Sunday, January 10, 2010

Some New-to-Me stuff.

So, after the holiday season, I like to post reviews of some of the media type things I got. It's really more-or-less my way of acknowledging stuff that I think is cool, but might be a few years removed from the public eye.
One of my favorite shows on television is How I Met Your Mother. I could write a few pages of justification. For example, the sheer level of narrative experimentation is amazing, but done so seamlessly that it feels like a standard sit-com ensemble comedy like "Friends", or "Seinfeld". But, every episode unspools with flashback-within-flashbacks, deceptive narrators telling parallel narratives, and so on. I could also justify it by pointing out the three genius comedic actors in the cast- Jason Segal, Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris. I could even point out the hip, and stylish wardrobe and soundtrack. But, the truth is that I like it because it is funny and touching in ways that seem written to my demographic. In other words, the references are relevant to me, the jokes are structured like my humor, even the storyline seems like people I know. In other words, for a fictional TV show, it seems awfully familiar. So, I now have seasons 3 and 4 to go with the two seasons I already own.
Another favorite is the band Self. Now, they had a bit of a rough ride, with Major Label problems, and band member deaths, but the music should be considered classic Pop. As in, if you like Pop/Rock, Self will probably have at least one song you'll hum. So, I've got Breakfast with Girls, which is just another lost classic long player.
I also like to experiment a bit, so I also have a band that I knew only a little about before getting the CD. Kylesa play what gets called "Sludge metal". Hardly, if you ask me. This, much like the best so-called "Grunge" bands, seems to apply a punky drive and rawness to psychedelic rock from the early 1970's. What I mean is, just like the seattle bands, the reference points are more Black Sabbath, Blue Cheer and Black Flag than Judas Priest and Slayer. This is heavy, yes, but metal? That's a harder sell. The unusual arrangements seem to center on a melodic phrase played repeatedly with intricate drum patterns for variation (the instrumentation for most songs is two guitar players, two drummers, two vocalists, and one fuzzed out bass, for an anchor). Like Pelican, Like Queens of the Stone Age, like Soundgarden, I think it'd be way too limiting to call this "metal". It's hypnotic grooves, downtuned and fuzzed out with Punk/Hardcore shouted vocals. So, to say I like Static Tensions is simply to acknowledge that I like fine hard rock.
Speaking of fine Hard Rock, it's hard for me to think of much better than Australia's You Am I. They play a gloriously dissolute brand of poppy hard rock, like Tim-era Replacements- meets Exile on Main Street Rolling Stones. The new-to-me recording I got this time around is 2001's Dress Me Slowly. I'd say it's their second weakest. (The weakest was 2003's Deliverance, in my opinion) Most fans would disagree with me there, but see, as much I like their slow, sweet quiet songs, I think their bigger talent shines when they kick up a ruckus. It's much like the difference between a fake TV drunk, and an actually drunk person in your living room. The TV drunk will swagger about, do something outrageous, and make you laugh. The real drunk will annoy you for hours with their sad tale before throwing up on your rug, and making you clean it up. The slow songs may be more honest and real, but I want to have a laugh and nod my head for a minute or two, then, move on with my life. So, while I can appreciate the sensitive Art, I'd prefer to kick out the jams. Still, this is You Am I, and when they settle on a riff, it's like clockwork. It'll be the best two to three minutes of your day. What more do you want from a bunch of degenerate heavy drinkers?