Popdose Exclusive Premiere Video: Calan Mai, “Friend Of A Friend”

Popdose is pleased to present this exclusive video/track from Australian singer-songwriter, Calan Mai, “Friend Of A Friend”.  Read his quote below; you’ll agree this is not the average musician’s perspective.

Of the song, Mr. Mai explains, “I spend most of my time waiting to play shows, record songs and release singles. That’s the life of a musician. I am propelled forward by one overriding emotion: hope. And hope is different from expectation because it has nothing to do with odds or statistics or patterns of experience—it’s about trust. I wanted to capture this in the video for “Friend Of A Friend”. The sense of giving up your time, stability and comfort for a shot at something you might never achieve. The only way you can do that is if you trust in yourself.

The truth is I live with my Dad; I work in an office, and I spend most days of the year, not doing the thing I want to do. And I gave up the most important relationship of my life, so I could keep living in this state. On paper, that seems like an insane decision.
 
But I trust that it will take me somewhere new. Somewhere I can only go on my own.”

Call it predicting heartbreak or being in tune with the cosmos, either way, it’s heady stuff.  There’s a great deal of rationality and logic mixed within the anticipated chaos and upheaval.

See what you think.

“Friend Of A Friend” is available now

http://www.calanmai.com/

Soul Serenade: Danny White, “Can’t Do Nothing Without You”

For every musician who becomes a household name, there are hundreds, probably even thousands who toil in clubs for many years, getting a whiff of success every now and then but never quite climbing that ladder to the top rung. At some point they must realize that they are never going to get there and yet, they toil on, maybe because they love music or maybe because it’s the only thing they know.

Danny White was born and raised in New Orleans. After serving in the Army in California he returned to the Crescent City and began his music career with a band called the Cavaliers who played at clubs like the Golden Cadillac and the Sho Bar. It was there that White was spotted by the legendary Huey “Piano” Smith who helped White get a deal with Ace Records. White recorded several singles for the label but none of them got much attention. During this time White also made a quickly forgotten single for Dot Records.

White didn’t give up, however, and before long he met a woman named Connie LaRocca who had started a label called Frisco. LaRocca’s A&R man was Al Reed and Reed had written a song called “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” White went into the studio with another legendary New Orleans musician, producer Wardell Quezergue, to record Reed’s song. The resulting single was a hit throughout the Gulf Coast and even though White tried hard to replicate the success of the single with tracks like “Loan Me a Handkerchief” and “Love is a Way of Life” he never seemed to be able to match that first Frisco single.

Danny White -

At that point, looking for something to spur White’s career, LaRocca thought that the answer might be found in Memphis. It was there that White hooked up with the dynamic production team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter to record a gem of a ballad called “Can’t Do Nothing Without You.” Sadly, the single didn’t score and neither did a follow-up called “Note on the Table.” When Frisco shut down, White stayed in Memphis and signed with Stax so that he could continue to work with Hayes and Porter. The team recorded another powerful single, “Keep My Woman Home” b/w “I’m Dedicating My Life.” Among the backing musicians was guitarist Steve Cropper but large scale success continued to be elusive.

White’s moved on to record with producer Bowlegs Miller and their collaborations featured the Hi Records rhythm section as well as the Memphis Horns. Singles from that period included “Cracked Up Over You,” Don Bryant’s “You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down,” and “Taking Inventory,” which was written by Eddie Floyd.

The provenance of the next White recordings remains unclear. The productions are credited to the New Orleans team of Marshall Seahorn and Allen Toussaint but it’s quite possible that tracks like “Natural Soul Brother” and “One Way Love Affair” were leftovers from the Bowlegs Miller sessions since the sound of those records is quite similar.

Despite the renown of the producers that White worked with and the quality of those recordings, White never quite managed to break through. He finished his recording career with a single for Kashe Records, “King For a Day,” b/w “Never Like This.” White was done as a performer by the end of the 1960s although he stayed in the game by becoming the manager of the Meters at the start of their career. But by the early 1970s, White quit the music business altogether and moved to Washington, D.C. He died in 1996 and although he never became a household name many of his recordings are treasured by soul music aficionados.

 

 

 

Exit Lines: “To Kill a Mockingbird”

There’s been so much drama regarding Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird that the actual show may get lost in all the headlines. (There’s this, and this, and this.) Once you’ve gotten through all that hubbub, however, book your tickets to what’s become a bonafide theatrical event. It’s excellent.

Mostly.

Lee’s 1960 novel, the basis of the Oscar-winning 1962 film, needs no introduction. In all the best ways, it plays to Sorkin’s strengths: It’s a courtroom thriller at its core, and A Few Good Men is no slouch where courtroom thrillers are concerned.  The material has been reshaped around tense and exciting procedural sequences, and the show crackles whenever race and rape are on trial in the fictional (but achingly real) Maycomb, AL, circa 1934. (That things haven’t necessarily changed all that much is something that the playwright need not underline.)

Under the sensitive, searching direction of the great Bartlett Sher (of South Pacific, Awake and Sing!, and the current revival of My Fair Lady) the book has been reconceived as a memory play, and its three children (siblings Scout and Jem and their new friend Dill) are played by adult actors. This conceit can be difficult to pull off and a show dead in the water if it doesn’t work, but when your actors are as good as as Celia Keenan-Bolger (Scout), Will Pullen (Jem), and Gideon Glick (Dill), all three carefully keeping their feet in the worlds of preadolescents and adults, it powers past mere gimmickry. Special mention must be made of Glick, an actor who left an indelible impression as a  struggling gay man in the dramedy Significant Other a few seasons back; cast in the “Truman Capote part” (the two authors were childhood friends), he quite movingly brings another kind of difference to a story of prejudice and outcasts.

Then again the entire sprawling cast is outstanding, full of “that guys!” in on the New York theatre scene, from Frederick Weller as the hissable Bob Ewell to Dakin Matthews as the sleepy judge (who is alert at just the right times) and Phyllis Somerville as the crabby Mrs. Dubose. Sher’s shadowy staging owes nothing to the famous film, with scenic designer Miriam Buether and lighting designer Jennifer Tipton thinking in terms of stage visuals. Though the industrial backdrop suggests Detroit rather than Alabama, there’s just enough scenery to support a reminiscence of bygone events, and no more. Likewise a small band unobtrusively plays Adam Guettel’s  plaintive musical accompaniment, an element that sound designer Scott Lehrer communicates with perfect pitch. Based on a book that looms large in our cultural consciousness, To Kill a Mockingbird is a big show presented as intimately as possible.

But Sorkin stumbles trying to update its racial politics. I have no objection to giving the accused Tom (Gbenga Akinnagbe) a greater stake in his own fate, by “opening out” the character a bit as his life hangs in the balance. Expanding the role of Calpurnia, the Finch family maid, is however deeply problematic, though no fault of the formidable LaTanya Richardson Jackson. What Sorkin is probing is the limit of empathy, with Atticus the lawyer taking a “both sides” approach to Tom’s trial and Calpurnia urging sterner rebuke of the town’s deeply entrenched racism. Well, OK–but having the characters argue the term “passive aggressive,” and giving Calpurnia a few lines of Nietzsche, clearly wasn’t the best way to go. Sorkin’s broadening is acceptable (it’s adaptation, not transcription); his dialogue, tin-eared and faintly embarrassing.

I haven’t yet mentioned Jeff Daniels in the role of a lifetime, and on some level this must please this gifted, modest actor. Gregory Peck brought star-powered rectitude to his portrayal; Daniels scales his performance to that of the lead of an ensemble, a rewarding difference. His Atticus is a cog in a wheel that stops only briefly when he offers Tom a stronger-than-absolutely-necessary defense; the fallout is immense, yet the wheel continues to turn. To Kill a Mockingbird has familial warmth and Southern humor; in this retelling, however, there’s no lasting justice, only the memory of justice. 

Popdose Exclusive Premiere: Christie Huff, “Black & White”

Popdose is very pleased to present to you this exclusive of Christie Huff’s new single, “Black & White”.  The Los Angeles-based up-and- coming songstress is beginning to break through—her recent single “Urban Love” was added to Spotify’s Wild Country and Pop Co playlists and “Black & White” is a classic slice of country/pop balladry.  The song is taken from a forthcoming E.P. release and stands out as a powerful first track.

“”Black & White” is a song about the difficulty of young love ending and holding onto a flawed love. I wrote this right after a relationship ended and it was such a therapeutic song for me to write. At the time, I was going through so many emotions:  heartbreak; sadness; confusion; anger, but I also still had love for this person. That’s when I came to the conclusion that the feeling of love isn’t black and white; it is a very colorful feeling that always changes. This song captures my personal experience with the end of a relationship.”

It’s quite a statement – both musically and personally.  Please take a listen and let us know what you think.

“Black & White” will be released as a single digitally on all platforms, Friday, March 22, 2019.

http://www.christiehuff.com

Popdose Exclusive Song Premiere: Jonas Friddle, “Drinking in a Dry Town”

Popdose is pleased to present an exclusive new track from Chicago-based Jonas Friddle, as his upcoming album, The Last Place to Go, is due out April 12th.  After two studio albums with indie-folk supergroup, The Majority,  this new release marks a move to a more intimate sound and a focus on storytelling. Recorded live and straight to tape, the performance of “Drinking in a Dry Town” makes the listener feel like they are in the room with the band, reminiscing with old friends. Friddle’s vocals and vintage Gibson guitar are supported by carefully arranged drums, bass, keys, and fiddle.  The result is a widely textured sound that remains intimate with the words in focus. The single will be released March 18.

“This new album has a lot of inspiration from growing up in the 1990’s and early 2000’s, and I was working hard on a different song about that time when “Drinking in a Dry Town” interrupted. It surprised me. You don’t always see how people are struggling at the time, and looking back, it’s rough to realize what they were going through. I’ve worried about playing this song live and will sometimes skip it sometimes, because it’s a painful topic – but when I do play it, there is always someone after the show who tells me how much it connected with them. I think it acknowledges a struggle that a lot of people can identify with in some way.”

http://www.jonasfriddle.com/


 

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode One Hundred One

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross:  Episode One Hundred One

The first all-new episode after the hiatus that halted Radio City… for a few weeks, this is undoubtedly the most powerful and personal installment yet.  

Listen in and you will fully understand why the show stopped for a while – and during those revelations, you may cry; you’ll laugh – but this is a conversation that will make you think.  And if you have a heart, you’ll definitely be able to relate.

Here are Jon and Rob, as human as you could possibly want your hosts to be…

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode One Hundred One

The podcast will be on the site as well as for subscription via iTunes and other podcast aggregators. Subscribe and let people know about Radio City, as well as Popdose’s other great podcasts David Medsker’s Dizzy Heights and In:Sound with Michael Parr and Zack Stiegler.

Dizzy Heights #53: Gold

This show was originally going to be about shiny things. I thought of precious metals, and then opened things up to include any gem that would be included in jewelry. Gold, silver, rubies, diamonds, all that stuff.

 

And then I wound up selecting ‘gold’ song after ‘gold’ song, skipping every ‘silver’ song I had. At that point, it seemed silly to play a bunch of ‘gold’ songs, and then ‘Diamonds and Pearls’ and ‘Ruby.’ So I narrowed the focus to just gold. And as it turned out, I had more than enough material, and even added a brand new song from a brand new band at the last minute, so that’s always fun.

 

We have eight acts making their Dizzy Heights debut this week, including aforementioned new band Pixel Grip, along with Mott the Hoople, Golden Earring, The Fantastic Leslie, Stereo MCs, Goldfrapp, Fitz & the Tantrums, and John Stewart. Yep, I hit the yacht rock vaults hard on this one. (Well, OK, twice.)

 

Thank you, as always, for listening.

The Latest Celebrity Autopsies on Tape: Five Comic Books that Deserve a Film Adaptation

Since Generation X filmmakers came of age, comic books have been the driving narrative force behind every other piece of media in existence. Black Panther won three Oscars and Marvel’s overall box office take makes it wealthier than some continents.

Unfortunately, as happened in the 1990s, the marketplace is becoming saturated with product of questionable merit. While the aforementioned Black Panther is a good movie in its own right, there are things like Suicide Squad that dilute the genre. Not to mention the fact that it’s becoming a requirement to watch twenty films just to understand what is happening in one story.

What saved comics was the fact that other creators outside of the mainstream took comics in a different direction – and that major publishers set up companies like Vertigo that allowed them to do that. While most mainstream creators were trying to make their characters “darker,” writers were creating new property that both included more mature themes and keeping the comic campiness that had attracted readers for decades. A few even managed to take classic pulp genres, like noirs and fantasy, and write comics that allowed people to see them in a new light.

It’s why everyone looks at most of the Superman stories from the 1990s as embarrassments, but Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman is still lauded today. They were both released by the same company, but Gaiman was offered more freedom because he wasn’t writing for a mainstream label.

Critics have speculated that superhero movies are a bubble ready to burst. That has not happened financially (yet), but they are starting to struggle artistically. If filmmakers want to keep the genre fresh, they should look at bringing these comic series to screen. And I have identified some great directors who would be perfect for the material.

CriminalEd Brubaker has already worked on mainstream comics like Daredevil and one of his story arcs was converted Captain America: Winter Soldier. But he’s also famous for subverting traditional comic stories to focus on the usually unseen characters. Gotham Central has very little to do with Batman and instead chooses to focus on the detectives in the Gotham City Police Department.

He is also famous for taking hackneyed tropes for pulp genres and making them as realistic as possible. Criminal is probably his best series. It features the same ideas that seduced Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler – internal monologues, seedy bars, seductive women, and short declarative sentences.

But the people in Criminal don’t feel like the people you see on Turner Classic Movies. If they talk like film noir characters, it’s because that makes sense in the world they inhabit. They’re all chasing real demons, like divorce and addiction. And when people pull a heist, there are consequences that go far beyond the police investigations.

Criminal revitalizes noir by taking standard conventions to their logical extreme. The characters are all flawed but sympathetic. I could understand why they made the choices they made, even if it leads to violence. And they’re all intriguing.

Noir was one of the original genres that set film away from other mediums. Now that comics are among the top source material for movies, it’s time for the medium to come full circle. Reboot the noir using a comic book as your template.  

Who Should Direct: Filmmakers interested in classic noir are becoming harder and harder to find. Most detective stories have migrated to television, where the episodic format is seemingly better at keeping a mystery going. And maybe that’s the solution. The most acclaimed crime series today is True Detective. Maybe series creator Nic Pizzolatto is the only person who can adapt Criminal in a new medium.

Hack/SlashThis is likely the most mainstream idea among the series listed here, and in fact was going to be turned into a film. But that became trapped in development hell.

That’s a shame, because the idea behind it is very appealing. Tim Seeley and Emily Stone’s series is essentially a remake of Buffy the Vampire Slayer except the protagonist targets so-called “slashers” instead of vampires. Slashers like Jason Vorhees and Freddy Krueger, in this universe, are very real. Slasher slayer Cassie Hack had to kill her own mother after she turned out to be a “slasher.” She subsequently dedicates her life to hunting slashers like the skinless Doctor Gross, the party loving Acid Angel, and classic slashers like Chucky and Dr. Herbert West.

Cassie Hack is obviously a very conflicted woman. She is openly questioning her sexuality and doesn’t want anyone to get too close to her. But the people she meets aren’t the people that anyone needs to know. Most are just a bunch of low watt bulbs and the comic’s setting is permanently stuck sometime in the 1980s where trips to Camp Crystal Lake are a requirement. Cassie is more knowing and insightful than the people she encounters.

It would make a great film because horror is, once again, at a crossroads. After depending on gore for decades, most of the praised horror of the last year, like A Quiet Place, depended on psychological tension as opposed to blood. Hack/Slash may be what closes that slasher chapter once and for all.

Also, Pooch has tremendous potential as a breakout character.

Who Should Direct: Edgar Wright has shown that he’s capable of creating knowing satire and equally capable of examining the conflicts in youth. Additionally, his nerdy background would make the slasher killers a genuine tribute instead of some schlocky reference.

The IncalIn the wake of the collapse of his Dune adaptation, Alejandro Jodoworsky reworked much of the new material he created for the movie into a comic book along with legendary illustrator Moebius. The result is a sprawling mythology that has spawned other series and has been listed as one of the best series ever written.

The series is a sprawling epic about a private investigator who discovers a crystal that is being sought by different religious groups. What happens from there is an epic spiritual journey for the main character (who is literally named “The Fool”) in the ultimate sci-fi dystopian city that features a wide variety of alien races and bizarre characters.

In other words, it’s exactly the sort of epic work of science fiction you would expect Alejandro Jodorowsky would create.

The art style is very reminiscent of the animated shorts in the Heavy Metal film. It’s a very cartoonish world that is crammed with faces and visual information that it’s almost impossible to find everything in the first read. There are also some moments of comedy in between the metaphysical philosophy. After accidentally swallowing the titular gem, John accidentally vomits on a king and one member of the court can only say “Scandalous!” And the entire book is one giant circular narrative.

It would likely be very difficult to include every element needed to translate the work to the screen, but the ideas are so rich that it would be an impossible film to ignore. At the very least it would be the closest we would get to seeing one of film’s lost masterpieces on screen.

Who Should Direct: Luc Besson has done his version of The Incal – twice – but both of those films were more interested in the style than the substance of the work. Instead, I’ll select someone a big Jodorowsky fan who has been rumored to direct a film adaptation of this before – Nicolas Winding Refn. His films are visually arresting and, for better or for worse, he demonstrates that he has a lot of existential ideas behind the neon palette he paints his frames with. He could probably make the material easier to understand and capture the chaos of John DiFool’s existence.  

Mister XThis is one of the most visually stunning series ever. Created by Dean Motter, Mister X tells the story of Radiant City, a retro futuristic metropolis that was designed to cater to its citizens every desire. But one of the creators (we’re never sure which one) is concerned that the “psychetecture” used to create the city will slowly cause its citizens to go mad. Donning the moniker of “Mister X,” he returns to the city to try and fix the flaws in his creation. Also, like in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, there’s a power struggle and divided classes throughout the city.

Motter’s city was copied in numerous other comics after its debut and even some films. It’s impossible to watch Alex Proyas’ Dark City while recalling Radiant City. But the comic goes deeper than that. It put an emphasis on how, even as humanity tried to create a paradise, it was unable to escape from the conflicts that define human nature. Mister X’s identity is never important. What matters is how fluid his identity is to the people around him. He can simultaneously relate to the working-class members of this society as well as Radiant City’s rulers – not because of what he does, but because of the attributes people assign to him.

The story ends with Mister X crawling back into the sewer he emerged from, realizing that there is still work to be done. It was a way to keep the character open ended for revivals, but it was also a way to keep the mystery alive. There couldn’t possibly be an easy solution in a world that’s slowly causing everyone to go mad.

Who Should Direct: I’d like to see Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Villeneuve make the movie. Not only would he be able to capture the visuals of the world, he also has demonstrated that he’s able to make sense of philosophical ideas buried in schlocky science fiction stories. His Mister X would be able to understand that the setting is as important a character as the citizens living in it.

TransmetropolitanThe series is almost impossible to describe to those who haven’t read it.  At its core it’s about a Hunter S Thompson figure named Spider Jerusalem who lives in a crapsack cyberpunk world and writes columns just to upset the public figures that continuously irk him. He gobbles down drugs (it’s the future, so there don’t seem to be any long-term effects to drug abuse), is unsupportive of the people that care about him, and is generally an unpleasant person. But he’s a rebellious voice of the people, so everyone just sort of puts up with his antisocial behavior.

Transmetropolitan is ultimately an exercise of self-reflection by writer Warren Ellis. I get the sense that he believed himself to be Spider, someone who was trying to rebel against the mainstream comics industry with a character that was as loathsome as the “dark and edgy” characters of the 1990s were to him. Unfortunately, as Spider became more popular (both in the story and in comic shops), Ellis undoubtedly felt like his character was getting away from him.

That introspection would come at a time when superhero movies really need to start looking at what they are. The same thing is happening to them. No one expected Iron Man to be a box office smash hit and the idea of an entire cinematic universe where the same characters played large role was seemingly crazy. Yet now it’s the norm and other studios have tried it, diluting the idea. If done correctly, then Transmetropolitan would be a very good comic book film that re-examines comic book films.

Who Should Direct: It took me a while to figure out who I’d like to see tackle the material. There aren’t many filmmakers who possess the satirical eye needed and the ability to create the visual effects to bring this world alive. Then it hit me – Alex Garland. He started out as an author of satirical novels like The Beach and movies like Annihilation prove he can create a world from scratch. And although he didn’t direct it, he did write the screenplay for the 2013 version of Dredd. That’s how Tansmetropolitan should look on screen.