Friday, September 26, 2014

A Second Spinning (Round 4)

I've been buying albums like crazy ever since I was in 3rd grade. There's been albums I've loved and albums I've hated. Some from local bands, some from big names and even more from my 8 year Christian Music age. I've decided to take a stack of 20 albums that I disliked in my collection each month and give them another listen to see if over the years my opinion has changed.

Here's my breakdowns and reasons why

My Opinion Didn't Change On

Fun Lovin' Criminals: 100% Colombian I loved the Fun Lovin' Criminals debut album Come Find Yourself and excitedly grabbed their follow-up album. When I heard it I was really disappointed. Almost all the things I enjoyed about their previous album were gone except a handful of tracks (Southside, Big Night Out). While I appreciated the chill-jazzy vibe they were going for it doesn't work for them quite like the hip-hop influenced rock worked on songs like Scooby Snacks.

Daniel Johnston: 1990 Daniel Johnston is an artist I really appreciate, but appreciation doesn't mean I have to enjoy listening to his music. Daniel is a truly unique songwriter which is why so many of the covers of his songs are great, but Daniel himself is someone who musically I can only stand for 5-7 minute increments. There are a handful of amazing songs on this record (Funeral Home, Devil Town, True Love) but more often than not it's songs that overstay their welcome.

Dave Matthews Band: Everyday I've spoken previously of my love/hate relationship with DMB. It feels like my enjoyment of his music 100% depends on my mood at the time I'm listening to it. Repeated listens of his stuff has lead me to comfortably conclude that I enjoy the albums Crash and Before these Crowded Streets but Everyday for me will always been an album that has two amazing song (The Space Between & Everyday) one or two decent songs and a lot of filler.

Sarah McLachlan: Surfacing McLachlan is capable of writing some of the most beautiful songs ever, but she's also capable of writing some of the most forgettable and boring. At the time of release I was in love with every single on this record and assumed with 4 great single out of 10 tracks the rest of the CD will be amazing. Instead I found one non-single that I liked a lot (Witness) and a bunch of stuff that put me to sleep. 

Albums I Appreciated More But Still Don't Love

The Cranberries: To the Faithful Departed I've never been a huge Cranberries fan. They've written some amazing songs and this album is probably my favorite of theirs, but I'm still not a fan of it. There are some great songs on it however. Salvation will always have a place in my heart, I loved that song and video. It was the first song by the Cranberries I actually liked (it wasn't until a few years later I discovered Linger and Dreams). While there's a lot of fun songs, there's a lot of drawn out tracks as well.

Creed: Human Clay This is basically where My Own Prison was last round. The songs I remembered (Are You Ready?, Beautiful) I still loved while the songs I'd forgotten about (such as the two tracks after Higher) were forgotten for a reason. I still think that Creed gets unfairly trashed because they could (and did) definitely know how to write a great song or two… they just weren't so great on making great albums.

Element 101: More Than Motion I wish this album was catchier. I kinda feel like the band was trying to get away from the Pop Punk label and enter into something more Indie Rock. I respect any band that's willing to take chances and make changes of sound but Indie Rock Element just isn't as fun and catchy as Pop Punk Element was.

MxPx: Pokinatcha MxPx's first album was one of the last ones I heard by them. This definitely was a disadvantage to it. There's nothing wrong with the album, it has a lot of great songs on it, but after hearing Life In General and Teenage Politics this album just didn't stand a chance. It's a good album but nothing more.

Albums I Really Enjoyed More Than I Thought Was Possible

Seven Mary Three: American Standard Seven Mary Three had two really great singles in the 90's. When I picked up their album I just wanted every song to be Cumbersome, they weren't. Now many years later, I'm quite glad their not. This a great album that could have only existed in the 90s.

Relient K: Apathetic EP At the time I picked this up I only enjoyed two songs, that's a bad thing for an EP. Now I appreciate every track on it but my favorite track still remains In Like a Lion (Always Winter).

Cat Stevens: Catch Bull At Four From the second I heard Cat Stevens' music I became a fan. Two of my favorite songs of his were Sitting and Can't Keep It In. When I picked up the album that contained those two songs they were the only ones I think I listened too. This may have been the actual "First Spinning" for me but damn it if I don't rank this up there with Tea for the Tillerman as one of Steven's best works now.

Ace Troubleshooter: It's Never Enough I always wanted to like Ace Troubleshooter more than I actually did. But now, I adore them, so I suppose I got what I wanted. This was the first record I bought by them and wasn't a fan. Not sure why because it's a quite delightful and catchy pop punk record.

KoRn: Life is Peachy I don't know why I fought this for so long but I'm a KoRn fan. For whatever reason I didn't want to admit this in the 90's/early 2000's. When I decided to listen to KoRn I remember saying that their only good album was Follow the Leader (even though I owned their first 6 albums) and would constantly say that the only good song on Life is Peachy was the 50 second long Twist. But fuck it, it's a great album.

Last Tuesday: Resolve In doing these re-listens I'm starting to think that Last Tuesday was secretly one of my favorite bands. I own every album they released and bought their newest albums the second they were available but for some reason I never really got super into their music (until now). There's nothing much to say, if you like good pop punk with two vocalists you should already be listening to their stuff. It's a shame their done.

The Cars One an earlier Round I praised Heartbeat City by the Cars. While their debut has more hits on it, I still prefer Heartbeat. That shouldn't take away from the fact however that The Cars put together a fantastic collection of tracks for this debut. If you're a fan of New Wave and don't have this album already, you're fucking up.

Dispatch: Who Are We Living For While I first heard Dispatch near the end of High School they're a band that represents college more than anything for me. This was the last album of theirs I purchased and I didn't like it at all. I wanted another album that sounded like Bang Bang, this was a little too heavy for what I expected out of Dispatch and it had too many random jam session tracks. Now those are probably my favorite pieces of the album.

Now I Love This Album

Brave Saint Saturn: So Far From Home Five Iron Frenzy is my favorite band and has been for well over a decade. When I purchased the Brave Saint Saturn album I was not used to disliking any songs by FIF. I think my only reason for not liking this album was because of two or three songs I didn't like, when relistening to this I still remembered the words to practically every song (and it had been a good 7 years since I listened to any of these songs), even the songs I didn't like in the past (Rocketown, Gloria) I found a little enjoyable this time around.

Bright Eyes: Letting Off the Happiness One of my favorite songs ever by Bright Eyes is the opening track to this album (If Winter Ends), the rest of this album was (to me at the time) too random and bizarre. Styles were constantly different and none of the songs felt like they belonged on an album together. Those are now many of the reasons I like this album. The only thing I really dislike about the album is the decision to put 10 minutes of feedback between the last track and the hidden track… but that's hardly a reason to hate the album as a whole.

Pearl Jam: Vs Last round I got a little flack for my continued lack of enjoyment towards Pearl Jam's Ten in relistening to their follow-up record Vs. I realized what my problem is with Pearl Jam in general (or at least for me… obviously they have legions of devoted fans so I'm in the minority here). Pearl Jam's stuff at it's best is short. Compared to the 4:30-5:00 song lengths on Ten most of the songs on Vs are a solid 3:30 minutes long. In fact my least favorite song on the album (W.M.A) is the only track over 5 minutes. Fast, Raw and Straight to the point is how I prefer my Pearl Jam apparently. The longer the song is, the more likely Eddie Vender is just gonna repeat the same lyric over and over and over again.

Refused: The Shape of Punk To Come When I first heard Refused I was in a friends car and he played me New Noise. That night I went home and bought the album on amazon and awaited it's delivery. Now I was late to the party on this band and this was maybe 5 years ago. I already knew the album was considered a masterpiece so maybe the heavy praise for the album sent me in with high expectations but I remember driving to classes listening to it for the first time and not feeling really… anything. This time however, three minutes into the opening track Worms of the Senses I found myself thinking "This might be my favorite album I listened to this round". It absolutely was.

Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon. He also loves it when people surprise him with purchases from his Amazon Wishlist… just saying.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

RetroActive Book Review: Animorphs #2 - The Visitor

Animorphs Book #2: The Visitor

As I said previously I am really excited to be revisiting this series having loved it so much as a kid. Book 2 is narrated by Rachel who for some reason I remember her being my least favorite narrator. About 15 years later I can see why I felt this way, her narration is very awkward and reminds me of all the female Goosebumps narrators that I can’t stand. There’s always a competitiveness in those characters that makes the narration seem painfully forced.

It’s a decent enough story. At the end of the first book they discovered that the Principal of the school was a controller. Rachel’s best friend was the principals daughter so they decide she should morph into her cat in order to spy on the Yeerks.

Not a ton happens as far as action scenes but I was shocked by the emotional notes of this book. It examines a broken home as well as parents who will do ANYTHING for their child and an intense way.

But this particular book does not push the storyline anywhere so there’s not much more to say about it. 

I recall the next book “The Encounter” being my favorite book. I used to love Tobais’ narration. Let’s see how it holds up!
Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon. He also loves it when people surprise him with purchases from his Amazon Wishlist… just saying.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

10 Horror Movie VHS Covers Forever Etched Into My Brain

I've talked about this multiple times on my blog but there are few memories I hold as dearly as visiting the video store. I would walk through the horror section every time (even when I was too much of a pussy to watch horror movies I'd still love just looking at the covers).

When I finally became brave enough to rent the videos I would be in my local mom and pops store for 40-50 minutes looking at every cover and considering "should I rent this?" I will say this in advance, 7 of these movies I didn't rent back the and four of them I still have yet to see. Regardless I will always remember these box covers.

10. Monkey Shines
This cover terrified me. TERRIFIED ME. Look at that fucking monkey! This movie would have scared me if the entire thing was just that monkey clashing it's cymbals while staring into my soul. I put this movie off until it was available on Instant watch a few years ago. I thought it was strictly okay (although I know many who love it). 

9. House IV
Don't get me wrong the VHS covers of House and House 2 also captivated my brain but this was the one I remember really freaking me out. The previous covers had an element of comedy that I always felt this one lacked. I've yet to see this one for a pretty ridiculous reason. Despite having multiple chances to watch it I kept putting it off until I had a chance to see House 3: The Horror Show even though I knew it wasn't a legit House sequel. Thanks to FearNet a few years back I finally did get to watch that so House IV you best not disappoint!

8. Bloody New Year
Until about two years ago when I saw this cover on VHSPS' website I thought I was going insane because NO ONE knew what I was talking about. This cover always captivated me (but never scared me). I've yet to see this one but I'll probably order it off VHSPS very soon.

7. Society
I saw this movie for the first time this summer but I've remembered the cover for years. It was one of those covers that looked so bizarre that it captivated me but I wasn't sure if I actually wanted to watch it. Years later I heard nothing but praise for it and decided to grab it off VHSPS. It is nothing short of a horror masterpiece. If you haven't seen this one you owe it to yourself as a horror fan to track a copy down!

6. Halloween 2
This might be one of my all-time favorite posters. This specific image, I've seen other versions that have been changed for DVDs but it's the simplicity of this one that I adore and will always remember. This is the only movie on this list that I saw the movie before I ever saw the cover. I caught Halloween II on television right around the point I was just beginning to get brave enough to watch horror movies. That has nothing to do with the cover, just a fun fact.

5. Elves
When I became a horror movie fan I started taking it seriously immediately. It was right in the beginning of the internet's popularity and I discovered a site called Video Graveyard which was (for about two years) my horror bible. If they praised a movie then I'd see it, if they hated it… I'd avoid it. They were not impressed with Elves so despite how much this cover intrigued me I never rented it. Now I regret it since it's a hard movie to find. That being said I've discovered it's also available on VHSPS so maybe I'll pick it up along with Bloody New Year to prepare for X-mas 2014 and New Years 2015.

4. Blood Beach
This was another notoriously bad movie that captivated me. I almost rented this movie more times than I can remember and constantly wanted to know why this woman was being pulled into the sand. I did eventually see it through VHSPS and while I didn't hate it it's definitely not a masterpiece. Despite all that it's tag-line "Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Water - You Can't Get To It" is one of the best of all-time.

3. The Funhouse
I was mesmerized by this cover for years, I saw it on Video Graveyard and thought it looked awesome but my local video store never had it. One night I was spending the night with my grandparents and my grandmother and I went out to rent a videotape. As I walked around her video store I saw that they had a copy of The Funhouse and immediately had her rent it for me. After everyone went to sleep I watched the movie and honestly I struggled to stay awake. I was beyond bored by it. Years later I kept hearing praise about it and rewatched it thanks to Netflix, it quickly became one of my all-time favorite horror films. I hate the new cover out there which is just a close up for the clowns face (with added drool), I'll always prefer this killer jack-in-the-box cover.

2. The Mutilator
I've yet to see this movie but based on the horror podcasts I listen to I'm not missing too much. But much like Blood Beach this was a VHS cover I would pick up and look at during every visit to the video store. One day I do hope to finally see this but I'm prepared to be let down after all these years.

1. Texas Chainsaw Massacre
This is (and has always been) my favorite cover to Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Before I was a horror fan I had an uncle who was. This uncle was the best uncle a geek like I could want. He was rich and owned hundreds of movies, toys and arcade games. I would frequently look at his horror movie covers and I was obsessed with this weird cartoon drawing (I was also obsessed with the cover to Groove Tube). I was so young that I didn't know the title to this movie so when I started seeing the more popular VHS cover for Texas Chainsaw Massacre in video stores I became convinced this was a different movie. It wasn't until google that I was able to look it up and confirm it was in fact an old VHS cover for arguably the greatest horror film ever put to celluloid.

Matt Kelly is the host of the popular podcast The Saint Mort Show, a frequent contributor to, the founder of Chords for Cures and the co-writer/co-director of the upcoming comedy Describing the Moon. He also loves it when people surprise him with purchases from his Amazon Wishlist… just saying.