Barr's All for I'm Not There, Seely Digs Duritz, and Goldberg's Top-10 List

Selections from Reverb, our music blog.

The First "Best Albums of 2007" List This Season

Let the games begin.

1. Clockcleaner—Babylon Rules

2. High on Fire—Death Is This Communion

3. Demander—The Unkindness of Ravens

4. Grinderman—Grinderman

5. Tiny Vipers—Hands Across the Void

6. Amon Tobin—Foley Room

7. Boris w/ Michio Kurihara—Rainbow

8. Jose Gonzalez—In Our Nature

9. A Fine Frenzy—One Cell in the Sea

10. The Scarecrow Frequency—Somber Atlantic

— Michael Alan Goldberg

Seely's Guilty Pleasure: Counting Crows

— Hate all you like. They made one hell of an album

What: "Perfect Blue Buildings" by Counting Crows.

When: 10 a.m., the morning after Thanksgiving.

Where: Bubbles Tea and Coffee on Delridge Way, WEST SEATTLE.

Some coffee shops play super-hip music that only avid listeners of KEXP will be able to recognize. Others play bland smooth jazz or endless rotations of Paul McCartney and holiday pap. Still others, like Bubbles, opt for KMTT-esque AOR satellite offerings from the likes of Dave Matthews and Counting Crows, both of whom I heard at Bubbles during a coffee break in between a long, post-gluttony walk and a bus ride into work on this gloriously crisp and sunny Friday morn.

Slam Adam Duritz's overwrought vocal stylings and angsty, pre-emo (premo?) melodrama all you want, but August and Everything After is a virtually flawless, brilliantly paced album of haunting ballads and poppier, radio-friendly hits like "Rain King" and "Mr. Jones," which got played to death back when the band rose to prominence during Clinton's first term. But elsewhere on the album, you get the likes of "Perfect Blue Buildings," "Raining in Baltimore," "Omaha," "Anna Begins," and "Sullivan Street," all gorgeous, personal, heartfelt slowdowns which reveal Duritz and his mates to be far, far more than a hipster punch line.

— Mike Seely

I Was All There for I'm Not There

It wouldn't be right if it were a universally loved motion picture.

Some guy in the lobby of the Varsity Theatre looked at me and said, "Strange movie, eh?" I just shrugged, man. I couldn't get into it with him and didn't want him spoiling what was going on in my head at the moment. I had just seen I'm Not There, Todd Haynes' masterful portrait of that great American vapor known as "Bob Dylan," and was in a daze over its richness. I should've expected to hear such grumblings. Like the man himself, I'm Not There cannot be easily digested or classified.

This isn't a movie about Bob Dylan. It's a movie that uses our idea of Bob Dylan as the vehicle for a story about America, about fame, about self-invention, about theft, about greed, about arrogance, about transparency, about the stories we tell ourselves, how the true American spirit is lonely, cold, and murderous, and how laughable it is that we would even think about such things.

Each different section of the movie works to a different degree. The segments featuring Marcus Carl Franklin, the 11-year-old black boy who calls himself "Woody Guthrie," felt purposefully hokey. Cate Blanchett, in her role as 1966-era Dylan, was astounding. Christian Bale's portrayal of the "world-weary folksinger Dylan" and "evangelist Dylan" was transparent. He acted like an actor trying hard to act like an actor, which I chalked up to his inability to act, but later I decided it was probably intentional.

My wife and friends all felt that the Richard Gere portion of the film was half-baked. I agree with them for the most part, but it's the one I find myself thinking about the most. Here, we have Gere playing a guy named Billy the Kid, who is wrestling with his own past and imminent future in a town called Riddle, which exists in a vaporous region between the Old West and Woodstock, N.Y. This entire segment is ripe for decoding simply for the Basement Tapes references, the allusions to "Desolation Row," and his romantic vision of an Old Weird America and how it always faces impending disaster ("Crash on the Levee," High Water").

It's a love/hate work of art, and it wouldn't be right if it were a universally loved motion picture. Ultimately, the effect is like Dylan's music, and when watching this film, you have to ask yourself: "Did I like Dylan right away? Have I fully understood 'Desolation Row' all these years?" Also, if you didn't like one aspect of the film right away, you might a few years from now (the Dylan fanatic eventually grows to enjoy Street Legal, right?). And more important, with each different segment, it's hard to tell who this guy really is. It's almost as if he doesn't know himself.

In my opinion, Dylan couldn't have asked for a more fitting tribute.

— Brian J. Barr

 
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