Give A Little Glimpse

Dinosaur Jr. – Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not

There are times when I think that writing for this blog has really fucked with my ability to be a fan of anything.  Because yes, I consider myself a music fan first and foremost.  And yet because we’ve had this ongoing conversation about pop culture on this blog that has forced us to think about things much in the way that professional critics do, it tends to make me (and I’m assuming Sean and John) a little more hesitant to enjoy things that I most certainly should enjoy without reservation.

Case in point, this newest Dinosaur Jr. record.  It’s been out for almost a month now, and I think its taken me until now to accept that this is not just a really good Dinosaur Jr. record, but a really good record in general.  And why is that so hard to accept?  I like Dinosaur Jr.!  I’ve liked Dinosaur Jr. for a long time! And yet while thinking about this album, the dumb music critic in the back of my head has to sit there going, “Well, I mean this band peaked in the late ’80s and probably haven’t been truly relevant since 1993’s Where You Been“.

But I guess I have to ask how “relevant” an opinion like that is nowadays.  If something sounds good, that probably means it is good, right? And Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not most certainly sounds good.  Sure, it by no means sees this band reinventing themselves, but I think this is a band that realizes it doesn’t need to.  Or maybe it doesn’t, since J. Mascis doesn’t strike me as a guy who thoroughly maps out every single one of his career decisions, but rather goes by his gut.  That’s definitely the vibe I got from him when I saw the mighty Dinosaur live a few years ago, as Mascis’s cascading guitar solos seemed to go on as long as his gut told him, while Lou Barlow and Murph were there to steer the sludgy ship wherever it needed to go.

That said, the interlocking nature of these three musicians has always felt like a bit of a combative one, but with these past few Dinosaur Jr. albums (Give A Glimpse is the fourth since the band re-united in 2005), it seems like they’ve grown more harmonious, but without ever sacrificing their sublime loudness. This seems most apparent on songs like “Be A Part” or “Lost All Day”, which I guess technically count as Dinosaur Jr. ballads, yet still manage to have that kind of monolithic power that this band naturally possesses, while also embodying the reflectiveness and vulnerability that comes with growing older.  It makes for an album that’s easy to put on and enjoy on a lot of different levels, which has certainly helped give me the strength to tell my inner music critic to go suck on it.

Favorite Tracks: “Going Down”, “Tiny”, “Lost All Day”

Freaky Fridays: The Keep

The Keep (1983)

R.I.P VHS

If you haven’t heard this month, Funai Electric, the last major manufacturer of VCR’s will close its production lines forever. This isn’t much of a surprise considering the last major film released on VHS came out eleven years ago—it was A History of Violence, btw. To most people, this won’t mean much. DVDs and Blu-Rays look and sound better. They also have special features, don’t need rewinding, and don’t require you to ride your finger on that goddamn tracking dial every five minutes. It makes me shudder just thinking about it.

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Rokk Talk Ep. 04: Can’t Buy A Thrill

Buying music. It used to be the only way of aquiring music, and now it’s something you’d have to pay most people to do against their will.  On this episode, Colin and John take a look back at their earliest music-buying memories, as well as their takes on the way music consumption has changed as we make our way through the era of streaming.  It’s an episode that very easily could’ve been called “An Ode To Silver Platters”. Continue reading

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The Hunt For A Better Summer Movie

Hunt For The Wilderpeople

At this point, it seems as if most critics have written off this summer movie season as a bit of a loss.  But to be fair, I feel like most summer movie seasons aren’t a great time for people with actual decent taste in movies, considering it’s a time of year rife with box office dominance by slap-dash junk like Suicide Squad and blandly inoffensive animated features like The Secret Life Of Pets to keep the kids entertained until school starts up again.  Still, looking back, it is a bit telling that this summer movie season’s most pleasant surprises where sequels like Finding Dory or Star Trek Beyond, which were fine, but far from being movies we haven’t already seen before. Continue reading

Freaky Fridays: Fritz the Cat

Fritz the Cat (1972)

If you think it’s perverse that Seth Rogen and Co. have made what is essentially Toy Story with F-Bombs, consider the fact Ralph Bakshi made an animated film far more perverse and profane over forty years ago. I’m talking about Fritz the Cat, the first ever X-rated animated film and one of the first (if not the first) animated film made for adults. Based on the comic strip by Robert Crumb, Fritz is a feisty feline in search of sex in the big city at the height of counterculture. Fritz is so crass and devious, he makes Bugs Bunny look like Mother Theresa. It’s crazy to think anyone would consider the character for a feature length film and yet it happened.

P.S. It was hard to find pics for this post that did not feature nude animals, so I apologize for the lack of quality images.

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C.A.T.: King of the Delta Blues Singers

Robert Johnson – King of the Delta Blues Singers (1961)

Robert Johnson has all the trappings of a classic rock star. He made a deal with the devil, died at 27, inspired a Ralph Macchio movie, all between a remarkable two-year span. Look at all the classics; “Cross Road Blues,” “From Four Until Late,” “Kind Hearted Woman Blues,” “Love in Vain,” “They’re Red Hot,” “Traveling Riverside Blues,” and the list goes on. If it wasn’t for Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton wouldn’t be God. He wouldn’t even be a demi-god. Led Zeppelin wouldn’t have the “Led” and The Rolling Stones would be gathering moss.

Sadly, Robert Johnson only recorded 29 songs before kicking the bucket from drinking poisoned whiskey. Hell, there’s like, two pictures of him in existence. Yet he lives on thanks to compilations like 1961’s King of the Delta Blues. Compiled from sixteen mono recordings between two sessions in 1936 and 1937, King of the Delta Blues has built its legacy as one of the greatest collection of blues songs ever assembled.

There’s no denying the age of these recordings shows. Numerous tracks have crackles and fuzz, but that’s the charm. There’s a gritty, ghostly presence to Robert Johnson, playing with as much passion as any man to ever strum on a six-string. My favorite moments are when Johnson plays slide. The tinny slide of Johnson’s strings are unmatched. “Traveling Riverside Blues” being my favorite example. Robert Johnson’s guitar was no more a guitar than an extension of his personal pain, and you can feel every note.

I can see how it’s easy for people to overlook Robert Johnson. His songs are simple, the recordings are old, there’s not a great deal of variety in the numbers. What those people fail to notice is how ahead of his time Johnson was. Few artists of the era were as passionate. Few are that passionate today. Robert Johnson was the real deal. When he sang about crossing the country, drinking and looking for women, you know it was real. I think that’s lost in most modern blues. You can’t play the blues unless you are the blues. Robert Johnson was the blues. Robert Johnson still is the blues. Hail to the King of the Delta.

Favorite Tracks: “Cross Road Blues,” “Kind Hearted Woman,” “Traveling Riverside Blues”

Freaky Fridays: Catwoman

Catwoman (2004)

In honor (or dishonor) of Suicide Squad, I decided to watch an earlier DC attempt at an anti-hero spinoff with 2004’s Catwoman. Directed by an up and coming filmmaker known only as “Pitof” and starring Halle Berry hot off an Oscar win, Catwoman is one of the weirdest superhero movies ever made.

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