Views from Sad Summer Fest-Philadelphia 2019

sad-summer-wonder-years

            After the anti-climatic “end” of the Warped Tour last year, there was a gap left open for a touring festival that caters to a faction of teenagers that feel disenfranchised and adults that suffer from Peter Pan-syndrome.  Enter the inaugural year of the Alt Press-sponsored Sad Summer fest, a new touring festival marketed toward Millenials that went to Warped and Gen Z-ers who probably never got the chance.  On the Philadelphia date of the tour, Sad Summer brought a huge amount of nostalgia with a looming sense of irony that only a bunch of once-depressed teens could indulge. Continue reading

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Aziz Ansari-Right Now

            With the release of Right Now, the largest comeback attempt yet of the #MeToo moment has been enacted.  Yes, Louis CK has popped up at comedy festivals, and Kevin Spacey releases weird videos into the internet’s void, but Aziz Ansari’s new special is a Netflix-cosigned release where Ansari is trying to rediscover himself in a post-Babe.net world.  The previously larger-than-life comic’s return to the stage with a candid, casual, and most importantly thoughtful special that is second most importantly, his best.

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Kim Petras-Clarity

Kim Petras’ debut single “I Don’t Want It At All” was an electric, fun burst of sugary pop with 80’s inspired instrumentation and a compelling personality at the forefront.  Her further singles continued the magic that “I Don’t Want It At All” started.  On her debut album, Clarity, Petras lacks the charisma and instrumentals that her singles provided. Continue reading

Titus Andronicus-6/21/19 at Rough Trade, Brooklyn, NY

Jack White was in the building earlier that day.  On a day when The Raconteurs put out their first album in over ten years, the band played a small in-store that afternoon at Rough Trade in Brooklyn-the first of three intimate NY shows for the band.  The Raconteurs would go onto play Rough Trade Saturday night and Coney Island Baby Sunday afternoon.  Jack White exists within a realm that few working rock musicians do; Dave Grohl is probably his only true contemporary.  This is all to say that these 200-250 cap rooms are a rarity for someone of Jack White’s stature to perform in.  He’s a rockstar in the truest definition of the word, which is very different from how someone would perceived Titus Andronicus who headlined Rough Trade on Friday Night for the release show for their new record An Obelisk.

 

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Telethon-Hard Pop

It’s been a longtime since there’s been a pure, feelgood rock record that’s really offered to dominate the summer.  That’s not to say that there haven’t been great rock records released in the summer, but none are quite as catchy or uplifting as Telethon’s Hard Pop.  The Midwestern band is equal parts Green Day, Jeff Rosenstock, and Van Halen-ambitious, experimental, and shredding.

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Jonas Brothers-Happiness Begins

In 2009, if you had told me that I’d willing listen to a Jonas Brothers record in 2019, I’d probably say something that I’d be ashamed of in 2019.  While it’s difficult for me to discuss what qualified as insanely popular and well-discussed pop music at that point in time, I can tell you that the Jonas Brothers were hits in the eighth and ninth grade circa 2007-2009.  Their 2019 return as a mature pop act is an easy sell to nostalgic twenty-somethings and a chance for reassessment from pretentious Marilyn Manson fans.  With Happiness Begins, the trio’s reinvention cements their credibility beyond teenie-boppers, but does little to set them apart from their new contemporaries. Continue reading

The National-I Am Easy to Find

Sometimes, I tend to forget that the guys in The National are both thoughtful and innovative musicians.  Despite being a group that shifted the sound of indie rock, it’s easy to think they’ve mostly done the same thing on every album.  I Am Easy to Find is the first album since Alligator that feels like a significant shift for The National, and it’s a really grand thing. Continue reading

Swallow (dir. Carlo Mirabella-Davis)

Comparisons will be drawn between Carlo Mirabella-Davis’ Swallow and the films of Yorgos Lanthimos and Todd Solondz, with its showcasing of the most grotesque and depraved parts of humanity using very clean-cut, sanitized and symmetrical imagery. But apart from some absurd and darkly comic dialogue, at no point does this film become untethered from reality, and perhaps that is what makes the viewing experience of Swallow so stressful. Lanthimos and Solondz might push the limits of horror, absurdity, and magical realism for the sake of satire, but Mirabella-Davis tip toes right up against the line. Exaggerated, sure, but never unbelievable. Continue reading

Craig Finn-I Need a New War

While there’s real emotions loaded behind every Hold Steady song, they’re built around magical realism, where liquor and painkillers are the means to rebirth more than they are a cause of death. I Need a New War, the latest solo album from Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn, occupies the same spaces that records like Separation Sunday and Boys and Girls in America does, but Finn isn’t as reckless and mystified as he was in those mid-aughts masterpieces. While Finn still eludes to heavy drinking and a complicated relationship with faith, he’s much more aware of the repercussions of those viewpoints. Continue reading

Insignificant Other-i’m so glad i feel this way about you

If you were a tumblr user and fan of bands like The Front Bottoms and TWIABP in 2015, it’s near impossible to not have heard of Insignificant Other.  Lead vocalist and songwriter, Sim Morales has been releasing covers with some originals via bandcamp for last half of the decade, but the recent release of i’m so glad i feel this way about you paints a picture of a triumphant pop-punk band with a Brooklyn-sensibility despite their Alabama by way of Gainesville location. Continue reading