You’ve probably at least heard of Bruce Springsteen from his headband-wearing commercial peak in the 80’s with “Born in the USA,” or from his position of one of the reigning classic rockers on the concert circuit throughout the past decade. Regardless of how you’ve heard of him, most associate Springsteen with anthemic rockers such as “Born to Run” or “Badlands” performed with his longtime backing group the E Street Band. But what you probably haven’t heard of is Springsteen’s 2006 Seeger Sessions Tour, documented in the great live album “Bruce Springsteen with the Sessions Band: Live in Dublin.”
In perhaps what is one of the most unexpected moves a veteran rocker can do, in 2006 Springsteen assembled a group of 12 musicians to record “We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions,” an album full of covers in tribute to folk icon Pete Seeger. The tour that supported this album was Springsteen with the Sessions band, which had ballooned in size to between 17-20 members on any given night. Rather than the music he is typically associated with, at these shows Springsteen and company delivered a powerful mix of gospel, blues and folk music. This big band folk style approach feels like Mumford and Sons combined with a massive horn section.
“Live in Dublin” captures this unique moment in Springsteen’s career, with the Sessions band delivering spirited takes on American folk standards such as “O Mary Don’t You Weep” and “Old Dan Tucker.” Springsteen also uses this opportunity to radically alter some songs from his back catalogue to fit the new atheistic of the Sessions Band, such as opener “Atlantic City” (see video below), that sees the original somber track revamped as a rousing opener, complete with banjos and a full horn section. While Springsteen joined up with the E Street Band again after this tour, “Live in Dublin” remains a fantastic document of a unique detour from one of rock’s greats.
Seen The Shawshank Redemption, Erin Brockovich, Finding Nemo, The Help, WALL-E, The Green Mile, Cinderella Man, American Beauty or Skyfall? It’s likely you’ve been to the theatre for at least one of these, and if so, then you’ve heard Thomas Newman – you probably just haven’t heard of him.
Newman is both composer and conductor, but is best known for his work on numerous film scores…and his last name. He is a member of the Newman film-score dynasty, which includes his father Alfred, uncles Lionel and Emil, siblings David and Maria and cousin Randy (everyone’s favorite Pixar composer – “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” anyone?).
Although Tommy Newmz (as only his biggest fans refer to him) has been nominated for Best Original Score at the Oscars an astounding eleven times, with his first nominations in 1995 for The Shawshank Redemption and Little Women and his most recent this year for Skyfall, the man has never won. And while this may be one of the largest crimes committed in film awards history, there is no use in quietly going mad because of this injustice. Rather, it may be a better use of time to spread the love. The best way to spread the love? Spread the music, of course.
So instead of busting out your favorite Ke$ha album and pressing play, open up Spotify or iTunes and check out any of the hundreds of songs by this wonderful, wonderful man. However, a better way to indulge in the magnificence that is Thomas Newman would be to head over to Tisch and pick up one of the dozens of movies he has scored. That’s what the music is for, after all.
Want to bask in the glory of some Newmz tunes? Check out the examples:
The charm and wonder that is Jacques Tati has likely not made it’s way to your eyes. This genius – and I mean genius – French director is most well known for films such as “M. Hulot’s Holiday” (1953), “Mon Oncle” (1958), and “Playtime” (1967).
Drawing influence from greats such as Charles Chaplin, Tati focused on action rather than dialogue. In a very Chaplinesque way, Tati used a recurring character in four of his nine feature films. Portrayed by Tati himself, M. Hulot was the trouble making, often confused, and well-meaning protagonist surrounded by a society that was too focused on technology to appreciate one another.
His first film with this character was “M. Hulot’s Holiday”, which presents and interesting blend of silent and modern cinema. Dialogue is sparse, but sound is integral, making an instant and universally understood classic of French cinema. From then on, Tati used his M. Hulot character to further study human interaction and the effect of our surroundings in an ever-evolving society.
He combined social commentary, innovative filming techniques, and dark humor in the grandest of ways. His films are an absolute pleasure to watch. Anyone who can enjoy witty and subtle humor, as well as slapstick will find no other actor, writer, and director as charming as the perfection that was once Jacques Tati.
Here are some examples of his work:
A great scene from “M. Hulot’s Holiday” which shows off Tati’s physical comedy and originality.
This scene from “Playtime” emphasizes the importance of sound effects in Tati’s films. It is the greatest people-watching film of all time.
You could point out that Ty Segall is loud. You could point out that he somehow manages to make music that sounds like the Beatles met Black Sabbath and birthed a musical love child. Or you could just note that he seems to have a veritable Midas touch when it comes to making bands really, really good. Despite only being in his mid-twenties, Segall has already released five solo albums and is currently a member of seven different bands, including Sic Alps.
Though he’s made a name for himself as a lo-fi, garage rock revivalist with a penchant for the lush, psychedelic guitar work of surf rock, Segall’s sound continues to evolve, as evidenced by his frequent collaborations with other musicians like White Fence and Mikal Cronin. Heck, he released three completely disparate albums last year alone. The singer cum guitarist cum drummer has built a formidable cult following, to the point where it’s frankly impressive that he’s not better known. Nevertheless, there’s little doubt that fame will come soon. His reputation as a torrent of musical energy, and for just being a generally amiable person, precedes him.
That said, it’s more than slightly awesome that there is a link to “book” Ty Segall on his website. As in, he’s still smallish enough and self-contained enough that booking him for a show would theoretically be possible. Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, Segall was (or maybe still is?) a professional surfer. That probably explains why he takes such stellar underwater pictures:
Courtesy Ty Segall's Facebook page
Check out Ty Segall’s collaboration with Mikal Cronin to get a better feel. Though “Reverse Shark Attack” is a solid album all around (and features cover artwork of Segall and Cronin looking sharp as business sharks), its strongest track is arguably the 10-minute, surf rock opera title track that closes it out:
Let me introduce you to GoodGuide.com. GoodGuide is a website that rates different products on three scales, Environment, Society, and Health. Now, I’m a big fan of talking up environmental issues, but I might not always put my money where my mouth is. That’s when I met GoodGuide.
Here are four steps to see how great (or abysmal) the products you are using are. 1. Go to GoodGuide.com; 2. Type in your products name (i.e. Garnier Fructis) 3. Read the review; 4. Feel like you are either mankind’s greatest citizen or its worst.
One example is the day I decided I would just look up my detergent. I logged on to GoodGuide and just on a whim decided to type in the name. I was terrified to find it had an overall rating of 3.7 (that’s bad!). I felt like I was single handedly destroying my health and the environment. But I never bought that detergent again, and that is why GoodGuide, while occasionally traumatic, can be so, well, good!
The Site gives people the tools to be educated consumers so they can spend their money in a way that aligns with their beliefs. GoodGuide also allows users to set personal filters, so they can list what issues are more important to them. Say for example that you are passionate about only using products that have transparency in what chemicals they use, GoodGuide will alert you to items that lack this transparency. They also have a toolbar that will popup and alert users if a product they are looking at on sites like Amazon.com goes against the values that the user has prioritized. The service even has an app that scans barcodes and gives users that item’s ratings.
GoodGuide is a great resource, but you really always have to read the dropdown menus that explain each rating. Some products lose points for issues that might not be important to you, or you’ll realize that certain types of products — i.e. cell phones — will always have low ratings. All the same, it is an excellent tool for the conscious consumer.