Music to Your Ears – ‘Murica Edition

All hail the stars and stripes – sorry to our international readers, but we’re all about America here today. Well, probably by the time I finish this write-up, it’ll be the 5th, a far more important holiday (Tristan’s birthday). However, we here at Interjections find music as American as apple pie, so without further adieu, we present you with our top four picks from the spring season, packaged and ready for the final sixteen at the end of the year:

In addition, I wanted to highlight the only new items worth mentioningfrom the past two weeks (besides the oft on repeat Baby Driver soundtrack):

Imagine Dragons – Evolve

With a solid following already devoted to the band, what more could we want to add to this already strikingly impressive band? Well first thing’s first, they want to provide us with a collection of catchy tunes to help us rock the warm nights away. What better than having Dolph Lundgren join you in your first music video from the album? There’s not much more to say, but this is definitely one of the most average rock albums of the year, and that’s saying a lot given the state of “rock” albums. A lot of the album sounds similar, and while I’m not sure it’s outstanding for any casual fans, there are some highlights here, and big fans of the band will be pleased.

Key Tracks: Believer / I Don’t Know Why / Whatever It Takes


Sorry for the delay, but we’re all ready to dive right into the summer, aren’t we? Next week there will be the second full HAIM album, as well as the comeback of Broken Social Scene, as well as some likely surprises!

Podcast June 30 – Baby Driver, GLOW and Spider-Man: Homecoming

So you thought we were a little light the last two weeks, did you? You were hoping for more content in the Interjections podcast? Well, buddy, we’ve got some relief for you, in the form of eleven new films and television shows. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Baby Driver – the lengthily developed heist film from Edgar Wright stars Ansel Elgort (The Fault in Our Stars) as a tinnitis-inflicted getaway driver who wrestles with morals and feelings amidst a catalogue of sketchy characters including Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eisa Gonzalez, Jon Bernthal and Flea. He’ll aim to survive and get to his new favorite waitress Lily James.
  • G.L.O.W. – Alison Brie follows Community alum Gillian Jacobs to Netflix with this semi-historical look at a strangely progressive time in wrestling’s history, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, an outlier cable show that premiered in the early 1980s. Marc Maron is the director of the outfit, and he and Brie must figure out how to get their gang of misfits into action.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming – Cory managed to sneak in a preview of next week’s massive Marvel blockbuster that sees Tom Holland take over everyone’s friendly neighborhood web-slinger. Here he’s under the guidance of OG Marvel elite Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) as the kid must handle double duty as a superhero and a regular teen, avoiding supervillian Vulture (Michael Keaton).
  • Transformers: The Last Knight – Somehow someone greenlight a fifth Transformers film, and not only are Michael Bay and Mark Wahlberg back, but Stanley Tucci shills by playing a drunk Merlin. Anthony Hopkins joins other actors like John Turturro, Jon Voight, Ken Jeong, Frances McDormand, Alan Tudyk, Jerrod Carmichael and Bernie Mac in embarassing himself by participating in this debacle.
  • The Belko Experiment – Earlier in the year, John C. McGinley, Tony Goldwyn and Michael Rooker were sent down to Columbia to participate in a Battle Royale style corporate free-for-all. Cory caught up with this one.
  • Wilson – Woody Harrelson shines in this indie adaptation of Daniel Clowe’s graphic novel, yet another story about a disaffected man-child that can’t adjust to real life, much like Clowes’ other work Ghost World and Art School Confidential.
  • The Neverending Story – Tristan at long last viewed this cult classic children’s fable that sees a young boy immersed in the strange world of Fantasia, where Bastian (Noah Hathaway) must save the world from a mysterious dark force overtaking the horizon. Dog-like dragon Falcor aids him as he traverses the land filled with sadness swamps and wolf-vampires.
  • 47 Meters Down – Mandy Moore rides on the slim coattails of last summer’s The Shallows by facing down a shark underwater.
  • Rough Night – The lady version of Very Bad Things finds a bachelorette party gone awry populated by Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Ilana Glazer, Zoe Kravitz and Jillian Bell.
  • Gifted – Chris Evans attempts to schmaltz up his image by taking on the role by mentoring a brilliant nephew who ends up in a nasty custody battle.
  • The Bad Batch – Ana Lily Aminpour’s sophomore film focuses on a strange apocalyptic landscape that former model Suki Waterhouse attempts to traverse, though she runs afoul of many an odd character, including Jason Momoa, Jim Carrey and Keanu Reeves.

All this and a ton of trailers below! Remember to comment responsibly:

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)!

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