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01.25.10 My Top Ten RIGHT NOW

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1. ALBUM Acolyte Delphic

Nothing is better than accidentally discovering a band, just happening upon an album cover, thinking this looks different and then finding out it’s the best thing you’ve heard in a long time. Such is the case with Delphic, an amazing alternative/dance band from Manchester that have all the fantastic layered sounds of Muse with the more pop oriented sensibilities of Miike Snow. Starting strong with “Clarion Call,” you are confronted with an awesome wall of sound that goes to the edge but stops just before it overpowers. “Doubt” opens with auto-tuned vowel sounds that dissolve into an electro-soundscape. If you need something a bit more to grasp onto, take a listen to “Red Lights,” their most straightforward song with an awesome hook. Rarely does music grab me this instantaneously or require headphone listening because it’s so sonically complex… A+

2. CONCERT Kid Cudi at The Fillmore

Before I can even comment on the act that brought me to this concert, I must say that I have never felt so old in my life. The venue was 16 and up which resulted in a line around the block of teens all gabbing about prom and who got screwed over in a text message. Once I got past the horror of it all, I was able to sink into the amazing performing and word play skills of the Kanye West discovered Kid Cudi. Unlike many of his counterparts, there seems to be an actual brain here, turning out clever rhymes over awesome synth sounds and sampling the likes of Lady Gaga and Vampire Weekend. He rocked pretty much his whole album, including “Soundtrack 2 My Life,” “Simple As…” “Day N Nite” and my personal favorite “Up Up & Away.” And while there is no denying his talent, his translation to live performing adheres so closely to his recordings that it doesn’t breath like more seasoned artists in his field. I have every expectation as he gets older he’ll find that aspect of his talent, he’s too amazing not to… A-

3. EXHIBITION Tim Burton at MoMA

There was no doubt that I would absolutely be bowled over and enamored with this exhibition. Walls are filled with intricate drawings, spanning childhood to his current work in Hollywood, each filled with such detail and such classic Burton touches. As one certainly familiar with his film work and to a large extent his later paintings, it was the early pieces that had me transfixed. This visionary talent was so present from day one, even when his work looked more appropriate for Mad Magazine rather than the sprawling landscapes of his latest films. More than anything, Burton’s humor comes shining through, in a series of grotesqueries that rival Goya’s (and would make total sense shown on the very same gallery wall as Los Caprichos) filled with gags of the most horrifyingly humorous nature. I only wish I could get into this exhibition without the crowds. The works are so detailed that they deserve more attention than can be given with the swarms of people… A

4. FOOD Rue 57

After a trip to the MoMA, there is nothing I love more than treating myself to a Rue 57 burger just a couple blocks north and west of the museum. It’s really not about the burger itself, although that’s a fantastic beef patty on a perfectly baked bun smothered in Roquefort cheese, large rings of fresh onion all seated next to a cylinder of excellent thick cut fries. For me, it’s relaxing in the most “French” of settings, wood paneled walls adorned with thick aged mirrors, curving banquets, white table linens even at lunch, all adding together to be completely standard, and yet somehow a welcome relief from the bustling midtown world just outside. Add to this a book (or more recently a Kindle) and you have an hour or so of heaven before you yourself return to that bustle. A perfect way to keep the joys of the museum alive just a little bit longer… A-

5. ALBUM Transference Spoon

This album takes a little bit of time to really get going, although that might be a misnomer considering Spoon never is exactly a rocking good time, but once you hit the third track, “The Mystery Zone,” you’re in for a good listen. The raspy voice over heavy percussion and banged upon piano continues excellently on “Written in Reverse,” by far my favorite on this album, and “Trouble Comes Running.” Things take an odd quiet, but ultimately beautiful turn on “Goodnight Laura,” a simple aching piano song that sounds like something you’d hear at closing time on a Saturday night. All in all, it’s a good album, but I’m not sure I’m as in love with this band as the rest of the indie world… B-

6. FOOD Highlands

This Scottish gastropub, such a popular concept these days, is surprisingly roomy for a West Village eatery. Even more surprising, given its cultural leanings, the food is quite tasty. Starting with a pound of cockles, these little clams are delicious, doused in a salty herb filled buttery mess. The lamb shank was perfectly braised in a Malbec reduction, making the meat fall delightfully off the bone. The lightly cooked cod, all flakey and lightly seasoned, was a welcome contrast to the thickness of the meat. And not to forget the Scottish spirit, the mushroom shepherd’s pie was a deliciously thick mass of potato, although was a bit light on the rest of the ingredients. Overall, a fun place to eat, but one that I’m hoping will mature as it ages, relying a little less on salt and a bit more on balanced flavor… B

7. MOVIE Julie & Julia (2009)

As everyone before me has said, the Julia Child portion of this film is fantastic. Thanks to the indomitable spirit of Meryl Streep, who at once channels Child while never turning it into an impersonation, the story of this incredible woman looking for her dream is so winning. Too bad there’s the modern section that seems to beat down Amy Adams’ equally wonderful spirit to a pulp. There’s no life to the New York Nora Ephron has created, no sense of joy or excitement in turning your back on a cubicle to find your passion. And oddly, watching what basically amounts to food porn didn’t make me hungry so much as want to jump in the kitchen and start whipping up my own deliciousness. I’m giving a little boost to this grade solely because of Jane Lynch’s awesome and all too brief appearance as Julia’s sister… C+

8. PLAY Ages of the Moon

Oh my god, how bored was I? It only lasted ninety minutes (with no intermission so I couldn’t run away) and I felt every single minute tick by watching a bright white-lit porch play host to a conversation between two aging men talking about absolutely nothing of consequence or interest. You know you’re in trouble when the best moments come in sight gags relating to a wonky ceiling fan. Sam Shepard, that most intriguing of actors and American voices, has offered barely anything to sink your teeth into and presented it with the awesome acting ability of Stephen Rae. If only there was some worthwhile dialogue with which to act… D

9. BENEFIT Rasin San Bout

It feels very wrong to critique this quickly organized benefit for Haiti from the Alvin Ailey School, but here I go. With a little more organization and fluidity of thought, this could have been a powerful evening of cultural crossover. When harking back to the roots of the people, you immediately feel immersed in the culture that currently is struggling to even exist. That richness of culture is exactly what’s missing from the millions of news articles and human-interest pieces that Anderson Cooper keeps shoving in our faces each day and night. Unfortunately, much of this cultural identity got lost in the middle with a classical ballet moment, a bit of Brazilian dancing and a white word-poet/beat boy who brought such waves of giggles from me and my cohorts. Thankfully, it was all for a good cause… B-

10. MOVIE Bedtime Stories (2008)

I’m always a bit curious to see what the kids are being force-fed these days, especially when it includes funnyman Adam Sandler, that overgrown child that makes excelleng laughs for adults even in kiddie skewed work. The first hour is actually delightful, filled with a bit of magic and storybook wonder in the very real world of growing up. And with all the usual Disney tropes, it works quite well. Too bad the second half falls apart into odd pranks, overblown villainous performances and a musical number that left even me baffled… C

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