Sights and Sounds

Movie and music reviews by Library Staff

Music Review: First Aid Kit

The first time I heard First Aid Kit, composed of doe-eyed Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg, I had stumbled across their melancholic ballad "Ghost Town" on an episode of NPR’s Echoes. From the very first, when I heard them croon, “Maybe I should just turn around and walk away / For no matter how much I want to stay / You know I can’t / It’s just too late”, I was hooked. How could two people so young tap so ably into the defeated resignation that comes with the death of dreams? I explored more of their music, and with the 2014 breakout album Stay Gold, I was hooked on the Söderbergs' angelic harmonies, piercing lyrics, and ability to render even cover songs into something distinctly theirs.
 

Take the 'A' Train to the Library to Learn about Jazz!

April is Jazz Appreciation Month—a great time to learn more about America’s original art form through the Library.

Originating in the 1910s, jazz has roots in African traditions, blues, ragtime, and European classical music. Gary Giddins’ and Scott DeVeaux’s book Jazz traces the genre's evolution from the early twentieth century to the fusion sounds of more recent times, and describes the major influences in its development. In the Emmy-nominated documentary miniseries of the same name, Ken Burns' Jazz traces the music's history from its beginnings in the African-American community of New Orleans.

Dropkick Murphys: Kiss Them, They’re Irish

Well, maybe not quite.

Listening to the Dropkick Murphys, I’m swept into their Irish-Catholic South Boston neighborhood. The sense of place in their rough-and-tumble songs is simply that strong—and not just on account of the accent coming through in the vocals.

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The Murphys are a curious blend of genres: they’re described as both hardcore punk and Celtic folk, and you can definitely hear both in their music. I’d add unapologetically, jubilantly brash. And raucous. Irreverent. Throbbing with life, vitality, emotion, even a little death. Not above making fun of themselves.

And prolific. This year’s 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, peaking at number eight on the U.S. Billboard charts, follows a dozen releases by the Murphys since 1998. You may

The Best Music of 2016, According to 100+ Websites

solange-300.jpegYou appreciate a good "albums of the year" list, but what if a particular list leaves off something really great? How reliable is just one reviewer's opinion, anyhow?

You could look for picks that made several reviewers' lists—if the same album hit a bunch of radars, maybe it's worth a listen, right? Review site Album of the Year takes this idea to the extreme, by compiling the "best albums of 2016" lists from 114 web sources and ranking them accordingly.

Gene Wilder (1933 – 2016)

Gene WilderI can still remember the first time I saw Gene Wilder in a film.  He was playing a mousey accountant by the name of Leo Bloom who, while going over the books of once-famous Broadway Producer Max Bialystock makes the casual observation that it would be possible, though dishonest, to make more money with a Broadway flop than a successful production.  The film was “The Producers,” and the rest they say is history and Gene Wilder screamed his way into being one of my favorite comedic actors as Zero Mostel stood over him while he lay on the floor in a panic screaming, “Don’t Jump on me. Don’t Jump on me.”

Gene went on to star in many well-known comedies: Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Stir Crazy, Silver Streak and many others.  His role as candy maker Willy Wonka in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory will likely never be forgotten. The library owns a number of Gene Wilder’s Films and books. You did know he was also a writer, didn't you?  The link below will create a list of items to choose from.   He will be missed.

 

The Films and Book of Gene Wilder

The Invisible Man (1933)

Claude Rains was perhaps one of the most recognizable character actors from the classic era of film.  He was able to play almost any part. Among his best known roles were Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca and Prince John in The Adventures of Robin Hood.  The Invisible Man was his first major film role.  Prior to this film he had only appeared on screen in one silent film short.  The rest of his early acting life had been spent on the hardwood stages.  In The Invisible Man, Mr. Rains stars as Dr. Jack Griffin, who disappears one day while working in the lab of his friend and mentor Dr. Cranley   His mysterious disappearance from the lab has Flora, Dr. Cranley’s daughter and Jack’s girlfriend, worried regarding his whereabouts.  Unbeknownst to the two of them Jack Griffin has done more than simply walked away from the lab and them.  He has literally disappeared, becoming completely invisible.  Wrapped in bandages to hide his invisibility he sets up a lab in a local Inn to work on a way to bring himself back to normalcy.  Sadly the formula which made him invisible is also affecting his mind and he is becoming more unbalanced and violent as time passes.

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