C.A.T.: There’s Nothing Wrong With Love

Built To Spill – There’s Nothing Wrong With Love (1994)

From what I’ve been told, next week we’ll be taking a break from these chronological CAT’s with something ’80s related, since I guess we’ll be doing ’80s week starting Sunday. Anyways, I would say 1994 is probably the best year of the ’90s as far as music; just a lot of good albums that came out that year. However, we’ve already talked about most of the notable albums that came out that year already on this blog. Yet I still haven’t talked about one 1994 album that ranks among my favorite albums of the ’90s, Built To Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love.

Led by singer/guitarist Doug Martsch, Built To Spill have probably been most distinguished by Martsch’s intricate guitar work, which in retrospect seems much more layered and complex than your average ’90s indie band. “Jangly” would definitely be the easiest way of describing a lot of Martsch’s guitar work, but he’s also never afraid to go for those big piercing solos either. But unlike on subsequent Built To Spill releases, the songs here are more self-contained in this very pop-oriented way.
I really like the somewhat whimsical and nostalgic nature of the lyrics on songs like “Car” or “Twin Falls”, which have a nice counterbalance to the sprawling jam-oriented songs. I guess most people seem to prefer this bigger sound from Built To Spill, since their major label debut Perfect From Now On is usually regarded as the band’s finest work. But if you ask me, the combination of Martsch’s affinity for catchy melodies and guitar pyrotechnics are just about perfect on There’s Nothing Wrong With Love.
I feel like I need to do a more mainstream album one of this weeks, since it seems like I keep playing the “hip/indie/relatively obscure” card over and over again. Not that it matters, no one reads these anyways.
Favorite Tracks: “Big Dipper”, “Car”, “Distopian Dream Girl”

Increasingly Clever

Recently moving into my dorm and with not much room for my TV, I’ve been relying on Netflix lately, but while watching Arrested Development I decided to look up David Cross on wiki and found out he’s got a new sitcom coming to IFC. I’d never heard of it, but that’s probably because I don’t anyone who watches IFC… Except for die hard Whitest Kids U Know fans. Anyways I found out the pilot for “The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” is currently on Youtube and it’s hilarious.

The setup is a an up and coming energy drink company “Thunder Muscle” that decides to send their best employee to manage the london branch and promote the beverage. Will Arnett plays the boss and decides to send Todd (David Cross) thinking he’s a hard ass when he was actually just witnessing Todd rehearsing to a CD called “How to Not Be a Pussy”. So Todd who’s life is already quite pathetic goes to London, hilarity ensues. We come to find that Todd has a terrible grasp of English Culture and is always lying in a weak attempt to impress people. “Every saturday my dad and I in Leeds would get fish and chips, go to the park and than watch The Who” Oh and I forgot to mention the fact that he only has one employee, not the most motivated guy either.

The best parts of the show have to be whenever Todd tries to pretend he knows everything about everything. In one scene a waitress says, “I’m really into Molecular biology, I guess you could say it’s my Raison d’être” to which Todd replies “Ah I love raisins, you know they’re really just dried up grapes? True story.” He’s a lovable moron and most of the jokes hit right on target. I’m excited to see more of this series though in what way I’m not sure. It starts October 1st and is available online until September 30th, check it out.

Reach Out and End Somebody

Halo: Reach

Over the past decade, Bungie made a name for itself with the Halo franchise. With the first game, it gave the Xbox credibility and brought about the shift in first person shooters away from the PC to consoles. Halo 2 basically popularized console online play as we know it. 2007’s Halo 3 gave us a satisfying conclusion to Master Chief’s saga, while setting the standard for the robust feature set modern games can offer. Then they went back to do a side-story to Halo 2, featuring the cast of Firefly, called Halo O.D.S.T. Now they bid farewell to the franchise by telling a story that took place just before the first game.

Halo: Reach is set on the planet Reach, one of humanity’s most important worlds. You play as Noble Six, the newest member in a team of SPARTANs. While on your first mission, you find a Covenant invasion force and things go downhill from there. The campaign has a great feeling of dread and futility to it, and while you might already know where it’s going, I found it very enjoyable to see it get there.

As a prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved, Reach tries to bridge between the innovations from later in the franchise and the technology in the first game. So pistols with scopes are back and some of the guns from later games appear as prototypes, slightly changed. Health packs are back, which is a little annoying, but health packs usually seemed plentiful. Perhaps most controversially, you cannot dual wield again. That also did not really bother me, since the guns that you would dual wield have been altered to be more interesting on their own. Ultimately, Bungie did an amazing job making Reach play like a new Halo, while creating a sense of nostalgia too.

Of course the main attraction to a Halo game is the multiplayer, and Reach is easily the best yet. There’s a seemingly endless variety of modes available, and each of them is interesting; surely you’ll find something you like to play. At the forefront is Invasion, a new SPARTANs vs. Elites mode involving capturing objectives. It’s pretty cool. Firefight is back from O.D.S.T, and is still a lot of fun. Then there’s all the other modes you’d expect, Slayer, Team Slayer, Capture the Flag, King of the Hill, and so on. You could be playing this for years, especially with the powerful new Forge mode allowing for all sorts of player-created map variants and game modes.

The ending of Reach is really well done, it was an excellent send-off for Bungie. By going back and finishing “their story” instead of starting off the new adventures of Master Chief, they were able to fill the game with nostalgia. Ultimately, it made me sad that they had to move on, something I was not expecting at all. But they’ve left us the most complete Halo experience yet, one that I’m sure any series fan will love.

Da Podcasket Episode 04

After a deconstructive summer, Da Podcasket makes its surprising return with a special guest! Kevin Lemme, of kevinlemme.com, joins da gang for an exciting discussion of new Da Morgue videos, the fall TV season and more.

Visit our Vimeo page at vimeo.com/damorguedotorg and don’t forget about our YouTube account at youtube.com/morguedotorg. I know it’s tough.

Also, there’s something wrong with my original podcast file, so I hope you enjoy the new opening song I just threw together moments ago.

Listen to the Podcast:


The Balcony is Open

In a cheap effort to up our post count I thought I’d post something I found mildly interesting. Announced about a week ago (at least that’s when I heard about) At the Movies, the classic review program that once featured Siskel and Ebert is returning once again to television. Airing on PBS this January the show will now be known as “Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies.” It will feature critics Christy Lemire and Elvis Mitchell, return to the “Thumbs up/Thumbs down” system and will even feature Ebert doing reviews with his robot voice. Seeing that Sean and Colin and I were big fans of At the Movies I felt it was worth addressing but I was surprised to find there’s actually a “demo video” of the two new hosts. Will they have the same kind of chemistry as Siskel and Ebert or will they crash and burn like Lyons and Mankiewicz? I’ll be excited to see the show return, almost makes me want to do some sort of retrospective.. Hmm.

I couldn’t find an embed code for the demo (though I am tired) so I’ll just link to Ebert’s youtube. Check it out if you are remotely interested.

The City That Falls Asleep

Brandon Flowers – Flamingo

There seems to be something out for Killer’s fans every year. Whether it’s compilation albums, or live albums, or a solo album, there’s always something, but I have to keep reminding myself “This is not The Killers” it’s just Brandon Flowers and maybe that’s why the magic is missing.

Brandon is the main creative force in the band, so it makes sense that he might have a backload of songs he’s been saving. Perhaps songs he feels don’t quite fill The Killers mold and lucky us it’s a batch of lengthy ballads. Don’t get me wrong some of my favorite Killers’ songs are ballads “Read My Mind” or “All These Things That I’ve Done” but once again “This is not The Killers.” You don’t have the Reverb drenched guitar of Dave Keuning or the the rhythm section of Mark Stoermer or Ronnie Vannucci. This album is mostly built around piano and synth parts with wandering melodies.

The album is supposed to be Brandon Flowers tribute to his hometown of Las Vegas but I’m stumped on why there’s such a lack of rockers. Vegas is supposed to be the city that never sleeps, so why does Brandon want to put us to sleep? There’s a couple of numbers that build up some much needed energy, “Jilted Lovers and Broken Hearts” and “Was it Something I Said?” seem to have a pulse bur they’re forgettable. “Crossfire” is definitely the best track but still only feels like a Killers B-side at best.

I’m disappointed because I’m often amazed by how catchy and memorable Killers albums are and they are more or less my favorite modern group. Brandon’s written so many great songs in the past so I’m not sure exactly what’s going on here. On a good note I hear he had a real “ace” song that he was going to put on Flamingo but decided he’d save it for the next Killers’ album. So at least I have something to look forward too.

Favorite Tracks: “Crossfire”, “Only the Young”, “Was it Something I Said?”

C.A.T: In Utero

Nirvana – In Utero (1993)

I so did not want to do this Classic Album Tuesday post but I couldn’t let our chronological streak die. I didn’t even do this on tuesday, how lame is that? Anyways I love this album, how can you live anywhere near Seattle and not like Nirvana? When they could of capitalized on their success with another record like Nevermind, this unconventional trio opted for something even edgier. A raw and abrasive collection of muddy and moody grunge rockers, In Utero may represent this band even better than their smash hit predecessor.

At first glance a fan of Nevermind might even be disappointed. There’s few breakout singles on In Utero and the record company was almost hesitant to release it, deeming it not commercially viable. Though submerge yourself deeper and you’ll find this truly is a bittersweet masterpiece. It’s dark and depressing, but powerful and compelling and if you just want to rock out than this is as well the album you need to hear. Tracks like “Tourettes” or “Very Ape” border on metal or even punk it’s crazy.

I feel bad that I had to phone in this album review because it really is something special. Sadly this would be the final of only three Nirvana albums as we all know what would follow. As Cobain quoted Neil Young in his suicide note “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”

Favorite Tracks: “Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle”, “Rape Me”, “Serve the Servants