music review: Joshua Fletcher

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Nashville-based and former ATL resident, Joshua Fletcher created a bevy of moving alt-folk songs with heart and his baritone vocals. “The Eye and the Storm” is a romantic song with lyrics such as “I get so caught up in your eyes, in the shapes of your smile, in the way the rain comes awash in the blues. I get so caught up in your lips, in the songs of your hips . . .” Beats pick-up on the full band, infectious drumming and harmonica-infused “We are All Alone.” Whispery tender vocals on “To Find Your Name.” Then there’s the compelling arrangement of “Wheels.”

There’s enough variety but definitely a distinctive flair to Fletcher’s songs– a bit wistful, definitely thoughtful and eminently passionate. He sings about relationships and being alone and belonging. Lovely songwriting and a beautiful album. This is what to listen to hanging out on the back porch or during a romantic dinner. Portland, Oregon-based The Damnwells’ Alex Dezen produced the album.

Joshua Fletcher
Ready, Aim
In Music We Trust
Release date: May 26, 2015

RECOMMENDATION: BUY/Download NOW

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TV review: Hoarders: Family Secrets

may 28 hoarders

The critically acclaimed, Emmy-nominated franchise Hoarders, premieres an all-new season on Lifetime. Titled Hoarders: Family Secrets, the program features original stories of people who obsessively hoard to the extent that it overwhelms their families and their lives. The one-hour series premiere focuses on a Massachusetts family and will feature live segments culminating in an all-live intervention. The episode will also feature the story of a second, recidivist hoarder who faces jail time if he doesn’t pass a final city inspection.

Some hoarders face eviction, divorce, ruined relationships or the removal of minor children from their homes. They reveal their hoarding to family and friends for the first time and seek help from the Hoarders experts: Dr. Suzanne Chabaud, Dr. Robin Zasio, Dr. Michael Tompkins, Dr. Scott Hannan, Dr. Melva Green and Mark Pfeffer. Cleanup and organizing team include Dorothy Breininger, Matt Paxton, Cory Chalmers, Standolyn Robertson and Darnita Payden.

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I didn’t find Hoarders: Family Secrets different from other seasons of Hoarders. Hoarding is always listed as the beginning as a disease/ a mental illness. I wonder what would happen if a show focused on the 60% of us fighting with mental illness. It would be a lot of lying in bed and crying. In former seasons, family members DO find out about the hoarding and in some cases lost touch with the hoarder and hadn’t been in the hoarder’s house for years. No shattering secrets were revealed in the episode I screened which airs next week. The second episode revolves around Joyce [Huntsburg, Ohio] and Kimberly.

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Joyce: “My house is a mess and I’m embarrassed to show it to you.” Hoarders does exploit these awful situations. The animal hoarding disturbs me the most. I’m not sure the benefit in watching this show except that people who have piles of things think “I’ll never become a hoarder. I’ll never get that bad.” How do shows like this or Intervention benefit viewers? Joyce’s husband Wallace cleared out two rooms for herself and forbids her to enter them. He finally gives her an ultimatum, the hoarding gets cleared or the marriage ends. Dr. Green says that Joyce shows compulsive shopping tendencies, hoarding and anger and frustration toward her husband. At one point, Joyce says she doesn’t plan to remain with her husband any longer but by episode’s end they decide to remain in the same house even if it’s in more of a housemate capacity. Kimberly is an optometric tech. She works and her house looks filthy with trash. She’s not able to use the shower or bath. How does she manage to work and pay her bills if she has trash and piles of worthless things everywhere? I wish for once when there’s a working hoarder they’d show how she prepares for work in that filth and in a house where she often cannot use the bathroom or shower or tub. Every day they come in and wake Kimberly up to get to work on sorting through her hoarding mess.

Hoarders: Family Secrets premieres Thursday, May 28, at 9pm ET/PT

 

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TV/film review: Grace of Monaco

Kidman as Grace Kelly

Kidman as Grace Kelly

Grace of Monaco premiered at Cannes Film Festival with much pomp and hype from Weinstein Films in 2013. It’s the type of film that an Oscar winner like Nicole Kidman covets: playing an Oscar-winning actress who left Hollywood to marry Monaco’s Prince Rainier [played by Tim Roth]. There’s political unrest [France wants to tax or take-over Monaco—it was honestly quite confusing so I don’t know what was going on and wasn’t therefore interested] and an unhappy new princess. Grace Kelly starred in many well-known films such as Dial M for Murder, High Noon, Rear Window, To Catch a Thief, High Society and The Country Girl for which she won an Academy Award. Grace of Monaco covers the 1962 summer in which she considers Alfred Hitchcock’s offer to star in Marnie. She misses acting. She’s not happy with her perception as an American outsider. She states: “I don’t know how I’m going to spend the rest of my life in the place where I can’t be me.”

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She’d been married several years [she married Prince Rainier, who she met at Cannes, in 1956 and already had two children Caroline and Albert at this time. Incidentally her family paid a $2 million dowry for her to marry the Prince. Grace Kelly grew up in a wealthy Philadelphia family. Also in 1918, France decreed that if Prince Rainier did not produce an heir Monaco would revert to France. These are facts that weren’t included in the biopic. That would have been way more interesting. Grace Kelly is a baby maker and pretty face for Prince Rainier. Nothing more than that. Marrying a Prince doesn’t look like any happily-ever-after that any young woman should covet particularly when you’re giving up your voice and your vocation.

the fabulous Parker Posey as Madge

the fabulous Parker Posey as Madge

Parker Posey stars as the questionable assistant Madge. Is she out for Grace Kelly’s demise? Posey shines in the buttoned-up role. As she always does. Paz Vega portrays opera singer Maria Callas with flair. Nicole Kidman plays wistful and disappointed well. However Kidman plays too schmaltzy rather than radiating Kelly’s elegance and sophistication. And we just don’t get under her ennui and dissatisfaction and ultimate desire to stay in Monaco. The preposterous script by Arash Amel [Erased] falls flat with unrealistic dialogue. The direction by Olivier Dahan [La Vie en Rose] proves listless. Not enough Grace Kelly and too much politics. There’s zero chemistry between Kidman and Tim Roth. What kind of twisted business arrangement to take an Academy-Award winner away from her career at the height of its success?

Grace of Monaco premieres on Lifetime Monday, May 25 at 8pm ET/PT.

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New Music: Dead Sara; Duelle; Nicola Elias

women in music. I love to support them. I love to listen to them. Nothing like women making music.

Dead Sara, “Something Good”

high-energy blended with a bit of Americana. Great driving song. Great get up and out song. Powerful. The band is fronted by singer Emily Armstrong and guitarist Siouxsie Medley. vocals strong and gritty like Melissa Etheridge. beautiful vintage-tinged video directed by actor/director Giovanni Ribisi. The video was shot in downtown Los Angeles, historic Union Station and Pasadena. Dead Sara‘s sophomore album Pleasure to Meet You is out now.

Duelle, “Ice”

what a cool song with mesmerizing vocals and infectious, mellow beats by Miami-based sister EDM duo Danielle and Gabrielle Verderese.

Nicola Elias, “Social Anxiety”

for Mental Health Awareness Month, someone shared this lovely, haunting song by British singer/songwriter Nicola Elias. Superb talent. Her voice reminds me a bit of Lily Allen. The song flows beautifully.

 

 

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book review: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

life and death of sophie stark

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark By Anna North.
Blue Rider Press| May 19, 2015|288 pages |$26.95| ISBN: 978-0399173394

Rating: *****/5*

Want an engrossing read for the weekend? This book grabbed my attention from its title, cover and first pages. I was captivated and couldn’t stop reading. It’s a fascinating novel about creativity, artists, fitting in and being satisfied with success, fame and how we perceive ourselves and how we want others to understand us. Sophie Stark, who changed her name to suit her persona, is a renowned and elusive filmmaker. She makes enigmatic and often strikingly sad, honest films that strip bare the characters and dig into their psyches.

Author Anna North creatively writes through various viewpoints of those close to Sophie at some point or another– Sophie’s girlfriend Allison; her songwriter boyfriend Jacob (later husband); an older film producer George; former college crush Daniel and her brother Peter. Daniel describes Sophie: “She was that kind of alternative girl with a camera. She’s a director now.” Sophie has a strange magnetic control over all these individuals by simultaneously annoying them [“Her voice wasn’t rude, just flat, without feeling.”]; scaring them [“Sophie was worse than I’d thought, further away from normal. The coldness I’d seen in her movies wasn’t something she just called up every now and then to help her with a scene; it was the way she was.”] and interesting them [“I think she knew that I still loved her and that‘d be flattered that she needed me.”]. Sophie wasn’t well-liked in college or high school. She never fit in. She’s offbeat and stand-offish even when trying to market her films. She just doesn’t seem to care. But yet she does. She wants to be liked. She wants people to understand her through her films. Her brother says: “I realized then that Sophie did care what other people thought—at least, she liked to be praised.”

Sophie manages to get those close to her to reveal dark, personal moments and memories and then exploits them through her film-making. Jacob admits: “At the same time, I wanted to hold Sophie’s interest. I felt like I was performing for her—I didn’t know whether it was a good performance or a bad one, but I didn’t want to stop. And I didn’t like the way Sophie was looking at me, like she’s given me a challenge I was failing to rise to.” Allison starred in Marianne based on her experience being raped in her hometown in West Virginia. She thinks: “I’d gone to so much trouble to tell a good story about my life, a story that was exciting and didn’t make me look bad, and now the cast and crew and anyone who saw the movie would see the other story anyway. They would see me letting Peter do something I didn’t want; they would see me fearful and helpless and struggling.” This is Anna North’s second novel. The first, America Pacifica, came out in 2011. She’s a currently a staff editor at The New York Times and has been a writer and editor at Jezebel, BuzzFeed, and Salon.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Net Galley.

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purchase at Amazon: The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

 

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music preview: The Rentals at The Middle East Thursday May 21

rentals

who:

fronted by ex-Weezer bassist/vocalist Matt Sharp. Various band members since its inception in the mid-90s. The band broke up in 1999 and re-formed in 2005. New album released last summer.

sound:

Generally upbeat, catchy alt-rock/ surf-rock songs. compositions revolving around Moog synthesizer. male/female vocals. sometimes sounds darker like Echo and the Bunnymen and sometimes sounds like The Breeders.

discography:

Return of the Rentals (Maverick Records, 1995)
Seven More Minutes (Maverick Records, 1999)
Lost in Alphaville (Polyvinyl Records, 2014).

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ON TOUR now. Playing The Middle East, Cambridge, Mass on Thursday, May 21

Tour Dates:

SAT 16 MAY–Bottom Lounge–Chicago, IL, US

MON 18 MAY–The Loving Touch–Ferndale, MI, US

TUE 19 MAY–Lee’s Palace–Toronto, ON, Canada

WED 20 MAY–Théâtre Fairmount–Montreal, QC, Canada

THU 21 MAY–The Middle East Downstairs–Cambridge, MA, US

FRI 22 MAY–Music Hall of Williamsburg–Brooklyn, NY, US

SAT 23 MAY–Rock & Roll Hotel–Washington, DC, US

MON 25 MAY–Mercy Lounge–Nashville, TN, US

TUE 26 MAY–The Masquerade – Hell Stage–Atlanta, GA, US

WED 27 MAY–One Eyed Jacks–New Orleans, LA, US

THU 28 MAY–Walter’s Downtown–Houston, TX, US

FRI 29 MAY–Club Dada–Dallas, TX, US

SAT 30 MAY–The Parish–Austin, TX, US

TUE 2 JUNE–The Crescent Ballroom–Phoenix, AZ, US

WED 3 JUNE–The Bunkhouse Saloon– Las Vegas, NV, US

THU 4 JUNE—Irenic–San Diego, CA, US

FRI 5 JUNE–El Rey Theatre–Los Angeles, CA, US

SAT 6 JUNE–Constellation Room at the Observatory–Santa Ana, CA, US

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ON TOUR: Parade of Lights with AWOLNATION

Los Angeles-based alt-electro band Parade of Lights will release its debut album Feeling Electric [Astralwerks Records] on June 2. Pre-order the album at iTunes. They embark on tour with AWOLNATION in June and July. The first date is June 16 in Richmond, VA and the tour winds up in Detroit. The band hits House of Blues in Boston on June 26.

parade of lights

Parade of Lights is:
lead vocalist/guitarist Ryan Daly
drummer Anthony Improgo
bassist Randy Schulte
keyboardist Michelle Ashley

6/16 Richmond, VA @ The National
6/18 Silver Springs, MD @The Fillmore Silver Spring
6/22 Toronto, ON @ Sound Academy
6/23 Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
6/25 Boston, MA @ House of Blues
6/26 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
6/27 New York, NY @ Irving Plaza
6/28 Buffalo, NY @ Town Ballroom
6/30 Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues
7/01 Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s
7/02 Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore

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