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Movie Review from the Couch: The Good Dinosaur
johnny
bedsitter23
It has been how long since I included a movie review?  And even longer one that wasn't a kid's movie.  Oh well, here goes.
http://www.livejournal.com/update.bml
We know Pixar by know and we know they can put together movies that work for multiple audiences.  Admittedly, I am less a Pixar fan than most, but still, Inside Out, what a great movie that was.  Maybe it was Lewis Black as Anger, but it really worked.

The Good Dinosaur was one of the least successful Pixar movies to hit the big screen when it came out last year.

It is a very beautiful movie.  Let's get that out of the way.  This probably isn't news to anyone that Pixar is top of the game, but this is really amazing in its animation.

I can easily see why this movie bombed.  It's not really a kid's movie.  Ostensibly, any movie by Disney with Dinosaur in the title should be great for the five year old crowd.  It's scary at many times, and themes of death and abandonment loom large.  The humor references generally come from implied drug usage and "yokel" jokes.    It also doesn't pace well for children.  Even as an adult, and at its shortened running time, it runs out of steam two-thirds in.

For me, there were not any characters that stuck out.  The ones that seemed interesting and were manned by top notch actors- Steve Zahn from Treme, Anna Paquin, Frances McDormand among the biggest names- seem to have short screen time.

There is Sam Elliott, which of course, is always worth it.  A major plot point revolves around a Tyrannosarus wrangling Longhorns.  This makes zero sense.  I only assume "because Sam Elliott".

Good Dinosaur is an odd story and it's hard imagining anyone greenlighting it with an even of an inkling that it would have success as a children's movie.

You know me, of course, and I won't complain about a movie unless it is truly terrible, and this is not that.  I suspect some fans of animation and oddball humor actually would like it a lot.  The story is kept relatively simple, and perhaps if it is what they are trying to achieve, then probably is for the best.  It just doesn't give any grand story which may have accomplished more.  The characters are simple too.  This means they are not annoyingly Disney cute, but they also aren't particularly memorable, and main character Spot seems like a reject from the Croods.

I suppose the real joy for me was watching it and wondering how anyone thought it could be a blockbuster Disney hit.  It seems most unlikely.  Still, in a world where Pixar would like to tell different types of stories to different audiences (which is a very alternate universe in which the dollar is not king- as unlikley of a world as the one portrayed in the movie)

David Bowie: An Appreciation
johnny
bedsitter23
I realize this is way late, but as far as 2016 is killing everyone off, let's get this done.

I probably don't need to say anything about David Bowie, as certainly it all has been said, but he is on the short list of my all time favorite artists.

I wish I could quantify it, and I bet I could. I can't imagine there are too many artists I listen to more than Bowie. I have to admit I have a certain romance for a type of musical act- which is the mythical four piece who generally put together four or five albums and break up. This saves them from making albums like Cut the Crap or Kill Uncle and saves them in a certain light.

An artist like Bowie has 50 years of music. It is hard to take it all in. In that time, no artist can go without some blemishes on their career. Some moments that were not up to par. It's hard to sum up Bowie in a few words. When you look at Bowie's affect, it's new wave, it's goth, it's punk, it's industrial. It's Duran Duran and Morrissey and Bauhaus. It's glam. It's The Sweet and Numan, It's Britpop. It's Suede, and Kraftwerk and Sparks and Gary Glitter and Neu! and Japan. It's almost any time anyone wants to insert art into rock n roll.  It's a list of influences where it's hard to say where Bowie starts and  other legends begin like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Marc Bolan, Roxy Music, Brian Eno and Trent Reznor.  It's certainly Madonna and Kiss, UK glam and US glam, Lady Gaga and Bono, LCD Soundsystem and TV on the Radio,

It's Marilyn Manson and indie geekdom like Flight of the Conchords, but it's also Bowie on Soul Train, and the Bowie that was funky, and was sampled by Ice Cube, Jay Z, ODB and Public Enemy.

Bowie could have just inspired Peter Schilling's worldwide hit, and would have had a better career than most.  Bowie's one line on Arcade Fire's Reflektor was way cooler than most artists discographies.

When I was in my formative years, Bowie was a pop star, in the same terms that Madonna or Michael Jackson or Wang Chung or Culture Club were pop stars.

Not knowing anything of Bowie than what was offered, "Blue Jean" was one of my favorite songs as a kid. "Let's Dance" another. This period is often ridiculed by people who think about this stuff too much. A teenage follower putting on mascara for the first time would only deliver a lyric with such sincerity as "the Serious Moonlight".

But Bowie at his most mainstream is amazing. Take those four top 20 singles (" Lets Dance", Blue Jean", "China Girl" and "Modern Love") and you have a Hall of Fame career. I probably should include the not so-terrible "Dancing in the Street" as well.

I think there are not too many pop songs better than "Let's Dance". I thought Craig David's remake would be a big hit (in the UK, it was), but alas.

The Bowie I got up as I grew into Serious Music Fan was Bowie at his worst in a lot of ways.  At that point in time, Bowie was probably more known for his acting roles like Labryinth than his albums.

The Bowie I got was the one in Tin Machine.  TM is of course a punchline now, but I am quick to completely dismiss it.  If Bowie wanted to make a straight rock album in a band setting (which apparently he did), he could have done much worse.  There are enough songs on the two TM albums that anyone should be proud of.

The Bowie I got was one who was mounting a comeback with the very sharp looking Black Tie, White Noise.  Here he covered Morrissey (Morrissey's very Bowiesque "I know it's going to happen.." and even Mick Ronson showed up.  I was excited.  For the record,  I think it is about the worst album ever.

But it wasn't the worst time to be a Bowie fan,  There was a great hidden single - the guest vocal on Adrian Belew's "Pretty Pink Rose" and the re-emergence of a little song I had never heard before called "Under Pressure".  It had been a minor hit, and yes, it was because of the Vanilla Ice sample, but has become a song that is way more popular every subsequent year than it was originally ever was.

But most of all, I was lucky to hit a time when Rykodisc was reissuing all things Bowie.  So no surprise that I started with the Greatest Hits- which was an updated ChangesBowie with his 80s hits added.  It of course, is a good point to start if you have to pick one, and some of those songs while already evergreen singles are songs that have grown over the years.  Indeed, "Heroes" is more well known 30 years later due to some high profile covers.

It of course meant it led me to the reissue of Ziggy Stardust in 1990.  What can I say about Ziggy- it's a towering moment of artwork, but more rarely, it's a piece of art that is still greater than even its lengthy reputation.

I know the album inside and out and it is one of my favorites.  I can't say enough about it. 

I picked up other albums Lodger and Station to Station.  I don't really like Lodger (It's reputation seemingly putting it on a pedestal in the last decade) though it has what may be my favorite Bowie song "DJ" and another keeper "Boys Keep Swinging".  Station to Station, on the other hand, was a real hidden gem.  (I also watched "The Man who Fell to Earth" a bit difficult art movie, but Bowie nailed the part perfectly, leaving a deep impact on anyone who viewed it.)

From then, it has been a dive back into the catalogue.  Surely, nothing as good as Ziggy or Station.  I dont appreciate Low as much as many do.  But man, there are some great singles in there- "Man who sold the world", "Oh You Pretty Things", "Sound and Vision", "Life on Mars"., "Heroes" (even more grand in its album version) and many more,  The last album of Bowie's I have recently "discovered" is Scary Monsters- an album of Bowie being influenced by new wave, while making the perfect new wave album.

The truth is Bowie was also back on the upswing.  The recent attention given to Bowie betrays to me what I think are a fine string of albums.  Indeed a decade of music that would make anyone as proud to have a career.  Outside, Earthling, Hours, Heathen, Reality

Of these, Earthling and Heathen are my favorites.  Earthling sounded like it was not going to age well even as it was released (and it hasn't), but it is one of my favorite end-to-end listens of its time.  All the albums have plenty to advise them, but Heathen seems to be the most solid of all.  Sort of no nonsense in its way, as if Bowie finally got his Tin Machine idea right.

With The  Next Day, Bowie finally got the critical acclaim he had been missing.  I agree.  I thought it was a tremendous album.  Blackstar would be his farewell, and I feel a bit blasphemous calling it anything less than a masterpiece.  In any case, the conventional wisdom now is that Blackstar is the masterpeice, and the Next Day wasn't all that good to begin with.  I disagree.  I think blackstar is good, not great, but I can understand the sentimentalism.

It's sad to see Bowie go for many reasons.  Even if his career started in the 90s, I would still say it was worthwhile.  The one thing that did come out of Bowie's death was an outpouring of people sharing memories and meeting people you didn't know that knew his music so well.

Music is always about the next generation, but even as the 90s on, he should have been fading into the background, he was still in the midst of the forefront.  One hopes there's a Johnny Cash-sixed archive that is left to be discovered.  We can hope.

I am going to close here knowing I likely left something out.  That was the nature of how talented he was.

On the Shelf 165: Tindersticks
johnny
bedsitter23
I first heard Tindersticks what would now be over 20 years ago.

Their debut was released in the US by Bar/None Records, and it was not like anything I had ever heard, and I had begun to hear some ambitious stuff. Still, the first Tindersticks album on first listen was not for me.

The music was chamber pop with organ, clarinet and bassoon. The singer delivered a nasally baritone that was almost indecipherable. Some songs were barely sketches and a minute long, though even when the band expanded to six minute songs, it was not much different.

It took a couple of years for the second album, and especially the single "Travellin' Light" where it all came together for me. On the band's third album, the band had became a bit more accessible, and the band was taking these parts that I hadn't really got and were fusing them int these epic soundscapes.

I have followed the band off and on since Curtains came out in 1995, an album that is one of my favorite for that time and age. I have to admit they have never grabbed me like that, but they certainly stay on my radar.

The albums since have all been generally well received. The band has made a few detours into soundtrack work and some ambitious instrumental projects.

The Waiting Room is now album #10. It's probably caught my attention more than most with some positive reviews. For me, it does not really break too much new ground for the band.

The bad news is that it's pretty standard Tindersticks stuff.

The good news is that it's pretty standard Tindersticks stuff. At this point in their career, i am fine with that. Besides, it's a formula that works.

My favorite moments in the band's catalogue has generally been the male/female duets, and a highpoint here is "Hey Lucinda" with the late Lhasa de Sala. It's a road they have well travelled, but still worth the trip.

On "Hello Yourself", it's as if the 'Sticks have listened to some Fela and wanted to add it to their formula, for interesting results.

It doesn't rate with "Curtains" for me, but it's a nice album that shows the Tindersticks are still powerful.




2016 Election Starts Now- It's So Obvious now.....
macphisto
bedsitter23
The truth may be that we credit political insiders with insight, but if you watch the news as closely as I do, and are located in a spot that is saturated with election coverage, well, I have some ideas of my own.

Which brings me to the obvious, can't believe no one has seen this coming dramatic revelation I have just had.

You see there is a deep division in the Republican Party.  Trump may or may not win, but I have ben saying for awhile now, that he will run in the General Election no matter what.  This seems obvious to me, but like Stalin and Hitler, Trump had made a pact that he would not run against the GOP.  Since no great political debate is complete without a Hitler mention, let's just say Trump doesn't seem real steady on his promise.

There are those Republicans who will not vote for Trump no matter what, and while the Jeb/Rubio crowd may come to mind, it is also the Cruz wing which is very Conservative.  According to Social Media interactions I have witnessed lately, the Trump crowd feels the same, calling Ted Cruz the same as Hillary or Bernie, which seems a bit ridiculous, but ok.

So I have had it in my mind for some time that we will see two candidates from the right.  This could be off, of course, and maybe everyone rallies around Trump, or ralies around Cruz or whatever, but I don't see those scenarios playing out.

I suspect the nominee will be who has done the best most recently.  If Cruz would win out and finish close to Donald's total, then I think the GOP would be fine with him as the nominee.  Two weeks ago, this seemed to be realistic, though one suspect that Trump crushes in New York and has enough delegates that he should get the nomination or else there will be a big fight, and Trump obviously has grounds for a 3rd Party run.

Surely undoubtedly, that means someone will run against Trump from the right.  I think the moderates will back up Trump, but there of course is the chance of a Paul Ryan nomination or with John Kasich hanging around, there are other moderates who can be in play.

I think there are chances of a 3rd party in a Trump vs Hillary race but I don't know who that is.  Bloomberg is a name that comes up, but I suspect the run will come from the Right.  Funny enough, in any other year, with say like a candidate like Jim Webb, republicans might hold thier nose and vote Democrat, but with the other candidate being Hillary, I can only see a third party emerging.

We have not heard much from a Ted Cruz third party run, though we may see the first gleaming of that with the launch of a new SuperpAC this week.  Anyway, i have been saying this for months, but to confirm my feeling HuffPo posted this article this week which puts the numbers behind it.

In short, Cruz/Trump supporters certainly aren't going to vote for Hillary, and they don't really want to vote for the other guy either.  I don't know that Cruz runs, but I can tell you his followers aren't volting Trump.  If not Cruz, then I am not sure who, but I suspect we will see a bunch of "Draft..." movements starting with Marine General James Mattis.

Anyway, I haven't told you anything you don't know yet, so here goes.

The general conventional wisdom is at the end of the day the Democrats will rally around Hillary.  This seems doubly so if she is running against Trump or Cruz.  The CW is many Democrats prefer Bernie Sanders, but this fall will vote for Hillary.

That is because that are many Dems like me who like Clinton, but she's not our number one pick.  So for me, I am not going to vote for Hillary if I can vote for Bernie, Webb, O'Malley, Chafee, Warren, Booker, Biden, Gore, Emmanual, Castro, McCaskill, Bayh, Cuomo, Schweitzer, Warner or Mike Dukakis.

I think this was especially true early on, but the Sanders-Clinton primary has been pretty brutal.  That said, even before the primary turned heated, there are a lot of people out there who don't fall in to that category  any more than the "republicans will rally around Rubio" theorem.  There's my friend L who caucused for Ron Paul four years ago and wouldn't vote for Hillary.  There's my friend R who plans on voting for Bernie in November, and if he's not on the ballot, he's writing him in.

I don't know if Bernie has a 3rd Party run in mind.  CertaInly, Hillary is polarizing, that surely there's someone who would make sense to run.  Someone who might appeal to the GOP voter would seem an obvious choice (though it probably won't be Bloomberg or Webb).

But what about the Left.  What about the Bernie supporters who won't vote for Hillary any more than Cruz voters will vote for Trump.

Then it was suddenly clear.

Donald Trump is going to name Bernie Sanders his running mate.

OMG!  It's so obvious.

I am convinced that Trump will do anything to win.  His anti-immigrant stance may be all schtick as far as I can tell, since that has a groundswell of built in support.  Trump famously has donated money to Hillary, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy in the past.  Trump has been pro-choice in the past, pro-gun control and single payer healthcare.

Which brings me to the Trump-Sanders ticket.

I can't say Sanders would sign up for it, but I don't know if you can nominate someone despite their objections.

Besides building a wall on the Mexican border and 'free college for everyone' aren't mutually exclusive.  You can be for both.

Just remember you heard it from me first.

On the Shelf 164: Bloc Party
johnny
bedsitter23
Bloc Party released a debut album in 2005 called Silent Alarm. It immediately became and has stayed one of the best album of its time.

They were one of a crop of bands that were the rising stars of their time. Every year probably has these, but at this time it looked like a movement. There were many bands that were bringing back rock in those days. We had seen the Libertines, the Vines, BMRC, the Strokes, and the Killers; and soon, it was the Arctic Monkeys, the Editors, Maximo Park and Hard Fi, but Bloc Party was definitely at the top with the Kaiser Cheifs and Franz Ferdinand making a play for greatness.

Ten years later, odds seemed good that Bloc Party would be the most relevant. I can't be alone in thinking this. Silent Alarm was such a great album, yet it was accessible, so had all the makings of a staying power. it did not peak too much commercially like the Strokes and Franz Ferdinand, and probably most importantly of all, the band seemed to have the right ingredients to handle lasting success.

They would not suffer the awkward move to dance music like Franz, nor would they make the same record over and over again like the Strokes.

The truth is they did start incorporating a move to dance music. It has been hard to keep up with the Bloc Party, and even harder to keep up with Kele Okereke's solo career. Still, why they move farther and farther away an album at a time stylistically from Silent Alarm, they were always keeping an eye forward.

So unlike much of the above mentioned bands, a fifth album from this band still hold promise in just the fact that it exists and the band is constantly evolving.

Hymns must certainly be informed by Kele's solo work and adding a member of Menomena to the band. Where this band has moved to dance territory, they have firmly arrived at their destination which is 80s new wave influenced.

Which means if you are looking for Silent Alarm, this isn't it. That doesn't matter of course if it is any good.

Unfortunately, this sort of isn't. The album just falls a bit flat trying to get where it is going. If I have to find where the problem is, I would have to say it is lyrically. The band doesn't necessarily falter, but in trying to emulate the best of 80s New Wave, it sounds very much like a teenager trying to ape Martin Gore. There's sex and drugs and spirituality (and think what you will of Gore), this sounds like the work of a young goth writing bad poetry on high school nights.

If you have read my recent reviews, you might recall the Editors did the same thing on their 5th album (October 2015 's In Dream) and I praised them for it. I don't have a problem with Bloc Party wanting to be a new wave band, and adding shoegaze and EDM in the mix, it just that Hymns is such a disappointment. It tries too hard and feels heavy handed.

(After writing my review, as I often do, I went out to read some other reviews just to see if I am on track or off base, and critics really really hate this album. Yeah, it's not that good, but I kind of want to defend it now. Clunky lyrics aside, it's not a bad listen. Certainly a talented band, it's just not up to standard for them. Yeah, i wouldn't recommend it, but if you are a fan of the band or you like what you hear, why not pick it up).




Comic Reviews: April
glenn
bedsitter23
Empress- written by Mark Millar (Image)- Millar's latest seems to be quite different from his last few titles. Empress is Space Opera. Robert E Howard was the first thing that came to my mind, but I saw others say He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. That may be fair. Still, it hits those tropes, maybe some Guardians of the Galaxy too. The lead character is the wife of the most ruthless Dictator in the Universe. He feeds victims to gladiator style death. When she decides to take off, all heck busts loose.

To me, this was a fun read but not much else. There are no great plot twists or memorable dialogue, but it's still a good fun read. I would label it 'less than essential' but it sounds like Hollywood is already signed on to this. I would recommend to Millar fans and you probably already know if "Mark Millar writing Space Opera Fantasy" is something that appeals to you or not. I think it is.

I am generally a fan of Stuart Immomen's artwork and it seems to catch the right mood for an over the top space world.



The Fix -written by Nick Spencer (Image) - Perhaps my favorite regular book currently on the shelves is Spencer's Ant-Man. Ant-Man features bumbling ambitious losers, snappy humor, and the right touch of pop culture. I was excited to see this title, and though Spencer has written various themes in his career, this certainly is closest in line with his Ant Man work. (Last year's Superior Foes of Spider-Man is another example of this kind of Spencer's writing and is very much recommended).

If this was a movie, Elmore Leonard's work would be an obvious touchpoint. Like comic superheros, there is nothing new under the sun in the world of the crime genre, but Spencer finds new humor and some less than obvious moves.

Steve Lieber was on Superior Foes and is the perfect compliment. Image gives a lot of pages for a $3.99 title. The lead characters carry the title like Elmore Leonard's ones. Spencer almost puts too much into Issue One.

Still, that's a minor complaint. This is well recommended for anybody who might like any of the above.





International Iron Man- written by Brian Michael Bendis (Marvel)- If you didn’t know, there is already an Iron Man title and it is written by Bendis. While there is probably not a need for two, that is how the Big Two think. The good news for the reader is that this is a different kind of take from the main Iron Man title. This is a younger Tony Stark and this is a bit of an origin story in some ways. This digs into Stark's family tree, and I have to admit I was a bit lost with these characters insomuch as knowing as who they should be.

Tony Stark, the college years, then. Bendis seems to be tailored made for Tony Stark, but as with his other title, it doesn't really fly off the page like you think it would. Maybe, it's such an obvious match, it's too much. For those who only make the rare comic book purchase, I don't think it is worth going out of your way. For those at the next level of fandom (spend $10-20 a week on comics), it certainly seems to be worth checking out

I love Alex Maleev's art generally, but it's kind of a dark book. At times it seems to work well, and at other times, I feel like it works a bit against.


On the Shelf 163: Iggy Pop
johnny
bedsitter23
On the heels of Blackstar and Bowie's death, Iggy Pop's new album has some emotional heaviness to it. It also has the extra attention of pairing Iggy up with one of the most important artists in hard rock in the 21st Century Josh Homme.

Listening to Post Pop Depression, the first impression I get is what an odd pop star Iggy is. As the third of the great Alt-Rock Godfathers (and now the only one still alive), Iggy generally trails behind.

While this is a very good (I will say great) album, I am struck by what Iggy has to work with. His voice is weird, his lyrics puerile. While that was perfect for the Stooges, it probably makes things that much tougher. Yet, even the best punk rock artists (commercially and critically)cannot put together a successful half-century career. The only exception that I can think of is the Ramones, but you can also argue that they just re-made the same album again and again. The best of the CBGB scene largely have been quiet in their decades of work (Smith, Verlaine, Hell). As far as fast loud, maybe you could make a case for Ian MacKaye or Bob Mould, but even the best pale in terms of output (Rollins, Keith Morris, Biafra, Bad Brains, Bad Religion, Mike Watt). Side to side, few have hit the heights like Iggy.

Much has been made that partnering with Josh Homme is as genius as pairing with Bowie. While, it's hard to compare PPD with those landmark albums, The Idiot and Lust for Life. It's hard especially without a single that is close to par with some of the best Iggy ever recorded. That said, I would say it's in the conversation.

So while, most reviews have compared Pop and Homme to Pop and Bowie, I am going to take it just a bit farther. Pop has made a career of finding the right collaborator at the right time.

Which is no different than Bowie or Reed. Bowie gets credit for his artistic vision, smooth voice, and knack for pushing the envelope, but he always found the right partner for many years (Visconti, Ronson, Eno, Alomar, Fripp). Reed may have an odd voice, but his lyrics are worthy of his image as the great Modern American Novelist in song, and similarly, his collaborators over the years are a whos who (Cale, Bowie, Ronson, Steve Hunter, Dick Wagner, Quine, Wasserman)

So it is with Pop. We know about Lust and The Idiot, but I also want to put in a good word for New Values (with James Williamson) perhaps the most underrated punk album ever.

So there's some missteps (with Chris Stein from Blondie and famously Tommy Boyce (of Boyce and Hart of Monkees fame) until we get to 86's Blah Blah Blah

I am split on BBB (which was Bowie's return). It has not aged well, which is exacerbated by trying to be a Top 40 crossover. It is the Iggy Pop I first heard, so that may be part of it. But it's not all bad either, and for proof, i will submit that Bowie's Real Wild Child still shows up everywhere.

Iggy tried the next few years to cash in on being the forefather not of new wave but of metal and hard rock. 88's Instinct paired Pop with Steve Jones from the Sex Pistols and producer Bill Laswell. Instinct has become Pop's Cut the Crap an album that has been all cut from any mention in his discography. I actually like Instinct. Pop has made a few albums of Dumb Loud Rock, and Instinct is dumb at its best.

Instinct was quickly forgotten when 1990's Brick by Brick came out. Pop finally found a collaborator worthy of Bowie in Don Was. BbB is a great album artistically and put Pop on the map commercially. It wasn't the hard rocking single "Butt Town" but a pop duet "Candy" that made another evergreen hit for Iggy.

For my money, the best post-Bowie Iggy album is 93's American Caesar- a statement much like Reed's New York in taking a punk legend and modernizing his brand. Caesar was produced by Malcolm Burn who generally worked with roots rock artists like Chris Whitley, Emmylou Harris, the Neville Brothers, Blue Rodeo, Bob Dylan, and John Mellencamp, and paired Pop with an unknown guitarist named Eric Schermerhorn who has since went on with stints in They Might Be Giants and The The.

From there, the next 20 years are not much to speak about (and I love me some Iggy). Iggy has time and time again went back to Big Loud and Dumb. It's ironic then, that Iggy's best moments are when he is being nuanced.

Pop went back to Was for Avenue B, and album that quite a few like, that pairs him with strange bedfellows in Martin Medeski and Wood. I am not a big fan of the album, but it is surely better than the one and a half stars Allmusic gives it.

There's the Stooges reunions of course. I liked the '07 collaboration with the Ashetons The Weirdness while I thought the Williamson-lineup Stooges reunion (2013's Ready to Die) was largely unnecessary. Many critics will reverse my judgements, saying RtD is the better album, but all generally agree that while they have some good songs, neither LP is essential.

Which brings us to his last two albums. Having focused mostly on Big Loud Dumb Rock, on 2009's Preliminaries, Pop took an unusual turn and presented himself in the style of someone like Serge Gainsbourg- the experienced decadent artist. It works reasonably well on Preliminaires which is steeped heavily in New Orleans and French influences and has Jelly Roll Morton as one of its touchpoints.

2012's Apres is barely an LP in length but continues that in a series of inspired covers choices. There's Sinatra and Piaf and Gainsbourg (of course) and the Beatles (Pop's cover of "Michelle" is particularly inspired). Apres is for diehard fans only (no wonder Virgin did not want it) but Preliminaries is worthy of a listen. Pop's collaborator on these albums are producer Hal Cragin, another person with strong ties to They Might Be Giants.

In any case nothing in the last 20 years of Ig's career is like Post Pop Depression. Ostensibly, set up as a "final" record like Blackstar, perhaps at age 68, it will be, though Ig seems to have Keith Richards like invincibility.

Teaming up Pop with members of one of the most progressive of hard rock bands Queens of the Stone Age and the drummer from a band that started as a hype but turned out to have staying power, the Arctic Monkeys.

Homme plays to Pop's strengths, where Iggy needs to just show up and be 100% Iggy. The lyrics are still childish, but with the defiance and determination on display, it is pulled off like only Iggy can. What makes the album great is that instead of it just being a bunch of three and four minute singles, the band draws them out to five and six minutes and make every moment count.

If there is a complaint, it's that there's no great single. "Gardenia" is being played as a single and has been embraced by Adult Alternative stations, probably his biggest single in 20 years. It's not a great single in terms of "Lust for Life' or even "Nightclubbing".

It is a good solid song, and it's one of eight songs that are solid and worthy of repeated revisits (yes, there's nine songs. I think "Vulture" is a misstep. I know many critics have said that is their favorite song on the record. It's Iggy at it's Iggiest, but it's just Big and Dumb. This record again confirms Iggy is at his best when hes ambitious)

The gem of the album is the closer "Paraguay", which seemingly is a song where Iggy suggests he would just be happy to quit and move to South America. While it is not a radio type single, it's a rock masterpiece where everything comes together. The album has been building up with Pop melancholic and rage with perfect accompaniment by Homme and co., and here it attains its apex.


On the Shelf 162: Keith Richards
johnny
bedsitter23
I was coming of age in 1988 and what a great time that was for me, and I do mean my and what I grew into- a middle aged white rock critic.

I loved Rolling Stone and let's face it, it was prime time.

Many of the great rockers of the 60s and 70s had weathered first disco and then new wave, often with less than stellar efforts, and now many were having their rebirth.

I am sure you remember- Dylan, Lou Reed, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, Springsteen, George Harrison, Robbie Robertson, Page and Plant, CSN (&Y and Neil Young solo) and probably most of all- Eric Clapton. The true Rock stars in the most Dave Marsh-est since of the world. Bowie was rocking. Stevie Winwood was rolling. Dire Straits seemed terribly important. Sting was singing not about red lights, but Reds.

And of course, the pinnacle of U2 at their Rattle and Hum moment the most grand stage rock of all grand stage rock moments sort of explained it all. In 1989, Rolling Stone named London Calling by the Clash the greatest album of the decade- which sums a bit of the time and the magazine- music that was intelligent, socially aware and inspired, but also white, male and major label.

It was '88 so hair metal was still around and Rolling Stone did like Guns N Roses and Bon Jovi. "College" rock was still on the ascent, but the rockest of those bands like REM, the Pixies or Don't Tell a Soul-era Replacements were still accessible enough.

Of course, it didn't last. Grunge hit and though Rolling Stone still tried to stay hip after awhile, it seemed to be the aging hipster where Spin was now the cool kid in town. Then at some point (1999) this happened and things were pretty much over.

Where I am going with this? Well, 1988 was a good year if you were a rock guy, and there's no Rocker guys more Rock than Keith Richards.

It makes sense than in 1989 that there would be no more typical rock album for the Rolling Stone magazine guys than Steel Wheels by the Stones.

But before that came out, Keith Richards had a solo disc called Talk is Cheap. Talk is very much a generic rock album in that it could be any 30 something with an affectation for Richards. Indeed, in 1992, Izzy Stradlin who owes much to Keef put together a pretty good "Keef" record. The Black Crowes at this same time was also doing something similar very successful to a market hungry for this kind of thing

Richards' side career only extended for one more album (the good but forgettable Main Offender and a live album). Although Talk is Cheap is very much an album that falls in line with a tradition of bar band rock and Keith obviously wasn't Mick (who is ?), Talk is Cheap is really a very good album.

Unexpectedly, Keef made an album in 1988 that at the time, and possible even now, has been the best album since Tattoo You. While I won't make any grandiose statements on Talk is Cheap, it is a standout for it's genre and year.

It's 23 years later, and Richards is back with his same band, the X-Pensive Winos (an allstar cast including Waddy Wachtell, Steve Jordan, Bobby Keys and Ivan Neville).

Crosseyed Heart is a different album than Talk. Okay, it's not a greatly different album- it's very much a blues-inspired rock album in the bar band style. It isn't a slickly produced album like Talk is Cheap, the kind made in the late 80s with big budgets and big labels, made for austerity and the most progressive of FM radio stations.

In many ways, it is the kind of album one hears in 2015- a rock legend given the intimate treatment, with Norah Jones guest spot and acoustic detours. Richards comes across as the wisened old rocker a la Cohen, and the album very much has that vibe, though certainly never losing that rock indention. I can't hear the album without thinking Cohen, but without the modern day Cohen kind of surroundings, the actual result is probably artistically closer to 21st Century Dylan.

I won't count it as good as Talk is Cheap, and given what it is, it is hardly would hardly call this work essential. However, for Keef fans, it's certainly worth a listen.



To Hell with the Donald!!!
johnny
bedsitter23
Over the years, the content of my blog has changed.  For starters, I don't (or can't) blog everyday, which doesn't rerally worry me, but in 2016 with social media, it does prevent me from some things.  So I don't feel like people really need my opinion on thing that happened 2 weeks to a month ago (They don't need or want my opinion on things that happened in the last 24 hours either, but I digress).

In any case, there's not much that is unique or uniquely found, so I try to make my posts from my perspective or only if it really moves me or originates from a place slightly obscure.  In short, if there is an unique article, it goes viral pretty quickly, through Twitter or Facebook shares or on social network newsservices like reddit, digg, fark et al.

Where I am headed is I don't have time or energy to keep up with the all ridiculous trending articles of the day like Katy Perry is really Jon Benet Ramsey.

Indeed, I do get a kick out of such things but generally think a lot of this stuff is hogwash.  For example, I always thought the "Marilyn Manson is Paul from Wonder Years" rumor was dumb, but now enough time has gone by, that it makes me nostalgic for Bob Dole, Jamiroquai and 3rd Rock from the Sun.

Which all means is that I don't need to mention it, but I will:

I believe Ted Cruz used to be the lead singer of Stryper.



That wasn't even the first Ted Cruz meme to hit popular culture.  The Zodiac Killer meme took off and continues to amuse liberals.

Anyway, the Stryper meme just kind of hits all its marks.  Lefties see it as ridicule and Fundamentalists wish it was true.

Although Michael Sweet has retweeted the rumor, the real news is Cruz made it on the Jimmy Kimmel show and neither confirmed nor denied the allegation.

I don't have anything else to add except I grew up in some of the reddest red state part of the country and Stryper was popular with classmates.  It was not uncommon for parents in my area to forbid their kids from liking rock music, so Stryper was the only acceptable form of rock music (A friend of mine recently said he was obsessed with MTV as a kid since he was not permitted to watch it.  He says looking back he would not have not been nearly interested if it were not forbidden fruit.)

I have made fun of Stryper many times over the years, but the one thing that I have learned is the only thing sillier than wanting to wear spandex yellow and black bee uniforms, is to be someone who wants to wear spandex yellow and black bee uniforms, but doesn't because they think they should try to look tough instead.


Way Old Comics Reviews
johnny
bedsitter23
Because this is what I always do, but I am way late.

Huck by Mark Millar (Image)-  So at this point, Millar is best known for making outrageous comics turned movies like Secret Service (Kingsman), Kick-a**, and Wanted.  But the second thing he is known for (and how I got into him many moons ago) is her Superman stories, and make no mistake, Huck is a Superman story.

Millar makes no bones about it, and in the world of comics, remaking the same tropes is par for the course.  Millar seems to be a bit of a workhouse that it often seems he is telling so many stories of the four-issue variety that it is hard to keep up.  That said, I will put in a good word for Huck.

It is Superman as Jethro Bodine or Superman as Forest gump, a bit of a small town idiot savant who wants to help everyone in a very child-like way, which leads to a lot of things that are obvious- bad guys and the 'if you can do some much to help, can you do this for us" woodwork.

Millar does a good job of developing the story (though I try to only review first issues, I am now four issues in and am very happy with it.  Also the movie tie in covers have been awesome.

Image result for huck brothers millar

New Romancer - Peter Milligan (DC/ Vertigo)-  Milligan is one of that original "new wave" of British comic writers that started with Alan Moore and included Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, and Jamie Delano, and was quickly followed by a second wave which gave us Warren Ellis and Garth Ennis.
  I have been hot and cold on Milligan- loving some of his work and not others.  The last time I really was paying attention to him was X-Force (later X-Statix) for Marvel, and that has been a decade ago now.  (Milligan didn't completely disappear, but outside of a run on Hellblazer has generally not been in the spotlight).

This book is part of an umpteenth Vertigo "relaunch" which tries to get the imprint back to it's footing of it's 90s glory days.  Of course, what they are trying to accomplish is something Image comics has actually been doing the last few years (though Image has been frustratingly inconsistent in terms of promotion and publishing), while Vertigo seems to just try and rehash/re-introduce the titles that have worked (American Vampire, Astro City, Lucifer). 

In any case, New romancer feels that way, in part because of Milligan, but partially because it is indebted to Britpop.  in fact, though I don't think Match.com came into existence until the late 90s, even the plot feels like it's from the 90s - Lexy works for an online dating site and through computer code, brings Lord Byron back to life in 2016.

Brett Parson who has worked on Tank Girl seems appropriate as an artist.  New Romancer sort of works and sort of doesn't.  It's clunky at times, while Milligan does have some ideas that others might not have arrived yet.  I think the expectation is that it could be a classic Vertigo title, but I don't know if that style exists today, and if it does (like Image's Theyre Not Like Us with its Richey Edwards quotes and characters named Syd, Wire and Blurgirl), it should have evolved.  So a mixed review on this one.

Image result for new romancer milligan

Have I mentioned these?  I thought I did, but don't seem to find any evidence....

Dark Knight 3:The Master Race (written by Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello)-  Insomuch as the Big Two seem to prefer retreading through what once worked before instead of finding something new, we now have DK3- the second sequel to the famous and important Dark Knight Returns.  It's been 30 years since that masterwork and 15 years since DK2.

DK2 is universally reviled, and I have had conversation with friends who have the same reaction i have "Surely, it is not as bad as I remember" though I am told it is. 

Hedging their bets, DC has paired Miller with 100 Bullets creator Azzarello.  One suspects Azzarello is doing the heavy lifting and Miller is overseeing.  DK3 certainly feels like an Azzarello work- dark and dense.  I am not particularly a fan of Azzarello, though I understand why people like him.

While I ostensibly only review first issues, DK3 is obviously past that now.  I give it mostly positive reviews.  Like 100 Bullets, i think it tries a bit too hard to be gritty when it is a matter of style over substance.  That said, high marks to the team for making it really hit the Dark Knight feel.  This might be Andy Kubert's artwork to credit more than anything, but I think it is fair to say the writing does as well.  in which case, we don't need a DK3, but since DC wants to cash in and it's going to get made, it seems a fair enough addition to the canon.  The other thing is that Scott Snyder has told so many great stories on his Batman run which is probably four years or more, that anyone is going to have do something great to get noticed. 

So not essential, but nice

Jupiters Legacy Vol 2 - by Mark Millar (Image)-  The "Jupiter" stories seem like the less essential Mark Millar books, but given what he has done with these characters, they are obviously important to him.  I called my first taste of Jupiter's Legacy as 'comics go James Ellroy", but have herad others compare it to Mad Men, which 6+ issues on may seem more appropriate.

This arc relaunches this particular story for new jumpers on.  Again, I usually focus on the first issues, but this issue gives us the bad guys kidnapping Vice President Hubert H Humphrey, and hanging out with Kerouac and Burroughs along the way.  This is a book that people who hate Millar would probably really hate.  But at the same time, it's pretty fun to throw in all of those cultural references, and though Millar will probably always get heat for mimicking Grant Morrison, Morrison was rarely as accessible and fun.



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