CD Review: the Briggs – “Leaving the Ways”

by on July 20, 2004 @ 3:25 pm

Hey, all right… SideOne Dummy seems to have found a replacement for Madcap. That’s good. As diverse as the label is, it’s good for them to have a streetpunk act. Granted, there’s nothing that sets the Briggs apart from the Casualties, Madcap, One Man Army, or the Swingin’ Utters, but they sound pretty tough.

Leaving the Ways is pretty much five songs of straight-ahead oi- typical brusque lyrics with meancing delivery and guitars that are more punk rock than straight punk. The last track is, well… not oi. The EP’s final song, “Top 40”, is a complete dub-wise tune that threatens to blow out the subwoofer on your stereo.

Not a bad EP, and if you’re into any of the band mentioning previously, it’s worth a spin or two in your CD player. For your average punk fan, though, it’s not going to really blow your skirt up.

SideOne Dummy Records
the Briggs

CD Review: Communiqué – “Poison Arrows”

by on @ 3:18 pm

There’s a part of me that simply wants to dismiss Communiqué as a Hot Hot Heat rip-off act, and leave it at that so I can go back to playing solitaire. Unfortunately, the band is not that easily summed up.

The band does, in fact, sound an awful lot like Sub Pop artists Hot Hot Heat. However, where Hot Hot Heat is more punk and abrasive, Communiqué goes a smoother route. For the first thing, Communiqué is a much more pop-oriented act. Rather than go for an angular sound, they lean towards more mellow song stylings. In fact, it’s almost as if the act is an organic version of the Postal Service. They’re the same mellow dance-oriented sounds, only played with instruments, as opposed to being programmed into a computer.

The vocals, at times, resemble pop-era Police and the keyboards are more New Wave synth-style than most acts that attempt the sound. There were a few times I thought I was listening to Pleasure Victim-era Berlin, they hit the early ‘80s sound so well.

Certainly, it took several listens to Poison Arrows before I got over the similar sounding nature of Communiqué, but I am now trying to pass off the name of the band to anyone I can. It’s not an instant “holy shit” listen, but the album is certainly well worth the time it takes to grow on you.

Lookout Records

CD Review: Various Artists – “Warped Tour 2004 compilation”

by on June 20, 2004 @ 12:17 pm

Another year, another Warped Tour compilation in the stores. As per usual, it’s a sampling of all the bands that have played and will play the tour. Granted, if you’re a fan of any of the bands on the comp, then you most likely have the songs that are contained on the two discs.

That’s sort of the downside of the Warped Tour comps, really… they’re pretty much all previously released material. And while that might make for an easier job for SideOne Dummy, in that they don’t have to pester bands for unreleased or live stuff, it makes the cds less of a necessity for fans.

Granted, the cds are pretty damn cheap, and while you get a healthy dose of bands you’ve probably heard before, there’s also a heaping helping of bands you’ve probably never heard before. I mean, while I’ve heard of Hazen St. before, there’s gonna be some kids out there who haven’t, and this is going to introduce them to the band.

When it’s all said and done, this is a pretty cheap two disc set, and if you’re the sort of person who’d rather sample bands via purchasing music instead of downloading it, this is a good set. Two discs, fifty bands, a cheap price tag, and the opportunity to hear some new music. Think of it as a licensed mix cd with good cover art.

SideOne Dummy Records
Vans Warped Tour

CD Review: Hawthorne Heights – “The Silence In Black and White”

by on @ 12:12 pm

What the fuck is up with poppy music becoming a bad thing in the punk scene? You’d think a band would be happy to be melodic and catchy, and kinda-sorta mellow. But no, they have to be hard and heavy, and completely screw up what could be a good record.

Hawthorne Heights could be a very good mellow, poppy indie band. However, those bands (with the exception of Death Cab For Cutie and a few others) don’t get into rotation on regular radio stations. So, they have to be slightly heavy and angsty.

Basically, what that means is this: you take a typical, run-of-the-mill indie rock release and add in a screamer. Everyone is credited in the liner notes with “vocals.” Someone needs to be credited as “asinine jackhole who ruins perfectly good songs by screaming instead of actually singing.”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like bands like Poison the Well, Atreyu, and Thursday. However, these bands are unequivocally HEAVY. They have breakdowns, they rock, and are music to which you can headbang. Hawthorne Heights, on the other hand, is band that (were it not for the fucking random shrieks) is much more suited to shoegazing and mild head nodding at best.

The Silence In Black and White is not an anomaly, unfortunately. I could stand with it being the only example of its kind. The sad fact of the matter is that Hawthorne Heights is not alone in its need to add some hardcore cred to an otherwise poppy sound. See, even New Found Glory has gotten into the act, and you can hear it on their new single, “All Downhill From Here.” Listen closely, and you can hear screaming in what is otherwise a perfectly normal pop-punk song.

Dammit. This could be a really good record. And even if it wasn’t above average, it’d still at least be good. This, sadly, is an exercise in annoyance. Maybe if someone on the ‘Net gets clever and removes the screams and returns it to normalcy, I’d be able to listen to it again. As it is, I’m not even going to sell it to the record shop down the street. I’d be too afraid that someone else out there might actually buy it.

Victory Records
Hawthorne Heights

CD Review: Atreyu – “The Curse”

by on @ 12:07 pm

Finally, a band that isn’t fucking confused as to what they want to sound like. Atreyu’s debut album was rich with promise, but lacked a lot of focus. The elements of hardcore, metal, and melody came together on songs like “Lip Gloss and Black” and “Ain’t Life Grand?” but failed on others.

Happily, with The Curse, Atreyu has found a sound that fits them like a glove. Rather than try and meld hardcore and metal, the band has gone almost completely in a direction that mixes the driving force of Slayer with the lyrical musicality of Iron Maiden. There’s no random shrieks or screams on this disc. The band manages to mix the singing with the screaming in a way that shows they know what their sound is supposed to be.

This is a band that wants to be heavy. And damn if they don’t succeed… and well. The guitars are sickeningly crunchy, and the drums and bass boom with authority. “Bleeding Mascara” has next to no hardcore influence, and is amazingly metal for a Victory act. There’s a definite reason Atreyu is on this year’s Ozzfest. They’re going to fit in just fine alongside Judas Priest.

Victory Records

Movie Review: Bruce Almighty

by on May 29, 2003 @ 11:46 pm

Well, I saw this movie mainly because I needed to do a review of it for Hungarian television (don’t ask), and I guess it was mediocre. I work at the movie theatre, so I got in for free, thus, “no sweat off my sack if it sucks,” I thought. So the little lady and my best friend Joe and I slip past the podium usher, and go into a very hot, very smelly theatre. Apparently some little dumbshits had broken a stinkbomb in there at the previous show, so the stupid ushers decide it would smell a lot better if they drenched the place in “Odor Destroyer” (that shit they use to cover up the smell of barf at amusement parks, etc.).

Anyways, the main premise of the movie is that Bruce Noland (Carrey) is a wacky special features reporter on the news, adding stories such as “Buffalo’s Biggest Cookie” to his repitoire at the news station. He is very unlucky: He is late to work, his dog pisses on his furniture, he doesn’t get the anchor job he wanted, he gets his ass kicked by Mexicans, etc. He blames god (Freeman) for all of this, despite the fact that god has blessed him with a hot ass, live-in girlfriend with big tits, named Grace (Aniston). Bruce is confronted by god because Bruce uses him as a scapegoat so often. God dares Bruce to do a better job with the powers of the Almighty while he is “away on vacation” (wtf?). The film is mainly Bruce using his powers to look up girls skirts, kick the crap out of Mexicans, make Jennifer Aniston orgasm, and so on. Finally, after being power hungry, and so selfish and blind that Grace leaves him, Bruce decides to start helping people, and finally makes his peace with god. Then at the end there’s a bunch of mushy crap to which I didn’t pay too much attention, on account of I had an ultra painful, vomit-inducing migraine.

The Good
I suppose I’ve always liked the average Jim Carrey movie, so I didn’t really have too many problems with it. It was just Carrey being an ass, which for me is usually pretty funny. Oh shit, I forgot to mention one of the best parts: Steve Correl is in it, and he’s fucking hilarious. It’s all in all funny movie. Also, Jennifer Aniston.

The Bad
Morgan Freeman is again typecast as the wise, experienced old guy. I’m starting to really hate this, a lot. I mean, no doubt, he plays the part well, but does he have to be the same fucking guy in every movie he’s in? Expand your horizons Morgan, you’re a good actor. Use that. Also, the ending, as previously noted, is mushy and serious, and it seems to be the general concensus of all the reviews of the movie I have read thus far that this is a bad thing (mainly because it is inconsistent).

The Lowdown
Go see this movie: If you don’t hate Jim Carrey, if you liked Liar Liar, if $6.50 isn’t going to make or break you.

Don’t see this movie: If it’s your last $6.50. Go put it in a strippers G-String, you’re not going to miss too much.

Also, I would just like to add…although I’ve talked about Jennifer Aniston a lot in this article, the co-anchor of Bruce’s news show in the movie is like 10 times hotter. And, it’s good to be back. How have you all been?

DVD Review: Equilibrium

by on @ 12:53 am

After urging from numerous sources, the little woman and I decided to buckle down and rent this Christian Bale/Taye Diggs joint, Equilibrium. Actually, it was her idea. I was all for renting something that didn’t make me laugh at the screen during it’s own trailer over a year ago, but sometimes the wimmens can have an overpowering effect. I call this the “You made me watch Star Wars Episode II three fucking times to make sure that it sucked so let me rent what I want or it’s no nookie for you” effect. It’s a dirty card to play ladies, use it wisely.

Anyway, on to the flick itself. Literary “borrowing” nontwithstanding, the movie wasn’t all that bad. At least not until you get to the end, and we’ll get to that in a bit. Let’s paint the picture here. We’re in a post-apocalyptic future, not too far from the present day. Human emotion has become outlawed in an attempt to eliminate war, murder, suffering, basically anything caused by Pauly Shore films. Enter Christian Bale as John Preston. He is the elite head honcho of a police regime called the Clerics, and they are humanity’s last defense against human emotions. Fairly quickly into the flick, he has to ace his fellow Cleric played by Sean Bean, because he begins to show signs of feelings. After this, we learn that Preston’s wife was killed four years previous because she too had violated the anti-feeling laws. This does seem to have a slightly visible effect on Preston, but he continues on in his duties.

However, not everything can retain it’s Brady-bunchiness, and Bale’s character soon learns that feeling is better than his drab drug-fueled existence, even if it does mean emotionless sex and being the hardest-ass-motherfucker on the planet. So he sets out on a quest to save puppies, and eventually, humanity. Sounds like fun, right?

The Good
Alright, the action was fucking sweet. Even in a post-Matrix world, this film still comes up with some remarkably unique fight scenes. And the beauty of the film comes in the exploitation of Christian Bale’s number one ticket to success: his complete inability to show some real fucking emotion in his acting. Tarantino should take a few notes here when he casts himself in his next flick. Play an unemotional robot who was programmed to act like a first year drama student Quentin, you’ll be revered for it.

The Bad
I heard a lot of reviewers comparing this film to Fahrenheit 451 and 1984 before I saw it, so immediately I knew that there would be a post-apocalyptic backdrop and humans being manipulated by a higher power. The problem is that while it aspires to follow in the footsteps of these great books, (which, unlike most of the clueless reviewers, I have actually read) it falls completely short in terms of plot. Thankfully it never claims to touch their level of quality, although I could not ignore that the entire story seemed too derivative. The action itself is great, but you get only a slight glimpse into the reasons why Bale’s character would forsake his (in perspective) great fucking life for the fate of an outlaw, which means complete and utter burnination.

Yes, the end scene is great in terms of action, but only for about three minutes. What the fuck happened to Taye Diggs? Did we run out of budget? I get the idea that Bale is much better than him, but the fight lasts all of three fucking seconds. And after that, it’s only about a minute until the resistance takes over and we can only imagine that everyone goes back to feeling emotions again. We guess, because they don’t show us a thing. No consequences, no foreshadowing, just Christian Bale standing triumphant over the huge evil power which now seems sort of silly in retrospect. Kind of like the limits of their tyrannical grip on humanity only reached as far as the operating budget of the film, which ran out about three minutes from the credits.

The Lowdown
Rent this movie: if you’re a sci-fi fan with a taste for post-apocalyptic mayhem.

Don’t rent this movie: if you love doggies. Fucking pricks, the dogs did nothing to you!