The Pick: Avatar: The Way of Water

We just couldn’t close out this year on Mildly Pleased or The Pick without getting wet and wild while learning the way of water. It’s a super-sized episode for a super-sized film, which includes a journey through the life and career of James Cameron and how he ended up at such an award-winning and financially unprecedented position in Hollywood. Also, if you were at all aware that a Pandora flavor of Frosted Flakes existed, you probably already could’ve guessed that we’ll be talking about it as one of our Little Picks. Continue reading

2022 Music Resolved: Gemini Rights

Steve Lacy – Gemini Rights

To talk about Gemini Rights by Steve Lacy is to admit to not being that cool. First off, I didn’t hear about the guy until he made multiple appearances on Vampire Weekend’s Father of The Bride, offering some vibrant guitar and vocal textures to “Sunflower” and “Flower Moon”. Though in my defense, I had given a few spins to his band The Internet’s 2018 album Hive Mind prior to FOTB coming out, even if it took me a little while to put these two things together. Also, while Lacy’s breakout single “Bad Habit” became one of the more beloved singles of the year and a sensation on TikTok (now one of our most reliable incubators of pop hits), I hadn’t really heard this song until the end of the year (because I’m old), not to mention the album it sits as the centerpiece of. Continue reading

The Pick: Reindeer Games

We three kings bring curiosity for Ben Affleck’s early stardom on this holiday installment of The Pick. The episode is a dive into the year 2000’s somewhat forgotten Reindeer Games, the last film directed by John Frankenheimer and the first to ask what would happen if a bunch of incompetent criminals robbed a casino while dressed in Santa outfits. It’s a movie that has some questionable twists and turns while also bringing very little that’s new to the crime or action genre, but it’s still hard to complain when you’re surrounded by friends (or at least talking to them through a microphone) as that merriest of holidays fast approaches. Continue reading

2022 Music Resolved: Weather Alive

Beth Orton – Weather Alive

There is a particular type of album that I fell really hard for in 2021 and couldn’t help but be reminded of after hearing Beth Orton’s Weather Alive. The albums I’m thinking of are The Weather Station’s Ignorance and Cassandra Jenkins’s An Overview On Phenomenal Nature, which both made it into my Top 5 Albums last year. They both featured an airy jazziness combined with breezy folk-pop introspection that were great places to kinda just hide in for a half hour or so at a time, as they offered some quietly soothing respite from the chaos that seemed to just be piling up the last couple years. Continue reading

2022 Music Resolved: Cool It Down

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Cool It Down

Even though it’s unlikely that any of them will crack my Top Ten Albums list this year, 2022 was a pretty solid year for millennial legacy acts. You had above-average releases from the likes of Spoon, Arcade Fire, Death Cab For Cutie, Animal Collective, and Phoenix, perhaps rejuvenated by a second lease on their bands’ lives following the pandemic forcing a break from the typical writing, recording, and touring that accompanies an album release cycle. Though out of all these albums, the most anticipated was almost certainly the long-awaited return of one of the guiding lights of NYC’s ’00s rock revival, Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Continue reading

2022 Music Resolved: And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

Weyes Blood – And In The Darkness, Hearts Aglow

It’s been over three years since Weyes Blood released Titanic Rising, but for me, it never really left. It was a great album to put on throughout the pandemic, what with its gently comforting symphonic pop textures as well as its tendency to mix bedroom reflection with big ideas about man-made catastrophe. Of course, the impending doom that singer-songwriter Natalie Mering was hinting at on Titanic Rising had more to do with climate change than with that pandemic that we didn’t see coming in mid-2019. Still, these two avoidable tragedies have carried the same overwhelming despair with them, so the album continued to feel appropriate to listen to during these strange few years. Continue reading

2022 Music Resolved: Midnights

Taylor Swift – Midnights

Ah, the joys of writing a less-than-effusive Taylor Swift review that won’t get enough clicks for the Swiftie horde to come after me.

Which… now has me thinking that this may be connected to the fact that the initial reviews of Midnights were a tad bit more glowing than I think it deserved. Either way, I take some relief in being able to review this album a bit removed from its much-hyped release and take it a bit more for what it is, which is a perfectly solid Taylor Swift album, but not quite the “instant classic” that Rolling Stone declared it. Continue reading