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JUNE 17, 2008
Album Review: Coldplay -- Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends -- 4/5 stars

Viva_coverViva La Vida or Death and All His Friends breaks from the wispy pop of Coldplay's first three albums and mixes things up a bit. Gone are the easily accessible, radio-friendly chart toppers replaced with a collection of gorgeous ballads, layered symbiotic guitar-focused tracks and melancholy, insightful lyrics. But don't worry -- this is still Coldplay, only darker and more mature. The band teamed with legendary producer Brian Eno, who helped enlist diversity through sound: tribal congas permeate "Lost!"; acoustic Irish folksy guitars meet Spanish handclaps on "Cemeteries of London"; grandiose strings create mystery on "Yes"; and sunshine soundscapes on "Strawberry Swing." The album is bookended by the same instrumental loop starting on "Life in Technicolor" and taking things out on "Death and All His Friends." Viva has a well-traveled feeling, a collection of short stories that gets better with every listen. You may not immediately click with it, but give the album a few spins and you'll grow to appreciate Coldplay on a whole new level.

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JUNE 09, 2008
Hangin' with Cut Copy in Chicago

Last month, UR Chicago spent the afternoon hanging with Australian dance/rock group Cut Copy, in town for two hyped shows at the Abbey Pub and an after party at Smart Bar. We took along our friends from VIMBY (thanks Noah!) to capture the time, where we hit Crust pizza in Wicker Park (some of the guys are vegetarian), the Intelligentsia coffee roasting works in the West Loop (apparently it's not only Chicagoans who can't get enough of those beans -- it's also the band's No. 1 North American coffee choice) and Union Park (where Cut Copy will be this summer as part of the Pitchfork Music Festival). Our final stop, before dropping the guys back at the Abbey, was a quick trip to Dusty Groove -- Chicago's premier record shop for hard-to-find vinyl for serious DJs (lead singer Dan Whitford uncovered a Chic album he didn't have -- and they guys are ga-ga for the '70s disco heroes). Overall, the day was a blast, the weather cleared up and Cut Copy -- who is one of our faves -- couldn't have been a nicer bunch of guys.

 
VIMBY - Cut Copy
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MAY 15, 2008
Reason No. 36 to Love California: Gay Marriage

Gaycake


No it's not the avocados; fresh sushi-grade fish; year-round hiking, surfing or biking; the abundance of hybrid cars; Half Dome; Coachella; Tahoe; Golden Gate Bridge; Hollywood or Hwy 1 (but these all pretty much kick ass). It's the fact that the California Supreme Court believes in the rights of all people.

California's high court today overturned a ruling saying that it's unconstitutional to deny gay couples the right to marry. They likened it to not allowing interracial couples to marry. The justices, in a 4-3 ruling, wrote, "In view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples."

This is a huge day for our country. Massachusetts made same-sex marriage legal four years ago at the same time that San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. All the marriages granted during that period had been nullified, but will now be reinstated. Today Newsom said, "It's a throwaway line, but I think it's true: As California goes, so goes the rest of the nation."

As a Chicago resident, I have to ask: So Mayor Daley -- when are you going to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses in the city? Let's make this happen!

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MAY 09, 2008
Dolly Parton Live in Chicago, May 8, 2008

Dolly "There ain't nothin' real about me but my heart," Dolly Parton told the sold-out crowd at the Chicago Theatre Thursday night, May 8. From the bleach blond wig (that she said came from a real nice Korean girl) to the voluptuous breasts (yes, they are even bigger up close -- and no, they ain't real), Dolly Parton brought her "Backwoods Barbie" tour to the Windy City -- and the crowd couldn't have been happier. The singer who has sold more than 100 million albums, has written hundreds of songs and has touched more hearts than you can shake a stick at was nothing but joyful and full of fun lovin' that night.

But one thing you notice when you're sitting up close (we lucked out and got fourth row center) is that Ms. Dolly, for all her talent and gumption, unfortunately lip synched a lot of her songs -- apparently the "ain't nothin' real" line wasn't just about her looks. This was a big surprise, and disappointment, because when you knew she was actually singing, she sounded great. But it almost didn't matter because she put on such a great show regardless. She played a bit of the banjo, harpsichord, violin, piano, recorder, a rhinestone-studded dulcimer and a worn-out, old acoustic guitar that was strapped on with nothing but a piece of rope -- apparently you can take the girl out of the Smoky Mountains but she's bringin' 'em with her wherever she goes. And thank god for that.

Continue reading "Dolly Parton Live in Chicago, May 8, 2008" »

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MAY 08, 2008
Madonna Announces "Sticky & Sweet" Tour

Madonna_2

As if bowing at No. 1 in 27 countries around the world with her new critically acclaimed album, Hard Candy, wasn't exciting enough news this week for Madonna fans, Madge just announced the (currently) 27-city European and North American "Sticky & Sweet" tour. She will no doubt announce more cities and fill in extra dates for the ones already announced (she always does -- she played four shows in Chicago for the Confessions tour in 2006). Tickets, which range from $55-$350, go on sale Sat. May 17 at 11 a.m. CST (at least in Chicago) through Live Nation and Ticketmaster (believe me, it's worth it to pay the high price -- I sat 14th row on the catwalk that jutted out into the center of the crowd and was 5 feet from her the last time -- surreal!). The tour kicks off in Cardiff, Wales on Aug. 23 and will hit Berlin, Rome, Amsterdam, London, Paris and elsewhere across the pond before jump starting the U.S. leg Oct. 3 at the Izod (?) Center in E. Rutherford, NJ (wasn't that Giants Stadium?!). Can you stand it?

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MAY 04, 2008
"Spider"

This video is about 10 minutes long but is worth it. Brilliantly shocking. Watch it all the way through. It's definitely disturbing. 

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JANUARY 09, 2008
Radiohead Hitting North America this Summer

Radiohead this morning announced a North American jaunt. Sort of. It will take place in two segments -- with a break in the middle for an early summer European tour. While specific dates aren't set, the band will hit the following cities:

Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, Indy, LA, Miami, Montreal, NYC, Philly, San Diego, SF, Santa Barbara, Seattle, St. Louis, Tampa, Toronto, Vancouver and DC.

Based on the above itinerary, it doesn't really seem like the band is playing any summer festivals -- although they do mention Chicago (Lolla?) and Philly (Vineland?) -- so who knows. But anyone hoping for Coachella or Bonnaroo ... the band isn't going anywhere near Indio or Manchester (unless LA hints toward Palm Springs, but that's a stretch). Either way, Radiohead is coming to America -- get psyched. Will they play sheds? small theaters? More info and exact dates coming soon...

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JANUARY 07, 2008
Acclaimed DJ BT Searching for Missing Daughter

** This Just In **

Acclaimed artist/producer BT speaks out on his missing daughter, Kaia Transeau, age 3- ½.  Kaia was abducted over three weeks ago by her mother.  There has been no contact since the first few days.  BT is making all reasonable efforts to find his daughter. Currently Kaia has been placed on the national missing persons NCIC (National Crime Information Center) list (phone number 1-304-625-2000).

BT states, “I am diligently and delicately working to do everything possible to amend this tragic family situation.  As a father my only goal is to get my daughter back home.   I appreciate your continued support and understanding in this desperate hour.”

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JANUARY 04, 2008
TV on the Radio Entering Studio

Tvotr Indie faves TV on the Radio are set to enter a Brooklyn recording studio in the coming weeks. While there isn't a lot of news to report, I can say that Kyp Malone and Tunde Adebimpe have written a whole mess o' songs. Guitarist Dave Sitek will produce (he's worked with Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Scarlett Johansson, Beck and NIN) and the band is scheduled to start mixing around March (assuming all goes well with the recordings). No word yet on what guests will join them, but knowing TVOTR, they'll likely invite some influential musical pals into the studio. Unlike TVOTR's last album, 2006's Return to Cookie Mountain, whose release was held up with legal wranglings with their former label, Touch and Go, this still-untitled set will hopefully come out in the fall.

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JANUARY 01, 2008
Binocular Soccer

this is an absolutely hilarious clip from a 1984 show hosted by Japanese comedian Takeshi Kitano.

two questions:
1. Why soccer with binoculars (if for no other reason than to make stoners laugh)?
2. What's up with those insane outfits?

watch and laugh...

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