Trying to understand The Great Beauty

For a week now I’ve been ruminating over the Oscar-winning Italian film The Great Beauty, Paolo Sorrentino’s romantic, acerbic and deeply provocative narrative about Jep Gambardella (Toni Servillo), a celebrity journalist trying to navigate his place in the world. Anchored by panoramic shots of Rome and a spellbinding soundtrack, the film skillfully weaves the whirring rush of high society shindigs with the iconic and historic splendor of one of Europe’s most beloved destinations. Gambardella’s watershed moment is the unexpected death of his teenage flame and how her passing forces Gambardella to take stock of his career, his life thus far and his ensuing future. Though it plods along at times, the 125-minute piece has many a scene that deftly blend comedy, introspection and beauty into one cohesive and masterful piece. Granted there’s a lot to digest (most of which is head-scratching and pretentious) but in the subtler scenes is something truly magnetic. Foreign films have a way of hitting at the core in ways American films never do and The Great Beauty is certainly no exception.

PBS Pledge Month is a Music Fan’s Paradise

PBS has forsaken original programming in lieu of March being pledge month, but Holy Moses, there’s a plethora of great content. Already this month, I’ve enjoyed The Dukes of September, the Bob Dylan Tribute Concert, Ed Sullivan’s Rock n’ Roll Classics and and John Sebastian’s Folk Rewind. Oh, I know, this is all syndicated stuff, but the diversity of the content is absolutely terrific. Some days my love for PBS knows no bounds.

Abraham McDonald Dazzles On New Single

We’re always grateful for the songs that came through the inbox here at RMP, but I was quite puzzled when “Dreams Come True,” a duet fearing Abraham McDonald and Rebecca Holden was sent to me. Turns out the song is moving up the Billboard AC charts and last month sat at #41. But who exactly are McDonald and Holden?

A quick Google search yields that McDonald won Oprah’s Karaoke Challenge in 2010, a $250,000 cash prize and a record deal with Island Def Jam. Holden, on the other hand, was on the 80s TV show Knight Rider and charted two country singles in the late 1980s. How exactly these two came together remains to be known, but if the song proves anything it’s how immensely talented McDonald truly is. Holden is a fine singer and her parts are solid, but they don’t have the same sonic impact as that of McDonald. While an unnecessary machinated beat threatens to ruin the song, the inherent skill of McDonald keeps the song from steering off into disaster. The accompanying lyric video below perfectly captures the sentiment of the song. A belated Happy Valentines Day, ya’all.

Empires Raise the Stakes on New Single

I have no idea who Empires is. But holy crap, I love them.

Being a staffer at, I’ve seen their name here and there but I have very limited knowledge of their output. But all that has changed now that lead single “How Good Does it Feel,” has [URL=""]entered the world[/URL]. An urgent, antic and absolutely explosive new song, this may be one of the best tracks I’ve heard so far this year. The band’s debut album [I]Orphan[/I] was produced by John Congleton (St. Vincent, The Black Angels, Explosions in the Sky) and appears on the Island Records imprint Chop Shop. Empires is on tour through May with Margot and the Nuclear So and Sos and stops in SXSW.

For more details about the band, head here.

Garth Brooks Tackles Classic Rock…..With Mixed Results

Garth Brooks didn’t have to release a six-disc covers box set to prove his worth, but given all he has done in his illustrious career, why the heck not? The most familiar of the discs is Brooks’ take on “classic rock,” a retrospective that visits such greats as Simon & Garfunkel as well as stadium rockers Queen, The Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Read more…

Brad Paisley’s Sensory Overload…..Err, Concert

Of all the country artists currently making music, none are as successful at marrying social causes, comedy and media than Brad Paisley. Be it his videos, his songs or his public persona, it’s clear to see Paisley never takes himself or his craft too seriously. But when is it too much? This past Saturday, he brought his Beat This Winter tour to Orlando’s Amway Center and offered up a slew of dizzying lights, frenetic video montages and even a mascot of well, himself. Read more…

Tom Brosseau’s Inspiring New Single

Sometimes all it takes is a voice and a guitar.

Case in point Tom Brosseau’s “Today is a Bright New Day.” Unraveling a yarn about small-town North Dakota, the song is an absolute goldmine. With a hopeful chorus and a self-assuredness that makes one want to reach for the stars, there’s little reason to think Brosseau’s song won’t find favor around the blogosphere. Truth be told, I have no earthly idea who Brosseau is, but Lord love a duck, that has changed after this song.

Reggae Artist Wayne Marshall Channels REM

I don’t claim to have any vast knowledge of reggae but I do enjoy the genre. There’s a sun-drenched quality to the genre that is both refreshing and kinetic. That being written, I have no clue if Wayne Marshall is a big draw in the genre or what, but when I heard that he channels REM on his new single, I thought I’d give it a shot.

Sure enough, the song pulls many of its verses straight from REM’s “Losing My Religion.” While some may be quick to criticize, it’s always a good thing for music when genres crossover and bleed together. One never knows when one song will make one music listener dive deeper, try harder and chase their dreams.

I probably haven’t listened to reggae song in at least a half-dozen months, but I am more than happy to say that “On the Corner” is the first song that brought me back.

D.B. Rielly Finds His Groove on Latest Album

Often times the amount of requests that come through the RMP inbox is overwhelming, so overwhelming that we often neglect albums worthy of widespread attention. Said album is New York City roots-rocker D.B. Rielly’s sophomore effort Cross My Heart + Hope to Die. Self-released this past October, the ten-song collection is another sterling effort from an artist who would probably be far more well-known were he not in the overcrowded metropolis of New York City. Read more…

Meet the Coywolf Hits Airwaves on Jan. 22

Call me old-fashioned, but I much prefer PBS’ Nature over pretty much anything else on TV. Granted, some episodes drag in places, but anytime you are given a chance to get that much closer to nature, it’s hard to say no. Not only that, the program always provides ample amounts of scientific insight and never-seen-before footage. If you’re a sucker for dazzling visuals (and believe me I am) Nature always provides exactly that. Their 31st season continues in two weeks with their first new broadcast of 214, Meet the Coywolf. The hour-long expose centers on how this new breed of western coyote and eastern wolf first originated and how and why it has emerged in some of North America’s biggest cities (Toronto, Montreal, New York City). Meet the Coywolf debuts on Jan. 22, at 8 p.m. on your local PBS station.

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