28 September, 2011

Scapegoating, Holy Terror, and Catching Hell

This week brought the premiere of two mass media products that serve to enlighten how the past decade has created a very ugly society. The documentary Catching Hell and graphic novel Holy Terror come from people that are masters of their craft: Alex Gibney (Casino Jack and the United States of Money, Taxi to the Dark Side – all masterful documentaries) and Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil, Sin City, where hyperbole and control mix elegantly), respectively. However, what we’re looking at today is not the author, but rather the very artifact of people that cannot let go. By talking about scapegoats and creating a donkey on which people can pin the fears, despair and anger of a certain situation, we feel collectively better about ourselves.

And that’s messed up on several levels.

18 August, 2011

The Stagnation of Popular Culture By Intellectual Property

Have we reached the end of popular culture?

I’m not being facetious here, and I’m not (just) trying to do this for hits. I’m asking a simple question: What’s REALLY changed in popular culture in the past decade? And is anything honestly POPULAR at this point? I’m not so sure that our culture has moved to a point of differentiation from the films and products of a decade ago beyond surface aesthetics, and it saddens me to state this.

11 July, 2011

Guy Debord - The Society of the Spectacle

I can't recommend this man's writing enough. If you haven't seen it already, sit down with some pen and paper and watch this video. Note that his ideas have changed and become a large part of the culture, but this was pretty revolutionary in 1967.

10 July, 2011

28 June, 2011

Limp Bizkit - Gold Cobra

Gold Cobra, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Holding Pattern

Okay, I knew that one day I’d have to face up to this, and I think it’s time to face facts. No more hiding that I too once did it all for the nookie (yeah!). No more hiding that I too once owned Jnco Jeans, a baseball cap that was turned backwards, and exercised my faculties with vulgarities while hearing detuned guitars in the background.

I was a teenage mook.

KRUI Appearance

Hello, it's been a while, hasn't it? While I wile away over piles of grading and composing graduate papers, there's been a marked lack of time that I've spent with you. However, I've found time to head over and guest DJ at KRUI on the University of Iowa's campus. If you're not already listening to their programming, click here to begin correcting that sad mistake. Myself, I was lucky to spin a two hour set tonight dedicated to summertime tracks and grooving, and I took full advantage of that opportunity to provide something close to a story. Okay, not really, but it was still gratifying to do this, and it won't be the last time. Keep listening as you wait for the next entry in the summer teen movie series and further music reviews; they're happening sooner than you think.

Here's last night's playlist. I think you'll find some excellent, acceptable songs here for your consumption.

09 June, 2011

Summer Scheduling & Music

Hey folks, I know that it's been a while since I last got onto this site and did anything with it, and for that I am sorry. This summer has turned out to be a much more hectic schedule than anticipated, and thus some things had to fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, the weeks of posting at least three times between Monday and Friday are gone, and it will likely be at least one week between posts. Thus, I have to make a decision, and I'm going to hold off on new album reviews for at least a week, and maybe longer. I may do something similar to the Rebecca Black "Friday" analysis where I take a track and see if it has secret meaning, but albums may be out of reach until mid-July. I will continue to do the summer film series and plan to have a couple of posts up before Sunday, but obviously my schedule of every Monday was too ambitious. In the meantime, let me know if there's something I should be paying attention to since I live by your suggestions. The long-gestating rap piece may finally see the light of day soon, along with other surprises. All I ask is that you be patient; no one is madder than me that I'm not adding information and pieces more often. Once things settle down, things will get as close to normal as they ever were.

01 June, 2011

My Morning Jacket - Circuital

If I could meet myself ten years ago, I’d give myself the advice that comes from disappointment, regret, and ultimately try to prepare myself for a world that didn’t prepare anyone for the future. I could imagine that there would be many surprises in store for past life Moodicarus, including the realization that all those CD’s I invested in would be worthless at this time (“But I bought the special translucent edition of SR-71! What do you mean the company that made those crappy Macintosh computers we use in school are the cutting edge?”). Finally, there would be the shock that the most interesting band in rock and roll in 2011 was a group of long-haired country-rock hippies that emerged from the streets of Louisville, Kentucky. I still can’t process this fact, and I’m writing the review for their latest album. 

26 May, 2011

Summer Music Mix

In between this summer film series and my music reviews, I’ve been compiling a huge list of songs that absolutely connote a mood of summer for me (and also as a token for not providing enough songs for you recently).  The majority of these songs are carefree, though some of them are bitterly aware of the transience of summer and the fact that the sun is an opiate of broken promises and hidden meanings.  In any case, the following songs are recommended for any lover of rock and pop music, particularly for a party.  I’d love any recommendations and additions for ones that I’ve forgotten or left off.  Be warned, there's a TON of links after the jump, but they're there for your perusal and enjoyment.

24 May, 2011

Lady Gaga - Born This Way

A typical day in this reviewer’s life goes something like this:  I wake up, find an album that I like or I figure I will enjoy, then try to listen as objectively and honestly as possible.  But not with Lady Gaga.  As a matter of fact, it may be the dumbest thing to have an album review of Born This Way now because practically every song has been blasted at you somehow.  There is no mystery as to what is next; you’ve heard these 14 tracks before, and you know by now whether you like this or not.  The hype machine behind LGaga has been impossible to ignore if you listened to pop radio or were invested in any facet of the culture industry in the United States – heck, the world – over the past year.  She’s popped up on television, Twitter, YouTube, social networking sites, Farmville, talk shows, and most recently Saturday Night Live to promote her new “pop masterpiece.”  The promotional campaign has been exhausting, with Hitfix’s Melinda Newman comparing it to a presidential campaign.

So congratulations, Lady Gaga: You’ve made it impossible to have an objective view on your brand of music. 

23 May, 2011

Summer Movie Series - Rebel Without a Cause

Over the past decade I have cultivated a love of movies about American teenagers and their experiences of going through life.  For some reason, the coming-of-age tale is so interesting to me because of the difference in the journey every film presents.  Writing is often a coming-of-age tale in itself, with a problem that one must confront (how to solve a problem and learn a lesson while making the article interesting to read), which means that some of the best writing ever done has come from looking at adolescence.  J.D. Salinger, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Lethem…all of these men have written about the trials and tribulations that come with being a teenager, a fish out of water in the world. 

18 May, 2011

Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Rome

Today I’m going to talk about vanity projects and music, using Danger Mouse’s latest record as an example of the benefit and problem of this topic.   A collaboration with Italian composer/arranger Daniele Luppi, this album’s concept is laid out within its title.  Rome is a scarily accurate summation of the music of Italian film composers and pop confectionaries, gliding on a mood of classic Sixties and Seventies nostalgia.  Your mileage may vary depending on how appealing you find that description to be. 

09 May, 2011

The Cars - Move Like This

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  It seems like the new Cars record is just what I needed this summer.  

06 May, 2011

Summer Film Series - A Summer Of Teen Movies

It’s well-known that I’m a huge fan of movies, and I watch them at any chance I can get.  However, I am an admitted fanatic of a specific genre of movies, and that is the genre of teen movies.  I’d like to explore this love of teen movies by seeing a select number of movies that focus and fixate on teenage life (and often love), and ultimately come to a larger focus of meaning behind these films.  Therefore, this summer I’m going to be reviewing seminal films of the teen movie subgenre, as well as providing analysis for why they have endured as long as they have (and indeed, if they have lasted as long as we think).  I’ll be going in chronological order, so if your favorite film doesn’t come up you might find it later.  Just wait until you see what I’ve got in store for John Hughes…

All in all, there will be 24 movies that are covered through this series, which should make for an interesting (and hectic) summer.  I will be providing these reviews on Monday on Moodicarus beginning when my summer does, on May 16.  Be prepared to track back down memory lane, and feel free to provide reactions and reviews of your own in the comments section. 

I’m starting with 1955’s Rebel Without a Cause.  “You’re tearing me apart!”

Here's the list of films I've planned for this series:

Rebel Without a Cause
The Last Picture Show
American Graffiti
Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Sixteen Candles
The Breakfast Club
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Pretty in Pink
Some Kind of Wonderful
Valley Girl
The Last American Virgin
Better Off Dead
Say Anything
Dazed and Confused
Can't Hardly Wait
American Pie
10 Things I Hate About You
Bring It on
Mean Girls
Easy A
Adventureland (not technically a teen movie, but I have my reasons for putting this on here) 

02 May, 2011

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues

There is some music that catches the listener’s attention at first listen.  There is some music that demands that the listener turns the volume up and pay attention because, for whatever reason, THIS IS IMPORTANT!  And then there is some music that makes you get up from your seat, go to your car, and drive to a town 30 minutes away just so you can hold the CD in your shaking hands as you pay for your purchase in rapture, rip the plastic off the case in breathless anticipation, and have your moment completely fulfilled by the wonder that emerges from the speakers. 

That was Fleet Foxes for me. It was the music of affect, which is perfect for summer. 

25 April, 2011

The Subways - A Brief History

In order to provide some context into my music preferences, I guess I should provide some insight into the I love the Subways, and it’s an unequivocal love that is a case of “Right band, right time” in every sense.  However, in spite of this, I don’t think that you can write them off just based on this.  In fact, I think that the most important music one will ever hear comes from this alchemy, and this is largely why the Beatles were so important.  But the Subways stand out because they are exactly what music needs at this point, and that’s a young and hungry rock band not afraid to seem a little stupid and trite while searching for its own voice, because when they do find their voice above their influences the band is a rock n’ roll hydra that towers over the accomplishments of their peers. 

06 April, 2011

Foo Fighters - Wasting Light

 (Note:  This is an advance review.  Wasting Light will be released in stores and online in the United States on April 12, 2011)

Wasting Light isn’t going to surprise anybody with its sound, but that’s par for the course with the Foo Fighters at this point.  What should surprise you is how tight the set is, and the hope is that the Foo Fighters can really pull off the neat trick of growing older without losing any of their fire.  As far as this year goes, I’m comfortable with claiming that it’s a great way to begin the summer, and is the strongest that the band has sounded in years. 

01 April, 2011

ArtSTALK - A New Home!

Hello reader,

I have found a home for my work on ArtSTALK, a blog site created and edited by students in the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  This is exciting news because it now allows you to find a ton of other content from other soon-to-be influential bloggers, and it also pretties up some of my work a bit.  Check out my first post here, then go online and let me know what you think if you haven't already.  More new content is coming on the way, I swear it!

30 March, 2011

Reader Request

Hey everybody, thanks for the great comments, particularly on the Rebecca Black article.  I'm interested in doing a readers request review or analysis for my next blog post, and I'm looking for suggestions about what you think I should examine next.  I've got some great ideas for this blog, and I'm looking forward to my upcoming summer film series beginning next month, but I'd also like this to be a place where your voice is also heard, and one way to do it is through reader suggestions.  Put a comment on this site suggesting some media you want to hear, let me know what you want, and I'll begin working on it this weekend for a Wednesday posting!

The Strokes - Angles

The freshness of the Strokes has now grown somewhat stale, and what should be a welcome return to form has instead produced a shambling holding pattern.  For a band that once sounded like it knew exactly what it was doing and could do no wrong, Julian Casablancas and company take a few too many wrong turns here to really herald them as returning rock saviors. 

23 March, 2011

Rebecca Black - Friday

Today I will delve into how this video gets viewed over 36 million times from various sources.  This may take a while, so only read the first paragraph if you want my review of the track itself. 

15 March, 2011

Album Review - Beady Eye, Different Gear, Still Speeding

Finally, I decide to tackle some music from 2011!  Getting with the times seemed appropriate after the many looks back into history that we’ve offered, and it seems unfair to keep adding so many older acts without looking at where we are now.  Also, it’s my way of appeasing you for being late with last week’s review. 

Album Review - The Rolling Stones, Their Satanic Majesties Request

I guess it wasn't surprising that I was late with these reviews.  For me, it has been a difficult time when it comes to scheduling these things, and while I may get creative fulfillment from writing these, they don't pay the bills (yet, anyways).  With that apology and defense, I humbly move into my discussion of one of the most rightfully maligned albums in the history of rock n' roll. 

01 March, 2011

Album Review - The Get Up Kids, Something To Write Home About

Your age is the hardest age
Everything just drags and drags
You’re lookin’ funny
But you ain’t laughin’, are you?
- The Replacements, “Sixteen Blue”

22 February, 2011

Album Review - Bush, Razorblade Suitcase

I’ve had enough conversations about music to finally put opinion down about it beyond a Twitter feed. So hopefully this will be the beginning of a weekly discussion of music, both in terms of personal impact and social impact, as well as a solid review of content. This week I start with one of the best barometers of taste out there: Bush’s much-maligned sophomore album Razorblade Suitcase.