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Best Music of 2008 – Mates of State

January 18, 2009

One of my favorite Christmas gifts was Re-Arrange Us, the latest CD from the band Mates of State. Though it’s their fifth full-length album, they are new to me, and I’d like to introduce them to you!

mates_of_stateDon’t let their indie-rock posturing fool you, these two are nothing but pop music fun!

I first heard about Mates of State while listening to this All Songs Considered podcast. Guest reviewer Stephen Thompson summarizes his affection for the album thus: “I absolutely love this record. I think part of it for me is I have a seven year old and a four year old and they do not stop listening to this record, they love it so much. I think it’s the year’s most romantic record. It’s a song cycle about maintaining a loving relationship, and growing up as a couple, with kids. Re-Arranger has a chorus ‘love loud, don’t lose loud.’ And I just love that.”

That sounded great to me–I would love to listen to music I enjoy that my daughter will like, too! Well, then I heard the single “Re-Arranger” and WOW! It is fun, pop! music that just makes you feel all swelled up with happiness. Oh, but it gets better…

The band (made up of Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel) is a husband-and-wife team (so cute!). Oh yeah, and they take their two little girls (Magnolia & June) on tour with them (so inspiring!!).

This ABC interview is a great little insight into their life on the road:

The way they see it, making music and raising children are their jobs; they embrace them both, together. So (and here comes the soap box) as a mom who is frustrated by the separation of income-earning and caring for children, forcing children to see Mom during the week and Dad on the weekend, I am moved by their lifestyle (even as I doubt we could personally maintain it!).

For more on this fabulous band, check out their blog, Band on the Diaper Run, and listen to their music on MySpace.

Mates of State will be at the Varsity Theatre in Minneapolis on April 12 (Easter Sunday). Click here to get yourself some tickets!


2008, was it great??????

January 4, 2009

Happy New Year!!

Now that 2009 is in full swing, let us reflect on the year that just ended. I will start by first by mentioning music and television which made for a memorable 2008. Ranking and awarding art is a fun but ultimately silly exercise, but I will try hard to compile a few definitive top-ten lists (film for sure) soon. But first some quick reflections…..

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Top 10 Listing Begins

December 23, 2008

top-ten-blueFrom one of Drew’s favorite film critics (“he thinks outside the box”), and care of one of my favorite uncles…

More Top 10 lists to come from us. And, of course, we’d love to hear your Top 10 for 2008 (or Top 3 or Top 20, whatever you have!) in any pop culture category you like!

Oh, and from our house to yours, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!

“The Name is Bond, Jason Bond”

December 4, 2008

109891I am pretty sure I am not the only one to have used the above tagline about the latest installment of the 007 franchise, but I make no claims to being original, just an admirer of good taglines. As explained in the last post, I have not seen very many films as of late, but circumstances arose which gave me the opportunity to view Quantum of Solace twice. So a critique is in order.

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We Are Bad Bloggers!!

November 6, 2008


The title of this post is in itself an apology and a fairly cool name for a band. If you need a band name of course. We have been busy and therefore not consuming as much popular culture recently.  Aside from 30 Rock, The Office, and of course The Daily Show almost every night during the just ended election season, we have not watched much else. Van Morrison’s classic Moondance has been in heavy rotation around here and we have not watched a new movie, on DVD or in theater for a while. This new parent awesomeness just realigns things a bit, which is good. Also, I am applying to Graduate school, which takes quite a bit of time.

End of excuses.

We promise more posts soon. Oscar season is right around the corner folks! Check out the trailer for Slumdog Millionaire below. Directed by one of my contemporary favorites, Danny Boyle, (Trainspotting, Millions) this film took quite a few festivals by storm and is garnering early buzz. Synopsis below:

The story of how impoverished Indian teen Jamal Malik became a contestant on the Hindi version of “Who Wants to be A Millionaire?” — an endeavor made without prize money in mind, rather, an effort to prove his love for his friend Latika, who is an ardent fan of the show.

Sounds a bit cheesy I know, but it really surprised many a hard critic already and I know Danny Boyle’s visual acumen will do wonders. (Update) Looks like it is coming to the Landmark Theater in Edina on November 21.  I think it is being slowly released at first. Keep an eye out for it.

In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you, our understandably disbanded readership. What music, new fall TV shows, books, films etc, have been keeping you excited and engaged recently? We’d love to know about it.

Newman & New Dylan

October 5, 2008

Not much to say that hasn’t already been eloquently stated elsewhere about the passing of Paul Newman. He was a legend in cinema who decided to do something with his fame that impacted people positively beyond his excellent work on screen. Check out the touching tribute below by David Letterman in case you missed it. Apparently Paul Newman DVD’s have been flying off the shelves since his passing at a fantastic rate. Buy some Newman’s Own Salsa or Popcorn and enjoy Cool Hand Luke sometime soon.

Alright, Its not really “new” Bob Dylan music, but it is new to his fans. He is releasing Volume 8 of his alternate takes, rarities and bootlegs on October 7th. This 2-disc set is called “Tell Tale Signs” and consists of work spanning from the “Oh Mercy” sessions of 1989 up to his most recent work, “Modern Times.” NPR has access to both discs for a bit and is streaming them for free here. If you are familiar with his most recent 3 or 4 albums at all, it is really fun to hear the evolution of his songs before they make the cut, and the live and b-side tracks are pure gold. It’s probably sold-out already, but If you have some extra cash lying around, you could get tickets off a scalper or Craigslist to see him perform on election night at the Orpheum Theater in Minneapolis. I have seen him twice and he puts on a fantastic show. His touring band is always aces and he even smiles once in a while now.

Presidential Candidates’ Favorite Films

September 24, 2008

We haven’t posted anything of a real political nature before, but hey, tis the season, and this is on topic…

Click here for a brief interview with the Repubilcan and Democratic candidates (remember, there are others!) regarding their favorite films. Does it help you make your decision? Thanks to Cathy for this link!