WBEZ | review http://www.wbez.org/tags/review Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 'Melody’s Echo Chamber' a dream-pop delight http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/melody%E2%80%99s-echo-chamber-dream-pop-delight-103858 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1melody.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 640px;" title="Melody Prochet" /></div><p>With Stereolab&rsquo;s Laetitia Sadier disappointing on recent solo releases (including <em>Silencio</em>, which dropped in July) and Charlotte Gainsbourg an immensely talented but much more dour sort, the role of the French indie-rock chanteuse who steals our hearts now belongs to Paris-based musician Melody Prochet, whose self-titled full-length debut as <em>Melody&rsquo;s Echo Chamber </em>is a charming and thoroughly seductive delight.</p><p>Named after a dream in which she imagined that her bedroom was an echo chamber that could produce an infinite delay, this project finds Prochet firmly at the helm after time in two twee-/dream-pop bands, Narcoleptic Dancers and My Bee&rsquo;s Garden. Yes, she had some impressive help in crafting these 11 hazy pop gems in the form of production talent Kevin Parker: The Australian psychedelic auteur behind Tame Impala, whose merits I lauded not long ago <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-10/tame-impala-rises-above-103369">on this blog</a> as well as on <a href="http://www.soundopinions.org/cm/reviews/show/363"><em>Sound Opinions</em></a><em>, </em>invited Prochet&rsquo;s last band to tour with his group and helped her finish what she started at her grandmother&rsquo;s house. But the credit is mostly due to the singer and songwriter.</p><p>Prochet has a way of crafting songs that each create their own unique and impressive sonic spaces, though her voice, as wispy and ethereal as it may be, always commands our attention. From the space-age bachelor pad groove of &ldquo;Quand Vas Tu Rentrer?&rdquo; to the unsettling &ldquo;Snowcapped Andes Crash,&rdquo; and from the My Bloody Valentine-like disorientation of &ldquo;IsThatWhatYouSaid&rdquo; to the stuttering bounce of &ldquo;Bisou Magique,&rdquo; the record never stops surprising.</p><p>Stereolab meets Air isn&rsquo;t a bad place to begin as a point of reference. But ultimately Melody&rsquo;s Echo Chamber rises above its obvious influences and hooks you in entirely on its own merits.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1melody%20cover.jpeg" style="height: 450px; width: 450px;" title="" /></div><p><strong>Melody&rsquo;s Echo Chamber, <em>Melody&rsquo;s Echo Chamber </em>(Fat Possum)</strong></p><p><strong>Rating on the four-star scale: 3.5 stars.</strong></p></p> Fri, 16 Nov 2012 09:30:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/jim-derogatis/2012-11/melody%E2%80%99s-echo-chamber-dream-pop-delight-103858 A critic's 2012 resolutions http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-03/critics-2012-resolutions-95226 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/photo/2012-January/2012-01-03/New Year&#039;s_flickr_Ed Yourdon.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2012-January/2012-01-03/happy new year.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 225px; height: 332px;" title="(Flickr/C.VanHook)">Three days into 2012 so it's time for some New Year's resolutions. Sure, I know the world is coming to an end next December but, after 40 years as a theater critic, better late than never, right?</p><p>So, what sort of resolutions does a theater critic make? Well, I have four of them for 2012.</p><p>Number One, I resolve not to see any more bad shows. Two, I resolve to be generous and fair-minded in all my reviews. Three, I resolve to be honest.</p><p>OK, Resolution One is the tough one. It's not like cutting back on chocolate or losing 10 pounds, because I don't know whether or not a show is bad until I've seen it, or at least until I'm in the middle of seeing it and saying to myself, "Dear God, get me out of here! Please, just let me spend the next two hours listening to chalk scratching on a blackboard!" In 2011 I saw the single worst show of the year in January. At least it all was uphill from there. I fear Resolution One will be broken before I can put it into effect, which is the natural order of things when it comes to the life of theater critic.</p><p>Resolution Two is the easy one, because I already am famously generous and fair-minded in all my reviews. Indeed, I'm frequently called "a living saint" by those in the show biz. OK, I hear you: "Jonathan, Jonathan! What about Number Three? C'mon, be honest." All right, they don't call me a living saint but they sometimes want to burn me at the stake or crucify me upside down, or at least tie me up and force me to watch Vincent Price in <em>Theatre of Blood</em>, again.</p><p>In truth, I actually do strive to be fair-minded and balanced when I critique a production. Like life itself, theater rarely is all black or all white, but generally is a brighter or duller shade of gray. My job is to point out both the highs and lows and come to a conclusion as to which predominate and then attempt to explain why I think so, perhaps displaying some of my erudition (at least about theater) in the process. Those of you who read my reviews or listen to them are the judges as to whether or not I'm successful. Being clever and trashing a production or an actor is easy and fun ("And then I took out her heart and stomped on it," we critics used to joke to each other) but not very productive. In time it will destroy one's soul, kinda' like the "Avada Kedavra" killing curse in Harry Potter. If you dislike so much of what you see and hear in theater, ya' shouldn't be in the reviewing game at all.</p><p>As for Resolution Three, it obviously applies, or should apply, to far more than theater criticism alone. As I speedily progress through Late Middle Age on the inevitable march towards Medicare and Social Security (which may not be inevitable for the next generation but probably still are for Us Boomers), I must decide if the inevitable compromises with life and life choices are dishonest in ways which are immoral or unethical. In other words, are they black or white or some shade of gray? Similarly, what and how I write is subject to my own editorial judgment before it ever goes to my editors. When should I write "The show was sunk by Actor X, who was totally out of her depth in the title role" and when should I write "The role was an ambitious stretch for Actor X who was not fully up to its demands"? Is one less honest than the other? You tell me.</p><p>Oh, I almost forgot Resolution Four: I resolve that for another 12 months, I will not use the words dazzling, stupendous, brassy, sensational, best-ever or must-see in any review I deliver on air or in print. If I must rely on superlatives to convey my admiration--or lack of admiration--then I'm not doing my job well. This usually makes me the least-quoted major theater critic in Chicago, but perhaps a tick more thoughtful because of it. In my own mind, it makes me a bit more honest, too. But that could be pure illusion on my part. After all, I still think I look like Gary Cooper.</p><p>Happy New Year. And don't worry: I will NOT let the world end next December, no matter how bad the theater season has been.</p></p> Wed, 04 Jan 2012 03:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2012-01-03/critics-2012-resolutions-95226 'Blue Valentine' follows demise of a young love story http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/blue-valentine-follows-demise-young-love-story <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Blue Valentine.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The break-up of a personal relationship is at the heart of the film <a href="http://bluevalentinemovie.com/" target="_blank">&quot;Blue Valentine&quot;</a>. The love story first turned heads nearly a year ago when it screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Then the MPAA &ndash; the body that hands out movie ratings &ndash; made it even more high profile by giving it a dreaded NC-17 rating. But many, including movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, felt that move was unwarranted. Weinstein got the MPAA to do something rare - change their rating to an R without requiring any cuts to the film. &quot;Blue Valentine&quot; begins playing in Chicago Thursday.&nbsp;Regular film critic Christy LeMaster joined host Alison Cuddy for a review.&nbsp;LeMaster is the managing director of <a href="http://chi.ifp.org/" target="_blank">IFP Chicago</a>, and heads the <a href="http://nightingaletheatre.org/" target="_blank">Nightingale Theatre</a> in Chicago.<br /><br />LeMaster and Cuddy also reviewed <a href="http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0775543/" target="_blank">&quot;Night Catches Up&quot;</a>.</p></p> Thu, 06 Jan 2011 15:29:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/blue-valentine-follows-demise-young-love-story