You like Pitchfork-approved punk rock? Check out my review of Say Yes To Love by Perfect Pussy!
2014 is definitely gonna be the year of Perfect Pussy (lol, not like that), so get in on their buzz now.
It’s February 14. You’re snuggling with your special someone and trying to come up with the ideal Valentine’s Day film. “How about Before Sunrise?” your partner suggests. “I heard it’s great!”
If you don’t know of Before Sunrise, it’s a 1995 romantic drama directed by Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed and Confused, School of Rock) about Jesse (Ethan Hawke), an American college student, and Celine (Julie Delpy), a French college student. They meet and fall in love on a European train and spend one night together in Vienna, before Hawke has to return to the United States. It’s the first part in a trilogy of other Celine and Jesse tales (Before Sunset and Before Midnight follow).
Before Sunrise holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, is #3 on The Guardian’s “25 Best Romantic Films Of All Time”, and is #200 on Empire Magazine’s “500 Greatest Movies Of All Time”. With all these outstanding accolades, you’d probably think that this is the perfect couples movie. You find it on TV and are about to thumb the “Select” button on your remote, but wait. Don’t do it. So you don’t waste 100 valuable minutes of your life, let me tell you why you shouldn’t subject yourself to the merciless agony of Before Sunrise this Valentine’s Day.
The film follows an uneventful plot that revolves around Jesse and Celine and their dull, self-involved conversations. There aren’t any other important characters in Before Sunrise and there isn’t a hint of tension. Also, the two are never in jeopardy or conflict and Linklater doesn’t reveal their flaws (assuming that they have any). Because of this, character evolution wouldn’t have been attainable.
Jesse and Celine haven’t any obstacles, arguments, and/or issues. Perfect people make me queasy; I definitely don’t want to see a whole movie about them.
What Before Sunrise successfully does is show how much of a navel-gazer Richard Linklater is. Through the talks of Jesse and Celine, Linklater proudly shoves your face into his hempy philosophies and his poser intellectualism.
For instance, I wanted to knock the goatee right off of Ethan Hawke when I heard his over-the-top existential idea: “Now, if we all have our own, like, individual, unique soul, right, where do they all come from? Are modern souls only a fraction of the original souls? Because if they are, that represents a 5,000-to-1 split of each soul in just the last 50,000 years, which is like a blip in the earth’s time. You know, so, at best, we’re like these tiny fractions of people, you know, walking… I mean, is that why we’re all so scattered? You know, Is that why we’re all so specialized?”
Or while talking about divinity, my IQ slowly dripped out of my ears when I heard Celine ponder, “You know, I believe if there’s any kind of God, it wouldn’t be in any of us. Not you, or me… but just this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world, it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something(sigh). I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed, but… who cares, really? The answer must be in the attempt.”
As painful and stupid as these theories are, I’ll admit, they’re original. However, a talented screenwriter doesn’t use cinema to show off his/her metaphysical wit; great cinema excites and captivates the audience. The artsy fartsy, turtle-necked Jesse and the hippy-dippy, bland Celine are in no way captivating or exciting. These two collegians would have one good use, though: their redundant, excruciating conversations on life and love would be an effective torture method for Al Qaeda suspects at Gitmo.
Entranced by Before Sunrise’s abstract-seeming and intelligent-sounding dialogue, critics believed that the movie was a masterpiece, disregarding the fact that it was a humdrum hour and 40 minutes of total pretension. Don’t let these critic simpletons ill your Valentine’s Day by pressuring you to see Richard Linklater’s overhyped, cinematic let down. Instead, try a classic romance with a great story, more than two people, and satisfying character development, like When Harry Met Sally…, Moonstruck, or Tootsie.
School Of Rock was really fun, A Scanner Darkly was technologically intriguing, and Dazed and Confused was a great 70’s encapsulation. I appreciate Linklater’s work, but he isn’t good at writing romance. Before Sunrise is absolute proof that he should avoid love stories, and you should absolutely avoid this movie.
This year, the music world has seen the rise of promising, charismatic artists like Deafheaven and Chance The Rapper, and newcomers like Lorde and Disclosure. We’ve even witnessed the returns of shoegaze legends My Bloody Valentine, popular EDM duo Daft Punk, speed metal vets Carcass, and beloved indie folkers Neutral Milk Hotel.
With 2013 soon coming to a close, I give you my first ever year-end lists as a music journalist:
Top 10 Albums -
1. Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze by Kurt Vile = KV is the king of transcendental rock.
2. R Plus Seven by Oneohtrix Point Never = The songs may just be collages of new wave keyboards and orgasmic moans, but if you look at the album wholistically, R Plus Seven flows like an ambient story, even if there aren’t any words.
3. Whenever If Ever by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die = Atmospheric, emo bliss.
4. Sunbather by Deafheaven = The outcome of a Slowdive and Darkthrone gangbang.
5. Return To Annihilation by Locrian = Moog metal at it’s finest.
6. Light Up Gold by Parquet Courts = My mom thought it was from the 60’s.
7. Surgical Steel by Carcass = Even though it’s been 15 years since their last album, Carcass is still merciless.
8. Modern Vampires Of The City by Vampire Weekend = Their most daring release to date.
9. Last Words by Last Words = Hardcore, lo-fi surf punk… or something like that.
10. King Of Dirt by Sick/Tired = Messy, raw, experimental grindage. Yummy!
Top 10 Songs -
1. “Goldtone” by Kurt Vile = Why Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze is just soooooo good.
2. “Night Still Comes” by Neko Case = Never before have I heard a captivating lyric like, “Catch a falling star, but wash your hands of it”. It shows how Neko Case never relies on overused love-themed metaphors and other cliches.
3. “Heartbeat In The Brain” by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die = I’ve already described this in my midpoint list; I ain’t tellin’ y’all again.
4. “Boat Rich” by Dads = This is Dads’ most pop-structured tune. Although I love them, “Boat Rich” feels better than their usual structureless emo blasts.
5. “Red Eyes” by The War On Drugs = Heavy on the Petty (Tom Petty, that is).
6. “Fragment Two” by These New Puritans = Did you hear the one about the post-punk collective that began making classical music?
7. “Reflektor” by Arcade Fire = How about the one where the stereotypical indie band made dance music?
8. “Dream House” by Deafheaven = I wrote about this, too.
9. “Stoned & Starving” by Parquet Courts = The title is self-explanatory.
10. “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk ft. Pharrell & Nile Rodgers = Who the heck is Nile Rodgers and why does this song sound a lot like Chic?
These almost-365 days have really rocked my world. I’ve reveled in the year’s astounding musical masterpieces by artists like Kurt Vile, Deafheaven, and many others. I can’t wait for 2014 with upcoming releases from You Blew It!, Interpol, and The Wrens.
Hope you make it safely into the new year, fellow rockers!
You can read a “fuck”-free version of the review @ The Montclair Times’ website.
Middle-aged, Harley-driving, chain smoker dudes; corporate fathers with their tolerant tween daughters; and roadies walking around and brushing their teeth. These were just some of the characters you would’ve found at Megadeth’s headbanging Wellmont extravaganza this past Friday.
Seeing Megadeth was reminiscent for me. Back in 7th grade, I was obsessed with popular metal bands like Iron Maiden, Mastodon, and especially Megadeth. When I found out that I had the opportunity to see them at the Wellmont, I heard a middle schooler Eli screaming with joy inside of me.
The audience was very diverse: ages ranged from middle schoolers to grandfathers, the racial mix was eclectic, and there were just as many Megadeth-loving women as there were men - proving that there’s no typical metalhead. However, black clothing seemed almost mandatory for the concertgoers. My multi-colored winter coat and my friend David’s maroon jacket illuminated us in a sea of dark attire.
Ft. Lauderdale’s Nonpoint opened the show. Their conventional sound was like a cross between the safe modern rock of Shinedown and the flavorless nu metal of Limp Bizkit. “The Truth”, their moist groove metal song that talks about fighting for what you truly believe in (how original), made me cringe. Although lead singer Elias Soriano worked the crowd very well with interaction and stage movement, Nonpoint was way too generic for me.
Fear Factory went next and killed Soriano’s active vibe. Frontman Burton Bell’s idea of crowd communication was to drop a “Fuck yeah!” at the end of each song, thinking he was energizing his audience. Dino Cazares (guitar) and Matt DeVries (bass) awkwardly strutted across the stage from time to time, while they gouged on deeply tuned strings to notes that my perfect pitch couldn’t even determine. It was a grueling half hour of what sounded like “chugga chugga chugga, fucka fucka fucka”.
Megadeth threw the two blasphemous openers into the trash. For a band of former alcoholics and heroin addicts now in their fifties, they played with surprising agility and tightness. They opened with their Rust In Peace classic “Hangar 18” and kept on thrashing for another twelve righteous songs, including an encore. Everyone, including me, joined together to belt out the lyrics to hits like “Symphony Of Destruction” and “Peace Sells”.
There was a giant screen above the stage displaying band members, mostly lead man Dave Mustaine (vocals/rhythm guitar), as they played. While Mustaine was taking a solo or singing, a cycle of cheesy, unrelated imagery accompanied him, including animated spinning chairs, moving clouds, and a barren playground swing. Megadeth can totally rock, but their confusing graphic motifs were stupid.
For thirty years, Megadeth has been one of the biggest successes of metal music. Alongside Slayer, Anthrax, and Metallica (collectively nicknamed “The Big Four”), they’ve innovated the style of thrash metal, a subgenre that combines lightning punk tempo with intricate guitar melodies. After all this time, Megadeth still has as much power as younger thrash metal bands, like contemporary speed rockers Speedwolf and Midnight.
They will always rule the metal kingdom.
Warning - If curse words give you the creeps, read the censored version of this article over at Huffington Post.
With over 170 locations on Earth and revenue of over $2 billion, Urban Outfitters has become a popular store among those wanting to express a hip, edgy lifestyle. UO stores that I’ve been to are two rustic floors of kitschy nick-nacks, retro and indie vinyl albums, trendy clothing, and “artsy” home furnishings.
At one point in my life, I thought Urban Outfitters was pretty neat-oh. Over time, though, the vibe began to disgust me. It was kind of unsettling to know that people were attracted to a place that sold “Have A Totes Amaze Balls Birthday” cards and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle glassware. A little over a year after I made my first purchase from them, I came to one of the most important conclusions of my life:
Urban Outfitters sucks.
Ok, so they have Resevoir Dogs shirts, Sunn O))) and Sleep on vinyl, and a Bill Murray coloring book. Urban Outfitters still sucks, and here’s why:
1. It’s Overpriced - While roaming around one of their stores, I came across an accessory that was, to put it in the most clear and simple terms, a bandana tied into the form of a headband. I don’t believe this was some rare form of bandana or was sweated into by Grimes, but it cost $12.
That’s like taking a Post-It, wrapping it around your finger like a ring, and calling it jewelry. And then charging $12 for it.
On their online store, just so I could see if the prices could be even more bogus, there was a mundane (or what the smug art farts in the buying department would consider “minimalist”) shirt by the Obey clothing company with their logo in small font in the upper right corner and the logo of graffiti artist Cope2 on the back, going for $32. That much for a dull, dark shirt?
In the famous words of Jack Handey, “Forgive me, but that’s just too much.”
2. Unnecessary Profanity - Stocking Minor Threat shirts, Ramones posters, and Misfits vinyl wasn’t enough to show how punk and defiant Urban Outfitters was. Along with selling punk items, some brilliant chode thought that putting an overwhelming amount of curse words on all the products would shoot them to the top of the rebellious charts.
Placing the phrase “Get Your Shit Together” in bold letters on the front of a notebook is just capricious. And I don’t know anyone who would mail a “Holy. Fuck. Wow.” card; it seems as if they were made just to throw “fuck” around.
3. No Bathroom - The closest Urban Outfitters store to me, on Park Street in Montclair, NJ, has four dressing rooms, an elevator, and NO BATHROOM. After I confirmed with a worker that they didn’t have a single restroom, she told me that I should instead go to the Starbucks nearby to do my business.
Four dressing rooms. An elevator. No bathroom. Just let that sink in. Would it be such a burden for Urban Outfitters to install at least a few toilets into their two-floor haven of all that is quirky? I mean, where am I supposed to puke when I see the pitiful humans carrying bags full of eye roll-inducing Star Wars “Swag” Tees and ugly neon boat shoes?
4. Design Thieves - Tru.che, the Etsy store of indie jewelry designer Stevie K., stocks a series of necklaces dedicated to various states in the U.S. and countries from around the world. Some designs include “I heart New York”, “I heart Israel”, and “I heart Washington”.
In 2011, Urban Outfitters released a jewelry series called “I Heart Destination Necklaces”. It was an obvious rip-off, taking Stevie’s same necklace design - a state with a heart in it attached to a beaded chain - and adding her “I Heart” phrase to the title of the product.
Along with Stevie, independent designer Johnny Cupcakes has also been ripped off by Urban Outfitters. In 2004, Cupcakes released a red shirt sporting a picture of an airplane dropping cupcakes as if they were bombs. A year later, as part of their “Urban Renewal” campaign, Urban Outfitters released a shirt with the same design idea, but just switched the colors around.
Theft is way uncool, and it’s so wickedly lame for Urban Outfitters to steal from these rad indie designers.
5. Lana Del Rey Vinyl - I do appreciate some of the stuff Urban Outfitters sells; mainly their vinyl. Their collection includes My Bloody Valentine’s mbv, Death Grips’ Money Store, and even Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue. However, along with selling Babel and Sigh No More by the wimpy unoriginal folkers Mumford & Sons, the music of one artist is leaving the most abominating dump all over Urban Outfitters’ record collection: Lana Del Rey. Popular for musical devastations like “Summertime Sadness” and “Blue Jeans”, this internet-famous diva who sounds like Lili Von Shtupp after a stroke has become the hero of fake-intellected Tumblr girls everywhere. Because these girls are some of Urban Outfitters’ most loyal customers, it would make sense to stock Lana Del Rey for their benefit, but not on a musical format that they don’t have the ability to play, or even know exists.
Fashion is always changing, and Urban Outfitters is known for being at the emergence of new and hot styles. I’m a fan of cool, unconventional clothing, but if that means I have to find it at a place where there are grunge girls wearing short-shorts that chafe their butts into bleeding pancakes and other loathable lemmings enrapturing over the marked-up attire and bland Smiths song blasting through the speakers, I’d rather just wear my cousins’ decaying hand-me-downs.
A movie can have great acting, a captivating story, and grandiloquent production, but it wouldn’t be as powerful without a great soundtrack. Here’s a list of my favorite songs from films I love:
“The Office” by Michael Kamen in Brazil- It’s not even 2 minutes long, but the vibraphone and violin sweeps are so palatial, yet groovy at the same time. Not only was it in one of my favorite dystopian movies, but was also in the trailer for Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman’s Being John Malkovich, which makes me love the song even more.
“Little Person” by Jon Brion in Synecdoche, New York- Speaking of Charlie Kaufman films, acclaimed producer Jon Brion’s minimalist jazz piece was the perfect leitmotif for Kaufman’s intellectual adventure.
“You’ve Got A Friend In Me” by Randy Newman in the Toy Story series- I’m just glad Randy Newman will always be there for me, and that he’s not one of those self-righteous smegma sacks who claimed to be my friends.
“If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out” by Cat Stevens in Harold and Maude- “Sing Out” really captured the “be yourself, be happy” theme of Harold and Maude. Out of all of my favorite songs, it’s the only one I like to sing before I go into the shower.
“We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn in Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb- One of the most famous songs of the Second World War, “We’ll Meet Again” beautifully contradicted Earth’s being oblivionized at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s anti-war masterpiece.
“Mr. Blue Sky” by Electric Light Orchestra in the trailer for Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind- If you haven’t noticed already, I love Charlie Kaufman. In a movie where Jim Carrey isn’t being funny, “Mr. Blue Sky” was a great tongue-in-cheek tune to trick you into watching this fantastic, melancholy film.
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by The Rolling Stones in Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas- I was never the biggest Rolling Stones fan, but when Johnny Depp drove into the sunset with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” in the background, the song took on this gritty, awesome form that I’d never noticed before; I instantly fell in love with it.
“Tick Of The Clock” by Chromatics in Drive- Pulsing, synthy, and heavy. It was perfect for Nicholas Winding Refn’s colorful vigilante opus.
“Bum Biddy” by Adam Sandler in Eight Crazy Nights- I adore the flamenco guitars and the reverberated drums. This and “You blew it!” from Billy Madison are the only two good things to come from Adam Sandler movies.
With only a few more weeks until summer, here’s a list some of my favorite tunes from 2013 so far, in no particular order (cuz i just roll like dat):
“Toe Cutter - Thumb Buster” by Thee Oh Sees- Since when was Barry Gibb in Black Sabbath?
“Hearbeat In The Brain” by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die- A heavenly opus of emo at its finest.
“Air Bud” by Kurt Vile- A beautiful collage of sweeping acoustic guitars and grooving drum patterns.
“Cocoa Butter Kisses” by Chance The Rapper- Chance croons about regretting smoking over a hot beat and a soulful organ.
“Lightning (Kent Rockafeller remix)” by David Byrne & St.Vincent- Sexy trumpets strut over swag-filled rhythms and St.Vincent’s precious melodies.
“Dream House” by Deafheaven- This is the only death metal song ever that makes me want to cry tears of joy.
“A Tooth For An Eye” by The Knife- Polyrhythms weave their ways through woodwind-sounding riffs and Karin Dreijer Andersson’s misty vocals.
“A Tattered Line Of String” by The Postal Service- The Postal Service is still as bubbly and sparkly as they were ten years ago.
“Worship You” by Vampire Weekend- Takes me on a rollercoaster ride through tribal rhythms and jumpy mandolins every single time I listen to it.
“Alien Days” by MGMT- It’s Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother to the 10th power.
“Die Hards In Denim” by The Kill- An infinite amount of brutal riffage in less than a minute of metal justice.
They’ve won Grammys, they’ve appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, and their albums have gone multi-platinum in the U.S. With all this success, there’s no doubt that Mumford & Sons are currently the most popular folk band in the world.
Although the Mumford & Sons craze is huge, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to other folk acts if you enjoy the genre. Here’s a list of five modern folk artists that are less popular than, but just as appealing as, Mumford & Sons.
The Mountain Goats: Since their first album in 1994 Zopilote Machine, The Mountain Goats have gained a cult following and top tier critical praise. They’re known for their blend of energetic, acoustic instrumentations and poetic lyrics. Recently, fans started a petition to name John Darnielle, The Mountain Goats’ chief member, as the U.S. poet laureate.
Mount Eerie: Mount Eerie, the project of indie folk hero Phil Elverum, is the aftermath of his influential band The Microphones. Like their predecessor, Mount Eerie combines the sweetness and simplicity of acoustic folk with the swirling, soothing melodies of dream pop.
Sufjan Stevens: In 2005, Stevens embarked on a “Fifty States Project” in which he planned to make an album for every U.S. state. The experiment, he realized, was too complex, and it ended with the second album in the series Illinois. The album is considered to be one of the best of the past decade by reviewers at Paste Magazine and Pitchfork. It has also sold over 300,000 copies in the United States alone. His sound has been compared to folk legend Elliott Smith, and has influences of electronic and classical music.
Defiance, Ohio: Combining acoustic instrumentations with beautiful string arrangements and aggressive anti-government lyrics, Defiance, Ohio are easily one of today’s best folk punk bands. In true punk style, Defiance, Ohio has also made their entire discography free for downloading off their website.
The Magnetic Fields: Since their first single in 1991 entitled “100,000 Fireflies”, The Magnetic Fields have been gracing the world with beautiful folk songs, incorporating everything from drum machines to ukuleles. Their three disc epic 69 Love Songs is considered to be their greatest musical work and is even on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.
For fans of Mumford & Sons who are into indie folk, these five artists are definitely worth listening to.
At 8 p.m. on February 2, My Bloody Valentine became popular in the mainstream for being the band with the big website crash.
Forget the news about Justin Bieber’s Ferrari getting pulled over in L.A.- My Bloody Valentine was the big story of the night.
It all began at around 6:30 p.m. when the band released their first album in over twenty years, entitled “MBV”, on their website. This development excited fans across the world and triggered a rush of thousands to go on the website simultaneously, making it crash. The story of the crash became popular on websites like Google News and Twitter, but there’s more to My Bloody Valentine than this event.
In the late eighties and early nineties, the Irish band My Bloody Valentine pioneered a genre of music called “shoe-gaze”. Their combination of distorted guitars and elements of dream pop has influenced contemporary artists such as France’s M83 (“Midnight City”, top ten Billboard rock hit), and Iceland’s Sigur Ros (“Hoppipolla”, featured in the films “Slumdog Millionare” and “We Bought A Zoo”).
My Bloody Valentine’s 1991 album “Loveless” is considered to be their most influential and critically acclaimed release. It’s listed in Mojo Magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitar Albums”, and is ranked at #221 in Rolling Stone Magazine’s “500 Greatest Albums Of All Time”.
The band will be touring throughout the United Kingdom and will be headlining festivals like Primavera Sound in Barcelona and Tokyo Rocks Festival in Japan.
My Bloody Valentine recorded “MBV” on analog equipment (as opposed to digital technology), giving it the vintage 90s sound that thrilled their original fans. Key tracks include “She Found Now”, “Who Sees You”, and “Wonder 2”. The album is available on Mybloodyvalentine.org (don’t worry about any crashes, it’s been fixed).
Go back in time to about the early seventies, when singer-songwriters like Carole King, James Taylor and Cat Stevens ruled the airwaves and sales charts with songs about peace and friendship.
Now go forty years into the future, where songs about partying in the club dominate mainstream radio 24/7 and singer-songwriters that embrace the pure coffee house experience are hard to find on the air.
However, our generation’s versions of Carole King, James Taylor, and Cat Stevens do exist. One artist who shows tremendous promise and is worth your time is Kurt Vile.
It’s true that popular artists like Taylor Swift, Jason Mraz, and Adele are technically singer-songwriters, but the productions of their songs are too majestic and the lyrics are too grand to be remotely similar to the intimate style of the coffee house. Kurt Vile is more reminiscent of Carole King, James Taylor, and Cat Stevens with his small productions and simple, down-to-earth lyrics.
Kurt Vile is a folk, singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, PA. He started writing and releasing music from the time he was seventeen. Since then, four albums have emerged. Vile’s chilled-out sound - which consists of him on vocals with an acoustic guitar, a drummer, and two reverberated electric guitarists - has been compared to the likes of Bob Dylan and Lou Reed. Kurt Vile gained the most critical praise with his fourth album “Smoke Ring for My Halo”, which received positive reviews from Rolling Stone and Spin.
Kurt’s music is great for relaxing activities, like folding laundry, sipping warm tea, or hanging with good friends. Some tracks I recommend include “In My Time”, “Runner-Ups”, “Freeway”, and “Freak Train”.
Kurt Vile’s fifth and newest album entitled “Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze” will be available April 5th on Matador Records.