Spanish Love Songs-Schmaltz

LA’s Spanish Love Songs have all the promise of a band that can have real staying power.  They have the hunger of a band that wants people to hear their songs and feelings, and they have the talent to back it up.  Their latest album Schmaltz brings the breakneck intensity of hardcore, but the emotionality and varied sounds of emo.  They take the heartland-americana punk sounds of bands like The Gaslight Anthem or The Menzingers and tie in the heavy pop-punk sounds reminiscent of Upsides-era Wonder Years.  Schmaltz sees a band in the formative stages of becoming an excellent act that will only get better. Continue reading

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Andre the Giant (dir. Jason Hehir)

My knowledge of pro-wrestling for the most part starts and ends with the Mountain Goats’ 2015 album Beat the Champ[i].  Prior to that album, it seemed like big guys performing a high energy stage show for an audience of drunk idiots.  What John Darnielle does so well is showing that limited and first impressions are very often wrong.  Beat the Champ is an album that really humanizes so many different aspects of wrestling: the matches, the fans, and the wrestlers.  Like the Mountain Goats album, Andre the Giant was a similar experience.  It educated me on something I thought would just be a weird anomaly.  HBO’s Andre the Giant sheds light on the mythic Andre Roussimoff that is engaging for both fans and casual viewers. Continue reading

Kississippi-Sunset Blush

This isn’t an album I would normally enjoy.  Debut albums from indie rock bands that toe the line between dream pop and emo are usually aggressively okay.  The songs are fine, but they don’t become interesting until the second album.  That’s sort of the case with Philadelphia’s Kississippi.  Sunset Blush is both energetic and mellow, and it seems like the type of album that I’d shrug off as “fine.”  Here’s the thing: it’s pretty good, and I’ve been really enjoying Kississippi’s first album. Continue reading

The Wonder Years-Sister Cities

Philadelphia punks The Wonder Years have continually shown that they’re more than just punks.  Since the release of Suburbia, they’ve never really had an adequate match within the Warped Tour scene that they’re often lumped into, and they don’t really mesh with the artsy DIY punk scene that creates artists like Long Neck or Pinegrove.  This is all to say that even though Sister Cities isn’t their best, The Wonder Years are still in a class all their own. Continue reading

Jack White-Boarding House Reach

Jack White would probably like to be thought of as this generation’s Lead Belly, but really, he’s more likely to go onto to be like this generation’s Lou Reed-an obsessive but eclectic madman dedicated to his art and reinvention.  Like Reed, White is also unafraid of failure or ridiculousness (see: Lulu and “Leck Mich Im Arsch”).  Boarding House Reach sees White leaning into his own experimentation on the weird, sloppy, boring wreck of an album. Continue reading

Coffee Date: The Crystal Ball Frappuccino

Coffee Date is back! Coffee Date is a column where we cover coffee and tea trends.  This week we’re covering The Crystal Ball Frappuccino from Starbucks.

Those Starbucks guys are marketing geniuses.  They can pump out crappy, sugar-loaded Frappuccinos every few months, and they sell like crazy.  When I remember to, I try them, but I’m always disappointed.  Marketing stunts like The Crystal Ball Frappuccino act as a reminder to a bizarre sense of curiosity and brand loyalty.

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Mount Eerie-Now Only

               This is all terrible to write about.  Last year’s A Crow Looked at Me was a career-defining album for Phil Elverum.  That’s terrible to say, because it’s an album so rooted in the tragic loss of his wife, Geneviève.  It’s also somewhat ignorant, because Elverum had been working as a musician for over two decades.  While a popular artist in his own rite, A Crow Looked at Me was the sort of album that propelled him into a certain level of mainstream success.  His near-immediate follow-up Now Only should not be nearly as good as it is, but it’s a similarly haunting and honest album. Continue reading

Thoroughbreds (dir. Cory Finley)

Thoroughbreds is only a mildly exaggerated representation of the elite of suburban Connecticut, or Westchester, New York. Greenwich is filled with beautiful yoga moms and their children dressed in matching blazers, designer-bred show dogs and cars worth more than your house. This is an expose of the young and privileged, who both comfortably occupy the bubble they’ve grown up in and desperately long for freedom from it. They’ve grown up financially secure but emotionally neglected. Privilege is a necessity and empathy is a weakness. Continue reading