When Alice In Chains reformed in 2008 with new lead singer William DuVall, it was a move that shocked, and even angered many of their fans. But much of that discontent was quelled when the album by the newly reformed group, Black Gives Way To Blue, ended up being pretty good; a welcome addition to the Alice In Chains discography that updated their sound in way that wasn’t embarrassing.
Now they’re back again with The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, and while it is also a solid entry into the Alice In Chains cannon that should appease both old fans and newcomers to the legendary grunge rockers, it’s still hard to recommend simply from a technical standpoint.
I saw the Village People live at a free concert once. While I went to the show to poke fun at them and their ridiculousness, I actually ended up having a lot of fun. The Village People, to this day, are great performers. They know how to work a crowd, and their music, while silly and simple, is still a lot of fun to dance to, especially in a crowd of a few thousand.
But while I enjoyed the concert, at no point afterward did I think to myself, “I’m going to go out and buy some Village People records!” I can’t imagine why anyone ever wanted to. Their music is made to be enjoyed live, or at the very least in a disco.
So the idea that someone could see the Village People live and not only think, “these guys are a musical tour de force, I need to buy all their albums” but also “and someone needs to make a movie about them too!” blows my fucking mind.
Because that totally happened.
I really wanted to dislike this record.
I’m typically not a fan of “kitsch” retro music, any music that goes out of its way to sound “retro” or “vintage.” Whether it be chiptune, faux-glam, pseudo-classic rock or throwback rap, I typically find it boring. It’s an obvious, quick and easy way to find an audience that’s not very discerning, one that puts a style of music over its general quality.
And OutRun, the full-length debut by electronic artist Kavinsky, is clearly aiming for a retro feel in just about every way imaginable. He named his album after a Sega arcade game, and filled the sleeve with imagery evocative of it. He relies almost entirely on 80s-style synth and guitar licks, and the album itself is a concept record that begins in the mid-80s. There’s wearing your influences on your sleeve and then there’s tattooing them on your arm. It just all came off as so obvious.
But dammit, this is a great record.
Giorgio Moroder is probably the hippest 72-year-old on the planet, thanks to his appearance on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. But I’m willing to bet at least a few people who bought the album and listened to the track “Giorgio by Moroder” immediately thought “who the hell is this old guy and why should I care about his life story?”
Well, I’m not going to judge those people. No matter how influential and groundbreaking his work was, Moroder hasn’t exactly been a household name for the past 20 years or so.
But they should know, dammit. And while I’m not going to judge them, I’m sure going to do my best to educate them.
Daft Punk is back! And they brought disco!
But don’t worry, it’s okay, I promise.
I’m going to be honest with both myself and you all reading this: you don’t need to read my opinion of Random Access Memories. By now you’ve probably listened to the album for yourself, and probably even read dozens of other, much more in-depth reviews. And they’re all right: the record is a game changer. It will blow your mind. It re-invents dance music by taking it back to synth-pop, disco and funk all while putting its own spin on all of it. It’s bloody brilliant. You’ve never heard anything like it, but at the same time it wears its influences on it sleeve in the best ways imaginable. Name a praise for the album, it’s accurate.
You should buy this album
But should you buy it on vinyl?
Comedy albums are a funny thing (har har), and getting them right isn’t easy. I’m a big fan of stand up, but aside from George Carlin, Richard Pryor and a very few select others, I can’t think of many comedians whose albums I’d want to own. It would get old.
Sketch comedy albums are even trickier. Sure, Monty Python is hysterical, but how many times can one listen to the Parrot Sketch before even that becomes a bit boring. A comedy album really has to be unique to catch my attention and hold up to repeated listens.
And Inside SINA might be one of the most unique and unusual comedy albums I own, mostly because most people didn’t even know it was a comedy album when it was first released in 1962.
The plural of “vinyl” is, in fact, “vinyl.”
Now that I got that out of the way, Final Fantasy Vinyls (sigh) is a a 5LP box set featuring music from the first ten Final Fantasy games. Each song was hand picked by series composer Noburo Uematsu and specially remastered for this vinyl release.
The box set came out in Japan in November. I was lucky enough to snag one while I was there, and I’ve been meaning to review it ever since. However, I wanted to review both the vinyl and the downloadable MP3s that came with it, but I was unable to redeem the codes due to them being on a Japanese website, and me speaking/reading/understanding zero Japanese.
Twitter to the rescue! With the help of one Matthew Keehan, I was able to get my downloads in order, and now I am finally able to present to you my thoughts on this box set.
And after all that wait, what do I think of it?
Eh, it’s okay I guess.
You’re at a concert for a band you love. You’ve waited months, maybe years to see them live. You’re stoked.
The lights dim. The band takes the stage. Immediately they cut into one of their fastest, most intense numbers. The crowd is pumped, they’re jumping up and down. They’re singing along. They’re screaming. It’s everything a concert should be and more.
About three or four songs in the band decides to slow it down a bit, crank out that ballad or quiet acoustic number. It may not be a Top 40 single, it may not be a fan favorite, but you love it.
And that’s when you hear it.
Not the song, but the assholes behind you babbling up a storm.
“Oh my god, check out this text” says one them, staring intently at their phone while ignoring the artist they paid good money to see.
“Wow, I can’t believe that! Oh my god that reminds me you won’t believe what happened yesterday,” says the other twit.
Now they’re both staring at each other, talking loudly. They’re right behind you. You can hear them as well as you can the music. You glare at them but they’re so involved in their own little world that they don’t even notice. Eventually it gets to be too much, and you move.
“Dude! What the fuck! Fuck this boring song!” says the loud bro behind you. His friend nods in agreement.
You move again.
“No! No! I’m right here! I’M RIGHT HERE! I’ll raise my hand!”
“Dude Dude dude let me past you come on, I gotta get up front, dude, dude, be cool dude.”
“PLAY [BIG HIT] I LOVE YOU!”
This is a problem.