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30Dec2015 1130: Audacious

Does anybody know why Audacity would refuse to be Audacity any more? It played audio the very first time I booted it up and has steadfastly refused to play a sound ever since. Ugh, open source. I need to find a non-linear video editor anyway, that should do audio as well...

Hope you're all having a holiday and you don't live in Texas!

[All Them Witches - Open Passageways], on the album Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, is exactly what it says on the tin. This is a mournful surfer dirge, violin and mandolin and a couple goth guys singing about loss that has the barest SoCal tinge. Toad the Wet Sprocket playing an elegy.

I'll let this "feat" pass. Janis Ian wouldn't involve herself with a rap verse or boots-and-cats techno, ruling out 99% of the "feat" we see in these lists. [Sam Gleaves - Angel in the Ashes (with Janis Ian)] is straight country with a little Janis harmony on the refrain. There's nothing more to say about it than "country". It's a textbook fiddle/guitar song with nothing else to recommend it.

[Steven A. Clark - Can't Have] is a grubby little love song. It doesn't say "remix" anywhere, but it sounds like somebody took soulful 80s R&B and underscored it with MIDI foghorns and a dance beat.

[Botany - Jotu] gets even grimier than the last tune. No note is left unbent, no bass unfuzzed, no lyrics whatsoever. It comes and goes in under two and half minutes, but it's a dense wall of synth noise that is floor to ceiling irritation for the duration.

23Dec2015 2000: Mebby 8Mas

Since last we met I've crammed all seven Star Wars movies into my eyes, and The Force Awakens is probably the second best of them. The original trilogy was better than I remembered, up to and including all the Ewok parts, probably because I grabbed the Despecialized Editions from an undisclosed source. Sure, Luke went on a textbook Hero's Journey and the actors had to deliver some ridiculous lines, but enough people had natural charisma to see us over the rough patches and into a cinematic classic. There was a world that people actually lived in. There were characters that we learned about through their actions. It's no surprise that those movies helped create the blockbuster-hungry movie industry that surrounds us and penetrates us.

The prequels were worse than I remembered, even with the Darth Darth Binks theory to keep me occupied. Sixteen years ago I was part of the line for The Phantom Menace, me and Morgion subsisting on god knows what terrible junk food for two days and sleeping in his car and baking in the sun and at the end of it all: The Phantom Menace. At that point I was young and a Star Wars fan and betrayed. I was hurt on a fan level. Last week I watched them all again for the first time since the theater and I was hurt a new level, that of a person who has learned a few rough things about movies. It's an education that arguably began because of The Phantom Menace itself. I'm able to see the wooden dialogue not as an affront to Star Wars, but as an affront to dialogue. There are dozens of pointless interstitial scenes with no dialogue and no plot relevance that any decent editor should have axed. There's odd framing and eyelines because of the completely CG sets. They're a mess as movies first and as Star Wars movies second.

This is all leading up to say that The Force Awakens is the best A New Hope since A New Hope. JJ Abrams took the thing fans liked most about Star Wars -- namely, literally, "Star Wars" -- and made it again with better dialogue. These characters are revealing themselves through action again, not by speechifying in a Senate chamber. They're funny again without slapstick. They're competent when they should be and yet in over their head to a satisfying degree. Lasers go pew and spaceships go woosh and the breakout character is a tiny spherical droid, but it all hangs together as a movie. And through it all, fingers crossed, is the hope that Darth Darth Binks is right around the corner. Hat tip to this recap video by Dan Brown for telling me something I didn't know about the word "snoke".

[Air Waves - Fantasy] sets a not-at-all festive mood with their Cranberries/Wye Oak mild lady rock. This is the perfect radio single from a band that sounds like they spend most of their time composing dirges about ocean tides.

I know I use this comparison a lot -- I have very few musical touchstones to classify this sort of tune -- but [Turnover - Cutting My Fingers Off] sounds very explicitly like the one or two Cure songs I know. Okay? Some bands might just accidentally trigger that part of my brain, but I think Turnover might be deliberately aiming for it.

[Briana Marela - All Around Us] is like Bjork covering a Carly Rae Jepsen song. The lyrics fall apart halfway through without a dance beat to support them, and Briana is a Scandinavian ghost tracing lazy circles around a pine tree. Merry Christmas, everybody!

16Dec2015 1830: Scarce Wars

Continuing last week's theme of "Monty feels old", today I actually went to a video store. They still exist! Well, one still exists. And just like I remembered, everything I wanted to watch was checked out and there were three hundred copies of Latest Adam Sandler Movie. Physical scarcity is something I run in to less and less, but every time it stings. We're not all composed entirely of electrons (yet) so I guess...I guess this happens? This is how we live in a physical world?

It's not like you can find the Despecialized Editions on shelves anyway.

P.S. I love yule.

After the 7.5 minute tron bomb that ended last week, I eyed the 5.5 minute runtime of [Weyes Blood - In The Beginning] askance. But no! It's five and a half minutes of relentless Karen Carpenter. There's no detectable refrain or bridge or pause in the slow march of guitar and girl. After five minutes you have been truly and thoroughly folked.

Somebody over at Modern Baseball's label is greasing Google's skids, as [Modern Baseball - The Thrash Particle] marks the second time their mild pop punk has graced my electrons. They're louder than Weyes Blood by all objective measures, but they're just as likely to soothe you to sleep.

We're doubling up on poppy guitars this week. [New Beat Fund - Sikka Takin' the Hard Way] reminds me strongly of the Wombats, the least interesting portion of that concert I just went to. These guys are dedicated to getting your butt swiveling but there's no there there.

At this point, I'll even take some mariachi! [The Lonely Wild - Snow] delivers trumpets in the quietest bits of a driving nigh-country Rural Alberta Advantage tune.

09Dec2015 2030: Scarypop Phantom

I know I don't talk a lot about myself on this blog. I talk about what I've bought, what I'm playing or watching, but I don't get into cosmology or politics or dreams. If I discuss those topics at all I prefer to do it in person, where you can see me grinning and know I don't actually give a shit. They're not things I want to put into words. Words don't have the right comedic timing without much more skill.

I keep these posts going weekly mostly because this is the main way I discover music; for every hundred boring synth confections I am fed an Audra Mae or Sylvan Esso. So let me bring these two paragraphs together and tell you that, personally, I have never felt as old as when I went to a concert last week and saw Melinda Martinez performing her hits (Wash My Mouth Out With) Soap and Sippy Cup. Not "old" in a "I don't get this music" way; Martinez sings pedo pop and I felt slimy even being in the same room. It's a concept album about being touched by her daddy. Just...ick. She might have a fantastic second album if she's not infected with the 80s.

The bands I actually cared about, Metric and Silversun Pickups, rocked everybody's faces to the expected degree. Metric's recent synth problems were more palatable live on stage. Silversun Pickups told us that all stage banter was lies and then told us beautiful lies. You should see either of those bands somewhere with a dance floor. While we're young.

From the name [Goth Money - Gucci Racks] could have gone two ways, scary pop or Riff Raff. Bad news everybody: it's Riff Raff. Reggae-rap with the bassest bass they could afford.

In contrast we have [Connan Mockasin & Devonté Hynes - Feelin' Lovely] doing their best 70s...funk ballad? I'll go with funk ballad. This sounds like one of the middling middle tracks from Random Access Memories. It's not my bag but it seems well-crafted and perfectly evocative of an era that hexagenarians will relate to.

Oh here we go. Two (or more) mild ladies singing in harmony over some mild guitar and one (or more) banjos. [Gun Outfit - Legends of My Own] is up one of my alleys. A brisk 2.5 minutes spent with some country lasses on their front porch playing folk.

While I was typing up my impressions of Gun Outfit, [Polynation - Damp] started building up layers of synth loops in the intro. "This is okay", I thought. "When the singer busts in this song could be pretty cool." Then I looked back at the Google Music tab and saw there were six and a half minutes remaining. I scared my cat with my outburst. As the length of a song increases, the odds that it will contain lyrics approaches zero... asymptotically, of course.

02Dec2015 1800: Retrocanon

The most important thing to happen to me in the past month is probably the Reddit rabbit-hole I fell down over Thanksgiving weekend. Today on Monty's Behind the Curve: Jar Jar Binks was supposed to be the main Sith badguy of the prequels. George Lucas is a great FX artist, a decent concept guy, a bad writer, and a terrible director; but it's easy to see holes in the prequels that go beyond his own robotic incompetence. His slavish devotion to recreating the original Star Wars in the prequels was rather obviously lacking a Dark Side Yoda. At long last Reddit has made up put together the pieces and revealed the original plan for the entire overarching plot of all Star Wars. It's a hefty read, but like any good Internet-fan-theory it makes just enough sense with just enough sources cited. It does something that George Lucas and Disney couldn't do: make me want to rewatch The Phantom Menace. And like any good crazy Internet fan theory, it's coincidental at best and falls apart under any real

Oh come the fuck on. That's Ahmed Best, voice- and motion-capture actor for Jar Jar Binks, being a right tool. I mean, come on. ~ I'm now a subscriber to their newsletter.

Google has taken the week off from updating their monthly Free Singles for Monty to Shit On, so I guess we'll all just have to go listen to Adele.