Obsessongs: “Landslide”

It’s become obvious to me that apart from our weekly podcasts, things have grown a little stale around here at Mildly Pleased.  And since I’m in a transitional point in my life where I have a bunch of time on my hands (most people call it being woefully unemployed), I figured I’d shake things up a bit with a new feature.  Now I’m sure we’ve all had those moments in our lives where a certain song becomes intertwined with our very existence, so much so that you develop this obsession over it, and thus slowly start to form an intense personal relationship with said song.  I call these “obsessongs”, which of course is a dumb title, but so are most things when you think about it.  Anyways, today’s song comes from ‘70s pop-rock superstars, Fleetwood Mac.

Song: “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac
Album: Fleetwood Mac
Year: 1975
Written By: Stevie Nicks

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It’s Mostly Been Like That

Phoenix – Bankrupt!

I’m usually not one of those people that get to say, “Pfff. I liked ’em before they were big.”  I don’t why that is, but I guess I tend to gravitate towards bands just as they’re reaching their peak, or I just gravitate towards bands that don’t quite have that Big Time Rock Band appeal.  Now I wasn’t cool enough to get into Phoenix on the strength of their first two albums, but I did find myself loving Phoenix’s 2006 release It’s Never Been Like That when it came out, and couldn’t help but ask, “Why aren’t these guys huge?”.  Of course, Phoenix did become pretty huge with 2009’s Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, but they did it with a refined pop-savvy that made it easy to feel like their newfound success was completely justified.  Bankrupt! mainly sees them continuing to refine their signature brand of danceable pop-rock in a way that’s still pretty enjoyable, if a little predictable.

When you get down it, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix was a success because of two monster singles (“Lisztomania” and “1901”), and though Bankrupt!‘s opener “Entertainment” isn’t quite in that same league, it still has that nice yearning quality that Thomas Mars pulls off so well, juxtaposed with a buoyant synth-pop sheen.  “Entertainment”, much like the rest of the album relies pretty heavily on those ’80s synths that the kids are into, and thus feels like Phoenix at their most polished and most ready to please the masses.  I don’t know if the songs overall are quite as memorable as on their other recent albums, but tracks like “The Real Thing” and “Drakkar Noir” are nonetheless brimming with enough hooks and peppiness to keep any Phoenix fan satisfied.

As for the more overtly synth-driven sound of Bankrupt!, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the spiky guitar work of It’s Never Been Like That (I still say it’s their best album).  But then again, I’m the kind of guy that’ll choose the sound of a guitar over the sound of a synthesizer nine times out of ten.  As for the fact that this album just doesn’t quite have the instant likability of Phoenix’s last two albums, I think it should’ve been expected.  All bands reach their peak at some point, and it’s especially hard to knock a band for not living up to a pair of modern classics.  So regardless of that, I think Bankrupt! still stands as a perfectly fine Phoenix album, even if it probably won’t result in them getting any huger than they already are.

Favorite Tracks: “Entertainment”, “The Real Thing”, “Bourgeois”

T3 57: Top 10 Buddy Movies

We’re not experts on a lot of things over here at T3, but we are good friends. Hmm, maybe that should be the disclaimer on every episode of this podcast. Regardless, we put our friendship knowledge to good use this week by discussing our favorite buddy movies in honor of Pain and Gain. If you like heterosexual men taking about the relationships between heterosexual men, this episode is for you.

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Meh Meh Meh’s

Yeah Yeah Yeah’s – Mosquito

I feel like Sean and John are bigger Yeah Yeah Yeah fans than I, and therefore should probably be reviewing this latest outing from the venerable NYC trio.  But whatever, I’ve been a fan even longer than those dudes, just to a lesser degree.  And unlike John, I’m not the kind of person that has pined for the early days when the band’s sound was far more scrappier and unhinged.  In fact, I was quite impressed with the way Yeah Yeah Yeah’s managed to mature and evolve at such a rapid pace over the last decade.  Mosquito, however sees the band struggling to push their sound forward, as it feels like they’re not sure whether to try and recapture some of the simplicity of their early stuff, or to keep exploring the heartfelt balladry and dance-pop sheen of their excellent 2009 release, It’s Blitz!

I guess from the moment I got a peek at that bonkers album cover, I should’ve known that there’d be a healthy dose of weirdness on Mosquito, and quite frankly I feel like the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s glop on that weirdness just a little too thick here.  I guess I can kind of get behind the kookiness of the title track, where Karen O repeatedly threatens to suck all of our collective blood, since it is kind of charming in a stupid kind of way.  But unfortunately the album also features songs like “Area 52” and “Buried Alive”, which are just stupid in a stupid kind of way.

The thing I’ve always enjoyed about Yeah Yeah Yeah’s oddly enough is their slower songs.  There’s just something about the way a ferocious vocal presence like Karen O is able to open up and bare her soul, and that’s why YYY’s songs like “Cheated Hearts” and “Skeletons” are the ones I find myself returning to the most.  There are a few hints of this towards the back half of this album, as the final three tracks have that heartfelt quality to them.  But it just feels like too little too late, and it can’t make up for the fact that despite having its moments, Mosquito ultimately fails to live up to what this group has done so far.

Favorite Tracks: “Sacrilege”, “Despair”, “Wedding Song”

T3 56: Top 10 Albums of 1968

There’s something about the Sixties. As a society, we still can’t shake it. As a podcast, we can’t escape it either. Now that Mad Men is back, and set in a new year, so have we returned to the deep, deep well of Sixties music. Particularly, albums released in 1968. Such as… Well, I don’t want to spoil it. Why don’t you have a listen?

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T3 55: Top 10 Siskel & Ebert & Roeper Reviews

Roger Ebert passed away last week and it hit us pretty hard. The man has been a role model for all us a critic and a promoter of the discussion of art. There might not be any individual who was more influential on this podcast or Mildly Pleased, except for perhaps his co-critics, Gene Siskel and Richard Roeper. So we dedicated a show to Ebert’s memory, and his shared television legacy, by counting down our favorite reviews they ever did. We give all of them four thumbs way up.

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Buggin’ Out

Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse

As if I wasn’t hesitant enough already to write about music, a month-long detour into David Bowie basically cemented the fact that I wouldn’t be doing any music reviews from the first quarter of the year. That’s a shame, because I’ve actually listened to a few really great albums, and not all of them are MBV. So, in the hopes of avoiding another end of the year orgy of album posts, I thought I’d check in now. Or, at the very least, write about Wondrous Bughouse, the new Youth Lagoon album, because it is a real joy.

You guys tell me: is this psychedelic pop or dream pop? Genres are hard. If I were to describe Youth Lagoon’s sound, or at least Wondrous Bughouse‘s, I would use words like “dazzling,” “happy,” and maybe even crib one from the title – “wondrous.” I absolutely get good vibes from this album, the ones I’ve come to expect from bands like The Flaming Lips and Beach House, but not necessarily from some guy from Idaho… It just goes to show you, never count out the potatoest state.

I will say this album is the first in a long time that has me questioning track order. “Through Mind and Back” leads beautifully into what has to be the breakout song of the album, “Mute” but that is followed by “Attic Doctor,” a goofy song that totally kills the good thing he had going. Not that I don’t like “Attic Doctor” on its own, it’s just too much of a tonal shift for me. Is it weird that I gravitate so much toward comedy on TV and in movies, but I don’t really care for comedy music? I Wondrous Bughose why that is?

Favorite Tracks: “Mute,” “The Bath,” “Dropla”