Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Stranger Than (Science) Fiction

Last Thursday was a big day if you were one of the many rabid/cult-like followers of Brand New. The patience that, understandably, was wearing thin after an 8 year gap between albums came to an end with an album, Science Fiction, that came out of the blue. I think even the most depressed fan with bottled up teen angst remaining from 2007 even had to crack the slightest of smiles when this news broke. I like to picture the tweet heard 'round the music world was like a Bat Signal. All of a sudden, all these 20- and 30-somethings working at a job they hate hear word of this album and they feel the urge to blast Sic Transit Gloria and go tell strangers to die young and save themselves, while getting angry over an ex who hurt them back in 2003.

Over two years ago I wrote a post called The Curious Case of Brand New. This was hot on the heels of the band releasing a new single 'Mene' and had performed another song live (never released) called 'Sealed to Me'. It seemed like a new album was imminent and Brand New was ready to reclaim their throne in the world of alternative rock. What happened next was one more single, 'I Am The Nightmare' which was very good, and then a few months later an email to those on the Procrastinate! Music Traitors email list explaining that they would NOT be releasing an album anytime soon. Not only did that suck the already low levels of joy in Brand New fans, but it raised new questions of when the next album would be, and if it would even happen at all.

Brand New was in a tough spot. Their first 3 albums were universally loved, and 'Daisy' was their first step in the wrong direction. It was simply too weird. The song 'Gasoline' ends with a minute and one second of mind-numbing distortion. Multiple songs had weird old timey recordings from church sermons. It had a couple decent songs, and sure, some people say they like the album, but no one is ranking that as their favorite Brand New album. Anyone who says Daisy is a great album is probably someone trying to be a music snob and probably also thinks that 'Bleach' is the best Nirvana album. In whole, Daisy was a disappointment (massively, to most) and I think a lot of people were very curious and worried of how the next album would come out, whenever that would be. We, the bloodthirsty angsty kids, had to accept that we wouldn't get a second Deja Entendu (which is understandable), but we would have certainly settled for something closer to The Devil and God.
Always appreciated fine (album) art

This is where Science Fiction absolutely enters into the equation, and ultimately delivers. My dear buddy Steve "Sherry Poo" Sheridan summed it up perfectly when he said that this album is what SHOULD have followed up Devil and God instead of Daisy. The music on Science Fiction has it's own sound, while still having that Brand New feel to it, and minus the Daisy weirdness. This is what fans wanted.

I admit that right off the bat I was scared as hell as I hit play on opening track 'Lit Me Up'.  It opens with about a 90 second intro of what sounds like a patient telling her shrink about some dreams she's been having. I had a sinking feeling that it would be another Daisy, but my thoughts were at ease when the actual song kicked off. Track 2 is 'Can't Get Out' and all of my doubts were set aside and the feeling of excitement of something magnificent started.

Let's get one thing clear: Science Fiction is not a cheery album. It's sad. Really sad. It's like a gut punch of sadness that opens up a pit in your stomach, but you enjoy it. A lot of it is heavy and slow, but it keeps you paying attention throughout. The album's final track 'Batter Up' is 8 minutes long but you don't get the desire to skip to the next song halfway through. Personally, I love 'Could Never Be Heaven' and I can already see Jesse playing that solo to close out shows on the upcoming tour that was impossible to get tickets to.  'Same Logic/Teeth' has some moments of the angsty yelling that we all love and adore, while having a certain movie-montage-song caliber pace to it. When it comes down to it, there is no song that disappoints. It's a great album throughout, which makes sense considering the time it took to make. You get bits and pieces of intensity mixed with a slow-burn of acoustic guitar at points. It's a mixed bag in the best way possible: you get all forms of Brand New at their best. This is the redemption album that made the wait worth it.

I personally think that Brand New became important for this generation because their early songs were so relatable. Jesse Lacey is the Morrissey of this generation, which I think was a goal of his. His lyrics are relatable.  We could relate to being stabbed in the back by friends. We dealt with heartbreak and wondering what else is out there down the line. Brand New was the curators of the soundtrack to a lot of our lives growing up, while figuring out that crazy thing called life. The majority of music these days is made up of nonsensical bullshit. People don't care about lyrics and just care about beats.  Pitbull mentions random names of cities and yells 'fireball' a bunch of times over a cheap, catchy beat and makes money off of it because a lot of people are stupid. Brand New gave people an outlet to relate to, and their music mattered. Maybe it took some brains in their fans and some understanding, but those people who get it fell in love with this band. There aren't a lot of fairweather Brand New fans out there. There is a reason why everything Brand New does/tweets/posts goes viral instantly.

Love the guitar

I admit, this paragraph is a bit random but I have to include it because it's on my mind. What is up with Jesse Lacey's fear of drowning? Between 'Play Crack the Sky' (drowning in a shipwreck near Montauk), the lyrics to 'At The Bottom' and 'Sink', mentioning "sinking like a stone in the sea" in the mostly instrumental 'Tautou', and now a song called 'In the Water', I feel like he's pretty scared of the ocean. Oh, and that whole "and even if her plane crashes tonight she'll find some way to disappoint me, by not burning in the wreckage, or drowning at the the bottom of the sea" thing in 'Jude Law And a Semester Abroad'. I'm starting to think he never learned how to swim or something.  Oh man, and don't forget about 'Jaws Theme Swimming'. Maybe that movie scarred him!

With Daisy, the message became less relatable and we didn't really know what the hell they were talking about. Pair that with the weirdness of it all and people turned away from it. Science Fiction gets things back on track. They have grown up, and so have we. The teen angst is gone but the real life issues are there. Science Fiction has mentions of wives and kids and not knowing what else the future has in store, which is also what this generation (as we get older) is going through as well. All of a sudden, we have another album that can be a soundtrack to another phase of our lives. The wait is over. Jesse Lacey is back on track and we all need to kick back and enjoy this.

Daisy is forgiven. Long live Science Fiction.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Hero We Need

Those who know me well will tell you that I'm not that fond of Snapchat, segways and broccoli. While two out of the three will never, ever change, I may be turning the corner on the idea of Snapchat, and it's thanks to one thing and one thing only:
Not even mad his feet are on the recliner!

Don't get me wrong, Snapchat isn't terrible. I have a small group of people who I snap and enjoy most of what they send me, but then there are people who get annoying with it. I don't want to see snaps of fireworks or sunsets. A lot of people use it as the modern day "Wish You Were Here!" postcard, showing off where they are to make others jealous. I'm guilty of this from time to time as well, but some people just abuse their Snapchat accounts to no end, and it can become cringeworthy. What was once a stale app that in my opinion just got the splash of tabasco that was absolutely needed. A breakdancing hot dog filter.

This Hot Dog is the hero this country needs right now. The country is in turmoil with people all upset at each other. Twitter is at an all time level of cesspool-ness. No one can agree about anything with anyone, yet I think we can all get behind the breakdancing Hot Dog. It has instantly joined the elite club of things that everyone likes, such as The Office, Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker, Snoop Dogg and those whacky wavy inflatable dancing tube things outside your local used car dealership. I find his face calming yet still filled with mischief. He looks like a good timer. Had he been cast in Step Up or Magic Mike, I would actually consider seeing those movies. Not since Elaine tried busting a move on that episode of Seinfeld has there been a more significant impact to Pop Culture involving dancing.

There is a lot of potential here. Years ago, by use of a jingle, we were told that we wished we could be an Oscar Meyer wiener. Today, we want to be a breakdancing Hot Dog. If I were a company trying to clean up their image, I would try to get involved with this new sensation. Subway is in desperate need of a makeover, because their sandwiches suck and their spokesperson turned out to be a scumbag. I think sales would go through the roof if they started using this Hot Dog as the face of their company (and also by making better sandwiches). Perhaps a headphone company could use the Hot Dog to peddle their newest merchandise. Beats by Dre could use this new social media darling to launch a new line. Of course, the Hot Dog would risk being called a sell out, but we would all soon forget that by just being distracted by his moves and calm demeanor.

I believe that this Hot Dog is what we all thought Katy Perry's Left Shark from Superbowl 49 would become. While I was perfectly fine with the Patriots winning that Super Bowl, most of the nation was distraught, and took solace in the instant fame of Left Shark. People wanted more, yet there was no follow up, and it quickly went away, which is a damn shame.

Wasted Potential.

Snapchat has the ability to keep the Hot Dog around and it could keep bringing joy into the lives of people. It's versatility is key. We can have fun inserting this Hot Dog into famous photos. Maybe it was present for Lincoln's assassination? Maybe it accompanied Neil Armstrong for the first moon landing.

It can be inserted into rap music videos drinking champagne with Lil Wayne, or can show up unexpectedly in your bowl of salad. The possibilities are endless, and it's got the ability to provide endless fun, which is someone we all need right now. It's a true escape from reality. So, I say screw your flower crowns and and filters that make you look like an actual dog. This is 2017, the world is in chaos, and the hero that we need is a breakdancing Hot Dog. What a time to be alive.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Ramblings, Man.

I was going to start this with a big rant about how I haven't blogged in a while and was very thankful that my last blog on college reunions went over so well. It was going to blame social media for being a cesspool and stuff but I found myself boring....myself so I just erased and I'm starting fresh now. That being said, the last blog was the most viewed I've had in almost 2 years, so thanks, you guys. Good to be back, until I forget and go on another unplanned hiatus.

End of speech. Let's talk nonsense in the world today.

Mr. Met flipped someone off and got busted for it. While this is not as controversial as when Benny the Chicago Bull mascot was caught hotboxing his costume mid-game, this was hilarious in it's own way. There is something about big, dumb cartoon-humans flipping off their own fans which brings me joy. I think what really made me crack a half-smile (can't give too much of a grin, that shows weakness and I have a persona to keep up) was the fact that Mr. Met has only 4 fingers and he had to hold down the remaining fingers with his other hand to make a middle one. It's also amusing that Mr. Met has showed more passion and grit in this one instance than any of the Mets 7 ace pitchers have this year.
It's so satisfying! That's what she said.

After years of always hearing good things but never giving it a good shot, I finally watched Parks and Rec. All this time spent rewatching classic episodes of The Office while Parks and Rec was right there being neglected...God dammit Jim. I think at some point I will do a full in-depth power-rankings on the whole cast of the show, but for now I will give you my very brief top 5: 5. Leslie Knope 4. Tom Haverford 3. Ron Swanson 2. Andy Dwyer 1. April Ludgate. I've also come to the conclusion that Andy and April is my favorite fictional couple, replacing my previous favorite of Ray Romano and whoever his wife was on 'Everybody Loves Raymond'. I have to thank my friend Adriann for pushing me to my limits and making me watch this. It was totally worth it. I really don't know what took me so long to watch this show, and I kinda hate myself for not doing it sooner.

A man's man.

Speaking of hating myself, I've started running again. How's it going you ask? Well, even before my first run in God knows when, I made a Spotify playlist called Dreadful Running Mix, so that's a good indicator. I can't believe that there was a period in my life that I ran cross country for year in high school, just for fun. Then again, I also can't believe that I tied for 'Friendliest' in the 8th grade superlatives, so hey anything can change I guess.

I saw AFI play Providence two nights ago and I'm starting to seriously wonder if they are taken for granted. They formed in 1991 (!) broke out in 2003, somehow survived as a goth-emo band who went mainstream, got even bigger with Miss Murder, and have still been making albums that are good. To sum up the show, they play the hits and get the crowd all sorts of amped up. Also, they had some impressive mosh pits, so if you wanted to go get our your inner teen angst via shoving and throwing elbows, that's a place to check out. Seriously though, they were really good. I'm talking like, soundtrack to the movie Drive good. It was also fun to learn that lead singer Davey Havok was voted the World's Sexiest Vegetarian in 2007 and was on the cover of Vegan Health and Fitness in 2015. What confuses me here is how there is a whole magazine out there I've never heard of, despite every Vegan out there never shutting up about how they are in fact, Vegan. How selfish. You can brag about your veganism but can't promote publications that support your health and fitness.


Without getting too deep into politics, how the hell is Rage Against the Machine not back together right now? Doesn't this seem like the perfect time for them to come back and write the next great anti-politics album? I mean, they got huge in the 90's when Slick Willy Clinton was in office, and the only thing people had to worry about back then was shenanigans in the Oral Office. Simpler times, I guess. I just feel like there is a missed opportunity here for a band like that. My great-great-great grandfather's tomb reads "strike while the iron is hot" and Rage is simply ignoring the tomb of my great-great-great grandfather. Sad!

Amanda Bynes is back! It's hard to think of a more fascinating Twitter feed that when she was doing her best Britney Spears circa 2007 meltdown impression. Her desires for that Drake fella were pretty intense, as were most of her feelings on things. While it's wonderful that she has cleaned herself up and is making a come back, I have to imagine that the world missed out on her giving her two-cents, or her three-dollar-bill on hot button topics over the past 4 years. Would've loved to get her conspiracy theories on that missing Malaysian Airplane, if she thought that dress was Blue or Gold, and if she thought Left Shark was the real star of Katy Perry's SuperBowl halftime show. Also, wouldn't mind a return of the Amanda Show. That's one reboot that I would support. Can't be any worse than Fuller House.

In hindsight, this caption was a little too true.

Instagram has been filled with "the floor is..." memes which is starting to drive me crazy. I am impressed in a way though. It's the first meme to go viral in which there has never actually been a funny one. Ever.

Chose one quick after that google image search. Woof.

I know times are wild right now and no one can agree on anything, but I think if there is one thing this country can all be on the same page about: no more Spider-Man reboots for at least 15 years. I mean, does Hollywood really think people want more? Just to keep you in the know, we had the Tobey Maguire and all his boring charm in Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3 from 2002-2007. Next, of course, was Andrew "I Love Lasagna and Hate My Dog Odie" Garfield who tried his darndest to make himself seem exciting in The Amazing Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man 2. The only thing that makes him 'amazing' is that he may have had even less of a personality than Tobey Maguire. Now we have some thing called Tom Holland who is the new Spidey in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and I guess they already have Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 planned. If anyone has a proper system on how to rank these, let me know. We get one movie of Heath Ledger's Joker yet we have 73 Spider-Man reboots. Another sign that life ain't fair.

Me avoiding the barrel of spiderman reboots.

Lastly, and most importantly, stop this nonsense with male rompers. In fact, stop it with all rompers. I've been anti-rompers for years now. I feel like if you are too old for a sippy-cup, you are too old for rompers. Male rompers are just a way for you to look like an asshole and get people to notice you. Rompers are for guys who love making people roll their eyes into the back of their head in agony. It's dumb. Leave rompers for kindergartners. This is 2017, people. The world is a messed up place already. Don't make it worse with male rompers. Stop with the man buns too. They're only for european basketball players.

Not even Leo DiCaprio can make this look good.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What To Expect When You're Expe...Uh...Reuniting

It all started a few months back. I came home to visit my dog and play some FIFA 07 on my old Playstation 2. My Mom told me "Hey Stupid, there's some mail for you", and threw a postcard sized flyer at me. I'm just kidding. She handed it to me, totally didn't throw it. The card was inviting me to come celebrate the 5 year reunion of the 2012 class of Providence College.

Holy shit.

Friends til the end!

My mind was racing, trying to figure out how the hell time had flown by that quickly. I was counting the years backwards to see if it was really true. I used my PC education to subtract 2012 from 2017 and was still skeptical when I arrived at an answer of 5. It just didn't seem possible. I suddenly had to prepare for what would be one of the more wild weekends of my life since leaving college. I'm not going to recap the entire weekend for you, because it would be A) boring if you weren't there and 2. it wouldn't really be funny/helpful to anyone who didn't go to PC.

This is why I'm going to do something better and give you something that I wish I fully had going into this past weekend: a guideline of expectations. Therefore, allow me to introduce to you the Breakfast at Jimothy's Return From The Dead Great Expectations For When You Reunite After 5 Years Blogpost. For short we can refer to it as the BAJRFTDGEFWYRA5YB.

All of these shirts came with a free bowl of soup

SADNESS - Yes, there will be sadness. The two weeks or so leading up to the big event, you will do plenty of reminiscing to simpler times. Back in college, you didn't really have to worry about being too old to remain on your parent's health insurance. You just had to worry about what time to show up to the bar of your choosing before the line started, or how much of your paper you could fill by regurgitating the same line with different wording. You will most certainly go down the dreaded Facebook path of memories and look at all the fun you had, wishing you were still living that dream. It's a sobering moment to flashback to the last time you could enjoy life before the real world. Such a sobering moment that it'll make you want to drink a Keystone Light just thinking about it.

Where else in the real world can I meet a Hot Dog?

SHAME- You may also experience shame throughout your 5 year college reunion. This can be broken down into three different Shame Departments: Jealous Shame, Regression Shame and Shame Shame.

Jealous Shame is the shame you endure by catching up with peers and realizing how much more people have their shit together than you do. That kid who once threw up the Red Velvet Cake in your hallway Sophomore year that he had for dinner before drinking too many 1$ beers on a Thursday? He's engaged and making 3x the money you are. The girl who saw you in your Austin Powers costume on Halloween senior year and asked if you were George Washington? She's doing way better than you. Sure, some of the people you will be happy for, but most will have you asking where the hell did I go wrong? (Answer: choosing psychology as a major is where you went wrong). This of course is easier to handle if you are one who actually has their life together and is doing well at this point in your life, and if so, you suck.

Find me on any 1$ bill

The Regression Shame is more related to the fact that you are now 26-27 and can't hang like you used to, or you can hang that long but the consequences are FAR worse than when you were 18-22. I'm not a big believer in magic, witchcraft, voodoo, sorcery, whatever, but I do believe that when you walk across that stage on graduation day, you lose your drinking capabilities the second you shake the hand of your school's President. It's some sort of whacky transfer thing that doesn't make any sense, but once you do it, you simply can't drink like you used to. It's like a weird unspoken graduation ceremonial ritual. I've been asking around various friends the past 2 days, and it is absurd how many people have lost their voices, had hangovers creeping into Tuesday, and have sworn off drinking ever again after this past weekend. It almost seems that drinking extremely cheap beer up til 5 in the morning for two straight nights is a bad idea or something. You'll end up hurting, and you'll be amazed that you once did this kind of shit regularly for a 4 year period of your life.

Shame Shame is the type of shame that will be brought back up while you and your friends are discussing stories from your glory days. I mean, just think about the embarrassing stuff you did back then and tried to forget. You may have successfully blocked out that time you threw up on your friend on St. Patrick's Day after finishing your Irish Car Bomb and then had to finish hers because she was a whimp, but as that hunk James Franco learned from Jonah Hill in Super Bad, "People Don't Forget". I really don't need to elaborate on this one, do I?

DRAMA- Well now this is exciting! Who doesn't want to add a little pinch of drama into the blender already containing too much alcohol and old memories? Chances are you'll see that person who screwed you over on that group project in your Finance class, or the girl you had a crush on and broke your heart when she hooked up with 4 of your suite-mates Junior year. Grudges can last a lifetime. Drama was what made Jersey Shore such a successful train wreck, and it has the possibility to do the same for your 5 year reunion.

Maybe you'll want a bit of revenge on someone. For instance, I had never been so personally insulted then when some douche neighbor of mine senior year went around telling people that my whole house was lame and still wore American Eagle clothing. The fact that I was lumped into this gross accusation that I wore that stuff made me want to hurl. Last I checked you can't buy a FIDLAR, Wavves or Japandroids shirt at American Eagle, Jackass. I was looking forward to being drunk enough to tell him to his face to go kick a brick, but unfortunately I didn't see him and kinda forgot about it until now, but you get the point!

Former American Eagle Model

Maybe you'll finally reveal a crush on someone you've had but were too afraid to tell that person 5 years ago. I was looking forward to finally telling Dot the lunch lady that she was the light of my world, but she wasn't working this weekend (hope you're doing well/still alive Dottie!). Maybe you'll randomly hook up with someone you didn't even know went to your school. You can rekindle former flames, wreck some still-fresh marriages, and toy with the feelings of others who deserve it. The choice is yours, but it can certainly be a dangerous game. Godspeed with that. As a dear friend once told me, "True Love is Not A Lie"...or is it?

SHENANIGANS- Lastly, and most importantly, as long as you went to a fun school with people who enjoy having a righteous time, shenanigans will absolutely be involved. This may be the biggest wild card of the group. Was I expecting to play in a game of 50 vs 50 Flip Cup at 3 am in a hallway? Nope. Was it awesome? Damn straight it was. You can reconnect with the people you want to, beat them at drinking games and then commiserate over how hungover you are at brunch the following day. Trying to do shots of Kamikaze at your old bars with your fellow marketing majors is a surefire way of briefly curing the real world blues. Go put Ke$ha (bless her) on the jukebox, follow it up with T-Swift 'Love Story' if you really need to (actually, please don't) and then burn the place to the ground with a Taking Back Sunday 'Cute Without the E' sing along. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if you have one night or a weekend to work with for your college reunion, don't blow it. Go crazy and enjoy the shit out of it, because these sort of things happen only once in a lifeti...every 5 years. But still, 5 years is a long time. Go get drunk and sneak a table out to the quad and play beer pong or something.

He was rightly dropped at the conclusion of this photo.

I saved shenanigans for last because I wanted to leave this on a high note (whoa look at me being optimistic for once!). When it comes down to it, it'll be a delightful time. It's an escape from the real world for a brief weekend. This past weekend was like a time warp back to the favorite period of my life, with people that I adore, doing stuff that I enjoy, like drinking beer and laughing at old stories of my idiot friends. While it may be for our best interests health-wise that this is a once every 5 year event, if you told me we could get the whole gang back together tomorrow I would leap at the opportunity and take a 11 minute Uber ride back to campus.

I may be bias when I say it's impossible to beat a Providence College reunion weekend, give it your best shot. Hopefully your college experience was almost as fun. Enjoy the hangovers! For this weekend only, it'll be worth it.