Tuesday, March 3, 2015

SXSW 2015 Preview: Metz and Slothrust

In an attempt to get myself into partying shape for SXSW this year, I actually stepped out of my apartment for the first time in a while this past weekend and let's just say that the results were mixed at best. I woke up Saturday morning with a huge gash on my forehead after having apparently gotten into a fight with myself the night before. The most violent thing I remember happening that night was hanging out with hipsters who were wearing black fishnet pantyhose and then passing out while eating Detroit style pizza. Maybe that's part of the Detroit experience; seeing if you can actually finish your pizza before getting mugged.

And then there was Saturday night were I promised a friend of mine that I would take her to Mars on her 37th birthday (seven years from now); the look of confusion on her face was only topped by the look of shock after I promised her a black baby for her 38th. So suffice it to say, that I have a little work to do before moshing in the pits of these next two acts that I'm about to preview for you.

First up is Metz out of Toronto; they are a noise punk rock band whose sound reminds you of the Horrors and their first album. This is of course before the Horrors got smart, sold their souls, and started using synthesizers. If you want a trip back to the days of Nirvana's Bleach album, then this band is definitely for you. Their lead pours out every bit of angst that's in him into the mic while his band mates punish your ears with blistering guitars and the result is nothing short of electrifying. I love noise, I love distortion, and I love this band so they get a rating of FRESH!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNxVxzLnYBQ

Next up is the band Slothrust; and I have to be honest when I say that the only reason I checked these guys out in the first place was because of their name. And it's because they have such a fresh name that I am convincing myself that I actually like them. Their songs sound like they have a female Johnny Cash telling twisted stories over distorted guitar rhythms and their style reminds me of a post grunge rock band in the mid to late 90's, so basically it's Nada Surf meets Silverchair. Now I'm purposely underselling them a bit as I do think they are talented and offer something fresh to the rock game but there is a slight chance that six months from now I'll look at this article and ask myself what in the world was I thinking. They get a rating of FRESH!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cANcbev6ZFc



Friday, February 27, 2015

Focus

Will Smith is a smart and calculating business man who never takes any big risks and this is exactly why white people would have made him America's first Black president a few years ago if he had actually decided to quit movies and  run against Obama. This is also why there isn't any uproar about him seducing and sleeping with a beautiful white woman in his latest movie Focus. Remember that cereal commercial that came out a few years ago with the interracial couple talking to their daughter about the tastiness of breakfast? Well bigots and internet trolls came from out of the woodwork to protest it and once again reminded us that the only thing that will ever bring this country racial harmony is a tasty Chick Fil-A breakfast sandwich and a side of Krispy Kreme donuts in the morning.

Well in his latest safe and non threatening role, Big Willy Style plays a professional grifter who leads a team of con men to the country's biggest events in order to rob people of their personal belongings and sell them for a profit. One day he notices the knockout Jess (Margot Robbie) attempting to pull off a job of her own and decides to take her under his wing. He teaches her the basics of the game and winds up involving her in one of his biggest schemes of the year, the Super Bowl. And as you would guess, whenever two beautiful people get together for a long period of time and try and pull off something exciting together, a hot and steamy romance is formed. But something random occurs and Smith inexplicable leaves Jess only to run into her again a few years later while he's on another job. The second he sees her however, he's thrown for a loop and starts doing things that are out of character for him.

Has Jess gone straight or is she running a scheme of her own? And will Will Smith's obsession with her jeopardize his latest job or will he drop everything for her in hopes of them starting a new life together somewhere? With everyone apparently conning everyone all of the time, you can never really be sure when someone is lying or when they are telling the truth, and that's what makes the second half of this movie interesting.

The first half however is full of cheesy one liners and lame pickpocket gags, and it seems like even Smith cant believe that he signed up for this movie as he is barely attempting to act in it. There is absolutely no chemistry between him and Jess, so their love affair doesn't seem realistic at all. It also doesn't help that in this rated R movie, they don't have even one passionate love scene between the two of them. So just like 50 Shades of Grey was soft core porn for teenage girls, this movie felt like intro interracial porn for old people. If they really wanted to make their relationship seem realistic, they should have shown Jess calling her dad after every time her and Smith had sex. "I hate you daddy, so I'm having sex with a Black convict as payback!" I kid, I kid, not every father's like the dads you run into in Texas.

Anyway, if you make it past the first hour, the movie actually picks up a bit as you spend it trying to figure out who is getting over on who. Smith has a moment or two where he actually tries and the directors provide you with some beautiful shots of Argentina and its landscape.

The problem is, the movie just seems like it's an excuse for Will Smith to wear tight red pants while he's on vacation in New Orleans and South America. Without the big stars, this is nothing but a B Movie at best. The ending is laughable but it's so over the top that it makes a complete 180 and sort of becomes fresh. However the ending and the fact that this is a beautiful looking film cannot save it from getting a rating of pretty WEAK.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

SXSW 2015 Preview: Vic Mensa and Girl Band

The point of all of these previews is to help make the SXSW experience just a bit easier for you. I know that it can be a bit overwhelming with over 1900 bands playing over a five day span but if you simply narrow it down to 5-10 bands that you want to see, you can just sign up for the free parties they will be performing at and at the same time get exposure to a ton of additional artists that you never would have otherwise seen before.

The worst thing you can do however is to simply just wing it and go downtown to see what you can get yourself into because there is a high probability you’ll be stuck listening to some hipster singing  covers of Muppets songs while Sam Smith is singing in a restaurant right next door to you. Seriously, I’m not a big fan or anything but last year I was literally 5 feet away from the guy at Fader Fort and now he’s headlining arenas. So with that in mind, here are a few acts you should check out before they blow up this year.
First up is Vic Mensa out of Chicago. When I first heard Orange Soda I thought he was just a stoned hip hop artist with a smooth flow who reminded me of the Pharcyde but the more I listened to him, the more I realized that there’s an actual method to his apparent laziness. He has the skills to be as deep as almost any rapper out there but that would limit what he could do musically as he wants so badly for hip hop to be fun and interesting again. He is able to utilize both his ability to sing and to rhyme to try and accomplish this; so while he’s singing over house music in one song, he’s dropping lyrical literature over 808 beats in the next to help turn his mix tape into one of the most diverse albums to drop in a while. As you can tell I’m pretty excited about his potential and apparently so is Kanye as he already put him on his latest song Wolves with Sia; check it out when you get the chance. Mensa was more than able to hold his own on that song and you should check him out while you have the opportunity this March. He gets a rating of TIGHT! You should also check out his song Down On My Luck.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUIIVJMY7jQ

Next up is Girl Band, a four piece noise rock band out of Ireland. They finally provide a show that you can absolutely lose your mind to as every piece of the band screams noise. The lead, who looks like Justin Bieber, initially sings/moans barely discernible lyrics in the early parts of their songs but then the distortion kicks in and all hell breaks loose! They are another one of my favorites this year and you should definitely see them when they play. They get a rating of FRESH!

Monday, February 23, 2015

SXSW 2015 Hip Hop Preview: The Posterz, IAMSU, and Verite'

If you're going to check out a hip hop showcase at SXSW this year make sure you plan on being there for at least three hours. It's not due to the fact that there will be a wealth of talent there, although sometimes that's the case, but it's because Black people refuse to ever show up on time! I'm not sure if it's payback for the cruelty of slavery or if they just took Tupac's Fuck the World too much to heart but hip hop artists show up at minimum 40 minutes late to a show even if it means that their set time will be cut in half; just look at 2 Chainz from Fader Fort a few years ago.

The problem is, unless it's a big showcase that features other genres of music, the venue will typically just roll with the artists showing up late and will still let them have their full set time; so there's a good chance that the performer you came to see at a certain time wont be on stage for another two hours. But hip hop showcases are always a party, so just sit back and enjoy it.

The first group you should check out is The Posterz out of Montreal. Montreal has all of a sudden become the new hub for young, talented, and unique artists as its been cranking out nothing but legit music the past few years. Everyone in this group brings a refreshing style to the game and the second you hear their beats you want to immediately turn up. Sometimes it's hard to give hip hop artists who aren't from America props but singing a hook that says "getting cash is the only thing I know" is as universal as it gets. I rate these guys as FRESH!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JTfr-xcGVI

Next up is IAMSU out of Richmond, CA; he has actually been in the game since 2010 but he just released his first solo album last year. In the past five years he's racked up a pretty impressive resume' as he's been on E-40's Function and the annoyingly awesome Gas Pedal. His rhymes aren't all that deep but that's ok because every now and then you just need to hear some dope beats with someone yelling about their dick over them. IAMSU and his smooth Cali flow gets a rating of FRESH from me!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAnWhrjt0iE

The last artist to check out is the unbelievably beautiful Verite'. Most people would categorize her music as pop but when you hear her in interviews you can tell that she hates being put in a box. She claims that quite a few of her lyrics are inspired by hip hop  and when you listen to her voice, you can tell that she intentionally uses it to bring a dark feel to her music. It's interesting enough for me to take the time to check out when there's 1900 other options available to me, so I will rate it as FRESH!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wLkZYoSRdE



Friday, February 20, 2015

Hot Tub Time Machine 2

When Hot Tub Time Machine came out a few years ago, the timing was perfect for a silly self-aware comedy about traveling back in time via a hot tub. The second Craig Robinson looked at the camera and said “It’s a hot tub time machine!” you said to yourself “Yes! This is exactly what I need in my life right now”; similar to when Eddie Murphy stared into the camera in Trading Places. But comedy is all about timing and knowing when a bit is up; just ask Mike Meyers. He beat Austin Powers and that comedic style so much into the ground that he caused his fans to revolt! By the time he decided to play a hockey guru with Jessica Alba he found himself being deported back to Canada with Tom Green!

So naturally I was expecting Hot Tub part 2 to fall completely flat because its shtick was played out the second the first one was released on Red Box. But I do have to say that I was pleasantly surprised at times during the sequel.

This movie takes place a few years after their lives were forever changed up at the ski lodge, they are now all successful icons as a result of their knowledge of the significant events that take place in the future. Lou (Rob Corddry or the bald guy) is the founder of Louggle (Google) and he is now married to his life-long crush Kelly after becoming the lead singer of Motley Lou. Nick (Robinson) has become the world’s most famous singer due to the fact that he is constantly making up his own version of songs that he knows will eventually become famous. And Jacob, Lou’s son, still hates his father as he is perceived as the lazy kid who never has any ideas of his own and lives under the shadow of his selfish and narcissistic father.

Well one day someone decides that they’ve had enough of his father’s antics and they decide to shoot Lou’s johnson off in disgust. This of course leads the three of them having to travel back in time so they can stop whoever was responsible for it. However instead of traveling back to the past, they find that they have actually traveled to the future and catch a glimpse of how their past mistakes have ruined them all.

More jokes miss than hit in this movie but the ones that do hit are pretty darn funny.  Their cut down jokes on one another are all pretty solid and the game show that’s hosted by Christian Slater provides some images that you will unfortunately never get out of your head. And for whatever reason you see just as many shots of penises as you do boobs but man the boobs you do see are on screen for quite a while.

Steve Pink (Grosse Pointe Blank) returns to direct this sequel but he falls just a bit short of recreating the magic the first one had. John Cusack was smart enough to jump ship on this one and to be the honest, everyone else involved should have too.

While this movie did make me laugh at times, I still have to give it a rating of pretty WEAK.  

SXSW Preview: The Districts, No Somos Marineros, and Pujol

You can almost feel, taste, touch, and hear SXSW in the air here in Austin; even though they make a ton of money working it, service industry workers are dreading it, hipsters are equally sighing in disgust and somewhat raising an eyebrow in anticipation, and scrubs like me are getting into arguments over what's fresh and what's not.

 I had a girl tell me that I was stupid because I buy a badge every year; she claimed that I can still do cool things without one. My response to her was if you're going to do it, why not go all in? I'd rather be the person with a badge that people look at with disdain than the scrub who walks around with 20 cents and a pack of bubble gum trying to barter my way into shows. So with that said, here are a few acts to check out.

First up is The Districts out of Pennsylvania; they are a mix of the Band of Horses and early Kings of Leon. Now typically when I even hear the word Americana I instantly throw up and move on but I decided to give these guys a shot. And wouldn't you know it, as soon I heard their song Funeral Beds and heard a harmonica in it I threw up in my mouth a little bit but as I continued to listen, they grew on me; they actually aren't that bad of a group. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer their indie stuff but you should give their song 4th and Roebling a listen; just do yourself a favor and don't look at the lead when he sings as he looks like a blind kid trying to eat corn on the cob. I rate them as barely FRESH!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTLqyoVV9EU

Next up is No Somos Marineros out of Mexico, their exact location there is unknown for their own protection because they don't want family members being held hostage for ransom. I kid, I kid. Their music is the side project that we've always hoped we'd eventually get from the Deftones' Chino Moreno. Instead of his going completely off the rails with Team Sleep or Palms, we just want the side of the Deftones that loves The Cure but still plays it with a ton of distortion. He's always given us the atmospheric sleeping aid version of the Deftones. Well I can't help but think that he called up his homies No Somos in Mexico and told them about his dream; so they went back and listened to White Pony and the self titled album and this was the result. I don't speak Spanish but thankfully he barely sings in each song and when he does his screaming is mainly drowned out by the music. I rate these guys as FRESH!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTrjbw28Afo

The last group to check out is Pujol out of Nashville. His music is all over the place but he does rock your socks off at times. His energy and rocking style reminds me of Ted Leo a bit. This is the kind of music you drink beer to and knock over a lamp while dancing to it. I'm not a big Ted Leo fan and I'm not quite what I think of him yet but I will check him out. I rate him as barely FRESH.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43HOewv3eCo



Wednesday, February 18, 2015

SXSW 2015 Preview : Dead Leaf Echo, BORNS, and Chastity Belt

Well now that most of you are recovering from your 50 Shades of Grey injuries and have a ton of time on your hands, here are a few bands you should check out to help you get ready for SXSW. But before you do, please remember ladies that you must learn to separate fantasy from reality. I cannot tell you how many women I have seen walking funny these past few days; not all men are going to be the next Christian Grey and I am more than certain that I will be searching forever to find a 22 year sneaky hot virgin who will let me randomly spank her in my laundry room. Now on to the bands...

First up is a New York emo band named Dead Leaf Echo. Thankfully for us their emo leans more towards the goth tip than it does the My Chemical Romance "I hate my science teacher" emo. It feels as though these guys listened to way too many Cure songs when they were kids and this band was the result of it.Their song So Wrong has the lead almost crying (slight exaggeration) over their atmospheric and 80's tinged guitars and I have to say that I can't help but like it. But keep in mind that this is not high energy music so please make sure you're not on downers at this point of the festival if do you decide to check them out. I rate them as FRESH!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNqNCmvdU7U

Next up is BORNS (I don't have the funny looking 0 with a / in it); he's a kid out of Michigan who now lives in LA. His song Electric Love from his EP Candy is early 2000's pop at its finest. He has a gender bending voice that at times sounds like its a female's but at other times reminds you that he is indeed a male who is singing over energetic electronic beats. If you are in touch with your inner white self then this music is definitely for you but even if you not, just imagine any of the teenage heartthrobs from 90's television finally getting a chance to make an album; this is exactly what it would sound like. It's not really my thing but I'm sure he will blow up this year so you should check him out. I rate him as kind of WEAK.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6r9mAs6Uj5A

The last one today is Chastity Belt, a four piece girl rock band who sings odd songs about giant vaginas or men who want to kill them with knives. This is fun garage rock that's not really all that challenging musically but it works great for mindless entertainment as you drive your life partner to Book Woman. The jury is still out on these girls but for now I give them a rating of kind of  FRESH.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oU0xad1JNNQ