Our picks: Music and film


“Ringleader of the Tormentors”

4 stars out of 5

If you could look up the term “musical icon” in the dictionary, they would probably have photos of three people: Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra and Morrissey.

Former Smiths frontman Steven Patrick Morrissey’s last album, 2004’s “You Are The Quarry,” could easily be nominated as the comeback record of the decade.

Just under two years later, he returns with his eighth studio LP and quickly demonstrates that not much has changed. He is still filled with the romantic-angst and political anger that have marked both his solo work and his work with The Smiths in the 1980s.

The only difference now is that Morrissey, at age 47, is the elder statesman of his musical community. The new record does not take long to attack his usual targets, as the first track, “I Will See You In Far Off Places,” rips into U.S. foreign policy.

Morrissey’s lyrics are equally as poignant and thoughtful throughout the album, and his signature crooning vocal style helps to add an extra dimension to the songs.

Musically, the album blends upbeat rockers with Mozzer’s trademark angst-filled ballads. Bombastic and solicitous, this is a fine addition to the Morrissey canon that proves that even after all these years, he is still a musical force to be reckoned with.

Key Tracks: You Have Killed Me, The Youngest Was The Most Loved, In The Future When All’s Well

The Flaming Lips

“At War With the Mystics”

3 stars

The Flaming Lips have progressed over the years from being considered musical goofballs to being thought of as sonic geniuses. In reality, they’re a calculated combination of the two.

Through 11 studio full-lengths, the Lips have refined their sound time and time again, evolving into the one-of-a-kind ensemble they are today. The follow-up to 2002’s “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots,” “At War With the Mystics” is another collection of eccentric, often crazy and always interesting pop songs that only the Flaming Lips could come up with.

The album starts out slow, and after one track seems almost uninteresting. Around track seven, though, the mood starts to change as the record takes an upward turn and finishes with six strong tracks, climaxing at track 10, “The W.A.N.D.”

The flaws that plague the first half of this record revolve around the downtempo, sonically uninteresting tracks two through six. The album is not the best moment of the Flaming Lips career but it’s not bad, and quite frankly I would rather have a bad Lips album than anything TRL is trying to hawk these days.

Key Tracks: The W.A.N.D., Mr. Ambulance Driver, Pompeii Am G?tterd?mmerung


“Adventures in the Underground Journey to the Stars”

3.5 stars

It has been a long and somewhat strange trip for the British trio South. The group formed in London in 1998 as a British-style electronic group and over the course of three albums has morphed first to gauzy dream-pop and then to stripped down and straight forward pop-rock that harkens a little bit to the indie-pop bands of the early 1990s.

This has caused many different groups to dub the band “Britain’s indie-rock heroes” or even go so far as to call them the Pavement of the U.K. The new self-produced album finds the group more comfortable and inventive then they’ve ever been. Not afraid to play with sounds and tempos, the album flows smoothly from one track to the next, alternating between straight-forward indie-rock and groove-filled indie-pop. All things said and done, this is simply a really good record by a really good band. You cannot really sum it up any better than that.

Key Tracks: You Are One, Pieces of a Dream, A Place in Displacement

The Vines

“Vision Valley”

3 stars

One thing I’ve found about the Vines is that they are one of the most polarizing bands in music right now.

I have not yet met a person who was indifferent to the group: everybody either likes them or hates them.

Much of that fact revolves around lead singer Craig Nicholls, whose erratic behavior and awful live performances plagued the band until he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome back in 2005.

The band’s latest album, their third overall, doesn’t stray much from past Vines style. Overall, this is a much rockier record that takes few breaks for downtempo songs or songs built on an acoustic foundation, like their last album.

Rather, “Vision Valley” is a rock record, short and to the point. Only one track clocks in at longer than 2:44 and six are under 2:00 in length.

Still, as generic as they might seem, the Aussies do know how to craft a catchy guitar line and melody. It’s not reinventing the wheel, but in my opinion it’s all right.

Key Tracks: Anysound, Don’t Listen to the Radio, Dope Train

– Chris Kubak,

Music Director, WTSR


Directed by: James Gunn

Starring: Nathan Fillion, Elizabeth Banks, Michael Rooker and Gregg Henry

3.5 stars

From the minute I walked into the theater, I started to question my reasons for purchasing an $8 ticket to see a movie called “Slither.”

Intrigued by strange commercials and a second-rate cast, I had to see what this movie was all about.

Alien life forms exterminating rednecks, acid-spitting zombies sharing one brain and thousands of leeches! How could I have ever questioned myself?

Set in a tiny Southern town, it all starts with a comet carrying a strange little being that enters the body of Grant Grant (Rooker) aka “Alien.” This tiny organism morphs Grant into a giant slug-snake-alien-with-big-scary-teeth that eventually takes over the town, then the world.

The movie has notable qualities like the corrupt mayor, the human (as in has feelings and emotional flaws) monster and bumbling heroes. Not only that, but some parts are also vomit-inducing, disgusting and, in fact, scary.

This movie is not your average horror flick. It is filled with hysterical one-liners like, “If I wasn’t shittin’ my pants right now, I’d be fuckin’ fascinated.” And there’s an intense battle with a zombie deer. Yes, it’s crude, but priceless.

Likely to share a pen with “Shaun of the Dead,” “Slither” is funnier than most comedies and more frightening than all horror movies.

– Danielle Tararuj,

Staff Writer