Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace, Track by Track

So here's something different - I picked up The Offspring's new album, Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace, a couple of weeks ago and I am going to offer an opinion on each track as some kind of crazy blog madness. WHILE STOCKS LAST!

(Pointless aside I must sneak in whenever discussing the Offspring - I'm part of the crowd providing the crowd vocals on "Neocon", the first track of Splinter. Check the CD inlay - Reading Festival, 2002. Sunday I think?)

Please note that I have listened to the first five tracks several times and the rest between one and five times prior to doing this. Not because of any particular bias, I just listen to CDs in a funny way.

Also, I just noticed there doesn't appear to be an underline option on Blogger. What the hell? Bold it is.

1. "Half-Truism"

Well, the opening guitar bit is "New Born" by Muse.
Oh, there's the drums, and we're off into more Offspringy waters.
First "woah-oh" identified at about 25 seconds. New record?
Into the chorus, and we're suddenly listening to Black Parade-era My Chemical Romance. Odd but quite good.
And back to basics for second verse. Shakespearean lyric reference noted (1.27) - bonus points.
Chorus again - yep, definitely My Chem-y.

Overall, pleasing to the ear. Randomly scabbing other bands obviously pays dividends.

2. "Trust in You"

Hey, it's The Standard Offspring Song! You know what this sounds like, it's been on all of their albums at least twice. Basically take "All I Want" and squiggle it a bit. It's still good.
Hang on, the chorus offers up some weird squeaky noise in the background. Keyboard? No mention of keyboards in the booklet. Strange. And now we have a dash of Latin for the heck of it. I have no idea what "Quo modo" means but it sounds quite good.
Seriously, this precise guitar chug should be patented or something.
There's a good bridge that's not a million miles from "Have You Ever". Agreeable.

So yeah, if you like the Offspring you automatically have to like this song because this is their definitive sound or whatever.

3. "You're Gonna Go Far, Kid"

(Side note: I had this stuck in my head for most of last week.)

You can sort of dance to this one. The "dance, fucker, dance" hook's brilliant and is the bit that really got lodged in my skull.
Pre-chorus is a bit odd. Odd appears to be a key word for this album.
Main chorus: the business. Love that little riff at the end.
Then rinse and repeat.

Overall: probably the best track on the album. Not quite top marks, but close.

4. "Hammerhead"

You've probably heard this one already, it's the first single and they released it as a free download. Oh Dexter, you'll never make your delicious money that way. OR WILL YOU?

Overall: quite good. Understandable single choice, but not the album's best.

5. "A Lot Like Me"

More like "A Lot Like Linkin Park", mirite lol. Actually this one's grown on me a fair bit - I have a soft spot for Mr. Bennington and his wacky gang of crazy fellows, which probably helps.
So, sampled piano at the beginning and "ohhhh" bit - seriously, every time I hear this it sounds more like something off Meteora.
Is this actually Dexter singing? It sounds a bit different.
Okay, Dexter's providing backing vocals for the pre-chorus. So I guess it's Noodles doing the lead vocal? I can't really see Greg K, The Silent Bassist, taking the mic.
Right, into the chorus, and that's Dexter. Wow, mixing it up. Up is down and black is white. Michael Jackson is now really confused. I should be shot for that last joke.
Anyway. Song. Song quite good. Lyrics hilariously overwrought, but it's enjoyable in a slightly cheesy way.

6. "Takes Me Nowhere"

Start sounds kind of like "One Fine Day", Part 2. Good way to start. Verse gets a thumbs-up.
Chorus, um, doesn't really. Sounds like they were going to do something interesting but couldn't make it work so they went with plan B. Is there a band called Plan B? There should be.

Overall: Good verse, indifferent chorus. S'alright.

7. "Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?"

Oh blimey, they're unplugged. I smell a ballad.
Yep, definitely a ballad. The Offspring do not do ballads! They are manly and play very fast.
Also, slowing down causes Dexter's vocals to get incredibly nasal. Not quite Jordan Pundik level, but not pleasant.
Hmm, yeah. Actually I'm not so down on this one, I know there's worse to come.
Hey, we've got some drums pinched from American Idiot coming in there with their thumpy-thump-thump.

Overall: cheesy and slightly painful, but bearable. Actually, this one ended up in my head for a couple of days too. Basically, don't listen to it when your cool friends with immaculate music taste are round and you'll be fine. It'll just be between us...

8. "Nothingtown"

The American Idiot vibe returns with a vengeance. This is basically the unused sixth part of "Homecoming". And I like "Homecoming", so we're good.
Yeah, you can dance to this. It's good stuff.

Overall: one of those ones that makes you grin. It so bouncy. We like. Who "we" are, me no know. Upbeat bassline has destroyed Sam's grammar. Sammar?

9. "Stuff is Messed Up"

I think this actually turned into a Green Day record when I wasn't looking, there's a hint of "Longview" about this intro. Not as good, mind.
This is The Snarky Song. The Offspring give good snarky. It's not their best, but it's acceptable.
I like the gleefully obnoxious tone of Dexter's voice when he sings "shit is fucked up". Also, that's the sort of ridiculous phrase I like in general. Screw you, semantics!
Here we have a Clash lyrical reference followed swiftly by what you could argue to be a Christina Aguilera lyrical reference (that's how I hear it, anyway).
Then we've got this great bit near the end where Dexter sings a long list really, really fast, and fits an "lol" into it. Approval rating: high!

Overall: gets better as it goes along. Well done, sirs.

10. "Fix You"

Oops, so much for the good work so far. Here we have another ballad, and it's fucking awful. And Dexter's even more nasal. If you're going to name a track after a Coldplay song, the least you could do is make it better than the original. Yeesh.

Overall: go away now. Possibly the worst song they've ever released. So rubbish I feel confident in making that last statement despite the fact I haven't actually heard their first two albums.

11. "Let's Hear it for Rock Bottom"

Tune's perky, slightest hint of ska. Christ, the first verse actually is Linkin Park. It even sounds like Chester Bennington singing it.
Ooh, that's better. Got a bit of energy there.
...No, gone again. WHAT'S GOING ON, DEXTER
Oh, back up again. What? This song's like two different ones mashed together.

Overall: um. Hard to call. Not offensive, but probably should've been better.

12. "Rise and Fall"

Green Day again? This time it sounds like something off Shenanigans, if rarities complations can have their own sound. No, actually, it sounds like "St. Jimmy", right down to some "ooo"s in the background. Actually, that guitar solo sounds a little "Ha Ha You're Dead".

Overall: totally a Green Day song. I like Green Day, so I like this.

Album overall: not their best, not their worst. Generally, the first half's topper and the second can vary wildly. Nice to hear some different influences in there, if a bit odd at times. See? "Odd". Sums it up quite nicely a lot of the time, actually.

I've been Samuel Bridgett, and this has been a waste of your precious time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Proper writin'

Hey look, I appear to have become an intern for

Exciting times, fellows and ladies. Guess I should update my links...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Delicious moolah

Half-Blood Prince movie pushed back 'til next July

There's no major upsets in the editing suite or anything, the producers just thought they could make a bit more dosh with a summer release. 'Cos, you know, these films usually struggle to scrape a penny or two together.

Way to show pretty thorough contempt for your audience, guys. (I bet you if you go to see The Dark Knight tonight there'll still be a trailer advertising a November release.)

I've never liked this summer-movie mentality anyway. Plus, Potter films just seem to work better in the winter (probably because they invariably have a Christmas scene).

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More purdy pictures

It's albums (and one EP, if you want to get picky) this time. Watch me go!
Daft Punk - Alive 2007 (2007)

It's really nice in an abstract FUTURE-IS-TIC way at first, then you flick through the booklet, see the live photos and realise it's actually a stylised picture of the stage set (the honourable robot gentlemen were positioned in that sort of gap in the central white pyramid, the red bars are the big pole things they had up and the blue triangles are the lighting rigs) and it becomes that much more awesome.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Raise Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven (2000)

Not much going on, but nice and simple. The CDs (it's a 2-disc album) are packaged in a sort of rough cardboard that goes rather well with the art. Gives it a bit of literal texture.

Muse - Origin of Symmetry (2001)

I like abstract cover art, what can I say? It sort of reminds me of rugby goals gone wrong.

Broken Social Scene - Broken Social Scene (2005)

I like ones that look like a four-year-old drew it, because it allows me to delude myself that I could be an artist. This probably should look rubbish, but for some reason it's really good. Conspiracies!

Jimmy Eat World - Chase This Light (2007)
This album has an art theme of fire - "light", I guess - with a lit match on the back cover and a phoenix on the CD itself. Took me bloody ages to realise that this peacock feather represents a flame (in fact, it mirrors the match on the back almost perfectly). Also phoenix feather concepts, I s'pose.

Radiohead - Kid A (2000)

Well, obviously. These days, the fires also remind me of the beacon bit from Return of the King, fact fans.

Gorillaz - Demon Days (2005)

Yes, it's the fifth billionth Beatles mick-take, but Jamie Hewlett did it so it's all right.

My Bloody Valentine - Loveless (1991)

It's the pinkest thing ever, and it took me months to realise it's actually a guitar rather than an abstract blob. Then it took me another couple of months to notice the band name's on there.

Arcade Fire - The Arcade Fire (2003)It's just really pretty.

Monday, August 04, 2008

My worldview is shattered...

...I kind of agree with Keith Vaz

Okay, so there's not much actual onscreen violence, but the repeated threats are pretty intense, and it's basically one huge downer from beginning to end. I wouldn't feel comfortable taking an 11-year-old to see it.

I can understand why they 12A-d it, though, if it was 15 the ushers'd be trying to hold back an oncoming flood of underage kids determined to get in.

(I seem to recall that the original 12 certificate was invented for the first Burton film, incidentally.)

Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Bat Man

So, The Dark Knight...absolutely excellent stuff. Begins was pretty over-rated, but Nolan made good here. My dad commented it was more like a thriller than the typical action-heavy comic-book movie, and he was right. Much of it was literally nail-biting stuff.

One of the things I really liked about it was the action sequences - in Begins they felt thrown in out of expectation, as if the makers were obligated to put in a bit where stuff blows up but they really wanted to get back to the character drama. This time round all the explosions felt like they should be there, and it made a lot of difference. Even when Bats was zooming around on his ridiculous seat-and-guns-on-wheels thing, it didn't look that daft and unnecessary. Impressive.

There's no doubting who the movie belonged to, though. Heath Ledger, quite frankly, scared the crap out of me. I was terrified whenever he was onscreen because I literally had no idea what he was going to do next. Probably the scariest character I've ever seen in a movie (disregarding the fact I don't tend to watch horror movies). Everyone else was exemplary, too, especially Aaron Eckhart. Christ, that makeup.

It was a summer blockbuster movie that ignored all the rules of summer blockbuster movies (I can't elaborate for fear of ruining the plot), which seems fitting. Essential viewing.

Friday, August 01, 2008

More game-rating wittering

They still can't make their minds up. I remain trenchant in my belief that the best and easiest thing to do is give all games BBFC ratings - people recognise and understand them instantly, and they're much more sensible than the PEGI nonsense ("Warning! Contains spiders!").

(Having said that, I remember being quite surprised that Resi 4 got a 15 rating and not an 18.)