26Mar2015 2000: Driver Woofer Tweeter
I've often stated, annoyingly loudly, that I don't want to drive my next car. I bought a brand-new Honda with the hope that I could run it into the ground for fifteen years and then swap to something completely robotic. Autocars have actually been moving a little faster than I expected, with Google gobbling up all the press about self-driving machines while every other company makes small strides with a bunch of "assistance" features to help people merge, park, and tailgate. What I didn't expect at all, but which makes complete sensors, is the existence of a relatively inexpensive retrofit to slap onto all the extant cars. Maybe I should take better care of my extant car.
After only two days I think I can recommend the Logitech H800 headset. My old headset was so old the faux leather was flaking off the earcups and it was muting itself whenever the cable was jostled. So I got one with no cables! The last time I tried to buy a headset it was only Bluetooth and couldn't be used while it was charging -- the H800 passes those extremely low criteria! Also I can hear sound and it has a microphone. I'm the worst at hardware reviews but come on, headsets shouldn't be difficult. I dunno. It folds up so it'll probably break along the hinges?
I'm having a hard time placing [Murder By Death - Strange Eyes], but it sounds really familiar. I am resolute in never researching this shit but I can imagine Iron and Wine just really wanting to rock out for an album. I don't hear a lot of indie rock now that Rilo Kiley is out of the picture, maybe it's all this pretty-good these days?
[Duke Garwood - Heavy Love] is a quiet blues song that could accompany any lonely cowboy ranging over the opening credits. I mostly think that because of Red Dead Redemption. It's possible you could hear this in a pool hall or similarly seedy establishment.
Did somebody order masturbatory ambient trip-hop? Because it's going to be a little late. Google couldn't get [Hot Sugar - Trauma] here in time so we have to wait a couple minutes for the song to start. Hot Sugar mashes up a CD of 101 Foley Sound Effects to a simple beat and expects us to sit around for five minutes while they sort everything out.
[Milo Greene - Lie to Me] bursts in like a relative ray of sunshine, kicking up the tempo and the sunny attitude after all that Trauma. That speaks more to the dour tone of Trauma; this pop song is all about staving off an impending breakup through mutual deception, but it feels happier than a grabbag of sound effects.
Oh hey, we were just talking about Rilo Kiley! [Wardell - Funny Thing] sounds a lot like their last album, as Jenny Lewis was preparing to jump ship and go full pop. It's all keyboards and light guitar and lady vocals, but coming from a folky place rather than a pop machine. I'll have to look into this band further.
Man, looking back at March's songs I have to say it's at least half good. Must be the sunshine.
18Mar2015 1815: Owing a Debt
In a few moments I'm going to go play with my shiny new printer, one that will hopefully be more amenable to only printing once a year. Reddit discovered the proper test for a new printer/scanner: let's all go print something and then scan it back in and then maybe I won't have to use Comic Sans any more. The annual HOA tizzy is upon me, as taxes are filed, budgets are compiled, and meetings are scheduled. This year has been slightly tizzier as FEMA came around and re-mapped our river basin to our great sorrow. Now everybody with a mortgage is going to get bank-slapped unless we get flood insurance because the tiniest corners of 66% of our buildings are barely touching the 100-year flooding mark. The options are grim and enumerated thus:
- every mortgaged condo unit gets $350/year flood insurance
- the association as a whole (24 units) gets $7000/year flood insurance
- the association pays a one-time $2000 surveying fee to a local engineering firm, who are currently in possession of a correct river map that will put us back out of the flood zone, but who will not send this map to FEMA out of the goodness of their heart
And one of these options had to be chosen by a week ago to avoid the mortgage penalties. I responded to this three-tiered racket by paying off my mortgage and slamming two Taddy Porters. As one does. For a few minutes on Friday, the sixth of March 2015, I was completely debt-free.
But that's not what I came to tell you about. I came to talk about
the draft professional wrestling. This week yet another indie
production from a Hollywood filmmaker using concepts from a popular property from my
early-90s youth came out on YouTube. As spiteful and shallow as Power/Rangers continues
Wrestling Isn't Wrestling
begins with the same raw material and fashions a moving paean to one of the
show formats in existence today. Costumed do-gooders versus costumed do-badders in
a choreographed battle surrounded by stilted and occasionally racist dialogue is a
format as old as humans have written records. Max Landis celebrates the clichés
with his patented ranting-lipsync style from
The Death and Return of Superman
and it is just as hilarious as it was three years ago. He can't help disappearing up
his own ass at the end but some of the points about long-form storytelling still land.
We can't go back and watch the process of embellishing Hercules myths or writing
chapters of Genji. We
can, in this century, be privy to the full backstage workings of fictional
characters that are expected to be updated weekly while
also being acrobats. Soap operas have
been following the same fictional characters and their evil twins for decades,
daily. Most of the time people are impressed by quality craftmanship; sometimes,
just sometimes, you have to have some respect for
And if you want to talk shit about the content or technical quality of soap operas fine, it's not like I watch them either, but don't ever deny that these motherfuckers shoot 60 pages of script a day and hardly ever get a second take. I couldn't work like that, and neither could you.
It's not that I like [Lilly Hiatt - Far Away]'s tinny guitars and vaguely-60s rock aesthetic. It's just that she called it "Far Away" and that'll put the Far Aways into direct contention for the lead against the Blue Eyes. Don't let my quirk of music hoarding make you think you have to hear this song. You don't.
[Purple - Dmt] is straight-ahead no-nonsense grrl punk a la Bratmobile, only with 2015's production capabilities. This sound quality is probably within reach of a modern garage and I fervently hope that Purple kept it DIY. At six minutes it's the Alice's Restaurant of punk but the energy doesn't flag for a beat.
Abstract art on the album cover and a name like [Tonik Ensemble - Landscapes] is fair warning of soundscapes. Tonik Ensemble is on the jazzier side of chill techno and has some vocals to break up the monotony. It's also a svelte four minutes for what could have easily been a half-hour of keyboard noodling. I can't believe I'm saying this, and maybe it's the unseasonably warm sunshine making everything feel great, but this is now five songs in a row that I'm going to keep. This is unprecendented for Google's sonic assault.
[Desperate Journalist - Control] is some sort of Heart-Cranberries hybrid that came and went while I was looking up Alice's Restaurant links. Now that I'm paying attention I think I sorta like it. Hits me in the vicinity of high school radio nostalgia without being an exact clone of any one style I recognize. Six keepers in a row? Is this real life?
[Catfish and the Bottlemen - Kathleen] could easily have been country music but no! It's completely inoffensive and lukewarm radio rock, complete with "woo"s and a formulaic bridge and everything. The streak is broken.
11Mar2015 1930: Like Foo Fighters
Was I too hard on that Power/Rangers video? Maybe. The rights kerfuffle -- and really every other aspect of it -- has died down now and the Internet has already forgotten. But man, every word out of the director's mouth just makes me go uuugggghhhhhhh. I guess it's nice that he's having fun, and his talents do seem better suited to making not-movies.
[Aby Ngana Diop - Dieuleul-Dieuleul], which is French for "God laughs out loud", demonstrates what happens when "world music" collides with rap and the resultant mass collapses all the way back to the beginning of music itself. This isn't a song so much as an outpouring of child-like joy. I'm not sure this is meant for anybody other than the people doing the pouring in that moment.
[The Black Ryder - Santaria] is how normal rock bands fill out the CD before a hidden track. Black Ryder went another way and decided that this downtempo droning album-closer was their representative single. It sounds like there might be a real band with real songs behind this, but there's no telling who that band is. It's like trying to sell U2 based solely on 4th of July. And yet I will keep it around because of its Not Cover synergy with [Sublime - Santeria].
Hooray, our decade's obsession with electronica has reached R&B. One of the last bastions of bass is assailed by [Raheem DeVaughn - Temperature's Rising], who brings an 8-track aesthetic to the pinched synthline behind his propositions. There's little here beyond his actually-quite-lovely vocal lovemaking; the whole song feels thin, as if entire audio frequencies had been dropped on the cutting room floor.
Do you like Foo Fighters? [The City on Film - You Wild Thing (An Illuminous Life)] really likes Foo Fighters. Trying to match the only band of my generation that truly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame is a fool's errand, but being a pretty good imitation is still being pretty damn good.
I think I've heard of the Glitch Mob before, but I assumed from the name that it was videogame music and I already have a world of that. In fact, videogame music these days has morphed into fully-featured songs. Turns out that Yaarrohs' cover of [The Glitch Mob - Fly by Night Only (Yaarrohs Cover)] has also essentially become that. This is a slow piano-lady song that drifts around for a wispy 2.5 minutes and then vanishes. The original song could have been My Humps for all I care.
04Mar2015 1945: Track/Broken Record
I saw The Brothers Bloom over the weekend and oh my oh my! Rian Johnson is batting a thousand in my heart. It's good to know that the main Star Wars series is in his hands after JJ gets done playing with it. Brothers Bloom proves that Rian Johnson isn't all moody noir introspection and can kick off a globe-trotting tale of adventure when need be. Rian's Brick, Bloom, and Looper are all fantastical style pieces around a serviceable plot; that's Star Wars. It's certainly more Star Wars than whatever Gareth Edwards is cooking up. I suspect we'll all learn an uncomfortable amount about Rancor reproduction next Christmas.
Oh I get it. "Breathless" is exactly what divers don't want to be. It's irony. Thanks, [Divers - Breathless]. Thanks for being strangely un-Youtube-able and for your aspirations to Carshood.
I was ready to write off [Dan Deacon - Feel the Lightning] after fifteen seconds, put off by it's fuzzy wall of synth drone and the tiny lady voice buried within. But then oh man the guy vocalist showed up and the entire song turned into David Bowie dueting with Tinkerbell while underwater. This was amusing once...but only the once.
[Grooms - Later a Dream] has one foot in the psychedlic rock camp and one in the modern indie. Everything has an echo applied to it and they take a break a couple times to just jam out for a while. Underneath it all is a surprisingly reliable rhythm guitar that wishes his bandmates were on pot instead of shrooms.
Wax Stag's YouTube channel is #WaxStag, which is simultaneously the most vile thing to do to your name and an incredibly fun mess of words to say. Hash tag wax stag hash tag wax stag hash tag wax stag. [Wax Stag - Summit] is a boring synthstrumental that could be improved immensely by looping someone saying "hash tag wax stag".
[Heiress - Hover] is not only shouty metal, it's the slow kind of shouty metal that stomps around in steel galoshes and yells about how your birthday cake is Satan's will. Metal with enough tempo can transcend that kind of material; metal at this tempo had better have a damned good reason.