California Literary Review


Yesterday is Today: The Pop of Jim Noir


April 18th, 2012

He makes pop, but to be clear this is a pop so smart and with such strong roots in 60s and 70s pop, psychedelia, and travelogues, that it’s impossible to brush off as mere background noise.

Album Review: Bear In Heaven’s I Love You, It’s Cool


April 12th, 2012

The slowing down was a screen; a record two years in the making speaks of obsession, if not nervousness and releasing it into the world with high expectations facing a band is daunting. What better modesty panel than turning it into a drone? That keening, stretched noise will forever be associated with the album as much as the contents itself, a pre-emptive remix to guard against what anyone else could say about the “actual” release.

Album Review: Unentitled from Slim Cessna’s Auto Club


April 10th, 2012

This music is something darker; it’s the country hidden beyond the well-traveled farms and ranches, yet ultimately resonating with the frenzied arrythmic lubdub of the American heartland.

Album Review: Kalenna’s Chamber of Diaries


April 9th, 2012

The mixtape format allows artists to experiment without needing to conform to anything a label wants, letting edgier and more exciting stuff get pushed to the fore — Kalenna has no need to control her swearing-as-punctuation habit if there’s no official single with obligatory radio edit, for instance and from the aggressive outset of “Go To Work,” that’s very much the core of Chamber of Diaries.

NY Philharmonic’s Modern Beethoven Festival Concludes


March 28th, 2012

There’s nothing worse than a complacent performance of a Beethoven symphony. Being such a staple of the orchestral repertoire, Beethoven is all too easily performed on auto-pilot. Some conductors, however, have made it their mission to find fresh approaches to the great composer, like David Zinman, the music director of the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, who led the New York Philharmonic’s Modern Beethoven festival at Avery Fisher Hall this month.

Book Review: Some of My Lives: A Scrapbook Memoir by Rosamond Bernier


February 19th, 2012

Rosamond’s very early experiences with the great and famous were connected with her father’s love for music. Because he headed the Board of Directors of the Philadelphia Orchestra, she went often to rehearsals and concerts as a child, and when conductors and soloists were invited to Sunday luncheons at the Rosenbaum’s regularly, she was enthralled by their artistic talk and liberated manners. Among those she encountered and admired then were Otto Klemperer. Nathan Milstein, Jose Iturbi, Eugene Ormandy among others. So collecting her anecdotal tales of their eccentricities and foibles began even then. She even speaks of the Philadelphia Orchestra as “her extended family.”

Oscars 2012: Slighted Soundtracks And Fantasy Scores


January 30th, 2012

Acting, directing, and writing awards are the most popular targets for discussion, but there were more very creative folks left off the roll this year. Two aggressively original outsiders are out in the rain, peeping in at the Best Original Score category without so much as an acknowledgment.

Book Review: Verdi and/or Wagner: Two Men, Two Worlds, Two Centuries by Peter Conrad


November 28th, 2011

Perhaps, the best way of approaching Conrad’s book is to regard it primarily as a meditation on creativity. As with opera itself, where passion and empathy lead, intellectual appreciation will follow. The key insight of this fine book is easy enough to grasp. In an age of strutting nationalism, both Verdi and Wagner gave the world music that ultimately transcends the limits of borders or political ideology, regardless of how subsequent regimes used it.

Mark Kozelek: On Tour Film Review


November 17th, 2011

Mark Kozelek is the immensely talented lead singer and writer for Sun Kil Moon, and before that, the Red House Painters, one of the leading bands of the sadcore movement in the 90s. When Kozelek tours, he tours alone, just his nylon string guitar and mournful, weary voice. His large fan base in Europe often […]

Music Review: New York Philharmonic, “John Williams: A Night at the Movies”


November 5th, 2011

Judging by the audience’s response, the final item listed on the program was what many had come for: Williams’s title theme from Star Wars, one of the most well-known compositions in the modern music repertoire. There were a couple of encores, including the theme from Indiana Jones and the “Imperial March,” or Darth Vadar’s theme, from Star Wars, which drew cheers from fans and a standing ovation.

Music Review: New York Philharmonic, “Alan Gilbert Conducts Bach, Berg, and Brahms”


October 17th, 2011

Taking the second violin part, Gilbert, who has previously played in the Philharmonic’s chamber music concerts, proved himself to be as much an accomplished instrumentalist as a conductor, though he quipped, in a video interview published on the Philharmonic’s Website, “I certainly don’t intend to try to take the city by storm as a violinist.”

San Francisco Opera: Heart of a Soldier


September 13th, 2011

For its world premiere of Heart of a Soldier at San Francisco Opera, the creators chose to concentrate on the personal story of Morgan Stanley’s security head Rick Rescorla, whose actions led over 2,700 World Trade Center South Tower workers to safety, only to lose his own life when he reentered the building to search for stragglers. The opera focuses on his journey from childhood in Cornwall, England, to his role in the tragic events on 9/11. An exploration of a life that culminated in those heroic actions is a story worth examining.

Unfortunately, it was poorly told.

Why Buddha Would Go to Indie Rock Concerts


September 7th, 2011

  At my 17th birthday dinner at a place that played live music, the host sat me and my family behind a wall. We couldn’t see the band; we could barely hear the muffled tones and applause. I was not 18, and in Northern Virginia, this made it difficult to see any interesting music live. […]

The Turn of the Screw at Glyndebourne, Live Streamed via The Guardian


August 22nd, 2011

Glyndebourne: one of the names in the British calendar. Up there with Wimbledon, Henley and other occasions which involve large quantities of strawberries being consumed in extremely specific clothing. With the added attraction of some of the best opera in the world.

Baloji: Nowhere and Everywhere


July 21st, 2011

“Over there I don’t feel totally Conogolese, and here, I don’t particularly feel Belgian,” says Baloji, a Congolese/Belgian musician who recently released his second album, Kinshasha Succursale. The story of Africa’s Congo is a long and troubled one, outlined in terrifying honesty by Adam Hochschild in King Leopold’s Ghost (yes, that’s suggested reading). In short, […]

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