Concert Review: Same Trailer, Different Tour...

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     On the kickoff night of her "Same Trailer, Different Tour", performing at the Bowery Ballroom, Kacey Musgraves drove home a particular belief of mine; good country should be like good liquor. Each taste should land on the palate and linger in a dozen different provocations before it fades. You should serve it in moderation to appreciate the full effect. When you consume it in a crowd it should bear you all up into collective joy, and when you’re alone, it should make you think about every ex you ever lost.      I wasn’t sure what kind of crowd to expect going in; it’s the rare country show I hit up in New York, and I hazarded “folks who look like me and old white dudes.” I was part right. Before the lights dimmed...

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Music Review: Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience...

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     The dead roamed the plains and taigas and deserts and they hunted and they died. When we dug up the ground to build our towns and cities we found their trapped bones, and we crushed what we found and mixed it into our roads and our furnaces and our engines. When we grew and our ranks stretched out to touch the compass points, we journeyed overland to find more of the trapped dead, and when we found them we made terrific weapons to shatter them free from rock that knew no possible threat. The dead were limite, and we knew this, but still we burned and melted and refined into a million iterations that lingered in the air and the water. One day a man burned a handful of the dead into soot...

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Television Review: The Bridge...

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     The Bridge was just picked up for a second season. I’m far too used to betting on TV underdogs, the heart-shredding feeling I get from the tweets or headlines that regret to inform me how an exciting and original piece of programming just got murdered in the cradle. Plus, one of the actresses on the show favorited my tweet, so this is all officially exciting.      An American-set remake of a Danish/Swedish series, The Bridge duplicates the original’s premise for much of the first season; a gruesome scene is discovered on the bridge connecting two nations, namely the remains of an American judge and a young Mexican woman placed exactly on the halfway juncture of the Bridge of the Americas connecting Juarez and El Paso. While this second season pickup excites me purely...

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Music Review: Southeastern...

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     Chapter 5 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous tells the reader that, for the true alcoholics, “half measures availed us nothing,” which is appropriate, both when considering the creative context of Jason Isbell’s fourth solo record Southeastern, and considering Isbell’s career in general. The babyfaced Alabamian made his bones in his 20’s, burning to shine in the Drive-By Truckers, and it’s not even arguable that he anchored the three albums of theirs to which he contributed; “Danko/Manual” and “Decoration Day” alone would ensure that, let alone every other stellar cut, with that unmistakeable voice cutting through the smoke. But Isbell left that group before I was lucky enough to see them, and on Isbell’s subsequent three records I only paid passing attention to song here, a song there; I was a Truckers...

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Music Review: Regions of Light and Sound of God...

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     It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a solo record can say more about the musician’s band than the musician him or herself. If that solo record is an unexpected collection of musical ideas you never heard him or her toy with when he or she was jamming with his/her buddies, then it says that band’s a straight-ahead unit, with a particular kind of combined sound that edges out the weirder influences that its separate components might bring to the studio. If the solo record’s bad or tired but the band’s good, that band is a greater-than-its’-parts-sum unit. And if the solo record is so goddamned brilliant that you can’t conceive of it, well, you may want to revisit the band’s back catalog and see if you missed something.      Regions of Light and...

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