1. Milo Miles reviews the newest album from songwriting team Tennis, Ritual in Repeat: 

Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley are clearly passionate fans of the rock ‘n’ soul sounds of the early-‘60s girl groups and Brill Building songwriters and producers. However, their new album Ritual in Repeat is a triumph not because it conveys their fandom, but because it makes a sprightly pop style from 50 years ago fresh, ready for new fans now. This is a much trickier task than it might seem.


Photo by Luca Venter View in High-Res

    Milo Miles reviews the newest album from songwriting team Tennis, Ritual in Repeat

    Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley are clearly passionate fans of the rock ‘n’ soul sounds of the early-‘60s girl groups and Brill Building songwriters and producers. However, their new album Ritual in Repeat is a triumph not because it conveys their fandom, but because it makes a sprightly pop style from 50 years ago fresh, ready for new fans now. This is a much trickier task than it might seem.

    Photo by Luca Venter

  2. music

    review

    tennis

    alaina moore

    patrick riley

    ritual in repeat

  1. Today Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Corrigan says the novel gives readers “the chance to step out of time for a while and into a world richer and stranger than most of us could imagine.” 
She encourages readers to try The Bone Clocks, even if fantasy fiction isn’t your cup of tea: 

"David Mitchell is one of those writers I’d follow anywhere—even deep into (what is for me) the often-exasperating genre of fantasy fiction.  I don’t naturally gravitate to tales about alternative universes, wormholes, or tribbles; but, there are always exceptions and if Mitchell feels like trying out a semi-futuristic vehicle about immortal soul stealers, I’m willing to take a deep breath, step aboard, and say, in the words of Rod Serling: “Next stop, the Twilight Zone.” 
As in Cloud Atlas and some of his lesser-known novels, Mitchell’s new book, called The Bone Clocks, is elaborately constructed, jumping around in time and narrative perspective.  A friend of mine, who’s also a Mitchell enthusiast, rightly says that his novels are “postmodernist without all the pretentious metaphysics.”  What my friend means is that Mitchell’s technical wizardry is there, not for show, but in service to his themes and characters—he’s a deeply compassionate writer.   In fact, despite its experimental edge, the main reason to read The Bone Clocks is an old-fashioned one:  the draw of a charismatic character named Holly Sykes.”
View in High-Res

    Today Fresh Air book critic Maureen Corrigan reviews The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. Corrigan says the novel gives readers “the chance to step out of time for a while and into a world richer and stranger than most of us could imagine.” 

    She encourages readers to try The Bone Clocks, even if fantasy fiction isn’t your cup of tea: 

    "David Mitchell is one of those writers I’d follow anywhere—even deep into (what is for me) the often-exasperating genre of fantasy fiction.  I don’t naturally gravitate to tales about alternative universes, wormholes, or tribbles; but, there are always exceptions and if Mitchell feels like trying out a semi-futuristic vehicle about immortal soul stealers, I’m willing to take a deep breath, step aboard, and say, in the words of Rod Serling: “Next stop, the Twilight Zone.” 

    As in Cloud Atlas and some of his lesser-known novels, Mitchell’s new book, called The Bone Clocks, is elaborately constructed, jumping around in time and narrative perspective.  A friend of mine, who’s also a Mitchell enthusiast, rightly says that his novels are “postmodernist without all the pretentious metaphysics.”  What my friend means is that Mitchell’s technical wizardry is there, not for show, but in service to his themes and characters—he’s a deeply compassionate writer.   In fact, despite its experimental edge, the main reason to read The Bone Clocks is an old-fashioned one:  the draw of a charismatic character named Holly Sykes.”

  2. fresh air

    review

    books

    david mitchell

    the bone clocks

  1. Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews  Starred Up, about a teenage inmate in a maximum security adult prison:

None of the inmates in the brutal British prison drama Starred Up thinks of escape or even imminent release—it’s not that kind of prison drama. The characters will be here for a long time, and they’ve accepted the hierarchy of power among the prisoners. But the newest arrival hasn’t, yet. He’s a teenager named Eric Love—he has been “starred up,” meaning transferred to an adult prison because he’s too violent for a juvenile lock-up. Eric marks his arrival by smashing furniture in his cell and making a run at the guards, chomping down on one guy’s crotch and refusing to let go. His hair-trigger hostility to authority leaves him confused when he meets two father figures. One is an earnest group therapist named Oliver Baumer. The other is his actual father, Neville Love, a dominating inmate whom Eric barely knows. The psychodrama is so thick you can cut it with a straight razor.
View in High-Res

    Fresh Air film critic David Edelstein reviews  Starred Up, about a teenage inmate in a maximum security adult prison:

    None of the inmates in the brutal British prison drama Starred Up thinks of escape or even imminent release—it’s not that kind of prison drama. The characters will be here for a long time, and they’ve accepted the hierarchy of power among the prisoners. But the newest arrival hasn’t, yet. He’s a teenager named Eric Love—he has been “starred up,” meaning transferred to an adult prison because he’s too violent for a juvenile lock-up. Eric marks his arrival by smashing furniture in his cell and making a run at the guards, chomping down on one guy’s crotch and refusing to let go. His hair-trigger hostility to authority leaves him confused when he meets two father figures. One is an earnest group therapist named Oliver Baumer. The other is his actual father, Neville Love, a dominating inmate whom Eric barely knows. The psychodrama is so thick you can cut it with a straight razor.

  2. starred up

    david edelstein

    fresh air

    review

    prison

  1. 
"The New Pornographers is making music whose influences are fun to figure out—I hear some Abba in the harmonies, some ELO in the keyboards. On other songs there’s everything from the playful pompous-rock of Queen to the soulful harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas emanating from the contributions of strong vocalist Kathryn Calder, among others. Which means, ultimately, that this band is creating its own sound, using the time-tested pop-culture method of picking and choosing from anything and everything, recombined for original effects.”
- Ken Tucker 


Hear the full review View in High-Res

    "The New Pornographers is making music whose influences are fun to figure out—I hear some Abba in the harmonies, some ELO in the keyboards. On other songs there’s everything from the playful pompous-rock of Queen to the soulful harmonies of the Mamas and the Papas emanating from the contributions of strong vocalist Kathryn Calder, among others. Which means, ultimately, that this band is creating its own sound, using the time-tested pop-culture method of picking and choosing from anything and everything, recombined for original effects.”

    - Ken Tucker 

    Hear the full review

  2. the new pornographers

    ken tucker

    review

    fresh air

  1. If you want to frame Elvin Bishop’s music in a contemporary context, you could fairly say that he was a precursor to today’s so-called “bro-country music,” in which young male country singers churn out song after song about getting in their trucks to go party with pretty gals. But few of those young whippersnappers also feature the stuff that makes Elvin Bishop such a continuing gas—the raspy chuckle in his singing, and the sharp sting of his guitar. He invites you to contradict the title of this album and insist that he CAN do wrong right—just right.

    — Ken Tucker, reviewing Elvin Bishop's album Can't Even Do Wrong Right

  2. ken tucker

    elvin bishop

    country music

    blues

    review

  1. 
"Starting in 1970 with Even Dwarfs Started Small – an anarchic tale of rebellion by a group of little people — Werner Herzog unleashed a torrent of ten films, including Nosferatu and Fitzcarraldo, that remain the heart of his achievement.


All those movies, and six later ones, are included in the tremendous new boxed-set, Herzog: The Collection.  Some of them are great, others are good, and a couple are truly terrible.  Yet every single one has something going on.  Herzog has never been limited by anybody else’s idea of propriety, good sense, or artistic neatness.  He pushes us into unsettling mental spaces that make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.”
- John Powers, reviewing Herzog: The Collection 


How the “I believe in Werner Herzog” grafiti started  View in High-Res

    "Starting in 1970 with Even Dwarfs Started Small – an anarchic tale of rebellion by a group of little people — Werner Herzog unleashed a torrent of ten films, including Nosferatu and Fitzcarraldo, that remain the heart of his achievement.

    All those movies, and six later ones, are included in the tremendous new boxed-set, Herzog: The Collection.  Some of them are great, others are good, and a couple are truly terrible.  Yet every single one has something going on.  Herzog has never been limited by anybody else’s idea of propriety, good sense, or artistic neatness.  He pushes us into unsettling mental spaces that make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.”

    - John Powers, reviewing Herzog: The Collection 

    How the “I believe in Werner Herzog” grafiti started 

  2. werner herzog

    film

    john powers

    review

    fresh air

  1. Billy Joe Shaver isn’t so much an outlaw as an outlier, admired by much bigger stars then he’ll ever be, a figure of ornery stubbornness who specializes in writing garrulous story-songs filled with macho boasting phrased poetically. Shaver is one of those loners who claims to want to be loved even as he’s pushing everyone away with a defiant or morose attitude.

    — Ken Tucker reviews Shaver’s first album in six years, Long in the Tooth

  2. billy shoe shaver

    honky tonk

    ken tucker

    review

    long in the tooth

  1. David Edelstein reviews Calvary, starring  Brendan Gleeson as a priest who must eventually face off against a killer:

"Crisis-of-faith movies are often painfully solemn, even Ingmar Bergman-esque, but writer-director John Michael McDonagh evidently came of age watching too many episodes of Twin Peaks. Calvary is crammed with strange, over-the-top performances—unmodulated, in different keys, the characters framed with the bluntness of a carnival barker showing off his freaks. Those shots are in contrast to the Irish coastal vistas: craggy, primordial, mythic. It’s meant to be a haunting combination, and I have colleagues who found it just that. They were devastated by a film that acknowledges the Catholic Church’s crimes and what’s portrayed as its increasing irrelevance in modern society, yet affirms, in the end, the overriding importance of faith.”


View in High-Res

    David Edelstein reviews Calvary, starring Brendan Gleeson as a priest who must eventually face off against a killer:

    "Crisis-of-faith movies are often painfully solemn, even Ingmar Bergman-esque, but writer-director John Michael McDonagh evidently came of age watching too many episodes of Twin Peaks. Calvary is crammed with strange, over-the-top performances—unmodulated, in different keys, the characters framed with the bluntness of a carnival barker showing off his freaks. Those shots are in contrast to the Irish coastal vistas: craggy, primordial, mythic. It’s meant to be a haunting combination, and I have colleagues who found it just that. They were devastated by a film that acknowledges the Catholic Church’s crimes and what’s portrayed as its increasing irrelevance in modern society, yet affirms, in the end, the overriding importance of faith.”

  2. calvary

    brendan gleeson

    review

    movie

    ireland

    catholic church

  1. Jazz pianist Jaki Byard played in the bands of Charles Mingus, Rahsaan,  Roland Kirk and Booker Ervin. Then he began making solo and small-band records under his own name. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says, Byard had a rare ability to sound archaic and ahead of his time.

    Jazz pianist Jaki Byard played in the bands of Charles Mingus, Rahsaan,  Roland Kirk and Booker Ervin. Then he began making solo and small-band records under his own name. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says, Byard had a rare ability to sound archaic and ahead of his time.

  2. jazz

    jaki byard

    kevin whitehead

    piano

    review

  1. In the early 1960s when soul star Sam Cooke had his own record label, SAR, he recorded songs by his younger brother, L.C. Cooke. Ten of the tracks were supposed to become L.C.’s debut album in 1964. The release was postponed, then Sam Cooke was killed, SAR went out of business and L.C.’s album fell into limbo. Now, 50 years later, The Complete SAR Records Recordings has appeared. Fresh Air critic Milo Miles examines this lost piece of history:

I knew Sam Cooke had a younger brother who he had recorded and produced. But it was tough to hear any of L.C. Cooke’s rare singles and impossible to evaluate him as a performer overall. Not any more. All of the material L.C. recorded for his brother’s SAR label, plus two songs made before and one from after have come out as The Complete SAR Records Recordings. Most were written by Sam, a few by L.C. To get my one hesitation out of the way, L.C. is not quite the singer his brother was — tones less rich, phrasing a bit more pedestrian. But it’s good the material sketches a persona different than Sam’s. L. C. seems, how shall we say? — brattier.



L.C. Cooke via ABKCO records

    In the early 1960s when soul star Sam Cooke had his own record label, SAR, he recorded songs by his younger brother, L.C. Cooke. Ten of the tracks were supposed to become L.C.’s debut album in 1964. The release was postponed, then Sam Cooke was killed, SAR went out of business and L.C.’s album fell into limbo. Now, 50 years later, The Complete SAR Records Recordings has appeared. Fresh Air critic Milo Miles examines this lost piece of history:

    I knew Sam Cooke had a younger brother who he had recorded and produced. But it was tough to hear any of L.C. Cooke’s rare singles and impossible to evaluate him as a performer overall. Not any more. All of the material L.C. recorded for his brother’s SAR label, plus two songs made before and one from after have come out as The Complete SAR Records Recordings. Most were written by Sam, a few by L.C. To get my one hesitation out of the way, L.C. is not quite the singer his brother was — tones less rich, phrasing a bit more pedestrian. But it’s good the material sketches a persona different than Sam’s. L. C. seems, how shall we say? — brattier.

    L.C. Cooke via ABKCO records

  2. l.c. cooke

    sam cooke

    soul

    milo miles

    review

    ABKSCO records

  1. Cowboy Jack Clement was a prolific producer, songwriter, arranger, and talent scout.  He only made three albums of his own, the last of which is the new For Once and For All, executive produced by T Bone Burnett.  Ken Tucker reviews: 

Cowboy Jack Clement – the “cowboy” nickname was always something of a joke; he once said, “cowboy boots make my feet hurt”—was a colorful character as well as a first-rate songwriter and producer. Clement told music historian Peter Guralnick that Shakespeare and PG Wodehouse were influences on him as significant as any country or rock & roll artist, and since he wrote tunes for Johnny Cash called “Dirty Old Egg-Suckin’ Dog” and “Flushed from the Bathroom of your Heart,” I’m inclined to believe him. He also wrote some of the finest pure-country songs ever. 
View in High-Res

    Cowboy Jack Clement was a prolific producer, songwriter, arranger, and talent scout.  He only made three albums of his own, the last of which is the new For Once and For All, executive produced by T Bone Burnett.  Ken Tucker reviews: 

    Cowboy Jack Clement – the “cowboy” nickname was always something of a joke; he once said, “cowboy boots make my feet hurt”—was a colorful character as well as a first-rate songwriter and producer. Clement told music historian Peter Guralnick that Shakespeare and PG Wodehouse were influences on him as significant as any country or rock & roll artist, and since he wrote tunes for Johnny Cash called “Dirty Old Egg-Suckin’ Dog” and “Flushed from the Bathroom of your Heart,” I’m inclined to believe him. He also wrote some of the finest pure-country songs ever. 

  2. cowboy jack clement

    t bone burnett

    ken tucker

    review

  1. Marja Mills, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, spent 18 months living next door to Harper Lee and her sister Alice. Maureen Corrigan reviews Mills’ book about the experience, titled  The Mockingbird Next Door: 

Rather than warmed-over gossip, what The Mockingbird Next Door does offer is a rich sense of the daily texture of the Lee sisters’ lives. By the time she moved to Monroeville, Mills had been diagnosed with Lupus and was out on disability from the Chicago Tribune. Consequently, she entered easily into the world of the Lees and their “gray-haired crew” — all of them shared aching joints and free time to talk about books and local history, to go fishing and take long car rides into the country. Mills says she had to watch herself with Harper, who had more of an “edge” than her older sister Alice. Whereas Harper could shut down a conversation with a frosty stare or a few choice cuss words, Alice comes off as gracious, grounded and principled. During her long legal career, she was a steady proponent of The Civil Rights Movement, prompting Harper Lee to refer to Alice admiringly as: “Atticus in a skirt.”


Photo: Book author Harper Lee and Mary Badham (in the tire swing), who plays Scout in the film version of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” are shown on a film set at Universal Studio in 1961. View in High-Res

    Marja Mills, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, spent 18 months living next door to Harper Lee and her sister Alice. Maureen Corrigan reviews Mills’ book about the experience, titled  The Mockingbird Next Door

    Rather than warmed-over gossip, what The Mockingbird Next Door does offer is a rich sense of the daily texture of the Lee sisters’ lives. By the time she moved to Monroeville, Mills had been diagnosed with Lupus and was out on disability from the Chicago Tribune. Consequently, she entered easily into the world of the Lees and their “gray-haired crew” — all of them shared aching joints and free time to talk about books and local history, to go fishing and take long car rides into the country. Mills says she had to watch herself with Harper, who had more of an “edge” than her older sister Alice. Whereas Harper could shut down a conversation with a frosty stare or a few choice cuss words, Alice comes off as gracious, grounded and principled. During her long legal career, she was a steady proponent of The Civil Rights Movement, prompting Harper Lee to refer to Alice admiringly as: “Atticus in a skirt.”

    Photo: Book author Harper Lee and Mary Badham (in the tire swing), who plays Scout in the film version of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” are shown on a film set at Universal Studio in 1961.

  2. to kill a mockingbird

    harper lee

    marja mills

    the mockingbird next door

    atticus finch

    review

    maureen corrigan

  1. Linklater has always used time as a character. It’s in the titles of his Before trilogy, featuring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as characters at different junctures: Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Before Midnight. They have to reconnect in each film—and fast, because the clock is ticking. I love these films, but they’re talky. Linklater is so literal about time he never seems to use the full, transcendent resources of cinema.

    He does in Boyhood.

    — David Edelstein reviews Boyhood, directed by Richard Linklater

  2. david edelstein

    boyhood

    richard linklater

    before sunrise

    before sunset

    before midnight

    film

    review

    movies

  1. Ken Tucker on Jim Lauderdale's 'admirable and somewhat puzzling career' and his new album I’m a Song: 

"So with all these good songs and strong singing, why isn’t Lauderdale a bigger star? I think one answer is the absence of a consistent persona in his work. Look at his idols: George Jones is, in Jim’s phrase, the king of broken hearts; Gram Parsons is the sensitive tragic hero that Lauderdale is too optimistic and too wise to the ways of the music biz to emulate; bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, with whom Lauderdale recorded a Grammy-winning album, is the kind of formalist that Jim never aspired to be. Lauderdale rarely goes as bleakly dark as his pal Buddy Miller can, both on guitar and in lyrics with his wife Julie Miller. One reason Lauderdale is a successful songwriter for others is because he can slip into others’ skins, and write from different points of view and moods. On his own projects, and on the satellite radio show he co-hosts with Buddy Miller, he projects a sunniness that to some listeners may come across as lightweight. But it takes as much craft to sound resilient as it does to sound shattered and depressed."
View in High-Res

    Ken Tucker on Jim Lauderdale's 'admirable and somewhat puzzling career' and his new album I’m a Song:

    "So with all these good songs and strong singing, why isn’t Lauderdale a bigger star? I think one answer is the absence of a consistent persona in his work. Look at his idols: George Jones is, in Jim’s phrase, the king of broken hearts; Gram Parsons is the sensitive tragic hero that Lauderdale is too optimistic and too wise to the ways of the music biz to emulate; bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, with whom Lauderdale recorded a Grammy-winning album, is the kind of formalist that Jim never aspired to be. Lauderdale rarely goes as bleakly dark as his pal Buddy Miller can, both on guitar and in lyrics with his wife Julie Miller. One reason Lauderdale is a successful songwriter for others is because he can slip into others’ skins, and write from different points of view and moods. On his own projects, and on the satellite radio show he co-hosts with Buddy Miller, he projects a sunniness that to some listeners may come across as lightweight. But it takes as much craft to sound resilient as it does to sound shattered and depressed."

  2. jim lauderdale

    review

    ken tucker

  1. Fresh Air TV critic David Bianculli reviews two new creepy sci-fi shows premiering this week, Extant and The Strain:

    "Extant has a premise that could go places, but based on the pilot, many of those places are awfully, unimpressively familiar. The moment when Halle Berry, as female astronaut Molly Watts, encounters an anomaly in space, it’s while talking to her family back home, and to her onboard computer, when she loses the video signal. The computer isn’t named HAL, as in 2001: A Space Odyssey – it’s named Ben. But still…

    Much better, even though it treads on similarly familiar ground, is FX’s The Strain. This one stars Corey Stoll, who’s more than up to the demands of a leading role – in supporting parts, he played the out-of-control young congressman in Netflix’s House of Cards, and a memorably magnetic Ernest Hemingway in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. In The Strain, he plays a scientist named Ephraim Goodweather, who heads the Centers for Disease Control team called in to investigate a very bizarre airline disaster. The plane has landed safely in New York – but neither the crew nor the passengers have made a move, or a sound, since, and may not even be alive.”

  2. extant

    the strain

    david bianculli

    review

    guillermo del toro

    sci-fi