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new music: Boudoir Noir; Esquela; Slow Coyote

Boudoir Noir, “Endless Dawn”

–dark cabaret-style which combines electronica, a bit of hip-hop/ world music beats, lush compositions and varied instrumentation. become engulfed in the haunting aspect of this single. nearly anything dark as long as it’s not metal, I’ll probably be into it. based in Flint, Michigan, Boudoir Noir is: Maria Fournier- vocals, guitar, production Beni Schlatter- drums, production Graham Rockwood- bass. Fournier’s impressive range complements the intriguing arrangements. Boudoir Noir’s Endless Dawn EP– which I’ve listened to many times over– comes out June 3. These are talented musicians. All three members of Boudoir Noir have formally studied music formally–Maria Fournier at Berklee College of Music, Graham Rockwood at Eastern Michigan and Beni Schlatter at U of Michigan– Flint. Boudoir Noir is a band to watch for 2016.

Esquela, “Gold Digger”

— rootsy, funky with twangy, rousing rhythms and grooving melodies. There’s a jovial vibe that must translate to a fun show. I’d definitely see Esquela live with beer in hand. From the band’s third album third release Canis Majoris. Esquela is: John “Chico” Finn [bass/vocals]; Becca Frame [vocals]; Brian Shafer: [guitar]; Todd Russell [drums/vocals]; Matt Woodin [guitar].


Slow Coyote, “American Cream”

–subdued, stripped down folk/acoustic with a longing and aching I find appealing. Portsmouth, NH’s Slow Coyote –aka Lucas Perry– notes that he’s played over 100 shows. He also performs spoken word poetry at his gigs. This single is off his new album, End of the Highway.

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new music: nav/attack; tindersticks

nav/attack, “More Wins”

named by L.A. Weekly as one of 10 Los Angeles artists to watch in 2016, art-pop, synth band nav/attack have its self-titled debut album out now. The music mixes piano, trumpet, drums and bass with drum machines, computer speech, vocoders and vintage samplers. Los Angeles-based artist, producer and engineer Andrew Lynch stated that the name nav/attack moniker is derived from “an ’80s “War Games-esque” software that uses a computer to locate a specific target and relay information back to its human counterpart. To avoid misunderstandings with a computer, you must learn its language.” Andrew Lynch studied film and video at Academy of Art in San Francisco. He has recorded music for Christopher Guest‘s film For Your Consideration and Drew Barrymore‘s directorial debut Whip It.

tindersticks, “were we once lovers?”

another short-film out accompanies this gorgeous and hypnotic song from British band tindersticks. I’ve liked this band for some time. Its sound is romantic, wistful and evocative. The video, directed by Pierre Vinour, is a strange and intense car trip. Rather fitting for the song. The new album The Waiting Room [City Slang] is out January 22nd. The album features short films for each song. Directors include Christoph Girardet, Claire Denis, Rosie Pedlow and Joe King (who directed the “Hey Lucinda” video), Gregorio Graziosi, and Gabriel Sanna (who directed the “We Are Dreamers!” video).

Of the video, Stuart Staples stated: In the early 90s Pierre Vinour made an iconic short film called ‘Paris – Marchseille’ – a time lapse view of the journey through a car window condensed into three minutes ending by driving off the edge of France into the sea. When I saw this film I felt an immediate connection with ‘Were We Once Lovers?’ – the speed of the journey, but I also felt that the song was speeding through the drivers mind. I was pleased that Pierre felt that connection also and he set to work building on this idea. Still, I was still not prepared for the effect the final film had on me. The clenching intensity I felt when making the song was literally doubled. I love it but I can’t wait to be released from it, it holds me in this strange limbo.”

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TV News: Amanda de Cadenet speaks with Secretary Clinton on The Conversation

First, I’m not sure if The Conversation is returning as a series to Lifetime. This sounds like a one-off special. Following Amanda de Cadenet on Twitter, I think it airs online. Second, I have zero idea who any of the YouTube  “personalities,” “experts” or “influencers” are or how one becomes one. Is this now something that millennials and the next generation aspire to be? But kudos to young women for speaking out. I’m a GenXer. I just don’t understand that kind of celebrity.

On Wednesday, January 13 at 10pm ET/PT on Lifetime will air an exclusive one-hour presentation of The Conversation with Amanda de Cadenet featuring Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. de Cadenet and Clinton discuss her childhood, life as a grandmother and what drives her to run for President of the United States. The two discuss issues facing women and girls, the importance of friendship, the definition of success and the best advice Clinton’s ever received.

conversation special

For the second part of the special, de Cadenet invites social media influencers – comedian and YouTube personality GloZell Green, fashion expert and stylist Chriselle Lim and creator of the “Be Shameless” movement, Maya Washington to discuss a variety of topics important to women.

The Conversation airs Wednesday, January 15 at 10pm ET/PT on Lifetime.

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book review: Sweet Forgiveness

sweet forgiveness

Sweet Forgiveness By Lori Nelson Spielman.
Plume| June 2, 2015| 355 pages |$16.00| ISBN: 978-0-14-751676-3

Rating: ****/5*

An engrossing read that’ll keep you busy at the beach, during a quiet weekend in the woods or in a café drinking ice coffee. Whatever your summer plans, take this fast-paced, creative novel with you. It’s not predictable and contains wonderful, strong characters. It centers on New Orleans local news reporter Hannah Farr and the Forgiveness Stone craze, started by someone who bullied her in school. Hannah received the stones from the Forgiveness Stone creator Fiona Knowles but she’s yet to return a stone to Fiona or send a stone on to someone else.

When her job hits a low spot and she’s interviewing at a station in Denver, she decides that the forgiveness stones might make a good story and allow her to reconcile with her mother who she’s not seen in decades. For years, Hannah’s been involved with New Orleans Mayor who seems to have no desire to be with Hannah full-time. When Hannah decides to head home to see her mother as research for the story it sets many components in motion. Will she be able to come to terms with a dark secret in her past and move on to a happy and productive life?

“The first Monday in July, I load my suitcase in my trunk, struck again by the almost nonexistent footprint I leave these days. I still talk with Dorothy and Jade every day, but I have no job, no boyfriend, or husband or child to kiss good-bye or worry about. It’s both liberating and horrifying, knowing how easily I can disappear. I put the key in the ignition and buckle my seat belt, hoping to drive the ache from my heart.”

Hannah proves resilient and empathetic as she goes through much trauma in re-visiting her past. Her mom is happy to see her. Her mayor boyfriend fears ruining his own reputation and chances for election. He’s not interested in Hannah’s personal despair and makes that quite clear. Finally Hannah understands that he’s been using her as a showpiece, a date to bring around to charity events and political fundraisers. Perhaps he never truly loved her as she loved him. As Hannah faces fall-out from this relationship and her collapsing career at the news station when a segment about the Forgiveness Stones ends up going terribly amiss, she must pick herself up and reinvent herself in another capacity. It’s a quick read and you’ll instantly become invested in Hannah’s challenges and triumphs.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Penguin Random House.

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purchase at Amazon: Sweet Forgiveness: A Novel

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music review: Hannah Miller


Nashville-based singer-songwriter Hannah Miller composes edgy folk songs on her self-titled album out today. Her sonorous, introspective and sometimes haunting vocals perfectly suit her passionate and commanding lyrics. Portishead vibes through dark, serene electronica blips and hip percussion on “Help Me Out” as well as the ardent “Been Around.” “Fighting” is a contemplative song about relationship challenges. A mesmerizing lounge feel propels “You Don’t Call.” Sweeter lyrics and melody on the soothing “Watchman.” Things grow deep on the rather lovely and contemplative “Outside In”—“always been on the outside looking in/tired of trying doors that don’t open.” Hannah Miller will sonically and spiritually swathe you through this exquisite album.


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book review: Ongoingness


Ongoingness: The End of a Diary By Sarah Manguso.
Graywolf Press| March 2015.|95 pages |$20.00| ISBN: 978-1-55597-703-0

Rating: *****/5*

“Living in a dream of the future is considered a character flaw. Living in the past, bathed in nostalgia, is also considered a character flaw. Living in the present moment is hailed as spiritually admirable, but truly ignoring the lessons of history or failing to plan for tomorrow are considered character flaws.”

In this riveting pithy memoir, author Sarah Manguso writes about her experience writing daily in a journal for 25 years. It arrived on my doorstep one evening. I opened the memoir the next morning and read straight through before I needed to shower and head to an appointment. On moments. On being. On mindfulness and awareness. What has she learned? Why does she do it? She describes one goal: “My behavior was an attempt to stop time before it swept me up. It was an attempt to stay safe, free to detach before life and time became too intertwined for me to write down, as a detached observer, what had happened.”

Manguso soon realizes, particularly after the birth of her son, that living in the moment might be best and need not be written. By analyzing her journal she could detach from the past and center herself: “All I could see in the world were beginnings and endings: moments to survive, record, and, once recorded, safely forgot.” Manguso writes: “I wrote about myself so I wouldn’t become paralyzed by rumination—so I could stop thinking about what had happened and be done with it.” That’s a positive. Then: “Imagining life without the diary, even one week without it, spurred a panic that I might as well be dead.” That’s problematic. She went through her journal at one point and eliminated an entire year because she felt nothing of interest occurred. Would think that would drive up her anxiety level.

Many of us keep journals to record our thoughts and activities. We keep mood journals to record our moods. Some people scrapbook to have things to look back on at a later date. Remember all the concerts we went to. Remember the people we dated. Remember various decades, specific years, turmoil and triumphs. But is that the only reason we write things down. And does one keep the journal, keep recording or does one get rid of the journals? I found myself involved from the first page. It’s a gorgeous reflection on time and record keeping.

–review by Amy Steele

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for review from Graywolf Press.

Sarah Manguso reads at Harvard Book Store tonight at 7pm.

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FILM: Stand-Out Performances of 2014

these films didn’t make my 12 BEST FILMS of 2014 list but included stand-out performances:

railway man

Colin Firth in The Railway Man
director: Jonathan Teplitzky


Minnie Driver and Gugu Mbathal-Raw in Beyond the Lights
director: Gina Prince-Blythewood


Julianne Moore in Still Alice
director: Richard Glatzer


Mia Wasikowska in Tracks
director: John Curran


Marion Cotillard in Deux Jours, Une Nuit
director: Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne

fort bliss

Michelle Monaghan in Fort Bliss
director: Claudia Myers


Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carrell in Foxcatcher
director: Bennett Miller


Ben Schnetzer in Pride
director: Matthew Warchus


Dakota Fanning in Night Moves
director: Kelly Reichardt


Emma Roberts in Palo Alto
directed by: Gia Coppola


Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
directed by: Richard Linklater


Eva Green in White Bird in a Blizzard
directed by: Greg Araki


Juliette Lewis in Kelly & Cal
directed by: Jen McGowan


Kristen Wiig in Hateship Loveship
directed by: Liza Johnson

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