Saturday, January 26, 2013

What do you do when you're a shut in?

It's happened to everyone. You get ill, or injured, and you're stuck at home for a day or two .I've been stuck at home for a week. It was emergency surgery, due to bad surgery in the past. So, I'm stuck at home for a week or two.  Apart from the internet, and the blog posts I've already made, here's some media I've consumed;
Magazines: Popular Science, Esquire, Popular Mechanics, Men's Journal, Shop Smart, Rolling Stone, Backpacker, Psychology Today, Outside,American Frontiersman, and Consumer Reports Best & Worst New Cars
TV Series: Feasting on Asphalt, Walking Dead, Rescue Me,  How I Met Your Mother, Portlandia, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Movies: Near Dark, Marnie, Brick, The Runaways, Inglourius Basterds, Dead Man, and  Akira
Books: The Portable Henry Rollins,Portlandia: a Guide for Visitors, Violence Girl, and  Undisputed

What do I have to say about my past 5 days of media?
1. I gotta get back to hiking and camping, it's been too long.
2. Feasting on Asphalt demonstrates how Alton Brown makes superior TV to Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain might be more interesting as a person, but Brown makes better TV- the fact that Bourdain is more popular only shows that, conclusively.
2. Rescue Me will always be my favorite show. But I'm open to new things. Portlandia is very good, Walking Dead can be excellent, and Boardwalk Empire ( which I didn't watch, yet) is probably a better miniseries than ongoing TV show, even if it's equally high quality Television. Oh, and the Prisoner is right up there with Rescue Me, but it, too, functions like a miniseries.
3. Near Dark is a great movie, but it is starting to get a bit dated. Marnie I ended up watching for the costumes and the mid 1960's aesthetic, not because the movie is worth a damn.
4. While Henry and Alice are some very, very angry people- it strikes me that Chris Jericho is trying to be as charming as Portlandia, but he's seen more actual violence than both of them. I wonder what that really says about the nature of truly violent people?

Anyway, nothing too deep- but I figured at least one post about how we actually consume media wouldn't be a bad idea.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mike Atta

Mike's an old friend. While no one deserves cancer, and we all die sooner or later- it sucks extra hard when our friends get sick, or are in extra danger of dying. So, I'm asking you to consider donating. Even if you don't think you can help Mike, you might help Van. Right here:

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Exciting new music!

Have you heard the new Black Rebel Motorcycle Club? It's a really good, I think. A re-imagining of a song by the Call, the band fronted by the singer's late father, it's got that druggy loose vibe that I look for from BRMC, but it rolls with the swing and heft of a much heavier band- like QOTSA or maybe later Led Zeppelin.
Then, as I mentioned, I've been ill and in hospital, and so I really got a chance to dig into the new Joy Formidable LP, "Wolf's Law". I have to get rid of the bad first: if you've been paying attention over the past year, you have already heard the highlights- "This Ladder is Ours", and "Cholla", and they do have the tendency to plunder from the same vein again and again. Also, they do have a sophomore album disease- this thing is over-produced even beyond what Thirty Seconds to Mars, Muse and Placebo do to their music- and that clearly is the crowd that The Joy Formidable are shooting for, these days. That having said, I prefer this to the Big Roar- there is a lot more range and dynamics this time around. The songs still tend to resolve themselves into a big dizzy blur, but they hold off a bit more, and it brings out the songs a bit. So, call it a near miss, as opposed to "hit or miss" as the Big Roar was. But, if the thought of Siouxsie meets Lush meets pop-rock Gods level Muse amuses you, as it does me, this is well worth it. I mean take "Bats"- there are sections that sound like a feminine version of mid-1990's Killing Joke- tell me that's not worth it! Or, consider the Maw Maw song, which combines a rolling fuzz bass, icy electronics and a big prog rock chorus, like Thirty Seconds to Mars meets Rush, but with lyrics that seem like a piss-take of all the above. There's nothing on here that truly carries through on the promise their sound implies- some kind of profound melodramatic take on shoegazer music, but it's still better than their male peers in that neo-prog genre that they're inching towards.
Then, I also heard the new Bad Religion- True North. Umm, well, it's a Bad Religion record. Rarely have I heard a band that clings so closely to their formula. Seriously, since the late 1980's they sound pretty much exactly the same. Now, it's a decent sound- syrupy sweet vocal harmonies, on fairly verbose socio-political pop punk, held to the tightest structure this side of Rockabilly.So, yes, it's ear-pleasing, and there's nothing to  complain about, and I actually find it comforting to listen to, and, if I'm honest, I'll admit that it's very appealing to me. However, Bad Religion are a super-group. You've got members from best-selling most influential etc, etc punk rock artists here- from Hetson being in Red Cross to Baker being in Minor Threat. With that pedigree, I'd expect more- and they've hinted that this is it- their last record. Why not go out on some kind of statement? I suppose following the formula is the statement- this is Bad Religion, and nothing more or less. So maybe if you have found a sound you should just make that sound and allow others to find their sounds?
I don't know, I find that hard to swallow. I find it more exciting, and more engaging when a band is trying to find sounds to express who they are today, even if that's more volatile with a bigger chance of failure, than of success. But, is it the point of music to be exciting? what of pleasure? What of comfort? What of warmth and nostalgia, and sentiment? I don't know if I'm right to want more, I just know that I do want more.

Unfairly dismissed and backhanded compliments

So, I don't always play fair. Sometimes, I don't give things enough credit. I can think of two that I've done that with in he past year. First- the  Riverboat Gamblers- The Wolf You Feed cd released back in may. I still don't think it's outstanding. It's merely catchy and tight garage rock with a punky edge. I think it's telling that  Mike Wiebe, the singer, has been putting more into his comedy career as of late. But, as compared to most of the pop punk released, this stuff has much more solid songwriting. Dillinger Four and The Bronx both do it much,  much better, but I think the Gamblers at least deserve a mention.
Second, I should have at least talked about Metz. A lot of folks have hyped them, and I've heard them, and, unlike many of their "sloppy noise" band peers, I don't hate them. I mean in contrast- consider Blacklisters. For every decent bar of one of their songs, there's at least another bar that sounds directionless, and basically, a rest for the musicians to figure out what they're doing next. As a listeners, that's really not challenging, nor enjoyable, so overall, I'm not interested. Metz at least retain their focus. So, while I wouldn't put them on a "best" list, exactly- they do have the dubious honour of being the best of a bad lot- the neo- noise rock that appears to be hip, this past year.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Excuses, excuses

Sorry, I was planning to post stuff about the new Joy Formidable and Bad Religion records this weekend, but I got really ill last thursday morning, and had to go in for emergency surgery. I just got home, today, and still feel pretty awful. I will post about them and more in the next few days....