No question: A Most Violent Year is a powerful film, one of the best I’ve seen in the past year. I was a fan of director J.C. Chandor’s 2011 release Margin Call, and his new film takes a vastly different but equally compelling perspective on capitalism in America.
The story focuses on the expansion plans of a heating oil executive in New York City in 1981, which sounds potentially mundane yet is anything but. Again, this is New York in the early ’80s, ages before new regimes came in to ‘clean up’ the place.
The story is strong, the mood is tense, the cinematography is stunning and the acting is stunning, notably that of the two leads, Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain. Both truly disappear into the roles.
One final treat is the song that plays through the closing credits. Titled “America for Me,” it’s a sparse, loosely constructed song by Alex Ebert. Listen below.
Continue reading ‘America for Me’ – Alex Ebert’s Song from the Film ‘A Most Violent Year’
Last night (Nov. 19) I was lucky enough to attend a special concert in Chicago celebrating the 75th birthday of Mavis Staples. Man, that was an experience—one that was unique to Chicago and showcased a huge range of American music from the past 50 or 60 years.
The show was being taped for a DVD release, so it had issues with flow and continuity—too many stops and starts to feel like a ‘real’ concert experience, which got a little frustrating after a while. It ran one ‘episode’ at a time, with a special guest (or two or four) taking the stage, usually backed by a crack 13-piece band that included stunning vocalists the McCrary Sisters and bassist/musical director Don Was.
But ultimately it was a spectacular experience.
Continue reading Mavis Staples Tribute
With his new album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, Sturgill Simpson has put out what’s currently my favorite album of the year. This is country music that is meaty and fun but also thoughtful and rich. It’s ‘metamodern,’ as he describes it — a play on the classic Ray Charles collection Modern Sounds in Country Music — but it’s also got boots on the ground, a sturdy honky-tonk sound by way of Merle Haggard and especially Waylon Jennings.
At the same time, the music is not that straightforward. Stop at Waylon and I’m often fine with that. But Sturgill has a wider scope here. After all, the lead single does bear the curious title “Turtles All the Way Down.” Watch the video:
Continue reading Sturgill Simpson’s ‘Metamodern’ Country
Say what you will about the directions mainstream country is taking these days, but outside the Top 40 there’s plenty of honky tonk to go around. Top of the heap right now is Jason Eady, a Mississippi native (and Texas transplant) whose new album Daylight and Dark lays down some of the strongest country music I’ve heard all year.
Daylight and Dark in many ways picks up where Eady’s acclaimed previous album, AM Country Heaven, left off.
Continue reading Jason Eady shows country is alive and well in 2014
Cool song, download it free:
Performing at SXSW 2010. Best album of 2010, and best live show of 2010…and it’s only March.
UPDATE: A quick taste of Midlake, the epic song “Bring Down,” from their 2010 album The Courage of Others.
From SXSW two years ago — great Norwegian metal band
Patterson Hood of DBT during a show at BamaJam in Enterprise, Alabama, June 5, 2009.
One of my favorite contemporary country singers–channeling Waylon heavy, which is fine by me. Got songwriting chops, too. Caught him at BamaJam 2009 in Enterprise, Alabama–which also happens to be Jamey’s hometown.