Album Review: Anar

Anar by Marketa Irglova (ANTI-, 2011. 49 minutes) Marketa Irglova is a Czech singer-songwriter, noted for her work with Glen Hansard, The Frames, as well as The Swell Season. She also co-starred with Hansard on the independent movie Once. Pomegranates and Music Anar is the Persian word for pomegranate, a most appropriate title for Irglova’s first solo record. Much like eating a pomegranate, you have to sit down and scour the entire album to pull out the edible seeds of concentrated flavor and goodness. It takes time for the emotional depth of the album to sink in. The penultimate track, “Dokhtar Goochani”, is a slowed-down Iranian song, undoubtedly influenced from Aida Shahghasemi, an Iranian drummer and vocalist who contributes on… Read More →

Album Review: Mylo Xyloto

Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay (Parlophone, 2011. 44 minutes) Coldplay are a British alternative rock band led by vocalist Chris Martin. Recently produced by Brian Eno, Coldplay has enjoyed a high level of acclaim and success. The band has won numerous awards throughout their career, including seven Grammy Award wins from twenty Grammy Award nominations. Coldplay has sold over 50 million records worldwide. What is in a Name? “Mylo Xyloto.” Upon hearing these words, the first thing that came to mind was this exact thought: what? Martin claims that it means “xylo toes”, as in musical toes from a xylophone. But, album title aside, Mylo Xyloto is wonderful. Despite the aid of Brian Eno, it took me a while to get… Read More →

Christmas Albums 2011: #3 – A Very She & Him Christmas

A Very She & Him Christmas by She & Him (Merge Records, 2011. 32 minutes) She & Him is comprised of Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward, and was originally formed in the city of Portland, Oregon. A Very She & Him Christmas marks the band’s third release, following their previous albums Volume One(2008), and Volume Two (2010). My Exception  I must confess that I love Zooey Deschanel. Ever since she appeared in the movie Elf, I have found her sarcastic wit and beautiful, sultry voice to be absolutely breathtaking. Especially in this highly produced and vocally auto-tuned age, I find her voice refreshing. Having stated my confession, I bought A Very She & Him Christmas, as well as She &… Read More →

Concert Review: The National, Local Natives, and Wye Oak

Tour Poster The National, Local Natives, and Wye Oak (Concert at The Neptune Theatre, Seattle. December 1, 2001)  Wye Oak  Wye Oak is an indie folk band, comprised of only two members. Andy Stack plays drums, keyboards, and sings backup vocals, while Jenn Wasner sings lead vocals and plays guitar. Formed in 2006 in Maryland, the band has already found wide acclaim and been featured in the television show The Walking Dead. Photo by Renee Barrera When a drummer and a vocalist/guitarist walk on stage you rarely expect something extraordinary. However, that word summarizes Wye Oak nicely. For starters, Andy Stack played the drums and the keyboard simultaneously. At first, his keyboard playing was simple bass lines, but soon it… Read More →

Christmas Albums 2011: #2 – Under The Mistletoe

Under the Mistletoe by Justin Bieber (Island Records, 2001. 38 Minutes) Born in 1994, Justin Bieber has received several awards including a Juno award for best pop album of the year for My World 2.0 in 2011. He was also nominated for Best New Artist and Best Pop Vocal Album at the 53rd Grammy Awards. A teen idol, his best known song is “Baby”, of which the music video is currently ranked as the most discussed Youtube video. I’m not a Belieber First, let me say I don’t like Justin Bieber, and never have. I find his teen pop vocals disturbingly bad, and frankly now that he’s no longer a high voiced soprano, any novelty that was associated with him is… Read More →

Christmas Albums 2011: #1 – Christmas

Christmas by Michael Bublé (Reprise Records, 2011. 52 minutes) Michael Bublé is a Canadian singer and actor, who found wide acclaim interestingly through performances at business parties, and later a wedding. He has won three grammy awards for best traditional pop album, and multiple Juno awards as well. With his 2007 album, Call Me Irresponsible, he reached the top of the Billboard top 200 chart. Christmas Time! Christmas time is here, and with it, new Christmas albums. These albums range from good to bad, but a few have caught my attention. So be forewarned; I will be reviewing one album a week through Christmas with an effort to spread the word and good cheer. So, Merry Christmas! Crooners Michael Bublé’s album, Christmas,… Read More →

Album Review: Metals

Metals by Feist (Cherrytree Records, 2011. 50 minutes) Feist is the stage name for Canadian singer-songwriter, Leslie Feist. Having played in bands since she was 15, Feist rose to fame as a member of Toronto-based indie rock group, Broken Social Scene. While touring with the band, she recorded a collection of songs that eventually became her first solo record, Let It Die which won her two Juno Awards. Her second major label release, The Reminder, was certified gold in the U.S. and won her a Juno Award for album of the year. Her latest record, Metals, has received widespread critical acclaim. Palladium My wedding ring is composed of palladium. With the chemical symbol Pd and an atomic number of 46, Palladium,… Read More →

Book Review: The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman (New York: Penguin Group, 2009. 402pp). Lev Grossman is the senior writer and book critic for TIME. Among several notable publications, he has written for The New York Times, Wired, and The Wall Street Journal. At only forty-two years of age, he is beginning to gain wide acclaim for his work in TIME magazine as well as his novels. Doubt and Humanity I love fantasy novels. I find that they provide a way of escape from a world filled with some terrible things. In fact, I re-read The Chronicles of Narnia every summer, and have done so since I was about fifteen years old. I’ve also read the Harry Potter novels, and loved every moment. Unlike Harry… Read More →

Concert Review: Bon Iver and Other Lives

Concert at the Paramount Theatre, Seattle. September 26, 2011 The Opener I’ve been to three concerts lately where the opening act is just as good, if not better, than what I came to see. This phenomenon certainly rang true when Bon Iver came to town. His opening act was Other Lives. Like most opening acts, I was incredibly skeptical at first. But, soon a voice akin to Brandon Summers (frontman of Helio Sequence), with complex instrumental melodic lines intertwined with atmospheric bliss changed my mind.  The band is a Sigur Ros LP and a Godspeed You! Black Emperor album all rolled up in one. Unlike Sigur Ros (or Bon Iver for that matter), the lyrics are actually aurally intelligible.  I immediately swam… Read More →

Musical Review: How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying

 How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying directed and choreographed by Rob Ashford, music and lyrics by Frank Loesser (Playing at AlHirschfeld Theatre, 2 hours and 45 minutes) Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Rose Hemingway, John Larroquette, Tammy Blanchard, and Christopher J. Hanke. On Broadway For those unaware, my wife and I recently returned from a trip to New York. I had the opportunity to present a paper at an international business ethics conference and we spent some time afterward “vacationing.” If I had to pick one unanimous piece of advice given by those who have traveled to New York before us, it would be “see a Broadway show.” Since tickets cost an arm and a leg, Tara and I waited… Read More →