29Apr2015 1815: The Easiest
Why didn't anybody ever tell me it's this easy to make chocolate French silk pie? Wait, did I say "tell"? I meant "warn". I uncovered an estate pie crust left behind by Morgion and had to fill it with something before it became two and a half years expired. And I keep all those ingredients around already! I'm doomed!
[Nathan Bowles - Chuckatuck] is a bluegrass banjo instrumental and may have caused this rash on my right arm. And then around 2:30 it sounds like Nathan starts rubbing his shirt against the mic? And then there's still another two minutes after that. This is like those Napster-poison mp3s that are just the first fifteen seconds of a song looped over and over. Just when you think you're going insane (3:30) the banjo suddenly cuts out and returns with an electric guitar.
[Geographer - Need] is another symptom of the resurgent and recombinant 80s, as a Thompson Twin falsettos over the grunge and drums of [Imagine Dragons - Radioactive]. Why yes, there is a synth breakdown!
It's been a long while since some straight-up reggae appeared on the monthly hit list. [Protoje - Bubblin'] reminds me that I don't care much for reggae. At least this one reaches back and gets some really great 70s flair in the bass and trumpets.
Holy shit. A lot of songs that Google inflicts on me sound like 80s songs, but rarely do they go as far as [Night Terrors of 1927 - Always Take You Back]. This sounds like a very specific artist and very specific song but I can't place it and it's driving me crazy. Goddamn somebody help me out. It's a typically huge 80s pop anthem with a child chorus and everything. Shit.
I need to start pulling down Barsuk sampler CDs or something. The Google monthly list is just full of pain. [In Tall Buildings - Flare Gun] starts out with a decent synth-pop line, one that didn't immediately offend. I thought, "hey, this could be an okay indie pop song!" And then the vocals started and they're completely covered in echo and overdub. The ghost(s) of Milli Vanilli wants you to hear this awesome Daft Punk cover they've been working on.
After such a successful March listing (ten keepers!) April really shit it up for music. Fortunately the only song you need this week is [Jonathan Coulton - First of May].
22Apr2015 1900: Paternal Preemptive Strike
I hope you all enjoyed your week away from the Monthenorium as much as I did. It was birthday times around here so I was studiously avoiding doing anything. I succeeded!
I was planning to type up a huge cogent post about how the exquisite Daredevil, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, The Flash, the Agents of SHIELD spinoff, the Arrow/Flash spinoff, Gotham, Avengers, Ant-Man, Batman vs Superman, Fantastic Four, and now Cthulhu save us the Valiant "movie" "universe" meant that we were past the point of Peak Comic. An industry historically prone to oversaturation is saturating Hollywood.
But comics struck first.
Well played, comics. Well played. We'll meet again...several times a week on every media device I own for the next decade.
[Tropics - Rapture] just wants you to feel all right, all right baby? He is doing these mellow grooves for you. He just wants to express his
love the way you shake it with [MNDR & Sweet Valley - Dance 4 A Dollar]. Oh, I'm sorry, was that a total lack of a transition? Well that's how Google's playlist crammed these two songs together. Rapture makes sounds right up to the last second and MNDR begins immediately. This is [Daft Punk - Harder Better Faster Stronger] except exclusively focused on a strip club, one quarter the tempo.
[Dutch Uncles - In n Out] packs in two, maybe three, euphemisms into that title and plans to deliver on them all. This is squarely in the 80s synth pop genre, where a soprano chirps about sexing and occasionally a sultry lady shows up to punctuate the refrain. Kill the 80s. Let them die.
Witness as Simon and Garfunkel discover computers in [Diagrams - Phantom Power]. But only one computer, and it's a Tandy 1000. But they're trying! They still have all their old skills to fall back on! Who cares if they get a little overboard with a soundboard? Here, maybe you want them to whistle? They can do that!
[Marc Cary - Spices and Mystics] is...interesting. I think. It set up looped drum beats and a bassline that mean we're either getting a "soundscape" or a "Playstation 1 boss battle". But then a violin shows up? And some trumpet patches? Marc Cary decided to come down firmly on the side of "Playstation 1 boss battle". It's six minutes of noodling that could almost accompany a nice Firaga or two.
There is an incredibly specific moment of life frozen in [Laura Marling - False Hope]. Unless Laura's neighbor loses her mind in a blackout every night? This one hearkens back to a time when lady singer-songwriters were constantly singing/writing about a bad date or a newspaper in a diner and selling like a million records.
08Apr2015 1900: Ex Machina
Chez Monty is currently in the grip of Talos Fever. I'm seeing lasers and cubes in my dreams. I'm agonizing over unreachable but totally reachable bonus items. This is a game that is taxing my graphics card to its limit while squeezing my brain between its unyielding robotic fingers. In structure it resembles the old great Braid, distinct levels with a clear goal (get the Tetris piece), an unclear goal (what are these extra bits for?), and a we-hate-you-and-you-are-dumb goal (hidden stars?!). In Talos' case the puzzle prizes are Tetris pieces that are then used to fill in grids to unlock more puzzles. They're color-coded green, yellow, and red based on the difficulty. The hidden stars are used to unlock special Star Road puzzles that contain more Tetris pieces, this time in god-help-you grey. That in turn will unlock...something. I feel sure of it.
Talos also resembles Braid in the constant philosophizing in and around the levels. Braid was concerned with loss and regret and nostalgia and obsession, but in a very vague abstracted manner. The Talos Principle is concerned about AI, the nature of AI, what AI smells like, and AI do you think I'm pretty yes/no. It's not abstract at all. I'd say I'm halfway through -- the easy half -- and so far it's been nothing but an AI claiming he's God and another AI claiming he's "Milton". This is all working out about how you'd expect. Milton, honestly. If you want to oppose a computer named Elohim successfully you could pick Mithra or El-ahrairah or Ra. "Milton" is just playing right into Elohim's theoretical hands.
Potvocates have made great strides in the past decade, getting their vice of choice legalized or decriminalized in several states. Now that the struggle for legal weed is going their way, the next step is clearly [Free Weed - Later]. And never let it be said that Free Weed is false advertising. This song is about being a stoned mope and how pretty all-right that is. It's like the Butthole Surfers unplugged and played live at a Seattle coffee shop. For all I know that's what they're doing.
[Blackout - Human] opens with a plodding heavy metal riff, continues with the same plodding heavy metal riff, and wraps up with the plodding heavy metal riff. The first exhortations aren't wailed until over two minutes into this death march. Have I mentioned that it's also almost seven goddamn minutes long? Halfway through they pick up the pace double-time, but psych! They merely borrowed this tempo from the next half of the verse.
Perversely, the heavy metal song was melodic to a fault. [A Place to Bury Strangers - We've Come So Far] is largely a monotone pop-rock song a la The Smiths but opens with an assaultive wall of feedback more properly associated with metal. The difference in volume between the two caused actual physical pain -- my ears were seared moving away from the metal! Step up your game, metal!
I appreciate the very simple synth of [Aero Flynn - Dk/Pi]. This is what the 70s thought the future sounded like, and the 80s adopted it as their present, and now it's rustic and charming. It's also better in comparison to those last two shitshows I waded through. Dk/Pi falls well short of a keeper but it's only blandly unlikeable instead of actively irritating.
01Apr2015 1815: All Completely True
Welcome back to your little haven from Internet shenanigans. The backlash to complete unusability continues apace -- or perhaps I've curated my Internet bubble to perfection! Only a bare minimum of sites insist on posting fake shit and far more are interested in making rad shit.
This is all the more concerning when I tell you that my slide into the camel clutches of professional wrestling reached its nadir Sunday, when I watched Wrestlemania. It's true! They got me again for a brief span of time. The pomp and circumstance of a "Russian" man riding a tank into the stadium while the Russian national anthem plays, or a dude falling ten feet off a ladder into a ladder, isn't nearly as thrilling as it was twenty years ago. But in the moment, for a moment, I still get the gladatorial thrills of fancy staged combat.
Also we've thawed out completely so West Fargo currently smells like a sewer. Not much we can do about that unless we have an annual match-lighting ceremony on Main Street. Damn shame I can't have my windows open in this spring weather.
[Viet Cong - Continental Shelf] is mope rock, the dour kind of stuff from the 80s that was eventually replaced with shoegaze and became less offputting. It's hard to make monotones discordant in more than one way, but the Viet Cong manage.
[Ghostpoet - Off Peak Dreams] is also exactly 3:19 long and for a moment I thought this a Google Fools' Gag. Just coincidence! It open with something in Japanese, brings in some funk piano, and then the guy from Soul Coughing starts rapping. Every bit of that is for me, to the point that I feel condescended to by this song. It's pandering to a person they couldn't possibly have known existed. The jam session at the end doesn't do a lot for me I guess.
SYNTH. FUNK. SYNTH. [Tuxedo - Number One] gives me a chance to talk about the imminent return of Toejam and Earl. Drop out the vocals here and you'd have a perfect jam for that soundtrack. But gag, these vocals! The refrain is built around the tritest of rhymes and the verses are better only because they vary the clichés.
And here I am, in a hell built entirely of 80s synth pop. [Lower Dens - To Die in L.A.] is interminable at four minutes long. The singer can't even stick around for the whole verse; he drops in whenever he thinks of a new word to say but largely leaves the looping synth to fend for itself. Just close your eyes, Monty. Close your eyes and tell yourself that ska is coming around again.