The Jayhawks – Music From the North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology (CD)

Despite releasing seven studio albums, and a catalogue of truly great alternative country songs, The Jayhawks were never able to move past the cult band status before going on hiatus in 2003. Listening to their just-released anthology – 20 songs culled from all of the band’s records – it’s a bit surprising that the Minneapolis band never reached rock star status. Continue reading “The Jayhawks – Music From the North Country: The Jayhawks Anthology (CD)”

Roman Candle – Oh Tall Tree in the Ear (CD)

It took a few albums, but Chapel Hill’s reining alt country heroes Roman Candle have just turned in their iPod killer – not a single track is worth passing over. Oh Tall Tree in the Ear is 11 tracks of beautifully-crafted, well-written country-fused, roots-based indie rock reminiscent of some everyone from classic Big Star to the first couple of Wilco records. Continue reading “Roman Candle – Oh Tall Tree in the Ear (CD)”

Richard Swift – The Atlantic Ocean (CD)

Richard Swift has the sound, voice and influences an artist who’s been around for at least the past three decades. Lyrically, you have to go all the way back to Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman in the 70’s to find an appropriate contemporary and his music picks up where Jeff Lyne left off, boasting a brilliant knack for weaving literate pop sounds that go down smooth. Continue reading “Richard Swift – The Atlantic Ocean (CD)”

Girl in a Coma – Trio B.C. (CD)

What a difference two years make. On Trio B.C., the band’s sophomore record, San Antonio’s Girl in a Coma has matured greatly, both musically and lyrically. It’s not that their debut was bad, just very clear that the band grew up listening to The Smiths and not a whole lot else. Continue reading “Girl in a Coma – Trio B.C. (CD)”

Weeds: Season Four (DVD)

Talk about gateway drugs. What started out as a little pot dealing on the side to make ends meet has snowballed into gun smuggling and bringing illegal immigrants though a tunnel connecting the U.S. to Mexico. When Weeds, the quirky Showtime comedy/drama started four years ago, the premise was much tamer: recent widow and mother of two Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) was left with a family to raise and no job, so she started selling pot to neighbors in her upscale subdivision. Continue reading “Weeds: Season Four (DVD)”

Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top (Book)

And you thought the drugs were a problem? The success the guys in Aerosmith had in the late 70’s and again in the early/mid 90’s is matched only by their mythic reputation for hovering up mountains of blow in the 70’s and 80’s. In Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top, Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer touches a little on his troubles with drugs, but spends the bulk of the book talking about issues surrounding his depression, as well as longtime relationship troubles with his father, wife and even fellow band member and childhood hero Steven Tyler. Continue reading “Hit Hard: A Story of Hitting Rock Bottom at the Top (Book)”

Clock Hands Strangle – Distaccati (CD)

On their second full length, Florida’s Clock Hands Strangle still manages to keep the sound indefinable. Compared to everyone from the Meat Puppets to Death Cab for Cutie, the songs swirl from influence to influence, many times within the same track. The result is not bad, just not terribly original either, sounding a bit like an MP3 player stuck on shuffle. When focused, on tracks like the more rock-oriented “As Is” or the plodding “New York City,” the band shows a lot of promise. Continue reading “Clock Hands Strangle – Distaccati (CD)”

Nightmare of You – Infomaniac (CD)

There is something remarkably satisfying about seeing a musician forgo the obvious and easy path and branch out in a new musical direction once their band calls it quits. The results are admittedly more often awkward than successful (Def Leppard as a country band anyone?), but every now and then the gamble pays off. Nightmare of You formed out of the wreckage of Long Island hardcore heroes Movie Life, where Brandon Reilly put in time as a guitarist. Continue reading “Nightmare of You – Infomaniac (CD)”

Family Guy – Volume 7 (DVD)

After a half dozen seasons, Fox’s Family Guy was starting to get a little creaky. There’s only so many times you can trot out the effeminate baby or coked up dog before the umpteenth rerun of a King of the Hill episode starts to look more appealing.

Not sure if it was the polarizing nature of the last election cycle or just a changeup of snacks in the writer’s room, but Season 7 of the Family Guy ended up being one of the strongest since the show was revived in 2002. The jokes are still just as random and Seth McFarland and team are still apt to drift into set ups of pop culture non sequiturs, but the story lines just seem that much more appropriate with this outing.

A time travel episode back to Nazi Germany, where Stewie finds a McCain/Palin campaign button inside a Nazi uniform was among the highlights (as well as the predictably shrill reaction the piece generated from conservatives across the Internet). Even extremely dated plot lines, like Peter and the boys’ obsession with Jackass stunts, elicit more laughs than the show has seen in years. Aside from a brief, but funny Q&A panel at Comic Con with the writers and cast, the extras on the DVD are pretty basic.

The DVD also gives you the option of watching all episodes unfiltered. There is little to prepare you for just how much more funny it is to hear a cartoon baby utter the word “fuck,” rather than a quick bleeped out edit.

Rating: 8.4 out of 10

The Family Guy – Volume 7/DVD/2009/Fox DVD/305 mins.

Family Guy