Author: Pete Chianca

'Ant-Man' stars ants, and Paul Rudd.

Farkakte Film Flashback: Buggy ‘Ant-Man’ Edition

I saw “Ant-Man” over the weekend, and given the fact that advance buzz (so to speak) was iffy, I was pleasantly surprised: It was the funniest Marvel movie yet, and it fully embraces its ludicrous premise (something about being able to make people shrink by “changing the distance between atoms,” a concept that only sounds even mildly reasonable because it’s uttered by Michael Douglas). But one of my favorite parts of the movie is its cast of supporting characters — no, not Michael Peña, although he is awesome. I’m talking about the ants, whom Ant-Man controls by harnessing the something in their whatsis … actually I don’t think they ever really explain how it works, but who cares? Unlike most movie bugs they’re a huge help to our hero, and one of them — SPOILER ALERT! — even gets a name (Antony) and a heroic demise. It also made me think of certain other, previous bug movies, some of which are definitely lesser than “Ant-Man,” but which all hold a space in the pantheon of creepy …

If these people are old, what does that make us?

How dare Debbie Harry and Bruce Springsteen get old?

I usually don’t get worked up about aging celebrities, mainly because I’ve managed to convince myself that their age is somehow unrelated to mine — this way, no matter how old they get in real life, in my brain they stay the same age they were when I discovered them. This helpful strategy keeps me from thinking about how when I first bought, say, a Bruce Springsteen album, he was a good 15 years younger than I am right now, which would throw off the entire space-time continuum. Of course as a Springsteen fan I’ve been particularly spoiled, since he somehow continues to power through his AARP years with the energy level (and waistline) of a 30-year-old, allowing us middle-aged huffer-puffers to fist-pump through his concerts as if we, too, have managed to curb the aging process. So what if we have to spend the next day with our feet up and a wet towel draped across our foreheads? For that moment we’re 19 again and all is well with the world, and also with …

"Let the Good Times Roll," J.D. McPherson.

Album Review: J.D. McPherson, ‘Let the Good Times Roll’

The best albums can take you somewhere else, and not just sonically — they’ll seem to bring you to a place you can almost feel and touch. “Let The Good Times Roll” is that kind of album, and the place it brings you (or at least me) is an echoey 1950s rec room in somebody’s parents’ basement, complete with Brylcreem, a suitcase record player and girls in skintight pedal pushers. There are worse places to be. Like on his 2010 debut album, “Signs & Signifiers,” McPherson doesn’t devote himself to a slavish recreation of 1950s rock ’n’ roll sound. Instead, he draws on the era’s vibe for another collection that feels both old and new, full of quavery guitar, honking horns and crisp, snappy percussion. It’s the best kind of tribute to that particular era of music, because it doesn’t really feel like one — it’s just a great record, period. As for McPherson’s vocals, they have the same rockabilly charm as on “Signs,” but with an even smoother, more soulful delivery, sort of like …

Kingsley Flood, 'To The Fire'

EP REVIEW: Kingsley Flood, “To The Fire”

It’s been almost six months since the Boston-based band Kingsley Flood launched an innovative PledgeMusic drive to fund the entirety of its 2015 output — who needs record companies anyway? — and if the first fruits of that effort are any indication, those pledges are going to all the right places. (No solid gold Humvees for them.) The new EP “To The Fire” is very much a worthy follow-up to the band’s last full-length LP, 2013’s “Battles” — the tight, raucous folk-punk instrumentation, compelling backing harmonies (ably provided by Jenee Morgan) and impassioned, raspy lead vocals from frontman Naseem Khuri are all present and accounted for. But that’s not to say it suffers from sameness: Following their Americana-tinged debut “Dust Windows” in 2010, Kingsley Flood’s sound has bloomed into an almost unclassifiable indie rock melange of styles and influences, and the band remains all the more surprising — and listenable — because of it. In particular Khuri, with his fiery, almost Strummer-esque delivery, continues to stand out in an indie landscape of one-too-many emo crooners …

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30 years later, ‘We Are The World’ album still stinks

“We Are The World,” the charity single to end all charity singles (except it didn’t), was recorded 30 years ago this week. It was an instant sensation when it was released that March, but less well-remembered is the “We Are The World” album, which followed in April. One reason for that could be that it’s horrible. Well, maybe I’m exaggerating slightly — but it certainly wasn’t good, at least not most of it. Since I’m willing to bet that even those of us who threw ourselves behind the movement to end famine in Africa — primarily by buying “We Are The World” and watching Live Aid on MTV — haven’t spun it in decades, I thought the 30th anniversary would be a good excuse for me to revisit it track-by-track, so you don’t have to. It’s worth noting that the tracks actually appear in a different order on the album than they’re listed on the cover, which indicates the degree of attention given to this money-grab for starving people. Which is a good reason to …

George Lucas and Mickey in happier times.

EXCLUSIVE: George Lucas’ rejected plans for Star Wars VII revealed!

“The [story ideas] that I sold to Disney, they came up to the decision that they didn’t really want to do those,” George Lucas told CinemaBlend.com this week. And now, this leaked 2012 memo shows what George Lucas had in mind for the new “Star Wars” trilogy, probably. Nov. 8, 2012 To: Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn Fr: George Lucas Re: Story ideas for Star Wars Episode VII Dear Alan: Thanks for taking the time to review the plot outlines I’d been working on for Ep. VII. As you know, you’re under no obligation to use these, but as the creator of “Star Wars” I think I have a good sense of what longtime fans are looking for. (Although if you go in a different direction I’ll just have to drown my sorrows in my $4 billion — ha ha!) We’ll start with Han Solo, since he’ll obviously need to be central to the new trilogy. As Ep. VII kicks off, the former smuggler has ironically been named viceroy of the newly reestablished Trade Federation …

'Pixels' opens July 2015.

10 movies to look forward to that aren’t ‘Star Wars’

As I’m sure you’re aware if you’re a watcher of movies, if you were to put together a pie chart measuring anticipation for movies being released in 2015, about 60 percent of it would be taken up by “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” 25 by “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and 10 by “Jurassic World,” with a tiny little 5 percent sliver for everything else, both with colons in their titles and without. It’s not right. So to give those other flicks a fair shake, I’ve listed here my top 10 OTHER movies that haven’t come out yet, in as many disparate genres as possible, followed by my top 5 most likely stinkers of 2015, because pop culture writers can never be completely positive. It’s a law. POTENTIAL WINNERS: 1) “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water” (February): If you thought they couldn’t improve upon the first SpongeBob movie, in which SpongeBob meets David Hasselhoff, think again: This one features live-action 3-D versions of SpongeBob and friends. And while it doesn’t have Hasselhoff, it does have Antonio Banderas, Seth Green …

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The 2014 Music Notable Awards!

Yes, I’ve already run down my picks for the year’s standout albums, my 2014 mixtape suggestions and my ratings for new albums by artists over 50. But that’s not everything that graced our earbuds this past year. Herewith, then, are the winners of the first annual Music Notable Awards, otherwise known as the stuff that didn’t fit in any other category. • Notable Performance By A Dead Person: Johnny Cash, “Out Among The Stars.” • Notable Performance By Two Dead People: Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, “Baby Ride Easy,” the standout track from that album. • Notable Use Of A Hologram: The vinyl edition of “Lazaretto” by Jack White (which also features one side that plays from the middle out; mind = blown). • Notable Revival Of The Phrase “Ooga-Chucka”: “Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix No. 1.” • Notable Unexpected Sex Reference Leading To Parental Embarrassment: “Don’t,” Ed Sheeran. • Notable Surprise Live Album: Kingsley Flood, “Live at the Armory.” • Notable Live Album You’d Be Forgiven For Thinking Was Recorded In An Ice …

Muppet Family Christmas, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, Star Wars Holiday Special: All worthy of reconsideration.

The top 5 almost-forgotten holiday TV specials

With “A Charlie Brown Christmas” having already made its first appearance of the season, and ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” well underway, we’re into TV holiday special territory once again. But what specials of yesteryear (specifically my own childhood) seem to have gotten lost amid the onslaught? Here are five worthy of re-consideration. 5) ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974): This stands out as one of the only Rankin/Bass Christmas specials to be traditionally animated, rather than made by posing little plastic dolls, a meticulous process that no doubt led to insanity and this scene from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” You’ll recall the story involved a family of mice, and a clock, and a little nerdy mouse who almost destroys Christmas, and the voice of George Gobel. It was sweet and old-fashioned, which is probably why nobody watches it anymore. The good news is, apparently nobody watched the Grumpy Cat Christmas movie either, so there’s hope for humanity. 4) Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962): Hard to say if you could really classify …

Star Wars Episode VII is coming. What else do you need? (starwars.com photo)

24 current reasons to be thankful in 2014

Sure, the government’s a mess, the environment is spiraling out of control and American cities are actually burning. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take time to consider some of the reasons we all have to be thankful. So everyone, please put down your torches and pitchforks long enough to appreciate the following blessings: 1) Your job doesn’t require you to balance anything on Kim Kardashian’s big shiny butt. 2) You’re not married to Robin Thicke, probably. At least not anymore. 3) Statistically, if you get pulled over by a police officer you still have a very good chance of not being shot to death. No matter what Nancy Grace says. 4) You’re not on Nancy Grace. 5) You’re not a Red Sox fan. Oh, you are? Er, sorry. 6) You weren’t in the last “Expendables” movie. Oh, you were? Er, sorry. 7) You didn’t let yourself get too attached to “Selfie.” 8) Your professional success doesn’t rely on cooperation from the Republican Party. 9) You didn’t have everything riding on that damn Benghazi report. 10) You …

'The Indestructibles: Breakout' by Matthew Phillion

BOOK REVIEW: Matthew Phillion, ‘The Indestructibles: Breakout’

My fellow Gatehouse Media editor Matt Phillion is at it again: “The Indestructibles: Breakout” (PFP Publishing), his sequel to last spring’s young adult superhero saga “The Indestructibles,” comes hot on the heels of the last installment. But in this one, Phillion is unencumbered by the need to introduce all the characters and bring them together, “Avengers”-style, into a cohesive fighting force. And he uses that built-in momentum to send his story into the stratosphere, pretty much literally, right out of the gate. The result is the equivalent of a “Superman II” or “Spider-Man II,” to use some cinematic superhero comparisons — what we already know about these characters informs the story, and they’re able to learn, grow and breath. But if that sounds too Lifetime Network for your typical young adult reader, don’t worry: they’re also able to kick, punch, defy gravity and shoot wicked blue laser beams. Plus there’s the werewolf. The follow-up’s plot contains several ingenious turns, foremost being the absence of the group’s leader and father figure Doc Silence, conveniently banished to …

Jessie J, Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande: Among the three of them there's maybe one outfit.

5 current top 40 pop songs I actually like, so sue me

I drive my daughter Jackie to school in the morning, and because I’m a swell dad, I let her select the radio station. Occasionally she’ll throw me a bone and put on one of “my stations” — she can sometimes find something she likes on Boston’s WERS or 92.5 The River — but most often we’re in top 40 territory, and I find myself gripping the wheel like a man being tortured by Katy Perry, because that’s what I am. But despite my avowed affinity for rock both classic and modern, sometimes I find myself actually grooving along to the hits (although singing along to them definitely gets the thumbs down — dad vocals and Ariana Grande simply do not mix). It gives me hope, not necessarily for the music industry, which is still dying, but for the chances of me personally not becoming totally irrelevant. To help other pop-challenged parents out there, here’s a list of five current radio hits that you may actually find yourself listening to after your kid’s left the car. Spotify …

Barabara Barnes Sims (lower right) handled marketing and publicity for the famed Sun Records label in her early 20s.

BOOK REVIEW: Barbara Barnes Sims, ‘The Next Elvis’

One thing Barbara Barnes Sims doesn’t do in “The Next Elvis” (LSU Press), the memoir of her time working at Sun Records in the late 1950s, is dish — at least not in the way we’ve come to expect from music-business tell-alls that leave no lurid stone unturned. But oddly enough, Sims’ politeness and vaguely formal style — right down to Dickens-esque section headers like “A Nickname and an Amusing Proposal” — don’t at all detract from the octogenarian’s stories about her tenure doing marketing and publicity for the famed record label in her early 20s. Just the opposite, in fact: It makes her recollections of the legendary Sam Phillips and those in his orbit, including her almost Gump-like encounters with rock and country royalty, all the more endearing. As a 24-year-old woman in a profession dominated by men, as most were at that time, Sims had to feel her way, and made no small number of mistakes — she reports managing to offend Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Wink Martindale (of all people) almost …

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JUST WONDERING: 10 comic book TV questions

I have to admit that I’ve kind of given up lately on brainy, morally ambiguous cable and Netflix shows like “House of Cards,” “Mad Men” and “Boardwalk Empire,” in favor of a genre that is less taxing on my overworked cranium: comic book shows, and Lord knows there’s no shortage this year. But just because I enjoy these hours of action-packed escapism doesn’t mean they don’t leave a few nagging questions in their wake. I’m still a season behind on “Arrow,” so I’ll refrain from sharing my queries on that one in case they’ve since been answered. (Things like, “Oliver Queen’s a billionaire, shouldn’t he own more shirts?”) But maybe the more comic-book-literate can help me answer these: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. 1) When Phil Coulson runs into people he used to know, say from high school or the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy, how does he explain being alive? And has anyone told Captain America yet? 2) Since S.H.I.E.L.D. is officially disbanded and operating as a shadow organization, who’s paying their electric and jet fuel and mercenary bills, …

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How rock reviews might read from the cheap seats

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have gotten rave reviews from the Boston critics for their Aug. 30 Fenway Park show — and I can vouch for the fact that it was an awesome performance. But I can’t help but wonder how reviews would read if the critics were placed in the upper decks among the rabble. Maybe something like this: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers turned in a masterful performance on two big video screens at Fenway Park in Boston last Saturday. The actual human Tom Petty was probably also there, although it was hard to tell him apart from the other people wandering around the tremendous stage in centerfield. It was worth the crick I got in my neck to keep my head turned toward the centerfield screens, even though my seat faced directly toward third base. Mr. Petty told the Boston crowd that Fenway was a wonderful venue, and I’m sure from his vantage point it certainly was. Also stellar were the conversations from the concert goers in my section of the park …

Bob Dylan in the '80s: Volume One

Here’s the proof: Dylan was good in the ’80s

Maybe it’s because it’s when I first discovered Dylan, but I’ve always had a soft spot for his much-maligned ’80s output. I was still an impressionable college sophomore when a friend gave me a mixtape of Dylan songs in an attempt to win me over into the Order of Bob, and he was ecumenical about his choices — he included then-recent songs like “Jokerman” right alongside ’60s tracks like “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.” Sure, you could tell which ones were newer by the general croakiness of Bob’s nasally whine, but I think coming at them without being predisposed as to which were the “classics” helped me appreciate just how intricate and often brilliant those newer lyrics were. Twenty-five years later, that’s definitely something that hasn’t been lost on the contributors to “Bob Dylan in the ’80s” (ATO Records). This album, with many tracks by artists too young to actually remember the ’80s, much less Dylan in them, is one of the most consistent collections of Dylan covers to come along …

Batman v Superman fan mash-up via Comic Book Bros.

A bad feeling about ‘Batman v Superman’

When I saw the above fan mash-up (via Comic Book Bros) of the three character stills from the upcoming “Batman v Superman” movie, it really crystallized the nagging concern I have about the entire project: That these are some of the most depressing sourpusses ever to appear in an action blockbuster. I can’t imagine being stuck at a cocktail party with these three downers, much less pay to see them mope through an entire movie. As Frank Miller made clear with “The Dark Knight Returns” back in 1986 — and as Hollywood has relentlessly reminded us — Batman works as a “dark” hero. His parents were murdered in front of him, he dresses like the angel of death, he’s got “dark” in his nickname, etc. But do we really have to drag Superman and Wonder Woman down with him? These are supposed to be happy, arms-akimbo-in-the-sun kind of heroes, not getting-rained-on-in-muted-colors types. Granted, previous versions have occasionally gone a bit over the top in the patriotic goodness department, what with Superman’s stalwart, underpants-on-top reliability, as …

Indestructibles_Cover

BOOK REVIEW: Matthew Phillion, “The Indestructibles”

Since it was written by a colleague — Matthew Phillion, a fellow Gatehouse Media journalist — I would have likely picked up “The Indestructibles” just as a show of support. But I challenge anyone to resist this plot description, whether you know Matt or not: “A solar powered girl. A ballerina vigilante. A boy with the alien sharing his brain. A werewolf. A girl with a black hole for a heart. This is the next generation of heroes Doc Silence has gathered together, a random collection of amazing kids he hopes to train to make the world a better place.” He had me at werewolf. “The Indestructibles” is a so-called YA novel, although to quote Stephen Colbert, that usually just means it’s a regular novel that people actually read. And this one is definitely well suited to your average 12-year-old superhero fanatic. But if you’re like some of us, you have an inner 12-year-old that you can access at a moment’s notice, sort of like Bruce Banner does with the Hulk in “The Avengers.” (“That’s …

"Mandatory Fun" by "Weird Al" Yankovic

Track-by-Track Album Review: “Weird Al” Yankovic, “Mandatory Fun”

Let’s face it, “Weird Al” Yankovic albums are impervious to typical reviews — you either appreciate his song and style parodies, or there’s something wrong with you. (“He who is tired of ‘Weird Al’ is tired of life,” to quote Homer Simpson.) That said, it would be hard for anyone to deny that Al’s latest effort, “Mandatory Fun,” continues the late-career renaissance that began with 2006’s “Straight Outta Lynwood.” (A run only slightly outmatched by the actual Renaissance.) He may not cover a lot of new ground, but as this track-by-track rundown shows, Yankovic is as Al as ever. I’ll try not to overuse the word “brilliant,” but it will be hard. 1) “Handy” (parody of Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”). Some of Al’s best songs have taken the form of commercials — I’ve always been partial to “King of Suede,” probably because of my family history with haberdashery — and his latest, featuring a handyman pleading for clients to “Let me glue dat, glue dat, and screw dat, screw dat,” preserves his pitchman tradition beautifully. **** …

Eden Sher as Sue Heck.

A belated love letter to Sue Heck

I have a sister-in-law who shall remain nameless who has unironically embraced a new life philosophy, which she has dubbed “WWSHD” – “What Would Sue Heck Do?” Several days into this endeavor she sat down at our kitchen table and declared, “It’s not easy being Sue Heck.” Kermit the Frog couldn’t have said it better. For the uninformed out there (whomever you are) Sue Heck is the daughter on the ABC sitcom “The Middle,” known for her unflappable cheerfulness and optimism in the face of adversity — things like none of her classmates knowing her name despite having gone to school with her for 10 years, or getting sunburn during a hand-touching-car endurance competition because her mother bought sunscreen at a garage sale. “The Middle” can be a downbeat show for such an over-the-top family sitcom — mom Frankie’s desperation in her attempts to create a happy familial atmosphere, played beautifully by Patricia Heaton, is ultimately pathetic and familiar at the same time, right up through when she invariably loses it and declares “This family …

This Thomas Land is at Drayton Manor Theme Park in the U.K., and it's coming to America next year, whether we want it to or not.

Thomas Land is coming! You’ve been warned

Yes, there were times as a toddler when my son Tim, now 12, would have fits in the supermarket, or demand to be carried for hours on end, or point at things and grunt and expect immediate service, like some rich mute person making demands of his butler. (Actually he still kind of does that last one, but I don’t hop to it like I used to. At least not as fast.) But one thing I still thank him for was his taste in children’s television. My daughter went through a Barney phase that I’m convinced left pockets of saccharine in my brain that exist there to this day — that show was a prime example of what happens when you let PhDs design a television show. (Spoiler alert: Nothing good.) But Timmy had good taste right from the start, almost immediately developing an affinity for Sesame Street and, even more so, the Henson Co.-produced “Bear in the Blue House.” Getting to watch those shows almost made it worth being his butler. Here’s a whole episode …

Emblem3: Admit it, they're adorable.

What Bruce Springsteen could learn from Emblem3

My regular readers may recall my ongoing connection with the boy band Emblem3 — they’re the “X-Factor” finalists with whom I arranged a face-to-face interview with my then-14-year-old daughter, my single most significant fatherly moment since I rescued her from being run over by an oncoming sled when she was 4. I’m sure there were other things in between, but those two stand out. Regardless, this week I pledged to help Jackie get tickets to one of Emblem3’s “Fireside Story Sessions,” which are sort of like FDR’s fireside chats, except instead of FDR and a fireplace you get three young men with impeccable abdominal muscles or adorably tousled hair, or both, depending on which combination of them you’re talking about. And when I started to read about the sessions, it occurred to me that this is something every band in America should be doing, not just the ones with abs. Here’s how they frame it at Emblem3.com (natch): We’re inviting you to hang with us around the campfire for a super intimate, personal, and stripped …

Hugh Jackman is the one in the middle.

The Tonys rock (and not just because of Neil Patrick Harris)

Thanks to my budding thespian daughter, I wound up watching the entire Tony Awards last night. Given that I can’t recall the last time I watched an entire anything, this is a big achievement. And when it ended I was left thinking that every awards show should do it exactly like this, even if it means having Broadway actors come in and play the movie actors during the Oscars ceremony. (Except for Jennifer Lawrence, so the world wouldn’t have to be denied her adorable-ness.) Five observations in support of that theory: 1) It’s almost shocking to see presenters and recipients who can actually, you know, speak, unlike some others I could mention. They’re all natural and funny, as if they’re used to being up in front of an audience or something. The only one who had any trouble was Clint Eastwood, who has an excuse because he’s old and he’s Clint Eastwood. Plus when we saw there wasn’t an empty chair next to him the entire country breathed a collective sigh of relief. 2) They …

If anyone knows talent, it's this bunch.

We come in praise of ‘America’s Got Talent’

I’ll say right off that I am not a fan of talent competition shows, with their rosy-cheeked overachieving would-be Mariahs and dysfunctional judges panels. But that’s not to say there haven’t been exceptions — one would be “The Sing Off,” because I’m a sucker for cheesy a capella groups covering classic pop hits, and I like hearing Ben Folds talk about music — it sounds like another language to me, but a soothing one, like Norwegian. And the other would be “America’s Got Talent,” because it gives the weirdos somewhere to go, other than armed into America’s shopping malls. In just the first two episodes of this latest season, I’ve already come across: 1) A small child who turns playing cards into deadly weapons, like Bullseye in the old Daredevil comics; 2) Two nerdy white guys pretending to do martial arts, one wearing what looks like a Mexican wrestler’s mask; 3) A 90-plus-year-old man who could pull a car — filled with his elderly friends! — with his teeth; 4) Motorcycles that I’m convinced must …

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CD Review: Spottiswoode & His Enemies, “Wild Goosechase Expedition”

It’s a good bet that whoever says there’s no such thing as an original idea — in music or otherwise — has not taken a good close listen to Jonathan Spottiswoode. The London-raised performer has a popular following in New York City, but many might not know what to make of the gravelly-voiced singer-songwriter’s theatrical rock adventures, touched as they are with elements of jazz, folk, Broadway and Leonard Cohen-style poetic musings. Have I lost you yet? If you’re still reading, you may just be the target audience for “Wild Goosechase Expedition” (Old Soul Records), an ambitious, far-reaching 17-track song cycle that’s ostensibly about a tour gone bad but can be seen as nothing short of an analogy for life itself (the “Wild Goosechase” of the title). Or maybe they’re just a bunch of songs — with Spottiswoode, you never know. Spottiswoode breaks the album into four sections, kicking off with the innocuously titled “Setting Out” and gradually working toward the much darker “Starvation and Surrender” segment that closes out the record. Things start out …

CD Review: Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata, “The Hills are Alive”

Did you ever wonder what Tales from Topographic Oceans might sound like if it were written by Rodgers and Hammerstein instead of Jon Anderson and Steve Howe? Me neither, but that’s just the type of question that tends to pop into your head when listening to Brooklyn Rundfunk Orkestrata’s The Hills are Alive (Canal Records), the instrumental rock quartet’s loopy re-imagining of the songs from The Sound of Music. Not that any of the songs, featuring a bevy of guest vocalists like Jane Siberry and Carole Pope, resemble the collected works of Yes, per se — although there are more than a few moments of progressive rock grandeur among the varied genres that make up the disc. It’s a whiplash-worthy tour de force through a melange of styles that, for the most part, have very little in common, other than being the last things in the world you’d associate with Rodgers and Hammerstein. Although on second thought, they do share one more thing: A clear love and respect for the material, which is probably why …

Farkakte Film Flashback: “Are You Ready for the Summer?” Edition

Given that as I write this, the forecast for the week is a steady snow starting on Tuesday and tapering off sometime in 2013, I have decided to spend the remainder of the winter in Aruba. Unfortunately, like James Taylor with Carolina, I can only afford to go there in my mind, where the airfares are cheap and I look much less globular and pasty while sunbathing. But imagining I’m warm and that my lawn doesn’t resemble the surface of the moon only goes so far. I find it’s also helpful to tune into some movies that put me in a more summery mood and remind me that in just a few short months I’ll be back at the beach, where I will be chewed to death by a giant shark. But even if Jaws (1975) has many of the elements that epitomize the summer movie, including sand, surf, skinny-dipping and Robert Shaw being bitten in half, it’s missing one important component of all great summer flicks: Bobcat Goldthwait in a Godzilla costume. Also Annette …

The Pop Culture Year That Wasn’t: Top Stories of (Fake) 2010

Popdose teams up with world-renowned CAP News for a look at the most important pop culture stories of the past year. February: Stern Gets Ellen, Kara DioGuardi to Kiss at Idol Audition HOLLYWOOD (CAP) – Howard Stern got off to a good start during his audition to replace Simon Cowell on American Idol, convincing fellow judges Ellen DeGeneres and Kara DioGuardi to make out on camera. “C’mon, just one kiss. I won’t be able to concentrate on the contestants unless we get this out of the way,” Stern can be seen saying on the audition tape, which was acquired by TMZ.com. “Make out for 30 seconds and we can all get on with our day.” “OK, now with tongues,” he added when they finally acquiesced, prompting a three-minute kissing and fondling session. “Wow, that was really the last thing I expected to happen,” said Ellen afterward, adding it wasn’t the type of thing she’d usually do. DioGuardi, however, admitted that it’s the type of thing she does “all the time.” “I mean, just look at …

CD Review: Frank Turner, “Rock & Roll”

Leave it to British folk-rock rebel Frank Turner to come in under the wire for 2010 with Rock & Roll, a five-song EP that offers 17 of the most compelling minutes of music released this year – and that, despite its brevity, more than lives up to the promise of its title. Not necessarily so much in style, which incorporates folk, punk, roots and balladry as much as it does shout-to-the-rafters rock ’n’ roll. But the spirit is pure rock – Turner has always been a missionary for the redemptive power of picking up a guitar, and like his stellar full-length 2009 album Poetry of the Deed, Rock & Roll seems designed to shake the cobwebs off anyone who ever doubted that three chords could change your life. In fact, on the opening track, the arena-ready “I Still Believe,” Turner declares, “Who would have thought that after all, something as simple as rock & roll could save us all?” and he sings it like he means it. It’s a driving, guitar-heavy number complete with a …