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30Jul2014 2000: The Bachelor

Jenny Lewis's new album The Voyager is out this week. I should be ecstatic! Rilo Kiley was an amazing band until riiiight up at the end there, and Rabbit Fur Coat was a riveting country/soul fusion. I never clicked with Acid Tongue, but that's a minor blip in her musical output. She put The Voyager up for streaming early and got a fawning bio-piece in the New York Times and has a catchy lead single with star-power in the video. I should be ecstatic.

But I'm not. I tried to listen to the album while it was streaming and I couldn't make it halfway. Lewis's blunt and confessional lyrics worked great when she was singing less-than-generic love songs or about her deep dark past, but in The Voyager she's applying those techniques to the very specific present. She's singing about her biological clock, about how she and her boyfriend could have an open relationship to accommodate their tour schedules, about somebody-who-is-maybe-not-her's sexual awakening in Paris as a teen. As a thirty-something bachelor, the entire album basically sounded like this to me. Do you think she knows she could just text her boyfriend? And discuss this with him? He probably has a cell phone.

Sad Johnathan Rice

Okay, maybe not.

I dismissed last week's music without actually listening to it; I figured nothing could measure up to Weird Al. I was right! Last week was actually 60% instrumental, so I'm glad I didn't have to come up with something clever for each one. I'm not expending my A-game on this week either: [Migos - First 48] is vapid rap with more "nigger" than a really racist metaphor.

[Swearin' - Kenosha] lies, as it does not have the explicit tag. I was promised cussing, but I got classic girl-punk instead. It's okay? Teetering on the edge of okay, as they've chosen to go the fuzzy-microphone route. I have no idea what the song's about, but I'm guessing Wisconsin?

[PUP - Guilt Trip] reminds me of nothing so much as a forgotten song from the Burnout Paradise soundtrack, a nice punk/rock song that I could smash billboards to and forget as soon as it's over. [Cocktails - Tough Love] is much the same, but instead of punk-rock it's a more mellow British rock.

Nothing gold can stay, and Burnout Paradise was too beautiful for this world. [Tiny Victories - Scott & Zelda] yanked me right out of my reminisces into the land down under. This is Men With Hats, Talking Heads, Vice City shit right here.

23Jul2014 2045: Andy Serkis Is Your God

Today on Monty's Not Quite So Behind the Curve: I finally saw Dawn Rise of the Planet of the Apes just before seeing Rise Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. It's really a magic decade for scifi entertainment, a boom time not predicted in any of the trashy 1950s pulp that spread scifi like a sickness across the Americas. Inception made it big. Gravity made it big. Rise Dawn Rise of the Planet of the Apes made it big. Scifi is getting respect and doling out allegories as thinly as ever. This is a great vindication to me over that damnable high school English teacher who insisted that scifi wasn't literature. I can be the better man and forgive her thinking so; in her day, science fiction dealt with concepts like "fire" and "the wheel".

Dawn? Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is excellent but it's not exactly subtle. It tells a simple story of peace and betrayal that we've heard thousands of times before because we've all grown up on a planet dominated by Christians. Planet of the Popes. Both of these Apes movies follow the arc of Ape Zero, Caesar. In Rise(?), he is pretty much Moses leading his people out of bondage while plagues ravage San Francairo. In Dawn(...), Caesar is even more emphatically Jesus, spoilering from the spoiler after spoiler spoiler to bring a message of peace and become a messianic god-king to his tribe.

Which is great and all, but makes me hell of nervous for any third movie. The arc is obvious, and...they're not subtle. Maybe it'll be a riveting tale of the schism wrought by the Blue Eyesians and the Kobites after Caesar's death. Maybe jerks will try to explode Hollywood. A lot of good and a lot of bad can come of some completely digital primates. A boom time!

Are you still listening to Mandatory Fun? Good. Then you shouldn't need any of this shitty music like [Ben Frost - Venter], [Watter - Rustic Fog], [Hollie Cook - Tiger Balm], [HOLYCHILD - Happy With Me], or [S-Type - Rosario]

17Jul2014 1715: Almas

The feast of Almas only comes around once every three or four years -- don't ask me, I don't track the lunar ecclesiastical calendar -- but when it hits it hits HARD. If you don't already own Mandatory Fun perhaps Al's viral video campaign will convince you. One video a day for all the top singles on the album is calculated for maximum effect, before all his parody subjects slip out of the public consciousness. And I've gotta say that Blurred Lines was nothing like I thought. When the Internet was all agog over Robin Thicke, I saw his douchey photos and figured it was another white dude whiny ballad love song. No! It's really peppy and makes for good parody! And if you grew up with a dad who liked to play his 70s mixtapes on family car trips, Jackson Park Express will ruin you for all other Cat Stevens.

I've been on board the Al-train for thirty years now, so the actual effect of his video bombardment is highlighting how YouTube is still best-in-class Internet video and how it isn't even close. I get that all the humor sites are spreading out the cost of making all these videos...the Nerdist, College Humor, Yahoo!(?!), and whoever else is coming up next week all used their own talent to help. Did they really need to use their own embedded video as well? Even VeVo, which until this moment I was absolutely sure was a YouTube sub-brand, has some heavyweight interface that takes three times longer to load than every other. If you can't pause within three seconds of me clicking the button, if you can't keep my volume settings, if you can't start playing the video from the place I click on in the bar, GO HOME. Your player is bad and you should feel bad.

And I'll just start this idea right here: now that Weird Al's unlabeled and maybe going to a shorter digital release schedule or maybe not, I'm picturing an epic seven-minute dubstep-accordian-ballet routine a la Lindsey Stirling. Make that accordian sing, old man! You are both far too flexible, you both play uncommon instruments; dread YouTube gods, hear my prayer!

09Jul2014 1900: Summertime Blues

It is warm and I had a bad day at work, so how about I just subject myself to some terrible music for your amusement and then call it a day? I promise that next week I'll be in a far better mood.

[Lone - Airglow Fires] takes its sweet time getting to the point, floating in for a full minute of what Bowser does in ten seconds. I thought by then surely the real song would kick in, but no! That is the real song! Five and a half minutes of C&C Music Factory as filtered through a Super Nintendo. If that wasn't enough, there's a hard cut to thirty seconds of some other song at the end.

All-caps band names put me in mind of heavy metal raging, in the way that they are the polar opposite of xx. [PHOX - Slow Motion] blew up my preconceptions with some Cat Power, Colbie Caillat meanderings. The chorus prominently features some dude whistling. I look forward to hearing this song again at my dental checkup in November.

For once I've already heard of the artist. I'm not sure that Riff Raff counts as an "up and coming" talent, given that his schtick was already parodied/homaged by Franco in Spring Breakers. [RiFF RAFF - Tip Toe Wing In My Jawwdinz] is exactly as banal as his spelling would indicate. Yet another rap song about how rich he is off his music label's advance in the brief time before he crashes into irrelevance. Was that harsh? I feel harsh right now; I fear I've reached my lifetime limit for Versace product placement. It's entirely possible that this is a rap excess parody, but Poe's Law is absolute. At least with Weird Al you know where you stand.

02Jul2014 1900: Magrunner

I know I talked about it briefly last week, but now that I've had some time with Magrunner: Dark Pulse I feel comfortable saying that it is totally crazy-pants awesome. The game spends a few hours teasing you and trading on the mythos before eventually going Full Cthulhu. I'm so glad I stuck with it; there are slightly wonky physics and some truly rancid voice acting leading up to Big C. Just some rough edges that you wouldn't see in a hyper-focus-tested AAA title. I've talked before about the existence of B-games, and this is about as B as they come. Every now and then a B-game like Saints Row will make it big, but I think Magrunner is destined to be forgotten. Maybe that's okay? Maybe if you remembered it, it's uncanny geometry would drive you insane.

Starting the whole month with a "feat"? Ugh, fine. [clipping. - Work Work (feat. Cocc Pistol Cree)] is a bog-standard rap s...seriously. "Cocc Pistol Cree"? Goddammit, rap. These guys can't even maintain their own beat; Cocc Pistol in particular goes off the rails for her verse.

Today's dose of 80s come from [Total Control - Flesh War]. Disaffected men poke at keyboards and drone about how terrible everything is, in particular the everything they can personally see. And then they bridge with a riff that sounds like every 1980s guitar bridge you remember. Man this is not a good start to July, is it? I need that vacation STAT.

I don't know what this G# is you speak of. [Kitten - G#] must have played one of those small instruments in band. Down in real instrument land, down with the bass clefs and unexciting quarter notes, we call it an A♭. That said, this song definitely wins the week. It's yet more 80s flavor, this time a lady with a slightly wispy voice fronting a wall of noise in ballad mode. Whoever first discovered you could hook up an industrial fan to an amplifier and run it through a keyboard retired a rich man. This song also sounds mighty familiar, in a smartphone-commercial kind of way.