Showing posts with label musical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label musical. Show all posts

Saturday, October 13, 2018

movie review: 'a star is born' (VIDEO)

Yes, I know I'm going to get a ton of hate for this... but really, considering how badly I wanted this to be good, I just want you all to know I wanted to love this too, you know?

Gah, whatever. I've got a bunch of album reviews on the docket, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

video review: 'attention seeker' by felix hagan & the family

So this was actually pretty enjoyable - probably not going to get a lot of coverage, sure, but it was fun regardless.

Next up, though, some old business that I reckon might not be as fun, so stay tuned!

album review: 'attention seeker' by felix hagan & the family

Okay, I've talked earlier this year about acts embracing certain gothic or theatrical elements in music - which has happened a surprising amount in 2017 - and obviously there's a sliding scale for this. On the one hand, you have artists like John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats looking for a nuanced and sincere discussion of gothic music, and on the other hand you get acts like many of the Soundcloud shock rappers and Hollywood Undead who grab up the superficial scare tactics to make themselves seem more edgy, imposing and interesting than they really are. And somewhere in the middle you get an act like Creeper, a pop rock band drawing on the baroque, pseudo-gothic melodrama of bands like Panic! At The Disco, that play with all of the intensity and sincerity but are willing to also have a little more fun with the trappings and image - there's a limit to how seriously you can really take them, and that can be just fine.

So into all of that comes Felix Hagan & The Family, a London rock group who in the grand tradition of camp draws upon pop rock, hair metal, vaudeville and musical theater for their sound - not quite as bombastic or epic as Meat Loaf, not quite as textured as Kyle Craft, but playing in a similar ballpark. They've been around throughout most of the 2010s putting out EPs that range from remarkably catchy to a little too ridiculous for their own good - all the theatricality is fun but it does strain credulity when they try to call anyone 'posers' - but there's a part of me that has a soft spot for this material, so when the votes came up on Patreon for me to cover this... well, it's near the end of the year, there aren't many new releases coming this week that I care about, so why the hell not? So I dug into Attention Seeker - what did I find here?

Monday, March 20, 2017

movie review: 'beauty and the beast' (2017) (VIDEO)

I'm not sure how many people this review pleased, but I'm happy I finally got a chance to dig in deep here... and considering how badly I wanted this to work, it's a little heartbreaking. Anyway, Vagabon is next, stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

video review: 'the hamilton mixtape' by lin-manuel miranda & various artists

I honestly thought this review would do a little better, given how dedicated the Hamilton fanbase is... eh, it happens, I guess, I'm guessing more people are looking forward to year-end lists or a J. Cole review.

In the mean time, though... Billboard BREAKDOWN up next, so stay tuned!

Monday, December 12, 2016

album review: 'the hamilton mixtape' by lin-manuel miranda & various artists

Let's talk about one of my biggest mistakes last year, or at least one that has weighed on me pretty heavily: I didn't talk about HamiltonOh, I considered it, a lot: I like hip-hop, I like musical theater, and I like Lin-Manuel Miranda. I might not have loved his debut In The Heights but it had a lot of charm and potential, so when he took the world by storm in 2015 with his musical chronicling the fascinating and tumultuous life of Alexander Hamilton... I didn't cover it. I don't really remember what my reasoning was for it either - the musical, while having its flaws in pacing and historical context, is indeed pretty awesome, with some of the most immediately catchy songs you'll ever hear. And hell, I even knew Daveed Diggs from clipping., I had an obvious inroad here!

And yet even with that Hamilton became the sort of Broadway crossover into popular culture that you so rarely see. Forget that it cleaned up at the Tony Awards, it was the sort of show where you'd probably have a better chance of winning the lottery than getting tickets. As such, the vast majority of us made do with the soundtrack, which wound up on a surprising number of year-end lists from professional music critics and as of now has crossed over a billion streams on Spotify, which does say a lot. Would it have landed on mine? Well, it would have had a shot, and that is saying a lot, especially given how strong 2015 was, especially for rap music.

And then we all got word about the mixtape... and if you've seen the list of huge names that have signed on for it, it's more than a little mindblowing! I would have gotten it for Usher covering 'Wait For It', but when you have Black Thought, Busta Rhymes, Joell Ortiz, and Nate Ruess doing 'My Shot', Kelly Clarkson doing 'It's Quiet Uptown', John Legend doing 'History Has Its Eyes On You', Chance The Rapper working on the reprise of 'Dear Theodosia', Regina Spektor and Ben Folds covering the regular 'Dear Theodosia', Ashanti doing 'Helpless' - which is such an obvious choice it's not even funny - Nas, Dave East, and Aloe Blacc working on 'Wrote My Way Out', Common and Ingrid Michaelson handling 'Who Tells Your Story' with The Roots - and The Roots are all over this project - and then add in a bonus track like 'Congratulations' with Dessa on it... at some point, you might as well give this project a spot on my year end list! I was primed to love this, and that meant I came in with the highest of expectations - were they paid off?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

album review: 'the astonishing' by dream theater

...okay, so maybe Dream Theater was going back to their concept album days. I've been wrong before, I can own up to it.

But just so you all have context - my channel has gotten approximately seventeen times bigger than the last time I talked about Dream Theater in a review - when I covered their self-titled record, I made the comment that Dream Theater seemed to be charting a new direction, at least in terms of how they thematically structured their albums. And that made a certain amount of sense - the self-titled record was considered a return to form, charting a new era for the band.

But let's get real here: it was only a matter of time before Dream Theater returned to the well of a narrative-driven concept record. Hell, Metropolis Pt. II: Scenes From A Memory, which you can make a convincing argument was their best album, was a narrative-driven concept record, and that was seventeen years ago, so why not go for it again? Well, they definitely did: a double album, over two hours, with a full symphonic backing orchestra and dystopian narrative... but unlike on Metropolis, frontman James LaBrie was going to be playing all seven main characters characters. By all accounts, this is one of the most ambitious projects Dream Theater has ever attempted, and with the full support and budget of their label behind them, you had all the reason to believe this could be something really special, from veterans well over twenty years in the industry. Could they pull it off?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

video review: 'stages' by josh groban

And that nearly takes care of my backlog. One more album that I might tackle this weekend, but first Billboard BREAKDOWN. But before then... zzz...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

album review: 'stages' by josh groban

It seems like I've been breaking a number of 'rules' that I've traditionally held for myself, and today it looks like we're going to be tackling one of the biggest examples of that. Because everyone who begged me to cover Lady Gaga & Tony Bennett's Cheek To Cheek last year and who were put off that I really didn't have any interest are probably going to be exasperated I'm covering this - because hey, wasn't his rule that he didn't cover albums of covers?

But in the lead-up to this record, I began wondering why that is. After all, I'll talk about covers when they appear on an album, and there are plenty of examples where a well-positioned cover is just as thematically appropriate. Not really the case when you have a selection of Broadway covers put together by a classically trained operatic pop artist who is more well-known for his jawdropping vocal talents than his songwriting, but it could work. And let's be honest here: I knew Lady Gaga would do a fine job with Tony Bennett - Gaga's done that sort of material before, she's got classical training - but it didn't interest me in the same way, and after listening to the album a few times, I realized I had nothing I could really say about it, outside of it sounding exactly what I expected it would.

This is slightly different for two reasons, the first being Josh Groban himself. I'll admit that I like the guy: his material has never had stunning depth, but the man has the pipes, charisma, and power to elevate less-than-stellar writing, and I hold that his more complex 2010 record Illuminations - that had a Nick Cave cover of all things - is actually pretty damn excellent. My issue with him is that I've always wanted to see his material with a little less polish, see him get a little more visceral, challenge that incredible voice of his and test his emotional range. Now some of you might think that doing an album of Broadway covers might be flying in the exact opposite direction of that, but look at the shows he chose: Phantom of the Opera? Les Miserables? Into The Woods and Sweeney Todd? And - of course - a track from my favourite musical Chess? Sure, we're not crossing that many boundaries, but there's enough material to push Groban, and I honestly wasn't sure what to expect. That said, I didn't exactly have high expectations, and I'll admit the theater geek in me comes down hard on musical adaptations, so what did Josh Groban deliver with Stages?

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

movie review: 'les miserables'

No, I haven't seen The Hobbit yet. Or Skyfall. Or Argo. Or Lincoln. Or Django Unchained. Yeah, I went to see the big 'epic' movie on the big epic musical instead, and you can all shut up about it, okay? Good.

Now, it's something of a routine when discussing film adaptations of books, tv, video games, stage musicals - hell, anything - to first clarify what one thinks of the source material. And considering Les Miserables is adapted from a stage musical based upon a good albeit ponderously long and at points excruciating novel written by Victor Hugo, I think I need to clarify at least my stance when it comes to the Broadway show, which was one of the most iconic of the 1980s and emblematic of the 'epic musical'. Les Miserables is a gargantuan Broadway show spanning several hours, multiple decades of history, a cast of dozens of characters, and took place on a gigantic spinning stage several meters in diameter. And while I've never seen the show live, I have heard multiple renditions of the entire score and soundtrack that have been produced over the years. And my opinion out of that?

The stage musical Les Miserables is good. But it is not great.

Part of the problem is the source material - Victor Hugo's mammoth tome could probably only be properly adapted in a full-length TV miniseries, and even I would argue the musical does it best to capture the varied personalities and tones and themes for which Hugo was going. But in terms of narrative pacing, Les Miserables the stage musical is a mess, culminating in an ending that is stodgy, arduous, and goes on way too long. And while I will say there are elements of the musical that are impressive and epic, technically there are elements of the songs in Les Miserables that have always irked me, where there are points the lyrical meter isn't as smooth or flowing or organic as it could be. Yes, there are points where you can overlook the lyrical clumsiness because goddamn it, Les Miserables is going for broad and epic and sweeping and you get sucked along with the tide and it's glorious... but at other points, it feels clumsy and jerky and not particularly elegant. Musically, it's most apparent in the use of the shitty grating synth keyboard most of the stage adaptations used, but thankfully later stage adaptations and the movie excised this element.

So, enough yammering around the issue: what do I think of Les Miserables, the movie?

Well, I'll be blunt: the movie Les Miserables is good. But it is not great.