Movie Review: Sad Vacation: The Last Days Of Sid And Nancy

Published on January 11th, 2017 in: Documentaries, Movie Reviews, Movies, Music, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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Photo © Richard Mann

Do you want to know what surprised me the most about Sad Vacation: The Last Days Of Sid And Nancy? What surprised me was how very young Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen were at the height of their infamy and subsequent deaths. Sid was 21 when he died, and Nancy just 20. They were just babies.
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Melissa Bratcher: Things That Made Me Happy In 2016

Published on December 29th, 2016 in: Best Of Lists, Feminism, Music, Podcasts, Soundtracks and Scores, TV |

By Melissa Bratcher

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As ever, my Best Of list is a list of… things. Stuff that made me happy. When looking back at 2016, it’s hard not to feel a crushing ennui for all of those we lost and a general clusterfuckiness, but there were some gorgeous, delightful bright spots. Mine are, in no order whatsoever:
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Music Review: Don Rich and the Buckaroos, Guitar Pickin’ Man

Published on December 16th, 2016 in: Americana, Country Music, Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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In the pantheon of great guitarists, there are ones that come easily to mind: Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Jeff Beck, B.B. King. I’d add the Buckaroos’ Don Rich to that list. His style is immediately recognizable, and without his sonic experimentation, Buck Owens’s catalog would lack a certain verve. While Owens was always happy to dip a toe in the rock side, Don Rich’s playing upped the ante. His fuzzed-out guitar work on “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass?” is as fresh and timely as anything recorded in 1969, and viscerally satisfying. This is pretty remarkable for someone who was hired to play fiddle.
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Music Review: The Ventures, The Ventures’ Christmas Album

Published on December 9th, 2016 in: Current Faves, Holidays, Music, Music Reviews, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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Do you lament the lack of surf/Christmas music on your playlist? Are your instrumental Christmas albums just a little too staid? Did you know the Ventures put out a Christmas album in 1965? Did you know that it was called The Ventures’ Christmas Album and that Real Gone Records is reissuing it on CD? Did you also know that it is enormously, utterly fun?
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Music Review: Ray Conniff And The Ray Conniff Singers, The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings

Published on December 9th, 2016 in: Current Faves, Holidays, Music, Music Reviews, Reissues, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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Real Gone Music is here to save Christmas from oversinging, too-shiny production, and weird warbles with their reissues of classic Christmas albums. One of these? Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers’ The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings. Collecting best-selling choral albums We Wish You A Merry Christmas (1962) and Here We Come A-Caroling (1965), The Complete Columbia Recordings has all of the classic Christmas songs you could possibly need, done with inspired choral arrangements and a tremendous amount of charm. It’s a retro trip back to the days of silver Christmas trees and really big record player cabinets, and it’s utterly enjoyable.
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Music Review: Buck Owens And The Buckaroos, The Complete Capitol Singles: 1957-1966

Published on December 9th, 2016 in: Country Music, Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reissues, Retrovirus |

By Melissa Bratcher

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Once again, Omnivore Recordings gives us the Christmas gift we need: a new Buck Owens and the Buckaroos compilation. The Complete Capitol Singles 1957-1966 covers a particularly creatively fecund phase in Buck Owens’s career: the early days at Capitol, his partnership with the brilliant Don Rich, and a string of hits that defined the influential Bakersfield Sound. The Complete Capitol Singles 1957-1966 is gorgeously remastered and sounds stunningly good. Crisp, even, with that trebly production that Buck favored (so it would sound good on AM radio) sounding better than ever.
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Music Review: Lady Lamb, Tender Warriors Club

Published on December 2nd, 2016 in: Current Faves, Feminism, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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With her latest EP, Tender Warriors Club, the reliably wonderful Lady Lamb (a.k.a. Aly Spaltro), is consciously trying to keep an open heart. Her Tender Warriors Club website reads:

STRIVE TO
find the courage to be sensitive
be emotionally vulnerable
connect
create
grow
be comfortable with & embrace solitude
never compromise their integrity
explore
be true
be kind
practice self-acceptance & self-love
give an honest effort
forgive
be present
be patient
be transparent.

As far as manifestos go, that’s a damn fine one. And one that is utterly prescient. And Tender Warriors Club is a welcome addition to Lady Lamb’s catalogue of delicate but fierce music. She wears her emotions on the outside, and causes us to do the same. I can’t count the times that I’ve been moved to tears by her without even realizing I’m crying. Damn.
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Music Review: The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Atom Bomb

Published on November 18th, 2016 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reissues, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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The Blind Boys Of Alabama won a Dove Award for 2005’s  Atom Bomb, but the album isn’t your typical gospel music. The songs are intended to capture the “deep and haunting feel of the Old Testament,” as executive producer Chris Goldsmith says, and they do, but as always, the Blind Boys put their own distinct spin on songs. On Atom Bomb, they are joined by a fantastic band who turn the traditional (and sometimes untraditional) tracks into swampy, bluesy explorations and canvases in which to showcase the Blind Boys luxuriant harmonies, as well as rapper The Gift Of Gab (from Blackalcious), who adds a whole other dimension.
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Music Review: The Blind Boys Of Alabama, Go Tell It On The Mountain

Published on November 18th, 2016 in: Current Faves, Holidays, Music, Music Reviews, Reissues, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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It took until 2003 for The Blind Boys Of Alabama to release a Christmas album, but the wait was worth it. Now, Omnivore is reissuing Go Tell It On The Mountain with bonus material (as they do and do so well) in time for your holiday playlist, and it is a welcome addition.
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Blu-Ray Review: New Orleans Music In Exile

Published on November 18th, 2016 in: Blu-Ray, Documentaries, DVD/Blu-Ray Reviews, Movie Reviews, Movies, Music, Reviews |

By Melissa Bratcher

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Though it was made in 2006, New Orleans Music In Exile, is finally getting a Blu-ray release. The film, made by famed music documentarian Robert Mugge (Last Of The Mississippi Jukes, Gospel According To Al Green, The Kingdom Of Zydeco, among a great many), was shot in the rather immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: two months later. Mugge and his crew had open access to a who’s who of New Orleans musicians and luminaries as they try to pick of the pieces of their lives and careers.
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