Well, this is good. I just found these guys thanks to a youtuber I subscribed to because they like The Maine. I love when life happens that way! This is, I don't even know what to call it, just solid rock and roll. Music to drink to. So happy Friday, and rock on!
They even have a gorgeous rock ballad.
This song is from their new album coming out in November, so I'm pretty pumped for that!
Rock and roll can still save your soul. I should get that tattooed someday. Actually, I should just put it on a t-shirt. That would be a lot less prickly.
So back in the day when "mainstream rock" meant Journey, not Nickelback, I wasn't really an "alternative" kind of gal. I liked my top 40, dammit. I liked Madonna and Michael Jackson. Everything was just fine, because it was the 80s.
Then, in the latter half of the decade, my impressionable pre-teen self heard R.E.M. for the first time. This was the same time I owned stuff by Debbie Gibson and Tiffany. And maybe it sounds dramatic, but I was forever changed. Not just my taste in music but me, who I was as a human. Oh I still listened to pop music for several years after, but suddenly the world felt bigger and I felt more... whole? Mature? It was exciting.
At this time MTV was not only still relevant, but aired what was probably one of the most important music shows ever, 120 Minutes. This was a two-hour block of alternative videos that aired every Sunday night. I found so many bands through that show, some I still listen to. The Smithereens were another favorite. And The Connells. Oh jangly guitar rock, how I miss you. R.E.M.'s early albums, from the amazing Chronic Town/Murmur era and really up through Monster, were extremely influential on my music taste. I still listen to their more jangly, grungy, melodic garage rock type stuff like "Don't Go Back to Rockville." But then they moved away from that sound and into more... how do I say it... VH-1-y territory, and I lost interest. But the damage - the wonderful, wonderful damage - was done. And my Debbie Gibson tapes were traded in for something awesome. Cause that's what we did back then, we traded in tapes for other tapes. Primitive!
My love for alt-rock waned a bit in the 90s when I got REALLY REALLY into country. I kinda missed a lot of the grunge era, and I never got super into those bands. I did eventually get back into alt-rock, alongside Alan Jackson and Brooks and Dunn. The bands that really pulled me in were Weezer, Green Day, Letters to Cleo, and Tiny Music- era STP. In 2001, when I dropped country for awhile post-9/11 for sanity purposes, I immersed myself in the alt-rock of the day, like Jimmy Eat World, White Stripes, Motion City Soundtrack, and MCR, the Killers, Paramore, etc. later on. This was pretty much my musical identity for a while, but then when I got back into country in the mid-2000s I kind of lost the thread.
This brings me to a point I want to make. You could say, maybe I "outgrew" that kind of music. Maybe that comes with getting into your 30s. Or maybe the country artists I got into were just killing it and I wanted to focus on that. Who knows? I can say, having gotten pretty hard back into some alt-rock this past year, I definitely haven't outgrown it just because I'm no longer in my teens or 20s. And that's the thing. Some music you will outgrow. Tiffany, for instance. Even Madonna, while I love her 80s material, I haven't listened to it in a long time. But that's pop. Rock, I think, is different.
When you grow up with rock music, it's part of your soul. You don't "outgrow" it. Maybe some bands here and there, maybe certain styles,* but this notion that modern rock is just for people under 25 is ridiculous. I'm from the MTV generation, I'm not gonna suddenly start listening to... polka or something just cause I'm over 30! I still want to keep up with new music, because I like some of it.
I've said this before, but I think the reason people are staying "younger" longer these days is because of rock music. Seriously, if you grow up a rock fan, how can you ever get old? You've got timeless cool built in. It's not like back in our grandparents' day. So yeah, that's my big science-y theory. Rock music keeps you young. Not kale or any of that shit. So eat a cheeseburger, and don't stop listening to rock and roll. #protip #lifehack
*I'm using the terms "rock" and "alt-rock" as a REALLY HUGE umbrella, encompassing indie, pop-rock, pop-punk, garage rock, emo, whatever. I don't even know all the genres. Too complicated. Also, what exactly is "emo?" Well I don't know either, but here's my take on it.
Not emo - MCR. Seriously, they're a rock and fucking roll band.
Good emo - Brand New
Decent emo - Dashboard Confessional
Whiny poser emo - Simple Plan
Bad stereotypical emo - Hawthorne Heights (ya know, the "cut my wrists and black my eyes" guys? *shudder*)
Anyway, it's not a genre I'm really into, but there's some crossover with pop-punk and other stuff I might mention. So yeah, I'm just calling it all "rock," even if a lot of it is a far cry from the classic rock of my previous post.
Speaking of MCR, while they are not reuniting *sniff*, there is this Black Parade tribute album coming out and... uggggh. Okay, there's one track I'm really excited about. My new-favorite-band Creeper is covering "How I Disappear," which I absolutely love, and wow are they perfect for covering MCR. I saw one person compare them to MCR and another to The Killers and yeah, that's pretty much right. They're like a cross between MCR and The Killers and also just themselves obviously, cause that would be boring to just rehash other bands.
But anyway, back to rehashing other bands. This "tribute" album, other than Creeper, features some utterly awful bands, some I haven't heard of, and some of these samey-sounding pop-punk bands. Look. First of all, MCR is NOT a pop punk band. I don't want to hear their songs done in that style. Second, I like some pop-punk. I like Green Day, Blink has some decent stuff, for the newer bands All Time Low is pretty good. But we don't need 50 of these bands that all sound the same! Seriously, I have no idea how fans even tell them apart. I guess I'm glad some kids are listening to this stuff rather than top 40, at least it's music with real instruments and songs actually written by the band. (So, music.) But I can only deal with it in small doses.
You know, pop punk is kind of the hair metal of the 2000s/2010s. Like, it's not terrible music, it is organic and made by actual musicians, but it's still kind of scoffed at. Maybe cause there's a sameyness, maybe cause it seems cheesy, maybe just cause it's "genre" stuff. Now I was never into hair metal, but I can see the appeal of a Bon Jovi or yes, even a Poison. But if you have those guys, do you really need, like, a Winger and a Skid Row too? Idk, I guess if you like the genre, less is not more. It's kind of like how some people look down on horror movies or any genre stuff, really. But it's a funny comparison to me. Green Day would be Bon Jovi, like the big guys that brought the music to the masses, Blink would be Poison, their goofy little brothers, and honestly now I just wanna hear Green Day cover "Wanted Dead or Alive" and Blink do "Nothing But a Good Time," and I've become distracted from my point.
Oh yeah, just like what you like. Don't let me tell you it's all the same. I've probably watched 147 80s slasher movies, what do I know? I can tell you I'd legit rather hear hair metal covers of MCR songs than pop punk ones though.
Okay, time to end this. So yeah, keep seeking out new music, no matter where you are in life. If you like a new band and you're in your 30s and all the other fans are 18, well maybe that just means you're cool. Nothing is "for" specific people, music is for everyone. If something speaks to you, there's a reason for that. (Unless you're a casual listener, and what speaks to you is whatever they play on the radio. *sigh*) So 2016 will forever be the year I got obsessed with Creeper and The Maine, and back into alt rock. I'm glad to be back. And this is only the beginning.
Before I delve into part 3 of music stuff, it's throwback time. Actually this fits right in with my other posts, because it's stuff I'm listening to right now. It's old, but it's new!
You know when they play a snippet of an old, half-remembered song on a great show, and you spend the next couple days down the rabbit hole of related music? If so, congrats, you're a music dork and probably never listen to Luke Bryan! You go, you. Such was the case when I heard the awesome classic rock tune "Raise a Little Hell" by Trooper on Stranger Things. This show is the gift that keeps on giving.
While I had heard the song before, I had no idea who performed it. Trooper, it turns out, is a Canadian band, which I guess means I have to update my Canadian bands list. While listening to more of their songs, another Canadian classic rock band came up. I had never heard of these guys or any of their music, but holy rock and roll spaceships, are they awesome! (Seriously, is there anything more wonderfully 70s than rock and roll spaceships?)
This is just everything that's good and pure and wonderful about music. It's funny, I was talking about how lacking modern production can be in my last post, and every time I listen to classic rock it strikes me how good the production is. They had that shit nailed down in the 70s, folks. But of course if it ain't broke, somebody's gotta fix it anyway. Just because they can.
Sadly, the original singer died tragically at a young age. I absolutely love his voice. RIP.
So I kept finding more previously unheard classics. It was like an archaeological dig. Or Christmas morning. or an archaeological dig on Christmas morning. (I would have enjoyed that as a kid. Kind of like an extreeeeeeme Easter egg hunt!) The next band was not Canadian, and one I was peripherally aware of as it was formed by Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple and Ronnie James Dio of well, Dio. I think I saw them on Metal Mania too. Anyway, they have some really good stuff.
Our last stop on this 70s/80s rock journey is an artist who is well known and well-loved by me, but for some reason I never heard much of her earlier work. I was a pretty big Pat Benatar fan, to probably no one's surprise, but this was in the We Belong/Invincible time. Her earlier albums are amazing. Just one good, straightforward rock song after another, with her gorgeous, crystal clear vocals. I can't recommend stuff like Crimes of Passion or Get Nervous enough. Any of those old albums, really.
My current heavy rotation playlist is a mix of this stuff and some more modern alt rock, which I will discuss next! BTW, Pat Benatar and Paramore jibe really well together. Hayley Williams has those same kind of hit-you-in-the-sweet-spot-of-the-ears vocals.
2016 has been one of the best and worst music years for me.
I've gotten into some great stuff I think will stay with me for a long time, but mainstream pop and country have sunk to a staggering new low. This got me thinking. Maybe the severe decline in mainstream music in the past several years - hell, even between this year and last year! - is kind of a weird blessing. If I was just dooping along listening to country radio, would I have ever found Blackberry Smoke, Creeper, or The Maine? Or non-radio country artists like Brandy Clark and Margo Price? So thank you, radio, for sucking so hard you have set me free.
But since I'm still planning to do a top 10 best hit pop and country songs list, let's take a look at the charts!
Sooo if you want an overview of how terrible the pop and country charts have been this year, just listen to "Work" and "Work from Home" back to back, over and over. Kinda like a drill boring into your ear, isn't it? Then listen to some bland Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan shit and think about how that dirt road in all the bro-country songs just led to a big dead end. Because bro-country was bad, but by God, it was interesting bad, at least until Cole "Vanilla Wafers on Wonder Bread" Swindell came along. This current stuff is BORING. It's an absence of soul, of substance, of music. And that might be even worse. (But of course Cole "White-Out" Swindell fits right in. Damn it.)
Anyway. Remember last year, which was a pretty bad year overall, when I had like 20 honorable mentions I couldn't fit onto my top 10 best hit songs list? I agonized over not putting Jason Derulo's one good song ever on there. I couldn't even include "Burning House," and I really like that song!
This year, it would be number three.
I know, 2016 isn't over, and man typing that out made me feel depressed. I don't know how the hell a great song like Eric Church's "Record Year" became a hit in this climate, but I'm pretty sure it'll run away with my number one spot. It was a big hit, too. ...Okay? I don't know what to do with this information. I want to look down on you from my golden turntable-shaped throne, general music listening public, but you're making it hard here!
Oh right, there we go. *zots random Fifth Harmony fan with golden drumstick scepter* Eat real music, bitch!! Okay, that felt good. (Seriously, that is one of the worst "songs" I've ever heard in my life.) Why a drumstick scepter? Because synthetic drumbeats suck, and I want to beat people with a drumstick. k? k.
Okay okay, clearly the same people who buy Eric Church don't buy Fifth Harmony, but my confusion still stands. Who, among mainstream music fans, is buying Eric Church? Luke Bryan fans? If so, how do they not immediately become former Luke Bryan fans after hearing Eric Church? This feels like a song and album I would like, and like a handful of other music dorks. It's nichey, but somehow not. Maybe it's mostly name recognition. Or maybe I can dare to have a little hope in humanity?
Nope, hope in humanity has burned me before. NEXT!
So my number two song so far, and literally the only pop song I can see legit making my list, is one I'm so sick of I never want to hear it again. But it's still SO FAR above the rest of the pop charts you'd need a specialized instrument to measure it. Some kind of space instrument. Anyway, it's "Stressed Out" by twenty one pilots. This band is kind of hit or miss for me, but they write some damn good, hard-hitting emotional lyrics. Like they come at things from an angle you wouldn't have thought of, but it oddly hits. It's kind of a gift. "Car Radio" is the best song I've heard from them by far, but I like "Stressed Out" and again, I'm amazed this was a hit alongside all the robot shit. Seriously, the lyrics to every pop song this year might as well be "beep boop beep boop." And then you get this weirdly deep, poetic stuff from top. I don't know???
This top 10 list is gonna be a bitch, which is kind of amazing considering it's top 20 pop and country hits. It's looking like most of the list will be songs that would have been honorable mentions last year. Songs I like, but don't love. Like, I was happy to see ZBB's "Castaway" hit the top 20, even though it's standard beachy fare and not really BEST SONG OF THE YEAR material, at least it's something I listen to and enjoy. And I need stuff to fill out this damn list. Of course "Humble and Kind" will make it, and probably "My Church," and "When We Were Young" on the pop side. But those and "Castaway" are honorable mention level songs, to me.
So those are our standards this year, folks. Next year, will there be anything at all?
Oh, one more thing. I... kinda like that Justin Moore song, "You Look Like I Need a Drink." Too bad I don't like Justin Moore. Not just his dopey, pandering persona, I could look past that. It's his voice. It's like being hit over the head with sentient twang. "HE CAIN'T EVEN BAIT A HYOOOOOOOOK" ow ow ow stop hitting me! And I like twang, but come on. Decent song, though. If someone with a great voice like idk, the woefully underused Randy Houser sang it, it mighta been a contender.
Part three will be about my main passion this year - my glorious return to the alt rock scene. I'm splitting this into three parts because I'm trying to organize this thing I call my brain. yay!
So I haven't done a big, sprawly music post in a while. Mostly because I've been too busy listening to music. Let's start out with NEEEEEEEW music! Ooh, ahh.
The BIG news: Blackberry Smoke, who of course earned my number one album of 2015, released a new song ahead of their upcoming album and it's amazing.
This rocks so hard I'm afraid it's gonna fly right off the page! I love the heavy, driving sound. If this is any indication of their new album, they might top my list two years in a row. (I know they've released another song, but I'm waiting to hear the album in full now.) I've literally marked October 14th on my calendar as "BBS Day." Seriously, bless the hell out of these guys. This is the band 2016 needs.
Speaking of bands we need, motherfucking GREEN DAY is back! I'm digging the new track, it's very... Green Day. Kind of a return to their harder, punkier sound. It's not quite up with the BBS song for me, but they're such different bands there's no point in comparing. I really like this and can't wait for the album. I've also marked October 7 on my calendar, though "Green Day Day" doesn't flow quite as well.
The third new song by an artist I love is Miranda Lambert's "Vice." It pains me to say, but I just can't get into it. And I've tried. Her contribution to the Southern Family album, "Sweet By and By" is just miles above this scattered, incomplete-feeling track. Don't get me wrong, Miranda's vocals are as on-point as... almost always (Bad "Somethin' Bad!" Bad! *hits song with rolled up newspaper*). Some of the lyrics do hit ("If you need me, I'll be where my reputation don't precede me, Maybe I'm addicted to goodbyes") I get she has something to say here, but was this really the best vehicle for it?
The main problem is the production. I'm sorry to be one of those people but guys, production is SO important! It won't necessarily make a song for me, but it can sure as hell break it. Production is what gives songs those so-important intangibles. Texture. Whether a song feels warm or cold or spacey or dense or whatever. I thought this song might be a slow burn for me, but the production feels shallow and leaves me cold. I'm not connecting with it. It also doesn't really have a hook that draws you in, which isn't necessarily an issue when you have killer vocals and production, but it hurts here. All in all, it feels half-baked to me. I'm still looking crazy forward to her new album... just pleeeease don't let the production be like "Vice" all the way through. And more like this, please.
And can I just reiterate how terrible I think her single choices have been lately? "Vice" is doing ok, climbing towards the top 10 on billboard, but I think that's more based on name recognition and the whole "juicy" Blake thing than the actual song. Except for "Automatic," I didn't care for any of her single choices off of Platinum. Instead, the title track, while not amazing, is certainly fun and catchy enough and could have caught on as a girly anthem like "Man I feel Like a Woman." "What doesn't kill you only makes you blonder" is a pretty good line. And COME ON, "Hard Staying Sober" was one of her best songs ever, and you don't even try releasing it? Maybe it wouldn't have hit on country radio, BUT - "Record Year" hit. "Humble and Kind" hit. There is still room for actual substance, just not much. At least put your best foot out there. It's not like "Little Red Wagon" and "Smokin and Drinkin" lit the world on fire either. ANYWAY... I hope her next single choices will be better so I'm not agonizing over her next album like I sort of did with Platinum. ("That song? Really??")
I'm gonna end this post here so it's just about new songs, and continue with some other stuff in part two.
Stranger Things is like a lost, classic, early Stephen King story. If you like It you'll love Stranger Things, and it doesn't have a terrible ending like It does!
They clearly put a LOT of effort into getting the tone and look of the early 80s just right. The clothes are spot on. The furniture looks just like the stuff I grew up with. And in case you were wondering if they cut any corners authenticity wise - in the episode "The Monster," there's a mobile that plays Brahms Lullaby, and it is the exact same mobile I had as a baby. I know this because I had the little yellow music note part that played the lullaby well into adulthood. It might still be in my mom's storage, for all I know. When I saw it I had this immediate jolt of recognition and an even bigger respect for the show. They researched everything.
I won't get into details of the show here, just watch it. I want to discuss why it resonates so much. One, Winona Ryder is awesome, and clearly something I've been missing in my life all these years. She was one of my idols growing up (Beetlejuice is easily my 2nd favorite movie), and I was so sad when she just kinda disappeared. I understand she needed to take a break for her mental health - I can't imagine being a genuine person like her in the Hollywood scene. Good lord. But I'm just glad she's back. With a vengeance. Cause she is AMAZING in this show.
Two, the nostalgia. Soo I have kind of a love/hate relationship with nostalgia, especially the 80s variety. I can't stand how much cynical pandering there's been to 80s nostalgia in the last several years, mostly to make a buck. This is why the idea of a Ghostbusters reboot pissed me off. But let's put the hate aside and get into the love, because Stranger Things is an example of nostalgia done RIGHT. Not just because they lovingly crafted every detail, but because it's a completely original project. It pays homage to some older stuff like Stephen King, but it's very much its own idea. This is what I've been asking for!
And it doesn't only appeal to 80s kids. People who weren't even born in the 80s are eating this up. And why not, it's a tight, suspenseful show with flawless acting. But I think there's even more to it, and this goes back to when I discussed the appeal of Walking Dead. From my post:
"You know an odd reason I think Walking Dead works so well? It's timeless. It doesn't pander to any demographic, because by its nature, it really can't. It appeals to a wide audience because it's life boiled down to its essence. There are no trends, no buzzwords, nothing that will make it seem dated as fuck in 5 years, in a world where things are dated increasingly faster all the time. By not trying to be cool, it's adopted a very timeless sense of cool.
People are kind of more interesting in a zombie apocalypse, is what I guess I'm saying. They're trying to find their humanity rather than escape from it. As scary as it is, I enjoy watching the simplicity of that world."
I'd say the same thing about going back in time. I think we're going to be seeing more and more shows set in a different time/place/world than our own, with how popular stuff like Stranger Things, Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones are. (I don't watch GoT, but everyone else does.) Fantasy and nostalgia are nothing new, there's always been a need for that escapism. But I think that need has reached a fever pitch in today's world, and many people might not even realize it. The truth is, I don't think too many people like the modern world very much. Oh, there are some great things, but everything has just run amok with no sense of checks and balances.
You know what I remember about the early 80s? How quiet it was. No smartphones, no social media, no 24/7 news blaring doom into your ears all day. Not that those things are inherently bad, except 24/7 news. That was a horrible idea. I couldn't go back there, knowing what I know now. I'd miss the internet, and my iPod*, and having more than 3 channels. But man, if I could go back with a clean slate? That would be tempting. I'm taking a social media break right now (except this blog, obviously), but it's not the same. Knowing it's out there, being tempted to look because there might be something positive, is not the same as the blissful quiet of negation.
*having a mix of 100s of songs at your fingertips might be the only thing I can say is 1000% better now!
I think a lot of people, even plugged-in millennials, are subconsciously yearning for simplicity. Maybe especially the more plugged-in you are. The human brain, and soul, have needs that are different from our immediate wants. Today's world is overstimulating and exhausting, and I think most of us need a break. We don't have time machines, so a show that takes us out of the noise for a while is the next best thing. And it helps that it's so damn good.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying technology is bad. I think it's great, but we've done some bad things with it and let it get out of control. The only thing I'm saying is all bad is 24/7 news, which is literally a piranha eating all our faces right now. There's just... so much that needs to be dialed back. Toned down.
So don't be surprised to see more and more hits that are somehow... off from today's society. American Horror Story is another example. Even the seasons set in the present have a certain... disreality to them. Consciously or subconsciously, we want to escape this madness we helped create. I don't know where we go from here, but as usual, art is the best outlet from reality. And, I'd argue, also helps create reality. Or creates a dialogue, anyway.
Speaking of art, the last thing I want to mention is the music in the show! A great mix of rock, pop, punk and new wave that perfectly captures the 80s landscape. Here's an awesome classic rock tune that takes you right back. I'm surprised this hasn't shown up on SPN yet. (This is actually from the late 70s, but a lot of 70s stuff was still big in the early 80s.)
Happy weekend! Raise a little hell! And I'm off on a much needed vacation. phew.
Boatdusters! Wait... Goathustlers? Mostblusters? No, that was the convention I didn't watch. Postrusters? Painthuffers? Colonel Mustard?? I don't know, it's too hard!
So because I am at my most vulnerable when curious, I broke down and saw the new Ghostbusters. I was gonna watch it eventually, anyway. So, what did I think? Had I gone into it without watching any reviews, I'd say it was both better and worse than I expected. Having seen some reviews, I was prepared. That said, these are my own, honest, and hopefully fair thoughts. THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD! DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES! Wait, wrong franchise.
I'll start with two main things that didn't work for me. One, the "villain." I can't tell if he was written poorly or just not written at all. "I'm smart and get bullied, so sure, bring on the apocalypse!" That's it for motivation. His first line is literally like, "I've been bullied for so long, but now I'LL be the bully!" That's lamer than Simple Plan lyrics, guys. Not even an over the top "muahahaha!" to make it campy. No poignant backstory to make you see how he turned out that way, just "here's this guy who acts kind of weird and people remark on how weird he's acting, because he's acting weird." There's no explanation for the weirdness, or ANY other character traits shown to flesh him out, so you don't really see how he's being "bullied." Or care. You don't feel anything. He's not a character, he's a plot catalyst.
Two, the pacing. I'm not sure how such a long movie can feel so rushed at times. It's one of those movies that feels engineered to propel the plot, rather than the plot propelling the movie. I'd say that's the biggest difference between this and the original. The first one had excellent pacing and the plot flowed naturally. Supernaturally. Whatever, it worked. The editing in this was weird too, like some scenes would drag on too long, while other things would just come out of nowhere. And so much just... happened. Like, it didn't really stick.
I've not seen any other films directed by... this guy, whose name I've heard pronounced approx. 27 different ways since I started watching reviews of this thing. Paul Feig, which is pronounced, possibly, Feeg, Faig, Fig, Feg, Fedge, Faige, Figue, Foog, Fe Fi Fo Fum I Smell the Blood of an Englishman, or Finkelstein. Seriously, I've never seen so much confusion over four little letters. What I do know is, based on this movie, I'm not a fan of his directing style. I tend to like tighter-paced and dialogued films, and he has this off-the-cuff style that can be charming occasionally, but more often feels awkward. I don't need to hear a list of Patrick Swayze movies or the phrase "the cat's out of the bag" repeated over and over in a movie that already feels full of holes.
Chris - the guy who played the secretary, idk, there are like 100 actors named Chris - I'm not sure what his character was about? It was like they were lampooning the dumb, sexy secretary trope, but Janine wasn't that way at all. She was savvy and awesome. So that didn't really work for me, despite a few funny moments. He's so cartoonishly dumb, it takes you out of the plot at times.
Speaking of dumb, there were a few too many gross jokes for my taste. They were mostly towards the beginning, like that's gonna draw people in...? Idk, but when I think "Ghostbusters," I don't really think poop and fart jokes.
The cameos were kinda meh overall. Annie Potts was probably my favorite, and I did like Ernie Hudson as Leslie Jones' uncle, but I kind of wish her uncle had actually been Winston. I know none of the original actors were playing their old parts, but that would have been cool. Mostly because I could totally see her character being his niece. They both love New York so much! It's perfect! Bill Murray was pretty wasted. It's like the whole joke was that it was Bill Murray, and they didn't actually give him anything to do. Sigourney Weaver was pretty cool. Dan Ackroyd had the cheesiest line in the whole movie. :/ The Harold Ramis tribute was classy.
Okay, the pros!
Despite everything I said, the movie was generally likeable and watchable. And that's mostly due to the four actresses, who I felt really put their all into it. While I do still feel a reboot of Ghostbusters was unnecessary - if it ain't broke, don't fix it- and in some ways this is a pale imitation of the original, they did make it their own. The movie let them down in many ways, but I have absolutely no problem with these four characters being part of the Ghostbusters universe. Especially Patty (Leslie Jones) and Holtzman (Kate McKinnon). Leslie Jones is this big-hearted, flashy but real-feeling, walking encyclopedia of New York. They showed her most over the top moments in the trailers, but she was actually a fun, likeable character. Holtzman is kind of a mad scientist, which is awesome. I could hear her say something like "I collect spores, molds, and fungus" like Egon, but she'd say it with a big grin instead of deadpan. And it would be something to do with inventing, cause that was her thing. She was cool. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy weren't written quite as solidly, but their performances made it work for the most part. I like the camaraderie of the team. And yes, I did like seeing four women kicking butt, even against a lame villain and underwhelming special effects.
Oh yeah, I didn't mention the special effects. Probably because I was so underwhelmed. Well, they started out good. Both scenes with the creepy lady ghost in the mansion were pretty scary. She was well done. But the rest of the ghosts? It felt like being in a video game or a ride or something, not like it was really happening. The four women did their best, but it would have been nice to feel like they were really fighting against something, like in the original. I did enjoy Slimer and Lady Slimer hijacking the Ecto-1, or whatever it was called here, and going for a joyride. That made me laugh. Best cameo, Slimer. So there you go.
There was a scene where lame-villain summoned a demon-ghost (that sounds way cooler than anything he actually did) at this terrible punkish rock show. You can probably imagine how that went. It was pretty funny, but also had the most phoned-in Ozzy Osbourne cameo ever. Ozzy might actually be dead and appearing in this movie from the underworld, for all it felt like he was in it. Except, that would be awesome. This was lame.
So if you're keeping score at home, that's Slimer 1, Ozzy 0.
Also, random lines like "You killed a pilgrim!" and "It smells like bologna and regret down here" made me laugh. Those kind of one-liners were more in the spirit of the original (get it, spirit? GET IT?) than the rambling non-jokes that are so prevalent today. That said, I didn't feel insulted or like the movie dishonored the original or anything. I think there's genuine potential here that hasn't been quite realized.
If anything, my heart is kind of with these characters. I want to see them in an epic fight scene that feels more... present and consequential than the CGI-fest at the end of this movie. The lame-villain transformed into a giant version of the Ghostbusters logo ghost, and it ended up just feeling like marshmallow-man-but-not. Something different there would have been soooo much better. That's why the original movie was so good, unique touches like that. Who expects a giant marshmallow man out of nowhere?? Here it was like, been there, done that. The "climax" felt rushed and obligatory, a means to an end, with none of the jubilance and "I love this toooooown!" of the original. I guess you can't capture that magic twice. Ghostbusters II didn't do it, either. But I never felt any real stakes, because it wasn't set up properly. Actually there was a little bit of that "yay!" feeling with Holtzman in the end scene, but it all happened too fast and then it was like, I guess we're done!
There was a dance sequence led by Chris Hunkydude in the end credits. Idk either. Well see, lame-villain killed himself so he could possess people as a ghost, and he possessed Chris Hunkydude. That was actually kind of funny. I liked the Clark Kent line. But anyway, I guess he was making people dance to show he could bend them to his ghost will, or something? I'm not sure why being a ghost in a hunky guy suit would give him that power? It wasn't clear, and that was obviously a scene cut from the actual movie. This villain character was seriously not realized at all.
One thing I liked about Abby (Melissa McCarthy) was how she didn't give a shit what anyone thought about them. When they were under fire, her attitude was just "who cares, we know what we're doing, let's do it." That was so refreshing, and really rang true. Why should they care if people believe them, they've got shit to do! I would have loved to see that as a young girl. It felt empowering in a natural, not shoved down your throat way.
A final positive, the last scene after the credits made me laugh. Holtzman - "That's for crushing walnuts." LOL. That kind of humor actually got me hyped for a sequel (which, yes, was baited).
I don't usually do numbered reviews, I'm more of a give-an-impression than an absolutes kind of gal. I say I'm making a top 10 list, it'll end up being 16 with tons of tangents. But I'm gonna give this a six out of ten, cause it's a very six-y type movie. Like, worth seeing if you're intrigued by the concept, but it probably won't stick with you like the original did with me, 32 years ago. If you're a fan of the franchise and were curious, like me, it has its moments. Women do not have cooties, and it will not ruin your childhood. And that's coming from about the 80s-est 80s kid you'll ever meet.
That Fall Out Boy song is still terrible. THE END!
EDIT: OMG it just hit me who the villain reminded me of... the nebbishy guy who wants to turn into a fish to conquer the world (?!) in Blood Waters of Dr. Z! So, there's your precedent for this kind of "villain." Take it all in.
"They think I'm insane, THEY'RE the ones who are insane!"
We're not inhabiting a great space as a culture right now, are we? Attempts at "feel good" can feel like nothing more than whistling past the graveyard. But what else can you do? Try to be happy, or listen to lots of Joy Division or something.
I propose it's damn near impossible to not feel good while listening to these songs. So let's see if I'm right.
Welp, MCR is not reuniting or touring or anything that might have made 2016 slightly less awful. I should have known. I'm still getting a shirt with that cool logo though. Maybe the album anniversary release will feature some lost bonus tracks, or something? *GRASPS*
Anyway, here's a kickass song from Black Parade for throwback Thursday, because obviously.
We are living in "interesting times," and hoo boy is there a good reason why that's a curse. There's probably an argument to be made that the world, specifically the US, has been going off the rails on the crazy train for quite some time now, and social media/the general connectedness of all things has just brought it to the forefront. And also escalated it. There's no way to know that for sure, so I'm just going by what I see happening now. Remember, I live under a delightfully hobbit-sized rock most of the time, so I probably miss about 95% of the world's vitriol. Just the 5% I do see makes me want to run screaming for the hills.
Here's the main thing I think right now. It's sad that there are so many bigots out there, especially white supremecists. Like, you think that shit is just fringe groups and then it turns out they're OUT THERE. Lurking, waiting to strike. No one really comes out and says it, but everyone knows what the buzzwords are. And that's the first step towards being able to actually come out and say it. Which I think is the end goal here, even if people won't admit it. "Make America Great Again," etc. What, exactly, does that mean?
It should mean putting Americans back to work. Building infrastructure. Reopening US factories that were moved overseas to make a buck. Paying a fair wage so workers can comfortably provide for their families. You know, the American Dream, right? The one that's been bought and sold to corporations by BOTH political "sides?"
But it doesn't mean that, does it? It means "America Was Better When It Was Mostly White Ppl, Amirite? Wink, Wink." Seriously, what else do you think that means? Mostly old/middle-aged white people feel they're losing power, and they're panicking. As if they were entitled to that power all along. As if anyone different is just an interloper.
So the question we have to ask ourselves, if we feel threatened by someone who is "other," is WHY do we feel so threatened? Why the instinct to focus on differences between people, rather than similarities? Is it some kind of misguided self-preservation to lash out at people we see as "different?" Like, if they're equal, we're suddenly.... not anymore? That's not how equality works. If we view someone different being seen as equal to us as a TAKE OVER... wow, think about that. That's basically saying we don't see them as human. They're 3/5 of a person, or whatever it was back in slavery days. And no, I don't usually use hyperbolic words like "SLAVERY," but if some people are threatened by a black (or Muslim, or gay, or female) person being their equal - basically, being a person- what does that say? They feel that white (or straight, or male) people are inherently superior. That's what "making America great again" or "taking America back" boils down to. People who are used to being in power not wanting to risk losing that power to the "other." The "lesser." This is not based on pride, it's based on FEAR. We've had a black president with a foreign name now, and apparently that's just the end of everything. Not the beginning, not a chance to work together and find common ground, but the DAMN END OF AMERICA.
Isn't that kind of the opposite of everything America was founded on?
So here's the conclusion I've come to, in these crazy times. I hate Trump with every fiber of my being, but I'm glad he happened. This is a good thing. No, not if he actually becomes president, but clearly this is something that has been festering and needed to be exposed. We can't talk about a problem, and attempt to solve it, if we don't know it exists. Or the extent to which it exists. So we've learned there are a lot more bigots out there than we might have guessed. They've now been given a voice. Some of them probably wouldn't admit or even recognize that they're bigots, but that could change now that they feel empowered. Scary, yes, but it would be a lot scarier if it was still festering below, like mold under your floorboards. At least now, we know what we're dealing with.
This could be a real turning point in our culture. I hope it turns toward a future of not just forced tolerance, but real understanding, and not back to the 1800s.
I think the idea of forced tolerance is why a lot of people are angry, and I get it. But that's why it's up to all of us to find real ways of living and dealing with each other. Because it's either that, or the shitshow that's happening right now. I think it involves soul-searching more than anything else. Letting down defences, getting rid of any sense of entitlement and need for "power." If you are religious, prayer is a really good time for this kind of introspection. If not, some form of meditation. Or something, anything, that takes you out of this world and out of yourself. A place where you feel humbled by the vast scope of life, and free from your own agenda. Humility is all but lost in today's world, but I think it's a good start.
We all know the narrative of good and evil. We watch superhero movies, or read Harry Potter, or whatever. So how have so many people missed the point, and voted for the obvious corporate supervillain and FUCKING VOLDEMORT? I genuinely don't get this. How do people not see it? I try to avoid getting all moral-preachy, but here are three things that are just bad across the board: greed, dishonesty, and bigotry. Sound familiar? I guess those lessons I thought we all learned from childhood still need to be told.
Peace, and now back to our regularly scheduled music. :)
First of all: SOMETHING IS GOING ON WITH MCR! Are they reuniting? New music? Tour? I don't know, but I plan to be there and buy a t-shirt. Another t-shirt. Their new logo is MCRX, denoting the 10 year anniversary of one of the greatest rock albums ever in my totally not humble opinion, Welcome to the Black Parade. So we shall see. 9/23/16. Close to Halloween. Dudes know their fanbase. :D
Anwyay, that is both exciting and somewhat relevant to today's post! I was listening to Weezer's White Album and Blink's California back to back, since they're both basically concept albums around CA, and it got me thinking. What other albums are either about, or perfectly evoke my home state? (Can you tell that every summer, I start missing LA and the beach?) Consider this an expansion of my California songs post.
So if you want that California feeling, here are some albums to get you in the mood.
1. My Chemical Romance - Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
Of course! Not the great Black Parade, but a SUPER UNDERRATED concept album about a band of outsiders fighting against the man in post-apocalyptic LA. If that doesn't sound like the coolest thing ever, then you are wrong because it is. Well, it's awesome anyway. I love this album and it's a perfect, energetic leadoff to this playlist, even if it does have a bonus track called "We Don't Need Another Song About California." Which is awesome, btw.
2. Weezer - White Album
3. Best Coast - California Nights
Or any of Best Coast's albums, really. Modern Beach Boys-esque songs with a female vocalist.
4. Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
A lot of good music exists because of this album, and it's amazing.
5. Blink-182 - California
This album has only grown on me. "Los Angeles" is probably my favorite Blink song. If they wanna continue in that harder-edged direction, I am totally on board.
6. No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom
One of my favorite 90s albums. Their next album and most of Gwen's solo work have been disappointing, but this is a classic I still listen to. And so very CA.
7. Sublime - Self Titled
Fuck drugs. So sad we didn't get more music from these guys. At least we have this classic.
8. Blondie - Autoamerican
For a NY band, their music sounds totally LA to me. This one features the classic "The Tide is High" and the beach-rocky "T-Birds."
9. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Greatest Hits (2003)
These guys have so much material, I had to do a compilation album for this. This one features personal favorites like "Scar Tissue," "Higher Ground," "Soul to Squeeze," and of course the melancholy LA favorite, "Under the Bridge." If you want more RHCP, Stadium Arcadium and some of their early, funkier stuff fits the bill too. Also check out their latest single "Dark Necessities." It's really good!
10. Beck - Odelay!
My favorite Beck album. I lived in LA when this came out, and Beck is from there of course, so this will always remind me of LA in the 90s. I can't say enough what an amazing, visionary, genre-bending album this is. If you wanna hear a mix of pop, rock, hip-hop and even some country elements that totally WORKS, listen to Odelay! This album invites endless replays because there's so much going on. Side note: someone I knew briefly met Beck at (I think) a laundromat in Silverlake, and Beck told him he thought humans were becoming more insectlike. This would have been between Mellow Gold and Odelay I think? Like he was famous enough for my friend to recognize him, but not so famous he wouldn't be in a laundromat. Anyway, there's your LA celebrity anecdote for the day. Beck thinks we're turning into bugs, or he did back in 1990whatever. Maybe he was just high and the laundromat needed an exterminator.
11. Go-Go's - Vacation
Let's end this on a happy note! Does it get any more bright California sunshiney than the Go-Go's? This band was super influential on my music taste to this day, and I can't thank them enough.
This might be my throwbackiest Thursday yet. Today it just feels right to go WAY back to early childhood, and a couple videos that fellow 80s kids might remember fondly.
My young childhood was spent in a small town, and many of my fond memories involve walking from school to various places. The huge indoor pool was right next door, the rec center was an exciting walk several blocks away, and behind the school lay the wondrous convenience store filled with candy and Hostess cupcakes. But across the street was my favorite place of all, the library, where we attended after school programs a couple days a week.
Bonus throwbackiness: wee! me at a Halloween party at the library. I appear to be wearing train pajamas as a costume. idk. yolo, bitches.
I still remember several of the videos they showed us after school, probably because they showed the same ones multiple times, but we didn't care. We got Dr. Seuss a lot, especially the one about the star-bellied sneeches. We also got these two classics from the 70s. A lot of stuff from the 70s was still around in the 80s. I don't know if either of these videos are still shown to kids today. I'm guessing they stopped right around the time cartoon characters started rapping, but don't quote me on that.
First up is "Really Rosie." This one might still be around because it's based on the works of Maurice Sendak (Where the Wild Things Are), and has a classic soundtrack by Carole King. Once you hear "Chicken Soup with Rice," it will be with you forever. Man, I hope they still show this to kids. I had the soundtrack album to this too. It was a rockstar.
Next up is "Free to Be You and Me," which just might be the most 70s thing to ever exist.
Before yesterday when I rewatched these, I hadn't seen either since I was 6-7 years old. It's amazing how they stuck with me through the years. One thing you might notice about these is how they don't talk down to their audience. This seems normal for older kids specials, like the Peanuts cartoons and Dr. Seuss too. The kids talk like people, not precocious Disney channel turds. There aren't obnoxious, shoehorned in pop culture references, making these 70s specials possibly less dated than something made last year.
They also know kids can handle and even enjoy scary things. Neither of these specials are scary per se, but I love how they casually include things like man-eating lions and a girl ending up in a cookpot. And we loved it! No one screamed or was scarred for life. Would they even make stuff like this in today's overparenting, offended-by-everything culture? Kids like to have their boundaries pushed and imaginations tested. I'm SO GLAD I grew up in the 80s! I'm also really glad I don't have kids, just cats. Though I'm sure I'd get cat-shamed at some point if I put myself out there. Seriously, screw today's culture. Screw it right in the ear!!
... throwback Thursday, everyone! *bows*
Oh, and keep circulating the tapes... err, links. :)
here's my obligatory, pre-emptive Ghostbusters post. I don't usually hop on these trains, but the original Ghostbusters IS my favorite movie, and has been since 1984 when wee me saw it in the theater and didn't get all the jokes but loved it anyway.
I'll start by saying I won't see this movie in the theater, because reboots are cash-grabs by design, and screw that. I'm sure I'll stream it sometime out of curiosity. So obviously this is not about the actual movie, but all the crazy shit surrounding it. Most of which I hate. So, the usual.
Much of the discussion of this movie has veered away from what it should be, the lack of original content and dependence on "reboots" to make a quick buck, and of course gone into the usual shit. "You're misogynist!" "Shut up, 'SJW'!" Sigh, remind me why I ever signed up for the internet again? I don't give a rat's ass about stupid terms like "SJW" - what's smaller than a rat's ass? A mosquito's ass? Do mosquitoes have asses? These are the places you take me to, internet. I hope you're happy.
I WANT to see movies starring women. Especially comedies. I want to see strong, funny, real women characters who are cops and doctors and waitresses and wives and mothers. You can make anyone a strong character if you write them properly. But I want to see it done with original ideas. That's all. No political crap, just make more original movies! That said, I wouldn't actually mind if this was a sequel, because I enjoy the GB franchise. The "reboot" thing bugs me, since that essentially wipes the original I loved so much from the slate. Maybe that's where that silly "ruining my childhood" crap comes from, if anyone actually says that unironically. I wouldn't go that far, but it does leave a bad taste in my mouth. Why not just make them proteges of the original Ghostbusters, so they still... exist? :/
Anyone badmouthing the movie JUST because it stars women: YOU SUCK. It's just like the "all lives matter" thing. "What about MEN?" Yes, what about men, who star in almost every action and comedy movie ever, while women are relegated to stock girlfriend roles. But here's the other side. If someone thinks a movie that happens to star women is shit, that doesn't make them sexist. If someone hates a political candidate who happens to be a woman, that doesn't make them sexist. Making everything surrounding women automatically about sexism, even when it isn't, IS SEXIST!
Because some people have invalid complaints doesn't mean all complaints are invalid, is what I'm saying.
I already mentioned this, but I really enjoyed the theme songs to the first two Ghostbusters movies. This Fall Out Boy thing is a trainwreck. That may or may not be indicative of the movie's quality, but it sure as hell doesn't get me hyped. If you want to use a FOB song in your ghost movie, might I suggest this actually cleverly-titled one?
I've come to the conclusion that, a few good songs and a decent pop punk album aside, I don't really like FOB. I tried. They're about the last people I would have picked to do a Ghostbusters theme. Maybe, idk, Bruno Mars? He's really good at recreating old, nostalgic sounds into fun new songs. Actually never mind, I don't want to drag him into this. Fall Out Boy it is!
Final point: I watched the first trailer for this thing and found it cringingly awful. Cue apologists saying "don't judge a movie by one trailer!" Um yeah, actually I will. That's kind of the job of the trailer, to make me want to see it, not run away from it screaming. It's like when people say "the single sucks, but the album is really good!" Why would a bad single make me want to listen to an album, when there are so many other albums to choose from? It's not exactly the same thing, sometimes shitty singles are chosen from good albums because radio sucks, but it's a similar mentality. If a movie is good, you should be able to make a good trailer out of it. If you can't, either the movie sucks or you should be fired, because you suck at your job.
THAT IS ALL. Now I can properly ignore the internet on the day this thing actually comes out. When I watch it, probably in a few months, I'll give a fair assessment. I hope it's either surprisingly good or rant-worthy bad, but I suspect it'll be somewhere in between. Which will be boring.
Damn, if I'd included "The Tenors" on my list of Canadian bands yesterday, I'd be topical AF. Unfortunately I'd never heard of them.
So in case you live under an even bigger rock than I do, "O Canada" was hijacked at last night's All Star Game by an "all lives matter" activist. That is an actual sentence I just wrote. Obviously, it's wrong to change the words to any national anthem; you're there to do your damn job. Said person no longer has said job, which is perfectly reasonable since he failed to do it. I'm sure he and whatever followers he has will consider him a martyr for that, cause that's how we roll these days. No self-reflection, no apologies. Just "haters" and martyrs.
That would be an interesting band name.
And does anyone really believe ALL lives matter? What about terrorists? I mean, I don't see anyone all-lives-mattering for the shithead who shot up the club in Orlando. It's just personal agenda crap, like everything else. It's also a trap. "How can you possibly argue with all lives matter? We're being inclusive!" Um, because I understand nuance and don't think everything has to be about me? It's yet another symptom of entitlement. "What about ME? Don't I matter?" No one said you didn't. That's kind of the point.
But! outraged Canadians (and Americans, and Norwegians, and any sentient squirrels that might have been watching) didn't have to feel too outraged for too long, because it turns out the dude is a complete nutbag.
Nice lack of perspective, buddy. He probably thinks this guy is really crushing someone's head too!
People are gonna see what they wanna see. We do not live in a good time for facts. Why is "flat earth" even a thing, anyway? It's like arguing that trees aren't made of wood. Wrong, and lacking an actual point. What do you get out of believing the earth is flat? Does it come with a snazzy t-shirt? A free toaster, maybe? Or do you just like the image of an earth a giant could eat like a big saltine? Cause that is a pretty funny image, I'll give you that.
And oh yeah, a baseball game happened. The AL won, which might be good for the Jays. Hopefully they get someone qualified to sing the anthem in that case, like Nickelback OH NO I DIDN'T!!
So my adoptive country of Canada spawned has some of the worst, most inexplicably popular musical acts of recent memory. It's ok, I'm not bitter or anything. But if you judge by Nickelback, Simple Plan, and *sigh* Bieber, Canada must be a vast wasteland of crap... BUT WAIT! The little music-fan voice in your head cries out. There's Rush! What about RUSH? Rush is certainly one of the best and most enduring classic rock bands out there, but are they enough to cancel out the unholy trinity of suck?
Of course not. Are you high? I said Nickelback, Simple Plan, and Bieber. These aren't even artists, they're walking punchlines. How has Canada produced three of the lowest common denominators of three different genres? Or better question, why did America import them so enthusiastically? Surely America has enough crap of its own? But no, crappy music seems to be one of Canada's principal exports.
No, I don't know why. This isn't a social studies paper. I'm as confused as the rest of you.
Before I discuss some Canadian artists: this is coming from someone who spent the majority of her life in the US, and is not in any way comprehensive of Canadian music. I've lived in Canada for four years. In that time, because I don't listen to the radio, I haven't really heard any current Canada-unique music. I know the same stuff folks in the US do, and that's the perspective I'm coming from. I have checked out a few songs from current, popular Canadian country artists that haven't hit the US, and so far haven't been impressed. Kinda the same stuff as the US charts, but watered down. Which isn't to say there isn't good, mainstream Canadian country; I've only listened to a handful of tracks. I know nothing about the rock scene here. Once Nickelback'd, twice shy. And pop? Not only did Canada give us Bieber, it gave us a backup Bieber. That "Stitches" guy. That guy is spared my ultimate wrath only by not being Charlie Puth.
... Charlie Puth is not Canadian. Okay, whew. He could be though. He probably should be. And that's kind of the problem. Okay, let's go!
Barenaked Ladies - I actually like this band. Not love, but generally enjoy. They're a lot more than "One Week" and sitcom themes. "Brian Wilson" is amazing, and I heard some recent stuff that was just good, melodic pop-rock. This is probably the closest thing Canada has to Weezer and no, they're not as good as Weezer. But they're definitely worth delving into deeper if you've only heard their cheesier, popular stuff. It's like only hearing "Beverly Hills" and thinking that's Weezer. Good God, I feel like I just blasphemed by typing that.
New Pornographers - I love this band, but Canada only gets partial credit because Neko Case is from Virginia. Still, a partial New Pornographers credit is something to brag about. I listened to Electric Version so much back in the day that I couldn't listen to it again for YEARS, even though it's one of my favorite albums. If you love well-crafted, ultra melodic indie rock, this album will melt your brain in the best way. Listen to "The Laws Have Changed." Let it soak in. Then listen to... everything else. You can't go wrong with this band.
Drake - Yeah, his "music" is pretty terrible. I considered including him in the unholy trinity, making it an... unholy rectangle? but couldn't quite do it. You could say he does to hip-hop what the other three do to pop, rock and pop-punk, but I see two differences in Drake. Unlike the others, he's not actually punchable as a human being. He's quite charismatic. Why that doesn't come out in his music, I HAVE NO IDEA. And because of that, I hold out that he has some potential... somewhere... if he ever decides to wake up. Seriously, does this guy wear his pajamas to the recording studio?
The Weeknd - I liked "Can't Feel My Face?"
Avril Lavigne - What a waste of talent. She's like a reverse growth chart. At 17: "Why you have to go and make things so complicated?" At 30: "HELLO KITTY HELLO KITTY KA-WA-IIIIII!" What the hell, indeed. Not saying she was ever deep and amazing, but she has a cool voice and I still listen to "Losing Grip" and "Complicated." I get that you'd want to move away from "angsty teen," but when angsty teen is your more mature career move, that's a problem.
Sum 41 - I just found out this band is Canadian. Um, I don't really have an opinion of them. They're pop punk. Better than Simple Plan, not as good as Blink. I think they had some kind of whiny stuff that turned me off back in the day? "I don't want to waste my time, become another casualty of society.
I'll never fall in line, Become another victim of your conformity" OH GOD NO TURN THAT OFF that's some Simple Plan shit right there! Darn you, Canada. To be fair, they seem to have actually matured. I gave their latest song "Fake My Own Death" a listen and it's surprisingly rockin'. Seriously. So, whatever. That's my opinion of most of these bands, honestly. Whatever.
Crash Test Dummies - MMMMMM MMMMM MMMMMM MMMMMM. Also just found out these guys are Canadian, so maybe they were enjoying a delicious Tim Horton's donut the whole time?
Tegan and Sara - And here's where I feel woefully uneducated, because by most accounts they're actually good and I've only heard a couple of their songs. Consider this a placeholder.
Triumph - When I first heard this band - actually wait. When I thought I first heard this band, they were introduced to me as "the other Canadian rock band," and I liked what I heard. I made a joke about Triumph the insult comic dog, because that was the time we were living in. Then one of their songs "Fight the Good Fight" was featured at the end of a Supernatural ep, one of the ones with Dean and Sam driving off in a cloud of awesome music, so yeah. It's that kind of band. BUT, it turns out I really first heard them waaaaay back in 1986, when they had an MTV hit called "Somebody's Out There." I liked that song. I liked it a lot. It sounds like a Journey song, which is probably why I liked it. Yeah, it's definitely a more polished, mainstream rock sound than their earlier stuff, but... DAMMIT I STILL LIKE IT. It's catchy, it has a huge 80s arena rock chorus, of course I like it! Triumph is definitely one of the better bands to come out of Canada, and not just "that other rock band."
Bachman-Turner Overdrive - made a couple 70s ultra-classics. I never looked into them beyond that, but these guys definitely made their contribution to rock. You could say they "took care of business" NO NO DON'T SAY THAT!!
The Guess Who - pretty much same as above. I dig "No Sugar Tonight."
Carly Rae Jepsen - Oh God, "Call Me Maybe" was the bane of my existence for a while. I'd managed to avoid it, but then once I heard it it was EVERYWHERE. Those were dark times. Apparently her last album was actually fun retro 80s stuff, but meh. Once called me maybe'd, twice shy.
Bryan Adams - I LOVED Bryan Adams growing up, and honestly his 80s albums are pretty decent. Think "Cuts Like a Knife," "Run to You," and "Summer of '69," not "Everything I Do (I Do It For Boring Adult Contemporary Radio)". Man, that's a cumbersome title.
Celine Dion - I'm not into this kind of music at all, so not much to say. She has a good voice and other than that overplayed Titanic dreck, she seems fine for people who like this sort of thing.
Joni Mitchell/Leonard Cohen/Gordon Lightfoot- I'm not really into folk music either, and this is very much my parents' music, but these are all obviously legends. What Canada taketh away from rock and pop, it giveth in folk icons. Or something. "Big Yellow Taxi" is a favorite, and I swear it gets more relevant every year.
Paul Brandt - OMG, "I Do" is one of my favorite 90s country ballads. If I'd had music at my wedding, it would have been that song. I don't remember if he had any other hits, but that one's a standout for me.
Terri Clark - She had some fun 90s hits like "Better Things To Do." Another of those 90s artists that had a few hits and disappeared, at least in the US.
Shania Twain - I've already discussed Shania, so briefly: While she had some genuinely stupid hits, she also had some really enjoyable ones, as well as a lot of charisma. "Any Man of Mine," "No One Needs to Know," and "Love Gets Me Every Time" is some insanely catchy pop-country with personality. Her unique sound lends itself well to nostalgia, and I think she'll be remembered fondly overall. (Not by staunch traditionalists, obviously.)
DID I MISS ANYONE?? Yeah, probably. This was all off the top of my head, cause I like to test myself. If I forgot someone, so be it. So what does it all mean? I'd say the aggregate score is a solid "meh," which considering the low peaks are the aforementioned unholy trinity + Drake, really isn't too bad. There are some definite standouts too. Guess I'll never know why so much Canadian crap makes its way south. Maybe we're just trying to get rid of it.
On another note, I'm just glad I moved to Canada before I had to feel any moral compunction to vote for a slimy crook over literal satan. I don't know what happened to you in my absence, America. Maybe my leaving made you fall apart. If so, I'm really sorry and OH LOOK, A SHITTY RAPPER FROM TORONTO! *dashes off*
This blog has been keeping me sane lately. Hurray for sanity!
Let's finish the week as it began, with songs about or featuring my home state of California. There are a TON of songs throughout time that mention CA, obviously, so I'll be focusing on some favorites.
"Thank you for your wine, California, Thank you for your sweet and bitter fruits."
One of my top favorite classic rock songs. I wasn't alive during this time, but I feel the energy of the late 60s/early 70s whenever I listen to this. It's still incredibly potent. And that line about CA really resonates with me.
"It's a long day livin' in Reseda, There's a freeway runnin' through the yard."
I lived in Reseda. There are freeways everywhere. The struggle is real. (But at least it's not Van Nuys.)
"Why would you live anywhere else? We've got the ocean, got the babes
Got the sun, we've got the waves, This is the only place for me."
A fun, jangly love song to CA. Why would you live anywhere else? Well, in the 80s and 90s I would have agreed with you. But, having lived in the LA area again from 2011-2012... I recommend living somewhere else. Unless you're very rich and don't mind spending literally half your life in traffic. And you better live right at the beach if you wanna go (see: very rich), because parking is non-existent. Still, a cool song from kind of a fantasy perspective. This is like, Baywatch-era California.
"California nights, Make me feel so happy I could die, But I try to stay alive."
This song feels exactly like when you've been swimming too long, but don't want to get out of the water.
"Now don't you cry another night about me, In this city I've got angels all around me."
A beautiful, underrated Miranda song, the story of a young woman who leaves her family and small Texas town to go to L.A. While I'm pretty sure those aren't angels all around you (unless angels are made of smog), I have no doubt she's "strong just like you prayed I'd be."
Can you see I have a love/hate relationship with L.A.? :P
"You were the biggest fish out here, You should have never gone to Hollywood."
And here's the other, darker side of the coin. One of SOAD's best songs. I know, not exactly feel good, but I love dark songs about sunny places. That's kind of been the theme this week. (And thank you, Blink-182, for that.)
I already talked about these songs when I discussed the album, but they needed to be included. And seriously, that album artwork. I need that in my life.
"Some dance to remember, some dance to forget."
Possibly the original "dark California" rock song? Yeah, this is one of my favorite songs since like, ever, and is probably a big reason I'm drawn to this aesthetic. There's something so enticing about finding the dark in the light, especially when the light might be a trick. It's like uncovering the truth. It's also wonderfully creepy.
Okay, we need another happy song!
Noooo... darn you Rivers Cuomo and your seductive ennui! Okay, here we go.
"And if you're up all night, Thinking about some thing you did
The California kids, Will show you the sunshine."
Because sometimes, the sun really is sunny. And those are good times.
"Old days are fine, but are left so far behind, From California to Jane Street.
Kids alright, alright as they'll ever be, Cause you will always be my sweet 16."
A genuinely sweet song about a couple's journey together, geographically and emotionally, based on Billie Joe Armstrong and his wife. Aww.
I already discussed The Maine's "Birthday in Los Angeles," but seriously check it out. A very well-written song that will resonate if you've ever felt out of place somewhere.
Well, what say you, My Chemical Romance?
Oh, okay. I guess I'm done here.
Next week, I will tackle the difficult subject of Canadian music. Can I finally answer the question of whether Rush is awesome enough to cancel out... almost everything else*, without getting kicked out of the country? Stay tuned!
*seriously Canada, Nickleback, Bieber, and Simple Plan? Why you gotta hurt me. :(
I still love early Mariah Carey. While I hear her songs in my 90s playlist quite often, I had a hankering to go back and watch some of her old videos. These are from back in the day when MTV still played lots of videos, and I still watched lots of MTV. Because I was a teenager. So was seeing these videos for the first time in 25 years as big of a nostalgia blast as I hoped?
Hell yeah it was!!
The one that started it all, "Vision of Love." I was obsessed with this song and video. And her hair. This video made me get a perm. A giant, poodly 80s perm and I am NOT ASHAMED. I just wish I'd looked this good.
After that one song/video, she was everywhere. And it's easy to see why. Her voice was instantly recognizable, and she put out one great song after another. I also liked the (for lack of a better word) wholesome image she had at the time, as this was when Madonna was transforming from "sexy rebel" to "sexual for the sake of being sexual," so Mariah was a refreshing change. (Ugh, do not get me started on the unmusic that is "Justify My Love" again.)
This next video is amazing. It has a random like, wombat or something in it. She hits that high note and then boom! sudden marsupial. I miss the 90s.
Okay, it's not a wombat. Or a lemur. A wallaby?? I'm feeling woefully uneducated about marsupials now. Questioning my life choices.
That might be her prettiest song, and that's saying something. Man, every one of these videos just takes me back instantly. I loved this time. Maybe it's because I was a teenager, and that's the time we all tend to remember rosily, but -- I was a miserable teenager. I was one Morrissey CD away from utter despair. (I did not ever own a Morrissey CD. I did have that Smiths one with "There is a Light" though.) So why the hell would I remember that fondly?? Maybe the music was just actually better, and pop culture was more fun. (Except for Morrissey.)
I eventually lost track of Mariah's career, as I got more into country and alt-rock than pop. I remember she eventually did the sexy video sellout - hey, at least it took her longer than it takes today's "stars." While I may not have followed her past her first few albums, those are AMAZING, classic pop albums I still listen to. As of now, I'd say Mariah was the last truly great pop star. As music becomes more and more disposable and inorganic, I wonder if we'll ever have another quite like that. I do like Lady Gaga, but she's not quite on that tier yet, legacy-wise. Also, she hasn't released an album in a while. We'll see how Adele's career shapes up too. I think she's great, but I'm disappointed her recent songs have been passed over for vile things like "Panda." BLECCH. You kids don't know what's good for you!
I hate pretty much every part of our current "culture," but there's a big beautiful world out there that's (mostly) free of these human constructs. I try to focus on nature, animals, the beauty of God's creations. Also, while many humans seem focused on making the world as ugly as possible, there are people out there saving animals. Making meaningful music. Brewing yummy beer. Going out of their way to be inclusive to others. It's actually pretty easy to drop out of the culture of ugly. The politics, the drama, the constant negativity. Change your focus, choose your focus, and say NO. Yell it, if you have to! I've yelled NO! right at my computer when I found myself drawn into something ugly. It confuses my cats, but it also nips the desire to gaze at the trainwreck right in the bud. And, the kitties get snuggles afterwards. So win/win.
Always, always help when you can. And block out the rest, cause it's not doing you or anyone else any good. And most importantly, don't be a dick. That's the biggest contribution most of us can make to the world, sad as that may be.
If I had to thank any band for my renewed interest in modern alt-rock (besides Weezer and their last two amazing albums), it would be The Maine. It's one thing getting back into a band you used to love, but discovering a new band you love is like discovering a new continent.
I CLAIM THIS FOR SPAIN
I can't believe I just got into these guys last December. It feels like I've known them forever. Thing is, I don't really know how to describe The Maine. Alt rock with some pop punk influences, especially in their earlier work. But their sound is more varied than that description lets on. I can't really compare them to another band either. Sometimes they sound influenced by bands like Jimmy Eat World and All-American Rejects, sometimes more classic rock, sometimes there's an almost folk element in there. All I can tell you is the big picture is really, really good. I'd describe them as not a very heavy band, more leaning towards melody and lyricism, but then they give me a classic style riff that knocks me on my ass and I wake up and it's Tuesday. I just don't know, is what I'm saying. So why don't I let the music speak for itself.
Their first album Can't Stop Won't Stop is the most poppy, but not in a bad way. This is probably my least favorite of their albums, but only because their sound expanded so much after this. Still, you get gems of the genre like "I Must Be Dreaming," "Everything I Ask For," and "Count Em One Two Three." I guess this album sounds the most of its time? It has kind of an All-American Rejects, etc. vibe to me. I liked a lot about that time in music, but their next albums have more of a timeless rock feel. This song makes me all kinds of happy, though.
Their second album Black and White features three of my favorite Maine songs: "Growing Up," "Colors," and "Don't Stop Now." The album has an uplifting pop-rock sound that's just fun to listen to. This is them starting to come into their own, I think. "Growing Up" is a beautiful, old school by-God anthem, with the iconic line "growing up won't bring us down." This could be straight out of an 80s arena rock playlist.
This brings us to Pioneer, which might be my favorite of their albums? It's definitely the hardest, most classic rock influenced, which obviously appeals to me. Check out this opening riff:
This song is such a hidden gem on the album. Another great riff, and beautiful lyrics:
My favorite song from this album will be at the end of the post!
Then we get to their most interesting and experimental album, Forever Halloween. Two of the first, and completely different-sounding, songs I got into from them are here, "Love and Drugs" and "Birthday in Los Angeles." They're still probably my favorite Maine songs, actually. This isn't my favorite album, which isn't to say I don't love it. The album cover is simple black with a skeleton, which of course appealed to me as I love anything creepy and Halloweeny. It's funny though, because they aren't really a gothy, Hot Topic-y band at all. But yeah, despite the sunny, upbeat "Love and Drugs," I guess this is their darkest album. Songs like "Forever Halloween," "Fucked Up Kids," "Happy," and the amazing "Birthday in Los Angeles" do fit that vibe. They're just not a very dark band. Something about the instrumentation makes me want to smile and hold up a lighter.
This next track has become one of my favorite songs, period. I love the kind of gritty folk-rock vibe, and the lyrics on this thing! "This ain't my birthday party, it's just a fashion show. Yeah this is something, it just isn't me, So long L.A." Did I mention I love dark songs about California? Because I do! And this might be the best one yet. (And yes, Murder House is my favorite season of AHS. That seemed relevant, suddenly.)
Finally, we get to 2015's sparkling, career-defining American Candy. I feel like this is my favorite because it kind of hits you like, BAM! This is The Maine. This is their signature sound. Their next album might sound completely different, and I kinda hope it does, but I think this will always define them for me, like Murmur defines REM. I don't know what modern rock radio plays anymore, but to me this album is radio-friendly in the BEST way. The hooky-and-well-produced-music way, not the "here's a dumb trend we're gonna squeeze dry" way. There is nothing trendy about The Maine, and that's probably the biggest compliment I could give anybody. Just pure music that obviously took effort, yet seems effortless.
If I had heard this in time, it would have made my top albums of 2015. I'll remedy that this year, along with a couple other albums.
"They've got American candy, for the American kids." Yesssss kids, take the candy, take it! Just don't get in the van.
Love the lyrics on this next one.
Anthem alert! These guys are really good at making these.
If, like me, you grew up with 80s and 90s radio, The Maine is a friendly, accessible band in these uncertain days. Catchy and melodic with quirky, insightful lyrics and the kind of crisp instrumentation the music world seems to have forgotten we like. Their albums are varied in sound so they invite repeated listens. Some of the songs hit you right away, others grow on you and have even more staying power. Unlike some samey-sounding pop punk bands that are immediately catchy but can wear thin, you won't get tired of The Maine. They're more like Weezer that way.
And while I feel they'll appeal to 80s and 90s kids, this is not a throwback band at all. They are, to me, a natural evolution of the rock/pop I grew up with. Even their own discography is an interesting evolution, as I tried to show here. I can't wait to see what they do next. A band like this, and the fact that they're popular with teens and 20somethings, gives me some hope the future of music won't be all artificial, disposable crap. Long live rock and roll.
I'm sure I've talked some shit about millennials on here, and it's not unwarranted. Today's popular music is crap and millennials are the target audience, which means they're mostly responsible since they're buying/streaming/vining(???) it. THANKS. Thanks, especially, for that exciting hip-hop sound of "about to slip into a coma." That was a great idea.
Sarcasm aside, some of you are awesome. Some of you are out there buying Weezer on vinyl which automatically makes you cooler than me, as I don't even own a turntable. But let's move beyond music for a moment, which is hard for me to do as I tend to judge everything through music. Clearly, millennials are not the problem in the big picture of the world. Old, scared people are. My older relatives are open-minded and lovely, but apparently some of y'all aren't so lucky. Millennials might buy shitty Drake records, but at least they're not afraid of everything and everyone that's different from them. So I'd like to issue a sincere apology. I'm sorry, from the bottom of my cold, dark, gen-x heart. Maybe someday you'll make the world a better place. I hope so. Just remember that music is supposed to sound like it has a pulse. That's all I ask of you.
One thing I didn't think I'd be doing in 2016 is talking about a Blink-182 album, much less downloading it. Green Day, sure. Weezer, absofrickinlutely. But Blink is a band I thought I'd left squarely back in the 90s, or at least the early 2000s. A band you'd expect to naturally outgrow.
Then I heard the song "Bored to Death" and it really grabbed me. A couple positive reviews later and I was listening to the whole album. If you never liked their old stuff, this album probably won't change your mind (unless you're an Alkaline Trio fan). But if you're like me and liked some of their stuff("Dammit" and "The Rock Show" are great songs) without getting really "into" them, California might have some appeal. Let's run down a few things.
1. Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio is a huge upgrade over Tom Delonge. I'm sorry, fans, but it's true. His contributions are probably the top reason I like this album so much, as it really sounds like a Blink-Alkaline hybrid at times.
2. I didn't realize I felt nostalgic for Blink until I listened to this album. That's a rare feat to pull off, making new music that automatically releases a wave of nostalgia, but it's the best feeling.
3. I really like music about California. I'm from there, so that makes sense. Doesn't really matter if it's negative or positive. This album is called California, and has songs called "Los Angeles," "San Diego," and you guessed it, "California," which are three of the most interesting tracks. "California," especially, is a kinda trippy song with a different and well-earned sound for the band. I'm impressed. The lyrics are bleak and genuinely evocative, which is not a word I'd expect to use in a Blink review.
"Beige little boxes in a row
Neighbors and friends that you don't know
Here's a form go wait in line
Can't you see I'm doing fine
It's what I've always wanted
Two little kids out on the lawn
Once we had love now it's gone
Good things haven't happened yet
I'm empty as a movie set
It's what I've always wanted"
Damn. I'm feelin' ya.
4. The album cover artwork!!! I want a print of that. It's creepy and beautiful.
This album feels really fresh; it's not a gimmicky, throwback record, this is clearly the band moving forward with a more mature, yet somehow even catchier sound. It will take you back to the 90s at times, and I think that has to do with the energy. It has the "full of life" feeling of an early project, with the polish of a later project.
Did I mention this might be their catchiest work ever? You get melodic, ear-pleasing songs like "Teenage Satellites," "Left Alone," "Kings of the Weekend" and "Bored to Death," mixed in with fun, short rockers like "Cynical" and "The Only Thing that Matters." And as I mentioned earlier, songs that really push the band's sound and work, like the harder-edged "Los Angeles" and more stripped-down "California." The production overall is bright and clear and well-suited to the band.
I don't know if this will make my top albums of the year, as it's not as substantive as say, Brandy Clark's album, or even Weezer's, but it is a fun, dark, and ultimately very rewarding surprise that should make my honorable mentions. It's the best thing they could have released, and I'm gonna be listening to this all summer. Man, do I love dark summer songs. "Wearing black to the beach," a line from "California," pretty much sums this up perfectly.
"Left Alone" is probably my favorite track. Great melody and a real showcase for Matt Skiba's voice.
Random strangers who try to make dumb chitchat while I'm wearing earphones:
I can barely hear what you're saying. I assume if you had something actually important to say, like "OMG your butt's on fire!" or "OMG there's a pack of wolves chasing you!" or "OMG there's a pack of wolves on fire chasing you!" you'd probably talk louder.
No, I will not take them out to hear your stunning observations about the weather. I'd rather keep listening to music, even if it's that stupid Kesha song I like for some reason. I don't know you, and I don't owe you anything, so don't be offended.
Do people not realize how much that shit annoys introverts, or do they just not care? I'm banking on the latter, considering how many people seem to view introverts as unconverted extroverts. *sigh* THAT"S NOT THE WAY IT WORKS.
Just so this post isn't 100% bitchin', my tbt post was originally gonna be about old Mariah Carey videos, which are a major nostalgia blast if you were a teen in the 90s. Trust me. But after thinking about Kelsea Bananadaiquiri yesterday (something I don't recommend you do), I had to give a shoutout to some great women of country radio past. So, next Thursday will be Mariah. Her "Emotions" video is a real treat, if you can tolerate that high-pitched squeak thing she does. I think being around in the early 90s I'm automatically immune to it.