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The Beatles

Ron Howard's 'Eight Days a Week' Is a Sweet, Slightly Empty Treat for Beatles Fans

TV/Film ReviewEthan WilliamsComment

How do you even begin to break down the immense mythology of a group widely considered to be the greatest of all time into something digestible and accessible but also still reverent? The eight years of musical, visual, historical, economical, political and social impact The Beatles left behind looms like a giant block of marble that should only intimidate any author or documentarian foolish enough to try and mold it into a singular experience that does the group justice.

And yet in truth, it’s insanely difficult to craft a bad movie around the story of the Fab Four. For all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding the band’s legacy, any filmmaker who deigns to cover the band’s story essentially has the perfect subjects: four of the most affable, down-to-earth, creative and interesting people who ever walked the Earth. The filmmakers have a smorgasbord of every kind of song imaginable at their disposal to set a mood or tone, a majority of which are already in pop music’s pantheon of greatest ever. So really you’ve only got yourself to blame if you can make a bad film with all of that at your disposal.

With that said, at this point in history it is much easier to make a boring film about The Beatles. After so many books and documentaries covering every inch and aspect of The Beatles’ career, at some point a hardcore fan can only get so much out of a “new” interpretation a storyteller tries to craft out of that eight year marble block without some hint of what’s already come before.

And Ron Howard’s latest documentary begins dangerously on that cusp of blandness, threatening to turn into just a shiny new coat of paint on the same storyline even the most casual of Beatles fan is conscious of. The montage of those rough n’ tumble nights in Hamburg coupled with their subsequent haircuts/suits that led to Please Please Me’s chart-topping overnight success... it threatens on yada-yada-yada territory before the real fun actually begins.

Where Eight Days a Week begins to differentiate itself is in making you feel the absolute and all-consuming chaos of an event that was The Beatles’ touring years. A treasure trove of great concert material has been carefully remastered and restored for this documentary (a perfect justification for the film’s existence if you really needed one) and the footage of swaths of young people screaming their heads off, rushing stages, and evading police makes you feel just how singular an experience the Beatles were in history. Nothing had ever happened like this before and nothing would ever again.

The baby boomer generation was desperate for a way to express themselves, and these unassuming, charming lads with similar haircuts and incredible songwriting and vocal abilities came along and changed everything,These four young men were at the center of the world’s biggest cultural maelstrom and somehow trying to maintain their own sanity. The film runs you through the elation of Ed Sullivan and Shea Stadium all the way through to the bitter end at the KKK rallies in Memphis and the miserable Candlestick park final gig.

Their cheery and cheeky demeanor on that electric first tour of America heartbreakingly contrasted with the weariness of the magnifying glass is the film’s biggest success. It makes the mere existence of any Beatles music that followed the madness of their touring years seem like a God-given miracle.

The film wisely chooses to focus on the band’s overwhelming unity during these progressively trying times and puts a sunny disposition on the group’s overall dynamic. It’s nice to have a Beatles documentary that pits The Beatles against the world when so many others like to focus on their internal battles that came later. Those touring years, as Ringo mentions in the film, were when The Beatles had to look out for each other first and foremost. So while it may feel dishonest to exclude the turmoil of their later studio work, it’s impossible to deny the bond the Fab Four shared with one another.

There’s a few glaring omissions in terms of Beatles lore, in particular manager Brian Epstein is paid an abysmal amount of lip service considering how especially important he was to the success of this period of the Beatles career and in terms of interviewees, there’s hardly much on offer that hasn’t been stated better elsewhere (for instance the only real archival interview footage with George comes from the superior if exhaustive Beatles Anthology), and a few subjects may leave you scratching your head about their inclusion but overall it’s good fun and good-natured even if it doesn’t forge a brand new vision of history.

While hardcore fans familiar with most of these intimate details may not find anything revelatory here, it’s worth the price of admission for the glut of restored and remastered footage of some classic Beatles concerts and if you’re able to see it in theaters, the entire Shea Stadium concert plays following the movie, fully restored in 4K with remastered sound. It goes down like a smooth, soothing ale for those of us already under the Fab Four’s spell, while still providing those looking for an accessible entry point to the Beatles’ early career with a satisfying result.

The Ultimate Playlist for Your Next Political Rally (as Long as You're Not a Republican)

Music ListWeston PaganoComment

It happens every election cycle - politician plays song at rally, artist complains, politician replaces it with another song, that artist complains, rinse, wash, repeat.

Of course many musicians do pledge support of some campaigns and lend their tunes to the cause (Killer Mike and Grizzly Bear's stumping for Bernie Sanders being recent highlights), but it's always the conflicts that get more news time and are, well, more amusing.

While America's touring president-hopefuls usually turn to safe, generic fight songs and vaguely patriotic anthems for firing up their attending constituents there can sometimes be peculiarly glaring disconnects, from Trump's doomsday-implicating entrance to an incensed R.E.M.'s "It's The End Of The World As We Know It," to Reagan evoking the ostensible feel-good nationalism of Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A.," a song that is actually a clear criticism of the US government and its war-mongering. But even if it's just a song about the sun, there will likely be complaints assuming the politician has one thing in common - the GOP.

Often candidates are technically allowed to play the tunes in question due to the venue holding a blanket license with a performance rights organization (PRO) that pays out royalties for such public performances of the songs. But sometimes the candidates are not covered and thus fall afoul of copyright infringement. Those responsible usually back down either way once a complaint is lodged, even if only out of awkwardness. While it's rare, there are a few examples of lawsuits actually taking place, most notably the time also-bassist Mike Huckabee had to cough up $25,000 in reparations for tainting Survivor's "Eye Of The Tiger." 

While countless pieces have been penned (and performed) on this matter before, we at Transverso have taken the liberty of being the first to compile all (well, at least until Trump adds to it again) of the songs that have been retroactively barred from being used as sweet, sweet misappropriated right-wing propaganda in recent years into one playlist. In the age of Spotify hawking mix tapes from "Teen Party" to "Jock Jams" to "Not Your Mother's Christian Music," we figured why not curate the ultimate collection of tracks for you to use at your next campaign speech or event - that is, of course, if you're not a Republican.

The playlist itself is sorted by artist name, and we also provided a list of the tracks below sorted by the names of the offending candidates and public figures.

Donald Trump

  • Adele - “Rolling in the Deep”

  • Adele - “Skyfall”

  • Aerosmith - “Dream On”

  • The Beatles - “Here Comes The Sun”

  • Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band - “All Right Now”

  • Neil Young - “Rockin’ in the Free World”

  • R.E.M. - “It’s The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”

  • Rolling Stones - “Start Me Up”

  • Rolling Stones - “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”

  • Queen - “We Are The Champions”

John McCain / Sarah palin

  • ABBA - “Take a Chance on Me”

  • Bon Jovi - “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”

  • Foo Fighters - “My Hero”

  • Gretchen Peters - “Independence Day”

  • Heart - “Barracuda”

  • Jackson Browne - “Running On Empty”

  • John Mellencamp - “Our Country”

  • John Mellencamp - “Pink Houses”

  • Orleans - “Still the One”

  • Van Halen - “Right Now”

George W. Bush

  • John Mellencamp - “R.O.C.K. in the USA”

  • Orleans - “Still the One”

  • Sting - “Brand New Day”

  • Tom Petty - “I Won’t Back Down”

George H. W. Bush

  • Bobby McFerrin - “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

Newt Gingrich

  • The Heavy - “How You Like Me Now?”

  • Journey - “Don’t Stop Believing”

  • Survivor - “Eye of the Tiger”

Mitt Romney

  • K’Naan - “Wavin’ Flag”

  • Silversun Pickups - “Panic Switch”

Mike Huckabee (ft. Kim Davis)

  • Boston - “More Than a Feeling”

  • Survivor - “Eye of the Tiger”

Rand Paul

  • Rush - “Spirit of the Radio”

  • Rush - “Tom Sawyer”

Chuck Devore

  • Don Henley - “All She Wants to Do Is Dance”

  • Don Henley - “The Boys of Summer”

Michele Bachmann

  • Katrina & The Waves - “Walking On Sunshine”

  • Tom Petty - “American Girl”

Ronald Reagan / Bob Dole

  • Bruce Springsteen - “Born in the USA”

Marco Rubio

  • Axwell / Ingrosso - “Something New”

Paul Ryan

  • Twisted Sister - “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

Scott Walker

  • Dropkick Murphys - “I’m Shipping Up to Boston”

Charlie Crist

  • David Byrne - “Road to Nowhere”

Bob Dole

  • Sam & Dave - “Soul Man”

Joe Walsh

  • Joe Walsh - “Walk Away"

Whitney Shuns Buzz Band Banality on 'Light Upon the Lake'

Music ReviewSean McHughComment

No band in the history of everything has managed to avoid “death” in the sense that all bands – from The Beatles to your favorite local proto-punk-neo-folk-soul group – break up for one reason or another, with varying degrees of adversity and dramaticism. Obviously, The Beatles disbanded in 1970, but weren’t “definitively” broken up until Mark David Chapman read Catcher in the Rye in December of 1980, and as far your favorite local proto-punk-neo-folk-soul group is concerned, their drummer Keith was promoted to the late shift manager at Starbucks, so he won’t be able to practice most evenings, and proto-punk-neo-folk-soul drummers are at a premium in Des Moines. But silly comparisons aside, band breakups are rarely ever a joyous occurrence – tensions run high, bridges are burned, and once-hopeful fans are left with a finite discography.

So, when a particularly “buzzy” band such as Smith Westerns calls it a quits, the resulting career uncertainty for the former members can become increasingly unsettling to the devout follower. Fortunately, the legacy that follows Smith Westerns’ end looks to be far more promising than whatever outlook the original group may have had. Former front-man Cullen Omori made his way over to Sub Pop and released his solid solo debut with New Misery in March, and now, former Smith Westerns drummer Julien Ehrlich (who also had a stint in Unknown Mortal Orchestra) and guitarist Max Kackacek have banded together to form Whitney, and release a wonderfully jangly 70s-revival debut record, Light Upon the Lake.

Light Upon the Lake begins with a stellar album opener in “No Woman,” a seemingly mawkish entrance that meanders aimlessly as Ehrlich’s soft-cooing vocals opine about waking up in Los Angeles and experiencing an indefinite and tiresome change. Kackacek’s deceptively smooth '70s Martin-esque riffs eventually lead the track in a decidedly more confident direction, with a cacophony of horns closing out the introductory track. The succeeding tracks on Light Upon the Lake see an uptick in tone and vibrancy as “The Falls” feels like a mix of Vulfpeck percussive piano playful nudging Ehrlich’s lyrical musings on losing control, leading into “Golden Days,” the wax poetic (and indie rock right of passage) chronicling of some relationship passed (can’t help but think there might be some Smith Westerns undertones) – “It’s a shame we can’t get it together now.”

Where many might try and incorporate aspects of past projects into their current one, Whitney does a fantastic of presenting a definite tone and substantive grip of who Whitney is, namely in the band’s consistent use of horns, bouncing piano, and clean Martin riffs deftly maneuvered by Kackacek – especially on the album’s eponymous standout, “Light Upon the Lake.” The overall feel of Light Upon the Lake could be likened to The Band meets UMO with flecks of Vulfpeck and Blake Mills – in short, its wholly unique. The album features a number of punk sensibilities when it comes to lyrical verisimilitude and general brevity – the three song stretch of “No Matter Where I Go,” “On My Own,” and “Red Moon” runs a whopping 5:38 – with “On My Own” into “Red Moon” being the most impressive track pairing of the bunch, primarily for the excellent showcasing of horns mixed with Kackacek’s ever-tasteful licks. All in all, the two strongest aspects of Light Upon the Lake are Kackacek’s guitar expertise and the incorporation of harmonious brass work – making the record distinctly modern but also managing to hearken back to a softer time in rock music.

Light On the Lake closes out as sweetly and satisfyingly as it opened, with the uber-funk fuzz of “Polly” marking it as best track on the album, a soft cooing-ballad that has features undertones of disenchanted realism under the guise of happy rhythms and horns. The album closes with “Follow” - the sonic sibling of “Polly” – setting Light On the Lake’s with as positive an outlook as any debut featuring lyrics like “I know I’ll hear the call any time…” that lend credence to the visionary nature of Light On the Lake as a whole. “Follow” allows the record to help establish Whitney as more than just another buzz band, but rather a supremely melancholic (but not miserable) introduction steeped with perspective that maintains an ultimately warm purview of the band’s future. Expect to see Light Upon the Lake on many a "year end" list, including Transverso's, as the record exemplifies the ideal dulcet tones of an indie band debut.  

Watch Sir Paul McCartney Teach You How to Make Mashed Potatoes in 1998 Video

Music NewsWeston PaganoComment
paul mccartney mashed potatoes.jpg

Paul McCartney is a talented man. He can play bass and sing and write and compose and... make mashed potatoes.

Filmed for what was his first broadcasted appearance following his wife Linda's death from breast cancer in 1998, Sir Paul treated fans to a tutorial on how to cook the traditional dish per his late partner and bandmate's recipe.

This cheeky little glimpse of a legendary Beatle doing something so pedestrian, from the talking oven mitt to the playful health tips, is as endearing as it is informative, even if it is a bit nerve-wracking to see such magical fingers to close to a knife blade.

So whether you're an expert chef or a first-timer, sit back, take notes, and enjoy. Maybe someday we'll get instructions for "Honey Pie" or "Savoy Truffle" next.

Hear David Gilmour Dreamily Cover The Beatles' "Here, There And Everywhere"

New MusicWeston PaganoComment

Leading up to his forthcoming solo record Rattle That Lock, former Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour has unveiled a one-off wispy rendition of The Beatles' "Hear, There and Everywhere" in this month's issue of MOJO Magazine. The sleepy track originally appeared on the classic 1966 album Revolver.

This is only the most recent of many connections between the two groups of artists, which also include Gilmour's contributions to Paul McCartney's recordings of "We Got Married" and the ballad version of "No More Lonely Nights."

Rattle That Lock is due out September 18 via Columbia Records. Hear the first single and title-track here.

Transverso's 2015 Lollapalooza Playlist

Music ListTransverso MediaComment

With Lollapalooza looming large we've compiled the 30 best tracks from the best artists you can expect to see at the festival this year. With artists from Paul McCartney to Shakey Graves, Chicago's Grant Park is the place to be this weekend, and you can prepare yourself by clicking play below or on our Spotify profile!

Relive Bonnaroo with our two playlists for that festival, take the "Music Festival Name or Type Illness Quiz" on Buzzfeed here, and if that's not enough, you can always turn on our 2015 Summer Playlist.

10 of the Best Musical Cameos on TV

TV/Film List, Music ListEllen WilsonComment
Jack White on Portlandia

Jack White on Portlandia

1. The Shins on Gilmore Girls 

Gilmore Girls is known for their fast paced dialogue and countless pop culture references, often mentioning numerous artists an episode, so it would make sense that Rory and co would stumble upon a hip new band playing in a club while on spring break. James Mercer and band play "So Says I" for an uninterrupted minute and a half, which is a pretty impressive amount of airtime for television. Rory and friends don't arrive until the last song, though, so we can assume they are the worst concert goers ever. Shortly after you can hear "The Laws Have Changed" by The New Pornographers while Rory and Paris uncomfortable try to fit in with the club-goers stating, "no one can sniff out the hip like we can." 

2. The Decemberists on Parks and Recreation 

The Decemberists get about 30 seconds of airtime playing "Crane Wife 3" at the Pawnee-Eagletown unity concert. While they might not have gotten as much airtime as deserved the entire episode was full of additional musical guest such as Jeff Tweedy, Ginuwine, and Yo La Tengo. 

 

3. Jack White on Portlandia 

Jack White magically appears on the Portlandia sketch "The Studio" in which Fred's character portrays a man who has a "top notch" studio with overwhelming similarities the studio used when recording the Beach Boy's album Pet Sounds. Jack White magically appears and silently watches Fred's character as he struggles to make sense of it all. The lack of dialogue from White makes his facial expressions even more hilarious and one of the best musical guest Portlandia has locked down. 

4. Britt Daniel of Spoon in Veronica Mars

Britt sings a karaoke version of the song appropriately titled "Veronica" by Elvis Costello. The Spoon song "I Summon You" was also featured in the same episode. You can read more about Britt's decision to do the show here

5. Death Cab For Cutie on The OC 

Death Cab was famously the favorite band of OC stud Seth Cohen, despite Summer's less-than-flattering analysis, "it's one guitar and a whole lot of complaining." When the band finally appears they play a show at the infamous fictional venue, The Bait Shop, and were featured on the official soundtrack. 

6. Prince on New Girl 

Prince, the majestic being himself, guest stars in an episode of New Girl. In the episode, he plays himself and gives Jess (portrayed by Zooey Deschanel) relationship advice. The highlight, though, is when the The Purple One asks, "Do you like pancakes?" 

7. Beck on Futurama 

After Bender is hospitalized he discovers Beck's disembodied head is occupying the bed next to him. Beck then loans Bender a set of neck-mounted robotic mini-arms, and the two go on tour together as Bender uses the arms to scrape across his mangled body and earn the position of Beck's washboard player. As the episode continues, Bender writes a song about broken robots, and the duo decide to put on a benefit concert in San Francisco to help all the disabled machines. While helping Bender write a song about his feelings, disembodied Beck explains how emotion is an important part of his musical process as well, saying, "When I'm upset I write a song about it. Like when I wrote 'Devil's Haircut,' I was feeling really... what's that song about?"

8. The Beach Boys on Full House 

The Beach Boys have a long standing friendship with the Tanner family, appearing in not one, not two, but three separate episodes. The most notable episode is the one in which DJ wins two tickets to the Beach Boys show but has the tricky decision of picking which family member to take. Naturally, The Beach Boys show up and invite the whole bunch along (except for baby Michelle) to the show where they sing and do some sort of a line dance on stage. 

9. Radiohead on South Park

In this particularly dark episode, Cartman vows to take revenge after being tricked by eighth grader Scott Tenorman. Upon learning that Radiohead is Scott's favorite band, Cartman writes a letter to Radiohead claiming that Scott is a victim of "cancer, in his ass" and the British rock band visits South Park just in time to watch Scott cry after hearing he ate his parents.  

10. Sir Paul McCartney on 30 Rock 

In one of these two brilliant episodes of 30 Rock, Sir Paul McCartney appears as himself to prove the point that "it's live TV, anything can happen." The look on Alec Baldwin's bewildered face as Paul McCartney grins and slaps Baldwin's face makes this one of the best moments of 30 Rock's entire seven season run.