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

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Eminem-Revival

When I was first late to the Eminem fandom, I really went hard for Em’s technical skill, which was perfect, because he was about to put out Recovery.  Very shortly after, I was drawn to the Slim Shady persona that spoke to the angry, young man that I was.  Now, I could take or leave them both.  Some of the ~inspirational~ Eminem songs hold up better than I thought they would, and the better Slim Shady tunes were ever so self-aware.  I don’t care about Eminem as passionately as I once did.  He’s in the same folder as Marilyn Manson: take a look when there’s something new, but it’s probably not good.  Revival was unsurprisingly bad, but offensively so in its length and jingoism. Continue reading

Charles Manson-Lie (The Love and Terror Cult)

The human fascination with death and murder takes us all down strange rabbit holes.  It’s hard for some people to resist watching Law & Order, some of us have libraries with Helter Skelter or Zodiac, and some of us spend most of our work day listening to murder podcasts.  With a demographic that can sometimes skew down the darker path of life, it’s not difficult to see an audience for Charles Manson’s Lie album.  Manson’s relationship with music is one of the largest parts of his legacy that will surely be discussed for years to come. Continue reading

Monday Mixtape: Halloween (The Misfits, Marilyn Manson, Run the Jewels)

The Misfits-“Teenagers from Mars”


Today’s Monday Mixtape lands on All Hallow’s Eve, thus we’ll be giving you a number of Halloween songs to begin with.  What’s a better Halloween band than The Misfits?  While just about any Misfits song could have worked, “Teenagers from Mars” feels like a cheap B-Movie, in the best way.  Crappy horror films are what Halloween is made of, and this is one of The Misfits’ best songs.

Real Friends-“Mess”


I was lucky enough to catch Real Friends on their current tour with The Wonder Years.  “Mess” is one of the best songs on The Home Inside My Head, and it has a pretty great Halloween-themed video.

 

Helloween-“Halloween”


Is there anything more Halloween than a German, power-metal outfit called Helloween playing a song called “Halloween”

 

Marilyn Manson-“Man That You Fear”


Marilyn Manson is still one of the kings of Halloween, and this Antichrist Superstar number is an eerie ballad, perfect for a sad Halloween.

Avenged Sevenfold-“Bat Country”


A7X just released a surprise album, but their early work remain to be metalcore staples.  “Bat Country” is just most fitting for Halloween. Continue reading

Lady Gaga-‘Joanne’

lady_gaga_-_joanne_official_album_cover

Lady Gaga was cool once.  There was once a time when America found Lady Gaga to be shocking.  It hadn’t really set in with the singles “Poker Face” and “Just Dance,” but when Lady Gaga died on stage at the 2009 Video Music Awards, she was badass.  When blood dripped down her stomach during the final chorus of “Paparazzi,” Gaga had more akin to Mechanical Animals-era Marilyn Manson than Beyoncé or Taylor Swift.  The Fame and The Fame Monster releases made Gaga a truly dark presence in pop-music.  Even though she was still making fun, party music, she became a leading force in my own personal delve into poptimism due to her dark themes and theatricality.


Following Gaga’s leap into fame, she released pretty lackluster albums.  Born This Way had the hits “Edge of Glory” and “You and I” but hardly mandatory listening.  ARTPOP was a total flop.  Cheek to Cheek was more of a passion project that was mostly loved by moms.  Joanne is an excellent return to Lady Gaga making great pop-music.

Joanne is the type of dance music that fans have come to expect from Gaga, but it’s run through an 80’s rock and country filter.  The first single, “Perfect Illusion,” sounds like Lady Gaga singing a Van Halen track.  The gal-pal anthem “Hey Girl” has more akin to “Benny and the Jets” than it does to “Starboy.”  Gaga’s anthemic pop-music is much better than any of the artists actively trying to make stadium-rock today.  Joanne has been called a crossover into country music, but it’s really a crossover into classic-rock.

Despite this being Lady Gaga’s dad-rock album, she never loses sight of her youthful audience.  Any song that isn’t a ballad is a certified banger.  “Dancin’ in Circles” is a funky club jam.  “Diamond Heart” has the type of soaring chorus that only a Lady Gaga fan could love.  “John Wayne” is dance-rock at its best.  Despite disguising itself as a country song, it is much more like Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out.”  “Sinner’s Prayer” and “Joanne” are both bluegrass ballads that would fit on Led Zeppelin albums.  “Angel Down” is an epic power-ballad of a closing addressing some of the large issues this nation faces with gun control.  “Million Reasons” is probably one of Gaga’s best ballads yet with all the grandeur of a Mötley Crüe song.

The lyric themes on Joanne are as varied as the genres that can be drawn.  “Diamond Heart” is an ode to resilience and partying.  The title track is a tribute to Gaga’s late aunt who the album is named for.  “Dancin’ In Circles” has Gaga singing the joys of masturbation: “feels good to be lonely/baby don’t cry.”  The Florence Welch featuring track, “Hey Girls” has the two singing, “Help me hold my hair back/walk me home cause I can’t find a cab.”  “John Wayne” longs for a certain flavor of Blue-Collar-Americana that Joanne certainly brings.

Lady Gaga may never reach the same level of success and greatness that she hit with her earliest works, but Joanne doesn’t compromise any of Gaga’s integrity.  It’s her best record in years, and we can only expect an excellent tour to follow.