Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Some Songs from this Morning

1. See More Glass - Total Control
2. In My Eyes - Minor Threat
3. Big Me - Foo Fighters
4. Everywhere I Go - Mini Dresses
5. Ironic - Alanis Morissette

I Should Have Paid More Attention to METZ

When Canadian noise punk trio METZ released their eponymous debut in 2012 I was indifferent.  I thought it was good, but never thought it was anything revolutionary or radical.  The albums 10 songs were straightforward grungy noise rock with a hardcore twist.  An amalgam of other Sub Pop releases from the last 20 years.  However, I recently gave their new LP simply called "II" a listen and I was floored.  The power and sincerity I never noticed on their first album was readily apparent on their sophomore effort.  Sharp, jagged opener "Acetate" sets the tone for the rest of the album with it's shaky vocals, whiny guitar strings, and a bass line that feels more like a kick to the face as it drives the music forward.  Other stand out moments include the adrenaline fueled "I.O.U" and the sporadic tempo shifts of "Spit You Out".  METZ finishes strong with "Kicking a Can of Worms"; a song that builds and builds before erupting like the violent volcano it is.  You're hypnotized by the repetitive droning noise as the band leaves you with a farewell letter that shows they are more than just your average rock band.  It ends up representing what makes METZ great.  Using a variety of musical building blocks, the band incorporates the influences of 90's Seattle in a way that doesn't sound forced or overexposed.  Their live show is supposed to be a smorgasbord of whipping hair, metal riffs, and a sludgy rhythm section which lets be real, is the perfect cocktail for mind altering rock and roll.  A recent stop in Boston at the Sinclair saw the band playing with 2015 breakout band Bully and up and coming Seattle rockers So Pitted.  Really wish I had been paying more attention to this band but they've certainly hooked me now.  It's what rock is supposed to sound like in 2015.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Today's Playlist

1. Psycho Killer - Talking Heads
2. Lazarus - David Bowie
3. Oh, Me - Nirvana
4. Sleep Talk - Diet Cig
5. Too Tough - Bully
6. I Hate the Weekend - Tacocat
7. Look Alive - Titus Andronicus
8. Paperback Writer - The Beatles
9. Carry On My Wayward Son - Kansas
10. Rock and Roll Forever With the Customer in Mind - Pile

The Martian Was Sci-Fi Perfection

      The Golden Globes died for me this year.  Science fiction director extraordinaire Ridley Scott's adapation of Andy Weir's critically acclaimed novel The Martian won Best Comedy.  BEST COMEDY!!! Are you kidding me??  Now, I never read the book...but any idiot with half a brain could tell you just from reading the back cover that it is decidedly NOT a comedy.  What it most certainly IS is a fabulously acted SCI-FI film with gorgeous environments, accurate science, and stunning visuals.
      Matt Damon plays protagonist Mark Watney, a botanist and mechanical engineer working on Mars as part of the Ares III mission to the red planet.  After a suprisingly violent sandstorm forces the crew to make an immediate departure from the planet's surface, Mark is struck by debris and believed dead.  The crew retreats to the Hermes orbital station and begins their return voyage to Earth.  Mark wakes up after the storm subsides and makes his way back to the HAB where the astronauts had been living on the surface.  Faced with immeasurable odds, Mark must overcome each obstacle one at a time if he ever hopes to survive long enough to make it home alive.
      Damon's portrayal of Watney is superb.  It's always dangerous when you put such a recognizable and iconic actor in such a role because it can be hard to immerse yourself in the film.  It's so important to be able to sympathize with the plight of the survivor in films such as this and the added variable of survival in space makes it all the more harrowing.  As such, prominant actors can often be more of a distraction than an enhancement and make it harder for the viewer to put themselves in the protaganists shoes.  This is not the case in The Martian.  Damon is superb.  Supporting actors were also on their game, most notably Jeff Daniels as the Director of NASA and Jessica Chastain as Ares III mission commander Melissa Lewis.
      While the film certainly utilizes a heavy amount of comedic relief, mostly from Watney as he talks to his video log, it is meant to help keep Mark and the viewer sane as the notion of years alone on the red planet begins to sink in.  It's important to make light of any dire situation to avoid panic and ultimately failure.  The fact that this sarcastic, comedic relief was misconstrued as outright comedy by the motion picture elite is downright embarrassing.  I'll leave it at that.
      The films visuals are brilliant and showcase the beauty of the Martian surface.  Large rock formations, sweeping dunes, and a glowing orange sky serve as the backdrop to Mark's survival activities.  They are a constant reminder of the perils and beauty of space.  While the film certainly had its pitfalls, overall I can't speak highly enough about the acting, script, and visuals.  When combined, they do exactly what science fiction is supposed to do: inspire, intrigue, and continually tempt humanity to open the Pandora's Box that is deep space travel.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Space Oddity Returns to the Stars: RIP David Bowie (1947 - 2016)

      Celebrities die all the time.  I'm sorry if that sounds morose but it's true.  They are just people like you and me and eventually, we all succumb to death's frigid grasp.  However, every once in awhile we lose a true icon; someone who is not a celebrity, but instead an immortal being whose presence on this planet shaped generations. They're more than just another "rock star" and leave us all in a state of cultural shock at the mere IDEA of their loss.  It's almost incomprehensible that they could be gone and yet we are all left in the wake, attempting to make sense of it all.  Such was the case this past weekend when the world lost a true social, musical, and cultural legend: David Bowie.
      To condense the life of such an incredible human being down into a few words hardly seems like an appropriate gesture.  Sure we all had a Bowie that meant something to each of us.  Some had Ziggy Stardust, some had the Duke and still others knew him only as Jareth the Goblin King.  The point is that David Bowie transcended his earthly shell and will join an elite group of people who have truly become immortal.  His music will continue to inspire, provoke, and mystify future generations with each and every listen.  His progressive beliefs on gender, fashion, art, film, and music are the stuff of legend.  Up until the very end, Bowie never stopped creating and in the days after his untimely death we're left with his final message - Blackstar.  An album whose meaning is now abundantly clear.  Faced with his imminent demise, Ziggy left us with a message of hope and of confidence.  He tells us not to be afraid, not to mourn, not to dwell on the sadness but instead embrace the future.  The release of his final record, accompanied by his final birthday, and followed by his crushing death lead us all to reevaluate his last words and listen closely as the man himself speaks to us about his final months - from whatever dimension he now calls home.
      People always look back on history, culture and particularly music and say man, I wish I could have been alive in the time of John Lennon, in the time of Jim Morrison, of Darby Crash, Kurt Cobain, Lou Reed...people who established themselves in the pantheon of human civilization as true musical trendsetters and revolutionaries.  As the dust settles around this terrible loss I'm left with a sense of pride... pride that I got to live in the time of David Bowie.