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Lee Armstrong RSS Feed (Winterville, NC United States)
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Last Chance Harvey
Last Chance Harvey
DVD ~ Dustin Hoffman
Price: $6.48
350 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A Real Spark, March 9, 2015
This review is from: Last Chance Harvey (DVD)
I bought this DVD from the bargain bin when a chain video store closed its doors. It sat on my television stand for several years before I decided to watch it. Ironically, I read the screenplay and used a number of scenes for the acting for the camera scene study class I teach at the college. I think I was discouraged to watch by the number of calamities that befall the hapless character of Harvey Shine in the first part of the film. What I found as I watched was that I really fell in love with these two characters played Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson as the British Kate Walker. The film is a delightful romantic journey of the two. It shows how well deserved were the Golden Globe nominations for each of the two leads. The supporting characters are also delightful. Eileen Atkins who was in "Cold Mountain" does a great job as Kate's mother, bothered by the handyman new neighbor next door. As mother Maggie, Atkins has a knack to always intrude on Kate at the most awkward moments. Kathy Baker who I most remember as Joe's mother on one of my favorite TV series, "Medium," plays Harvey's ex who seems to smugly belittle him at every turn. I found the DVD extras to be tremendously informative. It talks about how the project was created, how Dustin and Emma had previously worked together but with limited screen time, and how the great chemistry they felt from that experience translated well to "Last Chance Harvey." This was Joel Hopkins' second film; and he let the actors improvise to a great extent, which gives the film a real spark and intense truthfulness in performance. This is an excellent romantic film I'm sure to pull out on many rainy days in the future. Enjoy!


Combing the Clouds
Combing the Clouds
Price: $9.46
29 used & new from $0.54

4.0 out of 5 stars Driving Till Sunset, March 8, 2015
This review is from: Combing the Clouds (Audio CD)
This little gem is over a decade old, an indie release by the band "The Waking Eyes." The opening title track "Combing the Clouds" is my favorite with its retro-Association-like harmonies and the pastoral imagery of trees combing the clouds, "We're leaving these doubts on the side of the road, driving till the sunset." "The World Is Alive" is another sparkling gem with its abrupt shifts of musical styles between choruses sounding like it was recorded on a roller coaster, "I'm glad that I realized that I could disrobe from our disguise." Not everything is marvelous, but it always is inventive and defies expectation. Enjoy!


Seasons Of My Soul
Seasons Of My Soul
Price: $11.08
54 used & new from $1.73

2.0 out of 5 stars Dust Magnet, March 8, 2015
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This review is from: Seasons Of My Soul (Audio CD)
Rumer has a nice voice. The many comparisons to Karen Carpenter are spot on. Dusty Springfield had a lot more grit and groove; so I don't hear that. I had read a review that said if I like Carole King -- who I love -- I would like Rumer. The easy listening melodic arrangements are all nice, but nothing stands out for me on this set. It doesn't make me want to listen repeatedly, nor investigate her other music. "Aretha" is sweet and probably my favorite cut, but still not riveting. So it's not the voice, the production or the arrangements, but the lack of strong material that are the problem. If you like your music on the bland side, Rumer may be the ticket for you. It'll be a dust magnet on my CD shelf. Taxi!


Terms Of My Surrender
Terms Of My Surrender
Price: $13.35
67 used & new from $9.98

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Jumping Off the Wagon, March 8, 2015
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This review is from: Terms Of My Surrender (Audio CD)
John Hiatt's "Terms of My Surrender" is the Hiatt set you want to play to help you nap. Hiatt's pretty much asleep throughout. What is gone is Hiatt's sense of melody. Yes, this music emulates the blues, but even traditional blues songs have more melodic spark than the awful "Nobody Knew His Name" that goes up on the end of one line and then down on the next. So predictable. Doug Lancio who did a blockbuster job on producing Gretchen Peters' country weeper set "Blackbirds" plays guitars, banjo and mandolin. He puts some energy into the opening track "Long Time Comin'," which is all there is there for me. The plodding mess of "Baby's Gonna Kick" might be helpful if one were an alcoholic jumping off the wagon. Hiatt's imitation of Willie Nelson on the title track sinks with his pathetic higher register warbling. "Face of God" lays Hiatt's vocals over a strong blues progression; and although it fails to rivet me, it's less awful that the last three tracks "Here To Stay," "Old People" & "Come Back Home." "Marlene" is the only track on the set that I almost like with its lighter tone and Kenneth Blevins' drums making it almost fun. Unfortunately, it's kind of boring too. Somebody please buy John a cup of coffee and wake him up. This snooze fest is a must to avoid. Taxi!


Octave Minds
Octave Minds
Price: $24.19
21 used & new from $8.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Lighthouse, March 8, 2015
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This review is from: Octave Minds (Audio CD)
Octave Minds' self-titled CD is a mostly instrumental set. Alex "Boys Noize" Ridha & Jason "Chilly Gonzalez" Beck are the musical creators of the band. "Anthem" is a great track with its strong piano build feathered with synthesizers and even a French horn. The track lives up to its name, inspiring music one might listen to while gathering energy to start some monumental task. "Together" is another favorite that begins with a synth beat and then blossoms into a spring-like melody. Other tracks like "Projectionist" and the fun-loving "Tap Dance" are also worthwhile. The CD comes with a mini-poster insert of the lovely cover of the lighthouse high atop an isolated rock. Enjoy!


Blackbirds (Amazon Limited Exclusive Version) ( Contains Bonus CD)
Blackbirds (Amazon Limited Exclusive Version) ( Contains Bonus CD)
Price: $13.44
2 used & new from $13.44

4.0 out of 5 stars Hallelujah, I Am Free, March 8, 2015
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Gretchen Peters' "Blackbirds" is a strong set. The title track opens with David Lancio's punchy electric guitar giving the sound its gravity as Gretchen sings a strong melody and lyric, "Uneasy lies the head, unfaithful is the heart, ungrateful and unlucky and untrue; and no one saw me coming, and no one saw me go, only the blackbirds and you." It's haunting and beautiful. "When All You Got Is Hammer" is another stunning track that churns to a midtempo beat and the lyric unsettling tale of a soldier returning home with psychological trauma. "Jubilee" is a soft ballad where Gretchen's vocals ache to piano, "So I sing hold holy from the prison where I lie, my arms reaching up to touch the sky; I sing holy holy, hallelujah I am free." While the heavy emotions might have been better highlighted by a few upbeat songs, this is music that comes from the trials of life and resonates to the soul. Enjoy!


Listen
Listen
Price: $11.88
48 used & new from $5.66

5.0 out of 5 stars Into the Wild Side, March 8, 2015
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This review is from: Listen (Audio CD)
David Guetta's great dance CD "Listen" pops and sparkles crisply. "Lovers on the Sun" pumps furiously with a bass line that could have been in a theme for a surfer movie and Sam Martin's vocals riding atop the mix, "Let's light it up until our hearts catch fire; and show the world a burning light that never shined so bright; We'll find a way to keep the cold night from breaking in over the walls into the wild side." "Lift Me Up" is another addictive track with Vinz & Ladysmith Black Mambazo hitting the vocals, "We are meant to be here for one another; Don't forget you're my sister, you're my brother." Sia applies her distinctive vocals on "Bang My Head" over the techno beat of the track, "When you think of giving up, don't." "Yesterday" is another personal favorite with Bebe Rexha's lead vocals shining, "White lies left me stone blind, but this time I see right through it." While the set stays on its party beat high & might be better served by a little more variety, it's got strong tracks that rivet your attention. Enjoy!


Obadiah
Obadiah
Price: $10.99
34 used & new from $4.39

5.0 out of 5 stars A Garden of All Things Unspoken, March 7, 2015
This review is from: Obadiah (Audio CD)
"Done" from Frazey Ford's sophomore CD "Indian Ocean" is currently #1 in my personal top ten. So knocked out by that set, I absolutely wanted to hear what she did on her first CD "Obadiah." "Bird of Paradise" pumps to an addictive beat with Frazey's pronunciation as unique as her music, "In a San Diego alley, I saw you smile; I was scared of the hunger till I realized it was mine." "Blue Streak Mama" is another great track with the title repeated to a simple but incredibly effective musical arrangement as Frazey croons, "There I go now, I've been thinking about you, baby." "Gospel Song" sets a blue mood with Frazey's vocals anguished to a lovely slow melody, "Well my mother was a garden of all things unspoken; and my father came around me like a broken little soldier; and my sister, she is wonderin' what the hell is all around us, but there's beauty over us." Frazey knocks Bob Dylan's "One More Cup of Coffee" out of the park, adopting the song so completely that it fits seamlessly into this set. "Obadiah" is a great CD. What I most like about Ford's music is that it seems so effortless and personal, like we've been invited into a musical conversation with a good friend. Enjoy!


Wake
Wake
Price: $9.99
28 used & new from $7.82

4.0 out of 5 stars Sonic Emeralds, March 7, 2015
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This review is from: Wake (Audio CD)
Nora Jane Struthers & the Party Line's "Wake" is a strong CD. The opening track, "The Same Road," may be the strongest song on the set with a rocking beat and Sally's no-frills vocals passionately embracing the lyric, "You feel as sure as the sun on your skin, this is the same road you've always been travelin'." "Lovin' You" sounds like an American country midtempo rocker with a pumping beat and Nora's voice diving through the arrangement like an explorer in love, "If I was a crocus, lovin' you would be the spring; If I was an eagle, lovin' you would be my wings." "Let Go" is another delightful gem that catches my ear with its driving beat that explodes on the chorus, "Despite my disposition, I've made my decision; I'm learning to let go." Other tracks like "I Ain't Holdin' Back," "The Other Side" & the lovely "The South" are all sonic emeralds. "Wake" is a strong set that keeps hugging my changer. Enjoy!


Big Sky
Big Sky
Price: $14.99
3 used & new from $14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars In the Universe, March 7, 2015
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This review is from: Big Sky (Audio CD)
I wasn't sure what to expect from The Syn when I ordered this CD. Sales blurb labeled it as "progressive," which it isn't. But it is melodic pop with upbeat positive lyrics that entertain. Steve Nardelli has lead vocals with his songwriting partner Francis Dunnery on backing vocals. "Universal Witness" is a sweet pop track with tight harmonies, "Step into the light; Step out of the pale; If you are not afraid to lose, you will never fail." "Milo" is another special track with a flute-sounding instrument that may be from what Nardelli calls the "Nardellitron," "You're one and the same in the universe." "The Reason" (not Celine Dion doing Carole King) is a lovely track with a pessimistic world view juxtaposed to the upbeat chorus, "Love is the reason we survive; Love is the reason we're alive." "Big Sky" is a satisfying if somewhat less than stunning set worth discovering. Enjoy!


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