Interview With Criminal Minds Co-Executive Producer Harry Bring

 

Interview With Criminal Minds Co-Executive Producer Harry Bring

Congratulations on hitting the 200th episode of Criminal Minds. I am looking forward to the 10th season!

 

Q. How did you first get involved with Criminal Minds?

 

A. When I decided not to go back to Army Wives in South Carolina after 5 years there, Mark Gordon, who created Army Wives, offered me Criminal Minds. Two things: to be home after 5 years on the road was a blessing, and you don’t turn down Mark Gordon.

 

Q. How is working on Criminal Minds, a procedural drama, different then working on Army Wives or Melrose Place?

 

A. Procedural dramas are a lot different than serialized shows. Procedurals have a beginning, middle, and end. Serialized shows link together and you are always thinking about where you’ve been and where you’re going. Procedurals do have some “b” stories about the core cast but you don’t visit those that much.

 

Q. Do you have a favorite episode of the show? Were you a fan of it before you came on?

 

A. I must admit I wasn’t a fan of the show before joining the team. I had only watched a few episodes. Now that I’m here I’m a total fan. I guess my favorite is 824. I loved working with Mark Hamill.

 

Q. So, A.J. Cook (JJ) had some pretty tough scenes when we last saw the team. I read in an article that “[i]n order to realistically portray the torture JJ experiences in 200, Cook agreed to actually be waterboarded. She was also hung up by bonds for hours at a time to act out a scene. This resulted in her losing feeling in her arm for a month” (http://criminalminds.wikia.com/wiki/A.J._Cook). That definitely takes method acting to a new level. Who asked her to do this?

 

A. No one asked AJ to do anything special that I know of. Whatever she did to prepare for the episode was her own idea. We didn’t hang her up for hours though. After each sequence or take, the tension was released from the chains.

 

Q. We got to see Paget Brewster back as Prentiss for the 200th episode. Any plans for her to guest star later in the season?

 

A. I have not heard of any idea to have her guest star this season. Paget is very busy pursuing other projects and it would be hard for her to be available for anything here.

 

Q. Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) has always wanted the rest of the team to go after the bad guys. She is content with staying by the computer and flirting with Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore). Last we saw her, she had to fire a gun to protect Reid (Matthew Grew Gubler). How will this affect her, and additionally the team’s perception of her?   

 

A. Kirsten LOVES when a story takes her in the field. It definitely excites her. It’s been done a couple times per season. She is so valuable gleaning info for the team it’s hard to bring her into the action. There will be a Kirsten surprise for the fans in the coming months. I can’t say what that is right now.

 

Q.  I know that Kerr Smith (Dawson’s Creek, The Fosters) has an arc as a new villain, Frank Cowles.  Who came up with the MO of his character, a body part collector with a fetish for amputated limbs?  The level of creativity and wicked imagination is admirable!

 

 A. Credit to Erica Messer and the writing team.

 

Q.  Jennifer Love Hewitt is joining the show as a series regular, playing Katie Callahan. Can you tell me how that came to be and what we can expect from her?

 

A. During the hiatus there was some idea crunching as to who should be joining the show. I’m not privy to how it came about in the end. You will find Kate to be different from all female team members that came before her. She comes from a different department of the FBI and brings a lot of experience and sassiness.

 

Q. Are there any other notable guest stars lined up for this season?

 

A. Not that I have heard. I’ve been so busy with the physical end of production I have not spent any time in the writer’s room listening to story pitches.

 

Q. Who in the cast is most similar to their character?

 

A. I think all the cast has personal attributes that are woven into their on-screen performances. It is their personality differences in real life that are shown in their characters.

 

Q. Who in the cast is the most different from their character?

 

A. If I had to pick one that was slightly different it would be AJ. AJ is a lot less serious once the camera is turned off.

 

Q. Has there been any thought as to how the show will end? Is it something that has been discussed (in the writing room)?

 

A. That has not been discussed to my knowledge. There are ideas for a season finale which touches on some story fabric woven throughout the season. If you are referring to the eventual end of the series, no one is thinking about this show ever ending. ;-))

 

Q. Give the fans something about Season 10 to obsess over.

 

A. Look for the nuances of our characters personal storylines to be enhanced and explored more. There are a couple “special” episodes being discussed and I am waiting patiently myself to hear what they are.

 

 

Harry Bring (@LLPOS) is a producer and production manager, currently working on Criminal Minds. Prior to that, he has done work on Army Wives, The X-Files, and Melrose Place.

 

 

 

 

Exclusive behind the scenes action can be found at @CM_SetReport

Catch the season ten premiere of Criminal Minds (@CrimMinds_CBS)   Wednesday, Oct 1 9/8c on CBS.

Kirsten Vangsness will be live tweeting during the premiere at the handle @Vangsness

The rest of the cast can be found at the handles @shemarmoore @JoeMantegna @ajcookofficial @GUBLERNATION @TheReal_JLH

 

Annabelle Edwards is a writer living in New York. She is the founder and managing editor of Control Literary Magazine.

 

 

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Review: The Bones of Us by Jay Bradley and Adam Scott Mazer

Bradley

The collaboration between poet J. Bradley and artist Adam Scott Mazer is comprised of linked poems that hit us failed lovers where it hurts. It is set up in two sections including thirty-eight poems and contains a beautiful mixture of poetry and ink drawings. Bradley’s language is urgent and bleeding, while Mazer’s black and white illustrations show desperation and terror; such as in Detention, where Bradley relates first the cheating and then the angry afterward:

We call my forearm pressed

Against your throat kindling.

A slaughter, the chalkboard

Of my back rased of all safety.

The woods,

your hair,

my hands.

This is accompanied by the image of a man and a woman, naked and tearing at each other’s flesh. It is a mix of sensual and violent: the couple’s outlet for rage.

The Bones of Us ends up as a storybook poetry collection based on the angst and despair that dwell in a broken heart. Love is lost and passion twists into hate. Anyone with an ex, one they can’t quite find the strength to let go of, could identify strongly with the tortured language, fueled by recurring themes of wine drunkenness, nature and weapons. The gritty macabre style drawings, with skulls in full smiles, bring the violence of heartbreak to the forefront, visceral and aching.

You can feel the rage and loss throughout the works, but self pity is balanced with the true depth of feeling and the relatable nature of the topic. The poetic imagery and illustrations that back it up give the reader a way in to the dark place where Bradley delves. Toothy monsters, melting flesh, blood and wine cover the pages as Bradley moves through the stages of a tormented breakup. Saying, “The first letter of your name sleeps below my wrist;/ I’m not sure what to smother it with.” And the sense of terror does sleep – this is a build up of bottled emotions: love and anger colliding. Vulnerability shines through as he reminisces on the things he loves, or loved, such as when he admits in “The Astrology of Running into Your Exes,” “As the beer bottle empties, it will remind you of her hand.” But the darker moments hold the strength of the collection, such as in “Emphysema,” where Bradley offers a metaphor for the melancholic emotional storm that accompanies this kind of loss:

Our pollution clings

to the walls of my

bedroom like a lung. Every

time the door wheezes and

coughs me out to the hallway,

I hope my sighs choke like canaries.

Bradley and Mazer strongly illustrate the torment of a messy breakup, fueled by both passion and anger. The Bones of Us ends up as a journal like confession that poignantly speaks of the darkest moments of a post-relationship state. Their collaboration of violently lascivious and anguished content lays everything out on the table: what is lost, what is lingering and even what it unspeakable.

Maria Dansdill– a young reader before writer who enjoys the classics but devours most anything she can get her hands on. If she’s not immersed in a book she’s surely jamming out to something folky. She’s a barista to make a buck and her hobbies include tennis, calligraphy and K-Dramas (^__^)

Review: First Aid Kit – Stay Gold

Small_Gold_Album_-_First_Aid_Kit          In 2008, Johanna and Klara Söderberg, two young Swedish sisters, appeared on you-tube sharing a cover and tribute to Fleet Foxes “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” where they seemed completely at home in the middle of the forest, ethereal and earthy. Their indie-country/folk vibe became a hit and they’ve since blossomed into a full fledged and highly followed duo. It was their second album, The Lion’s Roar, which secured them as artists to watch. Fans loved their big sky echo and the orchestrations that work so well with their drifty poetical lyrics.

First Aid Kit’s new album, Stay Gold, released on June 10th this summer, is as beautifully harmonious, lyrically intriguing, and folk inspired as their last. Though the same optimism and youth rings through, this album, their first produced by Columbia Records, has a deeper and more mature feel. The Söderberg sisters sing with conviction and with a sound that seems to echo through the mountainside as they reflect on their youth. The album conveys their struggles with life on the road – leaving family and friends behind and wondering if it will all lead to anything. With this sentiment, you can see that they were undoubtedly inspired by Robert Frost. With an album titled and a song named Stay Gold, we can only be reminded of Frost’s poem “Nothing Gold Can Stay”, as they sing “What if our hard work ends in despair? What if the road won’t take me there? Oh, I wish, for once, we could stay gold.” Additionally, the album deals with their love for music, and their womanhood. Thoughtful, fun and poetic lyrics such as “girls just want to have fun and the rest of us hardly know who we are” from Waitress Song are relatable and searing, even when broaching a topic not many can truly understand, the life of a traveling musician.

In this album, First Aid Kit stays true to the sound that captured audiences in Lion’s Roar, but this time around they have less of a “conquer the world” feel. Instead, they speak maturely about real life struggles. The effect of these heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics is one that allows the listeners to follow the sisters on their journey, while also being able to relate them to their own lives. And they can do all this while singing along to the beautiful melodies and dancing choruses.

Rating: 7.5/10

Maria – a young reader before writer who enjoys the classics but devours most anything she can get her hands on. If she’s not immersed in a book she’s surely jamming out to something folky. She’s a barista to make a buck and her hobbies include tennis, calligraphy and K-Dramas (^__^)

Review: Amy Lee – Aftermath

aftermath

After fifteen successful years with the band Evanescence, Amy Lee has had her share of experience in the music industry. Her new solo album, Aftermath, written for the film War Story, displays little of this knowledge. While the music does have its strengths in ambience and atonality, it has its drawbacks as well; in its lack of variation and climax, and being outperformed by other albums.

The only real outlier in the album is the song Lockdown, which is closer to the style of music Amy Lee would be making with Evanescence. It is the only song on the album with a general format or a reoccurring melody. Also, it is the only song written like a traditional rock song, such as having verses, a chorus, and a repeating line reflecting the idea or the title of the song.

The electronic portion of the album was mostly influenced by Middle Eastern music, such as in Dark Water. The few songs that are electronic are relatively uneventful with little variation to the melody or the rhythm. It was a style that was over produced in the early 2000’s and has little market today.

The classically centered half of the album consists of low, ambient, disharmonious cello work which is performed marvelously by the soloist, Dave Eggar. His virtuoso style is really exemplified in the songs such as After and White Out. This was good for the film because it had a lot of dramatic dialogue scenes which needs the background noise to keep the scene progressing and not lose the attention of the viewers. Most of these pieces are also somber and mellow since the movie is serious and needs the darker, dramatic noise to back it up.

Some of the classical tracks of note are Remember to Breathe and After. Both of the pieces follow the strong cello work that is present throughout the album. Remember to Breathe is especially close to the modernist ideas of the early to middle 1900’s by jumping from note to note in a seemingly random style called the twelve-tone system. After is filled with bass chords and an ever-changing melody that is always rising out of the steady stream of notes coming from the lower octave. It is rare to hear bass chords because they often do not come out as clean or as unified as the musician or the composer hopes; however, it does make an excellent background noise to a scene that requires a more depressing mood.

Both of these pieces have something that much of the album was lacking: Climax. Understandably, many of these pieces cannot be overwhelmingly complex or dramatic since they would take away from the film. However, film sound tracks are known for being epic. Whether it be at the great battle of an action movie or the happy ending in a romance, the sound track is what makes the scene memorable. Without a climax, the songs cannot fair well on their own.

This album would not have been as disappointing if there were no other soundtracks or scores that did what this album does better. The electronic music portion was very similar to and largely outclassed by the soundtrack to the video game, Deus Ex. That album is similar in style and tone but each track has a magnitude and climax with it. The film score for Sherlock Holmes was similar to the virtuoso style with the string instruments Amy used, but the soundtrack to Sherlock Holmes is far more memorable.

The only positive thing about this album was its outlier, Lockdown. The ambient, disharmonious cello work, along with the middle eastern influenced electronic music, are generally subpar since there are other albums and songs that can do their job better both in the film, and alone on the soundtrack. All the pieces did present clever approaches and ideas which ultimately had potential but never reached it.

5.5/10

Christian Page is a student from New Mexico who has been studying music since he was nine years old.  He has made the state youth orchestra for both the upright bass and classical guitar.  He’s been studying poetry for the past year.

Review: Ryan Adams Album

ryan-adams-new-album

Review: Ryan Adams – Ryan Adams

 

Ryan Adams’ latest solo album, Ryan Adams is, well, more Ryan Adams. Fans have undoubtedly been looking forward to another solo album from the highly prolific singer and songwriter, particularly since he has only been putting out music through his own label, PAX AM, since 2010, thereby ensuring his artistic freedom. While the album is solid, with alt-country tinged rock songs, with both electric and acoustic elements, longtime fans will recognize the overall sound and mood of the album as roads Adams has travelled before, many times.

As difficult as it is to fault a man who has, as a solo act and with his bands Whiskeytown and the Cardinals, put out thirteen albums, the sound and feel of his latest endeavor lacks innovation or anything remotely fresh.

Some of the tracks do stand out, namely “My Wrecking Ball,” an acoustic number in which he invites a lost love to “come and maybe knock me down,” as his walls need to crumble. He’s feeling typical Ryan Adams alienation, as he is lying in bed alone and says, “I wish I could call you, I wish you were still around.” His voice sounds genuinely vulnerable, and less melodramatic than in some of his previous work. The track verges on being one that could have belonged on Heartbreaker (2000), his first solo album that is his strongest to date.

Along with “My Wrecking Ball,” Adams released “Gimme Something Good” and “Tired of Giving Up” before the album’s September 9, 2014 release. Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, starred in the video of “Gimme Something Good,” standing around spookily while Adams moodily meandered through the black and white, foggy video. He longs for “something good,” as he finds himself “holding everything I have like it was broken.” The rock guitar riffs are reminiscent of Joan Jett in the 1980s, yet the grit of the rock is layered with a funereal organ in the background.

Adams is weary, as he proclaims in “Tired of Giving Up,” which is the main gist of the lyrically thin track in which he is tired of giving up, lying, and trying, though he hints at a possible way out – “Suppose I try to love you” – yet nothing is resolved; no happiness at all finds its way into this album.

Ryan is angsty. Even as he acknowledges love, in “Shadows,” he pessimistically wonders, “How long do I have here with you?” He knows the bittersweet side of love is that it is not guaranteed to last, and togetherness can never be counted on as being permanent. Adams married actress and singer Mandy Moore in 2009, and given his troubled past which has been well-documented in the media, one can’t help but wish him a happy ending and love. Adams, however, knows that we can only save ourselves.

That Adams turns 40 in November and is married doesn’t show much in the album. He focuses on loss in “Feels Like Fire,” telling a lover “Just so you know, you will always be the hardest thing I will ever let go” and hints at betrayal, singing, “The light reflecting in your eyes is not what it seems.” Also, his chest is on fire, in line with the fire and burning imagery that pervades the album. He also laments lost love in “Kim,” who, “walking down the street, I watched you walk away, to be with him.” Even in love, he wonders in “Am I Safe” whether he is, in fact, safe if “I don’t wanna be with you” and tells his lover “It’s complicated, I just don’t love you anymore / I just wanna sit here and watch it burn.”

In the lyrically thin track “Stay with Me,” Adams does reach out to his lover for comfort, asking her to “Hold me closer in the middle of the night,” reassures her, and declares, “I love you girl, it’s all right.” Similarly, he asks his lover in the 1980s Don Henleyesque “Let Go,” “Cross your fingers behind your back and lie to me / Tell me everything’s gonna be all right” This is as close to happiness as Adams will reveal. Perhaps he is more comfortable sharing his troubled side with his fans. Or, perhaps, this is Adams’ perspective on the world – dark, uncertain, and tenuous, wherein happiness is an illusion.

It’s almost too easy to make light of Adams’ emotional turmoil, as it seems heavy-handed as the album progresses. Of course, if a listener is in a miserable relationship, is lonely, and/or jaded by love, this album is a perfect soundtrack for misery. Heartbreaker was the musical sound of a heart breaking and broken; the emotion was raw and real. The songs of Ryan Adams seem to be a diluted continuation of the same.

Musically, the songs are strong and much what listeners expect from Adams. Though they will likely wish to hear and feel something new, his sound and lyrics emains the same.

Track List

  1. Gimme Something Good
  2. Kim
  3. Trouble
  4. Am I Safe
  5. My Wrecking Ball
  6. Stay With Me
  7. Shadows
  8. Feels Like Fire
  9. I Just Might
  10. Tired of Giving Up
  11. Let Go

Overall rating: 8/10

Tracey K. Parker is a college English instructor who earned her PhD from the University of Arkansas. The focus of her research is popular culture in literature. She also has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri. Her creative work has been published in PRISM, and she is co-editor of Control Literary Magazine.

 

Ed Sheeran- Live Performance and Brief Concert Review

      

       Tonight, I had the pleasure of seeing Ed Sheeran in concert at the Wells Fargo Center in Philly. He was brilliant. The concert mainly consisted of songs from his new record “X”, with the encore including a few old classics  such as “The A Team” and “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”.

      Sheeran was at the top of his game, his vocals not only as good as his recordings, but better. The fact that he is only twenty four years old is easily forgotten. He moves around the stage with an energy and confidence that rivals some of the veterans in the industry. Showcasing his range and falsetto, he belts out each chorus, never missing a beat. Even more impressive is his ability to rap and actually be understood. With the help of a loop pedal, Sheeran delivered with just his voice and guitar, something of a rarity   nowadays.

   What made each performance was the slight nuance of each tune, altered ever so slightly by the leading man. A high note instead of a chest note or vice versa, a lyric slowed down or sped up with ease. Sheeran engaged the crowd, encouraging them to sing at the top of their lungs for every song but one.

   Later in the evening, he spoke about one of his favorite songs on the new record “Afire Love”, and how it was kind of a quiet track so a little quiet would do it some good. The audience obliged. I was blown away by the raw grit, soul, and pain in his voice. We all got lost in the narrative, and I wish that Sheeran had told them to be quiet through more of the songs, so his voice could be heard that much more.

  What appeared to be the end of the concert concluded with the song he wrote for The Hobbit, “I See Fire”.

  Minutes later, Sheeran came back and gave an encore consisting of three songs, “The A Team”, “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You”, and “Sing”.

  Overall, it was a night to remember. I wish he had performed even longer.

The formal setlist can be found here

Ed’s latest album “X”, can be bought here as well as his debut, “+”.

If any of you missed it, please check out our review of “X”, which can be found here

Below, I have included a video I recorded of Ed singing “Afire Love”. I hope you enjoy this performance as much as I did.

Afire Love

Bio: Annabelle Edwards is a young writer and photographer living in New York. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gone Lawn, Eunoia Review, Crack The Spine, and elsewhere. She is the co-editor of Control Literary Magazine.

Review: Spoon — They Want My Soul

 

After a four-year hiatus, Spoon returns this month with their eighth studio album, They Want My Soul. This record marks several firsts for Spoon: their first collaboration with outside producers (Grammy-award-winners Joe Chiccarelli and Dave Fridmann) and their first album with keyboardist Alex Fischel.

Beginning with their 1994 debut, Spoon slowly earned a place as critics’ darlings. In 2001, that niche blew up—with college radio falling in love with the minimalist, beat-driven melodies of Girls Can Tell. Spoon has, ever since, honed catchy, low-key indie pop. They Want My Soul develops out of these traditions, but doesn’t add to them as much as one might hope. It is difficult to compare Soul with the energy and excitement of 2001’s Girls Can Tell or 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. Britt Daniel’s song structures, while always intelligent, expose strains of familiarity that begin to feel, after eight records, too familiar. However, Soul is nevertheless full of shining moments that sound—if nothing else—exactly like Spoon.

Throughout the album, Soul grapples with the desire to run and the avoidance of spiritual capture. In “Rainy Taxi,” Daniel says “if you leave / you better run away for good…if you say ‘run,’ I may run with you.” In the previously released single, “Do You,” Daniel asks, “Do you want one thing or are you looking for sainthood? / Do you run when it’s just getting good?” The very title of the album lets listeners know—before we even become listeners—that there is something from which to run.

            Britt Daniel called the ballad “Inside Out” his “favourite song on this record, and it’s the most beautiful thing we’ve done…I don’t really know if I can quantify why it’s so good, but for me it pulls your heartstrings in exactly the right fashion.” The track suggests completion through love rather than spirituality: “I don’t got time for holy rollers…they do not make me complete.” While beautiful, the song lacks gravity: though the lyrics imply a great emotional turmoil, this is difficult to feel in the music. Its beauty is weightless—both in the ethereal quality of its synthesizers and harp strings, and the quiet insistence of Daniel’s vocals. Melodic distance is often part of Spoon’s charm—but can a track so weightless really deliver as their “most beautiful”?

The title track lists people and things who want the lyricist’s soul, including earlier inspiration Jonathan Fisk (the title of a track from Kill the Moonlight about a classmate who bullied Daniel in middle school): “Educated folk singers want my soul / Jonathan Fisk still wants my soul / I got nothing I want to say to ’em / They got nothing left that I want.” His soul is similarly coveted by card sharks, street preachers, upsellers, palm readers, post sermon socialites, park enchanters, and skin tights. The list ranges from rock and rollers to religious entities, again an attempt to cope with spiritual malady, or the implication of spiritual maladies which the lyricist is not interested in having “fixed.”

The album also includes a cover of Ann-Margret’s 1961 waltz, “I Just Don’t Understand,” an accusatory dance-step about selfish love. Rhythmically, this song knows exactly what it’s doing: the ¾ signature a metaphor for a relationship keeping a steady pace, unchanging over time. And it fits perfectly within Spoon’s idiom—a tightly structured track beating beneath emotionally unstable lyrics. Alex Fischel’s piano harmonizes smartly with Daniel’s humming, creating a disarming gentility.

In “Let Me Be Mine,” the calm of the melody, the repetition of the rhythm, distances the listener (again) from the weight of the lyrics: “Auction off what you love / it will come back sometime / lock it up / what you love / and it says ‘let me be mine’.” The track comes to a head with the phrase “they want you to run,” repeated over and over as explanation. The song observes romantic sabotage as it is inflicted, the chorus repeating a request to own oneself.

            “New York Kiss” seems to shuffle off the heavier lyrical themes of spiritual and romantic weight, ending the album with a perfect, high-powered pop song. Suddenly caught by past selves we can’t shake, we’re bogged down by the power and seduction of memory. Maybe, after all, that’s why we’re still listening to Spoon: the power and seduction of memory.

           

Rating: 6.5 / 10

Deirdre Coyle is a non-practicing mermaid living in New York City. Her work has appeared in theNewerYorkFwriction : ReviewLuna Luna Magazine, and elsewhere. She edits Mixtape Methodology. You can find her overseeing the internet at deirdrecoyle.tumblr.com and@DeirdreKoala.

Review of True That & Interview With Michael Cera

Review of true that

     Michael Cera’s album is exactly what you expected Michael Cera’s album to be.

      Ever since he sang Beck’s “Ramona” in “Scott Pilgrim Versus the World” or his Moldy Peaches cover duet with Ellen Page in “Juno,” many of us have been waiting for Michael Cera to drop an album. And he did. Beyonce style: true that was released on Mr. Cera’s bandcamp page (which features a 1940s-boy-scout-esque cover photo of the indie polymath in front of a tent as well as a chuckle-worthy biography) on August 8th, completely unanticipated. And true that is Michael Cera, or it would be if it were personified.

     The album itself is a delightful hodgepodge of ragtime piano, nylon string guitar, and – of course – Michael Cera’s voice. There are several things about true that that make it engaging, especially its variety. It is clear that he is no novice to composition: the instrumental arrangements swing gracefully from chaotic and jarring to gentle by changing rhythms, modes, and artfully switching from piano to guitar, respectively, calling to mind meticulously-arranged albums like Matthew Friedberger’s Matricidal Sons of Bitches (2012, Thrill Jockey.) And yet, true that is easier to listen to than other complex albums due to its simplicity that lies in the recordings.

     In other tracks, particularly the Blaze Foley cover, “clay pigeons,” he brings forward the American folk feel that stays an undercurrent through the whole album. It is worth noting that “clay pigeons,” as well as “Ruth” both offer traditional-style three-part vocal harmonies.The particular cover yields nothing new or exciting, but serves as a nice contrast to the previous two tracks and a pleasant homage to the original.

     On a whole, the album is well balanced: not only through the composition but in its seriousness as well. Some songs have silly titles, (“uhohtrouble”, “Gershey’s Kiss,” and the pop-culture fad-referencing “2048”) and these do nothing detrimental to the album, but rather give it a sense of lightheartedness. true that, much like Michael Cera, is not something that seems to take itself wholly seriously, but still maintains its intellect.

     Often, the sound buzzes or something is out of tune, maybe Michael struggles to hit a note (e.g. “Steady now”) but these do not sound like flaws. In the style of Daniel Johnston, Pavement, Sparklehorse, and countless others, true that’s imperfections remind us that the record is human: made by a human, for humans. It’s refreshingly natural in the musical atmosphere of post-production overtaking the industry today.

      My only grievance toward true that is that it is presently only available on digital. Its DIY feel was charming above all, but I’m sure many would love to take home this record on cassette or vinyl.

Overall: 8.5/10

 

Q&A With Michael Cera

Q: You’ve played in other bands, but up until now, the main focus of your career has been acting. Why release an album now, as opposed to two years ago or four years from now?

A: It just occurred to me one day to put the songs online so I did it, there honestly wasn’t any more thought put into it than that.

Q: What was your thinking in choosing a quiet, secret-release instead of hyping up what could have been the “Michael Cera Musical Debut Extravaganza World Tour Super Campaign?”

A: I didn’t consider it a secret personally, it’s just that nobody knew about it.  And I didn’t want to pull focus to it because it’s not really something I consider a performance in terms of presentation, it’s just some music I made that I wanted to share via the internet with anyone who had any interest.

Q: There’s a lot of subtle similarities to other great records that show up here, what are some albums and artists that influenced your style on this record?

A: I don’t really know who influenced the style, I suppose my fairly limited abilities and resources sort of resulted in what ends up being the overall sound and tone of the music.  But I like the album Mr. Hood by KMD and the way that it feels like it was made in their living room, I guess that was a sort of style influence in a weird way, the levels of comfort and relaxation on that album.

Q: Now you did pretty much everything that made true that, right? How was it playing all the instruments, writing, etc. compared to acting and being given a script and direction to do this and that in this way?

A: Well it’s kind of like the difference between being at work and being at home doing something you love to do on your own.  It’s not really related at all I guess.

Q: You’ll obviously be busy with This Is Our Youth, but do you have any plans in regards to shows or touring for true that?

A: Not at all, I don’t anticipate doing that kind of thing.

Q: Do you drink your orange juice with pulp? If so, how much? If not, why not?

A: I’m not sure exactly, sometimes I think I do but then again I’m never really certain.

Q: Do you think true that is the beginning of a “rebranded” Michael Cera- that is, Michael Cera the musician? Or do you see it as just an extent of your polymathic career?

A: I’m not sure, I never ask the big guys upstairs (the two heads of the corporation I’m employed by) what the end-game master plan is, I just do what they tell me to do when they deem it the appropriate moment, and then I just pray that as a team we’ll weather the storm that is the open entertainment market.

Q: Finally, what has been your go-to record recently?

A: The Kinks – Arthur.

 

Madden CJ Aleia is a student, poet, and musician living in Connecticut. She recently became the assistant editor at bottle rockets press and expects to self-publish her chapbook, the bolsheviks didn’t even know what hit them, in early 2015. She has curly hair and collects elderly cameras. Fragments of her poetry can be found on her blog, unitedstatesofno.tumblr.com

 

Review of Wang Ping’s Ten Thousand Waves

 Waves-web

In her poetry collection, Ten Thousand Waves, Wang Ping revisits some of the same topics she has explored in her soothing, strong voice for many years. In this collection, however, she brings readers the harshness of it all. While her previous poems may have driven home their point, the ones pooled together in Waves have drove the stake through the heart deeper than ever before. This third collection has proven to be even more of a political statement than her others, considering that her title poem takes up the bulk of this text and tells the stories of those who died in a recent industrial work-related tragedy in China. Her activism, shown through her moving words, makes for a powerful combination that both teaches and reminds readers about a world that cannot be made beautiful through verse, only through action.

In regards to her writing style, Ping’s years of living through the Chinese Cultural Revolution are long since over, but her memories, and her subsequent ability to reflect on those days has only grown stronger with time. Her poetry, since the publication of her first collection, The Magic Whip, has changed only somewhat substantially. Her writing style, though still stark and poignant, has developed a more modern aspect that was not as visible in her older pieces. A piece titled “The Last Son of China” may have been the turnaround from more traditional to more experimental, considering that the format of that poem was something never before seen in Ping’s work:

“…………………..    hello hello hello    …    Weiwei    …    where have you been?    …    I see you in dreams    …    bleeding    …    in the darkness of the sun    …    81 spots in the flame    …    each a nightmare one cannot wake up from    …    Weiwei    …    the last son   …”

This poem is included in the second part of Waves, placed after a list of quotes from migrant workers, company representatives, and anonymous factory workers stationed in China. Wei Wei’s history is complex, but he is infamous for his work linked to the social injutsicies in China. To place this broken, experimental poem after something as concrete as direct quotes from those Wei Wei wishes to liberate is powerful. It creates a real-world connection that the reader can be shocked and interested by; that, and it also artistically makes sense. Wei Wei’s art is so often only seen as art, just as poems are often only seen as poems – contained entities, only existing to entertain. “The Last Son of China” is a transcript, an unanswered phone call, a voice given to those who know and want to publicize all that Wei Wei’s art is about. Ping’s use of an experimental style in this piece only works to highlight this, creating an almost conversation-like experience.

This unconventional style is seen in traces in Waves, particularly in the poem “Dust Angels.” Again, someone – or many someones – are pleading to the reader. These pieces seem to have a new “voice” – unlike Ping’s previous lilt, this voice in her poetry is much sharper, much more angled; there is a razor edge to the writing, and the subject matter of these particular pieces is not sliced to ribbons but made all the more deadly when combined with this stylistic choice. Her poems are longer, too, more prosaic in nature – the continuing tale that travels through pieces like “Soltice in Lhasa” and “Luosang’s Dream” illustrate her attempts to add the natural flow of her poetry to prose that so oft covers many of the same issues her poems have already covered. These prose pieces do not do Ping credit as a poet. Too sharp and stilted, the subtly of her poetry is gone when she instead clearly illustrates the social issues in the form of personal stories. While her poems captivate, her prose lacks in its structure, content, and general feel.

A prose piece that saved Ping from the poor nature of her long-form style was “In Search of Chinese Poets.” A list of last names of presumed Chinese poets (Ping makes no move as to say whether they are real or fictitious, but going by her tendency to use the names of real people she knew or once knew or knew of, it may be safe to assume they are all very real indeed) is followed by brief explanation as to where they are now. Now being the 21st century, of course. One that is particularly striking in its starkly non-poetic nature is this: “Dachun – Plunged into the sea.” In four simple words, Ping is able to convey the stark reality of many writers in two ways: one in the literal reading of this sentence, that they commit suicide; and in the other, through a Chinese saying that means to give up one’s profession. Did this poet, Dachun, end his own life, or simply give up on crafting the word? The rest of the listed poets have more pliable explanations for their disappearance, with a few more being listed as plunging into the sea – the sea, like Ping’s poetry in this case, is both volatile and a welcoming release. The poets, like herself, must have sought it either literally or figuratively as a way to rid themselves of the often cruel awareness that comes with being a poet. Like Ping, these Chinese poets need to “plunge into the sea” in order to either escape their craft or to perhaps escape the social stigma that surrounds being the traditional idea of “the voice of the people.”

Speaking of voices, none are more powerful than in the most anticipated poem in this collection. Frankly, the title poem deserves an entire review unto itself: “Ten Thousand Waves” can ultimately be called Ping’s most moving and most impactful piece. Based off a 2004 tragedy that resulted in the deaths of twenty-one immigrant workers off of a coast in England. There deaths, notes Ping, took place on the eve of the Lantern Festival (a traditional celebration held amongst family and friends that heralds the end of the Chinese New Year, and the beginning of the next). The voices of these workers have been gathered here, in this poem, in order to tell the last fleeting moments of their stories. Here is where Ping’s prowess as a Chinese poet is made apparent; the poems themselves, twenty-one in total, of course, have a repetitive nature – a choice of technique that becomes apparent in the final poem within the poem, “Chorus From All Ghosts.” Most, if not all of the poems, end with the name of the sea in which their speaker drowned – the North Wales Sea. It is more than a reminder of what killed them – it is a poetic choice meant to convey a traditional Western form of poetry: the choral poem. In ancient Greek literature, the chorus of the dead was often a calling to the living, a plea to remember them and to honour their deaths.

There seems to be a marked similarity to the voices, though individualized, and the pleas of the men Odysseus encounters after crossing the river Styx in Homer’s The Odyssey. Though this may be a worn-out poetry trope, Ping does it a newfound justice by combining traditional Eastern poetic methods with such a Western form. In “Zhou Xun Chao, Dong Xi Wu” a pictorial arrangement of characters presents a cross to the reader – a common symbol of death. To those who can read the language, it is a reminder of the tragedy and assuredly shares words to convey as much; to those who can’t, the image represents the same meaning.

Though experimental at points, most of the twenty-one poems in this piece carry traditional methods. There are couplets, there is free verse, and there is even a brief piece of prose-poetry. Ping pulls out all of her stylistic abilities in order to create a highly varied but externally singular poem. It is the “Chorus From All Ghosts” that brings the poem together. The final lines “our eyes on the North Star / Our spirits churning for the sea” are poignant. The North Star, being a point of reference in ancient (and modern) seafaring travel, suggests that souls of the lost may just be attempting to head home to the sea in which they belong – not the coast of England, but the coast of China, a place where their families may recognize them in the waves. This ending is as poetic as the entire set of poems collected together on one titular piece, and functions as both haunting and hopeful.

Ping outdoes herself in this collection. Even when she seems to be singing the same choral song, she brings forth new ways to present the social and cultural issues she focuses on in each of her collections. Her words in this collection are particularly moving, as if she has reached a new peak in her poetic career. Wang Ping has always created a moving portrait, a choir piece, a work of art that seems to encapsulate the most complex in the simplest of ways – but never before has her work seemed so human, so full of the people begging to be heard. Ten thousand waves lapping against a shore sound an awful lot like whispered voices when all else is quiet.

Rating: 8/10

T.R. Abrahams studies English literature in Toronto, avoids the suburbs, and edits HOLEY SCRIPTURE. Other work includes publications in Electric Cereal, The Mall, and Literary Orphans.

Camera Obscura- Live In Concert

Desire_Lines_(Camera_Obscura_album)

When you take into consideration that it’s a treat to see Glasgow band Camera Obscura on their brief eleven day North American tour this summer, it was even more of a treat to see them in the relatively intimate settings of the Loving Touch in Ferndale, Michigan.

Singer/guitarist Tracyanne Campbell addressed the close quarters of the venue by saying “It’s been a while since we could smell the crowd,” and without further ado the band launched into the aptly titled “Break It To You Gently” from last years underrated LP Desire Lines that set the tone for the remainder of the evening.

By the time the band hit the shimmery new wave dream of the end of “New Years Resolution” and Campbell’s refrain of ‘Stay Now’, it was clear the packed house wasn’t going anywhere.

“Let’s Get Out Of This Country”, the first of several songs from the 2006 album of the same name, upped the ante.  The number’s galloping pop and declaration of setting out for parts unknown are quintessential Camera Obscura and guitarist Kenny McKeeve stepped on the volume pedal for the wondrously twangy solo.

Camera Obscura’s subtle versatility was on display and for a band that is at times accused of sounding too much the same, it’s amazing to behold the way the 7 piece group can move so effortlessly and chameleon like through a variety of genres like 60s pop, motown soul, new wave, angelo badalementi moods, Smithsian jangle just to name a few.  Part of the greatness of the band is the timelessness of the sound, without it ever sounding blatantly retro.

The band has been known for its somewhat dour expressions and disposition.  When some audience members implored McKeeve to just “smile”, Campbell responded by deadpanning “Smiling is overrated”.  It was a good reminder of the bookish, sarcastic anthems for Lit major geeks of old Camera Obscura.

The new songs from Desire Lines seemed to have benefitted from some time and distance.  “Cri du Couer” was a revelation with Carey Lander’s keyboards and Tim Davidson’s pedal steel interweaving to create a gorgeous swoony atmosphere.  The rhythm section of drummer Lee Thomson and percussionist Tim Cronin shown on the buoyantly bittersweet “Every Weekday”.  Bassist Gavin Dunbar maybe the unsung hero of the entire band as his seemingly effortless melodic basslines are as s unassuming as his stage presence.   The set ended with a trio of Motownesque powerhouse songs “Do it Again”, “Lloyd,  I’m Ready to be Heartbroken” and “If Looks could Kill” that had the crowd revved up and attempting to clap along to the beautifully somber and perhaps an ill-timed “Country Mile” to which Campbell reassured the audience, “It’s not really a song you can clap along to”.

The encore of “Books Written for Girls” just about stopped time, with Campbell casting a spell over the venue that stood in rapt attention while Lander and Davidson wrapped the whole thing up with more dreamy keyboards and pedal steel.  Closer “Razzle Dazzle Rose” ended the show in that perfect Au Lang Sine way that it always does.

Opener Laura Cantrell played a thoroughly enjoyable set of her well-crafted fine art country songs.  An impromptu duet with Matthew Smith of the Detroit band Outrageous Cherry on the Everly Brothers “I Wonder if I Care as Much” gave the set a jolt of energy and a special moment for the Detroit faithful.  It was a nice gesture on Cantrell’s part to recognize a vastly underrated talent in Smith and to invite him to sing on an equally underrated Everly Brothers song.

As the band bounded off the stage, there was a hint of sadness and finality to the evening.  There seems to be a question mark surrounding the future of Camera Obscura.  Perhaps these lines from “Country Mile” say it best –

I won’t be seeing you for a long while

I hope it’s not as long as these country miles

I feel lost

Rating: 9/10

Mostly because they did not perform “Fifth in Line To The Throne”, which belongs in a David Lynch film.

Steve Davison is a writer living in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  He has degrees in Environmental Studies and English.  Recently he has written pieces for the Rapidian, Troika Moonshine 300 and ArtHack.org.  He has spent a great deal of his life, maybe too much of it, listening to, talking about and reading about music.