Saturday, April 29, 2017

A lot of bands really like the date April 28

Yesterday while driving home from Ithaca, I had a lot of music listening time and what better day to do that than Fridays - now the day albums release in the United States. The following albums came out yesterday:

-Sylvan Esso, What Now
-Feist, Pleasure
-Gorillaz, Humanz
-Drake, More Life
-New Found Glory, Makes Me Sick

Among many others including Thurston Moore's new band, The Best Day, The Cranberries and Glee alum Lea Michele. Spring has sprung in more ways than one. Evidently, I have three picks from the variety of new music choices:

Gorillaz, Humanz
I have to say, I love Gorillaz very much - "Clint Eastwood," Damon Albarn's first single under the cartoon band creation and the band's first big hit, came out in 2001, which is when I started high school, so their prime continued throughout my teenage years. I have many good memories of "Feel Good Inc." playing at high school graduation parties - that came out in May 2005. But even their alleged last hurrah, The Fall in 2010 was not the best. Boring is a word that comes to mind but I think that's because the people making the music were also bored. Humanz is still not Gorillaz, Demon Days or Plastic Beach but it definitely seems like the guys behind this project are rejuvenated and ready to create again. The music on Humanz is fresh and if you've looked at their YouTube channel recently, they're releasing a lot of story line content about the band members and unique, plot heavy music videos, which is part of why Gorillaz are so awesome. The band is not only audio, they're also visual and they think about that aspect way more than other bands, probably due to the fact that they're people behind cartoons; an obvious conscious decision they made when starting this project. So it makes sense the visuals have to be on point with the music. It's impressive when you can still make music, have all these different characters/personas on screen and then you can go about your day and go to the bodega without being noticed in 2017. Damon Albarn might be the exception since he does have previous success from Blur. The last two things I will say about this revamped version of Gorillaz are:

1. I've noticed they're focusing more on the rap and hip hop elements of their music. I wish they wouldn't do that but it's not my decision, I guess. "Ascension," their first single off of Humanz, was like, 95% rap. That's okay. I guess.

2. Their animation game has gotten way more advanced! I'm not sure if I like that either. I liked the DIY, gritty feel to them.

Feist, Pleasure
I surprisingly absolutely love Feist's new album, Pleasure. Metals didn't do anything for me, so I thought maybe The Reminder was just a fluke. But Pleasure reminds me of a Feist album that is on quaaludes and I'm okay with that. It's slower than my usual liking but there are some gems on there - for example, "I Wish I Didn't Miss You," "Century" and "Any Party". Definitely recommended for some late night studying or if you're sick/need to rest in bed and want to listen to something mellow.

Sylvan Esso, What Now
I save my favorite recommendation for last - Sylvan Esso! I feel like there is a lot more pep to their songs on the self titled but regardless, What Now is a great sophomore album and there are still some really good songs on there like "Radio," "Die Young," "The Glow" and "Just Dancing." Out of all the albums that came out yesterday, this is of course, my favorite and most recommended choice. I'll be seeing them in Albany (they're playing at the mall, of all places,) at the end of May so definitely look out for a concert review of that.

Friday, April 14, 2017

In Defense of Girls. And Here's Why.

Since the beginning of Girls, I've always been intrigued by what was described at first as, "Sex in the City for a younger generation" and yes, it definitely is, but I think it explores friendship in very different ways than Sex in the City. The friendships formed in Sex in the City were shown on a surface level and nothing more. There were fights occasionally, ups and downs but it never felt as authentic. The four ladies in Sex in the City were so different from each other but somehow, it just "worked". Regardless of what they were going through in life and how they disagreed with the way they were living their life. And that never felt believable to me. In Girls, like Sex in the City, their friendship "worked" until it didn't after the first two seasons. And that's when I think it really deviates from Sex in the City quite a bit. When Hannah, Jessa, Marnie and Shoshanna start navigating life after college and actually figure out what they want to do and who they want to be (or maybe some of the ladies at least try to do those things and not succeed,) that's when it starts getting interesting. In Sex in the City, we were never able to see this stage in their lives and this is where Girls is not like Sex in the City at all. The show portrays pretty truthfully what it was like to be out of college right after the recession (that's what we're still calling it, right?), with no job prospects and an expensive liberal arts degree you can't even use if you wanted to. And not only that, but being entitled to boot! All four girls have been offered a privileged lifestyle since they've been born - Jessa, Marnie and Hannah all going to Oberlin College, a very old money institution, (where Lena Dunham actually attended college,) and have been able to get pretty much anything they've wanted.
          A lot of the negative feedback I hear from people about the show is "all those characters are terrible people" and yes, yes they are (except Ray and I will defend that to my death, he's just trying to make it in this world,) but that's kind of the point and every time someone says this to me, I twitch a little bit. Because yes, you're supposed to hate them but then they do something in an episode that makes you realize you know this person in real life. You know a Marnie. You know a Hannah. You know Elijah. Regardless of them being unlikable, you cannot deny the badass writing chops of Lena Dunham and her crew. To write characters that are relatable, but also so annoying and unlikable, you say "that reminds me of ____", is a pretty successful feat when you're a writer of the fiction variety.

       People aren't likable all the time. Your Charlotte's and Carrie's are few and far between. Women especially have been judged if they're having a bad day and aren't "on" 24/7. Girls challenges this concept that women always have to be fun, flirty and nice all the time. Women, like men, also have their moments. We sometimes don't like our friends either, but they're our friends and we understand when bad days arise. Most times in the show, the girls' suffer from a little more than just a bad day, but you get the idea. You know, like when the publisher who is releasing your e-book unexpectedly dies and now your book deal is kaput. Or when you broke up with your first love and want to have sex with a random hotel door man. Or when you connect with someone you never thought you would; who also happens to be very ill and asks you to end their life. There are a lot of feelings and emotions swirling around and they're not all going to be admirable.
          I also love the fact that these characters have changed and progressed throughout the show. Even if it's a change for the worse, (I'm looking at you, Marnie seasons 3-6,) the viewer can notice distinct changes in these characters and goes through their journey with them to continue learning. And that's something that happens in life that isn't depicted on television too much.
         For these reasons, I'm going to miss the show terribly but I also understand why Dunham has decided to end it. They're transforming into thirty-somethings, getting engaged, getting new job opportunities or maybe they're picking up the pieces from their mistakes and starting a brand new chapter. SPOILERS - I would like to see if Jessa will even survive her thirties, if Marnie will stop this nonsense with Desi and snap out of it, if Shoshanna's new fiance, Byron is actually deserving of such an individualistic and resilient woman (albeit, sometimes selfish, but aren't they all? Yes. The answer is yes.) And probably the biggest mystery of all - is Paul-Louis going to be involved with his child?! Because I kind of ship him and Hannah together. That first episode of this season was magical and you could totally see that he brought out a side to Hannah that normally doesn't show. I hope their story isn't over. Jessa and Adam deserve each other and at this point, Hannah is too good for Adam. And Jessa for that matter but I guess they're trying to cultivate their friendship again? I am hoping these questions get answered in the finale this Sunday but knowing Lena Dunham, there won't be closure. And I get it - people are constantly learning and changing. She has always wanted to convey that in the show. And because of that, their story won't be over until it's over.

Anyway...I will end this post with a sweet moment between ladies...something that seems so far away from a possibility, especially after watching last week's "group meeting" in the bathroom during Shoshanna's engagement party.