Music Review: The Sound of the Life of the Mind...

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     I’m going to warn you that writing about Ben Folds Five, at this point, has become a challenge.      Since I was 14, I’ve cleared a space for them in the ever-swelling digital rucksack of music I’ve been dragging from computer to computer and apartment to apartment. Like a lot of bands you discover and latch onto in your awkward early teen years (unless you weren’t an awkward teen, in which case watch out someone doesn’t tranq and tag you so they can study such a rare breed), Chapel Hill’s Ben Folds Five were the exact right music at the exact right time, fitting into the crooked and uncertain geography of freshman year with their winning combination of showy, almost corny instrumentation, and silliness tempered with pathos. (Probably the same reason They Might Be Giants...

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Sidewalk Film Festival 2012: Eating Alabama...

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     The sky was steel grey and every few minutes let loose with a smattering of large, sparse raindrops. Yet despite the threat of the storm, the line of people beneath the lighted billboard of the historic Alabama Theater on 3rd Avenue North in the theatre district of downtown Birmingham continued to lengthen, extending down the sidewalk and wrapping around the last building on the corner.      Fittingly, they were all hungry – hungry for a taste of one of the most talked about documentary films of the 2012 Sidewalk Film Festival – Eating Alabama, a project directed by filmmaker and University of Alabama Documentary film professor Andrew Beck Grace, about ten minutes away from making its statewide premiere.      According to their event pamphlet, the Sidewalk Film Festival “is an annual production of...

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Music Review: God Forgives, I Don’t...

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     When old pictures of Rick Ross working as a corrections officer leaked to the internet, it didn’t really matter. It’s the same reason wrestling fans don’t care that it’s all pretty much fake; high drama is high drama, plain and simple. Rick Ross has carved out a him-shaped space in modern hip-hop by way of his radical self-aggrandizing and reinvention, his drug kingpin persona buffeted along with a bullying flow you might expect to hear coming out of a cartoon anthropomorphic blunt. And with 2009’s Deeper Than Rap and 2010’s excellent Teflon Don, he owned it. Now, with the oft-delayed God Forgives I Don’t, the Bawse is back, and doing what he does best; it gets soggy and exhausting under the weight of the glossy beats and opulence, compared to the relatively tight...

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Review: Uncaged

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     With Uncaged, the Georgia band has dropped another gem of an album into my lap and I couldn’t be happier. I was sold on these guys from the moment I first heard their breakout “Chicken Fried” in a crowded bar. Then, I saw their live DVD and all hell broke loose (in terms of being a fan). I’d have long since bought tickets for their show in November if I hadn’t just dropped almost half my worth on a new apartment and the associated costs. So it helps and hurts me that Uncaged is such a satisfying third helping of the Zac Brown sound, a couple of surprises included; if it sucked, I’d feel less indecision regarding those damn tickets.      From the first minute of “Jump Right In,” it’s no mistaking this...

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Music Review: R.A.P. Music...

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     It’s summer so that means a few things: box fans running all night, an endless bandolier of freezepops in my freezer, and, of course, the search for the perfect Summer Jam. That’s always a tough race. Timing is helpful (Fun.’s “We Are Young” came too early no matter how catchy and ubiquitous it’s been thus far) and even military-grade pop like “Call Me Maybe” keeps me buzzed for a week, two weeks tops, and then I start lurking around for some new distraction. The search always ends up getting narrowed by whatever’s played the most from the zillion speakers around me -- in bodegas, in the grocery store, in passing cars, in the alleyway outside my window, in the apartment packed with Saturday’s drunk girls directly below mine. I know it’s wishful thinking...

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