It’s Jon Brion’s Birthday So Let’s All Have a Cry

If this sounds incoherent, it’s only because I am listening to the Magnolia soundtrack and am growing too emotional to type. Sorry. But that only makes sense, considering today is the 49th birthday of cinematically minded musical genius Jon Brion. Although perhaps best known for his work in the PT Anderson-Fiona Apple-Aimee Mann world of collaboration, the whimsically dramatic singer/songwriter/composer/record producer has scored dozens of films—ranging from Adam McKay’s Step Brothers to his absolutely perfect work on Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind—while producing for everyone from Kanye West to Rufus Wainwright.

Although his projects may vary in medium and style, there’s a very specific sensation that wanders through all of his work—like gentle fingers plucking away at your heart strings, unhinging tearducts, and allowing you to journey even farther into the work it’s a part of. He isn’t melodramatic or devious with senitment, but provides an atmospheric, emotional through-line to guide you amidst the tangled worlds that his work speaks to. But however you see it, here’s a tasting of some favorites from his wonderful body of music.

Magnolia, “Stanley/Frank/Linda’s Breakdown” 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, “Phone Call”

Punch-Drunk Love, “Punch-Drunk Melody”

Hard Eight, “Sydney Doesn’t Speak”

I ♥ Huckabees, “Monday”

Magnolia, “Showtime”

Step Brothers, “Back and Forth”

Fionna Apple, “Fast as You Can”

Rufus Wainwright, “Damned Ladies”

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Full OST

The Jon Brion Show – Feat. Elliott Smith / Brad Mehldau

Magnolia, “I’ve Got a Surprise For You Today”

Lonely Librarian Helena Bonham Carter Lip Syncs Rufus in ‘Out of the Game’ Video

Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright’s seventh studio album, Out of the Game, is due in stores later this month. A collaboration with everyone’s favorite record-producing Ronson (that’s Mark, obviously), the record is a collection of groovy tracks inspired by ’70s glam-rock greats like David Bowie, Elton John, and Queen. Wainwright has released the video for the title track today, which features the usually glamorous Helena Bonham Carter in a fairly dour role.

Bonham Carter plays a bespectacled librarian (not particularly of the sexy variety) who seems fairly exhausted with her work and interactions with her patrons (all played by Wainwright, doubling as his own trip of back-up singers). It might be the best celebrity lip-syncing video since Elton John’s "I Want Love"! (It certainly was time for a new addition to the genre.)

Check out the video below:

Sean Lennon & Rufus Wainwright Play ‘Material Girl’ for Occupy Wall Street

Sean Lennon and Rufus Wainwright stopped by Zuccotti Park over the weekend to add their names to the growing list of artists who’ve performed for the protesters. They gave an acoustic performance of Madonna’s “Material Girl,” which, if you think about it, is a pretty apt tune for the movement (if drenched in irony). How did their makeshift concert rank against previous Zuccotti performances from Tom Morello and Jeff Mangum? Take a look for yourself.

Despite holding the lyrics in his hand, Rufus Wainwright still doesn’t appear to know the words. The crowd, urged to join in, has trouble as well, so it all sounds like a group of friends enthusiastically mumbling along with a song on the car radio. Still, you have to give them points for trying. Unlike Radiohead, at least they showed up.

Via Pop Dust

Liza Brings Out the Random & Wonderful at Rose Bar

The last time I was at Rose Bar, I explained to my friends Nick and Garrett, it was for an installment of Nur Khan’s Rose Bar Sessions—for Rufus Wainwright— and I ended up passing out early. Okay, so the correct way to say it would be that I blacked out early, waking up on the bathroom floor—my bathroom floor, thank goodness. The same thing happened the time before, when I’d stopped in for a “relaxing” post-work cocktail. Rose Bar is like that: one minute you’re discussing the merits of black coffee with Penn Badgley, the next your walking around in circles in the night air. It’s as if the place is filled with fun house mirrors that distort reality and fool you into thinking you’re extremely elegant as you slide down a slippery, wine-drenched slope. Maybe it’s because you feel like you’re part of the ambiance, and under the Keith Haring art, the elegance is vodka-proof. A fortress of refinement. Last night, we were in the front bar, curled over a candle-lit table debating the enduring mysticism of the place as Tony Danza strolled by with Alan Cumming. Maybe spotting Tony Micelli wasn’t out of the ordinary, considering we’d just enjoyed a show put on by Liza Minnelli herself, kicking off the fall season of Monday Rose Bar Sessions.

Minnelli performed several selections from her new album, Confessions, but of the six songs she performed, the highlight had to be “He’s a Tramp.” After escaping from yesterday’s rain storm, the first thing we felt comforted by was the fire place, the second hearing Liza perform in her jazzy, joking way. It just worked: a random dude stabbing keys on a big, beautiful piano, Liza tossing back her head to lyrics like “what a dog,” while Alan Cumming, Nur Khan, Mary Louise Parker, Tony Danza, and Sandra Bernhard sat together. A guest next to me whispered to her friend, “It’s okay if you have to cry.”


That’s Rose Bar, or perhaps that’s Nur Khan, who is the fun house, creating mad-cap, jazzy evenings by curating the right people, the right performers, the right ambiance. While he’s been fleshing out Don Hill’s with acts like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and Courteny Love, Minnelli’s performance might just have set a new tone for Rose Bar’s concert series, moving away from showcase-rockers like Slash and Dave Navarro to achieve an almost tongue-in-cheek, refined vibe at the Gramercy Park Hotel’s hotspot. That’s New York, isn’t it?


(Photo: Seth Browarnik/

Beyond ‘The Wall’: 6 Other Albums That Are Worthless Unless Complete

Yesterday heralded a landmark development where rock band Pink Floyd won an estimated settlement of $90,000 against EMI, who had been selling tracks off the band’s concept albums individually on digital retailers like iTunes. The band basically argued that albums like The Wall are meant to be experienced as entire entities, not piecemeal. And their victory begs the question: What other celebrated bits of rock and pop should be sold as entire extravaganzas? To keep this manageable, let’s look at it through the same rose-colored filter through which everyone’s waxing nostalgic about the ’90s. Mind you, these are in no way the best records of their time–although such an assessment wouldn’t be untrue in any of these cases, either.

Liz Phair, Exile In Guyville. Few records have ever cohered as well as Guyville. It pulls off the achievement of being thematically and sonically consistent — without verging on redundancy.

Aimee Mann, Magnolia soundtrack. Although the Tom Cruise-starring film is epic in length, the soundtrack is a showcase of Mann’s finest moments. More than that, the soundtrack manages to re-create the film without putting you through the punishing ordeal of having to sit through all three hours of it time and time again.

Garbage, Version 2.0. Essentially Shirley Manson’s gift to the world, Version 2.0 did what no other album by the band could: It straddled a line between pop and rock that put both audiences ill-at-ease. And it did that without any filler.

Björk, Homogenic. To this day, this record remains the warbler’s most eclectic, buoyant offering. And released during an age of MTV when the network still encouraged forward-thinking media.

Radiohead, OK Computer. The case could probably be made for In Rainbows or Kid A similarly — or any of the band’s other records — but the versatility of Computer is better experienced as a whole, not simply track-by-track.

Spice Girls, Spice World. No, wait! Come back. Though neither lofty in concept or execution, this worked as an unofficial soundtrack to the band’s $29 million-grossing film of the same name. But mostly, the album, in its less-than-40-minute entirety hearkens back to a golden age of pre-Ke$ha pop. It’s one of the most airtight summaries of what the genre was before the age of Twitter and Facebook.

U2, Courtney Love, and Scarlett Johansson to Play Gavin Friday’s Birthday

Sure, in ways, it’s an unlikely if disparate meshing of talent. But this concert, the latest in a series of events produced to fight the spread in AIDS in Africa as a part of (RED)NIGHTS, finds an anchor in celebrated singer-composer-painter Gavin Friday, a childhood friend of Bono. His band is among those performing. Other performers besides Johansson and Love include Antony Hegarty, Rufus Wainwright, Martha Wainwright (last seen celebrating Édith Piaf), Andrea Corr (yes, of those Corrs), Laurie Anderson, and perennial post-punk princess Lydia Lunch.

This event is also Bono’s way of saying, “Happy Birthday!” to Friday, who turns 50 this year. Friday’s last birthday present to the U2 frontman included “a crucifix, three nails and a hammer and…a letter saying ‘DIY.'” It turns out that even humanitarians can admire gallows humor.

Friday says of this eclectic cast of performers, “I have bumped into most of them over the years.… All of them in their own unique way are touched by greatness.” Of the show, he explains, “The show is tight but in a free-form way. Rehearsals will start to reveal the nature of the beast.” The revelry is produced and will be curated by none other than Hall Willner. It takes place at Carnegie Hall this Sunday and tickets can be procured here.

Rufus Wainwright’s Favorite New York Spots: Café des Artistes, Omen, Gascogne

Rufus Wainwright’s debaucherous days are behind him. The Canadian crooner has strayed from rampant ways, and has more recently swapped the night life for the restaurant one. “I go to a lot of restaurants. I’m a big fan of this place that a lot of people go to called Omen. It’s on Thompson Street in SoHo and has been around for years. I always see Patti Smith there, which is great. She’s perfect for a Japanese restaurant. It’s a perfect frame for her. And I also love Gascogne, which is on Eighth Avenue. It’s a French place in the gay district. I also love Café des Artistes, which is uptown and a very old school place. Very expensive, but very good. You’re mostly paying for the lighting, but believe me, it’s perfect.”

Rufus and Martha Wainwright Celebrate Christmas with Mom

Last night, Canada’s First Family of music and some of their friends brought their folksy brand of Christmas merriment to Carnegie Hall, and while we didn’t catch the show, someone who saw it called it “AMAZING. Hilarious and brilliant.” The family in question is none other than dandy troubadour Rufus Wainwright, his sister Martha, their mother Kate McGarrigle, and her sister Anna. This was the third edition of The McGarrigle Christmas Hour, an off-the-cuff evening of festive sing-alongs, with guests that included Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Jimmy Fallon, and Emmylou Harris. The show also acted as a fundraiser for The Kate McGarrigle Fund, a Montreal-based cancer research foundation. The first fifty donors are at the Knitting Factory today, where the gang reconvened to tape the concert for an upcoming DVD called A Not So Silent Night. I had a chance to speak to Rufus first, then to Martha, about playing music with mom, what Christmas was like growing up, and just where the hell Jimmy Fallon fits into all of this.


This is the third time you guys have done the Christmas show at Carnegie Hall. What’s it like playing there? Well there’s a hilarious story. When we were looking for a venue for the Christmas show, we’d done it at Carnegie Hall before, and we thought maybe we could do it at a church or St. John the Divine, or Town Hall, and we kind of looked into the different spots. And finally my manager said, “It’s looking like Carnegie hall makes the most sense on many levels.” And then my mother turned to him and said, “Carnegie Hall again?” So yeah, we do it there.

What’s Jimmy Fallon’s role going to be? Because that strikes me as being a little bit odd. Well, he’s very good friends with my sister Martha. If you were to look at it as A Christmas Carol, I guess Lou Reed would be Scrooge, and I guess Jimmy would be the ghost of Christmas past, or something when everything was rosy and wonderful and there was no financial crisis. Well, actually no. Things are looking up now with Obama. He’s the glowing, elfin, happy spirit.

Does he sing? Oh yeah, he sings. He’ll sing, and scream and laugh.

Is there a variety aspect to the show? It’s very variety-esque. Mainly because my mother hates to rehearse. So we make up for lack of study with some good old fashion shenanigans. It doesn’t mean that it’s bad or anything, but it means that it’s very unpredictable. Which I think is great with Christmas music because it’s so well-known and so ingrained.

Are there any new songs from you? I’m premiering a new song that’s called, “Christmas Is for Kids” that I wrote about my jealousy of my sister Martha at the holidays.

Why were you jealous? Because she gets more gifts. They always tell me, “It’s easier to buy for girls.” But we all know that’s bullshit.

Is this essentially the equivalent of your childhood before a large audience? Well, growing up I was definitely prodded to perform by my grandmother and my mother. I wasn’t allowed to watch television, and I wasn’t allowed to eat cereal. We grew up in a very wholesome Canadian family, so singing and playing instruments was mandatory. And it was hellish at times, but it obviously paid off.

What’s the biggest difference when you played with your family when you were 13 and doing it now? It hasn’t changed at all. It’s still a total, whatever, reversion and inversion of my adult front.

Does it make you feel like a kid again? Yeah and no. My mother makes no qualms about taking advantage of her psychological power over us. And that’s the way it should be.



I asked your brother what’s changed since you guys were touring as children with your mom and your aunt. The first thing that pops into my mind is the amount of stress that you take on as an adult. But in a good way. I think as kids, it was really fun, and we were really guided through our musical experience by our parents. And then with this show, I think that Rufus and I feel a responsibility to help Kate and Anna with the stresses and a lot of the organizing that comes in. It’s really like working with your family in a very even playing field, and a neat thing.

Does your mom play the role of matriarch, or are you all equals? I think that we’re equal in terms of certain amount of responsibility and what we want to sort of get out of this show. This show is really to raise money for the Cancer Society in Montreal, and it’s also for us to be able to play together. I think that oftentimes Christmas shows can be sort of seeped in over-sentimentality, and they’re not always that great. You know, Kate and Anna and Rufus and hopefully myself, bring kind of a seriousness to it.

And then the seriousness is broken up when Jimmy Fallon comes on stage, right? Exactly.

And how did you get Lou Reed to join you on something like this? We had Lou and Lori last time, two years ago, and I think that it was nice for them to be asked together. It’s not like, “We want Lou Reed.” It’s like we want Lou and Lori, and now they’re married, they’re a famous New York City couple and fans of Kate and Anna. They’ve known them for years, so it seemed like a no-brainer.

What were your Christmases like growing up? They were pretty fucking idyllic. Kate and Anna were brought up in Saint-Sauveur, Quebec, so there’s still this little plot of one acre land. We have this old house, and four cabins, and it looks like that’s where Santa Claus could live. And, you know, it was a place that their father built, and where they grew up, and it’s still really old school.

I know that area of Quebec. It’s beautiful when it’s covered in snow. It’s ridiculous, it’s like a total postcard situation. And the house is really beautiful, with the old furniture in it and the old piano. And Kate and now myself, more and more as I get older, we do a massive amount of cooking and make everything from scratch. The whole nine yards. A lot of cross-country skiing.

You said massive amounts of cooking. It sounded like for a second you were going to say cocaine. That happens too sometimes. That was back in the day. Rufus and I have probably matured by now.

Yeah, it sounds like it. Where are you going to spend the actual Christmas Eve and Christmas Day? In bed. Definitely in bed.

Links: Lohan + Penn, Victoria Beckham Sells Out, Cruise in Canada

● That reported snuggle-session between Lindsay Lohan and Sean Penn may have been work related. Penn and Lohan were spotted at the Beatrice Inn and were reportedly talking about doing a film together. [NYP] ● Believe it or not, Victoria Beckahm’s dresses have almost sold out at Selfridge’s in London and completely sold out in their Manchester store. All items were scooped up at private events attended by Mrs. Beckham [Grazia] ● Tom Cruise has been hitting up Toronto to promote his new film Valkyrie. After one interview, Cruise lost his Blackberry with all his numbers of precious studio heads and ex-wives. The crackberry has yet to be found. [Page Six]

● Here’s a very specific collaboration no one saw coming: APC will work with Nike to create a capsule tennis show collection. [British Vogue] ● Designers Yigal Azrouël and Lars Nilsson will mentor students at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Azrouël and Nilsson will fly in to meet with students, who will then will travel to see the designers’ studios. Those students are certainly getting what they paid for. [WWD] ● Rufus Wainwright brought the holiday spirit to the Martha Stewart show — his whole family rocked Christmas sweaters and song a cappella for Stewart. [Jezebel]