Tuesday, July 31, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 70. Less Than Jake - Hello Rockview

One of the biggest musical arguments I think I’ve ever had with my friends is which is better Hello Rockview or Losing Streak. Don’t get me wrong, Losing Streak is a perfect pop record. Every song is catchy as hell. You can put Losing Streak on at a party and people will sing along (assuming you party with like-minded punk/ska kids).
Regardless of all that, I still pick Hello Rockview. It has one thing over Losing Streak. It’s personal as hell. Every song comes from a very real place and specifically places that really hit home for me (a kid in the suburbs).
Songs like All My Best Friends Are Metal Heads and Big Crash are intensely catchy as well as emotional. The album is like a punk-ska version of Pinkerton or In Utero. It’s Vinnie’s (Less than Jake’s drummer/songwriter) reaction to the fame Losing Streak brought them.
Now obviously they were not close to the superstars that Weezer and Nirvana were, they weren’t even the most famous ska band at the time (Reel Big Fish, Mighty Mighty Bosstones and other were exploding) but they were that ska band that EVERY punk kid knew and loved. 

The best songs on the album are History of Boring Town and Al’s War. On History of Boring Town Vinnie accurately describes life in a small town. “A boring life in a boring town with the same old crowd/I used to say I’d never stay but I’m rotting here today/with that same old crowd that’s always been around/and I always thought I’d be the first to go.”
All my life I’ve lived in this town (except for 6 months living in Los Angeles) and have hung with the exact same crowd I did in 2004. Nothing much happens in the town and while I have no regrets of moving back or sticking to a specific group, there is the feeling of resentment that Vinnie describes. Now the flip side of the coin is the closing track Al’s War.
Al’s War was a song that I had no opinion on for years. However when I moved to Los Angeles the song really hit me in heavy place, specifically with the opening line “Al said goodbye to his mom and dad for the first time in his life”. Not only was I leaving home but I was moving thousands of miles from them. However the song isn’t about how hard it is to leave home, the song is about the importance of doing so “Sometimes I Think I’m the only one that feels like going nowhere is like giving up.”
Hello Rockview is a record of catchy tunes but also songs that will make you go ‘yeah I’ve felt that way too.’ That’s why it will always be just a little better than Losing Streak.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.

<---- 71
69 ----->

Thursday, July 26, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 71. Freaks

71. Freaks
For years I’ve heard this movie was one of the scariest films ever made. I’d only seen one picture (which turned out to be the final shot of the movie). The film as ultimate controversial and reported ruined Tod Browning’s (Dracula) short career. So I had to track this film down.
I was in high school when I found a VHS copy of this film. The first hour is slow. It’s more of a love triangle/crime story but with Sideshow freaks. The film is infamous for casting real life side-show freaks as opposed to actors. This lead to many people considering it an exploitative film and it becoming one of the original Grindhouse/Midnight/Cult films.
The story follows a midget in the sideshow named Hanz and his engagement to the beautiful Trapeze artist Cleopatra. She only agrees to marry him when her and her boyfriend (Strong man Hercules) discover hans has a large inheritance. They plan to kill Hanz shortly after the wedding.
When the freaks find out about Cleopatra and Hercules plan they decide to attack them and get their vengence. They turn Cleopatra into a weird ‘human duck’ creature, meanwhile Hercules is castrated (a scene was cut from the original ending in which the audience see him singing falsetto in the sideshow).
The film contains many memorable moments such as The Human Torso takes out a cigarette and lights it using his tongue. One of the most famous moments is a dinner sequence where the freaks have a chant to announce their acceptance of her with the “Gooble Gabba! Gooble Gabba! We Accept You! We Accept You! One of Us!” The chant has become a come catchphrase for multiple people specifically adapted by The Ramones.
The horror of this movie comes from the attack sequence which is one of the top 3 freakest moments in horror history. The carnival is traveling to it’s next town. It’s raining and underneath all the carriages swarms of sideshow freaks are crawling in the mud with dead-eyes and knives in their mouths. 
That particular sequence is nightmare fuel that will stick with you forever. It is called one of the greatest horror films of all times and that is 100% true.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.

<----- 72
70 ----->

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 71. The Ataris: End is Forever

My friends all like to make fun of me for preferring End is Forever over The Atari’s beloved album Blue Skies, Broken Hearts... Next 12 Exits. Don’t get me wrong, I love Blue Skies.. but I love hearing personal music which End is Forever is and then some.
End is Forever has plenty of love songs (much like Blue Skies and Anywhere but Here), you start off with the heart-break anthem Giving Up On Love, a song that I can’t possibly be the ONLY person who gets frustrated and sings to himself after a bad date or rough rejection. 
However this is immediately followed by songs like Summer Wind Will Always Be Our Song and IOU One Galaxy which contains lyrics that you wish more songwriters were capable of crafting.  Lines like ‘It’s like every wish I ever made came true/the day I woke up lying next to you’

The band even has their typical teen anthem song with Teenage Riot, a song that discusses past shows, fights and their ‘PA Firehall Tour’ in the mid-90s. It has a nice sense of humor reminescent of their debut album. I miss that sense of humor now that the Ataris take themselves super seriously.
What sets End is Forever apart from other Ataris albums (and most pop punk records) are two key elements. First of all, there are songs like How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Fast Times at Drop Out High, and Road Signs and Rock Shows. These songs all read like journal entries more than simple song lyrics. They talk about loneliness on the road, finding out his dad isn’t really his father and dropping out of high school.
The other element is the use of well placed movie quote samples. Pop punk bands are always using movie quotes (Lanemeyer did an album of all Better off Dead quotes for example). End is Forever only uses two clips but they’re so perfectly placed it makes the whole album stand out because of it. 
The first clip comes at the end of Bad Case of Broken Heart. The Clip is from Clerks with Silent Bob saying ‘There’s a million fine looking girls in the world, but they don’t all bring you lasagana, most just cheat on you’. The song immediately jumps into Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A  Start (my favorite song on the album) which also contains a reference to Clerks (“hang outside of Quick-Stop, pretended that I was in Clerks”).
The second clip is found in Fast Times At Drop-Out High containing a long (but great) quote from Ben Affleck in Good Will Hunting.
Truly a beautiful piece of nostalgic and pop culture references blended into one perfect album.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions.

<----- 72
70 ----->

Thursday, July 19, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 72. Take Me Home Tonight

Take Me Home Tonight is one of the two newest films on this list. This list was created in late-2011 and this was one of two films from that year that made the cut. The second film will be revealed at the late date, but why Take Me Home Tonight.
From the second I heard about this movie, I was excited to see it. I’ve always loved Topher Grace, despite how people people felt about his miscast role in Spiderman 3 he still gave the best performance he could have. Then you factor in that it takes place during the 80’s which was the best decade for music, so I knew I’d at least enjoy the soundtrack.
I ended enjoying so much more than just that however. Take Me Home Tonight does something very special. It take’s place in the 80’s; but the story doesn’t have to. Unlike a film like Wedding Singer (which I admittedly love) the film never makes jokes about the 80’s. Take Me Home Tonight is a John Hughes film during his prime in the 80s, shot in 2011.
The film follows Matt Franklin (Grace), an MIT graduate who is working at the Suncoast Pictures at the local mall. His high school crush Tori Frederking (Teresa Palmer) has returned home from a summer abroad and Matt sees this as his golden opportunity. He lies to Tori about his job and gets invited to a giant Labor Day party hosted by Kyle Masterson (Chris Pratt), his sister Wendy’s (Anna Faris) long term boyfriend. 
Meanwhile, his best friend Barry (Dan Fogler) has just gotten fired from his job at a car lot and is drinking his sorrows away. Barry convinces Matt to go the car lot and steal a convertible so they can arrive at the party in style. As they arrive to the party Matt finds a bag of cocaine inside the car. Matt doesn’t take it, but Barry becomes quickly addicted.
Outside Kyle’s house is a giant steel sphere referred to as “The Ball”. Every year they challenge people to ride down the hill inside it, but people have constantly chicken out. While at the party Kyle proposes to Wendy and she accepts much to Matt’s displeasure. Tori invites Matt and Barry to attend her a second business party in Beverly Hills. After Tori admits to Matt how much she hates her job, he convinces her to leave the party and sneak into the neighbors backyard.
It’s in the neighbors party that Tori and Matt have sex. Feeling guilty about not being honest with Tori from the start, he confesses his real job to her. She angrily leaves feeling hurt and used. Matt drives Barry back to Kyle’s party while he decides his life has reached an all time low and he’s willing to try the cocaine. Before he can he crashes the car. His father (who’s a police officer) find Barry and him and the cocaine and stolen car. After threatening to throw them in jail, he let’s them go free.
Matt tries to explain to Tori that the only thing he lied about was his job and nothing else. Tori explains that his lack of self respect and his need to lie proves that he’s just as scared as everyone else in town. To disprove her, Matt decides to take a risk and ride the Ball. Wendy begs Kyle not to push the ball down the hill but he refuses.  The ball goes wildly out of control as it rolls down the hill. 
Barry runs after the ball to insure that Matt has ended safely. The two friends walk back up the hill to Kyle’s house. Wendy breaks off her engagement, Matt asks Tori for her phone number and Barry makes out with a random goth girl. The three leave the party to get breakfast as the sun comes up all having grown from the people they were 12 hours earlier.
There are so many things that Take Me Home Tonight could have been and thankfully it does everything right. It treats the subject matter with absolutely sincerity. The film could have been released in 1987 without a single change in dialogue. Each actor does a great job with the material and the film is undeniably hilarious.
Take Me Home Tonight isn’t the best film from 2011, it might not even make the top 10 of the year, but it struck a chord for me. Based on it’s 28% on rottentomatoes.com I maybe the only person who connected to this movie on such a deep level. 
Matt’s relationship with his father is specifically hit me. In an extremely dramatic dialogue exchange Matt yells at his father ‘I’m sorry I’m a failure’, to which his father replies ‘Don’t give himself so much credit, you have to do something to be a failure.’ The scene expands into a speech about how it doesn’t matter if you fail as long as you do something. It was watching Take Me Home Tonight that helped confirm my desire to move to LA. Admittedly it was a decision that I didn’t exactly love, but at least I did it instead of wondering for the rest of my life.
The films focus on dreams, love, relationships, friendships and family are all so touching. The film is a traditional 80’s film done in the 21st Century, which almost completely makes it non-traditional. It was the first film in 2011 that stuck in my memory after watching so I will always have a place in my heart (although I suppose it’s still a little early to say that).

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions

<----- 73. Orgazmo

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 72. Twothirtyeight: You Should Be Living

Every Tuesday I discuss one of the albums That Makes me Love Music

One of the first albums on this list was Twothirtyeight’s Regulate the Chemicals. When I thought this band had written their best album, they followed it up with You Should Be Living. The album sadly ended up being their last album together.
The album starts off with Modern Day Prayer, a song my friend Mike will tell you is one of the best songs ever written (it’s not, but it is a good song none-the-less). The song is exactly what it implies, a prayer each line beginning with ‘God if you are there...’ or ‘God if you can hear...’ The song is often cited as when the band started to step away from being a ‘Christian band’ as the song talks about drunken fights and struggling with their beliefs.
The band also re-recorded Sticks are Woven in the Spokes (the song that first got me into the band). There is very little done differently on this particular recording from the one on Regulate the Chemicals.
The album ends with the weird song The Bathroom is a Creepy Place for Pictures of Your Friends. The song is an acoustic song that doesn’t make much sense, but it did inspire my roommates to buy a shower curtain that held photographs. We decided our bathroom could be creepier.

The best songs however are Romancing the Ghost and Sad Semester. To be fair I like Sad Semester strictly for the beginning of the second verse where Lead vocalist Chris Staples yells ‘Hey! What Am I Doing Here! I Have things to do! There’s life outside! I’m stuck inside this classroom!’
The band can write quality music with deep lyrics and have a clear message (unlike the previously mentioned ‘Bathroom’) such is the case with Romancing the Ghost. The song uses an analogy of playing a show to explain why this was going to be their last album. The song opens with ‘There was no more chemistry/exciting chords or harmonies/infectious riffs or melodies to sing/twas not a single speck of magic there/in that tangled mess of moving air/so we shut off our amps and called it quits’. 
As you get to the chorus where Chris Staples screams ‘Was it true? Where we really through? But I just begun what I wanted to?’ I’ve always loved Chris Staples’ songwriting, I can only assume that had they not been forced to move to Christian label Tooth and Nail records, they’d still be making incredible albums.
Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions
<----- 73
71 ------->

Thursday, July 12, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 73. Orgazmo

Every Thursday I Discuss One of the Movies that Makes me Love Film

73. Orgazmo
Trey Parker and Matt Stone have a pretty unstoppable streak of perfection. From Cannibal the Musical, to South Park to Book of Mormon they very rarely disappoint. One of their finest films though is sadly also one of their lesser known films, Orgazmo.
The film covers one of their favorite topics Mormons. It also mixes in their Indie film crash-course knowledge from Cannibal the Musical plus the celebrity connections they awared from Lloyd Kaufman (who has a cameo)... aka they got Ron Jeremy.
The film follows Joe Young a mormon on missionary through Los Angeles. One day he knocks on the door of famed porn director Maxxxx Orbison who is in the middle of filming his superhero porn star film Orgazmo. Due to his frustration at Joe’s interruption he sends guards against him. Joe’s impressive Kung Fu skills convinces Orbison that instead of beating him up, he should become the new Orgazmo in their film. 
Despite it being against his religion Joe takes the job to allow him to marry his fiance’. He strikes up a friendship with his co-star Ben Chapleski (aka Choda Boy), a secret computer genius/inventor who got into porn to have sex with women. Ben has invented a working version of the Orgazmo ray which impresses Joe.
They find out that Maxxx is evil and with the help of thugs have been wrecking havoc throughout Los Angeles (including strongarming their friend’s sushi bar). Ben and Joe decide to become Orgazmo and Choda Boy for real.
What makes Orgazmo work is that it’s a sincere satirical look at the porn industry, a parody on action films and successful comedy. Having worked with porn stars in my career (I worked for a PR agency that’s clients were predominately porn-stars) I can tell you that many elements of the ‘film sets’, ‘scripts’ and well thought out camera angles are very real to this taboo world of cinema.
While making this film Trey and Matt found out South Park had been picked up and their lives were changed forever. The Combination of having to focus on South Park plus the MPAA’s unfair NC-17 rating made this film a small release thus it never got the exposure it deserves but he has developed a nice cult following.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions

<----- 74. Psycho
72 ----->

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 73. The Streets - Everything is Borrowed

Every Tuesday I discuss one of the Albums That Make Me Love Music

In 2002 Mike Skinner released the first full length album by the Streets. The film was a critical juggernaut and The Streets career took off, each album getting darker and darker. Then out of nowhere came their 4th album Everything is Borrowed.
Compared to the previous album The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, it might as well be a completely new group. While Original Pirate Material painted a dark image of London and Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living discussed the dark side of celebrity (drugs, papparazzi, etc) Everything is Borrowed is an uplifting album about living life to it’s fullest.
It’s not just the lyrics, it’s the music too. I remember the first time I heard this album. I had picked it up at the CD store and within the first 45 seconds of the titular opening track I knew this was very different Streets album.
Songs like ‘Heaven for the Weather” and “The Way of the Dodo” are delightful songs. Heaven having a sound that makes you want to dance while Dodo shows off Skinner’s rapping ability at it’s best. However the best track on the album is right smack in the middle ‘On the Edge of a Cliff”

I’d argue that Edge of a Cliff lyrically sums up everything Skinner wanted this album to be about. It tells if our narrator contemplating suicide when a man approaches him with this uplifting piece of wisdom. “For Billions of Years since the outset of time/Every single one of your ancestors survived/Every single person on your mom and dad’s side/Succesfully looked after and passed onto you life/What are the chances of that like?/It comes to me once and a while/And everywhere I tell folk it gets the best smile”.
Everything is Borrowed is an album about living life to it’s absolute fullest. It’s a great album to throw on this summer with the windows rolled down.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions

Thursday, July 5, 2012

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 74. Psycho

Every Thursday I discuss One of the Movies that Makes Me Love Film

74. Psycho

There is a very good reason this is considered one the finest films in the horror genre. Hitchcock’s tension, character building and plot twists raised the bar to horror cinema to an entirely new level. 
Desperate for money Marion Crane steals $40,000 from one of her employer’s clients and flees in her car. During her escape heavy rainfall causes her to pull off to the side of the road to spend the night at the Bates Motel. 
Owner Norman Bates discusses the rarity of customers. Norman lives in the big house behind the hotel with his mother. He invites Marion to have supper and then she goes off to shower and sleep.
While showering Marion is attacked in one of the most famous moments in cinema. After being stabbed to death Norman finds her body and quickly disposes of her and her possessions to protect mother.
Marion’s sister Lila and a private detective begin searching for Marion and the money. They trace her to the motel and question Norman. Later the private detective sneaks into the Bates house where he is attacked and slashed in the face (ultimately leading to his death).
Lila goes to the Bates Hotel shortly afterwards and searches the house. She discovers the mummified body of Mrs Bates in the cellar. Norman comes rushing in wearing his mother’s clothes. 
There are multiple moments in the film at are considered “classic” moments. The shower scene however is obviously the most iconic moment. 
Hitchcock reinvited “going to the movies” with Psycho. Previously the movies wasn’t much different than the mall. It just played a film on a loop with news and commercials inbetween. You’d show up whenever, sit down and watch it til whenever. That changed with Psycho. The reveals and the twists were all too important to be seen without the context of the beginning.
However the best rug-pulling was killing off Marion Crane so early in the film. She was the poster girl, she was the biggest name star, she was the person who was supposed to survive... and yet by the 30 minute mark she had been dead already. Wes Craven would copy this twist in Scream 40+ years later, but Alfred got there first.
If you’ve never watched this film, now’s the time to (sorry for spoiling the twists). What impresses me is that no matter how old I get, watching his movie home alone late at night is still a stressful viewing experience.

Matt Kelly can also be found hosting The Saint Mort Show, Co-hosting the Reddit Horror Club Podcast, Writing for Geekscape,Tweeting and running Dollar Monday Promotions

<---- 75. Superbad
73. Orgazmo ----->