Tuesday, April 30, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music - 40. Bloodhound Gang: One Fierce Beer Coaster

40. Bloodhound Gang: One Fierce Beer Coaster

When I was in 5th grade I first heard Fire Water Burn by Bloodhound Gang on the Box and couldn’t stop singing it. I know everyone else knew of the song as we all made the donkey noise when singing it, but no one seemed to like it enough to go out a buy the CD. In fact people forgot the song so quickly that most kids in my grade considered them a ‘new band’ when Bad Touch came out 5 years later. So to most people I know they were just a one or two hit wonder but to me they were the soundtrack to my summer of 1996.

One Fierce Beer Coaster became the favorite album of my neighbor Jay, his best friend Scott, my cousin Dave and myself. We’d play that CD over and over again whether we were hanging out by the pool, playing Kick the Can (yes we played that in 1996 as if it were still the 1920’s) or in the car.

The album itself received mixed reviews at best, most critics disliking the ‘sophomoric toilet humor’ (which 11 year old me couldn’t get enough of). I don’t know why childish automatically means bad to critics. Despite the admittedly ‘childish’ humor Jimmy Pop Ali is actually quite the creative wordsmith.

Songs like Kiss Me Where it Smells Funny, I Wish I was Queer (So I could get Chicks) and even Fire Water Burn have very creative metaphors and similes scattered across everything. Using lines like “I’m not black like Barry White no I am White like Frank Black is” and “Chicks dig guys that are queer guys that don’t dig chicks that don’t dig guys like me cause I’m not queer I’m too ugly”

However even among the weird metaphors, sophomore humor and melody lifting (Fire Water Burn uses lyrics and melodies from ‘the roof is on fire’ by Doug E Fresh and This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven by the Pixies; Meanwhile Your Only Friends are Make Believe borrows from Hungry Like the Wolf by Duran Duran) there are two songs that are simply great no matter how you look at it their cover of It’s Tricky by Run DMC (arguably better than the original) and the hip-hop track Boom (featuring Rob Van Winkle aka Vanilla Ice).

Boom is packed tight with solid one-liners (‘Like a Kenny Loggins record no one’s ever gonna hear ya’) and a hook that is irresistible. Bloodhound Gang will always be loved for their rap songs more than anything (including another great track on this album ‘Lift your head up high and blow your brains out’) but what One Fierce Beer Coaster introduced was a Bloodhound Gang who could rock as well. None of their albums before or after were able to mix rock and rap and perfectly as this album. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: The Blunder Years

Through the magic of Netflix Instant Watch I've been able to discover TV shows that I missed. Thanks to Instant Watch I finally got around to watching Raising Hope, Parks and Recreation and Community, however the more depressing thing is that if not for Instant Watch I'd have probably never seen the Wonder Years.

I think the most important in writing a TV show is that even within the comedy and drama there is always an underlying element of reality. I found this in ways I never imagined when watching The Wonder Years. It forced me to come to reality with the idea of losing people I care about.

You see other shows that mirrored my life in some way (or spoke to me). Shows like Community, Scrubs and How I Met Your Mother made me see things about my friends, in a positive way. You see in TV it's easy. Television friends tend to speak about how much they care about you roughly once every week after a major crisis was resolved in 20 minutes. In real life problems aren't quickly wrapped up and friends often keep their opinions and thoughts to themselves. This is what is makes me love these TV shows. My friends never have to tell me about how they feel, Turk and J.D. do it for them.

However with the Wonder Years I didn't have friendships that connected with me. It hit me on a family level. Mostly within the father. I saw so much of my dad in the series. So imagine the mini-anxiety attack I had when the closing narration mentions his father dying a heart attack two years after the series finale (roughly when Kevin is 18/19).

I've discussed previously how I frequently have an overwhelming fear of death (not my own death but dealing with the loss of others). This once again forced me to come to terms with the fact that eventually I will have to lay my father from rest, that is never a fun thing to have to deal with. I fear whenever this will become my reality.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film - 41. Sleepaway Camp

41. Sleepaway Camp

One could argue this is the shittiest movie on the list. They would not be wrong. It’s time to clarify/remind you that this isn’t a list of the greatest movies ever made. This is a list of the movies that make me love film, that doesn’t mean they’re masterpieces, it just means their entertaining and make me want to continue to watch movies and even make some of my own. By those rules Sleepaway Camp should almost be ranked higher.

Sleepaway Camp is slasher film from 1981. It’s been called the best of the worst in that particular genre. The movie itself is terrible. Let’s discuss the plot line. However I should warn that I will tell the whole movie at this point. It’ll be packed with spoilers. If you love so bad it’s good horror movies and you don’t know the twist at the end of this film yet... watch Sleepaway Camp and don’t read this. You’ll thank me (maybe) later.

We open with a father and his two kids (Angela and Peter) sitting on a boat. While horsing around the boat topples over. Elsewhere a group of teenagers are skiing on a motorboat. Not seeing the group they collide into the boat and kill two of the three family members.

We flash forward a few years later. Angela is the sole survivor of the accident and now lives with her cousin Ricky and Ricky’s weird aunt. The two leave for summer camp. Ricky’s been there a few times but this is Angela’s first year.

Angela is a cute but shy girl who spends the first 45 minutes or so being picked on. She never fights back, just stares blankly. Ricky always jumps in to her rescue. It seems that whoever picks on Angela ends up dead a few days later. Camp Owner Mel is convinced that Ricky is the culprit.

In the end it’s revealed that Angela has been doing all the killing (sort of). Angela died in the boating accident all those years ago. Angela is actually Peter. Ricky’s aunt didn’t want two boys so she choose to raise Peter as a girl.

This ending sounds ridiculous (mostly because it is) but for whatever reason it was one of the most effectively chilling endings to a horror movie I’ve ever experienced. 

This movie OOZES 80’s. It’s poorly-written and cheesy for sure, but it’s the clothing, crappy dialogue and the weird shit in the back ground (like a man randomly lifting weights) that really make the movie charming.

Every single time I watch this movie it makes me want to write my own stupid 80’s camp movie. Recently I’ve wanted to just shoot a shot by shot remake of Sleepaway camp. Maybe one day you’ll be luckily enough to see it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music - 41. A Tribe Called Quest: Low End Theory

41. A Tribe Called Quest: The Low End Theory

A Tribe Called Quest will always be one of the greatest hip-hop groups of all time. Between MCs Phife Dawg and Q-Tip’s different styles they created a debut album that captivated the hip-hop community in 1990. However it was their sophomore album that gave us their greatest achievement. 

The two MCs put together an incredible blend of jazz and hip-hop packed with positive lyrics, a lack of profanity and Scenario... the greatest hip-hop track ever. 

I love 90’s hip-hop; love it. A Tribe Called Quest represents everything I loved about it. The album is an instant classic and continued the streak of great records for Phife and Tip; but no record could ever surpass this.

The album’s closing track is Scenario which I previously stated as the greatest hip-hop track ever. It’s genuinely a great track with an amazing beat, great verse trade off and one of the catchiest hooks the genre has to offer. It also introduced the world to Busta Rhymes who was one of the greatest MCs in the game for a while (before he started doing songs with the Pussycat Dolls).

It genuinely saddens me how many people I meet who claim to be fans of rap but have never heard this album before. Seriously, if you don’t already own this album (even if you don’t like most rap) you should have this in your collection. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: I got a fever

I have night anxiety. Whenever I try to fall asleep my mind goes into hyperdrive and sleep has been impossible since. That is, until I discovered that I could distract my mind and fall asleep. For the last few months I'd put on DVD commentary tracks and listen to them until I fell asleep. As I worked my way through my DVD collect I discovered that for some reason the Cabin Fever DVD has 5 commentary tracks.

While I hate Eli Roth as a person after listening to him talk about his debut film 5 different times (yes his ego is so impossibly high that he appears on all 5 commentary tracks) I've concluded that he's fucking hilarious. Cabin Fever remains one of the more original horror films of the last couple years, sadly Eli's follow-up Hostel (while being a massive success) has lacked the enjoyment of his debut.

After listening to all the commentary tracks I've concluded that I definitely need to write my horror movie sooner rather than later (which of course means ideally before I'm 40).

Thursday, April 18, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film - 42. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

42. Forgetting Sarah Marshall

Every once and a while you see a movie at the right time. It just hits every emotional note that you’ve been feeling. I had just had my heart broken and I went to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It was the best break-up film since Annie Hall and until (500) Days of Summer came out a few years later it was the most realistic depiction of a break-up.

Peter is a musician dating superstar Sarah Marshall. After years of dating Sarah randomly breaks up with him. She’s been with another man.

Peter falls into a depression where he fucks anything he can and cries constantly. He decides he needs to take a trip and goes to Hawaii. While there he discovers that Sarah is also there with her new boyfriend Aldous Snow. 

Peter begins to spend time with the staff of the hotel and strikes up a friendship with a front desk receptionist named Rachel. It contains elements of screwball comedy mixed with love triangles and full frontal male nudity, who could ask for more.

What I love about this movie is that it’s a fair depiction of a break-up. The lead character isn’t a guy who is heartbroken for a day and then meets the girl of his dreams, instead Peter is a crying mess. He tries to fill the hole with random sex and ends up depressed and concerned of STDs.

Sarah Marshall, while cheating on Peter, is still a likable character. She exposes Peter’s less points like spending a week in sweat pants and never trying to better his life. She makes mistakes... because she’s imperfect, like all people.

Aldous is the man Sarah is cheating with, but even he is so down to earth and nice that Peter finds it difficult to hate him. In fact the only time he truly has hatred towards Aldous is when he realizes how long the infidelity has been going on. 

Beyond all of this, my favorite elements are the flashbacks. It’ll randomly flash back to Peter’s memories. Each time they go from ‘Fond Memories’ to the reality of those memories. Anyone who’s ever been in a rough break up knows how that is. You can only remember the best times at first, then you start to remember the bad times and you suddenly are content and can move on with your life. 

Jason Segel is a brilliant writer and fearless actor. This is his shining moment.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music - 42. Bright Eyes: Lifted or The Story is in the soil, Keep your Ear to the Ground

42. Bright Eyes: Lifted or The Story is in the soil, Keep your Ear to the Ground

Despite it’s pretentiously long title, Bright Eye’s 4th album is his untoppable masterpiece. The first time I ever heard of Bright Eyes was my senior year of High School. The TV Studio had put on a coffee house and someone performed Waste of Paint, a few days later someone played me the song “The Calendar Hung Itself”. I was very taken by the fact that one man could have two very different sides to him. Near the end of my senior year we had a class trip to Disneyworld and found a copy of the CD in downtown disney. 

I remember flying home listening to this record and being completely captivated, specifically to the songs Bowl of Oranges, From a Balance Beam and Let’s Not Shit Ourselves (to love and to be loved). This isn’t to say the other 10 tracks aren’t insanely bizarre and unique as well. 

The opening song The Big Picture (which is my least favorite song on the album) is one of the most bizarre opening tracks ever. The almost 9 minute long song doesn’t begin until roughly 2 minutes into the track. Before that you just hear a couple walking into a car and driving, the girlfriend gives the boyfriend directions and slowly the song fades in on the radio, throughout the song you hear the girl awkwardly singing along.

Even quirkier is track 3 (False Advertising) which stops mid-song when a musician plays the wrong note. He apologizes lead singer Conor Oberst says it’s okay and then the song starts back up again. 

For someone who was clearly depressed at the time of writing this album Oberst manages to have fun and even write an uplifting song or two (specifically the infetiously catchy Bowl of Oranges). 

Check out this album (almost 10 years old now) and see that even after the last decade it’s still one of the most unpredictable records released.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Self Observational Sunday: What a Weak

So last week's SOS was a little short and bizarre. This one will also be short but more of a clarification. Last weekend was a pretty stressed out weekend if I've ever experienced one.

Within a span of roughly 48 hours I had a very stressful experience with a chords for cures show, dealt with a lot of friendship stress that I tried to patch up and then got dumped by the girl I had been dating for about a month.

My desire to talk about these things in more detail are pretty much done. I talked enough to friends in person and for the most part I'm over it.

I've realized that I need to have some type of peaceful hobby that I can do when I'm down in the dumps. I've started moving towards working on that. Depending on what I end up doing you may start seeing more pictures of things in the near future.

On a positive note... Yesterday I released a new Chords For Cures comp. Read about it on our page ChordsForCures.org

Thursday, April 11, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film: 43. Jason and the Argonauts

43. Jason and the Argonauts

My dad’s favorite movie of all time (if I had to pick it) is Jason and the Argonauts. Much like Caddyshack and Star Wars I will always connect this film with my father. Not only did he expose me to this film at a young age, but he’s always quoting one particular scene (which I’ll mention later) and we frequently mock him for how often he states that this movie was “ahead of its time”.

The 60’s loved greek mythology (specifically when Ray Harryhausen was involved). This film is no exception. 

The film tells a “rough” version of the story of Jason and Golden Fleece. Jason (Todd Armstrong) is set up by Pelias (Douglas Wilmer) to find the Fleece in the hopes that he will die on his attempt. Legend has stated that Pelias will die at Jason’s hand.

The voyage for the Fleece is filled with various incredible stop-motion creatures like the Statue of Talos, Triton, a Hydra and the most impressive effect of all an army of skeletons.

During one particular stop in the voyage Jason encounters Phineas who Zeus has punished for his sins by blinding him and having two harpies steal his food only leaving him enough scrapes to stay alive. During this sequence Phineas cries out “I know I was a sinner, but I didn’t sin every day... why must you punish me every day!” This quote my father uses every time my mother does something stupid. My youngest sister has never see Jason and the Argonauts and even she knows the quote word for word.

The film is considered by Harryhausen to be his best work (and it’s hard to disagree) the skeleton fight sequence does remind you that stop motion is fucking awesome.

If you’ve never seen this classic from the 60’s it’s a must see for everyone.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music: 43. fun. - Aim & Ignite

43. fun. - Aim and Ignite

The Format: Dog Problems was one of the most life-changing albums ever released for me. It’s rare that something captivates me like that album did. However shortly after it was released the duo that made up The Format called it quits. Luckily Nate didn’t waste time forming a new band with members of Steel Train and Anathallo. fun. was born.

I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated an album release quite like fun.’s debut album (although the Five Iron Frenzy reunion album is now pretty high on my anticipated albums list). Every song I heard made me more excited (Specifically when I heard a demo of At Least I’m Not As Sad) so I was pretty thrilled when the album lived up to everything I hoped.

Blending the sounds of Classic 70’s Rock with Indie Pop fun.’s debut album sounds like a Queen/E.L.O. collaboration. Every song works, but some work better than others. The true stars of the album are the opening track (Be Calm) and The Gambler.

The Gambler is one of the prettiest love songs in Indie Rock history (right up there with Ben Folds’ The Luckiest and Big Star’s Thirteen). With just a simple piano hook and 4 minutes we hear the entire story of a couple through the good and the bad and the bitter end. There are few lyrics cuter than ‘I promise when I grow up I won’t just buy you a rose/I’ll buy you the flower shop and you will never be lonely’.

However Pretty Piano Hooks and Cute lyrics are nothing compared to the epic intro track Be Calm. Words can’t appropriately describe the levels of awesome this song produces. What begins as a pretty violin performance slowly builds to a rock anthem but don’t take my word for it. Listen below.

Lately fun. has blown up with their follow-up album, and while it’s a great album it doesn’t come close to the power of their debut album.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Self Observational Sunday - Seeing Yourself For the First Time

So I almost completely missed doing a SOS this week. I usually work on it throughout the week but I've been tied up with drama.

I will say this much. I have realized that I am a control freak (through the help of a friend). I want to make sure that things go smoothly and that everyone is happy. However I do this to the point that no one is happy, most of all myself.

I want to elaborate on this more so perhaps i will next week. For now I just want to go to bed.

Sorry for the 2 of you who look forward to the self observational sundays. This just a teaser for next week it seems.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

100 Movies That Make Me Love Film - 44. Pootietang

44. PootieTang

The first time I ever heard of Pootie-Tang was in the painfully underrated Scary Movie 3. I always assumed it was one of the worst movies ever made, but then I’d repeatedly hear friends sing praises for it. When I finally got around to getting Netflix I decided to give it a shot and I fucking loved it.

The film is one of the most over the top and absurd films ever made. Written, Directed (and disowned) by Louis C.K. the film follows the adventures of Pootie-Tang the movie star, musician, superhero and infamous ladies man. Whil ehe speaks only in gibberish he manages to be the most famous and beloved man in history.

The film works almost as a sketch comedy (with just a thin plotline to connect the random comedic elements). It’d be unfair to people not familiar with the movie to really speak too much of it and ruin the more humor elements. Just go rent it and enjoy the most insane film in years.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

100 Albums That Make Me Love Music - 44. The Ramones: Rocket to Russia

44. The Ramones: Rocket to Russia

One year for my birthday my grandmother bought me Ramones: Mania (which is basically the band’s greatest hits record). At the time I couldn’t have been less interested in The Ramones as a band. I was aware of two of their songs (Blitzkerg Bop and I Wanna Be Sadated) and they bored me more than anything. But it was my grandmother so I said “That’s Grandmom! I love these guys.” 

For a month or two the CD laid in my bedroom relatively unlistened to. Eventually I decided to give it a listen. I immediately fell in love with random songs on it, I still wasn’t sold on the band as a whole for a quite a few years. I wish I could even explain what happened but the best I can do is say it like this... I think there’s a point where as a kid you stop looking for the loudest and fastest music and instead look into the history of the music that you love. 

I think my appreciation for The Ramones stemmed from loving the punk bands they influenced as well as hearing some of their lesser known hits. The band as a whole rarely released a perfect record... but it did happened once or twice. Rocket to Russia was one of those records. 

While none of the songs were mainstream hits persay this album probably has more fan favorites than any other Ramones record containing popular tunes like Teenage Lobotomy, Sheena is a Punk Rocker and Cretin Hop. Now while these songs are great when the Ramones are doing 50’s flashback sounds they’re at their best, specifically on their cover of Surfin’ Bird as well as the demo of Slug.

If you’ve always been interested in what makes the Ramones so great but you’re only familiar with the 3 or 4 songs that everyone knows, this record truly is a great starting point.