People sometimes have a hard time wrapping their brain around the fact that I blog about music and I’m also a yoga instructor. And if I’m a music blogger, why am I always talking about film, TV or yoga? It actually makes perfect sense to me…or rather non-sense. As a person who tends to over think things, I’m drawn to experiences that help silence the never ending game of telephone that goes on in my own head. What appeals to me about yoga and the cultivation of inner stillness, is the same refuge that I seek through great art and storytelling. It’s through the expanding of my heart that I am able to quiet the mind which ultimately enables me to better express my own voice. Some days are easier than others, but like anything, it’s a work in progress with hopefully no end-all in sight.
Take for example, the HBO show “Enlightened.” Last year immediately upon seeing the first episode, I posted a blog applauding the series and the use of the poignant Regina Spektor song “Human of the Year” at the close of the premiere. It perfectly expressed the sentiment of the show, in which Laura Dern’s character so convincingly explores the struggles we all face in trying to get to the heart of our inner truth without blowing it along the way.
The subject of personal growth is one I connect to, but it surprises me the series hasn’t appealed to a larger audience and the future is uncertain. It’s ironic that the show about trying to pull it all together after some unraveling is now hanging by a thread…awaiting HBO’s decision to renew for another season. I don’t claim to be overly enlightened but I find it to be one of the most insightful and thoughtfully written shows on television. Each week I’m amazed at how brilliantly creator, writer and actor Mike White weaves together these soul searching characters and scenarios. (The “Following” episode alone, exploring our insatiable need for social media connection, should earn him the award for human of the year.)
Though the show is teamed next to “Girls” it hasn’t enjoyed the same popularity. Maybe it’s because no one knows about it and it’s not getting the same publicity. Or maybe it’s because floundering just isn’t as funny when you’re well past your twenties. We point and gawk at it when it’s on reality TV but maybe the raw and authentic emotion of it all bubbles a little too close to the fictitious surface. But that’s exactly what makes it compelling. The teetering between heartwrenching and heartwarming or profound and pathetic is stuff we all grapple with on a daily basis. Regardless of how life plays out, aren’t we all in our own way, trying to make some sense of it?
It’s almost as if Mike White is wrestling with his own inner dialogue and expressing it through the words of his characters and unknowingly questioning the fate of his show’s future. On one hand, slacker boss Dougie responds to corporate layoff with, “Life’s a sneaky bitch…Just when you build your castle, here comes the fucking tidal wave.” But then, his own character Tyler, finally hoping to get a little piece of the of the pie asks in earnest, “Can’t this have a happy ending for everyone?” With the season and possible series finale this weekend, let’s hope it’s the latter and HBO sees the light and doesn’t blow it.
While all eyes are on Beyoncé, it’s baby sister Solange that deserves a closer look. Out there making a name for herself and her own brand of snazzy dance music, she shares many similarities with her more visible sibling. She sings, she dances (and DJs) and she’s a talented voice with a strong sense of style. They even sort of look and sound the same…but in the way Bewitched’s Samantha resembles her cousin Serena. You’d almost think they were the same person if not for their decidedly different personalities. If Beyoncé is the blockbuster, then Solange is the little indie sleeper that could quietly come along and steal the whole show.
Click on the picture below to watch the video for her recent single “Losing You”:
If you’re looking for that special song to add to your Valentine’s Day playlist, we’re recommending this B-side from John Legend’s 2008 Evolver album. “I Love, You Love” has enough heart to satisfy the most hopeless of romantics but it’s not just some silly love song. It is more bittersweet than it is sappy and for those who like things a little edgier, the sample of Dire Straits’ “Tunnel of Love” guitar riff looping throughout makes it a definite keeper. I love, you love, we all love a good tune and this one’s pretty irresistible.
This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve sounded the horn for Jimmy Fallon and his Late Night escapades. (Even as recent as last week we touted the extraordinary performance from fellow Jim, Jim James.) It’s like he has become our very own musical valet. While he has introduced us to many a new band, he also demonstrates the proper reverence by dedicating entire weeks to masters Bob Marley, The Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. He’s a man well beyond his years as reflected in his breadth of musicality with his spot-on impression of Neil Young serving as the pinnacle. Admittedly, we were initially drawn to the program for the music, delighted by the prospect of The Roots as house band, but then found ourselves sucked in by the hijinks. The indulging of his guests with classic parlor games like Password and Charades harkens back to our own youthful days and we have thoroughly reveled in that familiarity.
But it is their work on Downton Sixbey that Fallon and his devoted staff have indeed outdone themselves. Just like the original PBS series of a similar name, the attention to detail is exquisite. With Brooke Shields cast as the lovely wife and SNL’s Fred Armisen as the homely daughter, they have made an absolutely perfect mockery of the esteemed drama, complete with plot twists and cliffhangers worthy of Dynasty. (SPOILER ALERT: Anything that culminates in a surprise appearance by Lady Whoopi, her son Sir Questlove and a barrage of #2 jokes is truly must-see TV.) Based on the quality of the production and the performances, as well as his heralded tenure in the enviable time slot, one thing is clear. Despite his impishness and unbridled youth, Sir Jimmy has rightfully earned his place at the head of the late night table and the more befitting moniker of Lord James. We now present Episode 1 sure to leave you chomping at the bit for Episodes 2 & 3. Whether or not you are down with the real Downton, it is of course our wish you love this so much you hope to DIE HEREAAHHH!
Maybe you know him as the frontman of My Morning Jacket or as a free spirit that floats around the indie music world or maybe you know him as that Yim Yames guy that released the cool George Harrison tribute a few years back. If none of that rings a bell, just know he is Jim James, his solo debut Regions of Light and Sound of God comes out today and all eyes and ears are on him.
We caught his performance the other night on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and it was riveting. Not only was he fantastical but The Roots on backup made you want to stand up and cheer for “A New Life.” So much so, that band leader and drummer Questlove tweeted it was the most beautiful song he’s ever played on the show (and he’s played with everyone) and called it the new “In Your Eyes” (think back to Say Anything with John Cusack and his boom box).
Above all, the record itself is top rate from beginning to end. It’s lovely and deep and dark and cool and moving in all the right directions. There’s not many that can riff on A,E,I,O,U and still sound all heartfelt and hip (check the opening track).
Since watching the performance below, now countless times, we can still only echo Jimmy Fallon’s reaction: JIM JAMES! JIM JAMES! JIM JAMES! See and hear for yourself:
Jim James Official Site
Once upon a time in a faraway land a man by the name of Rodriquez captured the hearts of the people with his songs. His music spoke to them in a way like never before and they embraced him like one of their own. They would be singing his songs for years to come.
That all sounds great until you learn the heartbreaking tale of Detroit’s own Rodriquez being completely unaware of his rock star status in South Africa, where his records were a staple of every household. Unable to make it as a musician in the U.S., he disappeared into oblivion and supported himself as a manual laborer.
But then through an unexpected twist of fate, the story has come full circle. Mostly due to the interest and perseverance of young Swedish filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul who took it upon himself to track down this unsung hero. He was armed, not with a magic wand, but instead an iPhone which he used to shoot the documentary Searching for Sugar Man….and people took notice. 60 Minutes did a piece on the story (that you can see here), Rodriquez is out touring again to sell out crowds and the film has become a festival and awards darling. It’s now out on dvd and it’s an amazing story in every possible way. It may have taken decades to unfold but it’s like overnight, Rodriquez went from faded 60’s pop star to newly famous pop star in his 60’s. The perfect ending has yet to be written but with any luck, in true Hollywood fashion, they will all live happily ever Oscar! Take a look at the trailer: