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Carrie Brownstein (#110 of 4)

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap Season 9, Episode 1, “Foisted!”

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Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: Season 9, Episode 1, “Foisted!”

John P. Johnson/HBO

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: Season 9, Episode 1, “Foisted!”

In the uncharacteristically elaborate opening of “Foisted!,” the first new episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm in six years, the camera flies over an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles, past manicured, ritzy properties, before swooping into Larry David’s (Larry David) home through an open window. Even if this is a series largely concerned with the lives of a city’s golf-playing, fundraiser-attending upper crust, this aesthetic flourish feels out of place. After all, throughout the show’s first eight seasons, more understated camera work, sometimes shaky handhelds, guided us through gilded milieus. But a polished aerial zoom? To use Curb parlance, what a shanda!

Portlandia: The Brunch Special

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<em>Portlandia: The Brunch Special</em>
<em>Portlandia: The Brunch Special</em>

“What I’d like to show you now is a full meal,” Kyle MacLachlan (as himself) intones in his ironic introduction to Portlandia’s hour-long Brunch Special. The speech is one of the high points of this extended version of the season-two finale, sending up filmmakers who extol their own self-indulgent creative choices in the name of what’s sometimes euphemistically referred to as a “director’s cut.” Unfortunately, the rest of the episode is largely marred by the same dissipation that’s being parodied, resulting in an overlong rerun of Brunch Village with enough filler to stuff a dozen marionberry pancakes.

Indie 500: Beach House, There Will Be Blood, Rock Band

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Indie 500: Beach House, There Will Be Blood, Rock Band
Indie 500: Beach House, There Will Be Blood, Rock Band

Beach House are a band with a problem. Their self-titled debut seemed fully formed: nine songs virtually indistinguishable on first listen, relying on a command of minimal instrumentation and slow tempos. Further listens revealed that the songs were actually structurally and melodically quite different, but it’s drug music: hazy, narcotic stuff, gaining its initial impact from uniform atmosphere first and difference later. Where to go next but repetition?

Devotion (technically coming out next week, but surely blowing up a million BitTorrent feeds near you) blows past the sophomore slump in record time. It’s a more expansive album in every way: rhythmically, instrumentally, better mastered (no hiss anymore), you name it—and the really amazing thing is that they manage to keep upping the ante for most of the record rather than blowing their bag of tricks in the first five minutes. Of course, it helps when you’re starting from nothing, and opening “Wedding Bell” is just about poised there: the first sound is literally sandpaper shuffling. But the shuffle is the key—in the band’s micro-sealed dynamics, adding a little swagger is crucial. This is one of those follow-ups that retroactively points out the flaws of what seemed fully-formed at the time (cf. Talking Heads’ More Songs About Buildings And Food—or, on less rarefied ground, You Could Have It So Much Better vs. Franz Ferdinand).