Category Archives: Opinion

Podcast June 23 – Once Upon a Time in Venice and Song to Song

It may not seem like it most of the time, but we here at Interjections work our darnedest to bring to you the hard-hitting news of our time.

This week finds us doing the Lord’s work by lowering ourselves in two dreadful directions: VOD, and Bruce Willis’ latest paycheck Once Upon a Time in Venice; and Terrence Malick’s latest opus Song to Song.

Those films may be some of the worst of the year, but that’s not the highlight of this week’s podcast – big news on the horizon came to us and the bulk of our discussion focuses on the upheaval on the Han Solo set, as directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller were ousted in favor of everyone’s favorite Opie, Ron Howard.

Tune in below to hear Cory and Tristan discuss the latest developments and much more, remembering always to comment responsibly:

Music to Your Ears – Lorde, Fleet Foxes and Nickelback

Whew, after a week that saw very little in the way of worthwhile music, a flood of new tracks and albums came rushing down the pipeline for Father’s Day weekend. Some old favorites return, some new bands form their debuts and there may not even be enough space to talk about it all.

Lorde – Melodrama

Sophomore slumps can strike at any time. Luckily for Lorde, the Australian singer who vaulted to instant stardom amidst Grammy wins in 2013, she took enough time off that people forgot about her. Not that she minded, since the attention was a bit too much for the then sixteen years old. With her maturity comes a sense of relevance, which allows for a fine-tunes production this time around. The songs, all produced hand in hand with Bleachers creator Jack Antonoff, seem so polished that this can’t possibly be as good as we would have hoped for. But it is, seriously, so much so, that it rivals Bleachers, Spoon and The New Pornographers for album of the year so far. I may go on about this album towards the end of year, but suffice it to say the expected sophomore slump never settles in, as Lorde expands her horizons in ways we never expected. From the pain-filled ballad “Writer in the Dark” to the fun romp through “The Louvre” to an ode to late-night parties in “Homemade Dynamite” – the subjects aren’t too different from her teenage years, but her production has certainly stepped up its game.

Key Tracks: Supercut / Liability / The Louvre / Writer in the Dark

The Killers – The Man

The fear each time The Killers approach a new album is what sounds they’ll be attempting to evoke. It’s a long-standing open secret that frontman Brandon Flowers fancies himself a Bruce Springsteen, if born on the outskirts of Las Vegas. In that case, we sometimes get the worst of him – the posturing of Sam’s Town, a heavily divisive album that turned away many of the dance-pop youth that fell in love with them from their debut Hot Fuss. Luckily the die-hards found themselves in for treats with the next two solid, albeit dull efforts – Day & Age and Battle Born. The latter was more Springsteen, but more well done and less bombastic. Let’s say that was Flowers’ Nebraska, a dialed down love affair for the state of the band’s youth. From there Flowers’ embarked on a solo tour with two albums, one the worst of 2010, Flamingo and the other, 2015’s The Desired Effect, which at last had, well, the desired effect – Brandon Flowers had never sounded more like his hero. So, with all that in mind, we temper our expectations for a new song. Lucky for us, Flowers and the Killers have a ‘Wrecking Ball’ for us in the form of a rollicking new song that epitomizes the best qualities of the band’s history. You can dance, you can hear the masculinity oozing its way through the verses, and you can drive your way out of town to it. That’s all you need in a good Killers song.

Nickelback – Feed the Machine

Forgive me for not understanding the backlash to Nickelback all these years. I’ve always thought there were plenty more bands, mundane as all can be subjectively, that deserved harsher credit. For the Canadian outfit, it became particularly galling, and I think that influenced them even more as vocal cord surgeries and label changes attempted to derail the train. To call them mediocre is to do them an injustice, for if you listen to the lyrics, many are often more profound than any number of pop songs circulating constantly on the radio. Take “After the Rain”, a late entry in their newest album Feed the Machine where revitalized frontman Chad Kroeger yelps “The ticket to life as my mother once told me / Stick with your pride and you’re gonna be lonely”. I’m sorry, that’s better than their punk neighbor Justin Bieber begging for a second chance over and over again. To each his own, of course, but I’ve only ever slighted Nickelback in jest. Silver Side Up, easily their best entry, was the blueprint for the subsequent six albums – and now that they’ve proven their longevity, it’s clear that the band was ready to show off their best work. As a casual fan, I have to say that this is their best work in fifteen years. Rock on, you crazy diamonds.

Key Tracks: Feed the Machine / Must Be Nice / Silent Majority

Fleet Foxes – Crack-Up

Do not, and I repeat, do not attempt this album if you’re on the verge of slumber. It’s been a long time coming, especially for fans of the eloquent somnambulistic vocals emanating from lead singer Robin Peckold’s throat. However, this is not for the weak-hearted, or the coffee-deprived. While the writing and production value is through the roof, the mood is quite soft. Don’t get me wrong, Fleet Foxes is on top of the world here, coming out with an even more refined version of their previous album Helplessness Blues. If the direction they chose was one more in the vein of The Decemberists, where their folk tales are meant to lull rather than inspire, then they’re on the right track. I just think this is better background music than something for a group listen. Take care before sitting down with this, or worse – driving home at midnight to this. You’ll need a shot of Nodoz.

Key Tracks: Kept Woman / If You Need to, Keep Time on Me / Fool’s Errand

Queens of the Stone Age – The Way You Used to Do

Ever since I saw Josh Homme get super-pissed being played out during the credits for the 2014 Grammys, I knew he’d be back with a vengeance. Pure rock these days is a bit marginalized in popular culture, and there are enough thinkpieces out there that deny or confirm that thought, so I don’t need to go into it further. My standing is that with a dearth of rock stations, we’re sorely lacking a true rock band to unite behind. Take your Selena Gomez, your A$AP Rocky, your Beyonce – they’re all great, subjectively – there’s no one out there rocking like Queens of the Stone Age still do. You can’t pidgeonhole them in like Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters, who evolved with the times alongside Green Day, Blink-182 and even latter day Brit rock groups like The Strokes, The Kooks and Muse. Suffice it to say, other than those that evolved or dropped out, Queens of the Stone Age maintained that level we all wanted from rock – hard and loud, but with decipherable lyrics. We want to feel something from our music, not ironically, and Josh Homme has provided the 2017 version of that message: “If the world exploded behind us / I never noticed if it done / Let nobody dare confine us / I’ll bury anyone who does”. Just keep us up to date, Josh, and we’ll keep rocking along with you.

Hey Violet – From the Outside

I’ve got some odd feelings about this – it sounds like it’s of a place and time I’m no longer a part of, which I also feel makes me sound a bit old. If you recall the days when Paramoras starting out, about a decade ago, one of the most popular albums was Avril Lavigne’s The Best Damn Thing. Pink was still punk, having just released I’m Not Dead and yelled about fuckboys before we knew what they were. Now that time has passed, we’re on the lookout for the next group to take the charge – perhaps it could be Hey Violet, how about that? With songs like “O.D.D.” and “Hoodie”, they definitely might have the case for crowning a new queen of pop punk. Particularly evident of this women before men stage is “Guys My Age”, an anthem telling us all that nothing changes, dudes will always be complete oblivious jerks not worth your time. Here’s hoping they find a place to celebrate their riot grrrl status, like on a soundtrack similar to the one from 10 Things I Hate About You.

Key Tracks: Fuqboi / Guys My Age / Break My Heart / Unholy

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound

Two weeks ago I mentioned how much Dan Auerbach was channeling Van Morrison in his newest album. There’s a bigger contender for that sound later in June, in singer Jason Isbell. Heck, in the song “Molotov” Isbell even remarks that he ‘broke a promise to myself / Made a couple to a brown-eyed girl’ There’s also a bit of Ryan Adams’ voice in Isbell, the one-time singer as part of folk group Drive-By Truckers. In his fifth album with band “and the 400 Unit”, Isbell crafts new heart-fueled folk, a working-man’s thought-provoking ballad album. With songs like “Something to Love” and “Tupelo” Isbell is trying to overshadow his southern roots by evoking all his heroes, branching out across America. Truth is, you’re going to want that chicken-fried down home feeling by the end. He’s just welcoming you home to the Nashville sound.

Key Tracks: Cumberland Gap / Anxiety / Chaos and Clothes / Cumberland Gap

Royal Blood – How Did We Get So Dark?

If you thought we were done with the Scissor Sisters style sound after the single by Queens of the Stone Age, then you were mistaken. Royal Blood is back, and thicker than ever. If you came to Music for Your Ears today hoping to get some dense rock, some pure drum and bass fuzz, then you came to the right place. What I’ve lamented has been missing from the rock scene is some British sensibility, and here, in lieu of a new Arctic Monkeys album, comes a pair of Brighton boys doing their damnedest to rock our socks off with beats like “Hole in Your Heart” and “She’s Creeping”. They’re at their best when they’re allowing their instruments to take over, but Mike Kerr and Ben Thatcher can hold their own with the best of them, spouting lyrics like “Then she drags me by one finger / To her lips / Hook, line & sinker / Honey I’m a sucker when you linger” – oozing danger at every dropped chord. Take a listen, it won’t hurt.

Key Tracks: I Only Lie When I Love You / Hook, Line and Sinker / Don’t Tell


Alright. That enough for you? If you’re not exhausted from reading all of this and raring up to listen to it all yourself, then prepare for next week’s entries – good stuff from Cheap Trick, Portugal. the Man, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Beach House and more. We’ll also take amoment and reflect on the waning spring, warming up to summer by picking the best of the season – adding our choices to the end of the year battle.

Podcast June 16 – The Blackcoat’s Daughter

So a bit of a surprise this week, a touch of a lull – Cory and Tristan were caught catching up on some of their favorite shows and enjoying the heat that vanquished the northeast.

While the weather attempted to overwhelm us, Tristan managed to take a look at one of his more anticipated horrors of early 2017, Oz Perkins’ The Blackcoat’s Daughter, which stars Kiernan Shipka and Lucy Boynton as boarding school inmates that are stuck in the snow over break while a demonic presence begins to stalk them.

With a lack of new material, Cory and Tristan resorted to interrogating frequent guest Jimmy with a similar game to What Do These Posters Mean? (played with Jeff) by giving him an upcoming film’s title and having him guess what they would be about.

Tune in below to see how he did, and if you should stop by Amazon to check out a new horror this weekend:

Music to Your Ears – Katy Perry, Lady Antebellum and Phoenix

This week is a tad short, with three new albums – two from huge draws in Katy Perry and Lady Antebellum, and one of my favorite bands, the French group Phoenix. Who has the best comeback of the three? (They all had nearly four years each between their last albums and this week’s releases). Look below to find out!

Lady Antebellum – Heart Break

Like much of rhythm and blues, rap and house music, I have some difficulty ascertaining whether some country music is better than others. Luckily, Heart Break starts out strong, drawing you in with their title song, that contains one of the snappiest choruses I’ve heard recently – “I’m single for the summer / I won’t rebound / One lover to another / I’ll be tied down”. Those rather simple lyrics are made all the better by frontwoman Hilary Scott, someone who has always made country seem accesible for neophytes like myself. Following her up, fellow Charlie Kelley duets over the single “You Look Good” and proves that Scott isn’t the only moneymaker for the band. The band dials it down subsequently, proving that the composition of this album is its greatest component. While the lyrics and vocals and instrumentals are certainly top-notch for country standards, the producer deserves some of the most credit, as the order of songs clearly lends this album for repeat listens.

Key Tracks: Heart Break / Think About You / Good Time to Be Alive

 

Katy Perry – Witness

A lot has changed for the songstress that once took us into the secret that she had kissed a girl. As often follows a breakout hit, there was a bit of dissolution of the original image, attempts at reconfiguring the brand as edgy, missteps at appropriating other cultures, and of course, the vaunted resurgence at a major awards show compounded with a stellar album release. Now that Katy Perry has gone through all the typical motions of our modern pop star, she’s ready to deliver some of her best work. Unfortunately for us, she’s up to some of her old problems – buying into the idea that production knows best for her, redrafting her as a Miley Cyrus-wannabe who longs to sing like Adele. In tracks like “Pendulum” she gospelizing in front of a clapping choir. In “Deja Vu” and the titular “Witness”, Perry tries to posture as a burnt love victim, although most of her cred stems from her being the firebrand in past relationships. Don’t even get me started on “Bon Appetit”, which you can see in the rather strange video above tries to sensualize Perry in an even stranger way than before. As she sings “I’m spread open like a buffet” her eyes bug out like she’s still on the candy-coated dream cloud set of “California Girls”. Do we want a mature Perry, whose sultry vocals can lend themselves to a moody revelation lyrically? I’m fine with her having fun, it certainly worked for Madonna, who she’s almost always emulated. If she sticks to that, she’s great. When attempting to co-opt others, she isn’t. It’s as simple as that.

Key Tracks: Save As Draft / Miss You More / Chained to the Rhythm

 

Phoenix – Ti Amo

Thomas Mars and company hit it big way back in 2009 with their one-two punch of Lisztomania / 1901, rocketing them to indie stardom. In the right years since, Phoenix released one album and merely cultivated their following by touring and helping our hearts grow fonder in their absence. With Ti Amo, the group re-establishes themselves as the crown princes of manic dance pop, sorely missed in this era of music (from male singers at least). From the start at the title track, we’re immersed back into the slick cool world of Phoenix, bracketed on both sides with am urge to dance until the sun comes up two days from now. The sense of unending joy isn’t futile here, as evidenced in lyrics like “I found out your motive / I could do this all day long / But just a minute, that’s all I want”. While most of the album is in English, Mars forays into both Spanish and his native French. Much like Shakira two weeks ago, you don’t need to know the languages he sings, as you can feel every emotion through the way he sings.

Key Tracks: Goodbye Soleil / Role Model / Fior de Latte


Next week we’ll get the return of Cheap Trick, a long-awaited album from Fleet Foxes, a highly anticipated release from Lorde, and most importantly the latest music from a little Canadian band….Nickelback. I know you’ll be the first back here next Tuesday to hear what we thought at Interjections!

Podcast June 12 – The Mummy and It Comes at Night

A bit late this weekend as our travels took us separately to Virginia in search of music, food and other endeavors, but Cory and Tristan are back with reviews of the most recent two films out in theaters:

  • The Mummy, a pseudo-reboot of the classic Universal monster horror film that takes more from the first reimagining (with Brendan Fraser) by making it an action adventure with Tom Cruise, and seems more focused on world-building by featuring Russel Crowe as another heavy with more screen time than the actual mummy (Sofia Boutella).
  • It Comes at Night, an apocalyptic thriller starring Joel Edgerton and Carmen Ejogo that finds their family hiding from a highly infectious disease in the back woods somewhere in America. When the disease finds them, perhaps in the form of stranger Christopher Abbott, they must navigate the horrors of that outside world.

Cory also witnessed The Wizard of Lies, the recent HBO biopic that tells the recent tale of Bernie Madoff (Robert DeNiro) as he and wife Ruth (Michelle Pfeiffer) concoct a Ponzi scheme that will come at a great price for many of their clients, and themselves.

Tune in below to hear about all that, as well as thoughts on the new iteration of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and the first trailer for upcoming Marvel actioner Black Panther. Remember to comment repsonsibly:

 

Also, one final note – June 13th marks the second anniversary of the podcast! Happy birthday Interjections (and our beloved host Cory Taylor)!

Music to Your Ears – Bleachers, Halsey and Foo Fighters

Welcome back to this week’s version of Music to Your Ears, where we’ve got some tunes for your listeners. This week had a few surprise singles, as well as some inspired albums. Take a look:

Foo Fighters – “Run”

It’s been a while since the last Foo Fighters album, the Saint Cecilia EP that appeared briefly on our radars a little over a year and a half ago. For proper album music, we have to go back to 2014, so this is a welcome surprise in a week we’ve been hungry for escapism music. At first, I wasn’t sure how to feel about the repetitive message – “Run” – that blared over a low-key chorus. It sounded to me like more of the same, and Foo Fighters might just be spinning their wheels. Then an aggressively metal sounded voice threatened to break through from the other side of the microphone, as Dave Grohl’s old self came along to let us know that the same guy can learn new tricks. The true chorus of the song is still a bit rock-2010s standard, but it’s still a welcome thought to have that Grohl and company are back, making the most of their talents.

Arcade Fire – “Everything Now”

Like most bands of the ‘aughts, Arcade Fire’s sound has evolved, particularly since their first album, the ethereal Funeral, which contained one of my favorite songs from that time period, “Neighborhood 2 (Laika)”. That track, one that contains the adolescent innocence of two neighbor kids discovering each other as well as the paranoia of a world waiting to crush them both down, is not exemplary of what Arcade Fire has become, although that probably tempers their emotions while playing live. “Everything Now” re-defines the message the band is going for, and like many groups playing into their thirties and beyond, accepts the fact that they didn’t die young and beautiful, but must figure out what that means for their longevity. An acceptance of that soul-crushing world is subtly creeping below lyrics like “Every inch of space in your head / is filled with the things that you’ve read”. They’ve just gotten better at masking the pain it details below danceable music, like a more prophetic Ra Ra Riot. Here’s hoping this title track is as good as the full album.

Halsey – hopless fountain kingdom

Okay, Halsey. You can start your album with the prologue to William Shakespeare’s most famous play, but I’m gonna think you’re really damn pretentious. Though, when one thinks about it, isn’t Romeo and Juliet one of the most effective narratives of artistic entertainment? Why not have it, when it’s clearly well known and there’s a reason the thing is popular? It will absolutely have an effect on the listening of your album, as it will color every track with a sentiment that you might have not only been inspired by the Bard’s classic, but that you yourself felt the same emotions that young Montague and Capulet shared in their brief time together. Shut your blinkers in “Eyes Closed” and you’ll wonder if Juliet was truly up for her romance. Listen between the late-90s inspired violins on “Walls Could Talk” and the lyrics remind you of Juliet’s nurse regretting what she’s done. While there’s a lot to read into, it’s obvious that Halsey has put out a well-defined production. All in all, the best part of this is that the album keeps going long before you’ve realised it, albeit in a slight 48 minutes. Even though this is her sophomore performance, Halsey is a welcome addition to those rebel chanteuses bursting on to the alternative electropop scene. This is a delightful precursor to Lorde’s upcoming album as well.

Key Tracks: Eyes Closed / Heaven in Hiding / Sorry

Bleachers – Gone Now

The Solomon Grundy lyrics that effuse themselves behind the opening track to Gone Now, “Dream of Mickey Mantle” tell its listeners that they’re in for something a bit different, albeit the obvious next step for Jack Antonoff in his storytelling since leaving band Fun behind. My friend Mike Duquette (founder of the stellar reissue blog and label The Second Disc) summed it up best after listening to the album this past weekend – “Imagine if Bruce Springsteen got way too into synthpop before Tunnel of Love“. In my opinon, the album as a whole reminds me of late-era Ben Folds after leaving behind his five. He almost talks to you like Folds did, and Antonoff includes several friends in semi-secret cameos, such as Lorde on the second verse of “Don’t Take the Money” or Carly Rae Jepsen joining in for the chorus of “Hate That You Know Me”. Those cameos elevate the songs, not that Antonoff needed it, for his vocals are indeed like Bruce in the prime of his career. If there’s any faults to find here, it’s that the back half of the albums slumps a bit, much like his first album Strange Desire. Also, while I’m satisfied with what I’ve heard, there’s a good and a bad take here. I like Strange Desire better as a whole, but Antonoff is at least attempting to branch out stylistically with each song. Most tracks from the former sound virtually the same, something I didn’t mind at the time, but I have a feeling Gone Now will resonate longer.

Key Tracks: Hate That You Know Me / I Miss Those Days / Don’t Take the Money

Dan Auerbach – Waiting on a Song

This is what we all needed this week, a chill folk guitar hammock album. When I worked in Best Buy from 2009-2012, I would listen to a handful of records on my Zune (dating myself of course) when I put new signage up before the store opened. One of those was Van Morrison’s Tupelo Honey and the Black Keys’ Brothers. Those two albums always felt intrinsically linked, and here Auerbach has somehow melded the feel both prior efforts captured for me. As he opens his thoughts to us, I can’t help but to think of Morrison’s humming a tune about how much his woman loves him. Auerbach has a way of stylising himself as a second coming of that era in American culture that we were looking for an outlet to both express ourselves against the man while also chilling out beneath the shade of an apple orchard. This album certainly encompasses that feeling, from the trumpets slipping between “Malibu Man” and lazily wandering around “Never in My Wildest Dreams” to the acoustic temperament of “King of a One Horse Town”. The only oddity here is the single “Cherrybomb” that definitively sounds more like a b-side from the Black Keys last album Turn Blue. It feels slightly out of place, despite it being a solid entry in Auerbach’s overall output.

Key Tracks: Livin’ in Sin / Stand by My Girl / King of a One Horse Town


Remember to come back next week to see new hits from Katy Perry, one final album from the impossibly timeless Glen Campbell, and maybe a few surprises?

I’ll also leave you with this brief (and better) review of Dan Auerbach, attached to that Bleachers comment from Mike Duquette:

Podcast June 2 – Wonder Woman, War Machine and Pirates 5

Summer is in full swing here at the Interjections podcast, and we’re rolling right along with a few new flicks:

  • Gal Gadot appears in the first solo Wonder Woman film ever, as she discovers that war surrounds her Mediterranean island enclave and must defeat Ares in order to restore balance to the DC universe.
  • Brad Pitt lowers himself into Netflix with the pseudo-biopic parody of General Stanley McCrystal’s time as leader of American forces in Afghanistan with War Machine.
  • Johnny Depp lowers himself back into that bank vault full of gold coins as he fails to recapture the magic of Jack Sparrow with a fifth(!) Pirates movie: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Will Will Turner turn up? Or did this franchise clearly take a Swann dive?
  • Cory also gives us his thoughts on the new limited Twin Peaks series, without even seeing the original!
  • Tristan continues his New York series on classic films with Spike Lee’s opus Do the Right Thing, showcasing racial injustices in Brooklyn in the 1980s – a still timely message for us all.

Tune in below to hear all this and some new trailers. Remember to comment responsibly!