The Vault: Ape-ril

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

The original Planet of the Apes transported viewers to a new world so rich with intrigue that there could have been endless stories to tell. Sadly, Beneath the Planet of the Apes goes deep underground and never finds the light of day. Beneath is more or less a retread of the original film with a little extra pizazz, most of which doesn’t hold up. What was once a bold Twilight Zone-like social commentary now feels like a rejected episode of Star Trek. Let’s unpeel this piece of rotten fruit and try to find what went wrong.

Continue reading

The People’s Albums: #37 Abbey Road

I made sure to write this post before we talked about Abbey Road on our upcoming podcast, since I didn’t want to be burned out on the album before having to write in-depth about it.  Especially considering it’s already hard enough to write about The Beatles without sounding tired or clichéd.  Or maybe it isn’t, since at this point it almost seems like rock critics have become afraid to write about The Beatles for fear of sounding tired or clichéd.

Album: Abbey Road
Artist: The Beatles
Release Date: September 26, 1969
Copies Sold In The U.S.: 12 Million Continue reading

Lettuce Rock

Mac DeMarco – Salad Days

Just a few days ago I found out Canadian singer/songwriter Mac DeMarco is younger than me. Jealously aside, what surprises me even more is the maturity of DeMarco as a songwriter. His style embodies everything from the tipsy aloofness of Harry Nilsson to all the greatest Power Pop bands of the 1970s. His guitar playing although laid back displays an intricacy in its progressions and chord choices. On top of all that DeMarco has begun to dabble with warbly keyboards, a wise transition for the up and coming 23 year-old.

Some might find it odd that DeMarco would title his sophomore release “Salad Days”, considering the term is often used to sentimentally refer to one’s once fruitful heyday. Either its a commentary on how DeMarco feels these are his best days and they are ever fleeting or maybe he’s trying to write songs from a more sagely perspective. A third possibility might be that DeMarco is referring to music itself, fondly looking back at the days when rock and roll was pure and fresh. The third option would make sense considering the retro (a word I use far too often in my reviews) sound and the album’s old school studio wizardry.

The bulk of the lettuce on Salad Days doesn’t defer to far from what DeMarco did on his last album 2. The guitars still jingle and jangle as DeMarco slurs out lazy day sentiments and tuneful melodies. The bonuses or “dressing”, if I’m going to keep going with this pathetic salad theme, lie in the albums two most bold departures. “Chamber of Reflection” and most notably the album’s lead single, “Passing Out Pieces” mark DeMarco’s foray into synthetic pastures. “Chamber of Reflection” is a spacey, almost soulful keyboard ballad while “Passing Out Pieces” sounds like Mac DeMarco raided Abbey Road for all their best gear. It’s almost a shame DeMarco didn’t venture deeper into electronic waters but maybe it’s better to be left wanting sometimes. The need for more gives a listener more reason to return to an album. It’s a good thing.

I’m very excited for what tunes Mac DeMarco may spin in his future. He’s only 23 and has already released two great albums. Hopefully he will continue to mature and experiment with new sounds and ideas and delve deeper into rock history for inspiration. I’m sure he’ll be cooking up something good.

Favorite Tracks: “Chamber of Reflection,” “Passing Out Pieces,” “Salad Days”

How I Had My Cake and Ate It Too

How I Met Your Mother Season 9

HIMYM ended on a beautiful moment (set to a Walkmen song, the series always could pull a great song when it needed it) that provided the series with symmetry and closure the likes of which are rarely seen in a sitcom. And I hated it.

Let’s back up. This was a show that was well past its prime, even the creatives behind the show didn’t plan on it making it this long. At seemingly the last moment during season eight, a ninth and final season was green-lit to let the writers expand the long-awaited wedding of Robin and Barney into a full season event. At the time that news broke, I was well beyond my frustration with the show’s formula, and my attitude was that they had to either put up or shut up. There were some missteps, but actually I was pretty impressed with most of the final season.
Continue reading

The Vault: Ape-ril

Planet of the Apes (1968)

We all know Planet of the Apes. Even if you’ve never seen the movie you know how it ends. You’ve probably heard the film’s most iconic line of dialogue as well “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!” Planet of the Apes is a film so ingrained in pop culture that even forty-odd years later it’s remembered clearly and fondly.

Not only is Planet of the Apes a film that excels on a technical and entertainment level, it excels on a sociological level. Because great sci-fi movies are more than robots and spaceships. They are social commentary. Sci-Fi movies are a reflection of our society plunged into a world of technological achievement or sometimes even the downfall of technology. They portray both utopias and dystopias and how they came to be and what we can learn from them. This is why Planet of the Apes is great.

Continue reading

T3 76: Top 10 TV Shows That Lasted Too Long

This week on Top Ten Thursdays Sean learns he cares too much about the shows he spends his time watching, John finally opens up about what it’s like to still care about The Simpsons, Colin has a bone to pick with Everybody Loves Raymond, and Matt makes his triumphant return! It’s a jam-packed episode that guarantees not to disappoint by ignoring what it’s been for the past nine years just to give its ending some unearned symmetry! CHECK IT.

Top Ways to Listen:
[iTunes] Subscribe to T3 on iTunes
[RSS] Subscribe to the T3 RSS feed
[MP3] Download the MP3

Continue reading

Dreams Of A Unified Scene

The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams

At this point, The Hold Steady are one of my personal Hall of Fame bands.  There weren’t many stretches of my college career that I wasn’t constantly listening to those first four Hold Steady albums, and even now I frequently whip one of ’em out when I’m in need of a hard-rockin’ pick-me-up.  Which makes sense considering I’m a big fan of both rock-riff dumbness and character-driven cleverness, and a Hold Steady record is one of the few places I can hear both of those things working in perfect harmony.  Yet after 2010’s somewhat directionless Heaven Is Whenever, I was a little worried that I might not have room in my life for a new Hold Steady record.  Fortunately, Teeth Dreams proves that these guys can still deliver the goods, even if they may have entered the “protect the legacy” era of their career.

The most notable thing about Teeth Dreams‘ sound is that it sees The Hold Steady finally filling the mustache-shaped hole in the band left by keyboardist Franz Nicolay.  In his place is second-guitarist Steve Selvidge, whose combined twin-guitar attack alongside Tad Kubler breathes some new life into this band with an even more awesomely guitar-driven sound.  Also, another improvement over the last album is that singer/lyricist Craig Finn seems to be back to his old ways of telling stories about young people partying their misery away.  Maybe it would’ve been nice if he could’ve infused more of the lived-in wisdom that we saw on his recent solo album, but at the end of the day Teeth Dreams sees Finn telling the kinds of stories that he’s better at telling than anybody, and that’s good enough for me.

One complaint I’ve heard about this album is the presence of producer Nick Raskulinecz, whose recent work has included Evanescence and new-ish Rush albums, and he definitely gives the album a blander sheen than I would’ve liked.  But for the most part this is a really good Hold Steady album, if not quite a great Hold Steady album, since none of these songs quite have that enduring anthemic quality that I always look for with these guys.  Still, this has already been an album that I’ve had a really a fun time listening to over and over again.  I don’t know of it’s due to my recent foray back in to classic rock, or I’ve just been starved for a new album that rocks even remotely hard.  But it’s an easy album to put on, and I reckon it’ll get even easier once summertime rolls around.

Favorite Tracks: “Spinners”, “On With The Business”, “Big Cig”