Archive for the ‘pop culture’ Category

Really, really late to the party

July 19, 2009
Sonic Youth was on “The Simpsons” … seriously, what took me so long?

Every week until pre-season coverage kicks into gear, I’ll take a random look at the world of entertainment. Once in a while, that piece of pop culture will be relevant. Other times it will be deeply personal and potentially isolating. Either way, I hope that you are able to stumble on some new things or at least enjoy our thoughts. This week’s “Sundaytainment” takes a look at two albums I lagged behind the rest of the world in appreciating.

“Loveless” by My Bloody Valentine (1991)
“Daydream Nation” by Sonic Youth (1988)

For the love of Christ, “Daydream Nation” came out MORE THAN 20 YEARS AGO. That’s just embarrassing.

Apparently, these two albums are classics. Hugely influential pieces of work that have changed the lives of thousands of music obsessives. “Loveless” was such a masterpiece that My Bloody Valentine’s neurotic ringleader went into Axl Rose-ian seclusion while he was trying to compile a followup album. Yet, these two albums were a complete mystery to me just a couple months ago.

Perhaps a semi-mulligan can be applied to My Bloody Valentine. The group is still something of a “cult” favorite and their band name receives two strikes from a) sharing the title of a shitty horror movie and b) resembling the band name of a group I truly cannot stand (My Chemical Romance).

My Bloody Valentine

The same can’t be said for Sonic Youth. The band has a great name. They’re noisy and have indie credibility. Hell, going back to seventh grade I remember discussing them with an older blonde girl and they still didn’t even generate a SPARK of interest. (My favorite bands in those days were Soundgarden, Beck, Sublime and semi-regrettably, Aerosmith).

Despite all the love out there for these two groups and their hallmark albums, I had never heard more than a note from either of them. After one night of scouring Pitchfork Media, there was an endless list of music to try and even with some really great modern stuff, two albums released when hockey wasn’t even on my radar were the ones that ended up striking a chord.

The crazy thing is that both sound “fresh” despite their release dates. With “Loveless” the brilliance hits you just about the second the album starts: “Only Shallow” is a noisy, beautiful song that will help you decide quite rapidly if My Bloody Valentine is right for you.


Perhaps my musical palette lacks sophistication, but despite exposure to all kinds of different sounds I’d never heard anything quite like MBV. It’s odd: the lyrics are genuinely incomprehensible, yet the sounds are often in my head in an endless loop.

With Sonic Youth, the allure is a little bit different. While “Loveless” roars out the gate like Alex Ovechkin in the open ice, “Teenage Riot” starts things off much slower. (Please be patient with the video, which must have been put together by the same person who edited early-90s episodes of “The Real World”)

There’s a great mixture of noise and elegance in both of these bands. Perhaps it’s my inner ADD-addled child, but music needs to be ever-changing to keep my attention and both bands tend to accomplish that quite nicely.

Naturally, there are many music experts and passionate fans who expelled much ink and column inches expressing what makes these two bands (and albums) so great. There isn’t anything my simpleton stance can express that they haven’t.

(It is odd, though, that I fell in love with these albums right as these two groups came through Dallas … in MBV’s case during their first tour in ages.)

Ultimately, it’s kind of like how NBC tried to pitch re-runs as “new to you”: sometimes an album can feel as fresh in 2009 as it did in 1988 (or 91). “Loveless” and “Daydream Nation” do just that.

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"Bruno" sticks it to/in the man

July 12, 2009

With the Dog Days of Hockey Summer (aka the news-less abyss) rapidly approaching, we decided that Sunday will be a day of non-hockey talk at CLS. So every week until things start picking up, we’ll discuss a movie/TV show/bit of pop culture that is either especially relevant or culturally necessary. Hopefully you’ll enjoy these and maybe find new things to watch and enjoy.


Let’s face it: America really isn’t a place where rebellion is in the air anymore.

Honestly, the only hints of revolution come in the forms of Internet technology – but we all know the WWW mainly exists for porn and pirating software. A lot of cranky, bi-focaled people will point to some kind of generational drop-off in human quality, but they are as wrong as the parents who tired to obstruct Elvis were wrong.

We aren’t “The Greatest Generation” because a lot of the BIG wars already were waged. Racism may always exist, but at least we can all share the same disease-infested water fountains. Unpopular wars keep happening, but lazy college-aged kids don’t have to worry about being drafted. Aside from electronic music and heavy sampling, it seems like complaining about the lack of originality in music is both accurate and unfair: can you imagine what the “next big thing” could even sound like?

If you want to look at how rebel-less our peers are, just look at the so-formulaic-it-could-be-synthesized-into-a-paste nature of what is supposed to pass as “punk rock” today.

Seriously?

Indeed, the obvious battles were fought by previous generations (not to say that all of them were definitively “won” or “lost”). Instead, our greatest war is a social war. When historians and sociologists look back at the ’00 era, they will look at gay rights with the same stunned shame that we now look at segregation.

The inherent ignorance of gay bashing and homophobia is, in other words, the Elephant in the Room of our time.

We cannot say that these were the first thoughts that came to mind when we witnessed the hysterical/shocking onslaught of male genitalia that is “Bruno.” Perhaps shocking might not be the best choice of words: “Borat” set the obvious template for Sacha Baron Cohen’s ballsy, confrontational, Tom-Green-plus-brains shtick. In many ways, Bruno was only different from Borat in a way that changing nouns, verbs and adjectives can alter the way a person experiences Mad Libs.

Yet Bruno becomes an interesting social experiment when it is experienced in a packed house, especially in the more “conservative” venues in America. Some of the film’s most haunting/memorable/laugh-inducing moments come when Cohen bamboozles a meat head-laden crowd into witnessing graphic homosexual content under the guise of a mixed martial arts event*.

* – It’s probably a coincidence, but hats off to premiering the film during the same weekend as UFC 100.

We can assume that there will be many outraged audience members across America (not surprisingly, we saw quite a few people leave the movie). Sad to say, there are many people who would wear a “My asshole is only for shitting” T-shirt without even the slightest hint of irony. All one needs to understand this issue is to watch the senseless barrage of beer, debris and even chairs that cascade upon Cohen and his submissive assistant once the crowd of dentally challenged people realize they had been duped.

That – and not side splitting hilarity – is the reason that Bruno might be a vaguely important film.