You can read the previous editions of Criminally Underrated here and here.
Music: Ed Sheeran
You may have actually heard of Ed Sheeran at this point. His song The A-Team is getting a bit of radio play recently, and his number one album from the UK is finally getting released in the states on June 12th. I started doing research on him when I saw that he was opening for Snow Patrol during their tour this spring. I thought we may be going to that show, so I downloaded a few songs from him. I was blown away. He's like a wonderful combination of Brett Dennen, Jason Mraz and Damien Rice with hints of David Gray. Essentially right up my alley in every way possible. If you can listen to his some of his songs and not find yourself humming the tunes throughout the rest of the day, you're a better person than me.
Movie: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
I just want to first point out that I love me some RDJ. I've always loved just about everything he's been in. Erin and I had a conversation after seeing The Avengers about how ridiculously rare it is for someone to ruin their career and then bounce back with an even better career. People often point to the first Iron Man movie as Robert Downey Jr's redemption after squandering his career through drug and alcohol use, but that wasn't his first step back. His first step was Kiss Kiss Bang Bang which lead to A Scanner Darkly and Zodiac and eventually Iron Man. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang was his announcement that he was back and better than ever. It is total Noir in the vein of John Huston and Hitchcock. It has some of the sharpest and snappiest dialogue of any film I've ever seen. The interplay between RDJ and Val Kilmer is fantastic. The story is great and totally meta with RDJ serving as the narrator that actually points out how unreliable he is. Just know that Shane Black was picked to write and direct the third Iron Man movie because of what he and RDJ did in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Rent it tonight.
As far as I'm concerned Bill Hicks is one of the top five funniest comedians of all time. So why have you never heard of him? Well he died of cancer 28 years ago for one. He also got banned from NBC because a joke about a classmate he had in a wheelchair. Apparently NBC had rules that comedians couldn't tell handicapped jokes, so he was banned from David Letterman. Obviously humor can be very subjective, so he may not be up your alley. But if you like Dennis Leary's stand-up, you'll love Bill Hicks. Mostly because Leary stole whole chunks of Hicks' routine. He was angry and controversial and forced you to think about things that make you uncomfortable. And he was damn funny.
Music: Andrew Bird
When I saw the bands that were scheduled to perform at Outside Lands this year, I was for the most part apathetic. Dispatch getting back together was a big deal, and I like The Walkmen and Fun right now. The one name that really excited me was Andrew Bird. His influences run the gamut. From classical to folk to rock and roll, he is all over the place, but it doesn't feel schizophrenic when you listen to his music. Somehow all of these influences find a harmony in his hands. What would you expect from a guy who can just as naturally play a guitar as a violin. He'd probably be worth the price of admission if I was the type to go to a three day music festival again.
Music: Josh Ritter
Josh Ritter doesn't write songs. He writes epic poems set to music. When one of his songs starts, you know you're starting a journey. He's one of the few songwriters whose music has character development and a beginning, middle and end. I feel like he could take any moment in history and turn it into a compelling and interesting piece of music. There is something so American about his songs and what he writes about whether it be Southern Pacific railroads or discovering new worlds. The only difference between Bob Dylan and Josh Ritter is that Ritter's voice isn't grating. Lyrically he is right on par with the greatest songwriters ever. If you like well-written songs that tell a story, make your heart ache and stir your soul, give Josh Ritter a try.
Oh and as a reminder, have you entered my contest yet? Seriously what is the damn hold-up? Go now. Enter. It's free swag.