1. Monkey Gone to Hell: The Pixies’ New EP

    To quote a very wise, very fictional heroin addict, “Well, at one point you’ve got it, then you lose it. And it’s gone forever—all walks of life.” The quote from Trainspotting's Sick Boy is depressingly accurate of The Pixies' latest EP.

    I love The Pixies. Ever since I was a kid, their albums held a very special place with me—all of them. They were flawless. Every time I hear Doolittle I remember being 12 years old more vividly than I do waking up that morning. It’s not just nostalgia, though. All four of their albums (including the Come On Pilgrim EP) remain classics to this day. I can’t ever get tired of them; truly superb songwriting and creativity. They had a short run but their effect was insurmountable. It was without question that The Pixies went down as one of the most important—and greatest—bands in music history. Does that sound subjective as hell? Yes, it sure does. But if you’re thinking that then you probably haven’t heard any of their albums. Either that or you made the grave mistake of listening to EP1.

    When I learned that founding member, bassist and backup/lead vocalist Kim Deal had left the band this past summer, it left a pit in my stomach that actually scared me. From what I know, the rest of the band wanted to continue writing new music; she did not.

    For anyone that has seen the Pixies’ documentary, loudQUIETloud, you should understand exactly why they should not continue writing. It’s not because they’ve aged, or because they’ve lost all chemistry with each other, or even because they’re all frighteningly unstable, emotionally. It’s because their time together is over. Without question, I know there are people reading this that think I’m a fascist for saying an artist shouldn’t be allowed to do what they love to do. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed, I just wish The Pixies would have as much respect for their music and their fans as we do of them. Or did, in my case.

    I didn’t want to give their new EP a fair chance, I really didn’t. But I knew I had to. The lack of Deal scared me to no end, but I pressed on and hit the play button. All of my fears came true. Nothing—there was nothing about EP1 that made it The Pixies. Even Frank Black’s voice was a shell of its former self. Sure, it was their style, but there wasn’t any heart, there wasn’t any quirkiness and worst of all, there wasn’t any good songwriting. I would have wholeheartedly embraced their reunion had these songs showed promise. But, instead, they’ve effectively ruined their once flawless reputation.

    Basic, empty chord changes, uninteresting vocals and guitars with barely enough life to say that Joey Santiago turned his amp on. It broke my heart. I feel no joy in bashing one of my all time favorite bands, but goddammit, they really earned it with this one. Yeah, I understand I may be acting a bit dramatic (I’m a man of passion, what can I say?) but there is no way anyone can sit down and compare EP1, side by side, with any of their previous albums and say that they didn’t pull out a huge, throbbing dildo, and mercilessly fuck their loyal fans in the face.

    I haven’t mentioned this before, as it is a touchy subject for me, but Black Flag has done the exact same thing this year, as well. Greg Ginn reunited the band, released a shitty new album, and ruined Black Flag’s legendary reputation. Why? Because Keith Morris (who declined to perform Ginn’s nonprofit cat benefit/Black Flag reunion show a few years back because the job didn’t pay—how very punk of him), Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena and Bill Stevenson formed their own version of Black Flag, simply titled FLAG, where they toured performing Black Flag songs. Was it uncool of them to tour the country to play songs written by another guy without permission? Yes. Was it worse for Ginn to release a brand new shitty album under the Black Flag moniker? According to fans and even his own brother Raymond Pettibon: Much worse.

    What is it with these reunions? I’m almost glad that Captain Beefheart died before he made an atrocious comeback album. That’s not nice. I really love Captain Beefheart and I was devastated when he died. But I also loved The Pixies and Black Flag. I’m honestly afraid to hold any band in high regard now. As soon as I let my guard down Minor Threat might reunite with Billie Joe Armstrong on guitar to release A Very Punk Christmas. You just never know when something you loved since you were a kid might make their comeback album come on your back, on your face, and on your dreams.

    This subject bothered me so much that I was actually not going to write about it. But I almost feel like I would be doing a disservice to these bands if I didn’t speak up. Sure, I’m insulting the holy hell out of them, but I’m doing it out of the passion that they created with their previous work. I’m angry because they were so good, yet they were somehow unsatisfied with that. They essentially hit the jackpot in Vegas, invested it for twenty years, then bet all of it on “black” and immediately lost. It’s hard to respect a band that won’t look at themselves through the eyes of their fans. Especially ones that have a gambling problem. 

     


  2. Who Likes Sites Way More Organized Than This One?

    The fine folks over at Think-Entertainment were kind enough to hire me as a writer. You can check out my review of Shadow of the Colossus published there right hereeeeee. Be sure to read everything they got and to follow on the twitting site—or whatever you kids call it. I command you! Now begone, peon! 

    No, no. I’m kidding. I love you, peon. 

    http://www.think-entertainment.net/

     


  3. Who Likes The Deftones?

    I reviewed a whopping 3 whole albums of theirs. Not to worry, the page will be updated with more recent albums soon. Band links are under the banner (for those of you who don’t actually visit my blog… you traitorous bastards)—check ‘em out…

    please?

     


  4. Clouds Gather Over Our Velvet Skies

    We’ve lost another one, people. Legend Lou Reed has now left us at the ripe age of 71. The man needs no introduction. Over the years his influence has spread more severely than the recent zombie apocalypse trend. Only a man as talented and respected as Reed could be apart of the abomination that was Lulu and still maintain his reputation. I couldn’t be happier with such result—he earned the hell out of it. We don’t have many great ones left; It’s a sad day today. 

    R.I.P.

     


  5. Album of The Week: Sparks - Lil’ Beethoven

    Okay, first off: this is probably one of my most pointless posts considering that Sparks is a band that I plan on writing an entire review page on but goddammit, I’m into this album now, goddammit!

    Lord baby-all-the-way-to-adult-Jesus in heaven is this album great. I will wholeheartedly go on record as saying that Sparks is one of the greatest gifts to music since the invention of sound. Let me give you a brief explanation.

    Sparks formed in the late 60’s under the name ‘Halfnelson’ but quickly changed their name to ‘Sparks’ following the subsequent lack of anyone paying attention to their first album. The name change didn’t make a lick of difference, however, as their second album fared no better. They then relocated to England where—lo and behold—they became immensely popular. Which only furthers my argument that the UK has about 50 IQ points on the entire US. The first 5 (yes, that’s right. FIVE) Sparks albums are the work of gods. Led (and continued) by brothers Ron and Russell Mael, they alone managed to make falsetto-sung-pop-rock the most incredible music emerging from the 1970’s. Throughout the 80’s and 90’s their popularity declined and they focused on a lot of—ahem—crap. But in 2002 they released this golden masterpiece—creating an entirely new style and identity, unlike any before or since. This album was so good that the albums following Lil’ Beethoven progressed and expanded upon this new style, spawning even more incredible albums.

    As much as I urge you to listen to everything by Sparks, I must warn that comparing the first 5 phenomenal albums to Lil’ Beethoven is not something I recommend. They are essentially two completely different bands. Both exquisite, but entirely different. Lil’ Beethoven is hard to describe as anything other than “modern classical music with billions of smart vocal overdubs.” It’s repetitive and much of it revolves around minor keys but the execution is near perfect. Hilarious lyrics, beautiful melodies and some of the most interesting vocals around. So much so, that a large portion of this album’s rhythm stems directly from the vocals. THE RHYTHM COMES FROM THE VOCALS. It’s really hard to convey how brilliant it is with mere words. So, I’m gonna stop before this gets even more preachy. 

    If you can listen to classical music not as white noise to fall asleep to, then Lil’ Beethoven should amaze you. Everyone praises The Beatles as innovative musical geniuses—and rightly so—yet everyone ignores the ones that are still with us.

    Plus, Ron was ballsy enough to rock the Charlie Chaplin ‘stache in the 70’s. Who wouldn’t want someone like that in their home at all times?

     


  6. The World’s End: Review

    9/10

    What are some ingredients one would need in order to make an original and side splitting comedy? If you immediately thought “beer, evil robots, Simon Pegg and blue stuff” then The World’s End was made specifically for your unusual tastes. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright have teamed up once again to release a creative, surprisingly action-packed, hilarious little flick. The World’s End bares little resemblance to the previous films in the “Cornetto Trilogy” (Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz, respectively) aside from the main protagonists being played by, dream team, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. These two have always been amazing together and THANK THE LORD that this movie is no different.

    I saw The World’s End at a special screening of the whole trilogy where each movie was played consecutively. The best thing about seeing The World’s End in this fashion (aside from it being one of the most awesome movie experiences of my life—even in spite of spilling an entire thing of overpriced nacho cheese on myself) was that I was able to directly compare it to the rest of the trilogy. This movie holds up just as well as the others while never hinting that the writers were repeating themselves. This movie, particularly, has taken a few steps back from the constant subtlety of British humor and adopted a much more straightforward approach to comedy. Believe me, the jokes are still hilarious and are light years smarter than anything you’ll see on TBS so don’t lose faith just yet. The downside to this, however, is that where I seemed to discover new jokes every time I watched Shaun of The Dead, The World’s End has greatly reduced the amount of jokes hidden throughout the entire film. To be fair, I have only seen this movie once so that is subject to change. Even still, the huge increase in action took up more screen time than any other film in the trilogy.

    Some pictures don’t need captions.

    The film follows Gary King (Pegg): depressed, poor and unable to move on from his glory days in high school. His peak: A 12 pub long pub crawl that he and his friends attempted in high school but never completed. His new plan: get his old gang back together and finish it as adults. The result: fucking hilarity.

    I don’t think this movie did all that well at the box office and that isn’t very surprising. I mean, for one thing it’s actually good. But numbers and criticism (except mine, of course) should not matter if the damn thing is this enjoyable. I mentioned a while back in my This is The End review that it was the funniest movie I’d see all year. Well, that certainly isn’t the case after watching The World’s End (yes, they are indeed two different movies). Where that movie threw an endless barrage of dick jokes at the viewer, The World’s End is infinitely smarter and completely nails everything it set out to do, unlike the former. 

    Highly recommended. Even more so if you’re at all familiar with Pegg and Frost’s previous work. It may not be hilarious from beginning to end like Shaun of The Dead but it manages to find a great stylistic balance between Shaun of The Dead and Hot Fuzz. The World’s End is proof that the action/comedy genre doesn’t have to suck. Apparently, only England has figured that out so far. (Note: This is a British movie—that would be the joke, America

     


  7. Album of The Week: Daft Punk - Random Access Memories

    Before I get started here I’d just like to apologize to all 3 of my readers for my incredible lack of activity here, lately. It’s the first time in, probably, the better part of a decade that I’ve actually been busy. So, this is actually being written on my phone at my new job. Yes, another new job. I know, I have a problem with commitment.

    I have a lot of regular friends. By “regular” I mean they’re not the most passionate of folks. I’m an absolute freak about music and comedy but none of them have any similar passions. It’s likely this reason that they pretty much accept any music on the radio as what’s out there. I, as you may have noticed, don’t accept anything until it has literally gone down and blown me. So, I absolutely had to hear what all the damn fuss was about with Daft Punk’s latest album.

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    My thoughts are mixed. On one hand I think Random Access Memories is a very good and accessible pop album. On the other, it falls flat with creativity and drags on for what feels like an eternity. God almighty, this fucking thing is 74 minutes long. I don’t hate long albums; I may like short albums eons more, but there are buttloads of long albums I enjoy (Swans’ amazing 2 hour long The Seer comes to mind). But if you’re making an album longer than the standard 40 minutes, for the love of God, keep it interesting. Daft Punk has not done so. They found a ball-squeezingly effective formula for hit singles on this album: the whole disco/funk homage thing. It’s not so much of a homage as it is a blatant recreation of the style, but it works! Unfortunately, that’s basically the only style present throughout the entire 74 fucking minute album.

    I’m the biggest hypocrite ever since I’m actually listening to the album right now. But that only brings me to my next point: the album is still good! There are great songs all over the place. In fact, there are only about two or three songs that I actually don’t like (“Touch”? More like “Three Dog Night was A Shitty Band And Any Other Guest Vocalist Could Have Done A Better Job”). Problem is, those songs are very noticeable and impossible to overlook. But even the unbearably overplayed “Get Lucky” has earned what I call the “Faith No More’s ‘Epic’ effect”. Which basically means I hated it with every fiber of my being until it slowly grew on me. Plus, “Lose Yourself To Dance” is just phenomenal.

    The album is entirely inoffensive and leaves me almost guaranteed that Daft Punk was afraid to take any creative chances with it. Disappointing, really, because it’s clear they really can write some great songs—with or without the help of Pharrell’s talentless falsetto. So, in conclusion, what I’m trying to say is that if these guys can be considered geniuses for this album then the guy at the real estate booth 15 feet away from me is a goddamn guru.

     


  8. The Last of Us: Review

    10/10

    I really do love art. All types of it. Sure, I’m obviously more drawn to certain forms of it than others but I appreciate all art for what it does and what it means to the people both creating and observing it. No matter what particular medium it is coming from, when a certain form of art can strike up a real emotion from a person means it has done its job. This most often (obviously excluding visual art) comes from writing. Books, movies, music, poetry and yes, even video games are all areas where writing can truly affect someone and has continued to do so over centuries. Video games are the most recent form of storytelling that has grown in both complexity and overall creativity. It’s the same with games’ storytelling as it is with movies, books and, to certain degree, music: there is a wealth of crap overshadowing the snippets of genius scattered throughout our society. But every once in a while one of the truly great ones will step over the cracks and make it big. It is complete and utter justice that The Last of Us has found such success. It is the first game since 2005’s God of War (and shortly prior: Resident Evil 4) that has instantly made it one of my favorite games of all time. No other game I’ve played has left such a lasting impact. The writing in The Last of Us is not only one of the best in video game history, but in storytelling history. Combine that with tight, fluid and satisfying gameplay and you have one of the most fulfilling and—dare I say it—perfect gaming experiences ever conceived.

    Among the millions of other reviews of this game that there are, you’re going to find a whole lot of the same; there is very little negativity anyone can say about it. I’m no different. Throughout my time with The Last of Us, for a while I was actually trying to find something I didn’t like about it. I found one thing. When making a quick 180 turn, Joel (that’s you) makes a small gasp every other time the action is performed. I found this to be a bit annoying considering how often I spam the quick 180 turn in any game it’s featured in. That is the absolute height of complaints I have about this game.

    I want to talk about what’s most important about this game as early as possible. Without question that is, in fact, the story. It’s great when a movie leaves you with an ambiguous ending that can stir up some questions. Or maybe when the entire film is full of bitter sadness and leaves the viewer with some hope at the end. Or even one that is complete despair from beginning to end and ruthlessly destroys the viewer emotionally by the time the credits roll. I’m almost certain no one will agree with me but when an ending of a story leaves me with a pit in my stomach, I feel that is a great story. The Last of Us is a bleak and joyless tale of a man and a young girl trying to survive 20 years after the world has succumbed to a deadly infection. It sounds played out and typical of post-apocalyptic scenarios but I assure you that the approach that is displayed here is anything but typical. The Last of Us is a story about its characters rather than its world. And though post-apocalyptic settings are beyond overused as of late, the actual events that take place are anything but. So many events that take place within this game will stay with you long after you complete it. It took me over 2 weeks to play this game again after I had completed it the first time. The thought provoking ending left me speechless and hopelessly conflicted to the point where I needed time before I was able to look at any of the characters again.  

    As if the story wasn’t enough, The Last of Us is one of the most fine tuned and overall fun action/adventure experiences I’ve ever had. Every time I hit someone over the head with a pipe or landed a head shot on the first draw brought out the giddy gamer in me. You feel every action that you perform in shocking detail. Fortunately (or ‘unfortunately’ if you’re a little Nancy boy) those actions are horrifically brutal. The violence in The Last of Us is not unparalleled by any means, but it is one of the few games where its excessive violence feels very real.

    You will spend most of your time scavenging throughout the lengthy adventure. It may sound tedious on paper but the execution is of Zelda proportions. As supplies are very limited you will need to collect various items to build sub-weapons, upgrade your larger weapons and build health items. Luckily, looking through every nook and cranny for supplies is visually amazing, as well. No other video game world is more immersive than the intricate one Naughty Dog has created with this title. Among the beautiful locations there are loads of in-game dialogues subtle enough to stay intriguing yet entertaining enough to keep the overall experience of the game unhindered. I found myself looking forward to every conversation just as much as every new location.

    The soundtrack is fitting, the voice acting is flawless and the graphics are damn near perfect. Every subtle movement and facial expression is captured. Never before this game have I been able to read body language from a video game’s character model. That, in and of itself, is a remarkable achievement. The enemy and partner AI is undeniably competent. I’ve read several complaints that the fact that enemies cannot spot your partners breaks the game’s immersion. Though that is true, it’s a small price to pay for making the game as fun and accessible as it is.

    The Last of Us is likely to be the only 10 I award to a video game for a very long time. It is not a game for the faint of heart yet it should still be experienced by so many. It seems almost futile to further explain why this game is great. You need to experience it for yourself to get the full effect. Why Naughty Dog is so good at making video games I have no idea. They’re probably doping.

     


  9. Album of The Week: The Stooges - Fun House

    I’m a genius. We all knew that. But only a special kind of genius would decide to write what will inevitably be a 500 word page of nonsensical jibberish only minutes before having to go to sleep for work in the morning. Which brings me to my next point: Iggy Pop is old as hell.

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    And finer than ever. 

    Which brings me to my nexter point: Fun House is quite possibly one of the greatest albums ever written. 

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    I don’t care what kind of music you like. You can get off to Josh Groban making out with a tuba—or whatever it is that he does—for all I care; Fun House is an album that should have made The Stooges a household name. Good thing it didn’t though. Can you imagine what it would be like if they were still prancing around the stage like The Rolling Stones are today?

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    The Stooges are the grandfathers of punk and Iggy Pop is the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Why? Because not only will the man not die, but he has more energy now than I did when I was 8 years old. He’s never slowed down and by God, he’s never put a shirt on. The Stooges released 3 great albums before they disbanded and made way for Iggy’s solo career. Then they reunited in 2003 with the man in the van with a bass in his hand Mr. Mike Watt. For any of you who didn’t understand that last sentence, please for the love of God, look up and watch We Jam Econo. It should still be on Netflix. Anyway, The Stooges put out one more album—which I hear was pretty shitty—and are still touring as far as I know. 

    Back to Fun House. It’s really freakin’ good. It was released in 1970 and was The Stooges’ second album. From start to finish it’s aggressive and full of energy. The strong vocals from Mr. Pop perfectly layer on top of some of the most satisfyingly dissonant guitars. Especially for 1970! No one was this heavy and noisy at that time. At least not anyone that made a name for themselves. 

    I’ve been listening to this album for years and I don’t think I’ve ever listened to it just once in one sitting. It’s one of those albums that you just have to put on again immediately after it ends. Unfortunately, Elektra didn’t agree and promptly dropped The Stooges after the album’s release. 

     

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    It’s okay, Iggy; you’ll have other opportunities to expose yourself.

    Before I turn this post into an Iggy Pop portfolio I should wrap this up. Listen to the album, goddammit! It’s good. Super good. I’m not exactly sure how to end this so I will leave you all with one last photo:

     

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    You’re welcome.

     


  10. Album of The Week: Wire - Pink Flag

    This post is about a week late so… whoops.

    I’m recovering from a long night of drinking, which, to be quite honest, I’m still a little buzzed from. If you don’t realize how much alcohol is in a liter of beer—especially after already throwing back drinks the whole night—then you’re pretty much in the same boat I was in last night. All I remember from the night is talking to some old chick at a bar who kept giving me kisses on the cheek and being mesmerized by this gorgeous fat bartender. Okay she wasn’t exactly fat: she just had fat arms. Plus, I just checked my phone for any potential drunk texts and I apparently texted—very retardedly mind you—an ex-coworker whose number I miraculously got the other day. So, for my sake, let’s hope her phone spontaneously explodes before she gets a chance to read it. 

    This week’s recommendation is of the legendary Pink Flag by British punk pioneers Wire. This album is on basically everyone’s favorite albums list. With good reason too!

    There’s nothing more satisfying than a band with accurate advertising.

    I’ve seen Wire labeled as an ‘arty Ramones’ a number of times. In some ways I can agree but that is such a shallow comparison. Especially of a band that has written so many great melodies. Just because a band writes an interesting song doesn’t make them ‘arty’. I can definitely see the Ramones comparison though! Wire was known for writing songs that often consisted of one note yet were still somehow great. There was something about the delivery that made them so appealing. I’m not sure if it was the heavily British accented vocals or the minimalist production but it comes across as genuine, catchy and just downright bad ass. 

    There are a remarkable number of highlights on this album that keep me coming back for more. So much so that it’s often easy to overlook that there is a black hole of average songs thrown into the middle of the album. Not bad songs by any means, but just average songs whose purpose seems only to push the album forward. Luckily, those songs tend to be quite short so it’s not like I’m losing sleep over it. Nor should you!

    Pink Flag is an album that you simply must hear if you have any passing interest in punk. Wire shirts aren’t sold at Wal-Mart and their songs aren’t blasted at baseball games like The Ramones but they are just as essential in anyone’s music collection. If you need any more convincing then I recommended drinking a lot, awkwardly staring at an attractive, overweight bartender and then reading this page again. If that doesn’t convince you, well dammit, nothing will. 

     


  11. The Wolverine: Review

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    7/10

    Every review of this movie should be summarized with one sentence: The Wolverine is much better than X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I’ll admit that even Les Miserables gave a more accurate and impressive depiction of Wolverine’s origins than that movie did but that isn’t the point here. Essentially, The Wolverine is the result of movie producers realizing they pulled a huge boner with their last Wolverine attempt and trying to make a better version without admitting they pulled a huge boner with their last attempt. What I mean by that is The Wolverine is awkwardly thrown into the original X-men trilogy’s story arc—taking place after the events of X-Men: The Last Stand (thus taking place way the hell after X-Men Origins). Though I’m sure that future X-Men movies will sort out the awkward timeline displayed within this movie, it doesn’t change The Wolverine from being what should have been Logan’s origin story. Fortunately for pretty much everyone, it’s at least a decent flick.

    For anyone not in the know, The Wolverine takes place during Logan’s escapades in Japan. This—from what I’m pretty sure of—was supposed to take place long before Logan joined the X-Men. So comic purists will already be pissed off that The Wolverine is the latest entry in the movie canon’s timeline. This time around, the movie is focused entirely on Wolverine; any and all references to the X-Men or other mutants are kept to a surprising minimum. While this aspect gives the movie its own individuality, it’s often easy to forget that Wolverine was indeed an X-Man. Despite this, The Wolverine is action packed and fun. It’s also riddled with bad acting and predictable Hollywood clichés.

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    Not to mention the constant feeling of inadequacy.

    Right off the bat one of the first things I noticed was that the events that would eventually lead up to the main story felt incredibly forced. It felt as if only a few minute [my-newt] changes would have altered the story from ‘Wolverine ripping his way across Japan’ to ‘Wolverine drinking liquor for an hour and a half without anything else happening’. The impression I was left with is that these people wrote nearly the entire movie but somehow forgot to think of a setup. Not a good start.

    But dammit, you didn’t come here for setups and storylines did you! You came to see Hugh Jackman take off his shirt and murder the Japanese. Well, you and every other racist are in luck because that’s pretty much most of the movie. As far as action goes, The Wolverine takes the cake. Watching Logan berserker his way through the poor, unsuspecting east was truly a delight. That, plus the first ever physically accurate on-top-of-a-train-fight made this one of the most entertaining X-Men movies to date.

    What bugs me most about this movie is that where it could have really shined as a nonstop action flick, it is instead plagued with terrible plot progression, a few cringe-worthy acting performances and just downright bad dialogue. So much of the movie is predictable that it’s damn near unbearable. It’s as if a 90lb 14 year old was set to fight Mike Tyson and you were forced to watch an hour long pre-fight special; you’re just watching a bunch of BS when you know what’s going to happen at the end.

    Though the story is nothing to take your pants off over, the action is really exciting and there were an unsuspectingly large number of genuinely hilarious moments as well. Not in the ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ sense either; the parts that are bad, are just bad. But to be fair, the parts that are good are really good! I would watch it again. The best part about a predictable movie is that the surprise factor isn’t really an actual factor so you’re free to enjoy the killing multiple times without further disappointment. I can almost guarantee that if you know what you’re getting into, you will not be disappointed with this movie. That is unless you’re dead-set on comic book accuracy; in which case keep your rioting to a minimum. The Wolverine does well with what should have been a prequel even in spite of its bag of overused Hollywood tricks. And the best part is there’s no Ryan Reynolds reprising his role as Van Wilder either.

    Before I forget, if you are planning on seeing this movie, there is indeed a post-credits scene that you might not want to miss. When I saw it, I noticed an assload of moviegoers that tried to leave early foolishly watching the scene from the theater’s hallway. They looked like idiots. 

     

     


  12. Album of The Week: Failure - Magnified

    God, this weekly album thing is going to get old quick. I just got a new job and I haven’t had much free time between that, sleeping and wasting all of my money at overpriced bars. Not to mention that my job is located right next door to the shittier side of downtown LA. If you would like an idea of just how shitty it is, let’s just say that last week marked my second time seeing a homeless person take a dump in broad daylight. 

    This week’s album is none other than Magnified by Failure. Truly a groundbreaking 1991 album. It changed the course of rock music, bringing the whole grunge scene into the mainstream’s eye. With hits like “Come As You Are” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, it’s no surprise that Failure never fell through the cracks and was never subsequently ignored up until this day.

    That’s one ugly ass baby.

    Magnified was Failure’s 2nd album, released in 1994. Failure is often compared to Nirvana despite not ever really sounding like them. They were tighter and put a much bigger emphasis on guitar interplay than Nirvana ever did. Oftentimes it resulted in some heavy and truly inventive songwriting. Other times it sounded little different from regular alternative—albeit hard hitting alternative. 

    This album flourishes in both respects. Half of it is some of the most creative and bitter music I’ve heard in recent years. The other half fluctuates from fast, catchy rockers to downright boring alternative numbers.

    Failure’s first album was on the noisier side (and was also produced by Super Steve Albini!) while their third and final album was a lot more mellow and accessible. Magnified is a respectable combination of the two. Their most well-rounded album, definitely. This may not be the album for everyone, but Failure is a band that should definitely be heard. It probably won’t be too easy to find nowadays, though. So, Youtube it or something. 

     


  13. Album of the Week: Meat Puppets - II

    So I’ve realized it takes me very long to review… well, everything. So, every week I’ve decided to write about which album I’m particularly goovin’ on during said week. Mostly as quick recommendations to people merely skimming this boring ass blog.

    This week—as I’m sure you could tell from the title—is of Barry Manilow’s If I Should Love Again.

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    This album has a very deep and emotional place in my heart for the following reasons:

    I was going to go on an entire spiel about the wonders of adult contemporary but I got tired of the joke. This week I’ve been listening to the Meat Puppet’s 2nd album—lazily titled II—quite a bit lately.

     

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    It’s got everything. Beautiful melodies, aggressive speed, country western style chicken plucking and terrible vocals. No joke, any snobby voice aficionados should run now because guitarist/vocalist Curt Kirkwood’s voice could make even Helen Keller cringe. But that should be overlooked because the songs themselves are fantastic. A handful of these songs are essentially country western songs sped the hell up. Yet others are just straight up lovely (“Aurora Borealis” is quite possibly one of my favorite songs of all time). 

    As a kid, I was brought up around music, almost exclusively. Nearly everyone on each side of my family plays an instrument (mostly guitar, so very unique, I know) so I didn’t grow up listening to kid’s music like most people; That shit wasn’t allowed in my household. I know this is off topic but bare with me. Nirvana echoed through my home continuously and Metallica became my favorite band by the time I was in kindergarten. But before this further turns into another section taken from my memoirs, I mention it because of Nirvana’s bastard ass Unplugged in New York live album. I hate Nirvana for two reasons: 1) because I’ve had to listen to the same goddamn songs since before I started school and 2) because as I got progressively older, more people around me were barely hearing them for the first time and they would rant and rave about the same goddamn songs that I’ve had to listen to since before I started school

    But back to my point about Unplugged…; I dislike that album particularly because Nirvana covered quite a bit of songs on it and to this day people don’t realize they were covers. Today, for example, “The Man Who Sold The World” came out on the radio. I haven’t heard the original version more than a few times, yet Nirvana’s continuously gets thrown everywhere. An entire 3 songs that were covered on that album were from the Meat Puppet’s II. No doubt you’ve heard them; “Plateau”, “Oh, Me” and “Lake of Fire” were performed along with the Meat Puppet’s Cris and Curt Kirkwood as guests. I don’t deny Nirvana being a good and talented band, but I recommend taking a long break from them to listen to this album. And every other Meat Puppets album while you’re at it.

    I haven’t listened to this album in its entirety since I was a kid but I couldn’t appreciate it then the way I do now. It was probably the crappy vocals. Either way, my ‘quick recommendation’ turned into another giant, boring novel. Check out the album. I’ll shut up now.

     

     


  14. Megadeth Page Now… Up!

    Megadeth has to be the easiest band in the world to write about. Between drug addictions, rivalries with Metallica and Celebrity Jeopardy appearances, these reviews practically wrote themselves!

    And not that you need another person telling you how great it is, I will still post a review of The Last of Us because screw you it’s awesome.   

     


  15. Limbo: Review

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    8.5/10

    I’m sure I’ve mentioned in previous writings how big a deal I believe atmosphere is in video games. As of late, developers seem to be thinking the same thing; indie developers in particular. What with the huge competition between the upcoming next-gen consoles, one of the big arguments between the PS4 and Xbox One is the overall support of indie games. It’s already very clear that, unlike Microsoft, Sony is supporting indie developers but before this turns into another Microsoft vs. Sony debate I should clarify why I even brought up the subject. With the obvious success of games like Journey, I think indie games should be respected and made available to as wide of an audience as possible. Without atmosphere and beauty, every game would be Angry Birds. And though I’m sure many of the 17 year old girls that call themselves ‘gamers’ on Facebook would be fine with that, the rest of us likely wouldn’t. Where many of the more artistic indie games lack in polished and diverse gameplay, they usually make up for with subtlety, emotion and mood. This, of course, may not be for everyone but I do believe it will appeal to much more than the games are marketed to. Where Journey told a very minimal story of beauty, Limbo does the same with sheer darkness.

    Limbo was praised upon its release back in 2010 but has since seemed to have fallen through the cracks when compared with the success of Journey. It was games like these that paved the way for indie games to really take their creativity to the next level. Limbo isn’t without its flaws gameplay-wise, but it is near perfect in every other aspect.

    The game starts with a young boy waking up in the dark and gloomy world of Limbo. There is no dialogue or tutorial, nor is there ever a real story driving you through the game. It is merely a series of puzzles, challenges and platforming that take you from one deadly encounter to the next. And by “deadly encounter” I mean you will die in Limbo. A lot.

     

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    You have no idea what you’re getting into.

    A big part of this game is trial and error. Oftentimes you will not have time to avoid sudden and unsettling deaths before figuring out a way around it. Limbo encourages the player to die so often that a large and important part of this game is in fact the deaths. Every time you die in Limbo you feel it. Never is it a long death sequence with rivers of blood flowing; it’s much more effective than throwing gore at you. They are often quick, surprising and unnerving falls, stabbings or electrocutions. Because you play as a young boy these deaths become downright disturbing. It’s not everyday a game forces you to watch a child be decapitated. And because of the game’s shady, black and white art style it never becomes blatantly offensive.

    You will encounter many interesting things in Limbo and I promise you one of them is not the controls. Most actions like pushing, pulling or climbing work just fine. Jumping however has seemed to have taken a page out of Ghosts ‘n Goblins’ book. That’s right, Limbo uses real life physics; meaning once you jump, you can’t change directions or even push your character further in the same direction. This combined with difficult timing-based puzzles result in far more deaths than were already present. What makes these deaths less forgiving is that they aren’t there to help the player figure out the solution to the situation at hand. They’re almost entirely because of mistimed jumps. There’s nothing more annoying in a puzzle game than knowing the solution but simply unable to pull it off. Luckily, these problems are somewhat interesting and challenging when tackling the game for the first time. My second playthrough, however, was where most of these problems became frustratingly evident.

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    So close.

    Limbo is a work of art, without question. It manages to immerse the player completely without the need of dialogue or even music. Subtle tone cues accompany events within the game to great effect but that is as far as it will go with music. Trees rustling, gears turning, saws buzzing—the natural sounds of the game make it feel that much more real and enticing, albeit dark. Then the sight of the little boy being ground up like hamburger immediately smacks you right across the face.

    There is so much to appreciate with this game that it’s hard to sum up within a few short paragraphs. In its short adventure it only manages to further the argument that video games are another form of art. Though bleak and oozing with hopelessness, Limbo is inspiring and gives me the assurance that the video game medium is pointed in the right direction.