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Tipping Point: Our picks and pans ('Don't Know Tough,' 'The Bubble,' 'Electric Truth')

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BOOK TIP

Don't Know Tough

Eli Cranor

There has always been something enchanting about the idea of musical power trios — from Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience to Rush and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. They suggest a sort of "gaze upon us and behold our majesty," above-and-beyond talent consortium pulling off artistic feats that could not be done otherwise. I was reminded of this when I read "Don't Know Tough," a superb and moving novel set in small-town Arkansas where the entire solar system of the community revolves around its high school football team. At the heart of a very complex and compelling story is the dynamic between the head coach and the star player, whose backgrounds are at once eerily similar and also very different. Oh — and where does the "power trio" metaphor come in? Well, it's as though young Southern Noir kingpins Ace Atkins and S.A. Cosby decided they needed a third badass to complete a supergroup of Deep South crime fiction beyond measure. And if they're smart, they'll choose Cranor.

— Rick Koster

MOVIE TIP

The Bubble

There’s a great comedy to be made about quarantining during the pandemic. This isn’t it. The setup for the story is: The cast and crew of a cheesy sci-fi movie series create their own bubble so they can film a new sequel. The jokes and situations in “The Bubble” aren’t terribly fresh or surprising, which is disappointing considering that “Bubble” is directed and co-written (with Pam Brady) by Judd Apatow. There is some bright light to be had, courtesy of the always funny Leslie Mann, playing one of the actresses (whose ex, portrayed by David Duchovny, is on the project, too), and from Harry Trevaldwyn as the cheery health officer on set.

— Kristina Dorsey

CD TIP

Electric Truth

Andy Timmons

Texas guitarist Timmons, celestially gifted, summons his first CD of new material in six years. In the "Guitar Head" community, he's regarded as slightly less famous than (but equal to) Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Mike Stern, Joe Satriani, Mike Keneally, Steve Lukather ... and you get the idea. Timmons is a fountain of vision and melody whose innate "I'm a fan" sense of joy and devotion to music and craft has earned gigs with such varied artists as Olivia Newton-John, Danger Danger, Simon Phillips and Kip Winger. His solo work is consistently amazing and reflects his wide love of genres. In that sense, "Electric Truth" happily springs from Memphis soul to power rock to elegaic balladry and more. At the heart of the CD is Timmons' never-dry fountain of gorgeous melody and song structure — and he's comfortable enough to utilize — or not — his maestro chops in service to the song. The whole album is terrific, and "Apocryphal," "When Words Fail," "Grace" and "One Last Time" are songs that reach up and ride the sky.

— Rick Koster

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