Monday, July 31, 2006

Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?

Yes, kids, Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? is a documentary about Missouri politics - sounds like homework, right? Well, it's actually a very entertaining, fast-moving, and intelligent little film, and it's a shame it's currently in limited distribution. Directed by first-time documentarian Frank Popper, the film won the audience award at the Silverdocs Festival. Popper embedded himself in the campaign of Jeff Smith, an unknown who challenged Russ Carnahan in the 2004 Democratic primary for the US House of Representatives seat vacated by everybody's favorite eyebrowless failed presidential candidate, Dick Gephardt.

Still with me? Good. Smith has numerous disadvantages: he's short, wears rumpled clothes, lisps, looks like he's in his early 20s (and is only 29), has no political experience, is running against another candidate named Smith, and most importantly, has no money. Even his parents think he's crazy to run against a Carnahan. Those of you not from MO might still recognize the name Carnahan - Mel Carnahan (Russ' dad) is the former governor who won a senate race against John Ashcroft even though he had died in a tragic plane crash several weeks earlier. His wife Jean took over the job. Many of us still chortle when we think about Ashcroft getting beaten by a dead guy, don't we? That story even made the news in Australia, where I was living at the time.

The film shows Smith's many strengths - he's a tireless worker, empathetic to the plight of residents in decaying urban St. Louis, and he takes grassroots campaigning to a new level. He and his inexperienced staff and student volunteers take to the streets and bring the campaign door to door. Many of their interactions with south side residents are hysterical. The volunteers cover the neighborhoods with yard signs. Smith's cell phone is perpetually glued to his ear, and he calls all the registered Democrats he can find personally. They even flag down cars on street corners. Smith builds some momentum, and his campaign is bolstered by a visit from screamin' Howard Dean. His story makes you believe that the little guy can still be competitive in a campaign if he works hard enough and is passionate about it. At the same time, it points out how badly we need campaign finance reform.

I would say the only weakness in the film is that it doesn't really contrast Smith to Carnahan based on their views on the issues. It settles for taking a lot of shots at Carnahan for being rich enough to make cheesy TV ads and for being part of a MO political dynasty. But that's just a small point, and I highly recommend the movie. It was a lot of fun for me as a former St. Louisan to see a documentary filmed in my hometown. The only other documentary I've seen about St. Louis is the one at the Arch - Monument to a Dream - another movie about dreamers, those two dudes who explored the Louisiana Purchase. Jeff Smith comes off as just as intrepid. Good luck to him in his current campaign for MO Senate - go see this movie and rock the vote on Aug. 8, Missourians!

Boston, LA, and DC - the film is coming your way - check the schedule here. St Louisans, you just have this week to get to the Tivoli!

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Brothers of the Head

Freakier than The Wall and more moving than Almost Famous, Brothers of the Head will implant images in your head that you won't be able to shake. I knew going in that the movie was a fake documentary (mocumentary doesn't seem appropriate, because it's not funny), but if I hadn't, I might have believed this was actually a true story of conjoined twins who become rock stars. The film was lensed by Louis Pepe and Keith Fulton, the team behind Lost in La Mancha, and these documentarians really know how to make it look like a convincing documentary.

Brothers of the Head, adapted from a novella by Brian Adliss, tells the story of Tom (Harry Treadway) and Barry Howe (Luke Treadway). Tom and Barry are conjoined twins whose mother died shortly after their birth (village rumors say she died of shock at seeing them) and whose father whisked them off to a remote English bog where they grew up isolated from the world. Concerned about how they'll survive after his death, he sells them to a music promoter (Howard Attfield), who reminded me of that creepy guy who managed the Backstreet Boys and N'Sync. The promoter declares, "I never exploited anyone who didn't want to be exploited." Handlers then take the boys and mold them into a band, but not without a lot of resistance from Barry, the angry and rebellious twin. Tom takes to the guitar and Barry emerges as lead singer of the band called the Bang Bang. Their debut gig brings jeers at first when the audience assumes they're queer because they're so close together and then shock and awe when they lift their shirts and reveal they're conjoined. Before long they attract a following and have a hit single "Two Way Romeo." A music journalist (Tania Emery) writes a story on the band and falls in love with Tom, causing more frustration in Barry who has no choice but to be a voyeur as the two canoodle. The twins embark on a journey from innocence to experience amid the drug haze of the late 70s English punk scene.

The story is told through a pseudo-documentary being shot by Eddie (Tom Bower), a filmmaker within the film. There are interviews with key players in the story supposedly in the present time looking back on what transpired. There's another layer in which Ken Russell appears as himself and shows clips of Two Way Romeo, a biopic he allegedly made about the band. It's not surprising that Ken would be supportive of this way-out endeavor.

These stylized machinations would all likely be more clever than compelling if not for the brilliant lead performances of identical twin brothers Luke and Harry Treadway. Neither had been in a film before, but they have a riveting presence. They are able to convey the intimacy and friendship between the brothers along with the rivalry and bitterness that grows between them. And despite being conjoined, they have a sexy swagger about them that recalls a young Mick Jagger and makes it quite believable that they could be rock stars. My only regret about the film is that its two stars get a bit lost in the haunting, yet frustratingly nebulous ending.

The film is so meta - it might make your head explode. But go see it anyway.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Supernova has their fill of Phil

Well, my prediction that squeaky-clean Josh would be expelled from the Thunderdome failed to come true last night. He didn't even end up in the bottom 3. The bottom 3 were Zayra, Patrice, and Phil. Patrice performed first, doing Radiohead's "Iron Lung." She did a nice job with it and reminded us that she really does have a strong voice, even if she is kinda boring. Zayra was up next and dusted off "Not an Addict" by K's Choice. I used to be a big fan of K's Choice, so I was glad to see them get some national TV spotlight. Zayra's version was just a rehash of the original. She missed a chance to make it really desperate and hard core. I don't see much authenticity in her. Phil sang a relatively unknown tune - "Smoking Umbrellas" by Failure, and he did a great job with it. I thought his performance was the best of the three, but Supernova sent him packing. I think this is due to Jason's strong dislike for the guy's bobblehead stage moves, plus Phil didn't sound convincing when the guys asked him if he REALLY wanted to be in the band. I think Zayra will be kept around a couple of more weeks since she is to this show what Bai Ling was to But Can They Sing. Phil fans, don't forget to leave your condolences on Phil's myspace page.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Rock Star: Supernova - Week 4


Lukas Rossi - Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony"

Coolia: Sludgy and muddled vocal, but a nice hard finish to the song. He still has great style and presence - even if he looked more new wave than metal last night.
Terry: There is NO way his voice will/would hold up on an actual tour. Too much Billy Idol (sneer and all) with too much growl and not enough melodic anything in there. For one that I consider(ed) one of the favorites, it was disappointing.

Zayra Alvarez - Blondie's "Call Me"

Coolia: Wow, the PVC spacesuit sure got everyone's attention - something had to, and it wasn't going to be her sloppy vocal. She's the Bai Ling of this show. I was surprised the guys didnt gush more about her outfit.
Terry: Good Lord she is so HOT!! But, still way too Bjork and just doesn't fit this band at all. Very much in danger of going home this week (and most certainly will not last much longer if she somehow slides through again....bummer, no more great ass shots...sigh! Zayra butt we hardly knew ya).

Dana Andrews - Nirvana's "About a Girl"

Coolia: Her fuzzy hair didn't help her plain looks. I thought she was imitating Dilana, but her intensity seemed fake and forced. Still, she did have a solid vocal with a strong finish.
Terry: Much improved. Seemed a bit fake (forced intensity), but her best performance yet by far.

Patrice Pike - The Black Crowes' "Remedy"

Coolia: This was pretty boring, although the chorus had some oomph to it. She had a good vibe but nothing special.
Terry: Once again her vocals were over powered by the song/music. Not bad but not very good. Zayra must have been clapping in her head as she now has competition for who's going home this week.

Toby Rand - Billy Idol's "White Wedding"

Coolia: Toby looks hot and he has great energy. I liked his take on this song, and I still think he meshes the best with the other guys. A lead singer needs sex appeal and he's got it more than the other dudes.
Terry: A very good (but not great) cover. Began a bit weak but then turned it up. Nothing all that original but improved his stage presence.

Magni - David Bowie's "Heroes"

Coolia: This performance had a slow start, then improved, but in the end was nothing to write home to Iceland about. I think Tommy was right – he should have roamed the stage instead of standing behind his guitar (although it's nice to see that he can play).
Terry: Good but unoriginal. Just another rehash. And, he lacked stage presence. Nothing all that interesting in this quite frankly.

Ryan Star - Live's "I Alone"

Coolia: I was surprised he got so much praise. This was just basic karaoke to me and not nearly as good as a Chris Daughtry Live cover. He did have good energy and movement on stage.
Terry: Another very good cover with nothing new or fresh. And, perhaps a bit too manic (even though that fits the song to some degree). However, this may still have been his best performance yet (in terms of fitting with this band).

Jill Gioia - The Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar"

Coolia: This was a shouty and annoying performance. It was refreshing to hear Gilby tell her not to grind - I doubt Tommy would have agreed. I found myself watching Gilby and not Jill during the performance. She was like an annoying fly buzzing around him.
Terry: Good vocals, good stage presence. Again, nothing new but very good...yes, very good but still somehow uninteresting. I'm conflicted.

Phil Ritchie - The Wallflowers' "One Headlight"

Coolia: I thought his outfit was odd - looked like dress pants with a t-shirt. He mugs too much and like Jason said, he looks like a bobblehead with all that head movement.
Terry: A good INXS take on the song (did he forget which season/band he is auditioning for?). No where near raw and dirty enough for this band.

Dilana - Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time"

Coolia: I was struck by Brooke's comment: "what will Dilana possibly do with this pop classic?" It shows that the producers realize that Dilana is the only contestant so far to emerge with such a style and presence that we can ponder over a commercial break what her performance might be like. She pulled this song off with a lot of style and another strong vocal. It was nice to see her do something quieter and show the softer side of her pin-cushion self.
Terry: Whereas Zayra just oozes sex-appeal in a hot and sultry way, this crazy chick just oozed sex-appeal in a hot and dangerous way (I doubt there's anything she wouldn't or hasn't tried). This was her toned down psycho performance. Stripped down and it worked. She knew it was time to show another side and change things up a bit. This psycho chick is brilliant. Without question THE front runner at this point (sorry Lukas....she's leaving you in her psycho dust).

Josh Logan - Blind Melon's "No Rain"

Coolia: This was another inappropriate song choice for lightweight boy, and he didn't do anything special to make it harder. I think if he's going to survive tonight he's going to have to scream his way through a Pantera song.
Terry: Good vocals and the song fit his voice, but way too tame for this band. Too milk-toast. Too bland.

Storm Large - Dramarama's "Anything, Anything"

Coolia: I love this song, and I love what Storm did with it. She really owned the stage and rocked out. The stage dive was a gusty finale. I think this was the best performance of the night.
Terry: Damn she was hot tonight. I'd like to order a Zayra, Dilana and Storm sandwich, please. This was her best yet. She rocked it out! Question: Was she going commando? The way she grabbed her skirt to keep it from flying up makes me wonder (and dare to dream!).


Coolia: Bottom 3 - Phil, Josh, and Patrice, with Josh going home
Terry: Bottom 3 – Zayra, Patrice, and Josh, with Patrice going home

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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Rock Star: Supernova - Week 3


Patrice Pike - Beatles' "Helter Skelter"

Terry: Good vocals but way too much smiling. Too cutesy! But, after the last 2 weeks of weak vocals I was surprised by the strength and sound in her voice.
Coolia: Solid, not particularly ground-breaking, but good

Josh Logan - Nirvana's "Come As You Are"

Terry: Too nasaly with screaching instead of power screaming. The other contestants should have kicked his butt for fighting them for this song and then butchering it like that.
Coolia: He's got a good voice but I still find him too clean cut and safe.

Storm Large - The Cars' "Just What You Needed"

Terry: Her "intensity" looked forced/fake and came across more like something fighting constipation. Blah to lame for me, but the boys seemed to dig her.
Coolia: Her vocals sounded more powerful on this - good song choice. She seemed more believable as a rock goddess - maybe it was the slutty outfit.

Lukas Rossi - The Rolling Stones' "Let's Spend the Night Together"

Terry: I loved this rendition. This guy is a huge arrogant ass but couple that with his vocal talent and stage presence and he fits this band to a tee. It's a fight to the finish with Dilana!
Coolia: Some of his moves seem like Mick imitations, but a good performance nonetheless. He's got a swagger about him but I don't find him sexy at all, which might hurt his chances to win. He looks like a mean elf from Lord of the Rings.

Jill Gioia – Free’s "All right now"

Terry: Nice cover but nothing new or original in this at all. But, good vocals and good energy.
Coolia: She showed off some pipes, confidence, and great abs. I can now picture her as potentially fronting the band instead of being its groupie

Ryan Star - CCR's "Fortunate Son"

Terry: Good but not great. Seemed a little stiff.
Coolia: Another surprisingly solid, rocking performance. Everyone is impressing me more this week, in general.

Phil Ritchie - Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit"

Terry: His best yet. Not anwhere near Lucas's level but certainly one of the contenders for "most improved." However, he looked completely stunned and wimped out when the bassist deliberately bumped him. He missed his opportunity to bump back or something to add to the fervor of the performance.
Coolia: Nice and twisted

Toby Rand - Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train"

Terry: Nowhere near as good as the original. Very disappointing.
Coolia: Dullsville - not really Toby's fault because it's a limp song but he didn't add anything to it to perk it up

Dana Andrews - Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild"

Terry: Good karaoke? Blah! This chick does not fit this band at all. Go home already.
Coolia: She belted it out, but I don't think she has the X factor. She dresses slutty but it doesnt quite work - she lacks the sex appeal of some of the other girls.

Magni - Stone Temple Pilots' "Plush"

Terry: Was not a fan of his at all until this performance. Still not one of my favorites but he has just snatched the "most improved" award for Phil's hands.
Coolia: This was just aiight for me. He showed he doesn't have Weiland's pipes and I really disagree with his decision to wear sunglasses for the 2nd week in a row. Remember, Magni, we already knew Bono pretty well before he started wearing his fly glasses. We don't know you.

Zayra Alvarez - REM's "Everybody Hurts"

Terry: I love her voice and oh man is she SO hot!....but, her "sound" just doesn't fit this band. Too Bjork. I was stunned when the boys showered her with kudos. Just stunned.
Coolia: She put an eerie spin on this old chestnut. She sounded a little flat to me at times, but she really hit the notes and held them on the final "hold on"s. I agree with Buddah - she's more Bjork than Joan Jett.

Jenny Galt - Incubus' "Drive"

Terry: Too Sheryl Crow. Not enough hard edge rock in this (or her?). She needs to hop on the same bus home with Dana.
Coolia: She definitely made it her own, unfortunately she made it something inappropriately soft for this band. I like that she plays the guitar. She's just too much of a nice girl for these guys.

Dilana - The Cranberries' "Zombi"

Terry: This crazy chick just owns the stage! I wasn't that into her rendition (I like the original MUCH better) but she did make it her own and did keep my attention. One of these days she's going to pull a bat out and bite its head off...and swallow it! (she has to top Ozzy...this chick doesn't settle for second best).

Coolia: Another psycho and captivating performance from the Metal Medusa. I'm starting to think she might be too hard for this band and more appropriate for Cradle of Filth or something, but anyway, she's awesome.


Jenny was sent packing. She can hope that the Lilith Fair starts up again someday.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Strangers with Candy - The Movie

Nerdia and I viewed the long-awaited Strangers with Candy film with great expectations. We were avid fans of the the Comedy Central TV show that chronicled the tough life lessons learned by Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris), a recovering addict and former prostitute who returns home to finish high school and lives with her comatose father, shrewish stepmom, bullying half-brother. I own the DVDs and even own a DVD of the source material - Afterschool Special (I have the classic one where Rob Lowe becomes a teen dad). Unfortunately, our great expectations weren't met. Despite amusing cameos from Sarah Jessica Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman and some actors who only have two names, the film falls a bit flat. I think the plot, which just revolves around Jerri's attempt to win a science fair and wake her dad from his coma, is simply too slight for a 90-minute movie. Think of all the SNL sketches that failed when stretched into full-length features like A Night at the Roxbury or It's Pat, and you'll have an idea. Still, the film has some entertaining moments, and Amy Sedaris and Stephen Colbert are as hilarious as ever. I'd love to see them do a movie adaptation of their book Wigfield - there's plenty of material there.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rock Star: Supernova - Week 2

Magni - The Who's "My Generation"

Coolia: Sexy and confident version. I think the sunglasses were a mistake.
Some blame sunglasses for Chris Daughtry's premature ejection on Idol, and I do think they contributed to it.
Terry: Sorry, but once again not impressed. Not at all.
Julia: Magni has a sound I like...probably since he's not too hard core. Does look a bit too metrosexual to be in a group with Tommy.

Jenny Galt - Soft Cell's "Tainted Love"

Coolia: Too quiet, but she did come up with a creative arrangement.
Terry: Oh so sexy. Much better than last week, but still not good enough. I have some trouble seeing her with this band. Don't think she'll go very far...unless they want to keep looking at her
Jenny is a complete beauty queen reject and is trying to lash out against her former "beauty queen" friends. Yet she's still too soft for this competition. I think she might get through cuz the band members all want know.

Jill Gioia - Hole's "Violet"

Coolia: I liked the trashy wedding dress. She screams pretty well but she didn’t inject the screaming with true desperation and passion the way Courtney did. It wasn't raw enough and seemed contrived.
Terry: Too much screaming without enough singing. Needs work, but with
a different band.
Julia: What can I say? I didn't like the HOLE version either. Where is the line between acting and rock?!?!

Zayra Alvarez - The Kinks' "You Really Got Me"

Coolia: She has a nice tone and a unique style and phrasing, even if it's more alternative than metal. I'm not sure insulting the judges is the way to get through to the next round, and it sure doesn't show she's taking this seriously when she reveals she's "heard of" the band members' music but not "heard" it.
Terry: Good stage presence but the vocals were surprisingly weak.
I don't see her with this band at all.
Julia: Zayra sounds like she's singing with a clothespin on her nose. I wanted to tell her to breathe!

Chris Pierson - Frank Ferdinand's "Take Me Out"

Coolia: He could have done a harder version and changed it up a bit. He sounded flat in spots, and overall unimpressive.
Terry: Better than last week by a mile but still weak. I don't think he fits this band either.
Julia: Dude, the eyeliner's gotta go. When I was looking at him, I just snickered. Just listening to him isn't bad. He's not too obnoxious.

Dilana - Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire"

Coolia: This chick is so creepy and weird. I love her! She's definitely got a unique thing going on, kinda "Janis Joplin Meets Diamanda Galas". The girl sounds like she's been smoking Camels since she was in the cradle, but the throatiness works for her.
Terry: - Oh, I love this psycho chick! Tonight she was part vampire and part satanic priestess. Hide the children. I think she may actually give Tommy Lee a run for his mommy in wanton excess! Brilliant take/update on this song. Absolutely commanding and captivating stage presence but, quite honestly, I'm not that impressed with her vocals. But, she absolutely fits this band to a tee!
Julia: Dilana is a complete freak, but I think she's a good actress. Not sure if the other freaks will want to vie for freakiness...

Josh Logan - Creed's "With Arms Wide Open"

Coolia: He's got a nice voice but he's just too clean cut. When he tries to growl, it seems like he's trying to be something he's not. He's lighter than Creed and Creed is pretty light. A Backstreet Boy can't fit in with the Down Boys.
Terry: Began off and appeared lost and uncomforable (following Dilana, who wouodn't). This was too average for someone with such a good voice. Disappointing
While he's not annoying to me, I think he would be to Tommy and his thugs. I think they might do bad things to him.

Phil Ritchie - Tonic's "If You Could Only See"

Coolia: His style is kind of bland but I do like his voice. I actually prefer this version to the original, but that's not saying all that much.
Terry: Good clean vocals...which means not nearly raw enough for this band. Also lacks stage presence
OMG, what a whiner. Blech... and the head bobbing...Sorry, I can't get over those things.

Storm Large - Cheap Trick's "Surrender"

Coolia: Her name bothers me a lot, but I couldn't help but enjoy her performance of one of my favorite songs. She really rocked it out and had a great command of the stage. At one point the background singer kind of drowned her out, but still, great job overall.
Terry: Voice not powerful enough to pull off the rendition she was attempting, and ended up being/soudning too Vegas-ey showtune type of thing.
Julia: maybe Disney. I can just see the cover of the album if she made it....her surprised expression with the boys flashing her. thank you.

Patrice Pike - Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box"

Coolia: I don't see any spark in her - very ordinary rendition.
Terry: Voice was completely over powered by the music (which was so not the case with Kurt Cobain) and she just go lost in there. She won't go far.
Julia: I actually like her. Looks like Sheryl Crow, but sounds like she's straight from a trailer park in a suburb of Seattle.

Lukas Rossi - Coldplay's "Don't Panic"

Coolia: Wow, a Coldplay song that didn't put me sleep! I do like Lukas. He's kinda freaky looking, but his voice has real power and he's got presence.
Terry: Part of me is rooting for him because he's talented, confident and seems to fit a band like this. But, part of me is rooting against him because he's so confident that he's arrogant and he seems to be a bit of an ass...but, then that just makes him even more right for this band of asses.
Julia: Blended in the background to me....forgettable.

Ryan Star - The Rolling Stones' "Jumping Jack Flash"

Coolia: Hey, Ryan, we can hear you, you don't have to yell. it was a one-note performance and uninspired. I agree with Tommy - "Mick's a showboat, so show me some boat, bitch."
Terry: I love this guy's voice, so this was terribly disappointing. Song choice, song choice, song choice, people! And, do something new/fresh with the darn thing. Very disappointing.
Julia: I liked that he interacted with the crowd....but sounds like a screamer

Dana Andrews - Steppenwolf's "Born to Be Wild"

Coolia: Her look evoked Drew Barrymore in "Firestarter". The girl has some pipes, but she seems like a little girl playing dress up and not very comfortable in slut-wear.
Terry: Not impressed. A bland performance of a hard hitting commanding song. Does not fit this band. She's too porcelain.
Julia: Great voice....but so does not have the skank factor. She needs to hang out with Storm. She could teach her a few "tricks" to succeed in the rock biz.

Toby Rand - The Killers' "Somebody Told Me"

Coolia: Toby is the hottest guy in the competition, in my opinion. Plus he's got great energy and he rocked this song pretty hard. I think he'll go a long way.
Terry: Took a whiny 80's sounding modern song/hit and made it tough and
more modern. You have to respect and admire a guy who can improve on an
Julia: He screams, but I guess that's just rock. hmm....I think he was trying not to grab his crotch. Seemed a bit weird.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Rock Star Supernova: Meet the Rockers

General Comments

Terry: First, this year's edition disappointingly began very different than last season's. Last season, we first met each person as they arrived to live in the "house" (a sweet mansion) together. We got to learn background stories and see them interact with each other. THEN, they performed. I liked that because we were able to get to know them (or, the character they were choosing to play) and it made our backing more personalized. This time they just jumped right in. And, there was absolutely no mention of an goings on while living together so that aspect very well may have been removed. I hope not. That would take away an important dynamic.

Coolia: That would have been much better. Nerdia and I were disappointed they didn’t even explain the process that got them to this stage of the competition. I thought Jason Newstead was too serious for something like this. Last I heard, he was playing with Voivod. I’m glad you took notes on who sang what, Terry, because I couldn’t keep all those bright-steaky-haired kids straight without a scorecard.


Storm Large - The Who's "Pinball Wizard"

Terry: Okay vocals but lacked the real emotion of the original. Good karaoke cover verging on very good karaoke cover.

Coolia: I thought she was good. It was a brave song choice. But I agree, she didnt really stand out. I think they could slutify her more and she might match this band better.

Ryan Star - The Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris"

Terry: Interestingly, he has the same name as the female Idol version but with only one "r" instead of two. he added some extra angst than found in the original and I dug it. Raw and very very good. POTENTIALLY the best of the bunch.

Coolia: This didn't really work for me. I had trouble getting over his name for the reason Terry mentioned. And I didnt think it was a very metal song choice or that he brought anything new to it.

Toby Rand - Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door"

Terry: Nice version with very good to excellent voice but I did not feel/hear the genuine pain. Nice cover but just didn't convey enough emotion to truly be stellar.

Coolia: Toby is the hottie of the show. Love the aussie accent, plus he can sing.

Partice Rike - Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love"

Terry: Very, very good cover but that was the problem. There was nothing new added to it. She did not make it her own in any way.

Coolia: Bland.

Magni - Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction"

Terry: A so-so "singer" with good throaty power growling thing. Seemed a bit nervous and perhaps a bit unsure of himself and the song (which wasn't a good choice for him). He'd better improve overall or he won't last long.

Coolia: He did nothing for me, and I don't think he matches the band. Plus his name makes him sound like a japanimation character or a member of A-Ha. But then, there are a lot of silly names on this show.

Zayra Alvarez - Evanescence's "Bring Me To Life"

Terry: Wow!! Stage presence, strong vocals and really showed and expressed that she feels it! Not 100% perfect but damn near and extremely good The best of the first 6 by far.

Coolia: I thought this was too much a carbon copy of Evanescence. Yes, she's got the vocal power, but one Evanescence is evanescent enough for me.

Jenny Galt - Nickeback's "How You Remind Me"

Terry: Her voice did NOT fit the power and emotion required for this song. This was by far the worst of the first 7. She'd better hope that someone (or more) of the remaining 8 find some way to do worst...and that may be a bit difficult for them.

Coolia: I liked that she could play the guitar but I was distracted by her messy hair. Those studio lights just show every stray hair. She looked like she needed a good brushing.

Josh Logan - Black Crows' "She Talks To Angels"

Terry: Very good voice with his own stamp on the song. Not a big fan of this song but this was a pretty good take on it.

Coolia: He's too clean cut and boy-band-ish. He'd be the one saying "Ok guys, I don't think the Hilton family would appreciate it very much if you glued the hotel room furniture to the ceiling, do you???"

Matt Hoffer - Coldplay's "Yellow"

Terry: Very good vocals and another one who put his own stamp on an original. I think I liked this version better than the original.

Coolia: He looked like a Bay City Roller - too meek and mild for this motley crew. Inappropriate song choice.

Dilana - Nirvana's "Lithium"

Terry: Very throaty, very raspy (she must smoke 10 packs a day!) but somehow very melodic (very much unlike our beloved Bucky). She absolutely OWNED it! She kicked ass and took NO names. Keep your eyes on this one.

Coolia: Agreed - my favorite by a mile. They should end the show and just give her the gig now. She looked on the verge of madness, and her mugging was almost on an Ozzy level of high drama. Great stage presence and strong, unique voice. Plus she's got spikes sticking every which way out of her face. I don't know if these guys really want a chick singer, but if they do, she's gotta be the one.

Dana Andrews - Melissa Etheridge's "I'm The Only One"

Terry: Poor to below average low range but pretty good power range - uneven but good overall. She must improve those low range performances or she won't last long either.

Coolia: Also boring, and a song we are so sick of hearing on Idol. Why didn't any of these girls do "Kiss Me Deadly"?

Phil Ritchie - Living Color's "Cult of Personality"

Terry: Weak voice (for this song), weak stage presence and bad bad bad song choice (for his voice). Jenny Galt's savior!

Coolia: Made me long for Corey Glover and his neon bike shorts.

Jill Gioia - Janis Joplin's "Piece of My Heart"

Terry: A very good cover but with a slight bit of ownership...but NO cover of this song will EVER top Melissa Etheridge's live performance of this song on one of those awards shows (Grammy's?) when she came back from cancer. Melissa TRULY owned it that night!!

Coolia: She's got the looks for the band and solid vocals. But she's no Dilana.

Chris Pierson - Police "Roxanne"

Terry: Definitely put his own stamp on the song but that didn't save this performance. He did not project the sincerity and pain. It just lacked the emotional resonance that is this song. This was okay at best. Magni and Phil Ritchie are now thanking him for his company and possibly saving them.

Coolia: He got the toughest comments from the judges and he probably deserved them. Again, not a great song choice. Didn't these kids listen to Simon - it's all about song choice!

Lukas Rossi - Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell"

Terry: Angst in over-drive! A powerful and captivating performance and made the song his own, but at some point (and this must be sooner than later) must show that he can actually sing.

Coolia: This street urchin was my second favorite to Dilana. Very strange looking and creepy, but compelling performance.

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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Pete Yorn In-Store Appearance

My friend Kristine invited me to go see
Pete Yorn do a free in-store appearance at Vintage Vinyl in St. Louis last weekend. I'd heard his name but wasn't at all familiar with Yorn. He would be performing a sold-out show at Blueberry Hill later that night, so those who couldn't get tickets formed a decent-sized crowd amid the racks of used CDs. Yorn seemed laid-back and unassuming, clad in a retro western shirt and jeans with an old man's hat. He began the set by telling us he'd just woke up after partying like Stillwater in Lawrence, Kansas the night before. Since Kristine saw him strolling around The Loop about two hours before the gig, I guess that means he's sleepwalker. Perhaps that's the reason his new album is called "Nightcrawler"?

Yorn began his set quietly rocking with "Strange Condition" and then "On the Road". He took an audience request and played "June" although he complained it was inappropriate to play it in July. He then played "The Man" off the EP they were promoting - a sampling of his country-western stylings. He played a new song from "Nightcrawler", which will be released on August 29, and concluded the 30-minute set with "For Nancy ('Cos It Already Is)".

Yorn showed off guitar prowess, standing alone with his acoustic guitar, as well as an ability to hold the audience's attention with nicely observed songwriting, a mix of genres, a playful sense of humor evidenced by his stage patter, and a subtle yet powerful voice. I look forward to hearing more of his stuff.

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