Friday, March 20, 2009

M.I.A. Added to Coachella Lineup

Sri Lankan firecracker M.I.A. has officially been added to this year's Coachella lineup, and is scheduled to perform in the headlining slot vacated when troubled soul singer Amy Winehouse canceled earlier this month.

This will be M.I.A.'s third appearance at Coachella. Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam - her easier-on-the-tongue acronym is pronounced like the letters and is short for both “Missing in Action” and “Missing in Acton,” a reference to both her politically tumultuous youth (her father is militant activist Arul Pragasam), and the neighborhood in London where she was born - debuted at the festival in 2005, in the more intimate and world flavored Gobi Tent. Last year's set in the Sahara Tent, the largest of the festival's covered stages, was the biggest crowd the far corner of the festival has seen since Madonna's appearance in 2006.

At this year's festival, M.I.A. will precede The Killers as Saturday night's mainstage headliners. Her 2007 XL Recordings/Interscope Records release Kala is approaching gold sales, and has led to two Grammy nominations. The British vocalist, producer, songwriter and artist was also nominated for an Academy Award for the song "O... Saya," one of her contributions to the score of the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire.

Winehouse was forced to cancel her festival appearance when an assault charge filed earlier this month made it highly improbable, if not impossible, for her to be granted a work visa. It would have been Winehouse's second Coachella performance. "Amy Winehouse is too big for a tent now," Coachella founder Paul Tollett told NME when this year's initial lineup was announced.

The same can be said of her replacement. While M.I.A. doesn't hold the trainwreck sideshow appeal of Winehouse, few could argue that she's not the better talent of the two.

Official Coachella Website

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M.I.A. MySpace

M.I.A. Official Website

Click here for an archived preview of Coachella 2008.

Click here for an archived review of Coachella 2008.

Click here for an archived review of Coachella 2007.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Three Cheers for A-Rod...

Hip-hip, ster-oids!
Hip-hip, ster-oids!
Hip-hip, ster-oids!

With the year Alex Rodriquez is having, you could almost feel sorry for the guy... Almost. Regardless of how much time he spends on the disabled list due to the torn labrum in his right hip, he's still going to collect $32 million and be baseball's highest paid player in 2009.

Nice work, if you can get it.

Here's a thought for Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig: Since Rodriquez may have a lot of time on his hands over the next few months, how about being proactive and sending him a list of banned "healing supplements" now, so a year from now we won't have to hear "I'm guilty for a lot of things. I'm guilty for being negligent, naive, not asking all the right questions. And to be quite honest, I don't know exactly what substance I was guilty of using" all over again.

One thing A-Rod definitely wasn't "negligent, naive," and guilty of "not asking all the right questions" about? The 10-year contract he signed with the New York Yankees last season, in which he's owed $275 million dollars, total, through the 2017 season.

At least we know how he got injured... He was trying to stuff his wallet into his back pocket.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Album Review: U2

No Line On The Horizon
Interscope Records

U2 may have nothing left to prove musically, but that doesn't stop them from making a sublime statement on No Line On The Horizon. This isn't an album of sonic experimentation or philosophical subjugation, rather a musical step backward and a lyrical glance inward, an album that swells within the warm rattle and hum of its own jetstream.

No Line On The Horizon works because U2 don't cloud their vision with the clutter of being visionary. Instead of charting new territory, they find new crevices and nuances in territories that they've previously explored - And everything fits just right.

Where All That You Can't Leave Behind and How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb were the products of tight and precise production, the new release opens the reigns and lets the wind get caught in the sails. The album is more atmospheric and ambient than it is adventurous and post-adolescent, and that is where its majesty lies, the overpowering machismo of radio anthems replaced by the humble gestures of rolling soundscapes and lyrics in search of sanctity and solace. It is U2 understanding where they've been, and U2 letting that clarity help dictate their course forward.

The title track opens the album with a stumbling air of confusion, "Magnificent" following with a grand marriage of gentle dance rhythms and uplifting orchestrations, Bono's breathy vocals finding hope and promise in pain and hurt. A hypnotic trance encompasses "Moment of Surrender," "Unknown Caller" stands tall while swaying with a sense of insecurity, and "I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight" is a more light-hearted blend of bouncing drums and galloping prose.

The second half of the album breaks away with the guitar-driven crunch and grind of lead single "Get On Your Boots" and the similarly big-sounding "Stand Up Comedy," a rambunctious, slow-rolling rocker with a flare for the dramatic. "Fez - Being Born" is a bit long to unravel, a five-minute kaleidoscope that plays like a misplaced interlude to the pensive vocals and stripped-down delivery of "White as Snow," the exhilarating redemption call of "Breath," and the sedated tones and muted calm of album closer "Cedars of Lebanon."

Instead of overwhelming the senses on No Line On The Horizon, U2 succumb to them, basking in a subtle glow of bewilderment while leaving enough blank space for a spring of hope to trickle throughout. This isn't the product of aging dinosaurs who still haven't found what they're looking for, it is a sort of homecoming by a band who have rediscovered their unforgettable fire.

RATING: * * * *

U2 MySpace

U2 Official Website