Music to Your Ears: Pink, St. Vincent, Robert Plant, and Stars

It’s been a strange week as it’s cooled down – baseball is winding down, hockey is warming up. I didn’t really feel like writing anything about basketball because, frankly, I’m no expert in the sport. I can’t definitively discuss what it takes to make it in the NBA. It also doesn’t really interest me, especially when you have super-teams forming left and right, forcing parity out of the window. What I do love to discuss is music, so I’m sticking to that:

St. Vincent – MASSEDUCTION

Annie Clark has slowly metamorphized into one of the most artistically dynamic artists in pop music working today. Similarly to her contemporary – the enigmatic Sia Furler – the sound of St. Vincent has evolved from bare-bones romanticism to full-fledged grandiose. Discordant trumpets and embellished synths are her instrumental calling card, and in her previous two albums, 2011’s Strange Mercy and 2014’s self-titled effort, she used them to great success. Here she expands on that cacophony of sound, a synthetic symphony that doesn’t let up until the last drop beat. The most interesting thing here is how diabolically sinister the whole album feels. I talked a few weeks ago about The Mynabirds album Be Here Now, and how singer Laura Burhenn wrote it with the fresh American election hanging heavily on her mind. It’s certain St. Vincent has followed suit in that regard, among other intensely personal experiences that have influenced the stories within Masseduction. She’s turned out what could potentially be her greatest album, but I may need a few more listens before I decide – yet that’s obviously worth it.

Key Tracks: Young Lover / Happy Birthday, Johnny / Los Ageless

Continue reading Music to Your Ears: Pink, St. Vincent, Robert Plant, and Stars

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Good Sports: That Championship Feeling!

Now that the Washington Nationals are pouting at home, contemplating why they’ve literally never been able to finish a playoff series, we can move past and ignore them, looking at the final four of Major League Baseball! Here are your Championship Series:

New York Yankees at Houston Astros

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Hey, we here at Interjections aren’t the happiest about the New York Yankees are in the championship series, but we’re not going to use that to temper our expectations for the upcoming matchup. We may be Mets or Phillies fans here, but there’s no bias here, I swear. Bearing that in mind, I really do think Houston has a better team….on paper. New York has the more potent lineup, with the gargantuan Aaron Judge leading the crowd. Despite acting like the complete opposite from his regular season self, the team comes and goes by him – if he steps up, the Bronx Bombers may find their new hero in Judge. If not, several batters have been helping out – most notably Didi Gregorius, who nearly single-handedly pushed the Yankees past the Indians in Wednesday’s deciding ALDS game. If the pitchers can figure themselves out, particularly Luis Severino, who had a forgettable wild-card game against Minnesota by letting two homers fly from Brian Dozier and Eddie Rosario, putting them in a hole early. He bounced back in game four, holding the Indians to three runs. Tanaka performed much better than his regular season version, while Aroldis Chapman actually held onto a save in the game 5 victory. If their pitchers can actually keep it together, we’ll see what happens.

I do think the Houston rotation is one of the best in the remaining four – you have Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander and Charlie Morton, all shining against the Red Sox. There was a fear that Lance McCullers wasn’t fine enough to return to the group after getting hit by a comebacker in game 3, but I think if healthy he’ll fare much better, just to prove naysayers wrong. Jose Altuve is tied with Gregorius for the postseason home run lead, with 3, so there’s all likelihood this will be a sharpshooting affair. I think overall though, the pitchers can handle the lineup, and Houston will come out on top with crafty baserunning and home run stamina. I’m thinking it’s close though, and we’ll have a thriller in Texas with Houston winning in 7.

Chicago Cubs at Los Angeles Dodgers

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With a comeback for the ages, the Chicago Cubs stunned the Washington Nationals last night, winning their NLDS 3 games to 2. The Dodgers were a bit more alacritous, dispatching the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-game sweep. With extra rest this week, the best pitcher in baseball will face off against those exhausted Cubbies, which should prove to be a blowout of sorts, unless Clayton Kershaw’s postseason struggles rear their ugly head once again. Annually, he’s one of the most surprisingly ineffective hurlers, but my feelings for tomorrow’s game lead me to believe he’ll redeem himself. If the Cubs have any longevity, they’re sure to face him again, which makes their situation even more dire. They’ll need clutch hits from players like Kyle Schwarber, mysteriously absent from much of the proceedings the past week. Leonys Martin and Javier Baez are struggling as well, though the slack has been picked up aggressively by Anthony Rizzo, who stands tall with 6 RBI. He and Kris Bryant should suit up admirably against their west-coast rivals.

This will be a re-match of last seasons NLCS, so expect recent history to haunt the Dodgers. While Kershaw ably shut down the Cubs in a matchup opposite Kyle Hendricks last time, Hendricks was nearly perfect in game six, combining with former closer Aroldis Chapman for a two-hit game. While Hendricks should show up as strong as he did last season, the worry here is the current bullpen. Wade Davis is quite a fine replacement for Chapman, but beyond him and Carl Edwards Jr, there is a lot of trepidation. Even Edwards and Davis were tagged for a run each in relief last night, so their health and rest will likely sway this series. On the Dodgers side, Kenta Maeda will need to play better than his regular season self, and Kenley Jansen is playing like never before. Rich Hill is still around, and really the only big addition is wunderkind Cody Bellinger. I’m calling this the best series of the postseason, and I’ve very intrigued to see where this goes. My guess is it finally goes Kershaw’s way and we get to see Los Angeles face-off against Houston. In a reversal of last season’s result, I’ll go with Los Angeles in 6.


Stay tuned early next week four basketball preview, and I’m sure within week we’ll know which of these four teams will be making history – Houston, so they can win a World Series for the first time after failing to win one in the National League, the Cubs to get back-to-back wins after not winning for a century, the Dodgers because Kershaw deserves to let this franchise win for the first time in 30 years, or the Yankees because God wanted 2017 to truly be the worst year?

Is Mr. Robot Still a Better Gotham Than Gotham?

Excuse me, I have a quick question: Have you got the time?

That’s how we left things on the precipice of the second season of USA’s breakout drama Mr. Robot, with new character Leon asking hackers Trenton and Mobley the paradoxical question. I’m here to ask if you’ve got the time to dive into yet another recap of the program, one that begs the question again: Is Mr. Robot still a better Gotham than Gotham? If you’re curious why we’re doing this here at the Interjections website, take a quick glance way back to last July, when I boastfully claimed that Mr. Robot might have a better origin story for a Batman-like figure than its actual Batman-based show.

Before we can check in on hacker genius Elliot and his fSociety friends, I want to briefly go over what’s been going on in that Bruce Wayne-wasting Gotham. Obviously, before you continue – I’ll be mentioning heavy SPOILERS for both shows. If you don’t want to be ruined for either, I would turn back now.

Continue reading Is Mr. Robot Still a Better Gotham Than Gotham?

Music to Your Ears – Wolf Parade, Cults and Marilyn Manson

Now that we’re heading into fall, hoping the unseasonable warmth evicts itself from our lives, let’s dive into what the music world has for us:

Cults – Offering

Cults literally saved my life in 2011. No, I didn’t fall in with the wrong crowd and discover how to be true to myself or any of that bullshit. The synthpop duo of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion formed earlier the year before in New York City subsequently dropped a bomb on my heart, in the form of their self-titled debut. Songs like “Go Outside,” “Oh My God” and especially “You Know What I Mean” broke me down and formed the person I would soon become, self-loathing and bittersweet rolled into a ball of complicated neuroses and overfeeling idosyncracies. Anyway, enough about me – the band helped me through a lot of personal distress and move on from it, empowered. So my hopes were real high on their second album, Static, which debuted in 2013. Obviously I would be a little let down after the first album had rapidly become one of my favorite all-time records, but Static was still more from the same band I’d fallen in love with, albeit a bit dull. The whole thing felt a bit rushed, and only one or two tracks still find themselves in my rotation. Now that some time has passed, the group is back with their latest, Offering. While it is again more of the same sound, the work is a linear piece, like one long song. Some may find that detrimental, and I expect to mostly want to listen to this in one sitting rather than include songs in playlists, I think it works well (and better than Static). Follin warbles further feelings such as “Drifting through the silence/ Searching for guarantees” and continues the hopeful nature of the previous two albums by claiming we all have the answers within us. For me, it’s a welcome relief to know they’ve continued to manage such affectations and maybe more fans will turn up to discover the fuzz-pop wonder within this cult of sound.

Key Tracks: Recovery / Natural State / Clear From Far Away

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Wolf Parade, Cults and Marilyn Manson

Podcast October 9 – Batman and Harley Quinn, Hell or High Water and The Last Jedi Trailer

Like a certain Jedi character from the end of The Force Awakens, Cory has been missing for some time. In his stead, while we search the endless universe for his whereabouts (hoping he will some day do the right thing and return to save the galaxy), Jimmy has ably stepped up to discuss new movies and recent events.

This go-around, Tristan and Jimmy watched one of last year’s Best Picture nominees, Hell or High Water, a potboiler that stars Chris Pine and Ben Foster as modern cowboys sticking it to the bank by heisting them to pay their loan back to the same bank, while sheriff Jeff Bridges attempts to track them through the Texas midlands.

They follow that up with a discussion on the most recent DC animated film, Batman and Harley Quinn, which features Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester returning to their ’90s animated roots as Batman and Nightwing, and co-stars Melissa Rauch (Big Bang Theory) as the titular clown queen who teams up with the pair to help stop her good friend Poison Ivy from doing the wrong thing and turning every living creature into plants.

Afterwards, they discuss some current events – like the weekend ouster of Harvey Weinstein from his own company after sexual harassment allegations actually worked to stop an offender from continuing to benefit from silence.

The final segment, the pair watch live the new Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer and analyze it just a bit too much…

Listen in below, and remember to comment responsibly!

Music to Your Ears – Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Shania Twain and Wolf Alice

Yeah, yeah I know, another day, another week of falling behind. Life comes at you fast, you gotta know when not to mind that last week’s music is now this week’s music. Here’s some reviews, enjoy:

Miley Cyrus – Younger Now

I have been lauding the genius of songs “Malibu” and “Younger Now”, the title track off of Miley Cyrus’ newest edition. What I wasn’t ready for was that these would be the only two great tracks. Don’t get me wrong, Miley is making some good stuff, but it all sort of blends together. After you get past those two singles, a strangely indigestible duet with Dolly Parton pops up, “Rainbowland”. It stops the album flat and you’re not quite sure if you care to continue. The effervescence of the first two songs never truly returns, as songs like “I Would Die for You” and “Bad Mood” re-hash many of the same notions and never really attempt anything exciting instrumentally. Eventually the whole thing fades into the background and you may find yourself wishing for the younger Miley, one that was more fun and entertaining.

Key Tracks: Malibu / Younger Now / Inspired

Continue reading Music to Your Ears – Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato, Shania Twain and Wolf Alice

Good Sports: Division In Baseball

Phew! I’m a bit behind on this, and as you may have noticed if you’re really paying attention, only moments ago I actually posted last night’s NHL preview. It’s gonna get buried by this Division Series preview, so maybe I should schedule it for tomorrow morning. Keep in mind, I actually wrote it before the Red Sox faced off in Houston, but I didnt’ get to wi-fi until 5:50pm. Hey, we can’t win them all, like four of the following teams:

 

Boston Red Sox at Houston Astros

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The Red Sox somewhat quietly put together an admirable takeover of the AL East this year, as all the news surrounded their Bronx rivals and the home run hitting phenoms that have emerged within that team. Pitching is what drives the Red Sox, and with Chris Sale starting off this afternoon’s first Division Series game, we’ll likely get a sense of how their postseason goes by his performance. He’ll face off against some threatening hitters, least of which is the leading baseball basher Jose Altuve. He’ll attempt to snuff out the rotation that boasts last year’s Cy Young winner Rick Porcello, Drew Pomeranz, Doug Fister and Eduardo Rodriguez. Heck, I didn’t even mention David Price and he doesn’t necessarily have to be a starter. Rumor has it he may pitch out of the rotation, at least for the ALDS. It’s a classic test of pitching against hitting, as Altuve will be joined by Carlos Correa, George Springer, Josh Reddick and Carlos Beltran. Their pitching is nothing to scoff at either, as Dallas Keuchel continues to bewilder, and Justin Verlander came down from Detroit to try his hand at a World Series run. If the Red Sox hitters can stay healthy, they’ll match Houston in power, but it’ll really come down to the leadership of Altuve and the strength of Sale and company. I’m thinking the Red Sox win in 5, if nothing else because they’ll need their batters to wake up at the right moment.

New York Yankees at Cleveland Indians

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With the Minnesota Twins season cut short, the rightful wild-card winner will face off tonight against the Cleveland Indians, who’ve retained virtually the entire team that lost last year’s incredibly close World Series. Edwin Encarnacion came over from Toronto after having been beaten soundly be the Indians, only to sputter in the regular season. The surprise acquisition was Jay Bruce, returning to Ohio by way of the floundering New York Mets, and the former Cincinnati Red found himself at home in Progressive Field, batting .248 and smacking in 26 RBIs in 43 games once he’d arrived in Cleveland. He’ll use his newly discovered prowess to hopefully launch the Indians back into the AL Championship Series, but he and his teammates will be challenged by some of the Yankees bats. Aaron Judge is the man of the moment, while Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird are equally fascinating rookies to watch. Matt Holliday came over from St. Louis and played like he needed one more ring, while Didi Gregorius continued to make us forget Derek Jeter commanded the shortstop position for so long. My guess is that this is the matchup to watch out of all four, as so many players have the talent to succeed in the clutch. You never know, though, as we saw from last night’s wild-card game, where Archie Bradley slipped a triple into the outfield. I’d love to see Andrew Miller knock a low ball just over Clint Frazier’s head to knock the Yankees out. You never know what will happen, but with Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco trumping Sonny Gray and CC Sabathia in my mind, I’m going to have to go with Cleveland in 4.

Chicago Cubs at Washington Nationals

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Now that we all know who the Chicago Cubs really are, it will be much tougher for them to charm their way into the World Series. The sentiment is that only coming into form towards the end of the season means that the exhaustion got the better of them back in April and May, and that the fire will begin as soon as Kyle Hendricks takes the mound tomorrow in Washington. The gang is all back, sans current St. Louis Cardinal Dexter Fowler and Royals pitcher Jason Hammel. They’ve retained the big hitters like Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber and Kris Bryant, and the pitchers are still there, like Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and John Lackey. You could even say they’ve improved that staff, as Jose Quintana came over from the south side, and Wade David replaces the suddenly disposable Aroldis Chapman (Yankees). The Nationals would have something to say about me fawning over the Cubbies though, as they certainly have the team that could make the World Series. Bryce Harper returns from injury just in time to face off tomorrow, while their pitching is some of the finest its been, even in this run of postseason appearances: Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Tanner Roark are firing on all cylinders. My guess is this matchup is more of a pitchers duel, with the whole thing going to 5 games, but with Washington lasting longer only because the Cubs have gone to the end of their rope after a long run last year. Washington in 5.

Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers

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This is the easiest – and the boldest – of my predictions. Had the Rockies not fallen victim to Archie Bradley and the resiliently powerful Diamondbacks last night, I would have thought the Dodgers could buck the albatross that keeps them from winning and sweep the Rox right back to Denver. Instead, I think the plucky team out of Arizona will rise up and surprise us all, knocking out the perennially unlucky Dodgers. Sure, the best team in baseball has Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig and the inhuman Cody Bellinger. Heck, Curtis Granderson could be the cog that puts them over the top finally. Instead, I think the seams in this unspooling lie in the pitching field yet again. Clayton Kershaw has the yips every time he takes the mound when pumpkin spice is in the air, and Kenta Maeda had his worst year ever. Yu Darvish may end up overrated (just like Kershaw, great in the regular and a dud in the post). Alex Wood may be the most consistent, but he’s just one man. The Arizona batters can handle them, while pitchers like Bradley, Robbie Ray and the Andrew Miller of 2017: Fernando Rodney. If ever there’s a great story this year, it’s that Rodney finally shone like a diamond in the backfield of Arizona. I’m going with Arizona in 3, that’s right: a damn sweep.


Tomorrow, no more sports. For a week. We’ll have your usually scheduled program of Music to Your Ears, but next week we should dive into the upcoming basketball season, and maybe by the end of the week we’ll know the challengers for the Championship matchups, so we’ll have a take on those final four. Stay tuned!

Knowing the right time to talk about movies, music and television