Thursday, May 31, 2012

Ween

The band in my title above apparently broke up this week.  Now, I would probably say on occasion that Ween happens to be my favorite band (other occasions I would say I have none), but to be perfectly honest... I'm not too broken up about it. This is for a number of reasons:

1) I'm kind of working under the assumption that they'll get back together, or that Aaron Freeman will come out as saying his words were taken out of context. Because it seems a little weird that Mickey Melchiondo (the other half of the band) was not included in the deliberations of this important band business and said that he knew nothing about it and was (apparently) on good terms with Freeman.  But even then, with Aaron Freeman newly sober--I'd assume he'd want to disassociate himself with things that probably encouraged his old habits for now.  And with them seemingly remaining good friends--perhaps he will eventually become comfortable with the idea of getting Ween back together.

2) Even if that potential reunion never occurs, I'd rather have two Weens working on separate projects than the two Weens working together while one is a complete wreck.

3) They had a good run nonetheless.  SpongeBob appearance or two, a prominent role in the SNL spinoff film "It's Pat"--and some damn good records to boot.

So right now I'm just going to go through all the studio releases and pick one song that either represents the album well--or, you know, is just the one I like the best.

GodWeenSatan: The Oneness (1990)-You Fucked Up

Some might consider this song to be extremely misogynistic.  Others might consider it to be a great deconstruction of the essence of half of classic rock radio.  I guess you could consider it both, too... but it kicks off the album in an extremely juvenile yet almost slightly genius manner. 

The Pod (1991)-Doctor Rock

Legend has it that this album was recorded under the influence of either Scotchgard or mononucleosis.  In any case, this song sounds like the rest of the album--murky, lethargic, demented.

Pure Guava (1992)-Push Th' Little Daisies

This marks their major label debut, to which they responded by making perhaps their weirdest album yet.  This happened to be the single... which means that to the general populous, the word "Ween" only brings to mind this song...

Chocolate & Cheese (1994)-What Deaner Was Talkin' About

Of course, after having proven their non-sellout status by providing a big f*** you to their new studio overlords in Pure Guava, they follow it up with their most polished and commercial effort yet.  It's their best yet, and proof that they're more than just a joke and can... you know, write good songs.

12 Golden Country Greats (1996)-Pretty Girl

I guess the assumption would be that the decision to make their next recording full of original country songs would be interpreted as just the band being weird again.  Funny thing is that the album is just as straightforward as can be, and tightly written and performed to boot.

The Mollusk (1997)-The Mollusk

Perhaps their high point, a nautical/progressive rock concept powers this one through lovely tunes like the one above, through drunk Irish sea shanties like The Blarney Stone, and through bombastic multi-part epics like Buckingham Green.

White Pepper (2000)-Exactly Where I'm At

Sort of a return to the sound of Chocolate & Cheese, except even more polished and perhaps even mature.  It does sound as if they were making a last grab for chart success, though... and so the typical weirdness gets cut down a bit.  But, still... pretty good, as represented by the track above.

Quebec (2003)-Happy Colored Marbles

This one, however recalls The Pod in that it seems to have been recorded in a dark state--except the ailment this time is depression, with clear references to drugs as a means to alleviate the pain (one song is simply called Zoloft).  This song sort of tracks the descent into madness.

Shinola Vol. 1 (2005)-Did You See Me?

Technically not a true studio release, but the quality of these leftovers are a testament to the quality of the rest of their albums.  Somehow this trippy Pink Floyd-esque gem didn't make the cut (on either The Mollusk or Quebec... I can't remember.)

La Cucaracha (2007)-Your Party

And in what may be their last album, the band follows their formula of tackling as many genres as possible.  Unfortunately, the album lacks the inventiveness and excitement that their better efforts possess.  But before they finished, they gave us this guy--which nails the sleaziness/banality of smooth jazz.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Haven't updated in a while, blah blah blah, excuse excuse excuse...

Well, I've got time to do it now, considering that I unexpectedly have the weekend off from work.  Which would be great under any other circumstances... since this also happens to be my birthday weekend and everything... but considering the fact that:

1) I'm already taking next weekend off.
2) THEY NEGLECTED TO TELL ME THAT EVERYONE AT THE GROUP HOME WOULD BE ON VACATION, AND SO I DROVE 30 MINUTES TO THE PLACE (thanks to MNDOT closing all my most used stretches of highways this weekend) TO FIND AN EMPTY HOUSE AND NO WAY TO CONTACT THE IMMEDIATE SUPERVISORS SINCE THEIR PHONES WERE TURNED OFF.

I'm a little bit annoyed.

I don't even really have anything to write about.  It's my birthday this weekend, though! 

I *was* going to work for the first 12 hours of my birthday, since I was going to let Sara work in order that she could then go home for Memorial Day Weekend (which is where I'll be next week as well), but now that's free and I'm not really sure what to do.

It'll probably end up being used to watch Nicolas Cage movies, since that's what I decided I'd do for my birthday weekend.

Just watched one tonight: Honeymoon In Vegas.  It's a solid 6/10.  Felt kind of like a production line Hollywood release for a while, but then the plot (and Nic Cage) becomes more absurd and ludicrous, and the film becomes all the better for it.  Would have the title of "most absurd skydiving scene" if Point Break didn't exist.

Also watched Deadfall... which was really bad.  Well... I watched the first half of it, until Nicolas Cage's character dies and I lost interest (yeah, spoilers, but... it's really bad, so you'd only want to watch the first half to see his performance.  So really I'm doing you a favor.) and fell asleep.  But the plot is really rote and uninteresting.  And really, the only thing worth it is Nicolas Cage, for better or worse.

I believe his brother directed this movie, and that Nic was appearing in this as essentially a favor.  Also he apparently got free reign to do whatever he pleased.  Which meant that he appeared in the worst wig possible... and for his portrayal as a lunatic coke-head, he turned up to eleven.  No, that's a lie.  He literally turned it up to about twenty-six.



I'm guessing most probably wouldn't appreciate this as much as I do... and describe it as over-the-top and hammy.  Which it is.  But there's this magnetism to him that I can't properly describe in words.  It's if he exists on a different planet and has a completely different understanding of what being an actor means.  Sometimes his Nic Cage-ness is contained--and it results in legitimately great performances such as the ones in Adaptation, Leaving Las Vegas.  But then that full Nic Cage-ness is sometimes completely unleashed, and it's a sight to behold.  It makes bad films eminently watchable, and routine scenes suddenly acquiesce to the will and stylings of this singular man.

So in any case, I'm going to watch a lot of his movies this weekend.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

It's May!

Which I've always considered to be the 2nd best month behind December... mainly because my birthday falls within this month.  But now that I'm getting older, the whole May thing might be wearing a little thin.  And now I'm sort of half anticipating/half weirded out by my upcoming birthday, which is an entirely new feeling.  So I'm probably going to have to reevaluate my rankings of favorite months.

Not that I've ever given it any consideration other than right now.  But still.

I'm going to review some recent-ish songs for the hell of it.

Gaslight Anthem--45 (poor sound quality, but I couldn't post the Soundcloud that's been floating around.)

-It's hard to say why exactly I got into this band of Bruce Springsteen-loving punk rockers when I don't care for The Boss and punk outside of The Ramones does nothing for me.  But I guess that small part of my brain that loves straight-up no-frills rock and roll was able to make room for these guys and their last two albums (especially The 59 Sound... which is the type of album you need to have readily available to listen to in your car).  This one comes from their upcoming "Handwritten" album, and it seems like the type of song that could catapult them into Black Keys-esque success, what with the hard riffs and the agreeably catchy refrains.  I wasn't too keen on it on first listen, as I thought the "turn the record over/see you on the flipside" was a little too obvious/stupid, but it's warmed on me to the point where it doesn't bother me anymore.  It's catchy.  That's all that is important.

RATING: 7/10

CAN--Deadly Doris



-Few things to know.  1) apparently this is a track from the upcoming "The Lost Tapes," which is (surprisingly) a compilation of unreleased material from the band.  2) This song features Malcolm Mooney on vocals, and not Damo Suzuki--who, despite being pretty much unintelligible in every song, fit the sound of the band much better.  Mooney is not as good.  3) Very few bands in the history of music can lock into a groove like Can.  BUT... 4) This song doesn't really go anywhere.

RATING: 4/10

Beach Boys--That's Why God Made The Radio

-So... the band just actually reunited/touring for the first time in about 25+ years (although Mike Love has been touring as the Beach Boys for most of that period.  Also, screw him), and lo and behold--they decided to give a go at writing/recording new music!  Good for them!  I mean... it's not good.  Sounds a little too sugary and a little too overdone on the production, and sounds like a band trying to recreate the same sunshine-y vibe from eras ago (which of course, is what they're trying to do).  But, I mean... they still nail the harmonies.  And it could have been a lot worse.

RATING: 3/10

Spiritualized--Hey Jane

-They're playing here tomorrow, which I probably won't go to since I hate going to concerts alone.  In any case, I've been giving their new album a couple spins--and it's giving their classic "Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space" a legit decent run for its money.  This is probably my favorite (probably because it's the first impression... but still.)  Starts out as a pretty decent dark Britpop tune, slowly becomes spacier and somehow becomes euphoric by the end.  And the "sweet heart, sweet light" outro gets stuck in your head.  I can attest to it.

RATING: 8/10

Flaming Lips--God Only Knows

-I love The Flaming Lips.  I love The Beach Boys.  I love this song.  But this cover isn't really all that great.  It retains that underlying sense of sadness (and maybe ramps it up a bit), but this version comes off as being kind of spacey and noisy for the sake of being spacey and noisy, whereas the original version pulls off becoming one of the most heavenly pieces of music recorded.  Perhaps it comes off better when not comparing it to the original version, but as it is... a bit of a disappointment.

RATING: 4/10

Trampled By Turtles--Rebellion (Lies)

Trampled By Turtles covers Arcade Fire
-Hey, so this just came out today.  Anyway... it's taken me a while, since The Current has me predisposed towards hating local artists by putting mediocre stuff in HEAVY rotation, but I guess I realized that I don't hate these guys.  I can't imagine being a big fan of them, but I can see putting them in rotation given the proper mood... and "Wait So Long" is a legitimately great song that could be in rotation no matter what.  But this a cover of Arcade Fire--and they do a pretty bang up job on it.  It doesn't really deviate too far from the original version, but they make it their own anyway (i.e. they include a banjo.)

RATING: 7/10

Sigur Ros--VarĂșĂ°
LINK HERE IN CASE SOUNDCLOUD DOESN'T WORK FOR YOU LIKE IT DOESN'T WORK FOR ME

-Early reviews have the new album as "understated."  Which means I'm adjusting my expectations a little bit--not that I was expecting a full blown masterpiece like "Agaetis Byrjun", but saying an album is "understated" is kind of a nice way to make one hope for and expect merely a pleasant sounding album.  In any case, this still does it for me.  Takes a while to get going, but that last minute swells to that majestic climax you're hoping it achieves.  So basically, it's a Sigur Ros song.

RATING: 7/10