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Mar. 10th, 2009

The Opinionation Station, Vol. II: From Under The Cork Tree

Yeah, fuck doing this weekly (or on any schedule, no matter how forgiving). I'm just going to do these as I feel like.

Sooo, shuffle on Winamp gave me From Under The Cork Tree by Fall Out Boy. (I will note that I "acquired" this album before I had any knowledge of bitrates, and as such it's a pretty low quality set of mp3s. I think it's some VBR that's actually under a 128k average. Yeck. So I'm not going to complain about the production, because it's like complaining about the quality of a painting based on a 100x100 jpeg of it.)

Right when FOB got popular (as in, Sugar, We're Going Down hit the airwaves), I was just discovering how much I loved music. It was the glorious summer of 2005, I was 16, and had received my license on the first day of summer vacation. Me and my friend definitely got into Sugar, We're Going Down. It was pretty much the perfect blast of summer pop rock. That summer, I had got my first job, and was blowing a good amount of my paychecks on CDs, both new and old(er).

My first experience with FOB was the song Reinventing The Wheel To Run Myself Over (from Take This To Your Grave), which I had heard on the Burnout 3 soundtrack. At the time, I knew nothing of the band (or of alternative rock or punk or general music history), and when I heard that bass solo at the beginning, I thought to myself, "This is SO punk." I saw both Take This To Your Grave and From Under The Cork Tree (before it really blew up) at Sam Goody's at one of my earlier music runs, but passed over them in favor of Metallica's Black Album and Make A Sound by Autopilot Off (hahaha, oh my god).

My friend, Ben, however, did get From Under The Cork Tree, and we spent many a late morning that summer listening to it (and any other music we got our adolescent paws on) on the stereo in his living room. I remember reading the lyrics and saying to Ben, "Boy. These are pretty dark, huh?" Specifically, this was in reference to the "You look so good in blue" part from Nobody Puts Baby In The Corner.

I didn't take notice of Dance, Dance until it popped up in Madden 06 in August, at which point I fell for that song (also, Bat Country by Avenged Sevenfold). Dance, Dance was the song that made me really want the album (I never did get it legit, though; I downloaded it in the summer of 2006). The drumbeat, the lyrics, the oozing sexuality, the video (this was when I though Pete was just being tongue in cheek, mind), the way the chorus hit. It was a fun song to move around to.

By the time A Little Less Sixteen Candles was released (that had to be at least November, didn't it?), I was growing indifferent to the band after giving the whole thing a real listen. Most of the songs just didn't do anything for me. In hindsight, A Little Less Sixteen Candles is the best song on the album by a wide margin. It might even be the best song on Take This To Your Grave, had it been on that album.

This album has too many songs that sound too much alike. I was just about to mention one in particular, and then I had to go through four of them because I don't know which one is which.

The singles are the best cuts here. As I said, A Little Less Sixteen Candles takes the cake, followed by Sugar, We're Going Down and then Dance, Dance (maybe I just got sick of it?). The rest of the album ranges from listenable pop rock fodder (not bad, just unmemorable and replaceable) to just blah.

One thing I'd like to add. Mister Wentz takes a lot of shit from the media (when they're not giving him a reach around) and from the general population. I know it's trendy to hate on him. But I don't care if it's trendy; he could be as loved as John Lennon and I will remain firm on this stance: Petey needs to keep his fucking mouth shut, not just in regards to his statements, but in the studio. He is singlehandedly responsible for the two worst moments here. He tries to scream on I Slept With A Member Of Fall Out Boy, and just fails miserably (listen to the song Carpel Tunne Of Love from the next album to hear this even worse! I shit you not!). However, the single most self-indulgent, idiotic moment committed to optical disc that I can think of (at least, up there with Conor Oberst's fake interview on Fevers And Mirrors) is the second half of Get Busy Living Or Get Busy Dying. It's a bold move to title your song after a quote from one of the greatest films ever made. It's an incomprehensibly dumb move to stick that title to THIS song, in which Pete goes on not one, but TWO little rants, the second of which is so horrible (it sounds like it's ripped out of a 14 year old emo kid's algebra notebook) that I'm going to paste it here, with proper emphases, just so you can wallow in its crapulence without any effort.

From day one I talked about getting out,
But not forgetting about,
How my worst fears are letting out.
He said, why put a new address
On the same old loneliness,
When breathing just passes the time,
Until we all just get old and die.
Now talking's just a waste of breath,
That part in caps is all one teary eyed run-on sentence, by the way. This is read over an ominous guitar chord (dark like Pete's poor soul, perhaps) that fades out and back in, for full effect. Seriously, Living's Just A Waste Of Death. I couldn't come up with a more perfect emo kid musing if I wanted to.

So all in all, it's not a bad album. It's dumb pop rock, and it has its time and place. I just wish that a band with so much potential (Take This To Your Grave is one of the best power pop albums in my library) didn't get so easily dragged around by a guy in a designer hoodie.


Feb. 19th, 2009

The Opinionation Station, Vol. I: Siamese Dream

I just now decided that I'm going to try to review an album every week (or every two weeks, who knows). Probably won't last for long, but we'll see.

I'm going to start with one of my all time favorites, Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins.

The Pumpkins are one of those bands who truly never made two albums quite alike (well, okay, I've never listened to more than a couple tracks from Adore, but I'd just as soon forget about those). For the longest time, they were my number-one-with-a-bullet (with or without butterfly wings, o ho ho) favorite band, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that without Siamese Dream, they wouldn't have touched that spot. Gish had some fucking great songs (knowing nothing about them when I picked up Rotten Apples, Siva definitely drew me in) but is really bogged down by the remainder, and Mellon Collie gets better each time I listen to it, but it was waaaaaaaay too much for me to digest without already being a big fan. Siamese Dream is the absolute perfect blend of the things that make the Pumpkins the Pumpkins. Delicious dream pop and alternative rock, welded together with a bit of Billy's insistence that hard rock is still cool. (And it is.)

There's a reasonably broad scope on this album (not Mellon Collie broad, but let's be realistic), from radio friendly unit shifter Today, to the heart-wrenching Disarm, to the dream-poppy Hummer, to the hard rock kick-in-the-balls of Geek USA. It's really kind of a shame that Today is the song everyone's going to remember from this album over Cherub Rock; Cherub really is one of the best songs on the album. It's too bad that they botched the video so badly (but hey, the Today video is my favorite of all time, so I guess it sort of works out. Sort of).

Quiet showed us how dark-sounding the Pumpkins could be (X.Y.U. and Fuck You (An Ode to No One) from MCIS follow in its footsteps nicely), and Hummer is a just-slightly-less-great-than-Drown venture back into dream pop. Rocket is catchy and fun, if not totally remarkable. Soma... man, oh, man, what does one say about Soma? It's the centerpiece here, and they couldn't have really picked a better one. 40 guitar overdubs can't be wrong. Everything comes together on this. It's definitely one of the best songs they put out.

...god damn it, I can't keep writing this fucking thing; it's like 2 in the morning and I have nothing to even write here. Just listen to the damn album; it's good, I assure you.


Jan. 23rd, 2009

Fun is over

Worst day ever. :(

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Jan. 20th, 2009

I'm Mike D, back from the dead/Chillin' at the beach, down at Club Med

Bleargh, I guess I'll try to get this thing going again. One of my classes this semester is Writing for Multimedia, and the professor doesn't know what she's going to have us do all semester (alright, no way to plan out topics! Not that I would have, I just like to moan about "student injustices"), but one of the ideas floating around is to have us keep a blog, so I'm trying to get into the habit of writing.

Speaking of classes, I have the joy of taking Religious and Philosophical Perspectives on Death and Dying. Professor's first words? "Welcome to death." I know I sound sarcastic here, but this is really a class I'm looking forward to. Morbidity aside, death is a pretty interesting thing. (Well, the concept is interesting, at least. The actual state of rotting in the ground while spiritually not existing, not so much. Imagine the blog entries. "Today: Nothing. Tomorrow: Nothing. Current music: Bright Eyes.")

I keep coming up with ideas for lists of things while I'm walking to class. Expect to see some soon.

Oct. 27th, 2008

As if winter needed an extra month

Welp, it's October 27th and there is snow on the ground. Just super.

Maybe I can get sick of snow by Christmas, thus rendering the one good part of winter worthless.
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Oct. 20th, 2008

You can probably just ignore this post

I got a weird IM right after I posted the last entry; I'm just posting this one to see if it happens again.

Update: Nope.

Big words make you smart

OK, I had to read this article for a class. If you're too lazy to read into the article past the first sentence (and who could blame you), here's a sample; one of the most deliciously overwrought sentences in the whole thing.

"To the syntagmatic surface of slippage there corresponds an invisible paradigmatic dimension that creates those minimally differentiated signs only in order for them to blur together in a pleasureless orgy of exchange and circulation."

My favorite part of this is that this is an assignment for INTRO TO MULTIMEDIA. My philosophy class last semester didn't even come close to being this abstract. Not sure how this is related to multimedia in any meaningful way, but it does go on about Blade Runner and The Fly at some point for some reason.

GOD, I hate essays like this; the ones where you can almost taste the author's (who is ALWAYS a professor, and almost always at some podunk college) sense of self-pride at their esoteric verbal diarrhea.

Oct. 19th, 2008

Turkeys are cool

This bird has been hanging out by the University Center for like 3 weeks now. Still haven't named him.


Oct. 16th, 2008

So... heyyyy... um.

'Sup guys. I don't know how much I'll be updating this, but meh, it'll be a place to rant when I get bored. So you have that to look forward to.

What an underwhelming first post.