Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kevin Costner's "Untold Truths"

By Clarence Yu

No, you did not read the title wrong. It is Kevin Costner, actor-director, with his band Modern West and their debut CD, “Untold Truths.”

At the age of 53, Costner decides to go into his first album of all original songs, with long time band Modern West. Most might be surprised (like me) but after a little checking, Costner has not been a stranger to playing music, as he and his band have been playing live gigs for the past couple of years.

The sound is all country/roots-rock with Costner on vocals. Surprisingly, for a shameless country music fan like me, I’m not that disappointed, nor am I elated.

The songs on the album have little to do with what the title suggests, at least in a direct sense. “90 Miles an Hour” sounds a bit like Jacob Dylan’s “One Headlight,” and “Every Intention” sounds like a John Mellencamp song. The fire cracking country-rocker “Gotta Get Away (Song for Bud)” is one of the tracks that is quite unique. Most of the other tracks deal with tales of Americana and it’s heartland and the actor’s voice isn’t really that bad — he sounds like he’s having a blast, and the band is superb.

Please click here for the rest of the article.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

When the Boss mixes politics and Rock N Roll

By Clarence Yu

OCTOBER 27, 1975: Bruce Springsteen, 25, appears simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek and is heralded as “The future of Rock and Roll.” Around this time, a young man named Barack “Barry” Obama, 14, is attending High School in Hawaii’s Punahou School, destined to be the future President of the United States.

October to November, 2008: Bruce Springsteen, 59, now known as “The Boss” worldwide, critically acclaimed and one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, speaks and plays at several rallies for Senator Barack Obama, 47, who is now the President-elect of the United States.

I used to believe in what Keith Richards used to say about rock n’ roll and politics not being a good mix, that rock n’ roll should not be used as a tool to further anyone’s political agenda. After all, rock n’ roll has always been about good times.

However, as an ardent Springsteen fan for many years now, I believe that the Boss is an exceptional exception to this rule, or at least Richard’s rules.

(Please click here for the rest of the article)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

AC/DC Back with "Black Ice"

By Clarence Yu

AC/DC fans, it’s time to rock again after eight years.

Angus Young and company are back with the new album “Black Ice,” released last October in the United States. You can find a sample of one of their songs, titled “Rock ‘N Roll Train” here.

Their last release, “Stiff Upper Lip” was in 2000, and was met with their usual commercial success. In between then and now, the band was quite inactive with the exception of jamming onstage with the Rolling Stones in 2003, and releasing several box sets.

“Rock N’ Roll Train,” the lead single off the album, is typical AC/DC: it lifts the hairs off your arm and immediately hypnotizes you with that 4/4 signature rock groove they’ve perfected since their inception in 1973.

“Spoiling For A Fight” sounds a bit like “Moneytalks” off 1990’s Razor’s Edge, but less radio friendly and more ballsy.

Read more here.

Clint Eastwood: Riding off into the Sunset?

By Clarence Yu

JUST as mysteriously as he came into the American movie industry as “The Man With No Name” in his “Spaghetti Western” trilogy and as Dirty Harry in the landmark cop drama “Dirty Harry,” reports have been leaking over the Internet that his latest starrer, “Gran Torino” (originally thought as a last sequel to the Dirty Harry franchise) would be his last film as an actor. Might I mention again that word, actor.

I found this official trailer for “Gran Torino” on YouTube:

For Eastwood has, in his storied career spanning over 40 years, been not only an actor, but a director who has had to work his way up the ladder for recognition, culminating with his Oscar wins in 1992 as Best Director for “Unforgiven,” and in 2004 for “Million Dollar Baby.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

SLASH, on life and music after Guns N' Roses

By Clarence Yu

With news of the imminent release of Guns N’ Roses’ new album setting the rock music world on fire, I thought it apt to write something about one of its members — to be specific, an ex-member, Slash.

To most of us growing up in the 80’s, Slash was the epitome of the cool, tough, classic rock guitar, refusing to use a whammy bar in an age where ala’ Eddie Van Halen tapping was en vogue, and keeping mostly to Gibson Les Paul’s as his main guitar of choice. He (along with Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi) brought the talk box back to life (a device, when connected to a guitar can make your voice and guitar sound cool and robotic — listen to the intro of “Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi).

(The rest of the article can be found here.)

Movie Review: Swing Vote

Movie Review: Swing Vote

Starring Kevin Costner, Madeline Caroll, Dennis Hopper, Kelsey Grammer
Directed by Joshua Stern
Distributed by Touchstone Pictures

By Clarence Yu

KEVIN Costner’s latest drama-comedy starrer, Swing Vote, is a timely film for a primer on the US electoral process. Released in North America in August this year, the movie focuses on a trailer-living, divorced, single father, all-around loser and drunk bum (Bud Johnson) played by Costner.

As it happens, during the US election that transpires in the movie between the two presidential candidates played by Dennis Hopper and Kelsey Grammer respectively as the Democrat challenger and the incumbent Republican President, the whole fate of the race boils down to the vote of one man, Johnson, due to a voting machine performance error that did not able to record his vote.

Please click here for the rest of the article (at the Philippine Daily Inquirer's TV blog, Couch Potatoes).