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Underrated Overrated

November 13, 2011|Chris Barton

UNDERRATED

The War on Drugs: Like a strangely addictive mix between the vocal stylings of the Traveling Wilburys (Dylan and Tom Petty in particular) and the spaced-out atmospherics of the U.K.'s Spiritualized, this Philadelphia group sounds so much better than its political catchphrase name. Released this summer, the group's brilliant sophomore album, "Slave Ambient," pulls off the curious magic trick of sounding instantly familiar yet utterly new.

'Buck': A winner at this year's Sundance Film Festival, this moving documentary about Montana-raised trainer Dan "Buck" Brannaman won't just change the way you look at horses, it'll probably alter the way you view people as well. Brannaman is a soft-spoken advocate of "natural horsemanship" in clinics and consultant on movies such as "The Horse Whisperer." His warm, compassionate approach is a study in tapping the best in human nature as well.

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OVERRATED

Christmas albums: A separate item could be written on the fact that holiday jingles are in the air as soon as the Halloween candy is sorted, but how many modern Christmas songs truly offer much beyond commercial, candy cane treacle? Bowie and Bing on "White Christmas"? A few moments from the "A Very Special Christmas" sets from the '90s? Frankly, after jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi's "A Charlie Brown Christmas," you hardly need anything else.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, November 16, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 2 inches; 84 words Type of Material: Correction
Overrated/Underrated: An item in the Overrated/Underrated column in the Nov. 13 Calendar section about Christmas albums referred to a Bing Crosby duet with David Bowie on the song "White Christmas." The two did not team up on that song. They combined to sing "The Little Drummer Boy" arranged with "Peace on Earth." Also, the item suggested that the compilation series "A Very Special Christmas" began in the 1990s. The series' first volume was issued in 1987, with six subsequent collections periodically released through 2009.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday, November 20, 2011 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part D Page 2 Calendar Desk 2 inches; 74 words Type of Material: Correction
Overrated/Underrated: An item in the Nov. 13 Overrated/Underrated column about Christmas albums mistakenly referenced a Bing Crosby duet with David Bowie on the song "White Christmas." The singers combined to sing "The Little Drummer Boy" arranged with "Peace on Earth." Also, the "A Very Special Christmas" compilation series referenced as being released in the 1990s began with the first volume in 1987, and the series continued over six subsequent collections periodically released through 2009.

'Up All Night': Eventually, the law of averages has to kick in and Will Arnett will find a show that displays his talents as well as "Arrested Development" did. Maybe it's the curse of that show's high comic standard, but Arnett's twisted mania feels underused here as a stay-at-home dad, and Maya Rudolph doesn't fare any better with broad jokes about being an Oprah-esque celebrity. Sadly, this show is like watching a bunch of sports cars stuck in first gear.

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Chris Barton

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