As any hockey fan knows, Stanley Cup hockey is probably the most intense of any pro sport’s playoffs, with thunderous checks, low scoring and excruciatingly suspenseful sudden-death-overtime periods, where games are won with the flash of a stick or the turn
of a skate.


To Coachella or to Couch?
That Is the Question.
Some of the dweebs who labor endlessly in this aromatic cyber cesspool are gonna be pointing their Yugos east on the I-10 toward some barren acreage in the low desert for the weekend; apparently, there’s some sorta extended music recital going on out there. Others of us have playoff games—lots of ’em—to take in, comprising two of the four primary pro sports. These and other alternatives are covered in dogged doggerel below, kiddies, so scroll away…  

1. Elvis Costello, When I Was Cruel (Island):
Believe what you’ve been hearing—this is Ol’ Four Eyes’ best record since 1981’s Imperial Bedroom. Really. Which causes us to wonder, if Elvis can still do the “Watching the Detectives”/Armed Forces thing so convincingly, why hasn’t he been doing it all along? (B.S.)

2. D.L. Hughley at the L.A. House of Blues: A night of jests from a King of Comedy. Guaranteed to be a better ab workout than those muscle-contracting belts seen on TV infomercials. Performing with special guests Sommore and John Witherspooon. Saturday. (K.Y.)

3. NHL Playoffs (ESPN, ESPN2): More bang for your puck than any other pro playoffs (see below). (R.T.)

4. DJ Shadow, Live in Austin (bootleg): While patiently waiting for The Private Press (coming June 4 on MCA), the first new Shadow record in five years, this Oct. 1999 gem, on which he recreates and mutates some tracks from Endtroducing set, will have to do. (D.S.)

5. Californy Fahv-Hunnert: Dang, boy--if'n yer anywhere near Fontanny on Sundy, yer sure ta hear that ungodly rumble of a pack o' 40-odd fire-breathin', 700-horsepower machines makin' they way arount that there 2.5 mile trah-ovul. They's other races this weekind, but only one of 'em got Junior, Stewart, Harvick, Jarrett and Purdy Boy. (G.W.T.G.)

6. Doves, Last Broadcast (Capitol, 6/14): Drive to Santa Barbara. Park in the lot at Ledbetter Beach. Grab your Jogman and head up the coast at low tide while listening to this oceanic epic; waves lapping to the left, cliffs to the right; sneakers optional. It’ll make you feel good to be alive, guaranteed (see below). (B.S.)

7. The New Yorker: Consistently (and by that I mean for close to a century) the best-written weekly magazine extant—yes, kids, it’s even better-written than HITS. And it’s not all serious ’n’ shit, either, although there’s lots that is. The last three issues, for example, have contained terrific short stories from literary lions Don DeLillo and Haruki Murakami (whom I discovered in these pages), along with a rawkin’ treatise on the joys of The Hives, the White Stripes and The Strokes by staff writer Ben Greenman (see below). (B.S.)

8. The Band, The Last Waltz (WB/Rhino): Fin de siecle rock from a group as quintessentially Americana as the Thanksgiving turkey dinners they served at S.F.’s Winterland for this legendary 1976 concert, though four of the five members of The Band were Canadian, as were special guest stars Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. Digitally remastered in a lovingly appointed box set, a “drunkard’s dream if I ever did see one.” (R.T.)

9. Insomniac With Dave Attell (Comedy Central): If your hardcore nights of staying out till all hours are over, this travel show of a different sort is the perfect voyeuristic way to continue experiencing them. Hangovers not included. (D.S.)

10. Mint Skittles: Just like fruity Skittles, only in peppermint or spearmint flavoring. Perfect for when you have bad breath, and believe me, you have bad breath. Comes with free carrying case. (D.S.)

iTraitor: At 4 p.m. last Thursday, a 42-year-old computerphobic weasel bought a new iMac for $1947.24 out the door. He brought it home, plugged it in, pushed a button and began uploading entire CDs and selections from CDs. He then pushed another button and created a number of playlists. He then pushed another button and, in two minutes, burned one playlist onto a recordable CD and the other onto his iPod. By 9 p.m., he had uploaded 150 songs, burned five CDs and filled his IPod to a mere one-fifth of its capacity by sideloading 100 tracks—it would have been more, but he went to the salad bar at Gelsons at 8 p.m. The music business as we know it is over. —David Adelson

In a world turned on its ear, art sells:
A ray of sunlight has appeared amid the gloom of shrinking revenues and consumer apathy. The warm glow is emanating from an explosion of left-of-center and otherwise non-formulaic artists and records, along with the parallel emergence of an audience not merely willing but EAGER to embrace their adventurous efforts. John Mayer and Norah Jones may be the crown prince and princess of this smart-pop/arty-rock renaissance, but there's plenty more potential royalty waiting in the wings.
          Of course, there’s always been worthy stuff on the fringes; the big difference is that, these days, passionate music lovers are actually locating it, sometimes in such numbers that the mainstream shifts. Tellingly, the current issue of the staunchly old-school New Yorker contains a coltishly enthusiastic critique of the White Stripes, The Strokes and The Hives, three prominent members of the art-meets-commerce vanguard. Meanwhile, the inspirational story of Wilco’s rejection and redemption is all over the national press, to the extent that Jeff Tweedy & Co. have become the poster boys for audacious art’s triumph over corporate blindness; the hoped-for denouement, of course, is that the band’s radical new album turns out to be its biggest seller. The majors are suddenly hankering for cool acts like these, not merely to display them as trophies, but to test them in the marketplace as viable commercial entities.
          Although this movement has hit the radar only during the last few months, it has actually been under way for a couple of years. Look at Britain’s Coldplay, the very sort of song-oriented neoclassic outfit that was largely ignored for a quarter century by the mass audience—but in this case, more than a million fans have bought the band’s classy debut album since its 2000 release. If this movement does take off, Coldplay should rightfully be acknowledged as one of its trailblazers.
          Interestingly, the band came to Capitol Records in the States circuitously, through a deal with Canadian indie Nettwerk, despite the fact that it was initially signed by Capitol’s British cousin Parlophone (an intriguing back story, a la Wilco’s, that got zero play in the press). No matter. Coldplay has joined Radiohead as a jewel in the crown of what is arguably the most impressive art-rock roster in the business—this despite the fact that said roster is the product of several A&R regimes. In recent months, Capitol has introduced Starsailor and Ed Harcourt, and it’s in the process of setting up adventurous and enticing new albums from the Doves (whose first album was on Astralwerks, but that’s another back story), Dirty Vegas and The Vines. And let’s not forget that the Dandy Warhols, who were several years ahead of the present art-rock curve, have long been a Capitol band, one whose time may well have finally come. Finally, what on earth do Radiohead and Coldplay have up their sleeves? With all this envelope-pushing music, is Capitol destined to become the HBO of major labels? Who knew? 
          All of a sudden, people are turning each other on to new bands and artists, much as they did in 1966,’77 and ’91, making word of mouth the most potent—if least predictable or controllable—marketing tool of the moment. How all this will play out is any weasel’s guess (and every weasel’s fantasy). Even if it succeeds dramatically, the smart-pop/arty-rock movement may not in itself be enough to resuscitate the struggling music industry—but at the very least, the prioritizing of quality music will make the worst of times sound something like the best of times. Bud Scoppa

Itchy Palm Springs:
Here are 59 reasons to spend the weekend in the desert oasis of Coachella: Bjork, Chemical Brothers, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Sasha & Digweed, Groove Armada (DJ set), Cake, Jack Johnson, Pete Yorn, Jurassic 5, Beta Band, Queens of the Stoneage, G Love & Special Sauce, The Charlatans UK, KRS-One, Cornershop, Jimmy Van M., Lee Burridge, Mark Farina, International Noise Conspiracy, Z-Trip, Pharcyde, Folk Implosion, The Vines, Citizen Cope, Kosheen, Forest for the Trees, Princess Superstar and Saul Williams (Saturday). Oasis, The Prodigy, Foo Fighters, The Strokes, Paul Oakenfold, Belle & Sebastian, Tiesto, Mos Def, BT, Dilated Peoples, Ozomatli, Saves the Day, Galactic, Sandra Collins, Christopher Lawrence, DJ Dan, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Pete Tong, Zero 7, Blonde Redhead, Mars Volta, DJ Peretz (Perry Farrell), Elbow, Triple Threat, Fairview, Sound Tribe Sector 9, Fairview, Ping Pong Bitches, Rock Steady Crew, Medusa and Cut Chemist (Sunday). You can’t see everything, so don’t miss the Queens of the Stoneage (with Dave Grohl on drums), The Vines (quite possibly creators of the year’s best album), Mars Volta (At the Drive-in spinoff), Elbow (quite possibly creators of the year’s best album) and Zero 7 (quite possibly creators of the year’s best album). David Simutis

Islanders vs. Leafs in Stanley Cup Playoffs:
Yeah, I know, I know… There are probably about 15,000 hockey fans in any NHL city in the U.S., and each one of them attends every game, with no spillover at all to the general populace. Out here in L.A., it’s hard to convince people that, back east and in Canada, ice hockey is more than a game—it’s a way of life. My interest has admittedly waned over the last eight years, while my beloved Islanders have toiled under an assortment of ownerships that have dragged down the onetime dynasty. As the best team I’ve ever been a fan of, the Isles of Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, Denis Potvin, Clark Gilles and Billy Smith captured four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83, but their appearance in the playoffs this year is their first since 1994. And as any hockey fan knows, Stanley Cup hockey is probably the most intense of any pro sport’s playoffs, with thunderous checks, low scoring and excruciatingly suspenseful sudden-death-overtime periods, where games are won with the flash of a stick or turn of a skate.
          This week’s fourth game in the best-of-seven series between the Isles and the Toronto Maple Leafs was typical, a fairly low-key 2-1 affair that erupted over the final seven minutes with four goals, including an almost-unheard-of penalty shot called by the refs with a little over two minutes left. The striped shirts rarely call a penalty in the final moments of playoff games, much less a penalty shot—but they did this time. The penalty shot is one of the most exciting moments in all of sports, with the skater allowed to come in alone, one on one with the goalie. The Islanders’ Shawn Bates canned the shot, blasting it past Leafs goalie Curtis Joseph (known as Cujo), giving the Isles their eventual game-winning 4-3 margin, but it wasn’t over until the Lon Guyland guys killed off a two-man deficit in the last minute. 
          The series is now tied 2-2, and, with my Knicks sidelined until at least the draft lottery, it’s my only game in town. Especially with the Mets primed to disappoint, as always. Hey, all I am saying is give pucks a chance. —Roy Trakin

Cornershop, Handcream for a Generation (Wiiija/Beggars Banquet):
Marching to the beat of a different tabla, Cornershop’s Asian/Britpop exhibits the possibilities of a global village. One need look no further than the list of guests—soul legend Otis Clay (“Heavy Soup”), Oasis’ Noel Gallagher (the 14-minute, old-school psychedelic jam “Spectral Mornings”) and co-production from the X-ecutioners’ Rob Swift (who coproduced “two tracks)—to get a sense of the cross-cultural smorgasboard. And Cornershop keeps it playful, whether using a chorus of kids on “Staging the Plaguing of the Raised Platforms,” or leader Tjinder Singh’s deadpan vocals or the organs- and turntable-fueled “Wogs Will Walk.” It’s pop, but with enough exotic flavorings to sound unlike anything else. —D.S.

Badly Drawn Boy, About a Boy (ArtistDirect): This soundtrack, the mainstream bow of a U.K. indie-pop luminary, seems destined for multiple “Top 10 of 2002” lists. BDB’s songs and cues are superbly crafted and eclectic, frequently augmented by symphonic arrangements; their sweep and expressiveness recalls the last “Golden Age” of singer-songwriters, and could even presage a new one. Co-producer Tom Rothrock seasons the brew perfectly, with players like Jon Brion, Pete Thomas and Joey Waronker pitching in. Some highlights: the uptempo “A Peak You Reach,” the bouncy “Something to Talk About” and swirling chamber-pop outing “Above You, Below Me.” Simon Glickman

You’re on air with 30 seconds to go, but you lack that crucial piece of music info you need to do the break. The name of the original drummer in Nirvana? The year New Order formed? Allmusic.com is a monumentally huge, searchable database that covers virtually all styles of music. You can access info by artist, song title, genre or virtually any parameter you can think of. Call up a song title, and you're presented with every artist who's ever recorded the song. Click on that artist name and you get a bio, a complete discography and more. Click on an album title and you get the album cover and all the song titles. Click on a song title and you get everyone who's ever recorded that song. What goes around comes around. It's a metaphor for the universe! It’s also practical. And the best part is, it's FREE!
—Mike Morrison

Life or Something Like It (20th Century Fox): Angelina Jolie is a faux blonde bimbo reporter for a Seattle news show who is blissfully ignorant of how shallow she is until a prophetic homeless man (Tony Shaloub) reveals she has a week left to live. Of course, given the current zeitgeist, Jolie discovers her unexamined life—and all its material rewards—isn’t worth living, so she tries on several different ones for size. Sounds like a combination of The Family Man and The Fischer King female style, with the trailers looking very broad and slapstick. Ed Burns co-stars as the obligatory romantic interest, a wise-cracking photographer. Screenwriters John Scott Shepherd (Joe Somebody) and Dana Stevens (City of Angels) are one sign of where this one’s going, while director Stephen Herek (Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, Rock Star, Holy Man, 101 Dalmatians, Mr. Holland’s Opus, The Mighty Ducks) seems to be settling into a comfortable hackdom. The website at www.lifeorsomethinglikeit.com, offers the by-now standard info about the film and filmmakers, a gallery of pictures, a trailer and various downloads.

The Salton Sea (Warner Bros.): Shades of the Memento crossed with Pulp Fiction. This is a twisted L.A. noir about a jazz saxophonist (Val Kilmer) who witnesses his wife’s murder and goes undercover as a drug dealer to avenge her death, “set adrift in a world where nothing is as it seems.” The film’s tagline is “If You’re Looking for the Truth, You’ve Come to the Wrong Place.” Vincent D’Onofrio is Pooh-Bear, a major speed dealer and resident sadistic evil mofo, wont to do stuff like make poor Kilmer drop his pants in front of a rabid badger. Very Tarantino, ne c’est pas? The director is TV veteran D. J. Caruso (Smallville) and the screenplay’s by Tony Gayton who, after 15 years of struggle, had two of his scripts come out as films within two weeks (the other’s Murder by Numbers). Adam Goldberg (A Beautiful Mind, Saving Private Ryan), B.D. Wong (Father of the Bride), Luis Guzman (Traffic, Magnolia), Peter Sarsgaard (The Center of the World, Boys Don’t Cry) and Anthony LaPaglia (Lantana) are among the fine supporting cast, and the coming attractions look suitably wacky, so maybe this one is worth a look-see. The website at saltonseamovie.warnerbros.com includes clips selected by the director, a trailer, crawling bugs and a moaning woman. The original soundtrack on Varese Sarabande includes the score by Thomas Newman (American Beauty, Six Feet Under).

Dogtown and Z-Boys (Sony Pictures Classics): Advance word say this documentary could do for skate culture what Endless Summer did for surfing all those years ago, popularizing what is now a cult L.A. phenomenon gradually spreading everywhere. Financed by California footwear manufacturer Vans and directed by whiz kid entrepreneur Stacy Peralta, it recounts the birth of modern skateboarding from its roots in surfboard and beach culture, where the so-called Z-Boys hung out in Santa Monica and Venice at Jeff Ho’s Surfboards and Zephyr Productions. The place was dubbed Dogtown, the “Coney Island of the West…a place where pyromaniacs, junkies, artists and surfers could excel in symbiotic disharmony.” There’s plenty of archival footage, including those who went on to make it big, and those who didn’t, all narrated by honorary Z-Boy Sean Penn. Check out the website at www.dogtownmovie.com, which offers an exclusive on, naturally, Van’s shoes and apparel, a history of Dogtown, a photo gallery, related links and a history of the movie’s development, which started with a March ’99 piece in Spin. The Universal Records soundtrack features Blue Oyster Cult, Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Ted Nugent, the James Gang, Iggy & the Stooges and Robin Trower. —R.T.

I've always been a big Wilco appreciator, but never a huge fan; however, I think that with this new album that'll change. Their show at Bowery Ballroom on Friday is sold out already, so my second choice pick is Suzanne Vega at the Bottom Line. I was kind of obsessed with that "99.9 F " song when it first came out. The Von Bondies have always been known as the opening act for the White Stripes, but they're finally getting the attention they deserve. They'll be playing at the Mercury Lounge on Saturday. And finally, for a bit of something, well, different, my pick for Sunday is Gwar at The World. I've always been a big fan of bands who can incorporate a liquid element into their acts. —Heidi Anne-Noel

Instead of waiting until the last minute, put aside some time to select a Mother’s Day present, as May 12 is rapidly approaching. One gift I especially enjoy giving on this day is a round-trip plane ticket (using frequent-flyer miles) to visit my sister and her children. Being the barren spinster of my mother’s daughters, I can afford to be so magnanimous. For those fashionista moms, www.purpleskirt.com is selling a black leather tote that’s a near-replica of the highly coveted Balenciaga Motorcycle Bag (which sells for nearly $2,000, if you can find one) for a mere $232. Another great gift (that you’ll want for yourself) is Crme de la Mer, now available on www.neimanmarcus.com. Believe the hype—this stuff is worth every penny. For those Moms who live in Los Angeles, how about a membership to the new Arc Light Cinema in Hollywood? Built behind the Cinerama Dome, these theaters have assigned stadium seating, swank waiting areas, a gift shop, better-than-average concession stand and virtually NO CUSTOMERS. Give Mom an early gift and buy her tickets for the first showing of Spider-Man on www.arclightcinemas.com. If your tax return was especially grand, Mom would LOVE a TV/VCR/DVD combo, plus a selection of DVDs. What better way to spend Mother’s Day than teaching her how to use the remote control! That’s 12 hours well spent. Finally, pay a yoga teacher to come to your mother's house to teach your mom and five of her friends the “basics.” If Mom likes it, sign her up at the local yoga studio for further lessons. —Ivana B. Adored

Starring Doja Cat, Nipper and Ms. Larry David (5/13a)
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. (5/14a)
Beam us up, Uncle Clive. (5/13a)
Todd gets in. Finally. (5/13a)
She also reviews the best outdoor Bluetooth speakers. (5/13a)
The musical tapestry we know as R&B.
Predicting the next big catalog deal.
Once we all get vaccinated, how long before we can party?
How is globalization bringing far-flung territories into the musical mainstream?

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