Thursday, November 30, 2017

Video Of The Week: Halsey

Halsey is the stage name of one Ashley Nicolette Frangipan, from New Jersey.

She is a 23-year-old pop artist who is on her second record, Hopeless Fountain Kingdom, having released Badlands in 2015. She has toured with Imagine Dragons and The Weeknd, recorded with The Chainsmokers and Justin Bieber, and is emo to the core, citing Panic! At The Disco as her all-time favourite band.

She spent her late teens dating a heroin addict in New York City and dropping out of college, so he had the regular rebellious lifestyle worthy of a TV biopic.

Oh, and she's way more into P!nk than she lets on, as can be attested by the video for Bad At Love, which she co-directed with Sing J. Lee:

There's a lot of Thelma & Louise in there, as well, of course. Because empowerment.

And because watching and getting inspired by Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Gas Food Lodging, Bound, Set It Off, Mulholland Drive, Frida, Suffragette, or Lost And Delirious is not cliché enough for a young soul who only pretends to be interested in cinema.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Video Of The Week: AC/DC

2017 brought about many more celebrity deaths. Most of the cultural heroes from the 1950s and 1960s have passed, and we're entering the realm where those of the 1970s and 1980s are dying "naturally", i.e. of long-term disease.

In the past few hours, the world lost one of rock music's most impactful talents for the second time in five years when Malcolm Young died; it had already been a sad time when he sat out for 2014's Rock Or Bust tour, replaced by his nephew Stevie Young.

But even during the amazing 2008-2010 Black Ice tour, dementia had already kicked in, eliminating his short-term memory and forcing him to have to re-learn the band's songs every night before going on stage.

It got to the point where he had to be put in a nursing home, where he got and defeated lung cancer, had a pacemaker intalled and saw his verall health decline sharply, leading to his death, on November 18th, 2017, at the age of 64.

AC/DC is a hard-rock/boogie band from Australia who is known to the general public via its towering and charismatic leaders - former singer Bon Scott (1946-1980), second singer Brian Johnson, and of course lead guitarist Angus Young, he of the lightning-fast fingers, Chuck Berry-inspired duck walk and perpetual shoolboy uniform.

The thing is, behind the solos and riffs, what drove AC/DC, what made it what it is, is Malcolm's playing and songwriting. Megadeth's Dave Mustaine once said:
I respect James (Hetfield). I’m a better lead player than he is, but he’s one of the three best rhythm players in the world. (The other two being) Malcolm Young [of AC/DC] and myself. Malcolm kept it basic but brought a whole new style of rhythm playing to the world.
We can take that for what it is - Mustaine's insane, he'll never get over being kicked out of Metallica, and he knows Malcolm Young deserves respect. That wouldn't be my personal top-three, because while Mustaine is very good at all aspects of guitar-playing, his rhythm playing isn't "the best" by any stretch of the imagination and Hetfield's pretty god, but there are better talents and beter innovators out there.

I'm sure Malcolm is in my top-three, but I'd have to take a week or a month to listen to Gene Vincent closely, to see if Eddie Cochran's consistency as good as he is with Summertime Blues, Neil Young, Pete Townshend, Keith Richards, and so many others.

Malcolm is on a rare plain where it's his inner understanding of rock, the way he just feels it inside and gets it out so naturally, that makes him unique. He's a lot like Jack White that way - it's always the perfect sound that comes out, the right chord with the perfect strumming, bombastic or quick-pick attacks.

Here's what I mean, in one of AC/DC's most well-known songs, Thunderstruck. They catch your attention with Angus' mixoldian scale to start with, then the crowd chanting "uh-huh-uh-huh-uh-uh-uhn" and "Thunder!", but it's when Johnson joins in and Malcolm's chord comes in that the track hits you in the chest for the first time. Then, at 1:33, the actual song kick in. That's all Malcolm, as is the pounding first bridge a full minute later:

That's what I mean by how he and rock are just one entity. Take those away and it's a pretty naked song, yet it's so good and in its right place that you only hear it if you're looking for it.

Rest In Peace, Sir.

The video was directed David Mallet, at London's Brixton Academy - like many others he did for the band. He has also directed VH1 specials, Cirque Du Soleil show DVDs, and videos for Sarah Brightman (How Can Heaven Love Me, Music Of The Night), Olivia Newton-John (Take A Chance, Soul Kiss, Culture Shock, Emotional Tangle, Toughen Up, The Right Moment), Culture Club (Mistake #3), Blondie (Hanging On The Telephone, Dreaming, Atomic, The Hardest Part, Union City Blue), Peter Gabriel (Games Without Frontiers), Queen (I Want It All, I Want To Break Free, Radio Ga Ga, Under Pressure, Bicycle Race, Who Wants To Live Forever, Hammer To Fall, Heaven For Everyone), David Bowie (Boys Keep Swinging, DJ, Look Back In Anger, Ashes To Ashes, Let's Dance, Wild is The Wind, China Girl, Cat People (Putting Out Fire), Loving The Alien, Dancing In The Street, Hallo Spaceboy), Freddie Mercury (The Great Pretender, I Was Born To Love You, Made In Heaven, Barcelona), The Pretenders (Talk Of The Town), George Michael (Somebody To Love), Tina Turner (Proud Mary, Addicted To Love), Heart (What About Love), Billy Idol (Eyes Without A Face, To Be A Lover, Catch My Fall, White Wedding), The Boomtown Rats (I Don't Like Mondays) and Def Leppard's Photograph.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Video Of The Week: Walk The Moon

What do you get when you mix the worst haircuts of all time, the visual style of 1980s Red Hot Chili Peppers crossed with Aladdin Sane-era David Bowie and ten-year-olds trying their hands at KISS make-up, the musical stylings of Crazy Town, Fun., Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, and the worst of Walk Off The Earth's originals, and the lyrical genius qualities of Black Eyed Peas?

Apart from a total lack of originality and a dumbed-down version of sub-par imitators, you get Walk The Moon, who recently released their new album, What If Nothing, which is exactly the kind of empty pretend-deep title you thought their record would have.

These assholes have the nerve to call their musical style "new wave", which is an insult to Talking Heads, Elvis Costello, Blondie, Devo, Nick Lowe, Joe Jackson, The B-52s, The Go-Gos, Adam And The Ants, The Romantics, The Jam, The (English) Beat, XTC, Roxy Music and the like.

Walk The Moon's sound is actually much closer to that of New Romantic acts such as Spandau Ballet, Squeeze, Duran Duran, Simply Red and Thompson Twins, i.e. "shitty male-dominated synth-pop".

Director Robert Hales (Nine Inch Nails, Imagine Dragons, Jack White's Would You Fight For My Love) should have left them to die in the Joshua Tree National Park:

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Poppy Fields Forever

As usual, my friend Mark was on point by sending me this awesome image today:
Poppy fields forever.

Now, Canada, Justin Trudeau and other politicians, make this a paid Holiday all over the country. Our soldiers from WWI, WWII, Blue Berets and the soldiers that we lent to the Crown for wars such as the Korean War deserve the respect.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Top 10s Of The Week

Top 10 Songs:

10. I WAS A FOOL, Sunflower Bean (2017)
9. IT GETS MORE BLUE, Girlpool (2017)
8. NOTHING FEELS NATURAL, Priests (2017)
7. LEGEND HAS IT, Run The Jewels (2016)
5. PA'LANTE, Hurray For The Riff Raff (2017)
4. DUM SURFER, King Krule (2017)
3. CREATURE COMFORT, Arcade Fire (2017)
2. GOOD COP, BAD COP, Ice Cube (2017)
1. WRECKING BALL (Miley Cyrus Cover), William Patrick Corgan (2017)

Top 10 Most Overrated Movies Of The 1980s:

10. AKIRA, Katsuhiro Otomo (1988)
9. ROAD HOUSE, Rowdy Herrington (1989)
8. A FISH CALLED WANDA, Charles Crichton (1988)
7. DIRTY DANCING, Emile Ardolino (1987)
6. TRON, Steven Lisberger (1982)
5. TOP GUN, Tony Scott (1986)
4. FOOTLOOSE, Herbert Ross (1984)
3. SIXTEEN CANDLES, John Hughes (1984)
2. THE BREAKFAST CLUBJohn Hughes (1985)
1. FERRIS BUELER'S DAY OFF, John Hughes (1986)

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Video Of The Week: Alex Lahey

Alex Lahey is an independent singer-songwriter from Melbourne, Australia who is on her way to make a junior Jack White of herself, owning all of her art, her image, and in charge of her entire career. She's won a couple of prizes and prestige festival slots in Australia, and is now set on conquering the rest of the world with her fun, smart, poppy indie-rock debut, I Love You Like A Brother.

When I first heard the lead single, Every Day's The Weekend, my first thought was "oh, cool, the generation that grew up listening to The Strokes and that one good song by The Killers is ready to take its place at the podium", and there's nothing wrong with that, although the song does have that very 2017 lack of guitars and overuse of empty-sounding space:

Callum Preston directed the video and made the sets, while co-director Jam Nawaz was also its cinematographer. It stars Lahey's entourage: James & Lloyd, Boo Johnson, Barry Morgan, Megan Quigley and Vicki Lahey.

Friday, November 3, 2017

In Drugs News

What quantity is "too much drugs"? Depends on the drug.

How much is four and a half pounds of drugs? Again, depends on the drug.

Four and a half pounds of marijuana will fill four garbage bags and will last one "real" stoner  two and a half years.

Four and a half pounds of fentanyl could kill the entire city of Columbus, Ohio. You do not want that in the trunk of your car.
From Kaya Pharmacy
Then again, last August, authorities seized enough to kill half of New York City. That's 20 pounds, worth roughly $3M on the market, although I'm unsure if that's wholesale or whether it represents the street-level value that low-level dealers sell at.

And even that's nothing compared to the September bust which confiscated an amount enough to kill 32M people. That's 195 pounds.

That's what the War On Drugs should be after.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Video Of The Week: Wolf Alice

I remember hearing Wolf Alice's Moaning Lisa Smile in 2015 and being slightly impressed with their Veruca Salt/Breeders vibe. Then I promptly forgot they existed, until a few weeks ago, when I fell upon Beautifully Unconventional, a more textured and groovy song, albeit more pop-oriented on the rock scale.

I'll have to buy the record to see if they just took the loudness out of their songs in general or if it's just that song, or if it's more introspective or experimental.

Whatever the reason, I like the song's video, directed by Stephen Agnew:

It's a visual throwback to 1950s, 1960s and 1970s variety TV shows featuring musical acts lip-synching their songs and doo-wop acts' fashion styles. This look is archetypal of what American Conservative voters think "their" politicians mean when they think of the "good old days", when they're actually referring to WWII policies and class rule (men above women, graded highest by lightest skin tone and revenue).

In case you were wondering, Agnew is a British filmmaker who has mostly done Nike ads and videos for Drenge (Fuckabout, Face Like A Skull, Nothing), Royal Blood (Out Of The Black, Ten Tonne Skeleton), Crystal Castles (Sad Eyes), White Lies (Strangers), Fangclub (Better To Forget), The Vaccines (Post Break-Up Sex), All We Are (Honey), Ruen Brothers (Summer Sun), Gabrielle Aplin (Miss You), Spector (Kyoto Garden), and Dogs Trust (We're Here). He really likes bright colours, men in suits and long, classy dresses.