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On Rush, Coldplay limits itself to
the standard noisemaking devices—guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ and strings—while constructing streamlined but sturdy song structures. It’s what the band manages to do with these familiar elements that makes Coldplay—and this album—special.
WEAKEND PLANNER’S ANNUAL
BACK-TO-SCHOOL EDITION
But First, Get Outta Town and Take a Chill Pill on the Rocks—Make That a Double
6:15 a.m.: As we write this early Friday morning, the two sides are STILL talking in a last-ditch effort to avert a strike by Major League Baseball players. The greed of the fat cats among both the players and the owners makes us long for the unfettered purity of…big-time college football, where student-athletes toil for the sheer love of the game in idyllic settings around this great country of ours. OK, so maybe college ball is somewhat fettered; maybe some money is involved at the Division 1A level of NCAA football. The point is, there are enough compelling games this three-day weekend to keep us fully occupied, whether or not there’s still a pennant race. We direct your attention to the marquee match-up, #11 Washington at #13 Michigan, Saturday at 9 a.m. PDT on ABC. Then, at 5, also on ABC, Ty Willingham makes his debut as the head coach of once-mighty Notre Dame as the Irish travel to Maryland. In between is a full slate of games. And that’s not all, folks. On Sunday, #14 LSU takes on #16 Virginia Tech (11:30, ABC), and on Labor Day, Auburn heads west to meet USC at the Coliseum (5, ABC). All in all, there’s far more offensive variety in college ball than in the dink-pass-happy NFL (whose interminable “preseason” is thankfully drawing to a close), and the electricity generated by a packed stadium in, say, Ann Arbor and Knoxville is unmatched in American sport. But hey, if none of the above blows your whistle, we have plenty of alternatives for you to consider as you warm up the grill…

10:05 a.m.: Whaddaya know? There won't be a strike after all, so the Dodgers and Angels can continue their quest for the respective Wild Cards, while the Braves, Yankees, A's and D'backs cruise through the rest of the regular season. As for us, we're STILL gonna watch college football this weekend.

WEAKEND POPCULT TOP 10
1. Amoeba Music:
You wouldn't know record sales were in the doldrums from this place, where new, used, mainstream, indie and just plain weird music in all formats flies out the door. Throw in killer in-store shows and a social scene worthy of a singles bar, and you've got an instant L.A. landmark. On top of that, walk out the front door and your mere steps from lunch and a Thai iced tea at Chan Dara. At the corner of Sunset and Cahuenga.

2. Van Arno, Superpatriot: Sept. 7 through Oct. 1 and possibly beyond. At Delirium Tremens gallery, 1553 Echo Park Ave., L.A. Open Sat. & Sun. 1-5. You may know his Airhead cartoons, but until you've seen his paintings, you've barely scratched the surface of his perversity. Epic, masterfully disturbing images will have you questioning everything. A must-see.

3. Watts & Wyman: Believe the hype—the sound on the Rolling Stones ABKCO reissues really is amazingly vivid. And what’s particularly revealing is the awesomeness of the band’s rhythm section, as Charlie and Bill display equal mastery of rock & roll and soul grooves. Sure, we love to get free records, but we happily sprang for Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed Wednesday, then spent the evening blasting them. You gotta get some of this stuff, kiddies, even if you have to pay for it.

4. Merci Pour La Chocolate (Empire Pictures): Original French nouvelle vague auteur Claude Chabrol explores the hidden underbelly of bourgeois self-satisfaction with longtime collaborator Isabelle Huppert in this thriller whose most violent moment involves a purposely spilled thermos of hot chocolate.

5. Danny "The Dude" Lasoski: World of Outlaws sprint-car driver returned to victory lane Aug. 27 at Cottage Grove, OR, for the first time since being injured June 26. Defending champ is back in it, but now trails series leader Steve "The King" Kinser by 304 points with 31 races to go.

6. Possession (WB): Based on the Booker Prize-winning novel by A.S. Byatt, Neil LaBute’s film has an amazing performance by the luminescent Jennifer Ehle (daughter of acting great Rosemary Harris), who resembles the young Meryl Streep in looks and in magic.

7. The Sopranos, season four (HBO): Treachery, betrayal, extortion, infidelity, murder…and that’s just the season finale of American Idol. (But seriously, folks, the preview spots have us salivating for the season premiere after 16 months away.) Starts Sept. 15.

8. The Hall of Douchebags: Did you know seven-and-a-half of every 10 rock band publicity shots is taken in front of a brick wall? Neither did I, until I perused www.rockandrollconfidential.com’s collection of 300 Unfortunate Band Photos Suitable for Framing. Complete with deadpan captions worthy of HITS itself. Click here for your slide show (http://www.rockandrollconfidential.com/ddfiles/p1.htm.

9. World War III: Pay no attention to those CEOs who fucked your retirement fund. We must bomb Iraq immediately!

10. Baseball’s D-Day: Casey has not struck out after all. Play ball.

NOT THAT RUSH
Coldplay, A Rush of Blood to the Head (Nettwerk/Capitol):
Is it just me, or do several of the best albums of the last two years (including those from Pete Yorn, John Mayer, the Doves and Wilco) take awhile before revealing themselves to the listener? Hey, it’s probably always been the case, especially with groundbreaking works (I’ll confess that the first time I heard Exile on Main Street it sounded virtually unlistenable; six months later it was a revelation), as the listener’s attention shifts from the macro to the micro.

During the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a similar struggle with Coldplay’s much-anticipated second album. It wasn’t just that first single “In My Place” lacked the immediacy of the modern-day classic “Yellow,” which had propelled the band’s 2000 debut to platinum status; it was that the album as a whole struck me as being puzzlingly straightforward and plainspoken. But having loved Parachutes, that breakthrough first album, and having experienced the phenomenon of gradual blossoming so frequently of late, I stayed the course, and I’m pleased to report that, on the fifth or sixth spin, Coldplay’s new album finally rushed to my head. What I had taken to be stark simplicity now strikes me as utter purity—this band believes in its own artistic impulses to the extent that it eschews any move that might be construed as gratuitous.

On Rush, the English quartet limits itself to the standard noisemaking devices—guitars, bass, drums, piano, organ and strings—while constructing streamlined but sturdy song structures. It’s what the band manages to do with these familiar elements that makes Coldplay—and this album—special. Chris Martin & Co. know how to play the spaces as well as the notes, and they drape their structures with the loveliest ornaments, like violins seconding unconventional guitar chordings, McCartneyesque burbling bass accents, ever-intensifying tempos and Martin’s cognac-toned, empathy-inducing singing.

The first sound you hear on opener “Politik” is swelling strings, joined an instant later by clanging guitars, introducing the album’s musical motif, in which dense clusters of sound alternate with seemingly vast open spaces. The album closes with “Amsterdam,” wherein those same strings melt away, mimicking the exit of Martin’s hushed, finely nuanced vocal, with its silky falsetto. In between is enough musical and emotional business to keep this album involving for who knows how many plays? Right now, I’m especially in the thrall of “The Scientist,” “Clocks” and “Daylight” (tracks four through six), a 15-minute sequence that reveals the resonance and versatility of good old-fashioned acoustic piano—not to mention the emotiveness of Martin’s singing. This is an album that gets better with age, and I strongly suspect the same will be true for this classy band. Bud Scoppa

HOGE HEAVEN
Will Hoge, Blackbird on a Lonely Wire (Atlantic):
Of all the pleasant byproducts of adult pop’s recent surge, perhaps the nicest, from an aesthetic standpoint, is the expanded range of opportunities for gifted singer-songwriters. Many of these folks have been lost in the cracks between pop and rock radio, but the success of earthy records from the likes of Train and Five for Fighting has brightened their commercial prospects considerably. I think this bodes well for projects like Bleu (see the planner from a few “weaks” back), as well as Nashville’s Will Hoge. I wrote about his expressive, engaging pop-rock tunes back before he did his deal with Atlantic, but soon you can see for yourself. Blackbird on a Lonely Wire, his major-label bow, is an assured set of energetic, melodic material delivered with genuine passion and soul. Hoge’s voice—at times reminiscent of Counting CrowsAdam Duritz—has an appealing rasp, and he wields it to fine effect on potential hits like “Be the One,” the majestic “King of Grey,” the fiercely romantic “Hey Tonight,” the edgy “Doesn’t Haven’t to Be That Way,” the rollicking “Better Off Now” and too many more to enumerate. The production and playing serve the songs in a guess-they-still-do-make-‘em-that-way-after-all kinda way, and the hooks don’t quit. There’s no such thing as a sure thing, but Hoge’s got all the ingredients. Simon Glickman

LOW DESERT HEAT
Queens of the Stone Age, Songs for the Deaf (Interscope):
As Kyuss, QOTSA founders Josh Homme and Nick Oliveri were Inland Empire/desert stoner acid-rock before it was cool. With the help of Seattle icons Dave Grohl and Screaming Trees Mark Lanegan, the group stakes its claim as post-grunge heirs to Nirvana with such formalist metal mashers as the first single, “No One Knows.” The radio station-hopping format shows the band riding the current neo-garage trend with the Electric Prunes-ish “Another Love Song,” while “God Is in the Radio” sounds like it could have come off Disraeli Gears. But it is the final, “hidden” track, “Mosquito Song,” with its mournful martial cadence and pastoral feel, that makes Queens the closest thing we have to an American Led Zeppelin. Roy Trakin

TRAKIN’S PICKS TO FLICK
Labor Day weekend is traditionally a week to dump teen-oriented horror fare like this Friday’s release of fear dot com, so instead we’ll take a peak at the top fall film prospects:

The Four Feathers (Paramount): Opens Sept. 20
The Pitch
: Adaptation of A.E.W. Mason’s classic 1907 novel about a disgraced British officer who tries to redeem himself from accusations of cowardice.
Thumbs Up: Heath Ledger and Kate Hudson star; film directed by Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth) in the grand David Lean epic manner.
Thumbs Down: Nobody under the age of 50 knows who the hell David Lean is.

Red Dragon (Universal): Oct. 4
The Pitch: Remake of Thomas Harris’ first Hannibal Lecter book, Red Dragon, originally made by Michael Mann as Manhunter.
Thumbs Up: Anthony Hopkins returns as Lecter, Edward Norton co-stars as the FBI agent, with Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, Harvey Keitel, Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Thumbs Down: Directed by Rush Hour "auteur" Brett Ratner.

Auto Focus (Sony Pictures Classics): Oct. 18
The Pitch: True story of “Hogan’s Heroes” star Bob Crane, who videotaped his secret and highly randy sex life, which ended up with him bludgeoned to death in an Arizona hotel room.
Thumbs Up: Taxi Driver’s Paul Schrader gets back to his dark loner mentality.
Thumbs Down: Greg Kinnear plays Crane, but who plays Colonel Klink?

The Truth About Charlie (Universal): Oct. 25
The Pitch: Jonathan Demme’s remake of Stanley Donan’s 1963 thriller Charade, which originally starred Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn.
Thumbs Up: Demme is a master of suspense, and the film’s Paris background could add to the fun.
Thumbs Down: Would you believe Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton in the main roles?

8 Mile (Universal): Nov. 8
The Pitch: L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys director Curtis Hanson tackles the Eminem life story, with Brittany Murphy as his wife, Kim Basinger his mom, Mekhi Phifer his mentor and Slim Shady himself playing Marshall Mathers.
Thumbs Up: Could be biggest rock biopic success since Prince’s Purple Rain, with advance word on Em’s performance very positive.
Thumbs Down: Could be biggest rock biopic flop since Rick Springfield’s Hard to Hold.

Solaris (20th Century Fox): Nov. 27
The Pitch: Steven Soderbergh adapts sci-fi writer Stanislaw Lem’s 1968 novel, originally filmed by Russian director Andre Tarkovsky, with George Clooney as an astronaut who arrives on the titular water planet, where he’s met by mysteries both cosmic and mundane.
Thumbs Up: Clooney does his first nude scene.
Thumbs Down: In space, no one can see you scream.

Adaptation (Columbia): Dec. 6
The Pitch: Director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman return from the success of Being John Malkovich with this book within a movie of a screenwriter trying to adapt Susan Orleans’ novel The Orchid Thief.
Thumbs Up: Nicolas Cage plays Kaufman, Meryl Streep is Orlean and Chris Cooper is the orchid thief.
Thumbs Down: Can lightning strike twice for eccentric duo?

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (New Line): Dec. 18
The Pitch: Director Peter Jackson returns with the second of the J.R.R. Tolkien trilogy.
Thumbs Up: Frodo (Elijah Wood) and Sam (Sean Astin) get nearer to Mount Doom, as they attempt to cast the ring back from whence it came.
Thumbs Down: Can anyone tell the difference?

Gangs of New York (Miramax): Dec. 25
The Pitch: Martin Scorsese’s long-delayed saga of Manhattan gang battles during the Civil War.
Thumbs Up: Leonardo DiCaprio is an Irish immigrant seeking revenge against Daniel Day-Lewis’ racist thug for murdering his father.
Thumbs Down: Did Harvey Weinstein’s meddling compromise Scorsese’s vision?

Catch Me If You Can (DreamWorks): Dec. 25
The Pitch: Steven Spielberg directs Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio in a chase film about a super-thief and the FBI man on his tail. It’s based on the autobiography of Frank Abagnale, a high school dropout who cashed more than $2 million in forged checks while traveling around the world in various guises.
Thumbs Up: Spielberg, Hanks and DiCaprio, need we say more?
Thumbs Down: Will two DiCaprio openings on the same day cannibalize one another?

About Schmidt (New Line): Dec. 25
The Pitch: Election director Alexander Payne’s offbeat comedy about a widower (Jack Nicholson) who finds meaninglessness wherever he looks, including the upcoming marriage of his daughter (Hope Davis) to a Denver waterbed salesman (Dermot Mulroney).
Thumbs Up: Cannes raves for Nicholson…Is Oscar a-calling again for veteran actor?
Thumbs Down: Didn’t we see this before when it was called As Good As It Gets?

Chicago (Miramax): Dec. 27
The Pitch: Renee Zellweger stars as Roxie Hart, a would-be vaudeville star in prohibition Chicago who shoots her cad of a lover and ends up sharing a prison cell with her stage idol, Catherine Zeta-Jones in Rob Marshall’s adaptation of the 1975 Broadway musical. Co-stars Richard Gere as flashy lawyer Billy Flynn.
Thumbs Up
: Could be another Cabaret.
Thumbs Down: Could be another Evita. —RT

THE RENO DUET
by Lisa Teasley

This serialized story, which runs weekly in this space, is about two boys from Reno, Eddie & Penguin, who come down to LA to make it with their band. They're 21, 22-ish, one's white, one's black, they're funny & witty, and have been close since they were 10.

3)
Penguin
: So tired of Sunset, Hollywood Blvd., Saturday night traffic, all the valley amateur wizards cruisin’. Wish they would let the fuckers secede from the County. Punch it, Eddie already. Franklin, zip to Cheremoya, we’re home.

 

Watch him go straight to the fuckin’ tub. That’s it, Eddie’s in for the night. In his head. Wish he’d get over his latest idea for a lame name change— Green Lip Mussels. Wantin’ to soften our hardcore to a fuckin’ pussy punk bluegrass.

 

Eddie:  Penguin saw the body up close. His expression like the day we were tossed three signs of luck to leave Reno for good. This was all that same day Pen and me went up to the mountains with that crazy motherfucker Cyril with his truck full of ammo: a .22 pistol, .22 rifle, .357 Magnum, 12 gauge shotgun, and a Winchester 30-30. Never go up in the mountains with a crazy motherfucker, you don’t know, blasting Slipknot, who says he can teach you how to shoot. Don’t know why we went. I hate guns, and Pennie is such a boho Benny, love&sex Lenny Kravitz. I should grab Pen’s knotted mop and chop it off. Best thing Kravitz ever did. But his music still sucks. Cream.

 

There was broken glass, rusted cans, everything blasted into a crazy mosaic. Empty shells all over the ground like an Afghan Gaza strip. Brisk, no clouds skating above us. Kicking dust, Cyril set up the targets—old Sparkletts plastic, empty bottles, cans, wine, beer, oil.

 

I had shot before, so I went for the dick-cop-power .357. Then Cyril starts shooting the 30-30 up into the mountains. He was yelling over the pop, telling us where to look, what tree, what rock, and I asked him why we weren’t shooting the targets in front of us. Some stupid fuck rides his bike down the mountain road straight…

 

Penguin: Eddie, get the fuck out of that tub, already, I gotta take a dump!

 

DENISE’S WEAKEND COCKTAIL
Sex, sex or the lack thereof is my theme of the week. I’m having one of those weeks that resembles a marathon of Sex and the City episodes. I can feel Carrie’s pain. I was becoming rather bitter due to the lack of having anything that even closely resembled a dating life, but I had faith and knew that, just like a bad movie, this too would eventually end. Just when I’d lost all hope, I got a surprise jolt, and once again I’m back to normal—as if I could be “normal.” My dismal dry spell has ended—THANK GOD! I’ve decided that this week’s cocktail of the week should be dedicated to all of you out there that are experiencing somewhat of a “setback” in your dating/sex lives. Be strong, have faith and have a cosmo.

Cosmopolitan
1 oz. vodka—I suggest Ketel One
oz. triple sec
Splash cranberry juice
Splash lime juice
Chill, drain and serve in a martini glass

I was enjoying a cosmo last week when I had yet another “Carrie” moment. Those of you who haven’t seen Sex and the City really need to get with the program—literally! An establishment that I frequent decided to “Ally McBeal” things by having a co-ed bathroom. I’m pretty liberal, but I get nervous when I’m a little drunk and walk into the restroom to find a guy in front of the mirror primping. It’s that scary moment when you think you’ve walked into the door with the pants instead of the one with the skirt. But if you want to spice up that dull dating life, grab the hottie primping in the mirror and pull him into one of the private stalls—just don’t get caught! Then go back out and finish your cosmo.

De’s L.A. bar pick of the week: If it’s sex you want, then I’ve got the place for you. Lola’s in West Hollywood has a Sex and the City party every Sunday night at 9 p.m. There you’ll find a big-screen TV, martini specials and two hot bartenders to service you, so bring all of your girlfriends. Listen up, guys—I know that sometimes you need things pointed out to you with a big flashing neon sign. Here’s the sign—women love Sex and the City, women will be at Lola’s Sunday nights at 9 p.m. to watch it; you should be there if you want to meet them—plain and simple.

De’s diss of the week: On many occasions I’ve expressed my dislike of the Hollywood nightclub scene, but this week I have something new about this scene to make fun of—“model parties.” When a certain promoter found out I write this column, he invited me to one of these parties. First of all, who would want to go to a party filled with beautiful, tall girls? Not me! He practically begged me, so I went but escaped before I’d even finished my first drink. If I waste alcohol, you’d better believe the place is bad. I stayed only long enough to meet the birthday boy—the stereotypical male model. Dumb, dumb, dumb—a box of rocks was one-up on him. It would be ok if he was really hot, but he wasn’t—poor guy. Once again, I’ve learned the hard way—the Hollywood scene SUCKS!

If there’s a bar that you would like me to check out, if you have questions on bar etiquette or you just want to say hi, then email me by clicking on my link. Denise Bayles

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MAYBE, JUST MAYBE, PART 8,761: SURGERY IN THE TIME OF COVID
Planning for an Election Day hopped up on painkillers. (10/27a)
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Vote. Do it now. (10/27a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
HALLOWEEN IN QUARANTINE
Why not wear a mask indoors?
ELECTION 2020
What drugs will help us get there?
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