Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Review : 'Nashville' : 'It's All Wrong But It's All Right '

On tonight's episode of Nashville, characters find themselves questioning what they're made of (we ask the same thing of the dish Juliette prepares in her kitchen at the end of the show). Here's what happened.

In case you forgot about that time Juliette was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry, the ceremony takes place this week. She's still having tons of trouble, but goes along with Evil Boss Man Jeff's instructions to beg for mercy. Jeff sits in the empty Ryman listening to her practice her mea culpa and says finally broke the filly.

That's not very nice. Before she goes on stage, all kinds of well wishers turn up, but it's Maddie who seems to change Juliette's mind: "Bullies shouldn't win." So, instead of apologizing, she sings a song about how it's going to take a lot more to burry her under. The audience is unmoved. People backstage are like:

Glen, however, is all proud papa, so that's nice. Of course, Jeff goes to Juliette's dressing room and drops her from the label, calling her stupid. Juliette counters that "stupid" is losing your top two performers within a couple months. TRUTH. Later on, Glen tries to get her on another label, but has no luck. She squirts an awful amount of Ketchup into a dish and tells Glen she's kind of glad it's over because she's tired of fighting. Then she shows up at Avery's apartment with casserole and LUST. Not really. She basically finishes the confession she started a few episodes back. They kiss and it gets all Bachelor Fantasy Suite.

Anyway, looks like Luke's love language is buying crap, as he presents Rayna with her face on a race car. He also lets her join in on his concert for sponsors after a Nascar race. He basically does everything he can to help her connect with potential investors, including a Sam Walton-type figure whom she spends the episode schmoozing. At said concert, Rayna performs her new single and announces her album's release date. Jeff conspires to make sure she can't get shelf space. The old guy she's been schmoozing, however, offers to replace all of Juliette Barnes' album with hers since Juliette is a heathen. Maddie is like:

No worries. Rayna doesn't take the deal.

Speaking of deals, you know how Tandy made one for immunity if she testified against Lamar? She's hiding in a hotel, hoping he won't take a hit out on her. The best part is that she gets a text from THE US ATTORNEY'S OFFICE (like, she has them programmed in her phone?) that says "Turn yourself in now!" The FBI does comes busting into her room eventually, but she basically gets the whole case against Lamar thrown out because the materials she gave the Feds were technically obtained illegally.

Speaking of deals, (I'm totes out of clever transitions), Deacon is having regrets about his deal with Belcourt Records. They want him to do an album of duets with all the famous people he knows. He eventually decides he'd rather do Deacon Claybourne Live from the Bluebird because that's who he is, dangnabbit.

At least he knows. Layla doesn't. She tries to write a song with Gunnar and realizes she has nothing to say. I fail to feel bad for her. Similarly, I fail to feel bad for Scarlett, who refuses to open up to new producer Liam when he tries to get to know her. She pitches a fit like a child, he steals her notebook, they wind up actually recording an honest song about her life instead of the whiskey she doesn't drink and along the way she starts popping pills. Even after that come-to-Jesus last week with Rayna about how Scarlett is really going to have to WANT this career, she continues to act in inexplicable ways and make bad choices.

Stray Observations:
+ Daphne is getting way attached to Luke, right?
+ I'm predicting a drug talk from Deacon at some point.
+ Brad Paisley returns to Nashville!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Review : 'Nashville' : 'Just for What I Am'

This week on Nashville, we were making up and breaking down. Also, how many times can this show set an episode climax to an industry party? We shall see. Here's what happened.

Juliette continues to flame out. She even has to delete her Twitter account.

Then she starts finding out that her shows are getting canceled because her fans are turning on her, which sucks. What sucks more is how Evil Bossman Jeff shows up and tears her to bits, telling her that she's "an uneducated, mildly talented lie" and saying she's going to have to beg the country for forgiveness.

But you know how the previews lead you to believe that she immediately goes and overdoses or something in her bedroom? She was just temporarily passed out and when Avery busted in, she woke up and ran to the bathroom to puke. Folks, if you find someone who sticks around after they've seen you in your skivvies puking, KEEP THEM. As a remedy for her concerns about losing everything, he dresses her like a hipster and takes her downtown to busk. A giant crowd of people stop and throw money into his guitar case. This is a misrepresentation of the city. We don't stop for buskers because we wouldn't have any more money left. But still, she'll never have nothing as long as she has the music! Eh. After going to a deserted church to pray, she decides the best course of action is to write a song.

Ok. Everyone else is going to be at Luke, Rayna, and Gunnar's #1 song party. Stay with me and I'll get us there too.

First off, Rayna asks Deacon to write with her. They do. It goes well. Lady Lawyer Friend is skeptical. Deacon is contemplating signing a contract with Belcourt Records. He will. (Glad our local art theater is diversifying its revenue streams?) He gets some TRUTH about how much the industry stinks because the deal is not stellar, but considering there's a deal on the table at all…

Luke and Rayna have preliminary convo about being a celebrity couple. She's like…

… but then later on is like sure. You know it's love because she and Luke stand there complimenting each other for like five minutes.

Gunnar runs into one of the guys from Rascal Flatts and they do a co-write that afternoon, which means that Gunnar has to bail on meeting Zoe's friends. Again. (I thought she just moved here, when did make all these friends?) They will have one of THOSE fights later on and she will refuse to attend the party.

Scarlett, meanwhile, is friggin falling apart because work is TOUGH and she's SLEEPY. She resists everything Buckey tells her she has to do, like basic tour promotion. She brings her bad mood to the party where she has lots of awkward conversations, like the one where Gunnar tells her that the "thing" that happens between them when they sing is just business. She also finds out that her uncle and Rayna are writing together and when Rayna walks into the bathroom, she finds Scarlett pulling a Moaning Myrtle. Scarlett tells Rayna some nasty little things about how she can't have those kinds of weird relationships with her exes and how when Rayna says "jump," Deacon says "how high." Scarlett apologizes the next morning, but yowzer. Rayna does give her a talking to, however, about how badly she's going to have to want all this if she wants to succeed– she's going to have to love the music more than she hates the other stuff. Not bad advice. Scarlett is like I do want it! I'm like…

Oh, and Teddy figures out that Lamar PROBABLY had something to do with Peggy's murder.

I'm going to go busk now and make $$$. See you next week.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Five Reasons 'Meet the Beatles!' Changed Rock

Last Friday morning, I got to spend 40 minutes talking to author and Beatles expert Kenneth Womack about the 50th anniversary of the Beatles' American debut album, Meet the Beatles!. I could go on all day about the Beatles, so I'm glad I've got a gig that accommodates that. Check out the five ways in which the album left its mark on rock music. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Review : 'Nashville' : 'I'll Keep Climbing'

Let's cut to the chase. The opening scene of tonight's episode of Nashville was real weird. I mean, Juliette's torso floating against a background of clouds? I think the Conrad/Jaymes clan was cuddling on the couch at some point, feeling crappy about Peggy's murder, but I was more concerned with whatever out of body experience Juliette was having. ANYWAY. I'll go light on her because she's having a helluva week. Despite the fact that cheating is as familiar to country music as the 10-gallon Stetson, Juliette's attracting a crowd of protesters with a Westboro-type crazy streak. An out-of-context video clip of her seemingly saying that there's no God, leaks online and everything just gets worse. On a scale of "bad" to "Glee slushie," Juliette is in a world of problems. But how much will Layla's stellar, though hard-bought defense via press conference matter? We'll see next week. BTW, everything is stilted and awkward with Avery after she showed up at his apartment at 2 a.m. to confess her love.

Now take a moment to remember how much you hated Juliette last season and question how you got to this new place of sympathy.

Speaking of sympathy (or really, the lack thereof), Deacon's got to crank out some new material. His buddy from the music business tells him that he needs to dig deep. After a montage of Deacon unsuccessfully writing hits at his piano (a montage that also resembles me at my computer circa 2007 trying to write a paper on Hamlet)…

his Lady Lawyer Friend shows up with lots of good will and support. He proceeds to treat her like crap because she's a LAW-YER and she doesn't understand creativity. I have no patience for that fool. After considering jumping back into the bottle, he sits down Lady Lawyer Friend to tell her he's too happy to write music because he's always written from a place of pain. SOUNDS LIKE NOT HER PROBLEM, YA DIP WAD. Whatever. He does manage to write a song with Maddie later on, so I guess there's that.

On the Bluebird front, it appears that no one pays any attention to Will since it takes days for anyone to notice he's been missing. Gunnar finally tracks him down in the wilderness… somewhere. Will is in full on meltdown mode. It's actually pretty sad. He's disgusted with himself. He admits to Gunnar he thought about killing himself and Gunnar get PISSED and tells him they're friends and YOU NEED TO CALL ME if that kind of thing happens again. This is all well and good, but Gunnar's hardly been a friend in the past, so I don't really know why he cares or excepted Will to have reached out to him in a moment of crisis. He also delivers a pretty half-assed speech about how this is the 21st century.

I feel like the show has the chance to make a thoughtful exploration of what it could mean for a male country artist to come out as gay in an industry that's traditionally conservative and rather attached to its gender roles, but I don't necessarily think the show is capable of it.

The next morning, Will seems to be over what was ailing him and Gunnar (whose hair looks remarkably good for having spent the night and most of the preceding day outside in a hoodie) gets phone messages from Scarlett saying that Kelly Clarkson wants to record their songs.

Gunnar and Scarlett perform for Clarkson and do their sad eyes thing with each other, and when Clarkson asks them to write for her, Scarlett decides she can't do this. I want to tell her than if the Civil Wars could get their shit together for a second album, she can too. And if Stax Record's Sam and Dave (who reportedly hated each other) could suck it up and act like professionals, she can too. THINK OF THE MONEY. Scarlett's also bummed because she is a wee bit of suspicious of Juliette turning up at Avery's. Not sure where this is going since Scarlett's going back out on tour and Avery left a message with Juliette that she could come over anytime, day OR night.

Meanwhile in Nashville's mayoral office, Teddy is convinced that there's more to Peggy's murder than the investigators think. He is probably right. There's no way Lamar isn't behind this.

Apart from comforting her grief-stricken ex, Rayna is busy launching her label Highway 65. Nevermind that NO one down here uses the word "highway." Manager Buckey says they've got a website, though!

The rest of Rayna's drama revolves primarily around whether she should trust the market research that says her album has no single. Liam is like TRUST THE VISION. All of a sudden, Rayna understands money. She decides she needs to write a new song.

SO WAIT. Both Rayna and Deacon are having songwriting issues? Wonder where this is headed.

Stray Observations:
+ Zoe loves Gunnar. Erin doesn't care.
+ Maddie and Deacon's song tonight was one of the better ones of the season.
+ Also wondering how long Scarlett and Avery will last now that she's jealous and they've both acknowledged they've changed.

Monday, January 13, 2014

15 Songs for Hipster Kids… And Their Parents!

When one of my fellow Consequence of Sound staffers sent out an email about the new Starbucks CD Music for Little Hipsters (and doing our own version), I thought: "There is no world in which I don't participate in this feature."

I may not have kids, but I've got opinions, yo. Check out what we put together.


Five Reasons 2014 Could be a Good Year for Women in Music

The past couple weeks have been pretty busy. I'm happy to be posting the first of several articles I've been working on since after the holidays.

The week before last I got to talk to NPR's Ann Powers about what 2014 might look like for women in music. If you're curious about she said, then you'll want to check out the latest in my Five Reasons series for Consequence of Sound.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ringo Wants to Be a Powerpuff Girl

One of my first introductions to Ringo Starr was through the kids TV show Shinning Time Station, where he played the role of Mr. Conductor. I'm sure at some point, my dad felt the need to explain that the little man in the blue suit was actually the drummer for one of the important rock bands in history. I look forward to imagining a similar conversation taking place between children and parents, brought about by this animated clip from the Cartoon Network show The Powerpuff Girls, in which Ringo (as the character of mathematician Fibonacci Sequins, har har) wishes he could join the heroic trio, partly for the dress and bow. That's right, sweet child, the little man in the yellow dress is the drummer for one of the most important rock bands in history. 

I'm not knocking him. If anything, God bless. I think it's hilarious, and the song is weirdly catchy. Take a look.