Latest Blog Posts



Watch: Garbage swims into a 'Big Bright World' in new video

Is Shirley Manson a vision of life or death?

It may be a “Big Bright World,” as the song’s title indicates, but for the video for the tune, Garbage sees things pretty much in black and white, at least at the start.

[More after the jump...]

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Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 145

Listen: Firewall & Iceberg Podcast No. 145

Dan and Alan talk 'The Inbetweeners,' 'Political Animals,' 'Bunheads' and more


Happy Monday, Boys & Girls!
Time for another installment of The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast.
In this week's installment, we review MTV's take on "The Inbetweeners," tease (with no real spoilers) the summer finale of "Bunheads," discuss the finale of "Political Animals," chat about this week's "Breaking Bad" and answer a few letters. We also briefly talk about the legacy of the late Tony Scott.
We may be light on topics next week, so we welcome your mail!
Here's today's breakdown:
"The Inbetweeners" (00:00:55 - 00:12:15)
"Bunheads" finale preview (00:12:15 - 00:25:50)
Tony Scott (00:25:55 - 00:31:45)
Listener Mail - Sight & Sound rankings (00:32:00 - 43:00)
Listener Mail - Big-name producers (00:43:00 - 49:10)
"Political Animals" finale (00:49:10 - 01:03:00)
"Breaking Bad" (01:03:15 - 01:20:45)

As always, you can subscribe to The Firewall & Iceberg Podcast over at the iTunes Store, where you can also rate us and comment on us. [Or you can always follow our RSS Feed.] 

And as always, feel free to e-mail us questions for the podcast.

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Taylor Swift reunites with the top of the charts with 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'

Taylor Swift reunites with the top of the charts with 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together'

Could the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100?

It’s a sweet reunion for Taylor Swift and the Billboard charts this week as her new single, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” will set a number of records. She could also land at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song, which the singer introduced via a YouTube fan chat last Monday, likely sold more than 600,000 digital downloads, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Although the final numbers are still being tabulated, according to Billboard, that would make it the best selling week ever for a female artist, topping Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok.” If Swift managed to sell more than 636,000, she will claim the title for all-time top seller, surpassing Flo Rida’s “Right Round.”

Though we won’t know where Swift leaps to on the Billboard Hot 100 after debuting at No. 72 last week based on only a few hours of sales, until Wednesday, it is possible that she could soar to the top spot. She is guaranteed a top 5 spot, according to Billboard. The Hot 100 combines digital sales and radio airplay.

This week she will come in at No. 13 on Billboard Hot Country Songs, at No. 16 on Adult Contemporary, No. 18 on Mainstream Top 40 and No. 21 on Adult Top 40. The high numbers were aided by Clear Channel playing the song at the top of the hour for the first 24 hours of its release.

"Never" is the first single from Swift's fourth studio album, "Red," out Oct. 22.

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<p>Owl City's &quot;The Midsummer Station&quot;</p>

Owl City's "The Midsummer Station"

Album Review: Owl City's 'The Midsummer Station' soars from high to low

Adam Young exalts and despairs in equal measure

When Owl City first swooped onto the pop scene  with 2009’s  “Fireflies,” he was frequently compared to The Postal Service with good reason: The synthesized pop sound and twee factor were similarly high.

On “The Midsummer Station,”  Owl City (aka Adam Young) pairs with other producers and songwriters for the first time,  and the result is a slight expansion of his sound that renders it just as recognizable, but marginally more diverse and slightly less precious.

Lest that sound like a swipe, part of Young’s appeal is his relentless positivity in many songs, often delivered with a keening earnestness that lends itself to teenage girls and misfit kids who want someone to tell them that it will all be okay. His ability to accomplish that alone is a reason to cheer for him.  On
“Shooting Star,” he crosses Katy Perry’s “Firework” with any host of  David Guetta songs for an uplifting anthem. “Embers” treads a similar path, but with its encouraging words —including “It gets better”— it  could serve as a theme for the gay anti-bullying campaign of the same name.

When Young’s not riding unicorns into the sunset and looking up at the stars (one of his favorite themes), then he’s in the depths of despair. “Silhouette” veers from the standard formula in that it starts on a real piano instead of synths and poignantly addresses a pain brought on by Young’s own action that has left him feeling obliterated and exhausted, yet unable to move on. The deliberate quietness of the production adds to the feeling of self-imposed solitude.  On “Take It All Away,” his only prayer is to keep it together until the person who has  broken his heart leaves so she doesn’t see him crumble.

The album’s sweet spot comes with “Good Time,” his duet with It Girl, Carly Rae Jepsen. The pop charmer, which has already breached the Hot 100’s Top 15, draws heavily from Perry’s “California Gurls” chorus, but stands on its own as a proper summer anthem. Their voices suit the song well.

“Dementia” features Blink 182‘s Mark Hoppus,which automatically makes it the album’s hardest driving track. Lyrically, it’s a look at Young’s fast developing fame and what it did to his head following “Fireflies.”  “This is love, this is war, this is pure insanity,” he sings.

The outside writers and producers seemingly show their influence the most in the music. While too many of the songs still sound too similar and too reliant on the same synth beats, “Gold” had a stomp that makes it stand out. “I’m Coming After You” ultimately  doesn’t succeed because Young’s too sincere to pull off the cheekiness of the lyrical twists, but he sings in a bolder, stronger fashion that shows a different side of him worth exploring.

Young saves the best track for last: “Metropolis,” a tune about coming home to the only one who “gets me,” has a depth and different lyrical theme than most of his songs. Plus the strings add a pleasing dimension.

In many ways, “The Midsummer Station” feels like  it was made by an artist in transition. If he’s willing to keep stepping out of his comfort zone, it will be worthwhile to see what Young does next.

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<p>Frankenweenie Unleashed album art</p>

Frankenweenie Unleashed album art

Credit: Disney

Listen to Karen O's song for 'Frankenweenie,' 'Strange Love'

Cha cha cha

We're heard Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontlady Karen O tackle a Led Zeppelin classic for "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" and make tunes for traipsing around a pretend adventure-land for "Where the Wild Things Are." Now the singer has tried on a little calypso number for size, for "Frankenweenie."

Tim Burton's stop-motion feature will feature a zombie dog and other various hodge-podge animalia, all in black and white. Karen O's "Strange Love" also features dogs, but it's colorful and cha-cha-child-like, featuring a zither (bless her heart), congos, bongos and steel drum. It's a good time and, yes, strange.

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<p>Kelen Coleman and Alison Pill in &quot;The Newsroom.&quot;</p>

Kelen Coleman and Alison Pill in "The Newsroom."

Credit: HBO

Review: 'The Newsroom' - 'The Blackout Part 2: Mock Debate'

The power comes back on, but everything else continues to go wrong

A quick review of last night's "The Newsroom" coming up just as soon as I'm in a conspiracy cahoots...

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<p>Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in &quot;To the Wonder.&quot;</p>

Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams in "To the Wonder."

Credit: FilmNation Entertainment

'To the Wonder' to continue Malick's autobiographical focus?

Synopsis suggests director's latest may be drawn from his romantic past

With screenings of Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" suddenly popping up all over the place -- to the consternation, I believe, of Venice festival brass, who usually secure world premiere slots for their Competition titles -- Terrence Malick's "To the Wonder" stands as the greatest unwrapped enigma of the fall festival season. Typically for the publicity-shy director, details of the narrative and stylistic construction of his latest have been spare. There's been no trailer. No poster, either. And while a single still has been floating around online for over a year, no others have joined it to show us what visual poetry Emmanuel Lubezki might have up his sleeve this time round.

We've known for some time that "To the Wonder" -- the first film of Malick's career with a more or less contemporary setting -- is a romance of sorts, centering around a reunion between childhood friends Ben Affleck and Rachel McAdams. The synopsis from production company FilmNation offers a few more specifics -- as well as an explanation of the film's only superficially oblique title -- that suggests the autobiographical urges that propelled last year's "The Tree of Life" may once more be at play here.

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<p>Tony Scott is seen here at the premiere of 'Deja Vu' with his twin sons, who both appeared in the movie.</p>

Tony Scott is seen here at the premiere of 'Deja Vu' with his twin sons, who both appeared in the movie.

Credit: AP Photo/Max Nash

Director Tony Scott's career remembered

As his family and fans attempt to understand his choice, we look back at his work

When faced with a suicide, it is impossible for even those close to a person to fully understand what it is that pushed them to such a final solution, and I certainly don't intend to speculate about what might have led Tony Scott to take his own life this weekend.

Instead, let's look back at his body of work and the mark he left on modern filmmaking.  While I will not pretend to suddenly love everything he directed, his filmography is defined by an ever-shifting sense of style and by the way he successfully reinvented himself many times.  With his brother, Ridley Scott, he created a company that has been responsible for successful film and television projects for decades now, and he had dozens of projects in development.  Obviously, it's impossible to guess what work he might have done in the future, so the best we can do now is look back at the highlights of the work he leaves behind.

I was thirteen when "The Hunger" was released, and even if that was the only film he ever directed, I would have owed him a hearty handshake.  For thirteen year old me, "The Hunger" set the bar pretty high.  Nudity from both Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve?  David Bowie as a vampire?  Good lord, what part of that does thirteen year old me not like?  The thing was, even at that age, I was aware that the film looked better than it played, that the style was overwhelming even if the story wasn't.  It was a gorgeous movie that had the pulse of a perfume commercial, a charge that would follow Scott through much of his career.

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Kristin Bauer van Straten on "True Blood"
What's wrong with Bill? Pam (Kristin Bauer van Straten) may have the answer on "True Blood"
Credit: John P. Johnson/HBO

'True Blood' recap: 'Sunset' sets up the season finale

Six big questions as we near the finish line

One way to tell the season of "True Blood" is almost over: only half the scenes in this week's episode felt like tiresome dead ends, compared to the usual 75-80%. "Sunset" was all about setting up the finale, and having that finish line in sight brought a little urgency to the season's meandering storylines.

It also brought many of the characters closer together (while relegating Terry and Arlene to a single scene and Lafayatte to a single sassy line), while raising far more questions than next week's finale will likely have time to answer. Here are six of the biggest:

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"Big Brother"

"Big Brother"

Credit: CBS

'Big Brother' recap: A new HOH could shake up the game

Wil is out, so who's in control?

We return to the hamsters' battle for HOH, which is old news to everyone who subscribes to the CBS feed but, hey, let's not spoil it for everyone, right? Anyway, everyone's sliding and falling and dumping greasy brown liquid into tubs. Not everyone is dumping their liquid into their HOH tub, of course -- some are playing for safety, and Boogie is playing for $10,000 all by himself. Frank is justifiably pissed that Boogie isn't going for HOH, as he can't compete and the only alliance he can trust is the one he has with Boogie. But hey, Boogie is just a struggling college student, knee deep in student loans. Hmmm, I know that's not right… so why not try to, you know, win HOH?

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<p>Walt (Bryan Cranston)&nbsp;has a story to tell Jesse on &quot;Breaking Bad.&quot;</p>

Walt (Bryan Cranston) has a story to tell Jesse on "Breaking Bad."

Credit: AMC

Review: 'Breaking Bad' - 'Buyout'

The pacing feels off as the guys deal with the aftermath of the train robbery

A review of tonight's "Breaking Bad" coming up just as soon as I watch a documentary about simulated caviar...

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<p>Sigourney Weaver in &quot;Political Animals.&quot;</p>

Sigourney Weaver in "Political Animals."

Credit: USA

Season finale review: 'Political Animals' - 'Resignation Day'

Garcetti complicates Elaine's plan as the miniseries draws to a close

A quick review of the "Political Animals" finale coming up just as soon as I unzip this cushion...

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