Ray Davies now a politico, no longer Kinky

February 22, 2008
Let it never be said of Ray Davies that the man has nothing to say. The erstwhile Kink’s second solo album, “Working Man’s Cafe,” is separated by less than two years from his debut effort, and it certainly has the sound and feel of a record freighted with meaning. In a dozen crisp tracks Davies »

Don’t think twice, biopic’s all right

December 7, 2007
One easy initial complaint with “I’m Not There,” Todd Haynes’s fractured, devilishly idiosyncratic Bob Dylan picture, might be that the writer and director has fallen victim to the very same stylistic pretensions of the man whose life he attempts to portray. A valid observation, certainly: with six different actors playing characters representomg Dylan’s various personae, »

Traveling Wilburys defined supergroup rock

October 12, 2007
When “Traveling Wilburys Vol. 1” was released in 1988, the album shot to No. 3 on the U.S. charts and eventually went double platinum. Later it was nominated for one Grammy (album of the year) and won another (best rock performance by a duo or group). The record’s central conceit was pretty straightforward: a band »

‘Souls’ needs Zoloft and sense of humor

September 21, 2007
At some point, James Blunt seized upon the idea of writing songs that make him sound sadder, lonelier and more tormented than the rest of the people in the world. The habit would be far more maddening if he weren’t occasionally quite decent at it. “All the Lost Souls,” Blunt’s first new album since his »

Searching for Yale’s avant-garde

September 21, 2007
From the frail, weathered sheet of paper, typed neatly in electric green ink, the words ring with the exuberance of a creative product still in the making. “Beat, beat, whirr, thud, in the soft turf under the apple trees/ Chorus nympharum, goat foot with the pale foot alternate./ Sea crescent bends blue-shot waters, green in »

‘Bean’ sprouts deja vu, slapstick

September 7, 2007
About halfway into “Mr. Bean’s Holiday,” Rowan Atkinson’s eponymous British bumbler awakes in a picturesque French village after trudging through the countryside all night. A credulous grin spreads across that elastic face as Mr. Bean gazes warmly at the children playing in the street, the old men sitting serenely outside the café and the beautiful »

Fall film crop is streamlined

August 31, 2007
Anybody monitoring the seismograph between this past May and August in search of a massive box office stampede was bound to come away rather nonplussed: even the concept of the summer blockbuster is beginning to feel obsolete. Moviegoers should take heart, then, that this fall’s crop promises a number of lean, no-nonsense pictures with some »

Adult Swim absurdity

May 3, 2007
For those unfamiliar with Adult Swim, the Cartoon Network’s nightly parade of irony-soaked Gen-X programming, the main characters of “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” are Frylock, Master Shake and Meatwad — a talking carton of French fries, a talking milkshake and, what else, a talking wad of meat, respectively. Normally their adventures are confined to the »

Avril gets mad, gets lewd, gets old

April 27, 2007
Take a relatively clean-cut pop star like Avril Lavigne, have her snarl enough cuss words to snag a Parental Advisory on her latest album, maybe apply some more hair dye and eyeliner, and people will automatically start talking about her updated image, or something like that. Lavigne is, of course, almost certainly aware of this »

Wahlberg aims, ‘Shooter’ misses

April 6, 2007
“Shooter” is the sort of action movie that excels in one respect, and one respect only: It recognizes from the very beginning that it isn’t, well, excellent. The film seems to understand that its viewers are primarily interested in seeing some combination of guns, explosions and Mark Wahlberg, and it dutifully sticks pretty much to »

Ted Leo prescribes unpalatable cure

March 30, 2007
There ought to be a law against making albums that are more than an hour long — unless, of course, the listener can actually discern some musical variety between the songs on the record. It’s mighty hard to argue against, say, the White Album or “Tommy” on the grounds that they’re too sprawling. A certain »

My Super Sweet 21

March 2, 2007
The cakes that had once resembled the numerals 2 and 1, now devoured by a roomful of guests, were cleared from the head table as waiters laid out a stock of fresh candles. While the partygoers chatted amongst themselves, birthday girl Suzanna Lee ’08 leaned out across the table to survey the scene and received »