2019 Music Catch-Up, Part 1

It has almost become common knowledge that if you’re a music fan these days, there’s just a lot of fucking music out there to keep track of. So even for someone like me, who tries to keep a handle on every notable new album coming out, you can’t always spend that much time listening to every little thing that comes out. Furthermore, you can’t always get around to writing about every little thing that comes out.

Since we’re at about the halfway point of 2019, I’ll be offering some shortened reviews of albums that I listened to during the first half of this year, but still haven’t written about. Some of them will be albums I gave a few listens and gave up on, while some will be ones I got pretty into for a while. I’ll be breaking up this mid-year catch-up into two parts, while the first half will mostly comprise of music releases from late winter and into early Spring. Continue reading

Hooked On Booksmart

Booksmart

At this point, in the pantheon of teenage coming of age movies, it’s hard to stand out. Not only because there has been a pretty steady stream of great teenage movies ever since American Graffiti really kicked started the genre back in the ’70s. But also because the past few years have seen some really strong teen movies that managed to avoid being mired clichés, such as last year’s Eight Grade, or the year before’s Lady Bird. Yet, somehow, despite abiding by some fairly well-worn teen movie tropes, Booksmart manages to feel very fresh while being perhaps the funniest teen comedy since Superbad. Continue reading

The Long Weekend

Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride

I wasn’t expecting it, but my first listen to the new Vampire Weekend album was an emotional one, though it’s hard for me to pin down exactly what that emotion was. I suppose the closest thing I can compare it to is the feeling of seeing an old friend getting married. Of having this punch to the gut reminder that yes, we’re all getting older, but isn’t that kind of beautiful and mysterious in a way?

I know it’s always a bit strange to have this deep of a bond with a mere band, but blame it on Vampire Weekend’s trajectory lining up almost perfectly with my early adulthood. That first album came out when I was in college, while the band was still making sense of their recent college years. And here we are with the band firmly in their thirties, while I also made that leap a few months ago. In retrospect, the first three albums clearly formed a sort of trilogy about the restlessness that comes with young adulthood, while this new album has the same acuteness and adventurousness applied to a new chapter in the band’s life. Continue reading

The Juice Is Loose

Lizzo – Cuz I Love You

What is one supposed to make of a force of nature like Lizzo? It’s hard to think of anything other than pure enjoyment, and perhaps Lizzo is well aware of this. Which would explain her recent (sort of) beef with Pitchfork for giving this album a somewhat mixed review. Because come on, what’s not to like?

That said, “likeable” pop stars aren’t typically the kind of singers I go out of my way to listen to (the number of Beyonce and Taylor Swift albums I’ve listened to is not high). But Lizzo seems like something else entirely, considering nothing about her feels particularly calculated (exhibit #1 being her impressive flute skills). However, I would say it’s reasonable to argue that Cuz I Love You might be a little too slick for its own good, but there are just so many bangers here that its hard to complain. Continue reading

I Like This One

Avengers: Endgame

It’s Kill Bill: Volume 2. That’s the least spoilery way I can sum up Avengers: Endgame. Infinity War was about building up the mystique of its villain and showcasing all the best fights. Its second part and conclusion decides not to really try to one-up that movie’s greatest strengths, and instead focuses on pathos and catharsis. But that’s not to say it’s not self-contained, Endgame is a complete story told in three distinct parts: the aftermath of The Snap, a celebration of the whole MCU, and a riveting, fan service-driven conclusion. Unless you’re someone who is only interested in the action, I’m sure you’ll be happy to have seen it. And if you have seen it, join me after the jump for some more details.

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MCU Retrospecticus: Ant-Man and the Wasp

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)

Original Review: n/a

One thing I didn’t mention in my Ant-Man review is how it parallels the first Iron Man so well. You could describe Tony Stark or Hank Pym’s arc as the story of a guy recovering from a trauma and standing up to the evil dude who took over his company. The big difference being that Hank Pym is not the main character of Ant-Man, Scott Lang is, so they came up with a contrived reason for Hank and Hope to have to rely on Scott to help them. The smartest thing Ant-Man and the Wasp does is lean back the other way, letting the film become the story of a super hero father and daughter, and this other guy who wants to help but mostly wants to take care of his own daughter.

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The Third Annual Mildly Pleased Criterion Draft

As we find ourselves in the midst of Avengers: Endgame and the NFL Draft – two celebrations of grown men pummeling each other – we thought we’d class things up a bit. On this podcast, we offer our very own draft pertaining to the films each of us will review during the Criterion Month of July. Much like past years, John sticks to a theme, Sean tries to see some of The Greatest Movies of All Time™, and Colin just befuddles everyone with movies no one’s heard of. Be sure to check back in July when we get this Criterion train a-rollin’! Continue reading

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