When Black Mirror began airing in 2011, it inevitably drew comparisons to The Twilight Zone. The hyperbolic narratives served as warnings of our technological advancements the same way Rod Serling chided its viewers’ morality. Creator Charlie Brooker also tended to take the page from Serling’s book of leaving an ominous cliffhanger ending. When Netflix released the third season though, the series had undergone a number of changes: flamboyant colors, American accents, and a few happy endings. “San Junipero” is one of the most widely beloved episodes to come from Black Mirror, and it has a remarkably positive ending. Even the ending of the film-length “Hated in the Nation” leaves a viewer with a sense of pride. The fourth season takes the satisfying ending and runs with it, more often for the better.
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 →
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.
Black Kids first and last full album came out in 2008 and while I was a big fan of them back at the beginning of high school I realized I hadn’t listened to their first album Partie Traumatic in full in at least seven years. As I sat down to re-familiarize myself with Partie Traumatic I got sucked back into the goofy upbeat dance world that Black Kids makes you a part of. Continue reading →
Green Day are vamping up for their return, and the title track from their new album is as explosive as ever. The melodic punk track features Green Day’s trademark catchy power chords. Tré Cool shines through locking the song down the most. Billie Joe Armstrong writes some of his wordiest lyrics continuing on from the equally intricate “Bang Bang.” Revolution Radio will be released October 7.
While Shape Shift With Me is streaming via NPR, the catchiest track remains the power pop gem “Crash.” Laura barks over some melodic guitar rock. “Crash” lands all the punches that Shape Shift With Me should when it’s released on Friday.
Kanye West-“Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1”
Not a new song, but I’m still coming down from a Saint Pablo tour hangover.
The Smiths-“Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”
As summer officially comes to an end, Morrissey and Johnny Marr have written some of the best Autumn songs ever written. This Louder than Bombs track is essential Smiths listening, and it’s a bittersweet take for the start of Fall. It’s a Pumpkin-Spiced jam.
Beach Slang-“Atom Bomb”
This sludgy track has one of the best music videos of the summer, and James Alex sings this song with an intense snarl, that’s irresistible. While “Punks in a Disco Bar” sounds like a chunkier version of a track from Beach Slang’s first album, this song shows that the Philly outfit still has some tricks up their sleeves.
Lady Gaga-“Perfect Illusion”
This Tame-Impala produced single may be Gaga’s best following the flop that was Artpop. This era of Gaga may be exciting.
Kevin Devine-“No History”
Remembering 9/11 this weekend certainly puts a lot of things into perspective. Over the weekend, everyone that was around the same age as me when the World Trade Center attacks happened remembered the confusion. Kevin Devine’s first song from Instigator captures what I imagine it must have felt like for people that were much older than I was when the terrorist attacks happened. Devine is also aware of how this event has echoed to this day. As Devine sings “This is the future severe and always happening” is one of the eeriest to come during this haunting song. Devine doesn’t really memorialize any of those lost, but he does reveal the confusion, fear and anger that has never been forgotten.