Note: for the body of my review of this artist's work, I have chosen to leave the word tr*nny uncensored. If this word is a trigger for you please find other content on the rest of this site (sorry it's not frequently updated anymore).
Oh, look, there haven't been any posts in 2020! I wonder why...
*In this post, terms I am making up mostly for ironic effect will be pink*
So this post is going to be a little different from the older ones. I hope to do more All Artist's Albums reviews in the future but if that's more what you're here for this might not be your speed. I was inspired to write something like this partially by the wonderful blog DAVID (content warning: pretty explicit stuff) so it'll probably veer towards some personal stuff. If that's not stuff you wanna know, you can leave. Last chance. No? You're staying?
Here it goes. This will be the first personal blog post I've made in some years, but it's worth writing about briefly. I won't be going as in-depth as I do about some album from 1966 or whatever but here are some thoughts.
I've been slowly coming out as trans to friends and family and got the feeling I should come out publicly on the internet as well, since that's where it really matters am I right? This website is a bit different from the other sites I've come out on, so I'll just say that part quickly then move on.
I am trans, and identify as a woman. I prefer female pronouns, which you should probably know are she and her. I've known this definitively for a few months, though on some level I've known for at least a couple years.
It's pretty important to who I am, but I don't think it's the most important thing. I still find that I want people to like me for my art and music at least as much as I want them to like me as a woman. That art is where I've been consistently expressing myself truthfully, in ways that I never could even with some of my closest friends, since as far back as I can remember. Some of the stuff that's up on this site is what I consider to be an honest expression of myself as a person, and saying something like "I am trans" is so general and ultimately kind of non-informative that it's far less of an expression of who I am or what to think of me. So yes, being trans is important to me, being a woman is important to me, but in some ways it's incidental to who I am.
Thank you for reading and I hope you continue to enjoy the art I create.
So, here we are again. Feels like it's been forever. Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. This was initially slated to be my second AAA review, and honestly it very well might have been my first. This was certainly the first band I listened to enough to be able to write about them as much as I will here, and I could probably have written this review when I was twelve, excluding the last several albums.
Friends and acquaintances John Linnell and John Flansburgh (The Johns) graduated to bandmates in 1982 and performed around New York City, playing guitar and accordion to a drum machine. Eventually they recorded some demos and after four years they released their first album. We take you there now...
I just remembered about this RPG I developed a year or so ago. I got the files from my old hard drive so I could post them here and anyone incredibly fixated on both RPGs and the Half-Life franchise (which I've been replaying for the seventh time) can maybe find some fun in it. Maybe some people will actually play it, maybe they won't. But I just feel like I put a little too much time into this for just the one campaign I DMed.
The core of the game is similar to what I know of AD&D. The stats are all the same: STR, DEX, WIS, INT, CON, and CHA. I recommend skimming through here if you're unfamiliar with the basics.
I do like to use the ability modifiers from a more recent edition:
If you're precise about rules, assume anything not covered here is the same as in AD&D. Otherwise, feel free to change any rules to make the game fun for you.
I'm writing this after going out to see Adam McKay's newest film, "Vice", about the political career of former Vice President Dick Cheney. I'm still of two minds about the film and I'm less of a critic than I make myself out to be anyway, but I can say for sure that therein lies some fantastic performances. But then again, the 2008 Oliver Stone picture "W." tread some similar territory, featuring almost all of the characters from "Vice". So I thought I'd go ahead and compare the performances between the two films, solely based on accuracy. So let's get into it.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: I can't do all these tonight. I'm going to add more analyses later. Stay tuned.)
The Beatles recently released a reissue of their self-titled 1968 album. It just so happens to be my favorite of their albums.
The reissue features full remixes of all the original tracks, plus extensive, mostly unreleased demo versions of each track, many with overdubs. There are also tons of outtakes and the like.
With all that in mind, I had the crazy idea to compile a list of the personnel I'd most like to see perform The Beatles given one restriction: No musician can appear on more than one track. This means that each Beatle can only play on one track of their own album. Otherwise it has to be outsiders who can really do the songs justice. Other than that, these performers can be from any time period. Some weren't alive when this album was recorded, and many were already dead. There's no possible way this album could ever be or have been made, hence the "dream" aspect.
The following is my full dream personnel for each track of this wonderful album, in order. Please enjoy reading them, and there will be a few notes after the list for the obsessives out there.
"Hunger Patrol of the Hills" is the first Youtube Poop collab between poopers HinaTan250 and Hankster Hillington, and the first King of the Hill collab in a long time.
The contributors to this video are probably the two most prominent currently active King of the Hill Poopers, not counting Aliantos, whose "edits" are considered a genre unto themselves and whose video "Start Puffing Boy" seemed like it could've ushered in a new breed of YTPs back in 2013 when the golden age of Youtube Poop was over.
Instead of some glorious revolution though, with the extinction of generically-edited Poops we've seen the slow subtle change to clever and funny quick-paced poops like those of Numberer1 and others, which still attract some attention by parodying newer franchises, though still never getting numbers that poopers like Deepercutt got back in the golden age. They certainly tend to take more skill than the average poop did back then, but the lack of new content by poopers like OrpheusFTW and Walrusguy still leaves a hole in the market, one which HinaTan250 in particular has seeked to fill.
HinaTan250's shockingly complex and self-supporting poops are episodes unto themselves, and in masterpieces like "There Ain't No Gout About It (Hank's Hole Story)" they seem to earn themselves a place among the great poopers of a few years ago. HinaTan250 has toed the line between Aliantos-style tonal edits and hilarious OrpheusFTW-style jokes. I had high hopes for their follow up to Hank's Hole Story.
Hankster Hillington, meanwhile, is notable for his crass, harsh humor which often borders on pornographic (as much so as YouTube will allow) in a more self-serving way. Although, in his video "Cream in my kothy? I'll eEdit!" Hankster proved himself to be capable in mimicking the "kothedit" style, to a disturbing degree. While I still very much enjoyed their other videos, I find them more like comfort food in the way they recall the twisted humor of old YTPs. "Cream in my Kothy?" was what gave me the most hope for Hankster's upcoming work.
That said, what do I think of this new-ish video these two created together?
We open on a nicely over-emotional edit that sets up the "Canadian Neighbors" plot from the original episode "Uh-Oh Canada", which in this case ends up being an "Aqua Teen Neighbors" plot. The theme song edit repeats this joke, which ends up being very funny thanks to some good timing. This seems like a HinaTan250 edit to me but it could go either way.
A problem with this YTP presents itself once the neighbors actually move in. We get isolated lines from Carl which aren't sentence mixed or specific, and we get a deadpan "whatever" from Dale in response to the introduction of the Aqua Teens. The interactions can be limited and don't often include actual jokes. The humor seems like it's supposed to come from the clash between these different characters, but the creators often seem to forget to make anything funny actually happen.
Meatwad and Hank end up getting along, which didn't seem very earned. Normally, saying something like that about a Youtube Poop would be ridiculous, but in this case there still isn't a wacky joke like in most YTPs that would let the plot be minimal because the audience is too busy laughing.
The editing on the scenes where Boomhauer moves in to Carl's house is nice, but the obvious Hankster Hillington addition of shock-value "porn" falls flat. The edit right after it is nice though, with an RPG dialog box that somehow makes everything the characters say funnier.
We then get the (inevitable?) Peggy Hill/Master Shake sex scene which, at least, is much funnier than the South Park one. The jokes are still Hankster Hillington style immaturity, but the addition of the overused "Arms of an Angel" song and the "Rape Isn't Funny" edit add a lot. Peggy being derided for her bad Spanish is also a good joke AND needed.
Changing the music playing to some generic J-Pop is bad, but Carl sings a Biz Markie ad about Hot Pockets immediately afterwards and makes up for it. The edits there are crazy and I wish there were more of them in this video.
What KotH YTP is complete without a suicidal Bill scene? The music here and Hank's reaction work well but it's still an easy and overdone joke that I doubt HinaTan250 would've put in one of their own videos. Oh well. Meatwad then starts stalking Bobby, similarly to a scene in HinaTan's "Black Hole Bill" which explains why I like it. HinaTan references this scene even more directly afterwards, with Hank saying the "GUHRLUP" catchphrase from said video. The HinaTan edits are nice but without the right context to hold these bits they aren't nearly as appealing.
The GUHRLUP-Satan Hank Battle scenes are suitably epic and more like what I expected from this collab. The editing is well done and really does feel more like DBZ than KotH. Carl's sudden death is surprisingly funny - overall just a great scene. The M. Night Shyamalan-esque reveal that all of this is Bill's fault seems like the right genre note to hit. Hank's reactions here are just right. They flush Carl down the toilet and we get an ATHF end credits edit for nostalgia.
If the first half of this YTP had been more like the second half, it would've been an above-average YTP for Hankster Hillington. But unfortunately I was expecting something on the level of HinaTan's work, which may have been too much to hope for. Hankster seemed to bring down the quality of the edits rather than elevate them. The choice of concept might've also been wrong for this type of collaboration. Putting my expectations aside though, this is still far from a terrible YTP. I have to give it an OK score, though it could've been so much more.
Starting off as The Pendletones, a band centered around three brothers; Brian, Dennis and Carl Wilson, changed their name to The Beach Boys after sole surfer Dennis' insistence that they explore surfing and beach motifs. This became the primary focus of their output, recorded with the help of cousin Mike Love and friend Al Jardine (among others), until 1966 when main writer Brian wrote and recorded Pet Sounds, with the help of a huge roster of talented studio musicians, and not much help from the other Beach Boys. It was one of the first "concept albums": focused on the pain of growing up and navigating love, funnily enough drawing more inspiration from the "Boys" part of their name than the "Beach" part.
The album was a critical success but underperformed commercially. However, it was clear this was the direction Brian wanted to take the band, which didn't sit well with Mike Love. While the other members were more divided on the issue, none of the rest of their work would ever quite live up to the expectations of either the older fans who enjoyed the surfing music or those of the critics and newer fans who viewed Pet Sounds as the best album ever put to vinyl. But while there are only a few moments which recaptured that type of genius, there are many gems hidden throughout the recorded history of a band that was just as inventive as The Beatles with a career five times as long.
For those who know only the uptempo beach music, the fact that the group even recorded anything else can come as a surprise. For those who have heard Pet Sounds, oftentimes the music might as well have ended there. But for those who judge each Beach Boys album on it's own merits, going through their discography is an exciting adventure where the genius of Brian and at times other members struggles to stand out against group infighting that threatens to bring out the worst of everyone. Beyond the sixties, the group can hardly be called consistent. Which makes it even more fun to go through their work and see what hit the mark. With no further ado, THE BEACH BOYS:
Surfin Safari (1962): This one has the Beach Boys' first two singles: "Surfin" and "Surfin' Safari", only the latter of which is particularly good. "Surfin" was the first song they ever recorded and while it certainly had pure novelty appeal at the time, it does not stand up against the Boys' later work. Similarly, most of the songs here like "County Fair", "Ten Little Indians" and "Cuckoo Clock" are novelty songs and filler, far more filler than on later releases. The two great songs here are "Surfin' Safari" and "409" which almost save the album. Anyone can skip this album and just listen to those two and be none the worse for it. Though "Safari" hints at Brian's later genius he clearly hadn't matured as a songwriter at 20 (haha I'm 20). Mostly pretty bad.
Surfin' USA (1963): This sophomore attempt is miles ahead of their first one. Perhaps an OCEAN ahead. Yes, this one is more focused on surfing, not Indians or fairs or clocks. There's even a cover of Dick Dale's "Misirlou". The eponymous single is a cover of a Chuck Berry song with new lyrics, played beautifully with a killer organ solo by Brian. But for me the highlight here is "Farmer's Daughter", with a slower tempo which shows us the beginnings of what's to come on Surfer Girl with an absolutely beautiful choirboy delivery against a perfectly bouncy surf groove. The rest of the tracks hold their own for the most part and this is a great starting point for this band.
Surfer Girl (1963): The band's first masterpiece. Here the speedier surf rockers are set nicely against smooth ballads like "Surfer Girl" and "In My Room", the latter of which deserves a spot on Pet Sounds as much as anything, as Brian's first exploration of adolescent stress and loneliness. But even "Hawaii" is as well done as a surfing song can be with the backing vocals designed perfectly for each part. "Catch A Wave" is similarly well-crafted. It's at the level of their later output even if it's not their best album. Though if surfing really IS your bag, baby, this may be the best album you'll ever come accross. The only thing that stops it from being a 10 is the instrumental "Boogie Woodie" which while not terrible is an unnecessary distraction from the other tracks.
Little Deuce Coupe (1963): Three albums in one year. Yes, they were that prolific, creating music faster than anyone today. However, the creative juices might have been wearing off as for perhaps the only time the band reused FOUR songs including "409" and "Shut Down". This makes some sense as the concept for the album was to create some sort of compilation of the songs the band had made about cars, with new material recorded as well. "409" is the only good car song the band ever made besides "This Car of Mine" from the next record, and the new material especially fails to impress. The only great on the album is "Be True to Your School" which is a lovely if kitschy earworm. Even that isn't really unskippable and the car theme really relegates the whole thing to a dead end of an idea that never went anywhere (thank god they never released another car album). I'd say don't come back to this until you've heard every other Beach Boys song, every one of which is undoubtedly more worthy of your time.
Shut Down, Volume 2 (1964): No, I'm not reviewing Volume 1 here. Shut Down, Volume 1 was a compilation album from Capitol Records which featured that song. So it's possible Murray Wilson, the band's then-manager, father to three of them and infamous arsehole suggested this name 8 months after to capitalize on that record's success. He also caused David Marks to quit the band, Marks being a friend and member to the boys I didn't mention earlier because he quit in '64. Thanks Murray. To get to the actual album, there are two great tracks here, "Fun, Fun, Fun" and "Don't Worry Baby" and the rest is pure filler. OBVIOUS filler. "Denny's Drums" is a drum solo track that my friend Mridul and I used to mock often for it's inclusion here. There are skits, there are covers, and there are instrumentals like the eponymous track which doesn't do anything to stand out. "The Warmth of the Sun" is good but crosses the line from heavenly to sleepy. The obvious recommendation to make here is to skip everything but the songs I mentioned and maybe "This Car of Mine". But it is almost worth listening to the whole thing for the filler, most of which isn't bad and some of which is just funny that they included it. Like the song "Fun, Fun, Fun", suggests, this album is good for some if you're in the right mood.
All Summer Long (1964): The Boys were well-established at this point, and there may have been a bit of coasting involved here. On material they'd definitely covered before like "Little Honda" and "Girls on the Beach", they're clearly trying and even producing some of the better material about those topics, but it's easy to imagine Brian playing these songs, many of which Mike Love helped contribute, and starting to get tired of these types of tracks. But Love does flourish with this material, which he clearly had an aptitude for, with his solo contributions like "All Summer Long" being fun and pretty if a little shallow even for an early Beach Boys song. Carl does actually prove himself on "Carl's Big Chance", showing he could crank out a neat solo even if the opportunities to do so were rare. There is one track here, "Our Favorite Recording Sessions", which consists of sessions where the boys messed up or goofed around in a cute wholesome way. I can imagine teen girl fans of the time finding it charming but not too much of the charm survives. Similarly, the charming nature of this album is a little worn at this point and it's the first one without any true highlights to pull it out of the recesses of their catalog. "Little Honda" is nice but only performs well in the chorus. You might find something to hold on to here, but that's more of a testament to your tenacity than the band's.
Here's an old segment I did once before forever ago: All Artist's Albums. Normally I would run through an artist's studio output chronologically, giving a brief summary of my thoughts on each release. Here, I'll be a little more in-depth, because we are discussing one of the least prolific (yet most prolific) but also most influential (yet somehow least) of the early psychadellic "beat" music groups of the mid-sixties.
Started in 1964 by five American G.I.s in Germany, The Monks experimented constantly for a year to find the perfect sound, one which found little popularity in Germany at the time. While their beloved contemporaries, The Beatles, sported two guitarists, The Monks replaced the extra guitar with a six-string banjo and added an organ. Additionally, their drummer Roger Johnston employed a hypnotic sense of rhythm to simple primitive beats with complex tempo changes. The lyrics are almost unnecessary and feature a simplicity that would make Joey Ramone moan in protest, but the rawness of the delivery set against contrasting harmonies was original and entrancing.
Only after the world forgot about The Monks did people start to stumble upon their single studio album, Black Monk Time and realize that they had veered at times into the sounds of punk, garage, even post-punk. And yet, these labels don't fit the band much more than the then-labels of beat and early-psychadelic music. The Monks are so much something else entirely that they could have formed at any point from 1960 to now and still been just as relevant yet just as different. Their most amazing accomplishment is sounding like they had no real concept of genre. And now, their first and last album, Black Monk Time:
(1966) Black Monk Time: This might as well be the first punk rock album. It makes as much sense as anything else, unless you go all the way to Bollocks or something, which is obviously too late. It's certainly proto-punk, it's certainly garage, but it's something more. So to help us understand that, let's go through it song by song. For this part, I recommend either looking up Black Monk Time on Spotify or YouTube or simply playing it if you have the CD.
(1) Monk Time: A very deliberate choice for a first track both lyrically (Gary mentions the members by name as Monks) and musically, as it features a straightforward version of the hypnotic pulsing rhythm with bass and banjo on the on and off beats respectively, with the organ coming in later. A very solid Monk track if a bit plain. The most noteworthy thing besides the cynical but fun 'Nam lyrics is the little repeating guitar riff in the intro, which sounds a bit like classic heavy metal. A great track, just not the most inventive The Monks have made.
(2) Shut Up: Quite a negative and depressing song, with a chord progression to match. However, the addition of this minor progression as opposed to the usual I-IV major stuff helps to see the parallels with sophisticated acts like The Cure which came later. The organ solo halfway through sounds like a more chaotic version of that from "The House of the Rising Sun" by The Animals, which debuted the same year. Overall this song is just a little more depressing than what one usually comes to The Monks for, but it's nice to have for variety.
(3) Boys Are Boys and Girls Are Choice: The first song on the album where that distorted bass sound is front and center, along with that impossible-to-ignore low rhythmic drum pounding. It comes off as a little more of a "jam" song than most of this stuff- but it's so very condensed and ends so strongly that's it's impossible not to love. An album highlight to be sure.
(4) Higgle-Dy - Piggle-Dy: I have to say I love it when these guys bust out something like the yodeled verses on this track. If your afraid to have your music be weird, why listen to The Monks in the first place? The music's solid as always, with "Boys" and this both making fine use of the organist Larry Clark's considerable skills. The combination of yodeling and psychadelic blues almost put to my mind something like "Focus Pocus" by Hocus and the guitar solo is certainly the most metal thing produced in 1966. Maybe not a great first Monks song but coming back to it after getting used to these guys, this track is everything you could want.
(5) I Hate You: At 3:33 it's long for a Monks track and certainly takes it's time, going a lot more for "cool and soulful" than "pounding you into submission with raw uptempo speed". The backing vocals sound nice and phantomly as always and Gary seems to tear his throat open in just that perfect way, especially on lines like "Well I hate you baby with a passion, yeah you know I do", where he sings a single note in a grating crow-like style. With such a primitive style and animalistic vocals, perhaps The Monks and The Monkees should have traded names. It's a terrific song but I almost dislike even having a slight reprieve from that fast beat.
(6) Oh How To Do Now: A perfectly respectable song that nonetheless doesn't particularly define itself against the rest of the catalog besides by repeating the title as well as the chorus more than usual. That broken record repetitiveness is such a part of their charm though, and really lets you appreciate every part of the piece. The guitar riffs in the second part are especially Hendrix-esque, if not as sustained or genius. Overall it may be a middle-of-the-road song but the funnel-like song structure in which an idea for a song is presented, restated, evolved, then abandoned, restated again, and altered in a way that progressively trims the fat of the central concept is in such fine form here that there's no way to find real fault in anything.
(1) Complication: Strangely enough, the first and most successful single of the album (that is to say, it was not successful in any regard). The pre-chorus (before the 'ba ba ba' wordless chorus) here is I have to say inferior to the way it was performed later live like here. Gary decided after this to change the monotone lyrics over the harmonies at that section to something a lot more lively and catchy. The one-note stuff works very well in other songs and is fine here but live it makes this song more interesting. The organ solo here isn't quite the best so I'd say this is not a high point on the album, though the song is great and a lot of fun live.
(2) We Do Wie Du: Wow, a bit of German in the title of a technically German band's song! Anyways, back to a bit of slowness, but this time a lot more sweet and effortless than "I Hate You". It's nice to hear a real guitar solo again instead of an organ one, too. In fact, I don't think there's any organ on this one, though it might just be subtle. That nice surf groove, too, creates a mood that just makes you want to hold your lover and sidle around the smelly hot garage. Those "Heys" by Gary are so endearing too. One of the best tracks here.
(3) Drunken Maria: You know, this string of 4 songs on side two is my favorite part of the album. This track is just so peppy and allows so much of itself (a full half) to pass before the first lyric that it's absolutely infectious when you get there. Especially with the first chorus, where the band gets extremely experimental with the reverb on the single distorted chords that would become such a distinctive sound later for bands like U2. I'll be damned if every part of this song isn't fully formed musical genius and of course the way it progresses seems like the band just knew what came next, caring not which part was chorus, verse, or bridge.
(4) Love Came Tumblin' Down: The first Monks song I ever heard and my favorite. I think this one is underrated, as I don't hear it brought up much and it wasn't covered on the tribute album Silver Monk Time. This song is so fucking amazing. It doesn't stray from the original progression until much later but everything it does with it, from the lyrics, to the organ solo, to the unbelievably inventive guitar riffs that sound like some out-of-this-world Ween shit, everything leads up to the Western-style verse lyrics that just project you to that other world. If The Monks are indeed monks, they are monks from another planet where horses are the primary form of transportation but there are distortion pedals attached to everything. If I ever need inspiration I can turn to this song. I can see how it's just a little different enough to be weird for most fans but it's definitely worth repeated listening.
(5) Blast Off!: Sigh. Shame to get to this track, this could be the most positive review ever if not for it. The 12-bar progression with the neverending organ riff is just annoying to me, where I know it should be hypnotic. This track certainly marks the low point of the album for me, and it's such a shock that they included it when later-released B-Sides were so so much better (some of them might even be better than anything on the album). I may get to those some other day, but for now I have to say that the whole "classic rock instrumental about space" was done better by The Tornados with "Telstar" 4 years before this. It's just a lot less inventive than what I've come to expect, especially from the lack of lyrics (besides the counting) and the almost incessant organ riff. A low point and probably worth skipping.
(6) That's My Girl: Most of this song sounds a little bit too much like "Drunken Maria" for me, though The Monks certainly aren't known for too much variety (though there is more on their unreleased B-Sides). However, I do like the vocal portions, the middle is just a tad boring for me. I personally think there would be stronger ending tracks for this album. Still, not a terrible song, maybe a bad one by their high standards though.
Well, that's it for now. Thank you so much for reading. Sometimes I need to get inspired by something to return to a writing form like this, hopefully I do actually do another one of these in less than 4 years this time. There's still a whole ton of bands out there (yep there's more than 2) and many of them have more than one album, even! See ya then.
This is her site,