My Year At Hogwarts

As we wrap up 2018 (very slowly) here at Mildly Pleased, I figured I’d take the time to reflect on an unexpected pop culture journey that I went on over the course of last year. Which apparently involves a universe in which people just poo wherever they like…

There are often enormously popular franchises that I tend to let pass me by, which is almost certainly a product of my own snobbishness. Is this kind of apathy a good way to go through life? Well, considering people these days often make social connections over the pop culture they love, and embracing some of the more popular ones would possibly lead to a healthier social life… maybe. However, my Harry Potter fandom (or lack thereof) is a little more complicated than mere apathy. Continue reading

Retrospecticus: Neko Case

Neko Case is un-fucking-stoppable. In fact, I’m not sure there’s any person in the past 20 years who’s been involved with as much great music as Neko Case. Not only has she had one of the most fruitful, consistently rewarding discographies of any singer-songwriter in recent memory. But in addition, she has been an integral part of Canadian power-pop supergroup, The New Pornographers, who’ve been just as consistent as Case has been in her solo work. Then on top of that, you have projects like 2016’s excellent Case/Lang/Veirs collaboration, as well as the fact that she’s appeared on underrated Northwest classics like Cub’s Betti-Cola or Visqueen’s Message To Garcia.

So needless to say, looking at Case’s discography is not going to be filled with the kinds of weird peaks and valleys that one looks for in a retrospecticus. As I’ve said, she’s been very consistent, an attribute not typically valued in rock and roll, but one that makes sense for an artist that really didn’t come into her own until she was in her thirties. That said, I think despite the fact that most of these albums will hover around 4-stars ratings-wise, each album provides something new about Case’s personality and her music that revels in its bittersweetness. Which I can only assume will continue on her latest album Hell-On, which comes out this week. Continue reading

Retrospecticus: Kanye West

Have you heard Kanye West’s new album yet?  Well, since no one but millionaires and people who love millionaires (which probably isn’t the demographic of this site) are the only people who use Tidal — the only platform the album is available on right now — I’m guessing the answer is probably “no”.  So before you figure out some other way of downloading The Life Of Pablo that doesn’t involve Tidal, let’s take a look back at the impressive collection of albums Kanye has put out thus far, and perhaps remind ourselves why we fell in love with this brash knucklehead in the first place.

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Retrospecticus: Sleater-Kinney

Shortly after the release of last year’s Start Together box set, Sleater-Kinney announced that they were returning after a ten year hiatus with a brand new album. The news made me ecstatic, and I don’t think the return of any other defunct rock band could make me feel quite the same way. Sleater-Kinney were a very important band to me, even though I only caught up with them a few years after they’d already broken up. A lot has been written about Sleater-Kinney’s impact on music in general, and many people have similar stories about how important their music was to shaping their taste, their personal politics, or even their identity. While I don’t have a particularly unique story about how I discovered their music or what it meant to me personally, I can say that they’ve opened my mind and rocked my face in a way few bands have. Here’s my take on their discography, including some tentative thoughts on their new album, No Cities to Love.

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Retrospecticus: Spoon

I bought a copy of They Want My Soul today. Yes, you heard me a “copy” as in an actual CD. There’s not a lot of bands I’d do that for but Spoon? Spoon is special. Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga is my favorite album of the 2000s and one of the defining albums of my life. If anyone ever made a movie about me (starring Liam Hemsworth), Spoon would be the soundtrack. The reasons I love Spoon are simple; great songwriting, great vocals, and fearlessness.

Spoon has had their brushes with big success with songs like “I Turn My Camera On” and “The Underdog”, but neither of those songs changed how they go about writing and recording music. Spoon is poppy when they want to be and experimental when they want to be. This is a band that plays by their own rules and don’t give a shit about nuffin’ else. So many bands I liked before I became a cynical adult have either gone on to playing in ginormous stadiums or sunk into obscurity. Spoon has remained consistently good. No, not good, great. In honor of their eighth release, I’ve decided to put together a retrospective. Now open wide for a spoonful of greatness.

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Retrospecticus: The National

I feel like I should be pretty excited about The National’s new album, considering these guys are one of my favorite bands of the last decade or so, but I can’t really say that I am.  It probably has to do with the fact that I’ve been distracted by a bunch of really good albums that’ve come out recently, as well as the fact that The National aren’t the most appropriate band for listening to in the summer, especially compared to the summer jam-packed album Daft Punk are also releasing tomorrow.  There’s also the fact that The National have made a career out of crafting albums that take a while to grow on you, so it’s probably safe to say that the brilliance of Trouble Will Find Me might not hit me until a few weeks after my first listen.  But maybe this retrospecticus will get me excited, as it should make it apparent that The National are very very good at making albums I like.

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