With so much new music, movies, and technology available on a weekly basis, even the most plugged-in people find it difficult to find the truly interesting products. Here at PJ Lifestyle we’re all about keeping it simple. Check in each Tuesday for information about current album and DVD/BluRay releases, along with hot new technology and gadgets you’re sure to want to make your own.
Tuesday New Releases in Music
Mumford and Sons’ Babel continues to rule the Billboard 200 after two weeks in release, and very little on this week’s release schedule suggests that’s going to change in the short term. Next week Taylor Swift storms the charts with her upcoming album Red, which leaves a void this week for albums heavily slanted in the indie direction. Though none of these should unseat Mumford, there’s plenty of room in the top ten for a few surprises. We’re open to your suggestions as we develop this column to best serve you. If you have suggestions for future coverage, or if you have a product you’d like featured or reviewed here, simply email Jonathan Sanders at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Fine Frenzy – Pines (Virgin)
Singer-songwriter Alison Sudol’s third studio album, Pines, features a companion book and animated film in addition to the CD release. The album of songs plays as a succession of chapters, according to the songwriter. Her last album, Bomb in a Birdcage, made an indie splash in 2010, charting among Billboard’s top thirty albums on its debut.
Anberlin – Vital (Universal Republic)
Benjamin Gibbard – Former Lives (Barsuk) – of Death Cab for Cutie
Boys Noize – Out of the Black (Ingrooves)
Brandy – Two Eleven (RCA)
Conor Maynard – Contrast (Capitol)
Daphni – Jiaolong (Merge) – Dan Snaith a.k.a. Caribou
Dethklok – Metalocalypse: Dethklok Dethalbum III (William Street)
The “virtual band” on Adult Swim’s Metalocalypse, Dethklok features music from the second, third and fourth seasons of the television show. The deluxe edition CD / DVD contains a 32 minute behind-the-scenes documentary of the making of the album, as well as music videos.
Donald Fagen – Sunken Condos (Reprise)
Double Naught Spy Car – Western Violence (Eleven Foot Pole)
Earlimart – System Preferences (The Ship)
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)
In Fear and Faith – In Fear and Faith (Rise Records)
Jamey Johnson – Livin’ For a Song: A Tribute to Hank Cochran (Mercury Nashville)
One of the most successful songwriters in country music, Hank Cochran mentored Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard among others. This tribute revives Cochran’s songs, including “I Fall To Pieces” and “Ocean Front Property,” as performed by Johnson, himself among Nashville’s finest modern songwriters.
Jason Aldean – Night Train (Broken Bow)
Jason Lytle – Dept. of Disappearance (ANTI Records)
Kem – What Christmas Means (Xenon)
K’naan – Country, God or the Girl (A&M/Octone)
J. Charles and the Train Robbers – Upon Leaving (End Sounds)
Martha Wainwright – Come Home To Mama (Cooperative Music)
Mika – The Origin of Love (Casablanca)
No Bragging Rights – Cycles (100% WOMON)
Pinback – Information Retrieved (Temporary Residence)
Rah Rah – The Poet’s Dead (Hidden Pony)
This Canadian indie rock band’s latest album fits right in with the current crop of folk-inspired alternative. But they blend these influences with pure pop hooks. The band’s latest single, “Prairie Girl,” has something to please fans of Metric as much as it will those who prefer Mumford’s Babel.
Scotty McCreery – Christmas With Scotty McCreery (Mercury Nashville)
That’s Outrageous! – Psycho (Invogue Records)
TKTTSM – TKTTSM (Sumxuni)
Trey Anastasio – Traveler (Ato Records) – of Phish
Though the holiday release season frequently doesn’t hit its peak until November, this year has seen a surprising number of high-profile album releases over the last four weeks, making it difficult for even the most discerning music listener to keep track of every noteworthy album. Here are a few you might have missed.
Popular Fall Hits
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9/18: Band of Horses – Mirage Rock (Columbia)
9/18: Ben Folds Five – The Sound of the Life of the Mind (ImaVeePee Records)
This Kickstarter-funded album, the band’s first as a power trio since 1999′s Reinhold Messner, fits right in with the band’s 90s material as though they never left.
9/18: Brother Ali – Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color (Rhymesayers)
9/25: Mumford and Sons – Babel (Glass Note)
Don’t call this album overlooked, but despite the pre-release hype and staggering first-week sales (600,000, the most for a “rock” album since 2009), they’re still a niche band you may not have heard. If you haven’t, Babel definitely deserves a listen.
9/25: Green Day – Uno! (Reprise/Warner)
10/2: The Mountain Goats – Trancendental Youth (Merge)
John Darnielle, the most consistent, yet underrated, songwriter working in America, ups the ante on Trancendental Youth, an early front-runner for Album of the Year consideration on the basis of “In Memory of Satan” alone.
10/2: The Big Cats – For My Mother (Independent)
10/2: Tori Amos – Gold Dust (DG Deutsche Grammophon)
10/2: The Vaccines – Come of Age (Columbia)
10/2: Diana Krall – Glad Rag Doll (Verve)
Krall turns to T-Bone Burnett to produce her latest album, and his presence reinvigorates this Canadian legend’s already storied career. Though not the flashiest, or even the most anticipated, album this fall, Krall’s Glad Rag Doll serves as an excellent reintroduction to a performer who deserves a wider audience.
10/9: Bad Books – II (Triple Crown Records)
10/9: The Wallflowers – Glad All Over (Columbia)
10/9: Ellie Goulding – Halcyon (Interscope)
10/9: Lord Huron – Lonesome Dreams (Iamsound)
10/9: Coheed and Cambria – The Afterman: Ascension (Universal Distribution)
Whether you like gross-out comedy, art-house films, political documentaries or full seasons of TV shows, this week’s DVD / BluRay release slate has a little of something for everyone. This week Dinesh D’Souza’s 2016: Obama’s America arrives.
New Releases: DVD / Blu-Ray
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From PJ Lifestyle in June, Chris Yogerst reviewed Moonrise Kingdom:
Every Wes Anderson film creates a world of its own. Movies like Rushmore and The Darjeeling Limited take familiar people and situations and drop them into the unknown. This is Anderson’s genius; he transforms familiarity into hyperreality (or unreality in some cases). Arguably, the best genre filmmakers are able to build unpredictability out of familiarity. Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom, draws from numerous genres such as the summer camp comedy, family melodrama, and the adventure film in order to create a unique experience.
There’s a gadget geek in everyone, even the most technophobic among us. And as we near the holiday season, we’re all on the lookout for something cool and unexpected, even if only as a gift to ourselves. This week: portable power in a wireless Bluetooth speaker, a learning thermostat for even the laziest homeowner, and the ultimate in new tech for any budding amateur photographer.
PJ Lifestyle Tech Finds
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Forget buying a new car stereo. If you’ve got Bluetooth, this portable speaker unit fills a room with audio, wirelessly, from up to 33 feet, and serves as a nifty speakerphone to boot. Despite the small package, the speaker doesn’t wimp out on the sound either, with two custom extended range drivers, left and right channel subwoofers, and 3w output. It’s a bonus that it also charges your USB device even while streaming. What more could you want for under $200?
Just in time for winterization, every cranky father’s Holiday dream: a thermostat that learns from your preferences and saves money. The thermostat installs in thirty minutes and programs to your habits in a week. Orrin R. Onken, an Amazon reviewer, puts it succinctly: “Perfect for the dumb and lazy.” Or for those who don’t want to work too hard just to save on energy bills.
For those of us who long for the ability to experience streaming television and movies on a truly gigantic screen, this streaming projector from 3M provides an instant cinematic experience. You already pay for Netflix or one of its clones, and surely there’s a big blank wall or ceiling just ready for action. If you’ve got WiFi, you’re ready to go! At under $300, it won’t break the bank either.
For every photo geek on your list, this innovative camera for in-the-field photography uses tech which previously only existed for those with access to a supercomputer! “The world’s first light field camera,” casual photographers can now shoot first and focus later. Popular Mechanics best explains the concept (“Top 10 Tech Breakthroughs of 2012”): “Unlike a conventional camera, which records light from a single focal point, a light-field camera captures light from all directions. A user can later change the focus to a new area of the image or even make it stereoscopic.” I’m catching the photography bug just reading about it.