Australian thriller ‘The Dry’ makes solid use of terrain, Eric Bana

Eric Bana has gangly features and the kind of small pinpoint dark eyes on a huge face that give him a cartoonish appearance. This makes him ideal when projecting horror (The Hulk), umbrage (Munich), and smugness (Funny People). He’s solid again in The Dry, a mystery in which Bana plays an Australian federal police officerContinue reading “Australian thriller ‘The Dry’ makes solid use of terrain, Eric Bana”

Ranking #24 singles, U.S. edition: 1969-1972

Elton Joh wrote many piano-tinkle ballads, but thankfully “Levon” has never gotten overplayed. For once Bernie Taupin wrote a killer opening line: “Levon wears his war wound like a crown.” I’m tempted to award top prize to Dusty Springfield’s forgotten “A Brand New Me,” her last top forty hit until her Pet Shop Boys collaborationContinue reading “Ranking #24 singles, U.S. edition: 1969-1972”

Disassemble your discrimination: The best anti-war songs

“My idea has always been that if we could bring the mothers of the various nations together, then there would be no more war.” — Howards End Mrs. Wilcox was correct, only substitute “awesome bangers” instead of “mothers” and we may inch closer to a quixotic truth. Also, Mrs. Wilcox was wrong. For the mostlyContinue reading “Disassemble your discrimination: The best anti-war songs”

Fellini’s early classic ‘I Vitelloni’ a vivid dissection of masculinity

Guys at a table talking girls, music, and jobs looks like one of those scenarios that’ve kicked around forever, but I Vitelloni is ground zero. Federico Fellini’s early film follows five young men from a town on the Adriatic coast as they realize their cosseted life is about to change. Watching I Vitelloni constitutes oneContinue reading “Fellini’s early classic ‘I Vitelloni’ a vivid dissection of masculinity”

Ranking #8 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-1995

Following The Cure and former members of Bauhaus into a top ten increasingly hospitable to tunes not unknown to KROQ playlists, Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence” took advantage of a ballooning American profile: a predecessor that went top forty and lingered in the top hundred for months, a concert film positioning them as a post-GodardianContinue reading “Ranking #8 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-1995”

A dozen of 2021’s best albums: a first draft

Editors hope that the writers to whom they assign albums persuade them to love the album too. Andy Beta did this when Sons of Kemet released Your Queen is a Mother three years ago. A jazz album whose distinctive churn gives it dance floor possibilities, Black to the Future has soundtracked first my tentative crawlContinue reading “A dozen of 2021’s best albums: a first draft”

Songs peaking at #4, U.S. edition: 1963-1965

For many of my readers, a Thursday night sitcom built around a sex deviant named Bill Cosby had a theme song that could’ve doubled as our intro to “Shotgun.” This greasy sax-led number by Junior Walker is one of the early rocker’s most essential, propulsive numbers. “Heat Wave” and “Rescue Me” almost match it inContinue reading “Songs peaking at #4, U.S. edition: 1963-1965”

Ranking #22 singles, U.S. edition: 1987-1996

The stretch of time between “Smoking Gun” and “I’m Goin’ Down” is more formidable than between 1913 and August 1914. A knock-kneed blues song climbed into the top thirty? In the late eighties? Meanwhile Mary J. Blige’s Rose Royce cover signified a new ear in R&B crossover: if the rap songs couldn’t break down theContinue reading “Ranking #22 singles, U.S. edition: 1987-1996”

‘I don’t know where to begin’ — The winsomeness of Electronic

In spring 1991 the “post-modern music” segment of my top 40 radio station played Enigma’s “Mea Culpa,” Elvis Costello’s “The Other Side of Summer,” Daniel Ash’s “This Love,” and Electronic’s “Get The Message” back to back. I own the tape where I recorded the sequence.

Ranking #36 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-1996

Dutifully CTRL-F’ing these small quakes this morning, I thought I’d have to give it up. I remembered “Bad Girl” and Michael Bolton’s blitzkrieg on “Georgia on My Mind” and Tears For Fears’ pensive, leisurely “Woman in Chains,” the latter the most ambitious tune here. I didn’t know Sunscreem’s club monster “Love U More” and, wow,Continue reading “Ranking #36 singles, U.S. edition: 1990-1996”

Ranking #23 singles, U.S. edition: 1969-1972

No sooner had “Hey Jude” had begun its crawl down the carts than Wilson Pickett unearthed the soul gem awaiting the Stax treatment. When Paul McCartney sang it, he stressed his role as uncondescending mentor, freely offering advice provoked by a pal’s misery; Pickett by contrast made it clear he might’ve been Jude, was Jude,Continue reading “Ranking #23 singles, U.S. edition: 1969-1972”