Vanilla Ride by Joe R. Lansdale (Book)

There are certain liberties authors are granted. Only David Mamet can get away with stringing together seemingly unrelated explicatives into believable dialogue the way he does; only Stephen King can make Maine seem like the third circle of Hell; and only Joe Lansdale, Texas born and bred, can get away with the often goofy quotes his duo Hap Collins and Leonard Pine spout off on just about every other page of his series of novels. Who else can get away with descriptions like: “…She pulled the other clip out and slipped it on the weapon smooth as a gigolo sliding on a condom.”? All is forgiven though, as long as he continues to write about Hap and Leonard, the two protagonists Lansdale hasn’t written about for nearly a decade. Living in the Hill Country of East Texas, best friends Hap and Leonard, (one white, one black, one straight, the other gay) work construction and other odd jobs when they are not hired to kill bad guys or commit other acts of questionable legality.

In Vanilla Ride, the duo help out an old friend who’s granddaughter had gotten mixed up with some local drug dealers. After taking away from her dealer boyfriends and cracking a few skulls in the process, the guys manage to piss of the Dixie Mafia, a group of White Supremacists controlling the drug trade in East Texas. The FBI gets involved and Hap and Leonard are eventually pitted against a female hit man (hit woman? hit person?). Lansdale has a history of combining tense action with laugh-out loud dialogue and Vanilla Ride is no exception, and easily one of his best novels. Hap and Leonard were greatly missed.

Vanilla Ride by Joe R. Lansdale/Knopf/256 pages/Hardcover

The Silent Years – Let Go (CD)

The only really disappointing thing about Let Go, The Silent Year’s latest EP is the length. At six songs, the band’s latest is an appropriate follow up to last year’s decent full length The Globe, managing to eclipse those songs both musically and lyrically. The group delivers unpretentious indie pop in the vein of What Made Milwaukee Famous and Vampire Weekend (without the goofy prep school kid attitude). The album opens with the strongest track on the album (“Taking Drugs at the Amusement Park”), with an impossible to shake chorus. Though there really are no bad songs in the lot, the mid-tempo “Forest Fire,” backed with horns, is one of the band’s best songs in an already impressive career. The production and instrumentation this time around is also much more impressive than past efforts. The Detroit-based four piece are certainly doing their part to prove the motor city is much more than Kid Rock, Eminem and The White Stripes.

Top tracks: “Forest Fire” and “Taking Drugs at the Amusement Park”

Rating: 8.8 out of 10

The Silent Years – Let Go/CD/2009/6 tracks/Side Cho/ www.myspace.com/thesilentyears

Gosling’s Black Seal (80 Proof)

With each different bottle of the stuff we get, I feel that we here at NeuFutur find a new variety of rum. This time, Gosling (Castle Brands) has provided us with a black rum, which I personally thought was significantly different than dark rum. Turns out, it’s just another term for that version of the spirit. Continue reading “Gosling’s Black Seal (80 Proof)”

Cristen Grey and the Moving Dunes – 10,000 Things (CD)

“So Much Better” is a song that ties together rock and alternative music in a way that touches upon the work of Edwyn McCain, The Eagles, and even early (“A Boy Named Goo”-era Goo Goo Dolls). The production of “So Much Better” is important due to the openness that it allows. Each instrument is able to shine, while there is a warmth to the compositions here that will make it honestly seem as if the listener is in the studio with Grey and the Dunes. Continue reading “Cristen Grey and the Moving Dunes – 10,000 Things (CD)”

Frank Turner – Love Ire & Song (CD)

There’s something about acoustic guitars that draws former punk rockers like moths to a flame. Frank Turner, former member of Million Dead, unplugged after his band dissolved about three years ago and decided to go the route of Billy Bragg, writing lyrically smart, occasionally politically-tinged folk rock songs.

On Love Ire & Song, his second full length (he’s also released a couple of EPs and a new LP is just months away), Turner offers a fantastic collection of brilliant sing along songs that practically soar out of the speakers. Turner tackles a plethora of topics on his latest, everything from growing up (“I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous”), right wing politics and screwed up teens (“Thatcher Fucked the Kids”), sometimes cramming all the themes into one song (like the title track).

Brimming with 14 tracks and clocking in at over 45 minutes, the record still manages to keep from dragging on, a feat most modern bands would be wise to learn. From somber (“A Love Worth Keeping”) to upbeat (“Reasons Not to Be An Idiot”), he covers the spectrum with Love Ire & Song, offering a track or two for just about every mood. Turner may have a quieter sound now, but his words are still as confrontational as the punk rock he started out with.

Top tracks: Too many to count, but try “I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous,” “Thatcher Fucked the Kids,” and “Reasons Not to be an Idiot”

Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Frank Turner – Love Ire & Song /CD/2009/12 tracks/Epitaph Records / http://www.frank-turner.com/

Jamiroquai – Live At Montreux 2003 (Blu-Ray)

Jamiroquai’s perfects at Montreux is impressive on all fronts. First off, for those that may be new to Jamiroquai’s music beyond their (few; “Virtual Insanity” heading them up) hits in America, there are a number of new tracks to sink ones teeth into. For those that wish to see a pre-Dynamite version of the act, this performance seems to give 1999’s “Synkronized” and 2001’s “A Funk Odyssey” much more in the way of coverage than later concerts would. Furthermore, viewers that require their performances to be captured at the most impressive level possible will be placated by the crisp transfers on both audio and video fronts. In a short statement, this Blu-Ray release has something for everyone. Continue reading “Jamiroquai – Live At Montreux 2003 (Blu-Ray)”

Bo Diddley – Ride On: The Chess Masters, Vol. 3 – 1960-1961 (CD)

I know that before receiving “Ride On”, I was knowledgeable about some of Bo Diddley’s work but had no clue exactly how detailed and expansive the set of eir works truly was during this period. To put this in perspective, Hip-O Select is already on the third volume of their Diddley releases, and they are only three years out from Diddley’s debut release (1958’s eponymous album). Considering that Diddley was making music well into this decade, I believe that there is still a lot of material to plumb. However, I feel that this, the third volume in “The Chess Masters”, captures the most important period of Diddley’s career. Continue reading “Bo Diddley – Ride On: The Chess Masters, Vol. 3 – 1960-1961 (CD)”

The Hairdresser’s Husband (DVD)

The Hairdresser’s Husband (Le mari de la coiffeuse) is a 1990 film by Patrice Leconte, whom individuals may know as the director of 1978’s Les Bronzés, 1985’s Les Spécialistes and 1989’s Monsieur Hire. Leconte is interesting because of the wide array of genres in which ey works; the aforementioned Les Bronzés is a comedy, 1996’s Ridicule is a period piece, and The Hairdresser’s Husband showcases Leconte’s ability to go beyond genre conventions in creating a film that is operates on a number of distinct levels. Jean Rochefort (Que la fête commence, Le Crabe-tambour) plays the lead role as Antoine. Continue reading “The Hairdresser’s Husband (DVD)”

Mathilde Liqueur Orange X.O (80 Proof)

The Mathilde Liqueur Orange X.O may seem to some to be yet another triple sec on the market, but I feel that the spirit is much more similar to a Grand Marnier than a Combier. Of course, the orange flavor is the focal point of the spirit, but I feel that the taste is much more nuanced than that. While the nose is based off of the orange base of the liqueur, a more woodsy and earthy set of notes are also present. When one is actually able to sip the liqueur, the orange does remain at the top of the noticeable flavors, but subsequent sips will bring out notes present in the nose, or even something resembling a butterscotch taste. The heavy alcohol content (80 proof) of the Mathilde Orange makes the spirit a possible “shooter” experience, with the orange masking just slightly the burn that follows soon after. This is an admirable way to consume the spirit, but I personally feel that it shines brighter when it is used as a sipping or mixing agent. Continue reading “Mathilde Liqueur Orange X.O (80 Proof)”

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 (DVD)

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is a film detailing the events of a late-sixties football game that is played between two long-standing rivals. The game was important for reasons beyond the rivalry, as both teams had achieved an undefeated season up to that point of the year. Yale’s quarterback, Brian Dowling (who had not lost a game for a number of years), had ran up a considerable lead over the entire game (with less than a minute left, the Yale squad was ahead by 16 points). What happens over the course of the next minute of the game is nothing less than extraordinary, ranking right up there with a similarly-long period of time from the 1972 AFC divisional game between the Steelers and the Raiders. Continue reading “Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 (DVD)”