Friday, August 29, 2008

Upcoming: Shiny Toy Guns, TV on the Radio, People in Planes, Oasis

I haven't been buying much music this past month. Nothing's really caught my attention (Hold Steady and Crystal Castles notwithstanding). Later this year, however, looks to be a blitz of good music. Lucky for me, a few of my favorite bands have songs out in advance of their upcoming projects. Here's a few of them.

Shiny Toy Guns
Upcoming Album: Season of Poison
Release Date: November 4
Lead Single: 'Ricochet'

Wow, these guys are going to miss Carrah Faye Charnow. The former lead female vocalist of the band mysteriously quit the band this month, and Sisely Treasure (her replacement) really doesn't pick up the slack all that well in this song. First thing I'm noticing is that she sings her vocals in a fairly deep tone of voice. It actually sounds kind of silly until the chorus mercifully hits. Chad Petree sings the chorus, which kicks into high gear. Distorted guitars, half screamed vocals - this is a drastic change in style, and I'm not so sure I'm a fan yet. I rather liked the guilty-pleasure electropop of We Are Pilots.

Excitement Level: 4 - I was pumped for a new Shiny Toy Guns release when I first heard it was coming, but if the rest of Season of Poison is anything like this, it'll just prove that We Are Pilots was lightning in a bottle, and that the lightning has escaped.

TV on the Radio
Upcoming Album: Dear Science, (yes, the comma is part of the album title. weird, huh?)
Release Date: September 23
Teaser Song: 'Golden Age'

'Golden Age' is weird, but then again, that shouldn't really be any surprise. TVotR has made a career out of tweaking expectations, this song is just another curveball. I've listened to it 3 or 4 times, and still don't have a solid handle on it.

Excitement Level: 7 - It always takes about 10 listens for a TVotR song to grab ahold of me (other than the fantastic 'Wolf Like Me'). This one seems to be no different. I'm sure the CD itself will be crazy good. If it's even half as good as 'Return to Cookie Mountain', it'll be a great CD.

People in Planes
Upcoming Album: Beyond the Horizon
Release Date: September 9?
Lead Single: 'Pretty Buildings'

This song has actually been out for a while, but I just haven't really gotten around to talking about it. 'Pretty Buildings' is a little more straight forward than most of the stuff I've heard from People in Planes, but it keeps their unique edge and lyrical phrasing. The track starts off with some really nice piano work, and unfolds and keeps building to an anthemic chorus.

Excitement Level: 8 - 'Pretty Buildings' is good, but I hope that there's a little more variation on the full length like there was on 'As Far As the Eye Can See'. I'm sure they're up to the challenge, and I'm sure 'Beyond the Horizon' will make my top 10.

Upcoming Album: Dig Out Your Soul
Release Date: October 6
Lead Single: 'The Shock of the Lightning'

Every single CD since 'Standing on the Shoulder of Giants' has been touted as Oasis' "return to form". There's a certain hope that they'll recapture the glory days of 'Morning Glory' and 'Definitely Maybe'. I'll go on record and say that'll never happen. Having 2 stone cold classic albums is already a tall task, and I don't think they're about to shoot to the top to become the biggest band in the world again anytime soon. 'The Shock of the Lightning', though, shows that they could at least bring back a little of the excitement. 'Don't Believe the Truth' was good, and I enjoyed it greatly, but it didn't have the energy or immediate thrill that their first two did. If this new song is any indication, the swagger could be at least somewhat back in their step.

Excitement Level: 9 - Hey, it's a new CD from my favorite band. That makes it an automatic 8, at least, plus the lead single is good. I'm still a little wary, if only because they've been promising a return to 'glory' days for years now, and like I said before, I don't believe they'll ever fully get back there. On the other hand, this song does rock, and that has to count for something, right?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thieves with Halos

Want to play a guitar simulation video game?
Don't want to damn your eternal soul to hell in the process?

Has 'Digital Praise' got a game for.......ah, to hell with it.

What in the hell is this?? I'll admit (reluctantly) that I used to be a big fan of all thigns Christian rock. That was, of course, before I heard all the bands that my former favorites were ripping off and sanitizing. I still enjoy some of the stuff from back in the day, but that's beside the point.

Digital Praise, the fine people that brought you those knock-off Dance Dance Revolution games, now bring you "Guitar Praise". In their own words:

"Grab the guitar and play along with top Christian bands! Shred those riffs or blast the bass…you add a unique sound to the solid Christian rock. But watch out: if you can't keep up, the artists will take a break and stop the music. Crank it up and try again ? you?ll soon be rockin' with the best while praising the Lord! Order the second guitar and jam with a friend!"

There just aren't any words in the English dictionary that describe that. Luckily, I just so happen to have one of my own.


Seriously, people. Do your own thing. Add in a tambourine, have the user wear little bracelets that can tell when you're raising your hands in praise, just don't rip off an established franchise and throw together some shitty tracklist on it and call it 'good'. By the way, out of 40-plus years of rock music (for today's purposes, we'll count the Larry Norman era as the beginings of C-Rock) you can't find anything better to put on a track list of "rockin' spiritual songs" than Stellar Cart, Superchick, and TWO Hawk Nelson songs? I could look through my (admittedly embarassing) Christian music collection and find 50 songs more apt for a collection such as this than TWO Hawk Nelson songs. Amy Frickin' Grant is more 'rock' than Hawk Nelson.

Cockflickery abounds...

Next thing they need is "Organ Hymnal Simulator 5000" for those not down with the C-Rock scene.

Friday, August 22, 2008

People on the Internet Say Dumb Things

It's no secret that internet message boards are breeding grounds for stupidity. That's a given, but in an article written on Wednesday, a commenter wrote one of the stupidest things I've ever read written about baseball.

How about trading A-rod for Gary Matthews, straight up?

This would be, without question, the worst trade ever made in any sport. Ever. Even if he were the worst fielding third baseman in baseball (which, I assure you, he isn't), here's how he ranks in a few key offensive stats:

AVG - .308 (10th, just 15 points behind the leader)
OBP - .397 (7th)
SLG - .586 (2nd, a mere 3 points behind Milton Bradley)
OPS - .983 (T-2nd)
HR - 28 (5th)

...but yeah, trading that for a guy who's hitting .224/.330/.306 and is a full year older than A-Rod makes perfect sense.

I know Matthews is nothing special, but it would be addition by subtraction for NY.

I love how he notes that Matthews is 'nothing special'. It should be noted that the player who has 546 home runs in his career, the guy who should have been last year's unanimous MVP (Maglio's great, but anyone who gave him the top vote last year should have their voting privilages revoked) is pretty damn special. Plus, with the aforementioned stats backing me up, I would say he's not anywhere near the heavy decline phase yet. If Cashman were anywhere remotely near this stupid, Billy Smith should get on the phone and arrange a trade Nick Punto for Jeter, Joba Chamberlain, and Mariano Rivera (who'd make a damn good setup guy to the best closer in the majors).

He goes on to make a decent point about Jeter being awful at defense, then makes a couple of bizzare points about moving Jeter to left, moving Posada to first, and apparently having Matsui and Giambi (good hitters and lousy fielders both) fight to the death over who gets to DH.

People, seriously. You need to get this through your heads: A-Rod is the best baseball player in the major leagues. I think he's kind of a douche, and he doesn't play the media game nearly as well as Jeter, but come on.

(note: 'Pulling a Golokhov' tag used in reference to this article, where Dave Golokhov inexplicably listed the Twins as one of the 10 worst franchises in professional sports. Something the fine writers at FireJoeMorgan had a field day with - as did I in my not nearly as witty or clever diatribe. I'll be using this tag whenever anyone says anything so impossibly stupid that it's obvious they can't be serious.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Movie Review: The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

If I were a certain music reviewing site, I might not actually review this movie. I might instead post a picture of a chimp urinating on itself, or an "aww" inspiring apologetic picture of some pugs. I might even post a picture of a bunny with a pancake on its head.

That would, of course, be letting the movie off too easily. It's easily the worst movie I've watched this year (I've been fortunate enough to avoid certain 'gems' such as "The Hottie and the Nottie"), and I honestly think it's one of the more poorly made popcorn flicks I've ever seen.

(note: I will be adding spoilers into my review of this movie. I don't feel bad about this at all, since the movie is actually an abomination that deserves to make as little money as possible, in the hopes that no more braindead sequels will be tacked onto its lifeless corpse. If you honestly want to see this wretched excuse for a movie, you've been warned - in more ways than one.)

Jet Li 'stars' as some dude I really can't remember the name of, and within minutes, he proves that he's all big and bad by pointlessly executing a friend, and getting all stabby on some chick he was putting moves on not 60 seconds prior (neither of these make sense, and just seem tacked on to show how EVIL this guy is, because if he wasn't super evil, this movie would have even less point in existing). I say 'stars' because once he does these things, the crazy witch chick curses him. This curse supposedly turns him into terra cotta, but the obscenely bad special effects make it look like he's being turned into chocolate. He's understandably upset about this, and rightfully so... because at this point in the movie, he turns into a poorly rendered CGI creature, and he stays that way pretty much the rest of the movie. What on earth is the point of having Jet Li in your movie if you're going to instantly replace him with a cartoon? (on second thought... this series does have a certain precedent for that...). He does do some of his near patented martial arts in the VERY beginning, but it's basically for the filmmakers to say "Hey! Remember this guy!? He did all that crazy kung fu shit back in the day. Where are you going? Don't leave!".

Thousands of years later, the most inept archaeological team in recorded history stumbles upon the site; watching their team die by booby traps¹ while happily gallivanting on their merry way. People are literally having their faces melted off, and these morons can't be arsed to watch where they walk. Kindergartners on meth would have used more caution. The professor guy predictably betrays them, then is predictably killed mere moments after.

Which is where we pause a moment. It's not terribly uncommon to make a prediction in a movie and later be proven right. Simple probabilities, coupled with limited plot twists ensure that you'll be right about at least a few things before they happen. During this movie, however, my friend and I made no fewer than 15 predictions, and were right about every single one of them. From "ah, creepy assassin chick... that seems like good girlfriend material" to "so the creepy chick with the scar on her face? yeah, she'll be fighting the female lead before much longer". This movie makes no effort to throw any curveballs. It just goes on its merry way, broadcasting every single thing it's about to do. Not that an action movie usually tries to be mysterious about its intentions, but even Armageddon had the twist ending of Bruce Willis turning out to be George Herman Ruth in disguise.

A lot of convolution later, our intrepid team ends up in the mountains. It's at this point that I lost what little faith I had that it could turn itself around. Everyone is dressed in stuff that looks like it came straight out of the LL Bean catalog. Surely the first rule in filmmaking should be "if you're making an action movie, make sure the clothes aren't better actors than the actual actors". The lead actress is wearing a blaze red parka that made me wonder if Lindsey would like something like that, and how much said item would cost. It was literally more interesting than anything happening on screen at that point in time.

15 yak puke jokes later (wow, I wish I were joking), the movie pretty much is over. There's some sort of zombie mummy fight toward the end that is well featured in the previews, but it really doesn't matter, since apparently all of these mummies are tied to Jet Li's character. Brendan Fraser's char inexplicably shouts "fight like a man" at Jet Li, who inexplicably does. Even more inexplicably, Jet Li (martial arts master extraordinaire) gets the tar kicked out of him, before getting stabbed to death. Yay, rugged adventure types, I guess.

To this point, the Mummy series has stretched a bit while calling itself "horror/comedy" (being extremely light on horror, and fairly generous with comedy), this movie stretches that genre to the breaking point, and then well past, but miraculously does so by completely removing anything that any non-lobotomized person could possibly find amusing. Nearly every joke is an in-joke, and with one exception that I can't even remember at this time, EVERY ONE OF THEM FAILS. That's right, I laughed along with this movie ONCE. One time. I think it was more of a 'chuckle' than an outright laugh, but when you're pressing that hard for laughs in a comedy, I guess it'll count. One of the few enjoyable scenes in the movie (involving yetis and the ass they so love to kick) is instantly ruined when the yetis all make celebratory moves after kicking said ass it takes the scene from acceptably cool to... something resembling a pokemon episode. More than anything, this is a movie that begs you to laugh at it, sort of like an unfunny clown (sorry, redundant). Nothing here works as comedy, and since the action and plot have so much fail in them that they're bursting at the seams, the distinct lack of any intentional humor dooms the movie.

Respected film critic Roger Ebert gave this film a somewhat positive review, noting that it was "...plain dumb fun, is why" and "absurd and preposterous, and proud of it.". I'll give him "dumb", and I'll certainly agree that it's "absurd", but it's entirely possible that he was watching a different film than the one I ended up seeing; because I'm honestly not sure how a person who had to sit through Mummy 3 could possibly call it "fun". I like dumb action movies, and I (to this point) liked the Mummy series, and this was a bigger waste of money than Indiana Jones. This movie gets tossed on the list of movies where the third installment does everything in its power to actively destroy anything you enjoyed about the first two - to the point where you question whether you actually liked the first two all that much, in the first place.


¹ By the way, seriously... who set those up? ...and I thought the Jet Li guy froze in a completely different pose? I know it's a touch ridiculous to expect this to make any sense when nothing else even tries to, but these are the things that go from 'suspension of disbelief' to 'you're really just making shit up as you go along, aren't you?'

D.A.N.C.E. Like It's 2007

I was just giving a relisten to †, and it's still the same fantastic CD full of dance-pop, electro, and basically all things . The obvious highlight of the CD is the Michael Jackson loving 'D.A.N.C.E.'. The song is great enough, but it's the music video that really pushes the song over the edge of 'good' and into 'totally awesome' territory.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Goodbye Livan, Hello Liriano!

According to, the Twins have recalled Francisco Liriano, and designated Livan Hernandez and Craig Monroe for assignment.

Suffice to say this is good news, I'll write on this more in depth later tonight, but for now, let me breathe a sigh of relief.