Pop Girl Summer

Taylor Swift – Lover / Lana Del Rey – Norman F***ing Rockwell!

I’m well aware that these will be very cold takes, considering these are two pretty huge albums that got the hot take treatment upon their release a few weeks ago. However, I couldn’t help but feel the need to compare and contrast these two albums, considering they have a lot in common, as well as a lot of differences in terms of how their pop star creators have navigated their careers up until now. Also, I’m not sure that they’re albums that are all that conducive to the “hot take” treatment, considering their breadth and ambition. Continue reading

You Can’t Always Listen To What You Want

Kurt Vile – Bottle It In / Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth

I know what you’ve probably been thinking as I’ve been throwing up all these year-end wrap-up posts: “I don’t have time for this”. And that’s perfectly understandable. When it comes to pop culture these days, the hardest thing to come by is time. There’s just so much content out there that it feels basically impossible to devote the necessary amount of time to the music and movies and TV that’s worth approaching, so sometimes you just gotta say “I don’t have the time”. And that’s pretty much what I had to do with these two albums, which seemed perfectly worthwhile, but were just too damn long for me to finish. Continue reading

Born Again

A Star Is Born (1954) / A Star Is Born (2018)

If this was a more well-researched piece, I would’ve gone to the trouble of seeing both the 1937 and 1976 versions of A Star Is Born, but I only have so much time. Also, from what I’ve gathered, the 1954 version is the most acclaimed version of this classic Hollywood folk tale. Well, perhaps except for the Bradley Cooper-directed version that’s currently in theaters, which seems to already be an Oscar frontrunner. I’m not sure that this latest version bests the version starring Judy Garland and James Mason, but I think it does manage to tap into why this is such a durable story, and why it has been applied to such different eras of Hollywood filmmaking. Continue reading

Anything But Phoning It In

BlacKkKlansman / Sorry To Bother You

Prior to seeing BlacKkKlansman, I thought about comparing and contrasting it with another somewhat widely released movie from earlier this summer, Sorry To Bother You. But, as basically every Compare/Contrast has, it felt a little reductive to compare two movies so full of social complexities. But then I saw BlacKkKlansman, and remembered that it does share one big plot similarity with Sorry To Bother You – in that it is also about a black male trying to do his job, and then attempts to get ahead in his job by using his “white voice” while talking into a telephone. Then there’s also the fact that Sorry To Bother You director Boots Riley got into a bit of a kerfuffle with Spike Lee about BlacKkKlansman on Twitter. So here I am, talking about two of the more memorable movies of the summer in the same light. Continue reading

Clean History

Lucy Dacus – Historian / Soccer Mommy – Clean

Is it a bit reductive to be comparing the likes of Lucy Dacus and Soccer Mommy, two young singer-songwriters who seem to possess boundless potential? Perhaps. But then again, the conceit of this Compare/Contrast feature was to explore the idea that lots of art and pop culture gets compared to itself, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If anything, the fact that two uniquely fantastic albums anchored by two superb songstresses were released within weeks, just continues the hopeful theory I’d laid down in a past podcast that the future of rock is decidedly female. Continue reading

Twin Indie Rock Fantasies

Car Seat Headrest – Twin Fantasy / Superchunk – What A Time To Be Alive

I’d like to think that indie rock is in a place where there are no strict rules as to what constitutes indie rock, or for that matter what constitutes “good” indie rock. Namely, because there just aren’t as many indie artists that fall into the “rock” category that seem to have the same cultural caché as 10 years ago. But also because we’re living in a time where those kinds of labels have been thoroughly blown over, while musical diversity tends to be rewarded. Though you could easily make the case that many of the big indie artists of the ’80s (as well as the ’00s) were marked by their musical eclecticism. Continue reading

Poplife Crisis

Does maturity have any place in pop music? As someone who doesn’t listen to a lot of contemporary music that would be considered “pop”, I don’t know that I’d be the one to answer that. But I want to say the answer is “yes”, and especially in regard to the current generation of pop music that not only has the potential to achieve cultural ubiquity, but critical ubiquity as well.

I’m not exactly sure when this shift happened, where pop artist started being taken seriously as just that – artists. But you could make the case that it happened around 2013, when Haim released their supremely awesome debut Days Are Gone, while that year also saw the release of Lorde’s Pure Heroine. This shift probably has something to do with us millennials having less discriminatory taste, and a general willingness to embrace any and all things, whether they’re massively popular or not. Also, I will admit that talking about “millenials” as a thing in general makes me feel about a million years old, but just stick with me here. Continue reading