Marc Maron-Too Real

            Only Marc Maron could get away with telling the same joke twice in a row.  It’s easy to be sick of Maron’s rote display of emotional honesty, because he’s been in comedy for decades, and he brings one of the best podcasts to listeners twice a week.  He’s been bringing listeners a manic energy regularly for years now, and Too Real is a perfect culmination of all the best aspects of Maron. Continue reading

IT (Dir. Andrés Muschietti)

I can’t support the notion that the supernatural entity known as It takes on the form of a clown because clowns are enticing to children. No child has unironically enjoyed the presence of a clown since the vaudevillian days of the 1930s. People have been afraid of clowns for years, even before Tim Curry decided to put on a red nose. If you were one of those people who saw Stephen King’s It (1990) as a kid and cite it as the source of your childhood nightmares, I highly recommend watching it again, now, as an adult. Upon second viewing, you might come to realize that not only is it not very frightening, but it’s also rather dated and not particularly good. In this era of remake after remake after remake, this is a rare example of an early 90s relic that was due for an upgrade. And that’s because the story and the concept is actually compelling- the 1990 version just didn’t do much apart from traumatize some now-twenty somethings and give Tim Curry ample scenery to chew on. And this project has been in the works since 2009- Cary Fukunaga, the original director, dropped out due to “creative differences”, the script was rewritten, most of the actors were re-cast a week before filming…after all of that chaos it’s hard to believe they were able to pull the project together without making it too much of a messy combination of Fukunaga’s vision and Muschietti’s. But they did it, and they did it well. And maybe the delay in production was a blessing in disguise because it has been exactly 27 years since the release of the original miniseries- accurately matching the timeline of It’s resurgence from the depths of the sewers to consume the flesh of the innocent. So that’s nice. Continue reading

Green Day: XFINITY Theatre (Hartford, CT 8/29/17)

Green-Day-Hartford           Even though, Green Day shows have become largely repetitive, there is still something to be said about standing in the pit at one.  Energy radiates off the stage.  Even wearing earplugs, standing close enough to hear the explosions from the pyrotechnics hurt your ears is incredible.  Despite all three core members being in their mid-40’s, they perform with the same youthful energy rivaling so many of their much younger peers. Continue reading

LCD Soundsystem-American Dream

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More often than not, when I don’t like something that I know is good (or everyone else likes), I tend to just say, “It wasn’t for me.”  That is to say, I wasn’t the target-demographic.  I said this about the Beauty and the Beast remake, Twenty-One Pilots, Serial, and countless other things that I didn’t really like.  I didn’t begin listening to LCD Soundsystem until after they’d broken up, and I was excited to see them reunite.  While I understand why fans were angry about their reunion, I could care less to be honest.  That being said, American Dream doesn’t seem like it was for me.  It seems catered to a certain subsect of fans that probably don’t mind that LCD reunited as opposed to feeling more indifferent about it.  Still, even if it wasn’t for me, American Dream is an incredible album that I thoroughly enjoy. Continue reading

Gaga, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down (Citi Field, Queens, NY 8/28/17)

GAGA

I’d only ever flirted with the idea of seeing a major pop-star live.  I like Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, and Justin Timberlake enough to think about going to their shows.  I’ve seen Kanye on the Saint Pablo tour, but he’s a rapper.  I’ve seen Fall Out Boy and Panic! At the Disco at major arena tours, while they’re still mostly relevant, but both are still (mostly) considered rock bands.  Lady Gaga was like my first kiss, kind of great-kind of awkward and underwhelming. Continue reading

Brand New-Science Fiction

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If the rumors are true, this will be Brand New’s final album.  It’s not a sad last gasp for breath nor is it a number of recycled demos and singles that the band’s fans have heard a fair amount in recent years.  There’s nothing wrong with “Mene”, “I Am A Nightmare”, or the 3 Demos, Reworked EP, and it would have been fully acceptable to stick those songs on Science Fiction.  Still, Brand New revealed they had one final trick up their sleeves, and that results in the band’s perfect, catatonic, terrifying, heavy farewell album.

Science Fiction succeeds in every category beginning from its bizarre rollout: announcement of limited vinyl, website crash, strange packages, unexpected announcement and release two days later.  Brand New is to alternative rock, what Beyoncé is to pop, and a shock and surprise release is exactly what this album deserved.  Science Fiction needs to be appreciated in one sitting of hearing the album straight through.

There are more classic rock tropes on this album than before, from the extended songs, shredding solos, and excessive use of acoustic guitar.  Still, this album reaches new sonic experiments that Brand New haven’t touched yet.  It has tracks like “451” and “Desert” that show a major blues-influence, the former sounding like a Black Keys song.  They play with texture a lot, where a bunch of the album sounds like it was recorded in an abandoned estate.  It’s the best produced album in their discography, where even a song like “Desert,” which has the coldest lyrics still sounds incredibly warm.  Even in the albums most depressing moments, it still welcomes the listener into its depths.

Still, what has truly made Brand New most notable have always been their lyrics.  Jesse Lacey touches down on a number of old themes-religion, grief and depression, unlikable characters-as well as a few new ones, mainly the sci-fi that the title implies.  The closing track “Batter Up” hints at themes of extraterrestrial life, and the spoken interludes almost sound like they were nicked from Creepypastas, but they do set a certain chilling atmosphere throughout the album.  “Lit Me Up” opens the album with dark arpeggios in a chilling atmosphere, with Lacey’s haunting tone, but Lacey does manage to expand these into much bigger ideas.

Religion is still a major force in Lacey’s lyrics.  It’s evident from the beginning although it seems like he’s mostly turned his back on a bunch of his Christian faith.  On “Lit Me Up,” Lacey sings, “When I grow up, I want to be a heretic” to “It lit me up, and I burned from the inside out/Yeah, I burned like a witch in a Puritan town.”  “Desert” sees Lacey taking on a character that uses religious rhetoric to spew hateful views, and with a release coming not even a week after the violence in Charlottesville, it’s one of the most chilling takes on the album.  “Desert” and “137” are two of the more politically charged anthems of the album, with “137” leading to a chorus of:

Let’s all go play Nagasaki

We Can all get vaporized

Hold my hand, let’s turn to ash.

I’ll see you on the otherside.

“137” also contains allusions to Christian-faith.

Still, mental health is probably the biggest thing on Jesse Lacey’s mind throughout Science Fiction.  In the ultra-catchy “Can’t Get It Out,” the song’s final refrain goes

I’m just a manic depressive

Toting around my own crown.

I’ve got a positive message

Sometimes, I can’t get it out.

“Could Never Be Heaven” is actually a really sweet love song with mental illness as a theme, where Lacey sings about his love of his wife and family and how they help him cope with his depression.  “Out of Mana” seems to recount therapy sessions, beginning with “Write down all of your fears.”  Fittingly, the closing “Batter Up” is a somber take about the infinity of living with depression, and outer-space is a nice touch to illustrate it.

If this is Brand New’s last hurrah, it’s a damn-good one.  There is a part of me that really hopes that the title Science Fiction means they have one last trick up their sleeve, whether it’s one more album or a psyche-out retirement.  Still, I’ll take Science Fiction.  It’s a safe good-bye.