Editors’ Picks: Summer Finds Still Worth Checking Out

From the Mainstream to the Obscure, Arts Editors Dish on the Highlights From This Season


Published: August 27, 2009

RACHEL WEINICK, Arts & Culture Co-Editor

Rachel’s Picks:

Yim Yames: “Tribute To”

In the days that followed George Harrison’s death in 2001, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James (using the moniker “Yim Yames”) recorded a number of Harrison’s songs. Now, nearly eight years later, “Tribute To,” a six-song EP featuring two Harrison-penned Beatles songs and four gems from his solo “All Things Must Pass” album, has just been released. Though there is an understandable solemnity about the EP, Yames keeps it sounding ethereal rather than gloomy, hallowed and holy instead of desolate.
Listen to this: “Behind That Locked Door”

Wilco: “Wilco (the album)”

On Wilco’s newest album, there’s certainly a lighter feel—especially with tracks such as “Wilco (the song)” and “Sonny Feeling”—compared to 2007’s “Sky Blue Sky,” which was written not long after the death of frontman Jeff Tweedy’s mother. These alternative rockers can hardly be considered under-the-radar anymore, but that doesn’t mean they’ve gone “mainstream” on their most recent release, “Wilco (the album).” There’s a frenetic feel to “Bull Black Nova,” written from the perspective of someone who’s just committed murder, but any anxiety produced by the song is soon cured by the track that follows, the calming “You And I,” which features the soothing vocals of Feist.
Listen to this: “I’ll Fight”

Hymns: “Appaloosa”

If you know me well, you’re probably aware of my infatuation with Hymns. This summer, my love for the Brooklyn-based band only deepened after the release of  “Appaloosa,” a five-song EP that packs a rollicking punch in under 17 minutes and which witnesses a move in a bit of a different direction following 2007’s “Travel In Herds.”  From the falsetto and hand claps on “Wedding Day” to the fuzzy guitar solo on “Call Me Honey” to the lush horns on “Appaloosa,” Hymns experiments with a variety of sounds while retaining their knack for crafting good old-fashioned rock ‘n roll.
Listen to this: “Appaloosa”

Paul McCartney at Citi Field

This summer, I was lucky enough to witness the first of Paul McCartney’s three-concert stint at the newly constructed Citi Field ballpark. Despite his 67 years, McCartney was ever the showman, managing to speak flirtatiously to his female audience all while performing each song with precision and energy. Highlights of the evening included the moving, ukulele-filled “Something,” during which a photo montage of George Harrison played in the background, and the pyrotechnical galore that ensued during the performance of “Live and Let Die.” Plus, Billy Joel showing up during the encore to sing “I Saw Her Standing There” wasn’t that bad of a surprise either.

The High Line

I visited the park that is High Line the week that it opened on one of the many monsoon afternoons of the summer. My expectations were, perhaps, slightly higher than they should have been, but the concept of this “park” (it’s a bit more like a dignified walkway) is still pretty cool. Currently running from Gansevoort St. to 20th St. between 10th and 11th Aves. (there are still more sections to be developed), the High Line was once a railway intended for lifting freight trains off of the streets of Manhattan. Now, with plants and benches alongside the old tracks, it’s an interesting alternative to walking amongst the cars and cabs on street-level.

“Away We Go”

As if you didn’t already have enough reasons to love “The Office’s” John Krasinski and “SNL” alum Maya Rudolph, this film about a slightly unconventional, expecting couple who travels across the country in search of a new home makes you want to meet a pair as quietly assured in their love for one another as these two depict. Written by Dave Eggers (author of the best-selling “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”) and his wife, Vendela Vida, and directed by Sam Mendes, “Away We Go” is far less depressing than Mendes’ film that preceded it (“Revolutionary Road”), but that doesn’t make it any less significant.

“(500) Days of Summer”

A lot of people like “(500) Days of Summer.”  I’m one of those people, but not because I have some little fan-girl crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt. No, I liked this movie because it affirmed what I already knew: just because you might be someone’s pop culture soul mate, that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily meant to be with that person until death do you both part. One of the film’s obvious highlights is its soundtrack, which features music by The Smiths, She & Him, and Feist in addition to one of my favorite songs—“Bookends” by Simon & Garfunkel. But what sealed the deal for me? It was likely during a scene in which one of the friends of Gordon-Levitt’s character describes his girlfriend, Robin, versus the girl-of-his-dreams, ending with this gem: “Actually, Robin’s better than the girl of my dreams. She’s real.”


TIM JALBERT, Arts & Culture Co-Editor

Tim’s Picks:

MovIts! At Joe’s Pub

This whacky Swedish hip-hop/swing band released its first album last year; however, they received a “Bump” when they performed on “The Colbert Report” a month ago and then lit up the stage the following Friday at Joe’s Pub downtown. Mix the traditional walking bassline and punchy brass horns of swing circa 1935 (think Cab Calloway) with the smooth sped up rhyming of hip-hop circa… well, now. This band truly came out of left field and impressed everyone at this highly energetic and interactive show. Since the band had literally been introduced to its newly-acquired American fan base just a few days before their lower East side show, the crowd didn’t seem to know any songs besides their popular singles “Fel Del Av Garden” and “Appelknyckarjazz”; however this didn’t stop the band from getting the crowd to join in dancing and singing (even though most of their fans probably didn’t even understand the Swedish lyrics).
Listen to this: “Appelknyckarjazz”

David Byrne in Prospect Park

David Byrne “burned down the house” at the opening performance of the Celebrate Brooklyn concert series. Byrne performed a free show to over 25,000 fans that included his solo material as well as songs from his Talking Heads days. He proved he is still the same David Byrne when he emerged onto the stage wearing a white skirt as a few dancing females emerged behind him jumping and dancing. Highlight of the night: hearing “Life During Wartime” during sound check and knowing that he would funk the crowd up just a couple hours later with the same song. For the record, David Byrne may be a little bit off-the-rocker, but he still knows how to entertain the crowd and have a good time himself.

Soul Power

This fully charged documentary about a legendary Soul/ R&B music concert held in Zaire in 1974 left me smiling, singing, and dancing as I left the theatre. This truly inspirational film documents the music festival proposed to compliment Muhammad Ali’s “Rumble in the Jungle”, and it is jam-packed with groovy performances by artists such as James Brown, The Spinners and B.B. King.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”: The New York Cast

Let’s Do The Time Warp…Again! Every weekend, the Chelsea Clearview Cinema (260 West 23rd St.) presents a midnight screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” complete with a cast of actors, prop bags, cursing, jeers, and all the campy fun that the cult fans are accustomed to. However, this summer, for a limited time, the original New York Cast of “Rocky Horror” (sans Tim Curry unfortunately) performed in front of audiences. The actors were spot-on with their parts and even added their own witty humor to the already chaotic party. Same old vulgar actors=an amazing, fun time.


I often find it difficult to take romantic movies seriously since the scripts are often sappy and the characters are overdeveloped and overacted, “Adam” offers an alternative. Sure, the story is very “cookie-cutter,” with the straight-edge, female school teacher moving into a new neighborhood and falling in love with her neighbor who her lawyer Dad doesn’t think is good enough for her. However, you also have the story of a man with Asperger’s syndrome, learning much more to life than he may ever know and falling in love with the girl-next-door. The result is a movie that everyone can enjoy, complete with the perfect blend of comedy and romance and characters that are lovable, humorous and real.

“The Room”

Labeled as “The Citizen Kane of Bad Movies” and “The Worst Movie of All Time,” “The Room” has actually brought in quite the fan base, and over the past summer, the movie has increased in cult popularity. What makes this movie so good? Maybe it’s the campy script that includes such infamous lines as “You’re tearing me apart, Lisa!” and “Who you calling kid?” or maybe it’s the random continuity errors that make certain props move on their own. The fact is: this movie has brought together one of the biggest movie cults in current cinema culture, so I decided that I might as well check it out. This movie is awful… awfully entertaining! Plus, the evening I went to the monthly screening downtown, actor Tommy Wiseau (main character Johnny) showed up to greet his fan following. Maybe he doesn’t realize people are laughing at him, not with him.