Friday, December 29, 2017

Frightful Friday Part VIII ~ Melissa Takes Manitoba

There. I made it this far so I could make that stupid joke. Am I proud of myself? Yes, yes I am. Though right now you can keep Manitoba and the whole rest of Canada since it's like -4000 degrees.

I watched two movies over Christmas, the first being Krampus, a movie I'd been meaning to watch ever since it came out. This is from the director of Trick r Treat, one of my favorite modern horrors, and while I didn't love it quite as much I enjoyed the hell out of this movie. I had seen a few scenes already and LOVED the creature designs, so I went in knowing I'd probably dig it.

Here's what director Michael Dougherty is awesome at: setting the tone of a season. As someone with a very seasonal aesthetic, this appeals to me on an almost personal level. I swear he could make an Easter Bunny movie that would somehow make spring menacing, or a 4th of July movie with killer Uncle Sam or something that would make I Know What You Did Last Summer look like the Babysitter's Club. (I don't actually like I Know What You Did Last Summer, but it was the first thing that came to mind.)

Trick r Treat is definitive not just of Halloween but the whole Halloween season. The feeling, the atmosphere. You can almost smell it watching the movie, that wood smoke and apples smell. Ahhh. And Krampus* does the same for winter. While I love fall, I HATE winter. It's actually way more scary to me than Halloween, so any movie where winter itself is kind of a monster is gonna affect me. (Unless it's stupid, like the next movie.) That's part of why The Shining works so well, and also a big part of what works in Krampus. The family is trapped not only by the monsters, but by the storm. It adds a whole other layer of well, chillingness that you're just not gonna get in a Friday the 13th movie.

*autocorrect just corrected that to "cramps," and that is NOT a horror movie I wanna see.

The second thing that makes this work so well is the aforementioned creature design. It's nothing less than gorgeous. Everything has this intricate detail that's somehow oddly Christmassy, considering they're like demon toys and shit. I mean, it's weirdly kind of pretty, and Krampus himself is huge and imposing and just badass looking. It's some of my favorite design in a movie since well, Trick r Treat. And the ending was pretty weird and unsettling.

Of course I had to pick up Rifftrax' holiday offering, Jack Frost. As they specifically indicate, this is the serial killer snowman one, not the Michael Keaton one that came out the same year. Cause obvs I'm not watching heartwarming family shit on Christmas, who do you think I am?

Anyway, this movie was the exact opposite of Krampus. Some of the worst design I've EVER seen in a movie, and a piss poor job setting the season. For a movie about a snowman, set in a town called SNOMONTON, there's very little, um, snow? This was obviously filmed in California, you're not getting that shit past me. Our "snowman," which looks like a Dollar Store Christmas window display if the dollar store had window displays, constantly drops these nonsensical one liners like he's the Snow Terminator (Snowminator? That's about the level of joke you'll get in this movie) or something. Like he randomly says "WATCH OUT FOR YELLOW SNOW" but the only joke is "HE'S A SNOWMAN, GET IT??" there's never a peeing in snow gag or anything. Which I guess we can be thankful for? I can't tell if this movie actually thinks it's clever or is doing the "we know it's stupid but maybe it's so stupid you'll laugh" kinda thing. And I mean, I DID laugh. It's so ridiculous, and the Rifftrax guys reacting to the ridiculousness was spot on. Terrible movie, but as always I recommend the Rifftrax. A fun way to end Christmas weekend.

Only vaguely related, because movies, but I also saw Last Jedi right before Christmas and I really liked it. The story and characters were good but my favourite part was all the beautiful ANIMALS. I want a crystal critter!

I have a few more winter-themed scary movies left, so let's keep this going into January. I mean, it's not like there's anything else to do in January. What was Friday the 13th part 9 called again? ...oh right. Oh dear, no wonder I forgot. Okay, Friday Goes to Hell it is! Whatever I watch will be better than the horror movies they put in theatres in January, at least.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

tbt

For all the bad things that happened in 2017, personally and just in general, I've actually had a pretty good year since September. I just recently realized that; like wait, I've been happy for months! When did that happen? How did that happen? And I've been listening to music that makes me happy. Happier. There's something uniquely uplifting about certain songs from what I call the "indie golden age." Like, I listen to this and I think how blessed I am to have this music in my life and not just the crap they play on the radio. I'm not a hipster, I swear. This music just seems designed to make you feel good, you know?



Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wicked Good Wednesday ~ positivity!

Much of my year-end stuff was tinged with negativity, well even more so than usual. And not the fun kind of negativity, the glorious cathartic ranty kind, more like the "I'm tired, can I just go home?" kind. So I want to rectify that with a brief overview of all my favorite things this year.

2017 movies:

1. Get Out
2. The Disaster Artist
3. Guardians of the Galaxy 2
4. IT

New-to-me movies from other years:

1. The Conjuring 2
2. Pumpkinhead
3. The Gate
4. Krampus

TV/Netflix shows:

1. MST3K the Return - yayayayay this singularly made 2017 A-OK with me!
2. Bates Motel - my favorite non-MST3K show of all time went out with a bang. Brilliant.
3. Stranger Things - season 2 was just what I hoped it would be. The character growth and evolution is every bit as fascinating as the supernatural stuff, which is the sign of good storytelling.
4. Riverdale - I feel like I have a whole post in me about this show. It's a similar feel to "Pretty Little Liars" for me, another favorite guilty pleasure. I wouldn't call either show "good," exactly, but they're very entertaining camp with surprisingly good acting. I was never a soap opera fan, but if this is 2017's version of a soap, I'm in. This is a long way from 8-year old me reading the Archie comics, but it actually fits perfectly with my current aesthetic.

Beers/ciders I first tried this year:

1. No Boats on Sunday cider
2. Picker's Hut Winter Spice Cider
3. Alley Kat Long Johns Salted Caramel Ale
4. Tatamagouche Brewery, in general
5. oh let's face it, every craft beer I tried this year was my best friend

Songs, hits or otherwise (NOT IN ORDER):

1. Black Rain - Creeper
2. Spaceship - Kesha
3. Crickets - Creeper
4. From Outer Space - Jaime Wyatt
5. Whiteout Conditions ~ New Pornographers
6. Rainbow - Kesha
7. Run For Cover ~ The Killers
8. Avalanche Alley ~ New Pornographers
9. I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight ~ Sunny Sweeney
10. Pool ~ Paramore
11. Redbone - Childish Gambino
12. Room 309 - Creeper*
13. Idle Worship - Paramore
14. Stone Hotel - Jaime Wyatt
15. Tin Man - Miranda Lambert
16. High Ticket Attractions ~ New Pornographers
17. Grow Old With Me ~ Sunny Sweeney
18. 26 ~ Paramore
19. Paper Cowboy ~ Margo Price
20. And the sentiment I'm taking with me into 2018... "Don't let the bastards get you down." ~ Kesha

*Creeper's "Suzanne," "Misery," and "Hiding with Boys" were first released before 2017 so they weren't eligible.

WHY YES, I did listen to the same handful of albums all year. What can I say, they're awesome. Also, I see a theme here. While country radio is dominated by the same white dude in jeans with many names, and pop radio plays women but they're mostly Selena Gomez wannabes, my list is primarily QUALITY FEMALE ARTISTS who need to be heard. So I'm ending this list with a shoutout to HAYLEY WILLIAMS, SUNNY SWEENEY, JAIME WYATT, NEKO CASE and KATHRYN CALDER of New Pornographers, HANNAH GREENWOOD of Creeper, MARGO PRICE, MIRANDA LAMBERT, and FUCK YEAH KESHA. Y'all are my heroes.

I know you don't like to be classified as "female artists" when you're just fucking ARTISTS, and I feel you. In fact, I didn't even notice how woman-heavy this list was until I read it over. And that's not anti-men at all, there are so many male artists I love, don't even get me started. Obviously most of Creeper's vocals are done by Will and I adore him. I guess what I mean is, this is kind of the Year of the Woman to me, at least until we reach a point where we no longer need such a thing, you know? So it's only fitting that so many female voices hit me this year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Wicked Good Wednesday ~ Ed Sheeran? Really?

Wait, you mean we had another Ed Sheeran song to choose from? Why didn't we choose this? What exactly is wrong with us as a people?



Between the soulless, trend-chasing, plink-plonking "Shape of You," which I've already discussed at length, and this big, stirring, U2-at-their-best 80s rock anthem, which one did the public choose to make song of the year? Well, it's not 1987 so I think we know the answer. Plink plonk, something about dirty sheets, plink plonk. I guess "Castle on the Hill" was a "hit," barely, but I never heard it until yesterday and I heard "Shape of You" approximately 2,437 times this summer.

So screw people, is what I'm saying. No wait, I'm saying I really like "Castle on the Hill." This is the Ed Sheeran I want, don't disappoint m... oh, his current single is another boring ballad? And it's at number one? Right, people don't like big, upbeat, rousing songs anymore, they like insignificant snips they can put in their pocket and forget about. Yeah, let's just go with screw people. But also buy this song.

Friday, December 15, 2017

BONUS! Feel Good Friday

Because I can't stop listening to this album OMG

Frightful Friday Part VII ~ The New Blood

Not to be confused with The New Batch, which is the sequel to the movie I watched last night.

Yup, I watched Gremlins for the first time since the 80s and wow, that was a pretty amazing time capsule experience. Most of my favourite 80s stuff I've relived as an adult, but this one was firmly lodged in the memory of childhood. I wonder if that's why I held off so long on rewatching it, as if bringing it into adulthood would somehow ruin it.

It didn't.

I'm so glad I saved it though, because that was just the experience I needed now. I was immediately taken back to my 80s kid Christmases and believe me, ain't no Christmas like an 80s kid Christmas. That sweet pink Barbie Corvette Gizmo drives? Oh yeah, I got that sucker! Along with Barbie's dream pool and her cat (complete with little carrier) and her horse and her toilet. Yes, there was a Barbie toilet that flushed. We were truly living the dream. I don't care how much high-tech shit there is now, that toilet was cooler.

While the basics of the movie stuck with me, the "don't get them wet, don't feed them after midnight" and all that, I knew there'd be at least one detail I'd forgotten that would come flooding back in a rush of nostalgia. And it was that Corvette. I'm not sure I could come up with a more 80s scene than that (except maybe the gremlin FLASHDANCING IN PINK LEGWARMERS. Yes, that is a thing that happens in this movie. And I have no idea if it was self aware or just the 80s.) I actually remember my little Barbie-obsessed kid self yelling and cheering during the Corvette scene. So I got a little piece of my childhood back last night. Merry Christmas to me!

Oh I had a Gizmo doll too, but I don't think he fit in the Corvette.

Okay, this was more Nostalgia Friday than Frightful Friday, but it's a monster movie so it counts. Will I watch the sequel? Maybe, but I don't remember liking it very much. Next up - Krampus!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

tbt ~ 80s melodic guitar rock

Pat DiNizio, singer/songwriter for The Smithereens, died yesterday at the way too young age of 62. He might not be a household name, I don't know how many people even remember The Smithereens anymore, but they should. I sure do. They were great, and a big part of my musical formative years.

I got into R.E.M. at a young age, 12 maybe? That makes me sound like a cool kid but I wasn't, I was dorky as hell. But I was also smart and had good taste, so yeah, I went right from Madonna to R.E.M. and The Smithereens and The Connells, and other cool bands I've probably forgotten. When people think 80s music they probably think new wave and pop first, but it also was a great time for alt rock, college rock, power pop, whatever you wanna call it. MTV might be a hot mess now, but I would not be the person I am today if not for 120 Minutes, so I am eternally grateful to them for expanding my musical horizons. What I wouldn't give to have something like that today. Wouldn't even have to be videos, just songs.

After R.E.M., the band I was most into was The Smithereens. From the first song I heard on 120 Minutes (it was either "Only a Memory" or "House We Used to Live In"), I was hooked. I bought all their albums. They were all full of catchy, crunchy guitar songs, the kind I'm not sure see the light of day anymore. I'm sure someone's still making 'em, but everything seems to be tinged by electronic now. I'll listen to something labelled "alt rock" and I'm like, that's not rock?? If there's a guitar in there it's mushed so far into the mix it might as well be porridge.

In the late 80s my mom, grandma and I took a road trip to Athens, GA ~ a "Pilgrimage," if you will - to see the home of R.E.M. It was wonderful. I might have petted Michael Stipe's cat, or at least his neighbour's cat. Hey, at the very least, I got to pet a cat. The main soundtrack for the trip was, of course, R.E.M., but the second most played was The Smithereens Green Thoughts. It's a required listen if you like that kind of music. I revisited it yesterday and it really holds up, not just nostalgia-wise but great music wise.

Music, and the people who make it, become so intertwined in our lives that the first thing I thought of when I saw the news yesterday was that road trip, and my grandmother who's been gone for 20 years, and how grateful I am for that memory. The Smithereens helped make that, and I'd say it's much more than "only a memory." They helped shape my musical taste and who I am. Thank you, and RIP Pat DiNizio.



Good music has a way of leading you to more good music, and another band I really got into was The Connells.



Idk what he's wearing either but he's awesome, shut up.

Other than R.E.M., these bands aren't very well-known anymore except by music geeks and those of us who were there. I feel pretty blessed to have experienced all this music in my life, and because it's music, you never have to stop experiencing it. You can revisit it any time you like.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

"What Makes You Country"

I'm... not a Luke Bryan fan, in general. But something about this title irks me in a special, special way.


Okay Luke, if posing in nature wearing a plaid shirt is what makes you country, I'm the countriest bitch you'll ever meet.


Look at that dirt path, I bet it leads to an old shack where we can drink some 'shine and listen to Drake and you can talk about how country you are!


Look at that lake, let's take the boat out and you can get drunk and talk so much hate about "city folks" you forget to catch any fish! Maybe later we can drive the big old jacked up truck into it because they float, right?

(Oh, they float. We all float down here, Lukie.)


Look at that damn tree! Park the truck next to it (the new truck, the old one drowned in the lake), put down that tailgate and get to drinkin'! Those cows aren't going to tip themselves you know.


Ooh, a pretty trail in the woods, let's litter it with Bud Light cans and condom wrappers, yeehaw!

COUNTRY.


Oh shiiit son, a plaid shirt in a cornfield? That's TOO country, we're overcountrying, abort, ABORT!!


Oh nooo, not the pumpkin farm! Do you know how many BACK ROADS we had to take to get there?! At least I wasn't compared to any of them.

I've got a closet full of plaid and nothin' to lose, Luke Bryan! Come at me bro. 👊

That was fun. Luke Bryan sucks. Always remember that.

Monday, December 11, 2017

2017 songs I missed

Songs I hadn't heard, or forgot to mention.

Julia Michaels ~ "I've got issues, and one of them is how bad I need voice lessons!"

"Say You Won't Let Go" by Interchangeable White Guy with Acoustic Guitar #72* ~ What's the one constant in popular music? Boring adult contemporary ballads! Yaay. Seems like every year there's one of these samey-sounding "romantic" songs, as if by obligation. So what's the difference between a good ballad and a boring one? I mean, I like "Million Reasons." I guess for me ballads have to feel big, they need to be almost rock and roll in their intensity. They need to break stuff. I feel like you could walk into any coffeehouse anywhere and there'd be this guy playing this song. What's special or interesting about it?

*James Arthur, good Lord, I couldn't come up with a more generic name if I tried. Call him "Arthur James" and see if anyone even notices.

"Light it Up" by Luke Bryan ~ This song is about a phone. Really pushing those creative limits there, eh Luke?

"Mi Gente" by a bunch of people ~ Latin music can provide welcome energy to the dull pop charts, like putting mango salsa on a piece of plain fish. I was fine with "Despacito," though the original is better than Bieber. Obviously. But this? This is our 2017 entry for "what's that horrible noise?!" Except this time, the horrible noise isn't just a drop or a random sound effect. This thing plays on a continuous loop through the entire song. Or so I've heard, I can't get too far into it without a headache coming on. This hurts, not just my musical sensibilities but my actual body. That might be a new low, at least until we get to the next song.

I was wrong. There was a song I heard this year worse than "Body Like a Backroad," it just wasn't a hit. That song is "Young and Menace" by Fall Out Boy. I don't even hate FOB, their first album is some good old school pop punk nostalgia. But this... take everything you think you know about Fall Out Boy, the worst songs you've heard by them, and throw it all out the window cause this is so much worse than you could ever imagine. I didn't even think it was a real song. I will give Body Like a Backroad the most basic compliment possible and say it sounds like a song, kind of. Those are the depths we've reached here. This thing is a career killer.

I know I already talked about this "trap" thing but I have more to say, seeing how it's taken over music like an alien parasite. I'm obviously not a hip hop fan, but I still know a good song when I hear it. They played "King Kunta" at a game I went to last week and I was dancing in my seat, it's so good.



ENERGY!

Now insert "Lil ____" here, cause they all seem to have the same name and sing the same song.



Day 67 of my coma. No change. :(

But here's the really awful part. From the subject matter of some of these songs, I'm guessing the slurriness is meant to sound like being on drugs, or maybe they sound that way cause they've taken too many drugs. I mean, it literally sounds like they're overdosing in every song. I get that rap has always had a history with drugs and violence, but this is particularly depressing. There's nothing glamorous about prescription drug abuse. You're doing this shit and not even making interesting music, it's just a waste.

And who are all the people listening to this? They can't all be drug addicts, so what's the appeal? "Hmm, I want to feel down without actually taking downers... ah, Lil Banana Peel, and then maybe some Lil Shoehorn! Woo, now I'm lit!" Wait, is this music supposed to make you lit or... what's the opposite of lit, dim? I'M SO CONFUSED. I hope this trend dies hard next year. It's not just unpleasant, it's unhealthy.

And what the hell is a "lil uzi vert??" Okay I know what an uzi is, but what's a vert? Vertical blinds? You shoot your vertical blinds with an uzi? That just seems uncalled for. What did the people at Levolor ever do to you??

"I Spy" by Kyle and Lil Helicopter or whatever ~ Hey! An actual upbeat, sunny hip hop song, I can dig... "I spy with my little eye, a girlie I can get 'cause she don't get too many likes"... oh. Oh. Gosh, that's not predatory or anything.🙄 You know, as a woman that line somehow offends me more than all the bitches and hoes and strippers songs combined, and I'm not one of those people who works at being offended. You could argue the bitches and hoes stuff has a theatricality to it. I don't like it, but it doesn't hit me on any real level. But, "I'm gonna take advantage of this less popular chick's vulnerability so I can have sex with her!" That's real. And it's ugly.

Bebe Rexha ~ I vaguely knew who she was before the whole "country" controversy, but I specifically listened to her and... she's fine. She can sing, she's an okay pop star. Before the FGL song, which is quite possibly the most generic thing I've ever heard btw, it makes "Say You Won't Let Go" sound like "Hey Jude," she seemed to be the kind of artist who always sings before a drop. She doesn't belong anywhere near country. Obviously, I mean OBVIOUSLY. Fix this mess.

"Malibu" by Miley Cyrus ~ We've found something almost as bad as Miley's high register, and that's Miley's low register. Either way she always sounds like she has to cough. I don't dislike this, but it bugs me that so many great vocalists will never be heard, while Miss Nepotism here can barely sing.

One Direction ~ these dudes all released solo music this year, no I'm not gonna remember all their names, and the only one that piqued my interest was Harry Styles. His album is good overall, however I soured on it when I learned he did not credit Badfinger for the guitar line he lifted directly from "Baby Blue" on "Ever Since New York." I mean, Taylor Swift credited Right Said Fred for a flow basically, and Styles lifts a whole melody without credit? I still think he's talented and he makes good use of the line but come on, you owe the original writers.

"New Year's Day" by Taylor Swift ~ JUST BECAUSE SOMETHING IS ACOUSTIC DOES NOT MAKE IT COUNTRY. Good grief. This is one of the few songs on reputation that actually sounds like a song to me. It's fine. Put it on pop radio, it'll be one of the better songs. But this insistence of putting pop songs on country radio has NOTHING to do with evolving or expanding musical taste, it has to do with making money, like everything damn else. Stop pretending it's anything else.

We listened to different genres in the 80s and 90s too. While they were more "cliquey" back then, top 40 radio actually played a decent mix of pop, rock, r&b, dance, country crossover, hip hop, etc. It was the melting pot of what was popular, and if anything it was more diverse back then because it actually played rock. But genre-specific stations like country stuck to country, as they should, or what's the point of even having different stations? Diversity isn't new, it's just being exploited now, and the quality of popular music is suffering for it.

Aaaand that's all for 2017, may you rest in self-perpetuating obscurity. Pull the plug, put the nail in the coffin, and crack open a cold one, you deserve it.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Other Favourites of 2017 ~ Albums, Songs... um, beers?

I probably should make a list of just beers cause I spent more time drinking this year than anything else.

So, albums in 2017. I didn't listen to as many as last year, and some I did I only listened to once. You can't really judge an album by one listen most of the time, but if I didn't feel like listening to it again, that could be seen as a criticism. Or it could just be my mindset. Yeah, a lot of stuff didn't really hit me this year. I don't know if it was really that lacklustre or if it was just me.

It's probably me. :(

So I kinda just want to get this over with tbh. It's weird, but ranting about stuff I hate actually feels better than talking about stuff I like. Maybe because there was so little of it, and that makes me sad. Part of that is my own doing, I'm sure there's a lot of great stuff I missed, but... I'VE HAD A YEAR. :(

It started out okay. There were some good albums released in the first half. My favourite show, MST3K, returned in April after an 18 year absence, making me the happiest I've been since the world jumped the shark last November. While the world decided that one shark wouldn't suffice, it had to jump Marineland and possibly the entire Atlantic Ocean, I was enjoying life at least.

Then May happened and before I could recover from that, August happened. This was a year of disappointing to downright traumatizing things, and to top that off, albums were either underwhelming or just not connecting. I'M LOOKING AT YOU, WEEZER. Of all the years I needed you guys, and you let me down with that boring squirrel fart of an album. (Autocorrect changed that to "surreal fart," which I am 1000% using for something.) One album that connected with me after the May shitstorm was Kesha's Rainbow. Of all the people in the world, Kesha gave me some hope this year. And honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. That sort of weirdness and unpredictability is what keeps me going. It's kind of beautiful.

So here's the short list of what didn't disappoint, and a couple nice surprises.

1. Eternity, In Your Arms ~ Creeper

My most anticipated album of the year is also my favourite, hooray! Of course in true 2017 fashion, even my love for Creeper turned out one disappointment, as their Canadian tour was cancelled for some mysterious reason. Will I ever get to see them? Well, it sure as hell won't be next year, since they're coming to some shitty venue that doesn't even serve craft beer. Hard pass. OH, and get this! In the most 2017 shitstorm imaginable, the venue they were supposed to play this year, the one that sounded so nice, was shut down due to sexual harassment charges against the owner. Thanks, asshole, it's not like there are abundant venues for smaller bands in Edmonton, and now there's one less because you couldn't keep your dick to yourself. GAWD, fuck everything.

*deep breath* Okay, I can get through this. This is supposed to be a positive list. ANYWAY, at least I still have this album, this big, beautiful album. OH! And my actual favourite thing in 2017 - there's a song on here called "Room 309," and I LIVE IN APARTMENT 309. This is ridiculously life-affirming to me, for some reason. It's like a real life Easter egg.

2. After Laughter - Paramore

Paramore does Blondie-esque new wave; it's awesome. What more can I say? Just let this album wash over you. Oh, and "26" kinda sounds like a lost Takeoffs and Landings era Rilo Kiley track. It's stunning.

3. Felony Blues - Jaime Wyatt

Oh, precious early days of the year when I discovered new music! If only it ended up this way more of the time. This album just connected with me instantly, from the foot-tapping "Stone Hotel" to the introspective "From Outer Space" to the gorgeous cover of "Misery and Gin." If this was a little longer, it might have been #2. I mean damn, I'd have been thrilled with two or three more covers, from the way she handled Merle. And I love the concept of it; this is the kind of slice of life I look for in country music. Where else can a prison stint become art? It's awful that she was an addict and had to go to prison in the first place, but it sounds like she's turned her life around and we ended up with these beautiful songs.

4. Whiteout Conditions ~ The New Pornographers

And a late addition comes out strong! I already wrote about my love for this band and their melodic power pop, and this is yet another gem. It's not quite up with 2014's Brill Bruisers, but that's like saying one flower isn't as pretty as another, they're all flowers.

5. Trophy - Sunny Sweeney

I've enjoyed the majority of Sunny's work, but I think this is her best and most consistent album. This might be Peak Sunny. Which is not to say I think her next album will be a comedown, more like she hit her stride. Equal parts attitude and vulnerability, with great music and production to back her up, this album shows why I got into country and why I never give up on it, no matter how bad the mainstream gets. Just try not to think about all the undeserving shit they play on the radio instead of this, and you'll be fine.

6. Rainbow - Kesha

I don't love every song on this album, but the ones I do... oh man, the ones I do are among my favourites of the year. This album came along at just the right time and hit me just the right way. "Spaceship" is my favourite, but then there's "Bastards" and "Rainbow" and "Hunt You Down" and "Praying" and "Old Flames" and holy crap, "Godzilla" is so much fun, almost like one of those 80s novelty songs, and "Woman" is like "Man I feel Like a Woman" with the word "motherfucker" in it, and OMG, thank you Kesha. You don't know how much I needed this. I forgive you for all your past crappy songs. (And honestly, some of her older stuff is even worth checking out - Supernatural, Animal, Die Young, Warrior, even Party at a Rich Dude's House has a fun 80s rock sleaze vibe.)

As for some favourite songs, here's a handy Spotify playlist: https://open.spotify.com/user/emperorcupcake22/playlist/1Wwzl8TKhdEvfdln9y46Gn

Other releases that were notable to me:

Chris Stapleton ~ As I mentioned in my best songs list, I think I've hit burnout on Stapleton for a while. I listened to From A Room Vol. 1 and I liked it, there's some damn good stuff there, but I didn't feel compelled to listen again. I don't know if that's me, or something lacking in the album. So I will revisit it and give Vol. 2 a listen sometime next year, with fresh ears.

Zac Brown Band ~ An album that seemed to be an attempt to return to their country roots, yet somehow left me cold. And there's nothing really wrong with it, the production is nice, Zac and the band all sound great (in fact, I recall some really nice instrumentation in spots). I guess the weakness is the songwriting itself, nothing really stuck out like on their past albums. Even the maligned Jekyll and Hyde had some real standout tracks. I heard the acoustic "Tomorrow Never Comes" in a shop the other day and didn't want to leave til it was done, it's so lovely. I'll revisit this one at some point, but I can't say it's a priority.

Beck ~ I really liked "Wow," so I was looking forward to this. Again, I've only listened once, but other than a handful of tracks it left me cold. Overproduction does not suit him, it takes too much of the Beck-ness away. Sometimes it works and provides nice layers of sound. I do like the title track "Colours," it has a sweet 80s dance vibe. But a lot of this just doesn't feel uniquely Beck. You hear it in a bar and it could be any pop dude, you know? For such an experimental artist, I have to call this a letdown. If you're like me and your favourite Beck is Odelay! Beck, this probably won't do much for you beyond a few cool tracks.

The Killers ~ You know, I really like this band, but I have to say that overall they make stronger songs than albums, and Wonderful Wonderful is no exception. There's some good stuff on here, but not enough for me to recommend the album as a whole. Check out Run for Cover, Rut, and Tyson vs Douglas though, that's some prime Killers.

The Maine ~ When I did my little retrospective of this band, who have done different sounds on different albums, I predicted their next album would stick with the American Candy sound. I was not wrong. And that's not necessarily a bad thing, the sound obviously suits them. But here's the thing. While I like that album, and I did enjoy Lovely Little Lonely to an extent, I found myself wishing more for the classic rock vibe of Pioneer or the darker tones of Forever Halloween. One album of lighter, airier pop rock worked for me, but I guess this was too much of a good thing. A lot of their fans loved this and I totally get why; this isn't a letdown album. This is just me. I found myself missing their rougher edge. Maybe their next album will take a new direction?

Weezer - *clenches fists* I already talked about this, and I don't want to raise my blood pressure talking about it again. This is the only album I listened to this year I didn't enjoy at all, and it's by one of my favourite artists. That's nothing new with Weezer, I just had such high hopes after their resurgence. This album has no teeth.

Harry Styles ~ A promising debut, dig the classic rock vibe. Credit Badfinger though, dude. (my next post will have more on this)

Margo Price ~ Two songs on her EP are among my favourites of the year, "Weakness" and "Paper Cowboy." That said, I haven't yet listened to the full-length album she dropped later in the year. I'm a little nervous. I've seen some kinda "ehh" reviews and I don't want to be disappointed again, especially when I liked her debut album and EP so much. I don't have the best approach to music listening right now, I know this.

Turnpike Troubadours ~ I've heard so much positive buzz around these guys, I need to just sit down and listen to them. I don't know why getting into a band seems like such a huge undertaking these days. I certainly like "The Housefire."

You know what it is with country, and why I think I've shifted more to rock? Country was always driving music for me, and I don't drive here. I walk everywhere, both for errands and for exercise. And I just like rock better for walking. So I think that's part of why I haven't gotten into many new country artists. And I can't stream music while walking, so first I have to determine whether I want to download it to my iPod. That requires sitting and listening, to which my brain says "you want to watch Youtube or Rifftrax or a cheesy movie instead." Not to mention half the time I listen to something new and it doesn't hit me. Well, that's par for the course. ANYWAY, I am gonna make a concerted effort to listen to this one damn band lol.

Oh and we didn't get that new System of a Down album, because of course we didn't. I could have used some good righteous anger this year.

Well, we're almost done with 2017. I'll have a "songs I missed" post and that's it, at least musically. Still planning another movie post or two. Tomorrow I'm seeing "The Disaster Artist," which I've been looking forward to all year. I'm pretty sure that won't let me down like most things I looked forward to this year. *fast-forward to tomorrow, sitting in the theatre all pumped with my popcorn and the projector explodes and catches fire* You know, that would be a pretty fitting end to the year.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Wicked Good Wednesday ~ How the New Pornographers Saved 2017

So I've been working on my albums post for a few days, and... no matter what I do, it keeps coming out kinda dark and angry. And this is my positive post. This year has just sucked for me since the end of May, personally not only music wise, and for some reason making this damn post keeps reminding me of everything that went wrong. The albums I have to talk about are the same handful I already talked about, like back in bloody APRIL, because when bad shit happens I dive right into the old comfort barrel instead of seeking out new stuff.

So basically, I had nothing new to say. Then I decided to get back into an old favorite band, one I hadn't listened to since the mid-2000s. They put out a new album this year, Whiteout Conditions, and it's really good. It's going on my list. HOWEVER, it was eclipsed by their previous album Brill Bruisers, and HOW THE HELL DID I SLEEP ON THIS THING?? Was I in a damn coma? This is not only one of the best albums from a band that's never made a bad one, this is one of my favorite albums I've ever heard. I've been listening to that and Whiteout the past couple days and, no lie, I feel better. Why do I ever forget the power of music, when it's always been there for me? I guess that's what depression does, seasonal depression among other things. It's been rough. But this?



BLISS!



BLISS!



BLISS!

This is the soundtrack to depression lifting. I'll try to not burn myself out on these guys this time.

This reminded me of some other bands I got into around the same time. I never stopped listening to Rilo Kiley, but others got put aside for some reason. I got into the Elephant 6 collective through a band called of Montreal. I have no idea how I used to find these bands, I guess I was just always looking for indie stuff back then. of Montreal sounds like The Beatles on even more drugs, and I dig them. Their early stuff, anyway.



"birds have no heads when you come around" WTF I love it.





There were also the Apples in Stereo and High Water Marks. Quirky, retro, melodic. I'd be surprised if Best Coast wasn't inspired by Elephant 6. For that matter, P!ATD's Pretty. Odd. kind of has this sound too.



My favorite of their songs, "Seems So," isn't on Youtube.



I think the mid-90s through mid-2000s were the golden age of "indie rock," but since I'm feeling it right now I'm gonna start digging for new stuff. I'll probably still post the um, angry best albums list (?) since it does accurately represent my year, but I'm feeling more hopeful now than when I wrote it.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Feel Good Friday ~ it came out magical

I've been listening to a lot of New Pornographers lately. I kinda burned myself out on this band about 10 years ago - listen to Mass Romantic, Electric Version and Twin Cinema and you'll see why I played them over and over and over and over and AGGGHHHHH. I did it to myself, I did, and that's what really hurts. I don't know what Radiohead has to do with this either.

But I guess 10 years is the sweet spot for coming back around cause I am totally feeling these guys again, both their old stuff and newer stuff which I hadn't heard. If I had to pick ONE favourite, damn, it's a tough choice between The Laws Have Changed and From Blown Speakers. There's just something about this one though, something... magical.



Next week begins my winter/holiday themed horror marathon, so I'll be back to Frightful Friday for a while. Scheduled movies:

Gremlins (maybe Gremlins 2?)
Krampus
The Visit
The Thing
The Shining
Black Christmas
Nightmare Before Christmas
Not sure I can handle Silent Night, Garbage Day again, maybe if I really get 'nogged