Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Passing of a Legend

The world of rock and roll will never be the same after the recent loss of one of the greatest men to ever tackle the genre.  Lou Reed, front man for the revolutionary group The Velvet Underground passed away of liver disease on October 27 and left behind him a legacy that is both incredibly influential and unlike anything that came before or after.  Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and ranked at number 19 on Rolling Stones list of the 100 Greatest Artists of all time, the Velvet Underground was punk before there was punk, and alternative before it was even an idea.  After such great, albeit short lived success, the band broke up in 1973 and Reed went on to have an illustrious solo career with amazing songs like the David Bowie produced “Walk on the Wild Side”.  Fusing elements of almost every music genre there is, Lou Reed was a driving force behind turning music back into what it’s meant to be, true art and a free form of expression.  Thank you sir, and may you keep on rocking with the greats that have passed before you.  Read the full Rolling Stone Obituary below.

Franze Ferdinand - Keeping 80's New Wave Alive and Kicking

Franz Ferdinand are not only continuing in the vein of their previous releases, but perfecting them in a way that proves they are one of the greatest indie bands of the last decade.  I first heard their single “Take Me Out” from their self-titled debut album as part of the set list for the first Guitar Hero game.  It was so fun to play and blew me away that it had just come out barely a year before, unlike many of the other tracks.  Their latest release Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is not only a great album, but one that spans multiple decades and genres.  Their sound remains largely 80’s New Wave based with some punky guitar riffs and indie pop beats that produce a sound both diverse and unique.  Their fourth studio album and first since 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, the record is fun to listen to but hints at the possible end of the band in the final track “Goodbye Lovers and Friends” which we can only hope is a ruse considering the success and following the band has achieved.  Songs like “Right Action” and “Love Illumination” (both singles off the record) are great and remind you of 80’s stalwarts like Joy Division, The Smiths, or The Cure, with a faster tempo.  Still other tracks like “Bullet” are destined to become dance floor favorites.  With its poppy sound, the track makes you want to jump up, down, and all around.  Critics have given the album mostly positive reviews with most agreeing that the record is an overall success.  Franz Ferdinand are one of those bands that haven’t really put out a bad record and that has to tell you something, not only about their musical style but also about the bands chemistry.  With a great stage presence and songs that make you dance and smile, what else could you ask for?  Definitely a group everyone should hear.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Hyde Park on Hudson - Charming and Intimate

Hyde Park on Hudson was a charming historical drama which cast new light on President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  Taking place in 1939 on the very eve of WWII, the film focuses on Roosevelt (superbly played by Bill Murray) and his 6th cousin Margaret “Daisy” Suckley (played by Laura Linney) who is asked to visit with the President by his mother during this stressful and busy time for the administration.  Their relationship starts out awkward but Roosevelt’s charm and wit quickly woo the shy Daisy into an intimate and secretive friendship.  Their lives are quickly entangled and Daisy becomes a key figure at Hyde Park, the President’s private country refuge.  The film also centers on a pivotal visit by King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth to Hyde Park for a weekend of relaxation.  The trip is highly anticipated as most of the public and the administration expect the visit to lead to discussions about America’s entry into the rising conflict in Europe.  The visit begins with mixed emotions and an extreme sense of culture shock with the Royals both shocked and appalled at the notion of eating hot dogs for lunch.  But after putting inhibitions and skepticism aside the Brits have a wonderful time and the visit turns out to be highly successful.  With the whole story of Daisy and the President recently coming to light after the discovery of Daisy’s journals after her death, their story is a nice contrast to the seriousness of the King’s visit.  Plenty of comic relief and beautiful scenery make this a film that is both historically accurate and fun to watch.  Part romantic comedy, part historical docu-drama, Hyde Park on Hudson is a must see.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2014

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees for 2014 are in, and oh what a list it is.  Everything from 70’s prog rock stadium band Yes to 90’s grunge giants Nirvana and everything in between is represented in the list of 16 nominees.  Some on the list make you wonder how they haven’t been inducted before.  KISS makes its 8th appearance on the list of nominees and Deep Purple, Chic, and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band also have multiple nominations under their belts.  Peter Gabriel is nominated for his solo work, but is already a member having been inducted alongside fellow Genesis members back in 2009.  Rap and hip hop are also represented with nominations for NWA and LL Cool J, both of whom have been nominated before as well.  Fellow punk rockers the Replacements join Nirvana on the list who has been nominated in its first year of eligibility as their first single “Love Buzz” was released in the latter half of 1988.  Interestingly enough, this will be the second year that the public has been allowed to vote for the inductees as well, alongside industry magnates, music experts, and historians among others.  So go on and make your vote count!  Do the Replacements deserve to win over Hall and Oats?  What about Linda Ronstadt vs. Link Wray?  The Meters vs. The Zombies??  All difficult match ups which will need an answer; can you decide?