Music News & Reviews

Kicks! quick reviews of music and new DVDs

Aerosmith returns

The Bad Boys from Boston took time out of their infighting and bickering to produce their first album of original material in 11 years.

On Nov. 6, Aerosmith’s “Music From Another Dimension!” will be available. The legendary rockers have said it will be a return to the sound fans embraced on their classic 70s albums “Toys in the Attic” and “Rocks.”

Bringing back the man responsible for producing their 70s heyday output, Jack Douglas, was certainly a step in the right direction.

But is it all talk? Fans won’t know for certain for another few weeks.

Luckily, there’s been evidence to suggest the band is taking a slight step away from the glossy, pop-laden tunes that led the charge during their MTV-era comeback in the late 80s.

Three singles from the album have been released since May, and there’s not been a bad one in the bunch.

The first, “Legendary Child,” is a rollicking rocker that’s a cross between “Walk This Way” and “Eat the Rich.” It harkens back to the 70s while also embracing the band’s early 90s output.

But the next single, “Lover A Lot,” is quintessential “Rocks.” It rocks, it rolls, it’s full of double entendres only Steven Tyler could craft. Seriously, this could have been played to crowds in 1977.

Last but not least is “What Could Have Been Love.” Fair warning, it is a power ballad. However, older fans have to accept that this is just part of who Aerosmith has been ever since they got clean and sober. And as ballads go, this one is a keeper. Plus, it’s got a country twang to it that’s a welcome addition to the group’s bag of tricks.

Hopefully, these three early successes are hints of even better things to come once “Music” drops on Election Day. Welcome back, boys!

Brad Dickerson, bdickerson@thesunnews.com


‘October Baby’

• Out now on DVD

“October Baby” is one of the latest – and best – entries in a growing line of faith-based films.

The movie marks the feature-film debut for directors Andrew and Jon Erwin and features a strong performance from newcomer Rachel Hendrix as Hannah, the survivor of a failed abortion who learns the secret of her birth early in the movie and embarks on a journey coming to terms with that truth.

Like many of its fellow faith-based films, the movie features a largely unknown cast (“Dukes of Hazzard” alum John Schneider is the most recognizable actor as Hannah’s father). What sets this film apart from its brethren is its step forward in production value.

“October Baby” may feature a topic that would keep many from making repeated viewings, but it’s definitely worth seeing once. And make sure you watch through the credits to hear how the movie helped one actress come to terms with her own past.

Tom Yackley, tyackley@thesunnews.com


‘Babel’ by Mumford & Sons

• Released Sept. 25

It’s clear from the opening, title track that Mumford & Sons have picked up where they left off after their 2010 debut, “Sigh No More.” The band returns with its easily recognizable sound that seems instantly familiar from the first listen. Highlights here include “Babel” and the album’s first single, “I Will Wait.” The only real low point is “Broken Crown,” which suffers from the repeated – and needless – use of the same expletive that made “Sigh’s” “Little Lion Man” unplayable for listeners with sensitive ears.

Tom Yackley, tyackley@thesunnews.com


‘Argo’

• Now playing in area theaters

Believe the hype.

“Argo” justifies its position as one of the year’s best films, and a surefire Oscar contender.

With his third feature, director Ben Affleck leaves behind his native Boston and goes for a more global scale. In doing so, he’s officially at the head of his class for the best filmmakers of his generation.

Here, he tackles the Iran hostage crisis of 1979, where 52 people at the U.S. Embassy were held captive for more than a year.

A lesser known aspect of that story centers around the six Americans who snuck out the back door and sought refuge at the Canadian ambassador's home. The mission to extract them was declassified by President Clinton in 1997.

It's a tale that’s too crazy to be anything but true.

CIA operative Tony Mendez convinced the government to send him into Tehran, pretending to be a film producer. Once there, he’d sneak the Americans out by having them pose as a Canadian movie crew who were scouting locations for a cheap “Star Wars” rip-off.

In bringing this story to the big screen, Affleck delivers a picture that’s dripping in suspense. The film’s climax is sure to keep everyone in the audience on the edge of their seats, even if they’re completely aware of the outcome.

But perhaps Affleck’s true genius is successfully combining that white-knuckle terror with genuine hilarity. The funny bone is tickled by John Goodman and the incomparable Alan Arkin, who play a Hollywood makeup artist and producer, respectively, and are tasked with helping Mendez, played by Affleck, pull off his long con.

Arkin, the man responsible for stealing scenes in films like “Grosse Pointe Blank” and “Little Miss Sunshine,” walks away with the movie’s greatest line, albeit one that’s not suited for printing in a family newspaper.

“Argo” also boosts solid work from “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston. Any of these three are well worthy of Oscar’s consideration.

As for Affleck, the one-time Hollywood golden boy who became a tabloid punching bag, he has reinvented himself in a major way. With “Gone Baby Gone,” “The Town” and now “Argo,” he’s brought an old-school Hollywood approach to 21st century moviemaking.

In an age of overblown CGI spectacles usually revolving around superheroes, it's refreshing to see a film succeed simply on good storytelling and strong performances. This is a genuine crowdpleaser.

Brad Dickerson, bdickerson@thesunnews.com

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