Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of ignorance) puts Michael Keaton back where he belongs: at the center of a comic, edgy, exhilarating cinematic endeavor that makes full use of his expansive talents. Containing certain parallels that are impossible to ignore, Birdman casts Keaton as Riggan Thomson, a has-been Hollywood actor whose main claim to fame is that he portrayed the superhero Birdman, only to desert the franchise after only two films.
Gone Girl, David Fincher’s eagerly anticipated adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller, is the cinematic equivalent of a page-turner…and one whose pages I did indeed turn during the summer.
Recently voted the Best Open Mic in the Los Angeles area.
One little store front on Laurel Canyon Boulevard is home to one little funky music spot. Kulak’s Woodshed is a professional recording studio/listening room and one of the Valley’s best kept secrets. Its eclectic setting has a vibe that is all its own and is a great place to hear both up-and-coming artists as well as the music of seasoned professionals.
The Equalizer reunites Denzel Washington and his Training Day director Antoine Fuqua for another 1980s television reboot, and a fairly entertaining one at that. If you remember the series with fondness, as I do, you’ll recall it was about retired agent Robert McCall and how he offered help, free of charge, to desperate folks who were usually trapped in life-or-death situations. McCall had, at his disposal, a wealth of experience, contacts, weaponry, and in the hands of that superb actor Edward Woodward, a formidable, occasionally stentorian approach to dealing with miscreants, murderers, and mayhem-makers: “LEAVE HER ALONE—OR I—WILL--KILL--YOU!”
Kevin Kline may not be the first one to admit (except perhaps when pressed--on camera) to his nickname, Kevin De-Kline (spelling mine—I don’t know how he spells it), so it was exciting to learn that he would be gracing the bijous with star turns in two independent films, The Last of Robin Hood and My Old Lady. Both are enjoyed if flawed, and provide glimpses into Kline’s considerable skills as an actor.
Jazz in the 21st Century is in an interesting time, not necessarily stuck in a rut, but no one really knows what exactly is the next big step is for jazz, or where it should be going.
Few would argue that in American popular culture, New York dominates theater, and Los Angeles dominates film, despite the rise in runaway production.
But not so with rock music from the 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s, for which several cities can make a claim for No. 1. In Detroit, they will boast that you can’t do much better than the Contours — the greatest pure rock and roll band on Motown — Mitch Ryder, the MC5, Bob Seger, and, yes, Grand Funk Railroad.
The premise of the beautifully acted Love is Strange might remind some viewers of Leo McCarey’s 1937 Make Way for Tomorrow. In that classic drama, an aging couple is forced to live separately with different relatives after they lose their home, and despite the hardships that ensue, what abides is their undying love and devotion.
Under the name Godson, Aaron Johnson’s new EP has already been seen in stores online and on radio stations all over the world since its official release on May 13th, 2014. The album ‘Chilled Coffee’ is an all digital, instrumental acid jazz/hip hop EP with 10 original songs. His current work has over 20k plays, 275+ fans in over 40 countries with a strong base primarily in Europe and South America on Soundcloud alone.
We’ve been talking about Silver Snakes for a few years now, and if you’re already familiar with what they do you’re ahead of the learning curve. Featuring members of Horse The Band, the SoCal rock group have made quite an impression on the music scene with the 90s-inspired jams captured on their latest album Year of The Snake.
There’s plenty of action in Guardians of the Galaxy, the latest Marvel cash cow to enter the multiplexes, but what might really win you over is the lighthearted, often funny nature of the enterprise.
When Paul McCartney first noticed John Lennon and Mick Jagger first ran into Keith Richards, these chance encounters changed pop music and popular culture. When Steve Boone first met John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky, it was like the rock and roll version of eharmony.com.
‘Last Dance’, depending on the time you decided to sit down and listen to this album, it was either a joyous occasion to hear two great jazz masters put their heart and soul into rejuvenating old jazz standards and bringing them back to life. Or it was an album of mourning when you realise that this was Charlie Haden's last recording before his untimely death, July 11, 2014.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a satisfying sequel in practically every way to 1911’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes. There is no need to fret if you missed the first movie, as the sequel immediately sets the scene with a lethal virus (dubbed the Simian Flu), as well as all kinds of war and civil unrest, leading to devastation all over the world, with the survivors living in fragmented communities—and one community in particular engaged in a very uneasy truce with the intelligent apes who have made the Muir Woods their home.
Transformers: Age of Extinction is the first in the series without the presence of that Transformers fixture, Shia LaBoeuf, but the series (based on the box office grosses, if nothing else) will do just fine without him.
In mid-August 1965, while thousands of young black people, tired of being harassed by the Los Angeles Police Department, staged a rebellion in the southern part of the city, a song written by a white, Jewish folk/rock and roll performer started its unlikely ascent to number one on the Hot 100 charts.
In today's modern popular electronic music, musicality is thrown out the window and replaced with only how loud and aggressive a producer can make their track. It’s nice to know we still have producers trying to save and create electronic music with the intentions of actually making music.
Maleficent turns out to be a surprisingly heartfelt, visually ravishing Disney variation on Sleeping Beauty, with Angelina Jolie majestically commanding center stage as the deeply conflicted Maleficent (hence the name and the title).
Among Baby Boomers, Bob Dylan occupies a position not unlike that of Ronald Reagan with conservatives. The singer is not only admired by his original fan base, but revered, to the point where his defects, artistic and personal, are either dismissed or ignored. This attitude brings to mind the millions of Reagan lovers of all ages who conveniently forget that their political hero increased taxes and grew the deficit.
Speaking to Rolling Stone Last year vocalist Yukimi Nagano of Little Dragon explained that for this record the band started with nothing, no ideas, no vision, no plan. “We dove into different worlds and new spaces we haven’t been before”said Yukimi. And upon listening to this album what she says is true, they manage to bring in new flavors into the mix while still maintaining certain elements that make their music so great.
As I watching the events unfold in latest screen incarnation of Godzilla, several thoughts entered my mind, including, why so much Aaron Taylor Johnson, who must be one of the more colorless leads in movie history--and why so little Godzilla? Not that I need to see wall-to-wall Godzilla, but the big fella has been relegated here to a supporting role in his own mega-budget blockbuster.
The first section of Robert Greenfield’s short, engaging book about the Rolling Stones, “Ain’t It Time We Said Goodbye,” feels like a mistake. The author, who during the early 1970s worked in the London bureau of Rolling Stone magazine, provides readers with a day-by-day account of the Stones’ March 1971 tour of their native England.
The NoHo art community is a creative hotbed filled with talented singers, musicians, actors, dancers and visual artists. Over 50% of the people living in the district are under 35 years old. Every month, nohoartsdistrict.com will be highlighting one or two NoHo artists. If you are an artist and live or work in NoHo, please submit your bio for consideration. Today, we interviewed Joe Little, one of the most multi-talented music professionals I have seen for a while.
Tell us about your experience at Rock & Roll Fantasy Camp?
Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp was one of those experiences where I was sitting there for a moment saying to myself, "I'm actually getting paid for this?" This was probably around the time I was asked to start a blues jam with Mark Farner, Gary Hoey, and Billy Sheehan or after I helped out Alan White and his band perform the song Dream On with Steven Tyler surrounded by news cameras. Although, there were many long days and always tons of obstacles to dance around I can defiantly say that my couple years with the camp was an amazing time.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is one of the most satisfying entries in the Marvel superhero series, mainly because it’s an exciting, intelligent, entertaining blend of political thriller and superhero adventure. It would be hard to convey my enthusiasm without spilling key plot elements, but imagine a superhero adventure blended with elements of Three Days of the Condor and The Manchurian Candidate, and you’ll get the idea.
The NoHo Arts Community has grown into a creative hotbed for musicians from around the world. Both new and established musicians frequent our 30+ recording studios with AMP Rehearsal & Recording Studios leading the way with clientele such as Prince, Katie Perry and Black Eyed Peas to name a few. Today, we are spotlighting a Canadian jazz saxophonist, Ben Henriques - Captain Awesome
‘Captain Awesome’ is the second studio album from Vancouver, BC based saxophonist Ben Henriques...one of the many rising stars in the Canadian jazz scene. Ben Henriques, composer and group leader puts a much needed spin to contemporary modern jazz with his own unique compositional voice.
Unlike most saxophone players who choose to play with a abrasive, screaming in your face, tear paint off the walls tone. Ben Henriques chooses to play with a soft, rich in dynamics tone. Not only does this make his solos more musical, it also helps bring out the most in his composition and create a organic liveliness within the music. The music is less fatiguing, easier to listen to and much more enjoyable. It feels less like a marathon of music that you force yourself to finish. Much like his tone, his compositions are created with the same ideas in mind. With the use of vibrant colorful melodies and fun playful rhythms, he provokes the imagination and takes you on a musical journey inspired by comics, movies, and imaginary worlds. Alongside Ben Henriques is the support of other great Canadian jazz musicians with Dave Liang on Drums, Josh Rager on Piano, Kenny Bibace on guitar and Fraser Hollins on Bass. Within the group they help aid Henriques in developing the musical storyline that is heard throughout the album.
If you would like to hear more from Ben Henriques you can purchase his album ‘Captain Awesome’ at http://www.chronographrecords.com/releases.php?album=36
-Written by Kaeman McDonald
Review by Kaeman McDonald,
Born and raised in Calgary, Alberta , Canada. Kaeman McDonald is an aspiring musician who wants nothing more then to play, promote and support jazz around the world.
I would strongly recommend that you watch VH1’s 2010 documentary on “Soul Train,” called “The Hippest Trip in America,” before reading the new book by Nelson George of the same title. George, a longtime pop music critic who has written histories of Motown and rhythm ‘n’ blues, does his best to convey through words the dance moves made famous by the program—waacking, popping, the boogaloo—but visualizing is not nearly as compelling as is actually seeing.
It’s hard to imagine that Deafheaven’s success all spawned off the release of their 2010 demo. Even frontman George Clarke and guitarist Kerry McCoy are among the disbelievers, especially since they recorded the four-track effort out of boredom.
Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel is an engaging endeavor that combines old-fashioned elegance, zany antics, and elements of poignancy in telling the tale of a concierge, his new lobby boy, and an era of gentility endangered by the barbarians at the gate.
Like heaven and like hell, pop music is well-stocked with angels and devils. From “Devil or Angel,” the magnificent mid-1950s ballad by the Clovers, through Bobby Helms (“My Special Angel”), Elvis Presley (“The Devil in Disguise”), the Beatles (“Devil in Her Heart”), the Rolling Stones (“Sympathy for the Devil”), and many more, lyricists have found these mythical figures apt symbols for good and bad.
We fell head over heels for Johnny Booth when they put out their 2012 album Connections. You’ve heard their track “Ink And Sky” featuring Tommy Rogers of BTBAM, right? That album gave us so many chills that we put it as one of our favorite records of the year. The downside: it left us jonesin’ for more.
Liam Neeson reunites with Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra in Non-Stop, yet another movie destined never to be coming to an in-flight theater near you. Neeson is an alcoholic air marshal going through a rather rough patch: his daughter has died of cancer, his wife has divorced him and if that’s not enough--he has been receiving text messages while on a nonstop flight from New York to London, that passengers will begin to die every twenty minutes, unless a hefty sum ($150 million) is transferred to an off-shore bank account. He has to cope with any number of potential suspects (as in a planeload of passengers who resemble loud, obnoxious castoffs from the 1970 classic Airport), as well as off-camera superiors who think he’s lost his edge and his reason, and a suspicious, if not downright contentious flight crew.