IN CONCERT: Showcasing Beatles’ range – Tribute presents a chance to hear George Martin’s arrangements live

April 24, 2007 8:42 AM
There was nothing stuffy about the way The Beatles approached classical music. They might have been flag-bearers of youth culture in the ’60s, but their hunger for an ever-widening sonic palette never led them to separate themselves from musical history. And with George Martin as producer, a former classical student who could knock out complex arrangements as The Beatles could melodies, the band indulged in copping licks not just from Chuck Berry, but also from the compositions of Vivaldi and Stockhausen.
So when a crack Beatles tribute band, backed by the Santa Barbara Symphony, played the Arlington Theatre on Saturday, there was nothing of a concession about it. This wasn’t the Longines Symphonette Society plays “A Hard Day’s Night.” This was an exceedingly faithful recreation of a mostly studio-bound oeuvre, and something that, even if they had not decided to stop touring in 1965, the Beatles may not have been able to pull off, had they wanted.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Worth turning off

April 20, 2007 12:00 AM
“The TV Set” takes on prime time TV, and misses
By Ted Mills
Jake Kasdan, son of Lawrence Kasdan (“The Big Chill”), has never gotten a fair shake in Hollywood.
His 1998 film, “Zero Effect,” was originally all but ignored, but has slowly gained a cult following by those lucky enough to have seen it. “Orange County” turned out to be the one Jack Black comedy nobody went to see. And Kasdan directed episodes of the ill-fated but cult-followed “Freaks and Geeks,” before it was cancelled.
Some of his apparent bitterness comes across in “The TV Set,” which takes on prime time TV much like “The Player” or “The Big Picture” took on the studio system.
But maybe “The TV Set” isn’t bitter enough. There’s little rage directed at a system designed to reward mediocrity. Nothing stings as it should, even though all the pieces are in place.

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MOVIE REVIEW: This ‘Fuzz’ is sizzling: “Shaun of the Dead” writers return with winning cop parody

April 20, 2007 10:32 AM
In 2004, “Shaun of the Dead” successfully transplanted the George A. Romero-spawned zombie genre, setting it within London’s slacker pub culture.
Unlike the minds behind most parodies, “Shaun’s” Edgar Wright (writer, director) and Simon Pegg (writer, actor) loved the genre they were ribbing, and they never let humor get in the way of good filmmaking. To this end, “Shaun” can be counted among the best of the zombie-film genre. Their latest collaboration, “Hot Fuzz,” does the same for the buddy-action film.
Pegg plays it straight this time as Sergeant Nicholas Angel, a London cop so good his superiors reassign him to a rustic village just so he won’t make the rest of the Metropolitan division look bad.

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Sound Bytes: This Week’s Music Review

April 20, 2007 11:25 AM
“Neon Bible”
After their monumental, romantic debut “Funeral,” Canada’s Arcade Fire seem to have reached inside themselves for their more muddied follow-up, “Neon Bible.” There’s still beauty here, but it’s of a dark, velvety variety. Songs such as “Windowsill” and “My Body Is a Cage” start small and build outward, yet rarely find a catharsis.
Only “No Cars Go” hearkens back to the sound of “Funeral,” with piles of strings and brass and a frontal drum assault. Win Butler’s lyrics remain dour, but look for that ever-elusive transcendence. On “Neon Bible” that lights seems even further away.
“Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?”
“C’mon mood, shift back to good again!” sings Kevin Barnes on Of Montreal’s eighth full-length album. Main man Barnes manages to do so, as he mashes together disco-rhythm riffs with a psychedelic’s penchant for layered vocals and flowery instrumentation. This helps to cover lyrics of depression, suicide and rejection in a very jolly way. Recorded in Norway and Barnes’ hometown of Athens, Ga., the album is more a Barnes solo project than previous works. The album’s centerpiece is the 11-minute “The Past Is A Grostesque Animal,” a rambling rant about, well, who-knows-what, backed by Neu!-like electronics and a looping, cooing male chorus. If this is Barnes truly going off the deep end, then listeners will feel inclined to dive in, too.
“Reformation Post T.L.C.”
This is The Fall’s 26th official album in a 30-year run that has seen only one constant — lead vocalist Mark E. Smith’s caustic voice and enigmatic lyrics. The 2006 touring band — three good-to-go Yanks and one Greek wife on keyboard — unfortunately are undone by a studio recording that can’t match the sonic palette of 2005’s “Fall Heads Roll.” So we get a bit too many muddy jams, such as “Fall Sound” and “Systematic Abuse,” the obligatory cover (Merle Haggard’s “White Line Fever”), and studio goofs, “Insult Song” and the interminable “Das Boot.” If only more songs sounded like “Coach and Horses,” two minutes of tight riffery and time-travel lyrics. But, alas, they don’t. Now don’t worry, with The Fall, wait a year and the next album may be a masterpiece.

IN CONCERT: Not Bach, but British rock – Pops concert backs Beatles songs with orchestra

April 20, 2007 9:58 AM
“He’s unlike any composer. He’s just…very British.”
Martin Herman, a professor of composition and electronic music at Cal State Long Beach, is not speaking of Elgar, Holst or Vaughan Williams. Instead, he’s singing the praises of George Martin, Beatles producer and arranger. Though the Fab Four wrote the songs, it was Martin who provided the backing and arrangements for “Eleanor Rigby,” “She’s Leaving Home,” “A Day in the Life” and many more.
On Saturday at the Arlington, the Santa Barbara Symphony will showcase the music of The Beatles in “The Classical Mystery Tour,” the third Pops concert of the season.

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IN CONCERT: The City of Austin’s Powers

April 20, 2007 9:56 AM
“You can see as many live bands in Austin in one night as in two weeks in Los Angeles,” says Peggy Jones, the programmer and founder of Sings Like Hell, the Americana music series that has reached its 10-year anniversary at the Lobero.
To make it 10 years, though, Jones has had to live in the center of American music. Since 1999, she has made the bars and clubs of Austin, Texas, her office. Her work hours have become 5 p.m. to closing time.
Any band worth their sweat passes through Austin, and Jones helps divert some of the best to Santa Barbara. The result is Sings Like Hell’s broad menu of Americana.

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Paradise Lost 2: Revelations

Not as good as the original, as instead of a mystery and trial, we get the appeals, the new lawyers, the West Memphis 3 support group, and lots more of prime suspect (at least to viewers) Mark Byers, whose personal tragedy has only increased his very theatrical delusions of granduer. I checked up on the case after finishing this and found that last montth the case may come to trial again based around new DNA evidence, so that’s exciting. However, I am now very tired of the Metallica song that is central to both films. Yes, we get it. 

Photographed by mills70

Gimme Shelter

The Maysles Bros’ 1970 doc on the Stones’ ill-fated Altamont free concert. Why use the pigs, man, when the Hells Angels can provide security? Why indeed? Apart from the death o’ the 60s, the film also reminded me of how this was the birth of many things I don’t like about live concerts:
1) Threatening bearded people
2) People who should not be naked dancing around naked
3) People insisting I share their high with them
4) People who think I came to the concert so they could stage dive/crowd surf on my face
5) General aggressive dumbness
6) Hippies — why oh why are you still with us?
Best moment of the film, performance wise is not the Stones–they just seem to be plowing ahead, playing the hits–but Tina Turner stroking her mic stand like it’s a long tumescent johnson. Yowee. 

Photographed by mills70