HITS Daily Double
The tale is peopled with individuals, some with their real names (David Geffen, Danny Goldberg, Eddie Rosenblatt), others with pseudonyms like BigWig (Don Ienner), Head Honcho (Jeff Gold), Randy (her manager, Will Botwin), Einstein (Geoffrey Weiss), Howdy Doody (Peter Rauh) and our own Ivana B. Adored.


Once Again This Year, We Get What We Deserve—a Discarded, Half-Eaten Weiner
Jen Trynin, Everything I’m Cracked Up To Be (Harcourt): Basically the female version of Semisonic drummer Jacob Slichter’s equally hilarious music biz saga, So You Wanna Be a Rock & Roll Star, Trynin’s tome of her rise and fall as a mid-’90s bidding war baby is both more sarcastic and more self-flagellating, as befits her neurotic New Jersey Jewish roots. The tale is peopled with individuals, some with their real names (David Geffen, Danny Goldberg, Eddie Rosenblatt), others with pseudonyms like BigWig (Don Ienner), Head Honcho (Jeff Gold), Randy (her manager, Will Botwin), Einstein (Geoffrey Weiss), Howdy Doody (Peter Rauh) and our own Ivana B. Adored. The backdrop is the big bucks being thrown at alternative artists in the wake of Nirvana’s success, an era which seems a long time ago, as Trynin inks a million-dollar-plus deal with Warner Bros. and sees her career derailed almost from the start as she tries to make the move from hip indie (her own Squint label) to the big leagues without losing her credibility, sanity and soul (not necessarily in that order). As Alanis Morissette begins to explode, Trynin starts to question her motivations in a series of characterless motel rooms as she fights the inner demons which have her emotions swinging wildly between the loyal producer boyfriend she left back home in Boston and the attentions of the bassist in her band. It’s an expertly observed series featuring laconic early-morning radio interviews with DJs who could care less, sessions with voracious industry parasites and a roller-coaster ride that leaves our Jen, battered but unbowed, as a wife and mother who “rocks when she feels like it” now. At once bittersweet and laugh-out-loud funny, it captures the music biz at its most surreal, with Trynin admitting to herself maybe she’s not cut out for the life of a rock star... though this book will bring you back to her music for a second listen (she offers both Cockamamie and the Gun Shy Trigger Happy follow-up on her www.jentrynin.com website), and maybe that’s the most remarkable outcome of all. —Roy Trakin

2. Ray Davies, Other People’s Lives (V2)
: Who would think one of 2006’s best albums would come courtesy of the first solo album ever from the legendary Kinks singer-songwriter, whose move to New Orleans inspired this set of new songs that deals with everything from his divorce from his third wife (“All She Wrote” and “Over My Head”) to the mugging incident where he was shot running after a thief in the French Quarter (“Things Are Gonna Change [The Morning After]” and “After the Fall"). There’s also some of the British music hall satire of “Well Respected Man,” “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” and “Sunny Afternoon” in songs like the title track, which pokes fun at the prevalent tabloid mentality and “Stand Up Comic,” where Ray channels Noel Coward along with an old British vaudevillian. With his short story mentality, Davies is the most literate of the original wave of Britpop pioneers, though he has always been seen as the most quintessentially British. With Other People’s Lives, he proves his perspective is just as acute about being a “tourist” in America. —RT

Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs at Hotel Café: On Wednesday night, the recently enlarged Cahuenga club (which now rivals Largo as an intimate venue for quality acts) was packed with former—and, as it turns out, ongoing—members of what Ivana refers to as “the Cult of Matthew,” many of whom hadn’t seen each other since the ’90s. The class-reunion vibe was intensified by the crew of players on the compact stage—drummer Ric Menck, guitarists Greg Leisz and Paul Chastain (Menck’s partner in the Velvet Crush) and bass player Tony Marsico, all as familiar as the faces in the crowd. Oddball genius Van Dyke Parks, who’s taken a shine to Matthew and is now a semi-regular in his movable lineup, played piano on two songs. Alongside Sweet was Bangles fixture Hoffs, who collaborated with Matthew on Under the Covers Vol. 1 (Shout! Factory, April 18), a technically impressive and emotionally involving album of ’60s classics and obscurities that comes off as both faithful and imaginative. Although the task of recreating the multitracked and wickedly complicated harmonies on songs like the Beach Boys’ “The Warmth of the Sun” and the Mamas & Papas’ “Monday, Monday” was daunting indeed, the very different voices of Sweet and Hoffs (with Chastain handling the third parts) rubbed against each other disarmingly throughout the 15-song set, which followed the album sequence. The underrated Hoffs shined on Fairport’s “Who Knows Where the Time Goes” and the Zombies’ “Care of Cell #44.” The show also revealed why Menck has been Sweet’s tub thumper for so long; his drumming resonates with song sense and humanity. The equally egoless Leisz, so used to driving things along without calling any attention to himself, nimbly stepped into the role of lead guitarist and managed to retain his tastiness while absolutely smoking throughout, especially on Neil Young’s “Cinnamon Girl” and, playing lap steel, on the Velvets’ “Sunday Morning.” The crowd ate it up, and I fully expect to see the same faces next Wednesday at Hotel Café and April 22 at the Roxy. —Bud Scoppa

4. Good Night, and Good Luck: Like Capote, George Clooney’s expert evocation of ’50s New York fully captures the era, with its omnipresent, swirling cigarette smoke, wood-paneled bars and tumblers of whisky. Watching David Strathairn’s celebrated Edward R. Murrow twist his cigarette around his hand and burn a hole through Frank Langella’s William Paley with his world-weary gaze are the highlights, along with the claustrophobic newsroom and the eye-opening lack of computer monitors on the desks. The stare-down with the real-life footage of Joe McCarthy is masterfully done by Clooney, though the implication that it was Murrow who brought down the red-baiting Senator is a little exaggerated. In fact, it wasn’t the newsman but Special Counsel for the Army Joseph N. Welch who uttered the famous line on national TV that basically destroyed McCarthy’s credibility: “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” Considering the film’s intimate setting and stunning black-and-white footage, Clooney would probably have been better off doing what he first intended, making it a live TV movie. —RT

Panic! at the Disco, A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out (Decaydance/Fueled by Ramen): This teenage Las Vegas foursome is a tribute to the power of the Internet, with Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz discovering them through an MP3 the band e-mailed to them and signing them to his own label. Like their Sin City brethren The Killers, P!ATD are steeped in ‘80s new wave like The Cure, Depeche Mode, Duran Duran and The Smiths (whose “Panic” gave the group its name), but they also show another side entirely with the somber Eleanor Rigby-like strings of “I Write Sins, Not Tragedies” and the Sound of Music references to “My Favorite Things” in “Build God, Then We’ll Talk.” Guitarist Ryan Ross’ lyrics are consistently witty and trenchant, dealing with such issues as the mingling of religion and sex, the hypocrisy of the establishment and the unique relationship between the band and its fans (the jauntily titled “The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage”). Young, fast and scientific, these lads take emo to a new place with youthful verve and the boundless optimism of gamblers on a hot streak. —RT

Willie Nile, Streets of New York (00:02:59 Records): I remember seeing Willie in the late ’70s performing in a cafeteria at Stony Brook out on Long Island, I believe, back when he was signed to Arista and in the group of next Dylans, along with Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, not long after similar urban street-rocker Bruce Springsteen appeared simultaneously on the covers of Time and Newsweek. The Buffalo-born singer-songwriter returns with his first studio album in seven years, and it’s a bracing effort from a gritty, unabashedly political tunesmith who walks it like he talks it, on a graffiti-strewn city street with a guitar slung over his shoulder. “Back Home” is Dylan’s “I Want You” brought kicking and screaming into these desperate times, while “The Day I Saw Bo Diddley in Washington Square” is about the torch of rock being passed on from generation to generation. Nile proves adept at hard-edged rock reggae, with his own “When One Stands” and a version of Eddy Grant’s “Police on my Back,” dedicated to Joe Strummer, which was covered by the Clash on Sandinista! What separates the greats from the journeymen is a reasonable question to ask here, one answered by Nile on the sarcastic “Best Friends Money Can Buy” and the pointed “Cell Phones Ringing (in the Pockets of the Dead),” written after the 2004 terrorist bombing of a train in Madrid. Nile harks back to a time when there was such a thing as a city troubadour, and his artistic survival is a testament to the timelessness of his music. —RT

7. Memoirs of a Geisha: Rob Marshall’s adaptation of Arthur Golden’s bestseller is the ultimate chick flick, a Cinderella in Japanese drag that has the sprawl of a big-budget epic, but feels kinda chintzy at the same time. The art direction and riveting lead performances by Ziyi Zhang, Li Gong and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’s lovely Michelle Yeoh aren’t the problem, though the fact the first two are Chinese and the last Malaysian hurts the authenticity, as does the seemingly Hollywood-ized soundstage that passes for the geisha district in the film’s first half. The story is a classic Cinderella tale, and there is a feeling of “end of an era” that brings the narrative into the present, but the title character’s longing for the man who showed kindness to her when she was a young girl seems an awfully flimsy emotion to hang an entire film on, along with the lack of the pertinent details that are so crucial to setting the stage. In fact, most of the film’s force comes from the magnificent Oscar-nominated John Williams score featuring Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman. —RT

8. Gripe of the Week: I went to see the above-mentioned Good Night, and Good Luck at Laemmle’s Fallbrook 7 multiplex out in Woodland Hills on a Saturday night, paid the full $9.50 admission price and settled into my seat only to realize, minutes into the film, there was an annoying background static clearly audible. I tried to adapt, thinking perhaps the crackly sound was part of the film’s ’50s ambience, like the surface noise while playing an old 78. Then I decided to wait until the reel changed, thinking it was a temporary situation. Meanwhile, everyone around me sat rapt, watching the movie and ignoring what became more and more annoying as I realized it wasn’t going to be fixed. Not wanting to miss any part of the film, I waited until it was over, then walked to the front to complain along with just a single other audience member. Unbelievably, the kid who seemed to be in charge blamed it on Geroge Clooney “wanting to make his film in black and white,” which, according to him, somehow caused a bleeding on the track with the sound. “We’ve had to send the film back four different times to get a new version,” he insisted, handing me a free pass for my trouble. As unbelievable as that explanation sounded, it was even more depressing to realize how a movie theater in the heart of the Hollywood suburbs could allow a film of the obvious artistry of this one to show like that. I wonder how Clooney, who went to such obvious lengths to make the film conform to his aesthetic vision, sight and sound-wise, would react if he knew his movie was being shown in such a way... not in some out-of-the-way hick burg, but right here in the middle of a company town. Incredible, right? —RT

9. A Tribute to Nicolette Larson (Rhino Records): It is only now that I understand "Lotta Love" was a song about going deeper, getting more out of any interaction with overtones of the heart, carnal or otherwise. Effervescent—with that swollen sax line—the feel of Nicolette Larson's lone approach at the top of the pop chart was such an accurate reflection of who she was, it was easy to get lost in the “sunshine and laughter” aspects of the woman songstress/humanist/encourager of all who got close to her. But for two nights, it was a pop music altar call for the glitterati determined to spark her spirit with a melodic ouija board and world class players. With Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Dan Fogelberg, Little Feat, Carole King and Crosby, Stills & Nash—plus Joe Walsh waxing wah-wah on "Rocky Mountain Way," this reads as a one-disc survey course on much of what was good about the singer/songwriter movement of the late ‘70s/ early ‘80s. Larson's love was echoed in the songs and channeled through the performances, reminding each of us how powerful the connections of sharing and opening up one's heart can be. Indeed, her currency was love… and anyone who knew her remembers that cock-eyed grin and the simple declaration of "We're having some fun now…" Even now, yes, Nicolette, in our remembrance, we are. —Holly Gleason

10. Head-to-Head Headiness: The new LA Weekly features a roundtable discussion of the relationship between literature and pop music with novelists Rick Moody and Jonathan Lethem as well as John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, and it reads more like The New Yorker than the primary source of liposuction treatments and lap-dancing venues. This is a thoroughly modern roundtable, in that it’s conducted via email, enabling the three participants and moderator Alec Hanley Bemis to refine their thoughts before hitting “reply.” There are some killer topics, one literally so, as Darnielle takes issue with Moody's dismissal of Eminem by asserting that "Stan" is essentially a contemporary example of the traditional murder ballad. If you get off on a Greil Marcus tome or a Bob Christgau Pazz & Jop essay, this is for you, Jack. —BS

Friday, Mar 3rd
Clippers @ Jazz on ESPN:
The Clippers look to keep their solid play going. They will be boosted by the returns of Corey Maggette and their best perimeter defender, Quinton Ross. Now that they’re finally at full strength, will the Clippers, currently 10 games above .500 and seeded fifth in the West, go on a tear? If they do, it could start tonight at the Salt Lake Arena.

Bon Jovi @ Staples Center

Styx w/ Del Castillo @ House of Blues on Sunset

Dwight Yoakam @ The Wiltern LG

Anna Nalick @ House of Blues, Cleveland

Saturday, Mar 4th
Illinois vs. Michigan State on CBS

UCLA @ Stanford on CBS

XBOX 360 Presents the Truckstops and Statelines Tour w/ The Academy Is, Panic! at the Disco, Acceptance & hellogoodbye @ House of Blues (Downtown Disney), Anaheim (all ages, two shows—1pm matinee and 8pm)

Taste of Chaos Tour featuring Deftones, Thrice, As I Lay Dying, Atreyu @ Tweeter Center at the Waterfront, Camden, NJ

North Carolina @ Duke on ESPN: Whoa, baby!! This will be an awesome game, and the best part about it is, it’ll be in stunning ESPN HD. So yeah, if you aren’t down with the whole HD thing yet, I suggest you get into it quick!!

Hawthorne Heights @ Higher Ground, South Burlington, VT

Less than Jake w/DaMone @ Jannus Landing, St.Petersburg, FL

Sunday, Mar 5th
It’s our own Je-c’s 24th birthday.
So, if you know his email address, wish him a happy birthday! Also, he and his girlfriend got engaged on Tuesday, so we wanted to send out big congratulations to them!!!

G.B.H. @ Ventura Theatre, Ventura, CA

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club w/ Elefant @ The Parrish at the House of Blues, New Orleans

Chicago Polar Plunge @ North Avenue Beach: Russian Orthodox folks plunge into the icy waters of the Black Sea for spiritual purification, but Chicagoans, ever the generous lot, have immersed themselves into frigid Lake Michigan to support the Special Olympics program since 1969. Others simply write a check. Yeah, I would write a check too, good cause or not—these people are totally nuts for jumping into this icy lake!

78th Annual Academy Awards on ABC

Grizzlies vs. Clippers at Staples Center

16 Blocks
Starring: Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse and Alfre Woodard
Synopsis: New York detective Jack Mosley is assigned to escort a petty criminal from the precinct to the courthouse. But the 16-block journey becomes challenging when one of Jack's old partners tries to stop them.
Thoughts: Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we have the first really good movie of the year…at least that’s what I’m hoping.

Dave Chappelle’s Block Party
Dave Chappelle, Mos Def, Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill and Pras
Inspired by the 1973 documentary Wattstax, Dave Chappelle hosts a New York City block party filled with celeb cameos, music and sketch comedy.
Thoughts: Well, for those wondering where Dave Chappelle had gone, he left his show to make this movie, and I bet it will be really funny and entertaining. If nothing else, the music will be awesome to watch. Chappelle has brought together an impressive array of artists for this film.

Milla Jovovich, Cameron Bright, Nick Chinlund, William Fichtner and Sebastien Andrieu
Ninety years in the future, a genetic, blood-borne disease is rampant among humans, giving them intense speed and superintelligence. As the government tries to stop her fellow infected, Ultraviolet has one final, lethal task to perform.
OK, so here is the deal with this film: I think the trailers make it look freakin’ awesome, and I can only hope the movie itself lives up to the killer trailers. A friend of mine who got an advance copy said he’s watched it over and over again and that it left him breathless. I’m hoping it turns out to be as good as I think it can be.