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Tangled Up In Blue

blueVenus

“Imagine Fiona Apple and Janis Joplin joined by Neko Case and Radiohead for a Saturday night out,” reads the splash page of the blueVenus Web site. And although that suggests a supergroup fronted by three alpha women, blueVenus is in reality just one woman—singer-songwriter Andrea de Boer. That’s not to say the music isn’t larger than the sum of its parts. De Boer weaves a lot of ideas into each song, changing up time signatures and vocal parts like an actor trying on new characters. “Killing Time” introduces you to the warm brush of de Boer’s voice as she drifts through hypnotic, moody soundscapes. “Grin,” on the other hand, uses the wiry scrape of plucked strings and bleating horns to create a jazzy, Latin-infused number. Things may sound upbeat, but there’s distress lurking at the fringes. In “Happy Tune”—a creeper of a melody—de Boer tries to outrun her demons, telling herself “Instead of dark I’ll be light.” We hope she hangs on to a little of the darkness. Keeps things interesting.

“blueVenus” – Killing Time

The EditoriaList: Eight Great EPs

EP stands for Extended Play. The word left off at the end is “Single,” as these were originally all about singles with some bonus material. This list, however, is about the EP as an artistic statement unto itself. Like a great short story, the EP can thrill you in a way that a full-length LP (Long Player) can’t; its succinctness and concentrated power leaving you excited and needing more. On this list, the EPs may or may not be based on an album single, as long as it hangs together as its own listening experience.

8. Jim James (as Yim Yames) – Tribute To…

Shortly after George Harrison’s death in 2001, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James went into the studio and cut a handful of George’s songs, selecting several of the best solo and Beatle compositions (drawing heavily from The White Album and All Things Must Pass). The resulting EP was not released until 2009. James is solo here, with acoustic guitar, multitracked voice,\ and a shitload of reverb; the sum of which lends a lonely, timeless air to Harrison’s already mystical songs. The recordings are pretty true to the original arrangements, but James has such a unique style (particularly in this spare environment) that the songs are reinvented. AMG’s Andrew Leahey puts it well: “‘My Sweet Lord,’ once a communal hymn, is stripped of its choral arrangement and turned into a solitary prayer, while The Beatles’ ‘Love You To’ leaves its Indian homeland in favor of the swampy American backwoods.”

7. Mission of Burma – Signals, Calls, and Marches

This EP was originally released (in 1981) with six songs, including the seething “That’s When I Reach For My Revolver,” then was amended and re-released in 1997 with the anthemic “Academy Fight Song” and “Max Ernst.” Signals, Calls, and Marches is probably the most accessible MoB recording (Roger Miller called it “mild mannered” in comparison with their aggressive live show) and, as such, helped propel into the 80s the gospel of post-punk / underground / college rock / whatever you want to call it (long before “alternative”). Like most of the EPs on this list, it should not be treated by any fans or curious listeners as an afterthought or any less important than their LPs, but instead as an integral part of the Burma catalog.

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Sound And Vision: Pop Goes the Previews — The Best and Worst of Fall Movie-Trailer Music

Whoever invented the movie preview must be some kind of genius. Because of them, half the fun of seeing a movie on the big screen is getting there—to the main attraction, that is. It always takes a few good trailers to put me in the mood. But sometimes, if the words don’t get in the way (damn, bad screenplays!), the music does. Too often terrible songs ruin perfectly good trailers—or make bad ones worse.

That said, movie-trailer music has come a long way. For a brief period in the early ’90s, nearly every other one seemed to feature the soothing new-age sounds of Enya floating by in the background. Nowadays we get a larger assortment of musical backdrops (pop, classical, rock, hip hop, techno and, of course, vintage Motown), some of which can actually turn must-avoid into must-see — at least until the coming attraction is over and sensible thinking once again prevails.

Variety, however, hasn’t done away with predictability, and recently, while screening trailers for some upcoming autumn releases, I noticed a few rules at play.

1. No self-respecting Oscar contender stoops to the tops of the pops. David Fincher may have gotten Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails to score The Social Network last year, but he knew better than to use Radiohead’s 1992 hit “Creep” in the trailer. Instead, he used a haunting cover by Belgium’s Scala & Kolacny Brothers. This year, for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (December 21), he punctuates the sneak-peek action not with Led Zeppelin’s classic version of “Immigrant Song” but with a near-equally exhilariting remake by Reznor and Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

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