HITS Daily Double
By the time the Pet Sounds harmonies kick in on “A Method,” you’re ready to follow TV on the Radio anywhere, as they “Let the Devil In” with a martial beat and a massed chant that channels the Polyphonic Spree, the Go! Team and the Arcade Fire all at once.


This Week’s Guest Editor: lonelygirl15
1. TV on the Radio, Return to Cookie Mountain (Interscope):
The hipster band of the moment has all the right credentials to inherit downtown New York’s avant-rock torch passed down from the Velvet Underground and Suicide through ESG, the Contortions and Sonic Youth—they live in lofts in a trendy neighborhood (Williamsburg, Brooklyn), are visual artists, they collaborate with other cool bands (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), have famous patrons (David Bowie is a big fan and appears in “Province” on the new album), won a prestigious award (the 2004 Shortlist Prize for their last album Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty), are racially mixed (4/5 are black), sport tres hip influences (Eno’s solo albums, Talking Heads’ African beat, Peter Gabriel’s world exoticism and trip-hop’s jagged rhythms) and now reluctantly join the hippest of all companies for their major-label debut. And while their jagged, helter-skelter style may seem over-intellectualized at best and pretentious at worst, this eclectic fivesome (founded by vocalist Tunde Adebimpe and multi-instrumentalist/ producer Dave Sitek) creates a relentless, kaleidoscopic momentum that sweeps you into its polymorphous perversity. “I Was a Lover” and “Hours” combine co-lead singer Kyp Malone’s falsetto in harmony with Adebimpe like Prince’s Around the World in a Day psychedelic period, slathered with Jesus & Mary Chain cum My Bloody Valentine buzzsaw feedback. “How many styles did you cycle through before you were mine?” they sing in the former. “Oh walk around, know you are beautiful, aimless and alive”…which is the perfect description of their hard-to-pin-down sound. “Just like autumn leaves, we’re in for a change/Holding tenderly to what remains,” goes “Province,” an apt metaphor for the music’s push-pull, nostalgia/future shock. “Wolf Like Me” is Here Come the Warm Jets crossed with “Whip It” and a little bit of Pere Ubu for good measure: “My mind has changed/My body’s frame but God I like it,” a poetic expression of the yin-yang dualities of human existence. By the time the Pet Sounds harmonies kick in on “A Method,” you’re ready to follow TV on the Radio anywhere, as they “Let the Devil In” with a martial beat and a massed chant that channels the Polyphonic Spree, the Go! Team and the Arcade Fire all at once. They face more of their demons in “Dirty Little Whirlwind” (“All caught up in the flesh of a girl”) and the gutbucket ache of “Tonight,” where Tunde sings: “Your busted heart will be fine/In its tell tale time/So give it up tonight.” By the time you’re finished listening, believe me. You will have. —Roy Trakin

Bob Dylan, Modern Times (Columbia): If you didn’t know it from reading his idiosyncratic autobiography, this cultural icon is more than a bit of a tease, an eccentric who doesn’t really live in the here and now as he does in the then and again. And while the rave reviews that have accompanied this album sound more like the last gasp of the boomers vowing they’ll relinquish the zeitgeist from their cold, dead fingers, Dylan himself is in a puckish, playful mood, part Nashville Skyline, part Highway 61, backed by his longtime ace blues-rock band (bassist Tony Garnier, guitarists Stu Kimball and Denny Freeman, steel/violin/viola/mandolin player Donnie Herron and drummer George G. Receli) that faithfully follows his every impulse. “Today’s the day/Gonna grab my trombone and blow,” he sings in the opening “Thunder on the Mountain,” making like Gabriel, though he follows that up with the playful “I been to St. Herman’s Church, said my religious vows/I’ve sucked the milk out of a thousand cows.” “Spirit on the Water” is a crooner in the mode of “Lay Lady Lay,” featuring outrageous sexual double entendres like “Put some sugar in my bowl/I feel like laying down” and “I’m as pale as a ghost/Holding a blossom on a stem.” “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” does just that, though it’s puzzling why Dylan is able to take wholesale lyrics from the Muddy Waters original and grab the songwriting credit for himself, though he gets points for the line, “Some young crazy slut has charmed away my brains.” The antecedents for “Workingman’s Blues #2,” “Nettie Moore” and “The Levee’s Gonna Break” have all been well-documented. The notion of plagiarism is one that is nothing new for Dylan, and accusations have already started that he copped several of the phrases on the new album from Civil War poet Henry Timrod without accreditation, just as he borrowed wholesale from Japanese novelist Junichi Saga on Love and Theft. So it may well be quibbling, especially with the loose-limbed feel Dylan exhibits here, at once calming and vaguely threatening, a prophet who sees the end but can’t help but try a final knock-knock joke on heaven’s door. Still, there’s no arguing that “Workingman’s Blues #2” has the classic anthem feel of “Forever Young,” even while “Beyond the Horizon” channels his inner Bing Crosby, complete with a reference to “The bells of St. Mary’s” and what could pass for a ukulele solo. The traditional folk-blues sing-song narratives of “Nettie Moore” and “The Levee’s Gonna Break” are given modern-times relevance by the songs’ correlatives in race (“The world has gone black before my eyes”) and the apocalyptic Hurricane Katrina (“If it keep on raining/The levee gonna break”). The somber “Ain’t Talkin’” finds Dylan at the end of this “long and lonesome road… Heart burnin’, still yearnin’/In the last outback at the world’s end.” Still, earlier on, in “Spirit on the Water,” he sings, “You think I'm over the hill/You think I'm past my prime/Let me see what you got/We can have a whoppin' good time.” Modern Times offers just that from a master who takes something old, borrowed and blue and makes it new and timeless again. —RT

3. Society of Singers’ Ella Awards Tribute to Johnny Mathis at Beverly Hilton: When the first notables spotted in the ballroom include basketball great Bill Russell (a fellow track star who attended University of S.F. with Mathis), d.j. Wink Martindale, Pat Boone, movie critic Leonard Maltin, promo legend Mo Diamond, singer Keely Smith and comic Norm Crosby, it redefines the term alter cocker. This wasn’t old-school, it was just a couple of Viagras removed from a wax museum, but being the history lover I am, it turned out to be a fascinating night nevertheless. Kudos to SOS President/CEO Jerry Sharell, who pulled the evening together for the benefit of Ginny Mancini’s organization, which provides assistance to vocalists in dire financial need. The guest of honor was Johnny Mathis, but the true buzz was reserved for the entrance of Clive Davis, with Whitney Houston on his arm, parting the sea like the industry Pasha he is. Someone must’ve made a mistake, because I was seated at a table with Glen Campbell and his lovely wife Kim as well as Pat Boone, who reminisced about his long-ago visit to HITS to promote his In a Metal Mood album, when he got in trouble with his constituency for flashing the devil’s horns in a memorable photo op with our own Jimmy “Satan” Stewart, a Faustian bargain he is still obviously paying for by virtue of the fact that he was now sitting next to me. The entertainment for the event, smoothly co-hosted by Martindale and Sharell, included an a cappella performance of "It Was a Very Good Year" by Take 6, a set by ageless impressionist Fred Travalena, who imitated Mathis, Wayne Newton, Robert DeNiro and the Chairman, as did Frank Sinatra Jr., who paid tribute to his old man looking for all the world like a jowly version of his dad. Dave Koz performed a smoky “Misty” on sax, and Patti Austin paid homage with class, earning a standing ovation, but the highlight of the night had to be the reunion of Burt Bacharach and Dionne Warwick, who crooned “This Girl’s in Love With You” as only she can, to Burt’s piano accompaniment. She dedicated a goosebump-inducing version of “Alfie” to her cousin Whitney (“What’s it all about?), looking great, with Bobby Brown conspicuous by his absence, though we wouldn’t learn until the next day, unsurprisingly, that Houston and her wayward hubbie were about to separate. Introducing the guest of honor, Davis recalled the time he lured Mathis back to Columbia from Mercury and dubbed him the greatest soft-pop balladeer of his generation. A truly humbled and moved Mathis proceeded to perform three songs with the top-flight Gordon Goodwin Big Phat Band, including his 1956 breakthrough, “It’s Not for Me to Say,” and a finger-snapping version of “Let the Good Times Roll” that left everyone in the room elated. A good time for a good cause and a great artist. —RT

4. lonelygirl15: Another viral Internet phenomenon born on sites like YouTube and MySpace before they get legislated out of existence, this video blog of an apparently lonely shut-in teenage girl is the work of, according to the L.A. Times, “a web-obsessed” medical school dropout, a screenwriter and a lawyer, all in their mid-to-late 20s, who conceived of the series as a new way to tell a story. The Internet trail was eventually traced by followers to talent agency CAA, which became involved only after the project began to attract its own passionate fan base and started to get covered in the traditional media. That said, lonelygirl15 Bree’s rap was a little too good to be real, and it was no surprise when it was revealed she’s being played by Jessica Rose, a 19-year-old New Zealand native now attending acting school in Los Angeles. It’ll be interesting to see, now that the scam is revealed, whether the momentum of the narrative can be maintained, especially the hint of danger—and the possibility of a Blair Witch Project-type guerilla marketing campaign—that made the whole thing so involving in the first place. Predictably, the three have launched an advertiser-supported website, www.revver.com, to host the show. It really is a brand-new world of entertainment out there. —RT

5. Jason Isaacs/Jason Clarke: The two title siblings in Showtime’s masterful Brotherhood have star-making turns in the series as modern-day versions of Cain and Abel, not quite good politician/bad criminal, but shades of gray which make them true kin. Isaacs, who plays the malevolent killer Michael Caffee, is most famous for his role as Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter series and starred as Mr. Darling and Captain Hook in P.J. Hogan’s 2003 adaptation of Peter Pan, but nothing could’ve prepared us for his DeNiro-esque thug, who stops in the middle of sex to take his overbearing Irish mother’s call on his cell, explaining why he’s out of breath: “I was running.” Clarke, playing the stalwart local pol Tommy, who isn’t afraid to call in his own chips to get his way, is a relative unknown, but silently seethes like a young Brando, to whom he’s been compared. The heat between the two drives the series, a mixture of blood ties and obligations offset by the vagaries of human nature and the quest for power in all its serpentine forms. The show is down to its last two episodes, but has just been released on DVD. A dense, novelistic combination of the partisan local New England politics of Mystic River (the book and the movie) as well as the pervasive corruption of The Sopranos, Brotherhood is well worth your time. —RT

6. Yankee Doodle’s, Woodland Hills: For those, like me, too cheap or committed to cable to invest in DirecTV’s NFL package, the only alternative to follow your favorite team (J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets) is the local sports bar. Walking in at the ungodly hour of 10 a.m. for the morning slate on Opening Day, the place is like Chuck E. Cheese for adult football fanatics, a cacophony of sounds emanating from the various big-screens, interspersed with cheers, groans and clinking glasses. The true fun is to mingle with followers of your own team, in my case, a motley crew of regulars that includes guys wearing the jerseys of 10 Chad Pennington, as did my sister, along with 28 Curtis Martin (on the unable to play list) and even the fan with the 94 J. Abraham (no longer even with the team), who sported ink-black under his eyes as he guzzled a giant mug of green beer. Last year’s 4-12 disaster meant that Sundays often ended with downcast Jets fans muttering into their brews, but the Eric Mangini era got off to a promising start with a hard-fought, it-ain’t-over-‘til-it’s-over 23-16 victory over what appear to be the even-more-hapless Tennessee Titans. At any rate, why sit home and be miserable when you can share your grief with a bunch of J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets diehards? This week, they face the hated Patriots in a bad blood match-up between Jets coach Mangini and his New England mentor Bill Belichick. —RT

7. A Modest Proposal: Speaking of pro football, it doesn’t look like expansion (or relocating) to L.A. is a priority for new NFL commish Roger Goodell nor, for that matter, to local pigskin fans, who seem to be apathetic about having their own home team to root for. Sitting in Yankee Doodle’s with followers of almost every other team, it struck me that there’s another solution to the L.A./pro football dilemma. Let the NFL come into town and build a state-of-the-art stadium as a permanent home for the Super Bowl (or at least in rotation with, say, three or four other locations), and let the venue host 16 individual neutral-site games during the regular season, with proceeds split evenly between the 32 teams. That would mean each team would lose one home game and one visiting game every two years. Or why not cut the exhibition season in half and have everyone play 18 games? At any rate, this would solve the problem of not having a team in L.A. and satisfy a town in which almost everyone seems to come from someplace else, bringing their diverse rooting interests along with them. —RT

8. Guido’s Pizza and Pasta (4883 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills): For more than 20 years, I’ve been in search of a N.Y.-style pizza in L.A., one that doesn’t just have a thin crust, but also knows how to layer the cheese in a manner that isn’t too thick and isn’t skimpy, either. I’ve been through all the variants—from Damiano’s to Pizza Connection, Maria’s to Jerry’s… At this point, I’ve pretty much given up hope and acclimated myself to the local product. Whether it’s the cheese or water for the crust, who knows why L.A. can’t come up with a decent equivalent to such classic Noo Yawk haunts as Ray’s, Original Ray’s, John’s or Stromboli’s. Imagine my surprise when this Valley-based chain, with a nondescript location on Topanga Canyon Blvd., just south of Dumetz, served up a fine extra-large pizza with just the right East Coast texture, not overly cheesy, but enough to stay in place while folding the slice over, old-school style. Not bad at all. —RT

9. Derailed: Sometimes you need to see a mediocre movie just to appreciate the good stuff, and this one, which I caught one night on HBO, filled the bill, like a palate cleanser before a meal. Starring Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston at the height of the latter’s Brad Pitt drama, the film, the first English-language effort from Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom, tries to channel such adult fare as Unfaithful, Fatal Attraction and Strangers on a Train with a tale of adultery that suddenly turns into a noirish B-movie terror flick. Needless to say, it came and went pretty quickly. The film actually benefits for a while from the fact that you can’t tell whether Aniston is simply a bad actor or purposely giving a weak performance until you realize it's part of the plot, though it effectively derails the narrative suspense so that you see the machinations coming a mile (or an hour) away. Owen is, as usual, intense and riveting, though the increasing violence he suffers is not just unpleasant, but unbelievable to boot. Though the movie starts out portraying the lure of the leads’ illicit affair, it predictably shows those who cheat inevitably get punished for their transgressions. And I thought the Swedes were more sexually liberated than that. Not when they're working in Hollywood, I guess. —RT

10. Gripe of the Week: With my son Taylor starting his first year of college at CSUN, it struck me these days that only the very rich can afford the $40k a year tuition to take the traditional “liberal arts education” at today’s leading private universities. Students are forced to specialize earlier than ever, creating a society of so-called experts (or at least those who stay at Holiday Inn Express) and a loss of the common knowledge that brings us together as a society. It all goes hand in hand with the demise of mass media and the proliferation of Web-fueled niches in which people with shared interests are brought together to form their own separate worlds, a veritable Tower of Babel of competing sub-cults, each with their own language and rituals, impervious to outsiders. The more we’re linked together, it seems, the more we’re separated by our divisions, which means the big picture is really just made up of millions of smaller atomic particles, floating around in disconnected space. It’s not a happy state of affairs, and it doesn’t seem likely to change any time soon. —RT

Friday, Sept. 15th
Black Eyed Peas: Toyota Concert Series on Today @ Rockerfeller Center (NBC)

College Football Top 25 Extravaganza, Part One: Take your pick among #11 Michigan @ #2 Notre Dame (NBC), #6 LSU @ #3 Auburn (CBS) or #15 Oklahoma @ #18 Oregon (ABC).

Family Values Tour Featuring Korn and Deftones @ Tweeter Center at The Waterfront in Camden, NJ

College Football Top 25 Extravaganza, Part Two: We'll be switching constantly between #19 Nebraska @ #4 USC (ABC) and #7 Florida @ #13 Tennessee (CBS).

The Rocket Summer @ The Meridian, Houston

Ludacris @ Love, the Club in Washington, DC

Padres vs. Dodgers @ Chavez Ravine (Prime Ticket): It’s Wells vs. Maddux—let the final battle for the NL West begin.

Cross Canadian Ragweed @ House of Blues on Sunset

Nickelback and Hoobastank @ Tyson Events Center, Sioux City, IA

The Young Dubliners w/ The Fenians @ House of Blues, Anaheim (Downtown Disney)

Dredg @ The Catalyst, Santa Cruz, CA

Saturday, Sept. 16th
Eighteen Visions @ Verizon Wireless Music Center, Noblesville, IN

Lostprophets @ The Chameleon, Lancaster, CA

Padres vs. Dodgers @ Chavez Ravine (Prime Ticket): Game Two of this all-important four-game series will probably determine who wins the NL West.

Martina McBride @ U.S. Airways Center, Phoenix

Pete Yorn @ 9:30 Club, Washington DC

So You Think You Can Dance National Tour @ Gibson Amphitheatre: Producers are being tight-lipped about who you'll see on tour. What they are saying is the national tour will feature ''videotaped auditions and your favorite dancers performing their hottest routines in hip-hop, contemporary, ballroom, mambo, salsa and more.'' Word on the street is you're not likely to see first- and second-season winners Nick Lazzarini and Benji Schwimmer, although you never know.

Sunday, Sep 17th
Hurt @ Montgomery County Fairgrounds, Dayton, OH

Padres vs. Dodgers, Game Three (Prime Ticket)

Brazil and Lola Ray @ Big Daddy's, Tallahassee, FL

The Black Dahlia
Josh Hartnett, Scarlett Johansson, Hilary Swank, Aaron Eckhart, Mia Kirshner and Rose McGowan
In 1940s Los Angeles, two cops, Bucky Bleichert and his partner, Lee Blanchard, investigate the death of Elizabeth Short, a young woman found brutally murdered. Bucky soon realizes that Lee's significant other, Kay, had ties to the deceased, and soon after that, he begins uncovering corruption and conspiracy within the police department.
Thoughts: Man, all I can say is I hope this one is good, because of all the movies that have come out with a lot of hype, many have floundered at the box office and with the critics. I hope they didn’t ruin James Elroy’s retelling of a true story, but the word of mouth has not been good, so it looks like we’ve got another stinker on our hands.

The Last Kiss
Zach Braff, Casey Affleck, Harold Ramis, Rachel Bilson and Jacinda Barrett
A whiny, self-obsessed, about-to-turn-30 guy freaks out when his totally hot girlfriend decides they should buy a house. So of course he decides to sabotage his relationship by flirting with a slightly younger but no less hot girl. His idiocy results in possibly losing both women.
I hear this one is actually supposed to be good, and so far, Zach Braff has made good decisions when it comes to choosing his roles.

Other Movies opening this weekend:
Gridiron Gang:
Starring The Rock
Starring Orlando Bloom, Bill Paxton and Stephen Dillane
The U.S. vs. John Lennon:

At a time where all the music is starting to sound the same, a group whose CD came across my desk has actually created a new type of sound, blending hip-hop with world music. The band’s name is Statien 3rd, and if you are looking for a cool, fresh new sound, you should defitnetly check out their MySpace page: www.myspace.com/Statien3rd

V for Vendetta:
This is my favorite movie of the year so far, for many reasons. It's more than just a comic book adapted for the big screen; it’s a movie that makes a big political statement that we can all relate to these days. Definitely a movie that was slept on, and I advise everyone to check it out if you haven't yet.
World Trade Center: Another important movie that I urge people to see. I was in tears, and although a lot of it is hard to watch, it’s quite an astonishing story.
The Illusionist: Giamatti and Norton are truly awesome.
X-Men III: The Last Stand: If this is the last one, it certainly satisfied my appetite. It had it all, including some incredible action sequences.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Simply awesome!!! Johnny Depp is brilliant, Bill Nighy is creepy, Keira Knightley is sexy and it has great special effects and nonstop action.
Mission Impossible III: OK, people are getting sick and tired of Tom Cruise, but if you can just get past him, this movie is actually really good. A lot of people are missing out because they’re so turned off by the star’s off-screen antics.
An Inconvenient Truth: The most important movie of the year…A MUST-SEE!!!
Nacho Libre: The funniest movie of the year. Jack Black rocks.
The Devil Wears Prada: This movie is making my list because Meryl Streep was truly brilliant, and if you haven’t seen it, or are on the edge about seeing it, go for her performance, if nothing else.