the guitar solo, Al simply strummed a single, unfretted string.  For the finale they played the beloved sing-a-long, “Yoda.”

It was a fun night, and I’d definitely see Weird Al again should I get the chance. I found the setlist from online sources. Note that the “drum solos” were short and deliberately unimpressive.

Setlist:

  1. Dare to Be Stupid (Grateful Dead version)
  2. Close but No Cigar
  3. Generic Blues
  4. Mr. Popeil
  5. Nature Trail to Hell
  6. Craigslist
  7. Dog Eat Dog
  8. My Own Eyes
  9. Your Horoscope for Today
  10. UHF
  11. I Remember Larry
  12. Drum Solo
  13. Jackson Park Express
  14. Young, Dumb & Ugly
  15. You Don’t Love Me Anymore
  16. Bass Solo (theme from “Barney Miller”)
  17. Albuquerque
  18. Drum Solo
  19. Eat It / I Lost on Jeopardy / Amish Paradise / Smells Like Nirvana / White & Nerdy / I Love Rocky Road / Like a Surgeon

Encore:

20. Cinnamon Girl (Neil Young cover) (First time Weird Al played guitar on stage)
21. Yoda

Weird Al’s guitar solo on “Cinnamon Girl.”

See also: Music Discovery: Weird Al

Photopost: Metropolitan Museum of Art, part 2


Some of my favorite works of art from a Saturday afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, largely in the Asian and American art galleries.

See part 1 from last year for more arty goodness.

 

 

Podcasts of the Week Ending March 24


To the Best of Our Knowledge :: What Can We Learn From Teenagers?

Teenagers kick our butts.

Hidden Brain :: Guys, We Have A Problem: How American Masculinity Creates Lonely Men

Performative masculinity is cutting men off from connecting with others.

The Truth :: The Hilly Earth Society

A stunning one-person audio drama told entirely in voice messages from an angry recluse to a persistent journalist.  There’s a couple of interesting twists at the end, only one I saw coming.

LeVar Burton Reads :: “The 5:22” by George Harrar

A Twilight Zone -esque story about when one’s routine daily commute changes.

Album Review: I’ll Be Your Girl by The Decemberists


AlbumI’ll Be Your Girl
Artist: The Decemberists
Release Date: March 16, 2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • Once In My Life
  • Severed
  • Everything is Awful

Thoughts:

Of the two albums by bands I really like released this week, I didn’t expect to like The Decemberists more than Yo La Tengo, but I do.  Sometimes a band goes for a new sound, and in this case The Decemberists go for several sounds from 80s synthpop to a Laurel Canyon, but overall there’s a much more electric sizzle compared with the acoustic folk sound of previous albums.  Like any album of 2018, the lyrics have more of a political bent as well.

Rating: ***1/2

Album Review: All Nerve by The Breeders


AlbumAll Nerve
Artist:The Breeders
Release Date: March 2, 2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • Nervous Mary
  • Spacewoman
  • Dawn: Making an Effort

Thoughts:

The Breeders’ Last Splash is a masterpiece of 1990s rock music.  All Nerve is the first album with the same personnel that made Last Splash, and sounds very much like a follow-up if you ignore the 25 years and 2 albums with different lineups in the interim.  I find the album hit or miss, but The Breeders definitely have an energy and talent on display that show they’re still a vital band, especially compared with the blah Pixies album released a few years back.

Rating: ***

Album Review: There’s a Riot Going On by Yo La Tengo


AlbumThere’s a Riot Going On
Artist: Yo La Tengo
Release Date: March 16, 2018
Favorite Tracks:

  • Shades of Blue
  • Above the Sound
  • Forever

Thoughts:

Even as a diehard Yo La Tengo fan, I felt apprehensive that their new album is named identically to a classic Sly & The Family Stone album.  Having listened to it, I suspect this is the quietest riot ever.  I enjoy Georgia Hubley or Ira Kaplan singing quietly over a guitar or piano track, but previous Yo La Tengo albums always mixed in some rave-ups with the gentler stuff.  This is not a protest album so much as a retreat from the horrors of the present day.  I think this album will grow on me with more listens, but I don’t think it will ever live up to the statement made by its title and the history contained within it.

Rating: ***