25Feb2015 1930: Dirtier Laundry
I'm trying to muster up something to say about that new Power Rangers video -- you know the one, by the Punisher: Dirty Laundry guys -- and I can't. I hold no reverence for the Power Rangers except for Lord Zedd because c'mon he's a giant metallic flayed mansquatch with an exposed brain. So it shouldn't bother me this much that the most thought they put into this video was its marketing blitz. I'm not even going to link the new bootleg video because it's lifeless. It's unnecessary. It's the worst tendencies of grimdark adult entertainment, paying lip-service to the horror of child soldiers while bursting squibs at the camera. You want to reboot Power Rangers for adults? Call it Pacific Rim. I'm sad that Katee Sackhoff is here instead of in Fast and Furious.
Screw it, I need to calm down with a good arrow-fletching video.
[Maudlin Strangers - Overdose] is perhaps the most contemporary song I've heard all month. This decade seems to be mired in hi-def paeans to all the sounds of the 80s; the latest synth technology applied to the oldest themes of love. So now it comes to this, yet another tenor singing something inoffensive over the menu theme from Hotline Miami.
[Los Aldeanos - Fue un Placer] is Google celebrating the easing of US-Cuban relations. I can think of no other reason to put a literally five-year-old song in their monthly playlist of rising artists. I have no idea what they're saying except for that long stretch where they keep shouting "more". From the music I infer that this is their rap lamenting how terrible it is in the ghetto and how many friends have died; on American albums this is usually followed immediately by a track explaining how they shot these guys this one time.
[Hey Rosetta! - Soft Offering (For the Oft Suffering)] is trying too hard. I'm not above wordplay -- indeed I am usually in the middle of wordplay -- nor am I above the occasional exclamation point in a band name. It's just that the dense one-two punch contained in that song before I even listen to the song made my eyes cross. If our current decade is doomed to explore the 80s ad nauseum, and last week brought us a Peter Gabriel analogue, surely this can be our new Paul Simon.
Every other song this week was drenched in production. Every synth and croon was tweaked and polished to perfection. The first twenty seconds of [Exalt - Greying] was a welcome antidote. The tinny riffs felt like the dying gasp of a cassette tape being eaten by an El Camino. Then the actual growly-metal song took over and ruined my mood and the mood of everybody within a hundred-foot radius.
18Feb2015 1915: As Ever
I hope you all survived last week without the Monthenorium. I used my usual blogging time to put together my Costa Rica travelogue on Facebook. If you were meant to see it, you've already seen it (or had Mom show it to you). But now I'm back over here and not much has changed. Everything is terrible, everything is great, Ubisoft is physically incapable of a making a game where you don't climb a tower to discover more map. That bit about Ubisoft used to be a joke -- I first heard it on Giant Bomb, as I do so many other things. Assassin's Creed and Far Cry are lousy with towers that uncover map. But after Ubisoft put in towers that uncover map in a goddamn driving game I began to worry about them. Now there's Grow Home, the platonic ideal of a climb-tower-to-discover-map game, and I think Ubisoft needs an intervention. Also the game is amazing and everybody should play it.
Let's start this off with a headache! [Zs - Weakling] is the worst John Carpenter soundtrack I've ever heard.
At long last (three minutes later)! Some actual music! [Two Gallants - Incidental] is the kind of British fuzzy-rock-pop that tries to capture American ears about once a decade. Judging by the band name it is yet again a duo of dapper young gents in matching suits, croaking out their three verses and a bridge. I'd stick with the Fratellis, myself.
And suddenly a game show breaks out! It's probably my history with Game Show Network that immediately connects those horn hits with cheap daytime game shows. For most people [The Suffers - Make Some Room] will just be some regular ol' 70s R&B. It is sufficiently funky and then she offers to make me a sammich, so this is pretty much a perfect song.
I'm on to you, Google. Putting an ampersand in the band name is just a sneaky way of saying "featuring". You know I hate that. [Dan Mangan & Blacksmith - Vessel] purports to be about a vessel but spends most of its time talking about a village. And you can't just give me a Peter Gabriel song and pretend it's by somebody else! I'm on to you, Google.
[Leave the Planet - Winter Sleep] ratchets down the aggression even further, leaving its pleasant pop somewhere in a sub-Cranberries state of noncommittal bliss.
Oh shit, [Alio Die & Lorenzo Montana - Muns de Etrah] is seven minutes long. That doesn't bode well. From the title I was worried this would be in Portugese or something, but now I just wish it had words. I have little patience for soundscapes. Zs was definitely John Carpenter; this synth is more Ridley Scott.
Not sure why [Avid Dancer - All the Other Girls (Demo)] has "demo" baked into the title. It doesn't sound like it went through the full shiny modern production process but it's not some B-side. It sounds most like a spaghetti western got hold of the tapdancer from Tilly and the Wall. Dancing appears to be core to their identity.
Brace yourself for some weed talk. [Niko Is - Tito Crack That Dutch] has a one-track mind for the most boring of drugs, but damn if he doesn't have a sense of humor about it. Slightly goofy lyrics almost overshadow the usual misogyny and criminal behavior.
04Feb2015 1900: Circus Maximus
I can now speak freely without fear of Internet burglars: last week I took a vacation to Costa Rica and did as close to nothing as possible. It was just as magnificent as you might imagine. If you imagine warm beaches, lush tropical foliage, and not a cloud in the sky: it was that. If you imagine expensive resorts, legalized prostitution, and salads you can't/shouldn't eat: it's that, too. I'm still trying to get travel photos sorted out -- all the best photos are of me, not by me -- but I can definitively say there was too much sun. Not in a meek I'm-from-Fargo way, but in a severe-tissue-damage way. I received and failed to radiate too much sunlight. My vacation memories will last as long as this revolting molting happening inside my shirt.
I did my very best not to be an Ugly American Abroad. Not that I bothered to learn even a tiny amount of Spanish, but I did feel bad about it! No racism, no blocking traffic, no yelling out song requests to the adorable French duo performing in the restaurant. And what do I come home to but this: the most Roman display of excess since the Colosseum had a floor. I am familiar with about 3% of the musical content of the Super Bowl halftime show, but I am 100% behind the technology involved. Katy Perry was puppeteered onto the field astride a two-story metallic lion and went through dance numbers on a collapsing chessboard and a cartoon fantasy island. The stage in the middle was obviously LED panels, but what the hell kind of projectors filled in the rest of that oval? Much hay has been made of those goofy sharks but mascot costumes are the least of what was accomplished here. We are one surprise hit song away from Hatsune Miku appearing "live" at a football game. I give this an 85% Roman. America won't hit 100% Roman until we flood the Superdome to re-enact D-Day.
[All We Are - Feel Safe] has a very demure lady singing a very demure 80s pop song about wanting to bang her ex-boyfriend again.
Joey Bada$$'s typography prepares you immediately for what [Joey Bada$$ - No. 99] is: a rap song about how tough it is to grow up black without talking about drugs or shooting people too much. At under three minutes this is a compressed punk song of a rap, and the early-90s production is more unique than most of the ghetto junk that rolls across this list.
First feat of the month goes to [Kasper Bjorke - Lies (feat. Nomi Ruiz)]. This is even more explicitly 80s than "Feel Safe", with more reliance on interminable synth loops and a vocalist that recalls Tina Turner at her most restrained.