Sunday, December 28, 2008

Comic Update: "Paul Carrack"

Yes indeed, you must read this comic to understand this new one! Ah-ha!

Anyways, here she be.



Two reasons to make a comic like this:

1) I figured these "Hill Comics" worked as a trilogy.
2) This song has been stuck in my head all week.

Oh, and here's a nigh-illegible "bonus" for you fools silly enough to read it:



God Bless Us, Everyone.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Requested Review: "Bleed American" by Jimmy Eat World

"World's Most Obnoxiously Emotive" Trophies! Hah. Nice one, Sean.


Tonight's review was humbly requested by Mr. Dan Yepes, who was kind enough to lend me a two-gig flash drive chock-full of music I've never listened to! Ahoy! In all honesty, Mr. Yepes did not specifically request Bleed American - he just knew I liked "The Middle," and threw it on the drive as a lark. I think maybe he wanted me to review some hot-to-trot bands like TV On The Radio or Interpol, but man! Jimmy Eat World are apparently a so-called "EMO" band! I can't pass up an opportunity to review one of those!

Well, OK. There's two simple reasons why I've decided to review a JEW album (god that is an awkward acronym):

1) Like I said, I like "The Middle."
2) It's a Jimmy Eat World album. When would I EVER be compelled to review Jimmy Eat World in this blog? Do they even record albums anymore?? Interpol and TV On The Radio, they're still relevant. Reviewing them would just be redundant, now wouldn't it?

Yeah. It would. (Yes.)

I have to admit, though, that after listening to Bleed American I am indeed a little upset. I was hoping I would, despite all the "emo" labeling and all that, discover Jimmy Eat World as a fine 2000s pop band. I mean, "The Middle," that's such a fun little ditty! I mean, I'm not asking for an entire album full of "Middle"s. That would get disgusting after a while. But you know, I was expecting something a little fun! Instead Bleed American is kind of a generic 2000s rock-pop album with a bunch of acoustic-sensitive numbers thrown in there for good measure. A downer, I must admit. The moment the opening track "Salt Sweat Sugar" popped on, my immediate thought was "Jeez, this is just not my kind of music." Generick punk-pop guitar, "emotional" (read: over-enunciated) vocals, y'know the drill. Kind of sounds like a less-annoying Fall Out Boy, but that's not saying much. And upon hearing this song - the first track, mind you - I suddenly came to the realization that, hey, maybe I have no business reviewing a Jimmy Eat World album! Hot damn.

But really, what can I say? This music isn't aimed at me. I am not part of Jimmy Eat World's demographic. Only a few thoughts pop into mind when I listen to most of Bleed American: "Eh." "Alright, whatever." "Not my sort of thing." "Ehhhhh." "I wish I were 15 again." And that's it! Who wants to read that?? Nobody, my friends. So let us amicably end the review here, to save all of you from one long "mehhhhhhh" session.

Okay? Okay.

...oh. No wait. There IS some stuff I don't regard with complete indifference on here! There's "The Middle," for one, which I know I've mentioned before like twenty times. But for over five years - before I ever heard Bleed American, that is - it was the only Jimmy Eat World song I had ever heard, and I was very happy with that. I didn't care for it much when I was a freshman in highschool, but now I dig it (I guess it suffered from "MMMBop syndrome", eh? You know what I mean). It's poppy, catchy, cute, and has a really nifty solo during the bridge. There's a lot to like! Only one other song approaches similar poppiness, "Authority Song," which honestly sounds like modern-day Hanson for whatever reason. So of COURSE I like it. And then you have a number of slower, semi-acoustic, gentle little pretties like "Your House," "Hear You Me," "Cautioners" and "My Sundown," which are all actually very nice but generally interchangeable. I get their melodies mixed up often. But they are a nice reprieve from all the "Salt Sweat Sugar"s and "Sweetness"es littered all over the album. Oh, also there's "Get It Faster," which starts off with an almost-whispered vocal and a brooding guitar before BLASTING out into a semi-cool vocal/guitar incantation. I mean, it's not wonderful, but it's neat and very different from every other song on the album!! Hey hey.

So those are the songs I like. Which are, apparently, the bulk of the album. As such, I apparently enjoy Bleed American and I don't even realize it.

Well, okay, "like" is a loose term. I am OK with most of the songs on this album. But that is not necessarily a positive review, is it? Bleed American does not compel me to listen to anything else Jimmy Eat World has recorded, so I guess in that regard I don't like this album. Again, this is just not my sort of music! I'm not a "generic-emo-pop" sort of guy. But hey, if you dig the "Say Anything" and the "AFI" and maybe the "The Used," this stuff might be right up your alley! I am just not a big fan of obnoxiously over-emotional twenty-somethings who enunciate as much as possible so that everybody can hear their beautiful lyrics as clearly as is humanly possible. No thanks!

(Sorry for this review, Mr. Yepes. I know that you are clearly JEW's number one fan.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Comic Update: "A Sean Rose Situation"

Just a little slice of FUN I whipped up to ease the wait between REQUESTED REVIEWS!! (trust me, another one is coming soon... one you might not expect!!)

But here's a comic:



I fooled around with some grey coloring, just to see if it would make things look a little less crappy. The coloring reminds me of Pictures For Sad Children, for whatever reason. I think it came out alright?? YOU DECIDE, NOBLE READERS.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Requested Review: "Sea Change" by Beck

CAN YOU SEE MY SOUL??


Tonight's review has been requested by everybody's great friend Dave Winchell. He was the first one to comment, and Sea Change is an album I have had for the last three years or so but haven't listened to since like my freshmen year of college, so hey! It's a perfect candidate for a REQUESTED REVIEW!! Congrats, Dave.

Why have I not listened to this album in three years, you ask? Simply put, I'm just not compelled to. I haven't listened to Beck all that much in the past three years, actually, so maybe it's just because I am not the world's biggest Beck booster (note my alliteration, which I feel helps illustrate my point). I've got a few of his albums and I like a decent amount of his songs, but he has never entered the pantheon of my personal "Grade A" artists (then again, not many have, so maybe I'm just a dick). Sea Change, as any well-versed Beck fan will tell you, was Mr. Hansen's so-called "breakup" album released a few (well, ok, six) years back, apparently recorded shortly after a breakup with his longtime girlfriend. As such, many people have placed it in the pantheon of classic "breakup" albums, such as Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks (which Rolling Stone memorably compared Sea Change to in its 5-star review) or... I don't know, that one Richard Thompson album. And you know, all the songs present here are expectantly low-key, somber affairs, filled with tasteful string arrangements and world-weary lyrics, a far cry from the goofy funk-pop-rap workouts he was groovin' on in the 90s.

It is an interesting, notable change of pace for Mr. Beck, which is what drew me to it in the first place. Unfortunately, the truth is that these songs just don't hit me the way they used to. Here is my current problem with Sea Change: instead of the organic melancholy song-cycle that I once knew, it now sounds like a blatantly calculated attempt by Beck to make a "sensitive," "moving" album. I mean, he couldn't keep up with those goofy electro-phunk goodtime songs, right?? No, he needed to show that he was a SERIOUS SONGWRITER. As such, Sea Change is almost prototypical to me: a slow, somber, string-filled (ALLITERATION STRIKES AGAIN) piece of work, with simple arrangements and a sort of country-rock confessional vibe. It's almost the stereotypical broken-heart album - at least in Beck's eyes.

See, that's another problem; it sounds like Beck really wanted people to call this one a breakup album, so he made every song very low-key and sad and kind of samey. And admittedly, it bores me a little. Songs like "The Golden Age" (which to me now sounds like a less-interesting version of the Flaming Lips' "Five Stop Mother Superior Rain" - I've heard the similarities, and now I can't unhear them), "Guess I'm Doing Fine," or "Round The Bend" just don't do much for me. And most songs on the album sound like them! Let's take the Rolling Stone perspective here and compare Sea Change to maybe the most infamous breakup album of all time, Bob Dylan's Blood On The Tracks. Tracks has plenty of acoustic songs about heartbreak, but it's also got a goofy tall-tale, a bluesy shuffle, a 7-minute angry diatribe - it's got diversity up the ying-yang, is what I'm saying, not to mention that even Dylan's acoustic songs were often peppy and interesting even in moments of sadness. On Sea Change Beck's mood is unflinchingly monochromatic, and it doesn't make for much of an interesting listen for me, not to mention that his voice has the same sort of uninterested, low-key tone throughout the whole album. It makes me really wish he had thrown a wrench in there or two.

So yes, I am being a little negative about Sea Change. But I certainly don't hate this album - the songs are well-written, and if you give them a little time they are indeed compelling. I am very fond of several of the moodier songs on here, most notably "Paper Tiger," "Lonesome Tears" and the alluring "Little One." "Guess I'm Doing Fine" and "Lost Cause," while they do kind of scream "I AM A SENSITIVE SONGWRITER, SEE??", are very pleasing, nice songs. And I really dig "Sunday Sun" - it's kind of an unusual psych-rock dirge, ending with a weird drum-guitar rock freakout at the very end - a really unexpected moment in such a slow album.

Let's be honest: I find this album completely inoffensive, and often quite pretty. If you swear by this one, I will disagree with you, but I will respect your decision. I can understand why people like this record - hell, I really liked it back in the day! I just wish it grabbed me the way it used to. It might just be that this kind of music does not gratify me anymore. I need something with a little more "pizzaz" nowadays, music that takes a few more risks. I don't know. Dispute me if you must!! Lots of people LOVE this album.

But no, really, you should hear the Lips' "Five Stop Mother Superior Rain." It's like "The Golden Age" only totally wrecked. In a great way. Funny enough, the Lips themselves did a cover of "Golden Age," which I guess makes sense. Either way, I can never hear "Golden Age" without hearing "Five Stop" anymore. It is irreversible.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

In My Hour Of Weakness: REQUEST-A-REVIEW!!

Ladies in gentlemen, I, Sean Rose, need YOUR HELP.

Let me explain my situation. My usual review process for this blog is as thus: if there's something I like, or something recently released that I find compelling, I will review it. That's kind of it, I guess. As such, I feel my reviews have become a little too suck-upish and tame during the past few months, as I have mostly reviewed bands (and to a lesser extent, games and shows) that I am familiar with and genuinely like. To be honest, I am getting a little bored with this process!!

So here is what I am asking all of you. What do you want to see me review? Is there an album or song or whatever floating around out there that you just cannot WAIT to get Sean Rose's opinion on so you can know whether you should like it or not?? Then today is your lucky day, my friends. If you have a request, feel free to leave a comment in Facebook or Blogger, I don't care.

A few things about this exciting request service:

-I'm limiting requests to music (songs or albums, either are fine) because games and TV and film take a little too much time. Music is much easier for me to gain access to and review! And I probably know music better than anything else!! So stick to that you losers.

-I might not review everything that is requested of me, and for that I apologize. I am pretty much going to choose whatever requests interest me, and my review also really depends on whether or not I can GET the album or not.

-Expanding on the accessibility thing: unless you can send the album to me (or link me to a decent torrent), please try not to request something too obscure or hard to find/download! Because I will probably not review them!!

-I am going to be leaving campus in a couple days, and as such I will not have access to DC++'s superfast file-sharing capabilities. So it might take a while for me to review a certain album, even if I really want to review it. 'cuz torrents can be shaky!

-Last thing I promise: if you ask me to review an album/band/song you really like, and I trash them, PLEASE try to not get too upset! You asked for my opinion after all! Nothing personal.

So umm, I guess that's it. I am desperate, and I am calling upon my many many readers to gimme some tipzz. Comment away, and thanks again!

(P.S. if nobody comments in Facebook OR Blogger, the blog is shutting down. I give up. Sorry.)

(P.P.S. if you're tagged on Facebook, that's just 'cuz I figured you read this thing. Because you have commented before. Please feel free to ignore this post if you are offended by my tagging.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Comic Update Once More: "Sean Rose Receives a Visitor"

oh no here we go AGEN



It's a sequel to this comic, and if this post is still new you can probably just read it by scrolling down ya lazy bumm.

oh and a bonus extra comik for YOU



what a whackee situation!!

have a fun finals week, folks.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Album Review: "Music from the Adventures of Pete and Pete" by Polaris

Perhaps if you don't love and cherish The Adventures of Pete and Pete as much as I and most kids my age weaned on Nickelodeon do, this "Polaris" music might not appeal to you. Let me sum it up for you: mellow mid-90's alt-pop-rock with a kinda-sorta warbly voiced singer. There are 12 songs on here and most of them sound the same. If you aren't into this kind of music then you can just CHECK OUT right now.

But hey, this music serves as the soundtrack to one of my favorite television shows ever, so maybe the fact that every lovely little tune on here reminds me so strongly of Pete and Pete is feeding a bias strong enough for me to not see the EXCESSIVE MUSICAL SHORTCOMINGS present on this disc. But I don't think so - not only does this music fit the mood of the show to an almost impossible tee, it's also (at its worst) a collection of perfectly agreeable jangle-pop melodies. And, to me, it's a soundtrack to a bygone era - that of the mid-90's, which to me feels like some kind of ethereal, idealized wonderland. Childhood music, you see. Hearing this music, I think of suburban streets and cats I used to own. Maybe this is because Pete and Pete covered all these themes?? Probably.

And oh, the melancholy on this record. I feel it in my bones. Oh sure, you've got your poppy, zippy numbers: well-known Pete theme song "Hey Sandy," the catchy-as-hell "Saturnine," and the wonderful "Summerbaby" which was memorably used as Little Pete's long-lost favorite song in the show. But oh jeez, then there's the dreamy "She is Staggering," often used in romantic scenes in the show, and "Ivy Boy," with its vocal-less piano chorus that always puts me in an oddly reflective mood for some reason. Even peppier numbers like "Waiting For October" and "Coronado II" have this reflective, sad undercurrent showing through. Those echo-ey "ooooh-oh" vocals in the background of "Coronado"? Maaaan.

CONFESSION TIME: I listened to this album, "Ivy Boy" especially, shortly after I had to put my cat down this summer. He was fifteen years old, and memories of his life inevitably forced me to think about my old house and my old neighborhood. Somehow this music fit these memories like a glove. Maybe this explains something??

I love the first eight songs on here. The last four, I'm not as familiar with and I hardly listen to them. But they still evoke those same feelings. Jeez, it's weird reviewing an album like this - I have no idea how anybody either not familiar with the show or from the same generation as myself would feel about this music! It's so personal. It's like it mine. Journal music or something. I don't know, I'm rambling right now.

If you are a fan of the show, definitely pick it up. It's like you're listening to the show, I kid you not! But it's all kind of samey so you might not appreciate it as an album, per se. Maybe it's best listened to in small doses. But those small doses, man. It's a fine listen once in a while. A fine trip down memory lane.

Which makes me think: I didn't even like Pete and Pete all that much as a kid. I just didn't get it. I didn't actually fall in love with the show until maybe like 3 years ago. So as a kid, I did not know any of this music. And yet, it still makes me think of my childhood. How does this make any sense?? Is it just that common mid-90's sound? Oh, the mysteries of life.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another Comic Update: "Sean Rose Wikipedia Adventures #1"

oh no, writer's block! so I threw up another comic!!




sorry for the awful scanning job. dem's the breaks with a scanner/printer from hp.

real update commin' on soon, I promise.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Comic Update: "Sean Rose Ponders"



whipped up in lieu of a real update

what fun!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

One-Listen Review: "Dig Out Your Soul" by Oasis

Ladies and gentlemen, the Sean Rose well is beginning to run dry. Have you noticed? Have you noticed that, despite being halfway through the month already, I've only been able to drudge up a whopping TWO posts?? Dear Lord, the music world is crumbling around me. I can't think of anything to write about anymore. No stupid piddly little semi-obscure albums from the late 70's to drool over. I can't think of any more that would be shocking or original or show off my fantastically broad musical tastes without making me look like a self-important jackass.

So here's my attempt to be modern: I'm listening to the new Oasis album. That's the best I can do. No modern indie, no Vampire Weekend or Hold Steady or any of those hot young studs. Jesus, a Lil Wayne review would probably be more relevant to rock 'n roll than friggin' Oasis right now. BUT HERE I AM LISTENING TO NEW OASIS FOR SOME REASON.

I don't even listen to Oasis. I kind of like "Cigarettes and Alcohol" as a guilty pleasure, even though (read: because?) it blatantly steals the main riff from "Bang a Gong." "Some Might Say" and "Don't Look Back In Anger" are still good songs. "She's Electric" is a cute number. "Wonderwall" isn't that great because Liam Gallagher has kind of an asshole of a voice - I don't know why they didn't have Noel sing more songs. His voice is much nicer!! But no, they stuck with Liam. Have you ever heard him sing the word "shine"? He sings it like "SHYYYYYYYYEENE." It gets on your nerves after a while.

Listen, it's OK if you sound like an asshole when you sing. Steve Malkmus sounds like an asshole 90 percent of the time and I love his voice to death. Liam Gallagher though, nahh. I don't buy it.

How 'bout a quick Dig Out Your Soul questionnaire? I bet you are dying to hear about the new Oasis record.

DO OASIS STILL SUCK?
I guess so?

IS THERE AN EQUIVALENT TO "LYLA" ON THIS ALBUM?
Not yet.

WHAT ARE THE STANDOUTS ON THIS RECORD?
"Shock of Lightning" is okay. Everything else sounds drenched in Britpopian murk right now.

WHAT ARE THE SURE-FIRE STINKERS ON THIS RECORD?
Listen, I've never heard anything past Be Here Now. I don't know Oasis. I'm not an Oasexpert. If you are an Oasis scholar, like those guys at allmusic or something, please send me and e-mail and let me know if the new Oasis record stands up to their earlier work. To me it's all runtogether.

HAVE YOU EVEN FINISHED LISTENING TO THE RECORD YET?
no

WELL OK, LET'S TALK ABOUT YOU, SEAN. WHAT MUSICAL BUSINESS HAVE YOU BEEN UP TO RECENTLY??
Well let's take a look at my iTunes Recently Added, shall we??

Oasis - Dig Out Your Soul: Yeah moving on
AC/DC - Let There Be Rock: "Whole Lotta Rosie" is pretty rad. But then there's "Problem Child" which I already have off Dirty Deeds? Why American record labels??
Vertical Horizon - "Best I Ever Had": A classic VH ballad I completely forgot about. This song makes me realize that the 90's alt-rock movement eventually turned into a more boring version of pop metal. This song could've easily been a Poison song. And probably would've been more exciting!!
AC/DC - Powerage: No not again.
AC/DC - Highway To Hell: YEAHHHHHHH
Big Black - Atomizer: Cool SCREECH SCREECH ARRGH album. But I haven't heard it in a while. Steve Albini might be kind of a cynical dlick but he's got a good sense of riffage! Just loud and noisy and all that.

Maybe I should amp up this blog. I'm getting more readership. My hits have been up to almost 100 people per day. Sure, they're mostly people who are mistakenly referred here from a Michael Jackson album cover and stick around for less than or equal to five seconds a person, but HEY. MAKE I CAN MAKE THEM STICK AROUND!!

DO YOU LIKE FUNNY PICTURES??



TODAY IS YOUR LUCKY DAY!!

Bottom Line: Oasis. They're Oasis. They have a new album out. I stopped listening to it. It's alright I guess. If anybody wants to listen to the rest of the record after the "Falling Down" song, please send in your fantastic e-review. I would love to hear it.

Next week: More reminiscings on old video games I played as a kid that you probably don't give a shit about! GET EXCITED!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Album Review: "Powerage" by AC/DC

No really it's a good album, please don't let the cover spook you!!

When I hear a song like "Riff Raff," a key Powerage track, I become convinced that the reason AC/DC are so beloved is not that they pull out a great riff for almost every song they've ever done - it's that they pull out three or four. In "Riff Raff" alone, there's probably around five, maybe six if you count the bassline: there's the opening guitar salvo, the main riff, that little uppity figure before each verse, the outro riff... one after the other, they just keep blasting through you relentlessly until you're left thinking, "JEE-sus, cut it out! The song's already awesome enough, you beautiful Aussie motherfuckers."

Yes, in case you couldn't tell, I've been in quite the AC/DC mood recently. Maybe it's fleeting, and maybe by the time I'm finished with this post I'll be completely sick of them. Maybe I'll finally submit and say something stupid like, "UGH they just keep writing the SAME STUPID hard rock song OVER AND OVER." But I don't think I would just lie to myself like that.

Powerage doesn't have any hits on it, which is probably why it's one of AC/DC's lesser-known releases - not to mention it was released before Highway to Hell and Back in Black, two of their most definitive and beloved releases. Powerage is what you could call AC/DC's "cult" album, held in lovingly high regard by Bon Scott-era AC/DC aficionados. Since this was the band's last album produced by Vanda/Young, tossed to the wayside in favor of the more mainstream Mutt Lange for the next few albums, people consider this to be their last "rough" album, offering a grittier sound beyond the poppy sheen of their later releases - their last "pure" album, some might say. This is all arguable - AC/DC have always had the same basic sound, rough or not, for their entire career - but it's hard to argue that Powerage was overlooked, and it shouldn't have been.

Just look at the album's tracklisting. You've probably never heard any of these songs before (I sure hadn't), but man, they're almost all great. And in ways you might not even expect from a so-called "simple" hard rock band like AC/DC: "Rock 'n Roll Damnation" is a perfect Rolling Stones-esque boogie, "Sin City" is a creepy hard rock dirge, the aforementioned "Riff Raff" is a punk-worthy guitarfest, "Gone Shootin'" is a cool groove-rocker. Maybe the most unexpected piece of hard-rock bliss here is "Down Payment Blues," maybe the best mid-tempo song AC/DC ever attempted: at six minutes, it features a seductive riff good enough to probably keep your attention for much longer than six minutes. And Bon Scott - AC/DC's first and most entertaining lead singer - delivers some purely badass lyrics: "I know I ain't doin' much / doin' nothin' means a lot to me / livin' on a shoestring / a fifty-cent millionaire / open to charity / rock 'n roller welfare." All sung in this kind of low, cool growl. And there's some great basic AC/DC rockers on here too: "Gimme A Bullet" (featuring the immortal chorus "Gimme a Bullet to bite on / and I'll make believe it's you"), "What's Next To the Moon?," "Up To My Neck In You" and "Kicked In The Teeth" are greats all (even if the latter song there kinda steals the riff from "Let There Be Rock," but it's still pretty cool).

I don't know. It's the little things. The way Bon Scott suddenly does this "HAW HAW HAW!" thing in the middle of "Riff Raff." The kinda-sorta handclaps littered throughout "Rock 'n Roll Damnation." That random bluesy riff that comes out of nowhere near the end of "Down Payment Blues." The bass-only breakdown in "Sin City." It's all just so damn cool. Pure cool-rock. Apparently Powerage was Keith Richards' favorite AC/DC record. I have no idea if that's true - every review of the album I've read has cited him as a fan, but I haven't seen any solid proof. People also say that Dick Clark has a copy of Third Reich 'n Roll framed in his office, but who the fuck knows if that's true? Who fact-checks these reviews?? Either way Powerage definitely has that Stonesy vibe, so if Richards was a fan I wouldn't be surprised.

Listen. If you want to walk down the street and feel like a total badass, no matter who you are, just get some AC/DC on your iPod. Powerage ain't a bad place to start. It's a perfect blend of Bon Scott's theatrically devilish sleaze and Angus and Malcolm Young's mastery of the Pure Hard Rock Riff. How the fuck did they keep up with this riffage for so long?? God only knows.

Hey. I bet you thought I was gonna talk about Black Ice in this post? Ehh?? Hah, no. I only know one song from that record, "Rock 'n Roll Train." And admittedly, it's pretty good, and Brian Johnston is in shockingly good voice for a 61 year old. The guitar sounds a little wimpier than I expected, but it's solid nonetheless. But man, if you want some rippin', organic early AC/DC, Powerage is choice. None of that Mutt Lange sheen. A rip-roarin' misogynistic fantasy of a good time.

(Oh, and you should really check out this live performance of "Riff Raff" so you know what the hell I'm talking about here. I can't embed it 'cuz it's disabled. Just watch for yourself. Don't we all need this kind of music? All the time??)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Album Review: "I Get Wet" by Andrew W.K.

Don't worry folks. It's just pig's blood.


If you want to have a big rock 'n roll party hit in the 2000s - one that will be played ad nauseum by irony-loving college students at parties for years to come - logic would dictate that it would have to be big, loud, and ridiculously campy. At least that's been the trend: the Darkness' "I Believe in a Thing Called Love," Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl," the Electric Six's "Danger! High Voltage" and the Killers' entire discography* are big fat attention-getters all. In the age of r'n'b and rap's dominance, rock 'n roll seems to appeal more to mainstream tastes when it's presented as novelty - a fun, goofy diversion reminding folks of a bygone era. (Of course, this is also the decade of Coldplay, so maybe I have no idea what I'm talking about.)

Andrew W.K., more than anybody in the world, is guilty of propagating this trend. Once the absolutely insane "Party Hard" hit America's airwaves, the world was never quite the same. It was one of those rare songs that appealed to critics and jocks alike - critics heard it as an utterly bloated parody of macho party rock, and jocky dudes just viewed it as a badass party anthem. This, of course, raised the eternal question: was this "Andrew W.K" just a big joke, or did he take this whole party-hearty persona seriously?

The answer - surprise surprise! - is somewhere in between. W.K., clearly, understands that what he is doing is ridiculous, and yet his dedication to making his ridiculous music as infectious and funny as possible obviously shows that he views it as much more than an ironic joke. The way I see it, the guy wants to make party anthems that are as funny as they are sing-alongable, and I Get Wet is a success on these terms. Most critics will tell you that every song on this album is essentially the same - they're all adrenaline-fueled, processed-guitar-filled, shouted anthems encouraging constant partying and beer guzzling. And for the most part, this is true, and it isn't a bad thing because the formula is fun as a nugget - it's the kind of album that begs to be blasted at parties. What makes the songs funny, though, is the way they're presented; almost every song on the album kicks off with a goofy 80's styled non-rock instrument intro (the cheesy horns in the title track, the Casio keyboard in "Ready to Die," the epic synth strains in "Don't Stop Living In The Red") and dependably kicks into high gear with lightning-fast beats, giant guitars and W.K.'s constantly howled lyrics. It's kind of hard to take this music 100 percent seriously when the intros are so self-consciously silly.

Maybe the funniest aspect of I Get Wet is Andrew W.K.'s personality - throughout the album, you get the impression that this guy just wants to get the fuck down and have a good time, and absolutely NOTHING is going to stop him. It doesn't even matter if he isn't singing about partying; while you might expect "Ready to Die" to be some dark metallic epic or "She Is Beautiful" to be a power ballad, both burst through with the same irrepressibly positive energy as the rest of the album. Hearing W.K. shout lyrics like "I never knew girls existed like you / but now that I do, I'd really like to get to know you" with full frat-boy sincerity is just very very funny.

I Get Wet is a very pop-oriented album, though. Beyond the frat-rock novelty, there are some really fun, catchy songs here that aren't simply "Party Hard" rewrites - "Girls Own Love," with its hilariously misogynist lyrics ("You've got to make her understand / That you are a man"), seems almost like a stab at power-pop, and the over-the-top "Got To Do It," a synth-horn-laden tribute to overcoming all of life's obstacles, might be one of my favorites on the album. He even attempts bizarre electro-pop on "Fun Night," which makes a lot more sense when you hear it than it does on paper. Despite these fun little diversions, however, the overall feeling of the album is still epic party-rock, and what makes I Get Wet so damned special is its positivity. There is no angst, no depression, no darkness to be found here; it's just one big party. "Party Hard", despite its slight over-playedness, might be one of my favorite songs of this decade just because it is THE perfect party anthem - fast, incomprehesibly loud, and funny as hell. If I am drunk at a good party, I will not stop bitching until this song is played. Pure and simple.

This album came out in 2001, but Andrew W.K.'s dream of one big, long, stupid party is still something we need in 2008. I'm a little upset that his output petered out after 2003's The Wolf (which I still haven't heard) because this kind of formula is something I imagine would be a lot of fun to hear again every few years, not unlike AC/DC or the Ramones. In the age of Mars Volta and Muse, the concept of one big ol' party sounds more and more appealing. Hell, it's always appealing.

Bottom line: if you don't like Andrew W.K. GROW A FUCKING PAIR YOU PANSY-MAN, THIS SHIT IS KILLER!!!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Wonderful Wurld of Webcomixx: KC Green

if you don't find this funny maybe we shouldn't be friends

I'd like to take more time to discuss my favorite webcomics in this blog, because there are so, so many that I like that I would feel guilty not talking about them. Especially considering that I read them and enjoy them every day. Oh sure, I'm all to quick to start bitching all over webcomics I can't stand, and admittedly I still feel there's a lot of crappy comics out there. But dems the internet brakes.

And of course, as I will always say, it is much more enjoyable to talk about things I like than things I don't like. Hence, Mr. KC Green.

KC Green is a very talented cartoonist. I guess that's an easy way of summing him up. Here's another: KC Green seems like the sort of cartoonist that was custom-made for me to enjoy. For starters he has a very sharp, yet very goofy sense of humor that I am instinctively drawn to - for every comic he makes about Euclid, he'll make another about pouring an ant farm on a fat man's honey-smeared ass. He makes some choice "nerd humor" references - Portal, Sailor Moon and stray internet jokes have weeded themselves into his works at various points - but he never hammers them into your head obnoxiously, like far too many webcomics out there. He employs a healthy dose of meta-humor into his work (most notably in his autobio comic Horribleville), but it's never any of that staring-at-the-reader "HOLY SHIT I'M IN A WEBCOMIC! BREAKIN' DAT FOURTH WALL!!" bullshit used by lesser artists. And as much as I enjoy the so-called "whackiness" of his art style (which to me looks somewhat inspired by John K. or Shmorky), Mr. Green has good sense not to overdo things. He makes visual strips with a serious flair, but he doesn't overload your senses with super-nutty faces or characters doing HA-WHACKYYY things.

What it comes down to, though, is that there is a real underlying sweetness permeating throughout Mr. Green's work - despite many of his comics being filled with bizarro violence or rampant negativity, they're all relatable in some way. Take this Horribleville strip, for example; yes, it features Mr. Green slicing his throat open and splattering his mangled body onto the windshield of a schoolbus full of children, but beyond the horrifying violence there's that sweet, sad desire to be remembered in some way. KC has something of a famously self-deprecating personality, one that shows often in Horribleville and many of his other comics. Which might be why he's grounded enough not to make himself look like a high-and-mighty prick in his comics - drawing yourself in a comic is kind of a risky thing to do, and he pulls it off well.

Aww jeez.

Listen, I'll be honest here. I am very jealous of KC Green. The guy is my age (maybe a LITTLE older, but born in '87 so that's enough for me) and he is prodigiously talented at what he does. Since I started working on an autobio comic for my campus newspaper, I have often become embarrassed with my work just by thinking, "Jesus KC Green would make this idea much funnier." And yet his humility matches his talent; if you ever catch him perusing the Something Awful forums or read his Twitter, you will find that he is a very nice guy and is, unfortunately, very hard on himself. This comes through in his work all the time, and maybe this is what drives him to make so many goddamned comics.

My message to Mr. Green - YOU ARE A BRILLIANT MAN. I, Sean Rose, famed internet music/bullshit blogger, am incredibly jealous of you. Please keep making comics.

If you want to dip into Mr. Green's work, the aforementioned Horribleville would probably be your best bet, as it's a great window into his personality. Alternately, if you like your comics short and sweet, you should check out his daily three-panel strip Gun Show, featuring some of the absolute funniest so-called "mini-comics" I've probably ever read (if you like that buttfuckin' comic I featured at the top of the page, you should dig the rest). He also runs a custom comic service, so if you throw a few bucks his way you can have your very own KC Green comic! And YOU can suggest the theme!! Ain't that great??

I have an idea about a guy that is actually sexually excited by Atari porn. Whenever I have a decent amount of money, I'll probably throw some KC's way. Because whatever comic I get back from him is pretty much 99% guaranteed to be funny. (%1 not because maybe he'll be tired or something.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Albums I Haven't Heard In A Long While: "Doolittle" by the Pixies

Heavy symbolism.

It's still the only Pixies album I own. Why I don't know! It's creative as all get out and I loved it the moment I first heard it. That was three and a half years ago. WHATTT??

Let's tally up the album count here. Because this isn't right. I like to fancy myself a "hip" music reviewer, full of sweet good taste. I mean, I'm telling you what music to listen to, right?? So I've gotta be hip, or else you'd have no reason to listen to me! So keep this in mind: I have ONE Pixies album. The Pixies were one of the biggest influences on 90's alt-rock ever. They are still considered one of the most important and influential rock bands of the past two decades or so.

And I have ONE of their albums. Here's a few bands that I have more albums of than the Pixies:

- Blur (four)
- Hanson (four, no shit!!)
- Coldplay (three)
- David Cross (two, and I don't even listen to those albums anymore!)
- Green Day (...um, three. Yeah, I know)
- Paul McCartney solo (two, more like TWO TOO MANY) (actually no I like those albums)
- New Radicals (Well ok, only one, but I've listened to it more than this Pixies album according to iTunes so yeah)

Jeezum crackers. You've heard it here, folks: Sean Rose prefers Coldplay and Hanson over the Pixies. TELL ALL YOUR LOCAL BLOGGER NEWS BLOGS.

So Doolittle. Kicks ass. Starts off with the nutzoid one-two-three punch of "Debaser," "Tame," and "Wave of Mutilation," and doesn't let up from there. The first and third aforementioned are more Pixies pop, but "Tame," oh man. That song as the greatest vocals ever: Frank Black whispers creepily in the verses, and then SCREAMS AT THE TOP OF HIS GODDAMNED LUNGS in every verse, and man it's so cool. That's a Nirvana trick! Now you see where it comes from!! And that part where Frank Black stops after one of the verses and starts doing that rhythmic breathy singing that sounds like he's stopping for air, with Kim Deal singing over it? And that part right after that where he launches right back into the "TAAAAAAAAME!" scream? THAT IS. Cool.

"Here Comes Your Man" is still my favorite song on here. Always has been, always will be. As creepy and shouty and scary as the Pixies could make themselves, they always had surprisingly strong pop instincts, and this song is probably the closest they ever got to a happy-dappy pop song. And I LOVE it! It's got the funniest, loopiest little riff that dips in and out of the whole thing, and Frank Black and Kim Deal's vocals are so strong and happy I just want to kill myself.

Otherwise, there's still some great creeper-rock tracks on here. "Dead"? "I Bleed"? "Crackity Jones"? Kim Deal's "Silver"? All jagged, minor-key, noisy creepouts that are also real catchy. Again, pop instincts about whether they like it or not - like the groovy bridge of "Dead". But they've also got some cool, laid-back rockers like "Hey," some goofy funny moments like "Mr. Grieves" and "La La Love You" (featuring cat-call whistling and "SHAKE YOUR BUTT!" incantations), and even some weirdly poignant numbers like the epic "Monkey Gone To Heaven," perhaps the Pixies' definitive piece of gospel. And then there's "Gouge Away," which might as well be a Nirvana song. I mean that in a good way.

Umm, well I'd like to discuss Kim Deal for a moment. For all you non-Pixiesologists, she was their bassist and other chief vocalist/songwriter, offering a lilting, melodic female vocal counterpoint to Frank Black's screeching, demented wail. She was important, damnit! Her basslines are ALL OVER this album! A lot of the time, her basslines form the melodic BASS-IS (haha jokes) of most of the songs. And they're all cool! And Frank Black barely put her songs on their later albums - this one only has "Silver" which I've honestly never really liked all that much, so I always kinda wrote her off. But I just heard Pod by the Breeders, her side-project recorded about a year after Doolittle, and damn is it cool. So props to Kim Deal.

God, what do I know? I don't have Surfer Rosa. I've never listened to it before. I have no credibility on this matter. I don't have an excuse - I've had Doolittle for three years and I haven't bothered with anything else. I'm too deep in the hole now to save my credibility. So I'll only direct this review to people who have never heard of the Pixies: this album is good, so buy it! They were the most ripped-off band of the 90's! And don't buy it just 'cause they had a song in Fight Club. Honestly, there are still people in this country who will refer to the Pixies as "that Fight Club band." Can you believe that shit? These are the same people that listen to the Toadies and 311 unironically. You have no reason to trust them.

Now if you don't mind I'm going to put on Coldplay's classic record Parachutes. That "Yellow" number really shakes me up.

(P.S.: You can buy this ENTIRE album in Rock Band. DO IT DO IT! STOP BUYING SHITTY COHEED SONGS AND BUY "DOOLITTLE" YOU USELESS FUCKS!!)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Few Words on Chrono Trigger

(DISCLAIMER: When I can't think of anything music-related to write about here, I end up blabbering about old video games. But if you've been keeping up with this blog for a while, you probably already gathered this. Ah, creativity!)

Chrono Trigger will probably always be one of my all-time favorite RPGs, which makes it all the more confusing to me why I haven't finished a playthrough of it in at least five years. I guess I could just blame familiarity; I've played through the opening segments of the game so often, I get sick of it early and become easily distracted by some new game (well, maybe "sick" is too mean of an adjective - but when you keep starting the same game over and over again for almost a decade I guess it's apt). So my most recent experiences with Chrono Trigger have consisted of firing up the usual ROM, playing 'till the trial part or the future part or wherever, and promptly dropping the game totally after the initial urge dies out. The last time this happened was a couple years ago, where I started maybe my briefest Trigger playthrough ever, quickly sweeping to the side in the wake of my sudden Zelda infatuation after barely starting it. In short, Trigger and I have had a very frustrating stop-start relationship that hasn't gone anywhere in years; the romantic spark we once had has faded into the ether.

Oh, okay, expanding on that metaphor (this is a good one): Chrono Trigger and I had a mutual break-up some years ago, but we still - awkwardly - meet for coffee once in a while. Every couple years one of us will try to convince the other that maybe we could hook back up, have it like it used to be, but y'know, it never pans out. Then I go off and fuck many other beautiful women.

Y'know let's just end the metaphor here. Bad idea from the start.

Chrono Trigger is still a great game. And I still love it. It makes most earlier Final Fantasy games (with the exception of maybe 6) look stiff and boring by comparison. Its story dabbles in some common JRPG-anime pretentiousness once in a while, but it hardly ever bogs things down (unlike its sequel, Chrono Cross, which I still kinda like but c'mon that story made no fucking sense). Chrono Trigger's charm lies in the fact that it doesn't take itself too seriously, keeping its characters chipper and fun even in the wake of large spikey lotus monsters bringing forth Ultimate Apocalypse. And in retrospect, its gameplay feels much more flexible than most Final Fantasy games, removing obnoxious random world map battles and incorporating weapon range and multi-character attacks into the usual Square RPG formula. It has one of the best soundtracks in game history (par the course for Square RPGS of the period) and has that whole multiple-ending-new-game-plus thing that makes it all the more replayable. Oh, and it's also one of the best looking games on the system, utilizing every last wonderful detail of later-day SNES technology.

So yeah, Chrono Trigger has a lot going for it. Most people know this, which is why it's one of those super-duper rare SNES cartridges you've gotta pay 100+ buckos for on eBay. So why have I replayed Final Fantasy VII and VIII so many more times, games that have - both graphically and gameplay-wise - aged much worse than the nigh-timeless Trigger? OH lordy lord I don't know.

But now Trigger's finally getting the DS remake it deserves, so I feel like it's somehow appropriate to take another whack at it. But I'm playin' on a ROM - Trigger was the first game I ever emulated, and I like to keep up the tradition. But now I've gotta worry about this fancy new remake, which will make it very, very awkward if I finally finish the game completely and I somehow end up getting the remake as a Christmas gift. Oh ho ho that would kind of suck.

Well, um, that's it. I haven't updated in a week and this is all I've got to show for it - a piddly little post generically lauding Chrono Trigger, a game that everybody else has already praised to the high heavens.

Tune in next week when I write a complimentary article about this "Beatles" group I just heard about.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Albums I Haven't Heard In a Long While: "Franz Ferdinand" by Franz Ferdinand

Umm so your cover's BORING!!!!!!


Franz Ferdinand was a high school album to dance to. That's my first thought of it, off the top of my head. All of my friends and myself were awkward kids obsessed with classic rock and hand-picked modern indie; we didn't buy into the whole "crunk," "R and the B" business. I think that Usher/Lil John "Yeah!" song had just come out the same year, and we weren't hoppin' on that train. Some friends of ours were - cooler, more socially acceptable people were - but not us Kinks-lovin' cracker dweebs! We needed some ROCK 'n ROLL to dance to! Some HIP rock 'n roll. That got a good rating on ALLMUSIC DOT COM.

Franz Ferdinand was a pop-rock-dance album that got four stars on Allmusic.com. And like a 9 from Pitchfork! And we could put it on at parties and not look like a bunch if pop-hating whiny-vocal indie loving freakazoids. Because EVERYBODY dug the Franz back then! ("Then" being 2004.) That included kids who ONLY listened to modern r'n'b crunx and kids like us who could barely stand much of anything past 1980. "Take Me Out" was such a hit! It was everywhere! And it ROCKED! "Dark of the Matinee" was so COOL! "Darts of Pleasure" had a KICKIN' BEET! "Michael" was about SCOTTISH GAY PEOPLE! There was not an un-loose hip in the house when Franz Ferdinand popped on the stereo. Interpol sure as HELL weren't dancin' like this! Oh we all loved this album.

Then I actually sat down and listened to it, and realized it was one of the worst records I'd ever heard.

...ah-HA! Nah, just kidding, I still kinda like it. Although it is notable that, despite not owning Franz Ferdinand for a full two years after it came out, I still knew it front-to-back before then. Because my friends would put it on at parties so danged much!! But that's OK. It's a party album! So it makes PERFECT sense.

Franz Ferdinand is quite the hooky record. I guess it was the beginning of that whole "80's pop revival" craze that the Killers eventually capitalized on (Brandon Flowers didn't start it, he is a moron*), so the pop rock found here is littered with Gang of Four-esque beats and the sultry, coy vocals of Alex Kapranos, who makes every lyric of the album sound positively gaytastic. There's lots of beats to go around, too, which is why this here's a DANCIN' album! "This Fire," "Darts of Pleasure," "Take Me Out," "Auf Achse," all perfectly danceable. And you can see why "Take Me Out" was such a hit - I still really dig the way the song TOE-tally changes from the opening boogie to that cool, slowed-down riff!

Having said all this I never ever listen to this album. Barely ever. Even when I first got it, I listened to it like twice and forgot about it, shuffled it off. Why? I don't know. It's not a remarkably substantial album, at least to these ears. It's cute, it's catchy, it's got a beat you can pop on at a party, but I just can't imagine myself listening to it over and over again when there's much more invigorating dance-rock out there. And listening to it now, aspects of it bug me that didn't bug me before - the psuedo-sultriness of Kapranos's voice, the slight post-punk faddishness, the kinda silly lyrics ("You can feel her lips undress your eyes"? I know, it's supposed to be cleverly stupid, but eh). I think it's the unfortunate combination of me having already heard it about fifty-eight (trying to be accurate here) times before I even bought the damn thing, and the unrelenting ravages of Mother Time that make me view Franz Ferdinand in this way.

But I'm being mean and giving off the impression that I think the album sucks. It doesn't! And it's a helluva lot more exciting and fun than most indie rock, to the point where I think it's silly to even classify it as "indie." It's POP! Dance-pop!! It's just not totally my bag anymore. I'm not seventeen anymore and I can't get easily wowed by modern indie-dance-rock-whatever music like this. It's the curse of growing for four years. Also the Arcade Fire's Funeral dropped in 2004, rendering all other pieces of music obsolete (I only have the mental capacity to really really like ONE ALBUM PER YEAR, okay??).

Oh jeez, I'm just remembering when You Could Have It So Much Better came out like a little over a year after the first album, and everybody was so goshdamned excited. Man, surely the Franz would have the same work ethic of those great classic rock bands of old, recording and touring constantly while releasing a new album every year. SAVIORS OF ROCK 'n ROLLLLL!

And of course they haven't put out shit since. WHOOP. I mean, they have a new album coming out NOW, but not until January 2009. That's still a while chief!!!

Anyway. Please don't get angry at me for saying mean Franz words. Go ahead and share your Franzmemories with me! At least they're better than those fucking Arctic Monkeys! (By this I mean they can actually write a hook that isn't overly-wordy and obnoxious)

*Sorry. Every few posts.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

So If You're Really Bored And On Youtube

Search for "Johnny Rotten."



It doesn't matter whether you like Johnny Rotten or not. Or if you care about the Sex Pistols, or PiL, or any of them. The truth is that Johnny Rotten is a hilariously cartoonish asshole, and whenever there's a video camera on him he reacts by making a complete fool out of himself as much as possible.



You'll find videos of him as an angry young man, being downright mean and standoffish to interviewers. You'll find videos of him on awkward mid-80's low-rent video shows hocking his latest PiL album. And best yet, you'll find videos of him as a crotchety old man on Judge Judy.



It's a fantastic journey.

I'll have an actual album review up here some point soon.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Blast From Seanrose's Past: The Great Zelda Playthrough

WIND WAKER LINK IS STILL THE BEST OKAY??

A couple of years back I decided, in an unprecedented fit of pure fanboy determination, that I would play through every single Legend of Zelda game ever made. I had just watched through most of GameTrailers' comprehensive Zelda Retrospective and I was immediately inspired - it felt like something lodged in my brain for years had finally been set loose. I suddenly remembered that, hey, Zelda's pretty great, I loved Zelda when I was a kid, and whoa there's all these other Zelda games I've never played! Why not play them all? Why have I waited so long??

And so I did. I was playing Chrono Trigger at the time but I didn't care. I found my borrowed copy of the GBA Link to the Past remake and never looked back. By the time I finished Wind Waker about a year later, I had beaten every Zelda game in the book (with the exception of Zelda 2 and Four Swords, neither of which I could grab a copy of).

It was quite exciting at first. My Grand Zelda Playthrough kicked off amidst a dizzy haze of sudden, rampant fanboyism, the likes of which I hadn't experienced since middle school. The Wii was about to come out, and along with it Twilight Princess; as such, the excitement of this great new technology - with this great new Zelda game - was palpable. For whatever reason, I started talking about my newfound love of Zelda to anybody who would listen. Friends, family, you name it. Hell, I even started blabbering about Zelda in this very blog, as if I were determined to make an idiot out of myself in every possible way. I even wrote a really stupid Zelda fanfic that, while kinda-sorta intended to be a parody, is pretty indicative of the overwhelmingly nerdy state I was in at the time. Man, I was obsessed.

So why was I so Zelda-nuts? Well, there's the aforementioned Wii thing, that had a part in it. But it was much more than that. This was back in late 2006, and I was still reeling after my house fire (yeah, sorry, I gotta bring that up again). As such, a lot of the games I was playing through at that point were nihilistic, hopeless, darkly violent excursions: God of War, Resident Evil 4, and especially Half-Life, which might have one of the most hopeless video game endings I've ever witnessed. Simply put, I needed an uplift, and what better game to uplift me than The Legend of Zelda? A game series I'd adored in middle school and casually ignored for at least five years? It was my first chance to really appreciate some of my all-time favorite games from the perspective of an adult. Well, a kinda-sorta adult.

So I had it all planned out - I'd beat Wind Waker last, and write one big, comprehensive blog post reviewing every single game I'd played through. Oh, it was gonna be great, I tell you. But it never materialized. By the time I finished Wind Waker, I was tired of it all. That unflappable enthusiasm I'd had in spades a year later was starting to burn out. All that remains of my grand, glorious Zelda Retrospective lies in this one blog post I shat out while I was still playing through Ocarina of Time, and it's quite embarrassing, mostly because I was vainly attempting to imitate Lester Bangs. Bad move.

So what did I learn from this playthrough? God, I don't even know. Here's what I remember right off the top of my head: Link to the Past and Ocarina of Time have the best dungeons. Every portable Zelda I played through was great, including Minish Cap which was much much better than I expected it to be (Phantom Hourglass wasn't out at the time). Twilight Princess was worth it, but had a pretty shitty plot. And Wind Waker's ending still almost brings a tear to my eye, every single time. That's it.

Oh, I'm sure something else will come up. I still haven't played through Phantom Hourglass, so maybe that'll bring back my Zelda nerdism with a vengeance. Maybe I'll review it in this very blog! Who knows. I still love Zelda, and I'll always love Zelda. That'll never change. But chances are I will never love a video game series as strongly and unfalteringly as I did back then. Ever again.

With the exception of maybe Plok.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Album Review: "Exile on Main St." by the Rolling Stones

Where's the zipper?? AHA. (Hilarious Rolling Stones jokes.)


Aye, this blog is in serious danger of turning into an ass-kiss-fest. If you haven't been keeping up, feel free to rifle through some of my most recent reviews - all positive! That Tom Petty album? LOVED it! Paul Westerberg's? Man, man, did I slobber all over that one. Shit, I even got my panties all in a bunch over a HANSON album!! Can you believe that? The last time I actually grew a pair and ripped on something was the new Weezer album, like two months ago. And NOBODY liked that album! Fish in a fuckin' barrel! I tell you, if I'm gonna veer this blog away from the stinking pit of stagnation, I've gotta start getting more bitter. And fast.

Having said that, here's a blindingly positive review of a Rolling Stones album that everybody knows but I've only listened to like once.

Listen, I'm not even a huge Rolling Stones fan. Why else would I not bother to listen to Exile On Main Street for so many years, despite all its accolades? I mean, I've been actively listening to the Rolling Stones since my senior year of high school, and I still dig Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed after all this time. But truth me told, I was too busy being swept off my feet by the masterful pop of the Beatles and the gob-smacking power-rock of the Who (not to mention the beautiful whimsy of the Kinks) to really pay much attention to the Stones. Hell, in comparison they almost seemed like also-rans more than grade-A Sixties rockers; to me, they couldn't do pop nearly as well as the Beatles and they couldn't kick ass in a live setting anywhere near as powerfully as the Who. They just seemed like generic rockers that flailed any time they attempted diversity - as much as I enjoyed most of their blues, country and psychedelic workouts, they always seemed more kitschy than they should've been. So to me, the only original sound the Stones had lied in their raunchy blues-oriented bar-rock, which to me lost its luster after a while. Maybe because so many bands have co-opted the same sound for so many years.

So the Stones slowly but surely drifted off my radar. Once I got up to Sticky Fingers, a record I enjoyed but hardly fell in love with, I kinda-sorta stopped following them. Exile was an unfortunate casualty of my fickle nature - I mean, why listen to the Stones when I had all these Kinks albums I had to discover? And nobody's touting them as the "World's Greatest Rock 'n Roll Band."

But now I've listened to Exile all the way through and, man, this is everything the Rolling Stones should sound like. I think one of the Stones' weirdest contradictions - one I never understood hearing Let It Bleed - was their glorification of hedonistic excess married with traditional American roots music, like gospel or blues. How can you put a sicko sex-anthem like "Stray Cat Blues" on the same album as a working-class hymn like "Salt of the Earth"? How can you put "Live With Me" on the same album as "You Can't Always Get What You Want"? They seemed to almost cancel each other out. When you put on Exile, though, it all starts to make sense. If the Stones were searching for a soul in Banquet through Sticky Fingers, it sounds like they've found it in Exile - they've found salvation buried beneath the shallow rock 'n roll lifestyle, the soulless exercise of shatting out rock hit after rock hit year after year. Corny-sounding, I know, but that's what I hear when I hear Exile.

For all the lofty language I'm using here, I don't want to obscure the fact that Exile is an excessively fun listen. Compare it to Sticky Fingers or Let It Bleed, where the nutty good-time rockers are tempered with creepy blues workouts or dark hard rockers - a "Bitch" for every "Brown Sugar," if you will. But just hearing Exile's first side shows that we're in for something different here: opener "Rocks Off" is perfect Stones sleaze, followed by the fastest, funniest, most indecipherably infections bar-band rocker this band could ever come up with, "Rip This Joint." Then you've got blues-boogie ("Shake Your Hips" and "Casino Boogie"), and finally the absolute apex of the Stones' soul workouts, "Tumbling Dice." In the aforementioned track, you'll hear soulful female backup vocals, killer riffing, incredible energy all the way through - it's perfect gospel-rock, something the Stones had incorporated in various degrees in the past but never in such a pure, effortless fashion.

Oh, but things change a bit after the boundless enthusiasm of "Tumbling Dice." Things wear down a bit. "Sweet Virginia," eh? "Torn and Frayed." Kinda sad songs. But the good times aren't over! Sure, these songs are kinda sad and reflective, but still playful, catchy, and sweet - not unlike the Beatles Let It Be, it's the sound of the Stones sitting around in your basement, getting drunk and playing some goodtime tunes in the wee hours of the night. Past "Torn and Frayed," Exile continuously switches gears: sweet folk ("Sweet Black Angel"), wonderfully poppy rock 'n roll ("Happy," another gem sung by Mr. Keith Richards whose voice is STILL charmingly weak yet enthusiastic), neato blues-rockers ("Ventilator Blues," Rob Johnson's "Stop Breaking Down"), stupidly great zippo-rockers ("Turd On The Run," "All Down The Line"), and even MORE fantastic gospel-rock ("Loving Cup," "I Just Want To See His Face," "Let It Loose," "Shine A Light" - the list goes on and on). And it's all ragged glory, beginning to end - none of it sounds kitschy or put-on. All genuine. There's some serious growth here.

I don't think I dislike a song on here. That's a feat, considering this baby's about 67 minutes long. I mean, "I Just Want To See His Face" doesn't do THAT much for me, and I GUESS "Turd on the Run" and "Casino Boogie" are a bit inconsequential in the scope of the album. But no, no. THIS is the kind of album the Rolling Stones were destined to record. The band they were meant to be: a raunchy bar-rock band with soul. Yes, you are going to hear a lot about this record being dense, impenetrable, dark, murky, yadda yadda yadda. I'm here to tell you that it's a rockin', soulful good time that never lets up. I'm not sure what reviewers mean by this "impenetrable" business. Is it 'cuz you can't understand Mick's lyrics half the time? Who cares? Do I need to understand exactly what Mick's moaning about in "Sweet Virginia" for it to be a beautiful, woozy masterpiece? Of course not.

I'm pretty certain that, after hearing Exile, I can fit the Stones into my "routine" as it were. What major rock band was making music this loose and fun back in '72? In the aftermath of the Sixties, and Altamont and all that? The Who were serious conceptual artists experimenting with synths. The Beatles were gone. The Kinks were jumping on the showtune bus. We needed someone to kick out the jams, and the Stones were there to do it. They filled a serious void.

So yeah, this is an album to pick up. It might not make sense to you if you aren't familiar with the Stones already - when I hear Exile I feel like I've almost grown with them. I don't know. Apparently they never recorded an album this great ever again. And how could they? Exile practically perfected their sound. How do you follow that up? Huh?? I don't know.

Alright, that's enough ass-kissing of a band that's had their asses kissed their entire career. Did you know I had half of this review written already before Blogger decided to be an asshole and not save drafts? I had to re-write the whole damn thing! I probably forgot to say SO MUCH! I'm tired. Exile rules. I'm going to sleep. Please spellcheck this for me.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Few Words On Bob Druwing

Bob Druwing's glorious Tim and Eric debut.


I have no idea why I find Bob Druwing so fascinating. Before the third season of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, I had never seen his face before in my entire life. Not even once. Now he is a new obsession. Of all the bizarre Z-list regulars Tim and Eric love to parade out, salt-n-pepper haired Mr. Druwing stands out to me.

I don't know. He seems like a perfectly normal human being as opposed to a bizarre, ugly failure, which might be why he stands out in the Tim and Eric universe; compared to David Liebe Hart the failed puppeteer, James Quall the failed comedian, or Ron Austar the failed... uhh, something (children's performer?), Bob Druwing just seems like a nice, trim, middle-aged man. With a funny mustache.

...well, OK, maybe he's kind of a failure. If his website is any indication, he's something of a Jack-Of-All-Trades: screen actor, voice-over actor, musician, cartoonist, you name it. And considering that the most prominent roles he's received have been bit parts on Tim and Eric, I guess we can safely say that he hasn't quite succeeded in any of these fields. Adding a bit to his "pathetic" tally is his bizarrely transfixing performance of a song he presumably wrote, "I Wanna Be In Love," posted in Tim and Eric's "DannyMothers" Youtube account to promote their first season DVD. (So I guess he's a failed rock 'n roller?)



But calling Mr. Druwing pathetic would not be doing him justice. And it would be pretty mean, too! From the looks of his video resume (yes, I searched for Bob Druwing on youtube), he seems to be a pretty competent actor. He also finally got a prominent role in Tim and Eric's season 3 finale, credited as "Lindsey Porch" and singing the hilariously creepy (and oddly Jens Lekman-esque) "I Can Wait," which has to be one of my favorite Tim and Eric songs ever. (Sing along with me now: "No, they can't call it raaaape / if she concedes her body to meeee!")



Where else can you get your Druwing fix? Well, he's also in the new Tim and Eric Ben Folds video, popping in-and-out of the drum kit. And, according to his website, he just wrapped up filming for Tim and Eric's fourth season. So thankfully, we will be seeing more of Mr. Druwing.

And yet, I still don't know why I love Bob Druwing so. Why not Ron Stark? Or that lady that play's Casey's mom? Or Richard Dunn?? (Okay I do love Richard Dunn to death, but I digress.) These questions will never have answers. As long as I can hear Mr. Druwing - a seemingly normal and on-the-level type of guy - sing a song about masturbating in his car, I will be satisfied.

And you know what, "I Wanna Be In Love"'s been stuck in my head for days. No joke.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Carson, We Hardly Knew Ye: A Trubute to TRL

Kids, have you heard the news? TRL died today. That's right - after ten glorious years at the top of the business, the only program on MTV that bothers to show music videos anymore is leaving forever. In the age of late-night VH1, FUSE, and MUN2 (it's Spanish okay), America has just run out of love for TRL. How sad.

I know what you're asking yourself - why? And you're not alone; it's a question every warm-blooded American across the country is asking themselves right now. What sparked the tragic downfall of America's Greatest Countdown? Was it when Carson left? When N*Sync broke up? When Eminem lost his sense of humor? When Blink did that crappy "Miss You" Song?? God, I don't know. We'll never know, will we? And asking these questions will not bring our beloved TRL back. We, as a nation, have to let this one go.

Two things pop into mind upon hearing this news. One, I realize that 1998 was ten years ago. (Ughhh.) Two, I realize that TRL, despite its crass commercialism and questionable musical content, made me love music videos - and pop music in general - as an ever-developing teenager. I mean, the show started right when I hit the sixth grade, and peaked right smack dab in the middle of the seventh; boy bands, rap rock, irish girl pop (come on, B*Witched ruled) were all over my radar. Hell, I watched TRL before I even bothered listening to the radio when I went to sleep! That's gotta mean something, right??

Oh, sure, I stopped watching the show after I grew a couple balls my freshmen year of high school (I guess 9/11 changed everything... but not really). Carson Daly left, popular music turned from teen-pop confection to crunk and that "I Kissed A Girl" song, and I started listening to the Beatles. But for all intents and purposes, TRL was the most important music-based TV show in my formative years, and I will never forget it. Even when they only played like 30 seconds of a video, I still loved it!

Here's a few of my personal favorite popular TRL videos from back in the day. A warning: you're not gonna find much of anything past 2001 here.

Korn - Freak On A Leash

Say what you will about the song itself, this is one cool video. I've never been a Korn fan, and probably never will be one, but this video was one of the first to attract me to TRL. Not only is it a compelling mish-mash of animation and live-action, but it's got a part where there's a bullet, and you see the bullet go through shit in slow motion like the Matrix. My favorite part: the bullet narrowly misses a fat man cannonballin' it into a pool.

N*Sync - I Drive Myself Crazy



Boy bands always had great music videos - mostly 'cuz they had the money and the fame to pull it off. Hell, most of the success of late 90's boy bands could be directly connected to their success on TRL. My personal favorite has to be this one, featuring the members of N*Sync goofing around in a looney bin jaded by their past lovers. See, they were all materialistic and mean to their ladies, so they got dumped and went crazy and ended up in a mental institution - HENCE the video, HENCE the SONG! But then at the end they're all released for some unexplained reason, and their WOMEN end up replacing them! Ha ha! I have no idea how that makes any sense!

Sum 41 - Fat Lip



This, ladies and gentlemen, is the ultimate pop-punk cream dream. Kings of Rock Sum 41 play in the middle of a GEEEEEEI-GANTIC skatepark, with black-haired lip-pierced dumb teenagers moshin' around, skating in cardboard suits, riding around in shopping carts, shaving a girl's head - you name it, they're punkin' it. There's even a 13-year-old-lookin' kid getting macked-up on by some HOT CHICKS! Man, I wished I were him back in 2001. "Fat Lip" was already the most cartoonishly ridiculous pop-punk song ever recorded when it came out - all it needed was an even more ridiculous video.

Sugar Ray - When It's Over



I remember thinking when this song first came out, "Man, Sugar Ray are BACK!" It was mid-2001, two years after the Raymen graced us with such laid-back classics as "Every Morning" and "Someday" - and now here they were, with a bangin' new tune and a bangin' new video. The concept: the five Sugar Ray dudes can't think of a video for the song (how META!), so we get a glimpse of what each one wants to do. That's right - we get to peer straight into the minds of some of the early 2000's best pop musicians. After a bunch of weird detours, hunky lead singer Mark McGrath puts a stop to it all, saying "Why don't we do what's right for the SONG?" And they do - the rest of the video is just the band ridin' around on mopeds and partying down. And ain't that just what Sugar Ray's all about??

Come back to us, Shuggs. We miss you.


Eminem - The Real Slim Shady and Blink-182 - All The Small Things



Seriously, there are so many videos I haven't covered here it's embarrassing. It doesn't help that my white-boy instincts have tainted the legacy of Nelly, TLC, Jay Z, and numerous other hip-hop artists that deserve my prized recognition in this blog post. So I'll take the lazy way out and include the two most notable "joke" videos during TRL's peak - videos that perfectly encapsulated almost every aspect of TRL culture in the span of three minutes. While Blink-182 cheerfully parodied the videos for "I Want It That Way," "Someday," "Genie In A Bottle" and "Livin' La Vida Loca," Eminem thoroughly dissed weirder targets like Tom Green's inexplicably popular "The Bum Bum Song" and a bizarro love triangle between Fred Durst, Christina Aguilera and Carson Daly. Sure, they're completely dated - nobody that wasn't alive in 2000 is going to know just what the hell is going on in these things - but as pop-culture catch-alls, they pretty much work perfectly. It was videos like these that made my dumb teenager self watch TRL every single weekday.

Get ready to pull out those Kleenexes come this November, Requestophiles. I know it won't be easy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Album Review: "Middle of Nowhere" by Hanson

Why the hell do they look so serious?

Let's get this straight: I love pop music. Absolutely love it. I guess that's kind of a broad statement, since everybody has their own definition of what makes "good" pop music. And for the past 20-plus years or so, pop music has been sliced 'n diced into so many little pieces that it's almost impossible nowadays to call ANY kind of music "pop." You've got your crunk-pop, your RnB-pop, your power pop, your neo-grunge-pop, your punk-pop, your indie-pop, your emo-pop... the list goes on and on. So me coming out and saying "I love pop music" doesn't really mean anything, does it? For all anybody knows I could be talking about the Killers! And I do hate those Killers!*

I guess what I COULD say is that, because I love pop music, I love Hanson. To me, Hanson are pop in its purest form, at least in the context of the mid-to-late-90's. Their (best) songs are bright, bubbly, and completely over-the-top pieces of pop confection (like a cake or something) that will infect the brain of any listener that dares to hear them. I like to think that Hanson were to the 90's what ABBA were to 70's, or what Wham! were to the 80's - upliftingly fun pop music, produced specifically to cater to the masses by utilizing the popular sounds of the period. So while ABBA embraced disco and Wham! used synth, Hanson use hip-hop beats and DJ disc-scratching - all, of course, married to wonderful pop melodies. Honestly, I can't resist it.

Hanson are a little tougher to like, though. For one thing, they're still considered something of a one-hit wonder, since they never scored a hit quite as massive as "MMMBop," a song people still vehemently hate to this very day (I'll get to that later). Secondly, they're also credited with kicking off the boy band era of the late 90's, despite not really being a boy band themselves - beside the fact that they wrote almost all of their own songs, they weren't much for choreographed dance moves. Third, they were a bunch of freaking kids with long blonde hair that looked like GIRLS! I mean, c'mon - they're almost begging for ridicule.

But Hanson were NOT the Spice Girls, or N*Sync, or the Backstreet Boys, or any other members of that lousy manufactured teen-pop fad they tend to be lumped in with. While Middle of Nowhere is definitely a product of the late-90's teen pop boom, with its excessively slick production and occasional cheesy piano ballad, Hanson - at least to me - are a lot funnier, cuter, and more entertaining than any of their so-called contemporaries. Maybe it's the fact that they were all kids when this album came out (Zac at 11, Taylor at 14, and Issac at 17) that gave the music its innocent prepubescent charm; I can't imagine anybody older than 16 singing "MMMBop" without sounding like an ironic fool. Vocally, the younger two have kiddish voices while Issac has a more adult voice, which leads to a lot of cutesy vocal interplay not unlike the Jackson 5 circa "I Want You Back." And man, they all sound so gosh-darned excited to be singing and playing, I can forgive the completely calculated production techniques utilized to bring in the teenybopper crowd. Back in '97, Hanson were one big intoxicating rush of silly, innocent youth, something a mass audience wasn't used to in the age of techno and grunge.

Now, I'll be honest, Middle of Nowhere is a mixed bag as an album - which I guess is appropriate for a teen-marketed pop album. Here's the rundown: you've got 7 mostly-killer pop songs, 4 cheesy ballads, and a couple kinda-sorta funky things. The ballads are, for the most part, pretty lame; the only one I like is "With You In Your Dreams," but the others - "Yearbook," "Weird," and "I Will Come To You" - are kinda generic and boring, mainly due to the influence of outside songwriters. The aforementioned "kinda-sorta funky things," "Speechless" and "Look At You," aren't bad but suffer the same problem as the ballads: they don't sound like songs that three long-haired suburban white kids should be singing. But the pop songs? WHOOO-EE, I love the pop songs on here! Seven spunky, vibrant pieces of supremely catchy pop music. If this album were pared down to just these seven songs, I daresay we'd have a perfect pop record on our hands. You've got "Thinking Of You" with that cool piano breakdown, the epic "Where's The Love," the hilariously cheesy "Lucy" (sung charmingly by 11-year-old Zac), the Issac-sang "A Minute Without You" that's probably the most over-the-top (and hence greatest) song on the album, the sunny pop of "Madeline," and of course "Man From Milwaukee," a song about a crazy man communicating with Mars. (Sample lyrics: "He's been talking to long on his yellow walkie-talkie / he's talking to Mars, but I think he's whacky." Hanson wrote this song all by themselves!)

Oh yeah, and then there's "MMMBop." People, let's talk about "MMMBop." I know a lot of you don't like this song - you hated it when it came out, and you hate it now, a full decade-plus later. Why do you? Well, it's corny! And it's sung by little kids! And what an ANNOYING chorus! It certainly has none of the sheer depth of Nine Inch Nails or Radiohead or Cake. So why waste your time with it?

Well I am here to tell you that you are wrong. DEAD WRONG. "MMMBop" is, in my estimation, the best pop song of the 90's. Again, we could argue about the definition of "pop" music all you like, but I'm talkin' bubblegum here - sheer, concentrated optimisim, chunneled through a catchy-as-sin chorus. That is "MMMBop." Just listen to the song again, I dare you. The lyrics? They're about growing older and holding on to the ones who really care! That's somethin', huh? And catch those verses - they're different, every single verse! They keep CHANGING! And the Dust Brothers' production - PERFECTLY 90's. Those disc-scratches and those sampled drums - I mean, if anybody knew how to produce a perfect 90's pop song, it had to be the guys who did Odelay and Paul's Boutique. But let's not forget Hanson! They deliver that chorus with GUSTO! It's just a wonderful, dizzying piece of pop beauty that is never ever boring. You cannot tell me that the most perfectly produced 90's pop song is a flash-in-the-pan - I will not believe you.

Yeah, it was everywhere in 1997. BUT THERE'S A REASON FOR THAT. IT WAS GREAT.

Think about it historically - back in '97, nobody was recording songs like "MMMBop." Middle of Nowhere came out the same year as OK Computer, and Dig Your Own Hole, when ska-punk was hitting its peak and Matchbox 20 and Silverchair were still churning out boring post-grunge hits. "MMMBop" was an unironic, unpretentious, purely happy pop song - of course everybody's gonna hate it! And nowadays, in an age of boring indie rock and crunk, people have even more of a reason to hate it! But obviously somebody got the message, 'cuz the song was a #1 hit.

When I was ten years old, I hated "MMMBop." Hated it to death. Now that I'm older and smarter, I love it - ironic, since the song was marketed to kids my age. I could listen to it everyday. And I do.

So you've got "MMMBop" and six other songs that are practically as good. Give them a chance, people. Believe it or not, Hanson are still around, and while they're still writing some decent songs (look up "If Only" or "Crazy Beautiful" sometime - they're great), they will never recapture the sheer rush of their Middle of Nowhere days. Why? Well, they all sound older now, and as such they don't have that funny innocent spunk anymore. Now they just sound like a bunch of dudes with good voices. Where's the fun in that?

Also they're all married. Taylor Hanson has three kids. Seriously. Look it up.

*I am required to diss on the Killers every 3-4 posts. I'm sorry. It's just a habit.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Album Review: "Damn the Torpedoes" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

As of today, there has not been a new edition of "Tom Petty Comics" in two weeks straight. Good Lord.

People, I have to say that I am truly sorry for all this. Sure, I am not Stephen Winchell, creator and illustrator of said Tom Petty Comixxx, but I personally would like to apologize to all of you for putting faith in this man. I mean, sure, the Stigmata comic was pretty damned funny, and ending on that one would be a pretty cool way of bowing out of the comics business forever, but jeez. People wanna read this damn comic, Winchell! This blog is useless without it!!

Either way, he's busy. But he still loves Tom Petty (who doesn't), so I'm sure there is a Tom Petty Comixsx #5 in the works. One that I'm sure will answer the age-old question: "Who the fuck is Jeff Lynne?"

(Kidding. Of course I know Jeff Lynne. He's that Xanadu guy.)

So taking Mr. Winchell's negligence into consideration, I have decided to replace his usual hilarious comic with a not-as-hilarious-but-quite-informative review of an actual Tom Petty ALBUM. That's right, that long-haired lothario's not just a superhero concerned about testicular cancer. He's also quite the musician! I'm sure you'd love to hear about him.

So let's discuss Damn The Torpedoes, probably the best album ever recorded by a Tom Petty.

Lookit that face. He HAD to become a rock star.

Damn The Torpedoes is the ultimate feel-good rock album for those of us that dig kickin' rock old school, with those Byrds and those Rolling Stones and alla them. That's probably why the album was such a hit in the late 70's - it eschewed all that punk, new wave, and progressive claptrap that cluttered the airwaves and scared away eager record buyers who just wanted to hear some fun, sweet, straight-ahead 4/4 guitar-bass-drum-keyboard rock tunes blasting through their stereo. Tom Petty and his Hoppin' Heartbreakers (their full name) were pretty much the perfect solution to this problem; Petty's voice was like Dylan mixed with Jagger, and the whole band sounded like the Stones on vacation. (OK, that made no sense, but you dig my trip bro - they were nicer than the Stones.) I guess you could lump them into the "mainstream roots-rock" category that Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger occupied back in the 'ol days, but where those two were more romantic and dramatic, Mr. Tom was straight-up rockin', never stopping for an overwrought sax solo (sorry Broos) or weepy piano ballad (sorry Bob). And hey, that appealed to a lot of people! For good reason!

I'm sure you know the hits here. You must. "Refugee"? "Here Comes My Girl"? "Don't Do Me Like That"? All kick-nut. But this one's also chock full of great album tracks - which is a good thing, 'cuz with album with only 9 songs on it, it helps if more than 1/3 of the album is good! Otherwise it's not a very good album at all, is it? "Even The Losers," "Shadow Of A Doubt," "Century City," "Louisiana Rain" - hoo-ee, thems some great tracks. Admittedly, some of the album tracks sound just a smidge too similar - once in a blue moon I'll still forget which melody is which between "Even the Losers" and "Shadow of a Doubt" - but man, when that samey sound is so good, you really can't complain. Tom Petty's one of these rare artists, like AC/DC or the Ramones, that only benefits from sounding pretty much exactly the same from one album to the next. Why mess with perfection?

Lyrically, there's not much to write home about on Damn The Torpedoes - Mr. Petty's never been known for his lyrical prowess, nor does he need to be - but there's hardly anything embarrassing here. I guess you could lump in Tom with BROOS in the lyrical department, since a lot of the time he seems to cover similar subject matter: dead-end towns, heartbroken dreamers, soulless 9-to-5 jobs, etc. etc. It's nothing new, but when it works, it really works; specifically, "Here Comes My Girl," a piece of rock romanticism worthy of Springsteen, features a lovestruck Mr. Tom speak-singin' about the rough life he leads in a crappy town he hates. His redemption? A LADY. Sounds a little overwrought on paper, but in the context of the song it's genuinely exciting - hearing Tom shift his voice from a downtrodden street crawler in the verses to a rock 'n roll yelper in the chorus is enough to sweep any listener off their feet.

I have one genuine problem with Damn The Torpedoes: whenever I listen through it, I usually drop off after "Don't Do Me Like That." Why is this? Well, the songs get a little slower, a little groovier, and a little less exciting. I can't really blame this on a dip in musical quality; it's just that after the pure rockin' sweetness of "Refugee" through "Century City," plus the pop confection of "Don't Do Me Like That," hearing the slow "You Tell Me" doesn't quite fit with me. Whenever I crave a quick, perfect blast of Petty, I'll put the first side on, but not the second. So while I would say the first side of the album is stronger than the second - mostly 'cuz of "What Are You Doing In My Life?", which is kinda fun but inconsequential - the second side has "Louisiana Rain," a really wonderful ballad that closes the album.

So basically I'm complaining about nothing.

Tom Petty's 58 now. That's right - 58. He will never capture the wild youth preserved forever on the classic Damn The Torpedoes LP, no matter how many times he plays the Super Bowl (once, and counting). I mean, this IS the album that saved his career, allowing him to continue making wonderful music until he finally met his destiny as one of Jeff Lynne's Terrific Travelin' Wilburys. If you're not grasping the gravity of the situation, think about this: if Tom Petty had never made Damn The Torpedoes, he would have never been a megastar, never would have hobnobbed with "Got My Mind Set On You"-crooner George Harrison, never would have joined the Wilburys, and - I hate to say it - the classic reggae-tinged Petty classic "Last Nite" would never exist.

Ponder that shit. In your dreams. Or your nightmares.