Coffee Date:Tigers Jaw-Spin (Reanimator-No More Coffee For Tigers Jaw)

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Coffee Date is a new column that features discussions of beverages stemming from leaves and beans.  Whether you brew your own or need a hip barista pouring it in front of you, we’ve got you covered for brands to try at home, coffee shops with some personality, and what you should try or avoid from your regular coffee chains. Today, we also cross over into a review of Tigers Jaw’s latest album, and the coffee that came with the presale.

Tigers Jaw’s decision to pair with Reanimator Coffee for the release of their fifth full-length isn’t anything new.  Modern Baseball and The Menzingers have also previously paired with Reanimator, but Tigers Jaw seems like the best pairing.  They’re the musical equivalent to a nice cup of coffee on a rainy day.  Spin sees the band at their most fully-realized, and Reanimator made a nice brew to compliment it. Continue reading

Baywatch (dir. Seth Gordon, 2017)

David Hasselhoff has now somehow appeared in two separate movies as himself as the main character’s spirit guardian and compared to The Spongebob Squarepants Movie this cameo was pretty lackluster. When Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson rides on David Hasselhoff’s back like a jet ski, then we’ll talk.

To keep with the exhausting trend of reviving mediocre 90s fare that nobody asked for, a cinematic reboot of early 90s relic Baywatch hit theatres on Friday and, true to the source material, it was not very good. It manages to be everything you expected a Baywatch movie to be and somehow worse. And the reason for this is: that it isn’t fun. Without the many (many) phallic jokes that don’t land or the fact that the premise alone is pretty goofy, this is a very long action drama about lifeguards who solve crimes. That self-aware humor (“That just sounds like a corny TV show!” or “Why does it always look like she’s running in slow-motion?”) doesn’t work because this movie takes itself very seriously. In the opening title sequence, The Rock rescues a drowning victim and walks onto the shore with the victim in his arms and computer-generated dolphins leaping in the background…THAT is the movie I wanted. So why is the rest of the movie so serious? Why not keep that CG-dolphin tone throughout? It would have been a lot more enjoyable and I would have tolerated the poorly written dialogue, the nonsensical drug smuggling plot, the mild to moderate sexism, the flat characters, the fact that lifeguarding alone can’t make enough money to live in a beach house or even Zac Efron’s frosted tips if this movie wasn’t so tedious.

The very few people defending Baywatch are those who enjoyed The Rock’s performance, but that isn’t fair because we could watch him eat Doritos for 90 minutes and not feel like it was a waste of time. Try as he might, his lovable presence can’t save bad writing. But I am in no position to complain about the confirmed sequel because I too spent $13.98 to watch it. And since it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever seen I predict it will become a cult classic in about 10-15 years.

Marisa Winckowski

Adult Mom-Soft Spots

When Soft Spots was announced, I’d just about forgotten about Adult Mom.  Sure, Steph Knipe’s project had some catchy tunes, and they released one of my favorite records of 2015, but looking back on Momentary Lapse of Happily, it’s replay value was limited save for a few songs.  Knipe has not only improved as a songwriter, they’re much more vulnerable and personable on Soft Spots.

The most noticeable change to this Adult Mom album is the warmth of the production.  “J Station” is incredibly homey, while narrating a despondent breakup.  Even the closing track, “First Day of Spring,” despite Knipe discussing their not being ready for warmth, sounds like a friendly record to play under your covers on a cold day.  “Full Screen” has many more fleshed out tones than the barebones of Happily.  The touches of xylophone and synthesizer expand the track in the minutest way to perfectly compliment Knipe’s melancholy acoustic song.  “Drive Me Home” is another example of a song that builds around Knipe’s repetitive, manic vocals.

Besides being a better sounding record, Knipe is much better as a lyricist on Soft Spots.  There are much fewer cheeky, cliché references like “it’s okay to kiss girls!” on Happily, but there’s still a tongue-in-cheek nature to a song like “Full Screen,” which begins with Knipe asking:

“Do you full screen your porn?

Do you think about me

as you watch her crawl across the floor”

A song like “J Station” shows Knipe developing stories through their songs recalling one more go with an old lover, but ends with perhaps the coldest line of the album: “I’ll be sad you were ever in my life in the first place.”  Knipe’s vocal performances on these songs are much more emotive than on their debut or Sometimes Bad Happens, and it really puts Adult Mom ahead as an interesting artist within the punk community.

On their second full-length, Adult Mom really takes the next step into creating remarkably comforting music.  Listening to this record sounds like the way Chris Gethard describes The Smiths during Career Suicide, as the type of music that could only grow and the meaning could expand through the ages, as a constant spot that only grows to take on new meanings as you grow older.

James Crowley

PWR BTTM’s Ben Hopkins Accused of Sexual Assault

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Ben Hopkins of queer-punk duo PWR BTTM has recently come under fire following accusations of sexual assault.  Following the accusations, the band released a statement, a number of shows have been dropped, Salty Artist Management have dropped them, touring members and support have dropped off their upcoming tour, and a woman came forward in an anonymous interview as a victim of Hopkins.  The band’s sophomore album Pageant was released today.

National Sexual Assault Hotline – (800) 656-4673
The Trevor Project – (866) 488-7386
LGBT National Help Center – (888) 843-4564
National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs – (212) 714-1141

Casting JonBenet: The Advantages of Bias

Casting JonBenet (Dir. Kitty Green), the highly anticipated meta-documentary released as a Netflix-exclusive film about the 1996 murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey was met with mixed reactions- mostly because the idea of making a film about the actual brutal murder of an actual child didn’t sit well with many people. 1996 wasn’t that long ago. Is it exploitative? Probably. But by that logic, every film about or based on a real-life tragedy is exploitative. I am willing to defend this film’s existence despite its tendency to insert some black humor, as it doesn’t set out to minimize the seriousness of the crime. Unlike other crime documentaries, it is less focused on solving the mystery at hand and more focused on reactions to what we know about the murder and the inevitable biases that come with it. Continue reading

Old Menaces: How To Abandon Your Fanbase, While Still Making Millions

 

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The date is October 4, 2009: Blink-182 has recently reunited.  They’re finishing up a massive tour with Fall Out Boy opening for them at New York’s Madison Square Garden.  Before FOB launch into their signature closer, “Saturday,” Pete Wentz declares, “This is the death of the emo haircut,” before handing his bass to a stagehand.  Mark Hoppus enters the stage.  Wentz sits down, and Hoppus shaves his head.  Wentz jumps up at his cue, and screams his parts in “Saturday” like he always does.  You could say this is the moment that everything went wrong.  You could say Blink-182’s original breakup was the moment it all went wrong.  You could also say Green Day’s American Idiot was, or even Dookie, or New Found Glory releasing “It’s Not Your Fault,” but for the sake of argument, Mark Hoppus shaving Pete Wentz’s black locks was the moment that ruined it all. Continue reading

Coffee Date: In Memoriam: The Unicorn Frappuccino

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Coffee Date is a new column that features discussions of beverages stemming from leaves and beans.  Whether you brew your own or need a hip barista pouring it in front of you, we’ve got you covered for brands to try at home, coffee shops with some personality, and what you should try or avoid from your regular coffee chains.

Although I originally intended to cover the Bones’ Maple Bacon Coffee, upon drinking, I realized there’s not really any thrills to this one.  It’s a little sweet, a little smoky, but the bacon taste isn’t there.  It’s fine, but it’s not great.  Instead today, we’re going to talk about that fucking Unicorn Frappuccino. Continue reading

My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea (Dir. Dash Shaw, 2017)

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While I have never subscribed to the notion that the narrative of a film is always more important than its visuals, My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea lacks in depth both narratively and visually. But when I say it lacks in depth visually, I thoroughly mean it as a compliment- everything is very flat and two-dimensional because it’s meant to look like a graphic novel, which is what writer/director Dash Shaw is best known for. The animation style is colorful and trippy- it’s also choppy and unpolished but that is what works in its favor. As this film is centered on a group of teenagers and is narrated by its 16-year-old main character, it makes sense that it looks like something sketched by a teen.

The concept of a sudden epic disaster being inflicted upon a high school in which the heroes are mostly social outcasts literally sounds like something a 16-year-old would daydream about in class as he draws the popular kids drowning in the margins of his notebook paper. There is literally a scene in which one of the popular girls begs to be rescued by the nerdy main characters by offering to invite them to her next party, before slipping into shark-infested waters. For misanthropic teens, this is unapologetic wish fulfillment. But Dash Shaw seems to be aware of this because he named the pretentious main character after himself. Dash (Jason Schwartzman) is a kid who exists in real life and you probably hung out with him in high school. Everything is pointless, the nerds and the artists are the only people who really understand the world, don’t be a sheep, etc. Not following the crowd and staying true to yourself isn’t a lesson without merit but Dash is mean and petty. And this is pointed out to him early on in the film- that he thinks people don’t like him because of his acne but it’s really because of his personality. He does eventually learn his lesson but the moral is still lacking because it is so clearly written to be flattering and easily palatable to 15-year-old nerds. Not only is he the only one with the bright idea to not stay on the bottom floor when the building is literally sinking, but he was the only one who knew the disaster was coming. Of course he warned them and nobody listened until it was too late.

The very simple messages of this story aren’t particularly new – ‘remember who your true friends are’, ‘don’t sacrifice your individuality to fit in’, ‘high school doesn’t matter in the grand scheme when you’re literally faced with a life-or-death situation’ etc. But there’s also something in here that is very specific to millennials.  There is a throwaway line or two about the recession and the increasingly narrow job market, which is interesting within the context of an apocalyptic disaster- that young people are under constant pressure by adults to be successful but are simultaneously trying to survive in a drastically changing world that those same adults are responsible for (ex. Baby Boomers voted for Trump and tanked the economy). In this case, it was the adult with the most authority (the principal), who knew but chose to ignore the fact that the building was at risk of collapsing.  This movie could apply to the young-adult anxiety felt by any generation, but feels particularly apt in representing the current one. But I might just be reading too much into a film that will inevitably gain a cult following of young stoners.

 

Marisa Winckowski

The Return of Lasagna Cat

“Sex Survey Results, the Pipe Strip and the Return of Lasagna Cat”

Jon Arbuckle, Zero

via KnowYourMeme

Despite his status as a cultural icon for the past forty years, Garfield hasn’t contributed much to the artistic world at large- save for some “I hate Mondays” coffee mugs and the memes your aunt shares on Facebook. And while this orange cat has never truly gone away, he isn’t often discussed. Garfield has existed as background noise for the past several decades as a three-panel comic strip, the occasional cartoon, and a handful of kids’ movies that nobody saw. Everybody knows who Garfield is but few have dedicated as much time analyzing his oeuvre as Fatal Farm’s Zach Johnson and Jeffrey Max. Continue reading

Bowling for Cigs: Bowling for Soup at the Gramercy Theater//Diet Cig at Baby’s All Right: (New York/Brooklyn, NY) 4/7/17

bowlingforsoup      “I don’t go to Brooklyn,” Casey mutters anytime I propose a show in the King’s County borough.  “We should see a show soon,” is a phrase Casey says to me about every two weeks.  When scrolling through events on Facebook, I saw both Bowling for Soup at the Gramercy Theatre and Diet Cig at Baby’s All Right on a Friday.  Casey initially agreed to Bowling for Soup, and when I proposed catching Diet Cig’s late show for their record release of Swear I’m Good at This, she was down to do both in a night.  We managed to hit both shows and it was a hell of a shit show. Continue reading