Album Reviews, Music

Review: The Offspring – Happy Hour

Ah the Japanese, the purveyors of weird and the collectors of strange. No doubt the long history of the “Japanese Import” will turn up some exclusively weird records meant for those most die-hard fans and completists only. So comes this Offspring collection titled Happy Hour, a Japanese-only import of live tracks, covers, b-sides, and some truly terrible, terribly remixes. It’s befuddling to say the least as to who would actually slap money down to purchase this, but as with all things weird in this world, I’m sure there’s an audience somewhere.

It isn’t all bad however- the live tracks do showcase the Offspring’s live pedigree. Recorded well and sounding crisp, they’re a good indicator of what they sound like on stage. “All I Want” and “Gone Away” are particularly great here- but the live version of “Pretty Fly” serves as nothing more than a reminder of how crappy this song really is. Their cover of “Hey Joe” (which is from their Baghdad EP, in itself, a true rarity and a great find) by Billy Roberts and “I Got a Right” by Iggy Pop are easily the gems of this collection, but are probably worth the ticket on releases elsewhere.

Happy Hour is tailended by remixes of some of their more popular tracks, “Want You Bad”, “Why Don’t You Get a Job” and “Pretty Fly” which are beyond awful. The less said about these, the better.

It’s all a little unnecessary and those who do pick it up are pretty desperate. But it’s part of the game in the end, one the Offspring and their labels have played very well since 1994. (Sony Japan)

[xrr rating=1/5]

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Music

No Sleep Til Festival announces lineup

How long does it take for excitement and anticipation to turn into quiet reservation and slight disappointment? Well, probably from the time it took between this previous article and the one you’re reading now. The much hullabalooed announcement about the Descendents touring Australia was indeed true, and as expected, it will be part of a new festival. Today Blue Murder Touring announced the No Sleep Til Festival, hitting Australian shores this December and featuring a bevy of heavy, an entourage of enormous, with the Descendents the inevitable “hotdog in a hallway”.

So alongside the Descendents, you’ll have to go and pay to see the following acts:

NOFX (see this article)
Megadeth
Dropkick Murphys
Parkway Drive
A Day to Remember
GWAR
Alkaline Trio
Katatonia
Atreyu
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Frenzal Rhomb
3 Inches of Blood
Suicide Silence
August Burns Red
We Came As Romans
Break Even
Confession
House Vs Hurricane
and other nondescript bands.

The injustice of it all is, you can count the number of good bands on this bill with your five fingers. The good news is, it is probably the LEAST shittiest of music festivals in Australia, but alas, a festival is a festival. So the wish continues that if the music Gods were to be so kind as to grant a Descendents sideshow, than all is forgiven.

For those who have terrible taste in music (but discernibly less terrible than all those who go to all the other festivals), then here are the dates for the No Sleep Til Festival:

Sunday 12 December – Perth @ Arena Joondalup
Wednesday 15 December – Adelaide @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre
Friday 17 December – Melbourne @ Melbourne Showgrounds
Saturday 18 December – Sydney @ Entertainment Quarter, Hordern Pavilion
Sunday 19 December – Brisbane @ RNA Showgrounds Brisbane

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Television

Why American television needs John Luther

John Luther is not a man of great style, he is not a hero, he is not a soldier, and although he is a brave man, he is not a man of great bravery. Unlike Dexter Morgan, the voices of demons in his heads are the voices of real people, in their flesh that torment his waking hours. He is not a serial killer but at times, he wants to act like one. He is intelligent, haunted, but a good detective, one who battles as many demons as criminals, and he would be perfect for American television.

Luther is a BBC produced television series that aired in the UK this past May, a brutal, distinctly British examination into the life of a murder detective and the evil within and around. Starring Idris Elba (American audiences will be familiar with him from The Wire and more recently, The Office) as John Luther, the series does not hold back from the always difficult life of a police detective- juggling his disintegrating private life (a crumbling marriage) with that of a crime fighter. While topically familiar, it is the method in which this 6-part series plays out that makes it truly memorable. Like The Wire, there is an honesty that paints a picture of grit and turmoil, an underlying imperfection that plagues Luther as a man. When the series begins, Luther is recovering from a botched assignment in which his mental well-being is put into question. Suspension from duty leaves him with nothing but his thoughts to contend with and from here, we see the character’s many layers unfold.

Through circumstances (details withheld to prevent spoilers) he meets a psychopathic woman named Alice Morgan (played with an eerie brilliance by actress Ruth Wilson) that serves as a catalyst for Luther’s constant battles with himself. Alice tortures him mentally, and the fragility of his mind comes as the cost of those around him (most notably his wife Zoe (Indira Varma). His struggles to maintain these pieces gives him an edge over more noted American television characters- who while are dealt with certain turmoil, are never quite taken down a path so dark that we, as the audience, feel genuine fear and sympathy. Unlike the Horatio Caines of the television world, the series creators seem unsympathetic towards Luther- making him strong one moment and distinctly weak the next, almost crippled. Dexter Morgan is perhaps the most similar character on television- except his demons aren’t real- they manifest themselves in his head from ghosts of his past. John Luther however, is tormented by someone who will call him on a miserable afternoon to torture for pleasure.

Procedural television series (CSI, Cold Case et al.) will sometimes have longer story arcs that prevail over the course of the season or over a few, but they will linger, leaving the audience rather exhausted over the 22 (or how ever many) episodes. Luther however, gives you 6 in which all the drama plays out with great urgency. Much of the series is beautifully shot amongst London’s monolithic cityscape. There is great use of light and momentary pauses that enhance the atmosphere of the show. Unlike the machine gun editing of their American counterparts- Luther benefits from the slower, more natural scene-to-scene transitions that rely on a little patience and imagination to hold the viewer’s attention.

Tony Soprano is long gone and time will tell whether the new series of Dexter (does Rita become another ghost in his head?) will hold as much as the previous, American television needs another strong, multi-faceted but fragile leading man. Compelling dramas like Luther come every so often to HBO, series that leave the audience with a sense of accomplishment and intrigue. The ground may have already been covered before but rarely has it been done with such conviction.

BBC America has announced that Luther will premiere in the United States October 17th.

[xrr rating=4/5]

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Music

Brett Gurewitz talks shop

Spinner recently spoke to Bad Religion guitarist (and Epitaph founder) Brett Gurewitz about his songwriting and the upcoming Bad Religion album, The Dissent of Man. The video of the interview can be streamed below.

In the interview, Brett talks about the differences between his methods of writing to that of front man Greg Graffin, highlighting their unique approaches to collating and collecting material for the new album (including how the new album boasts influences from the likes of Tom Petty and The Kinks). Graffin himself has been busy as of late, finishing up a new book titled Anarchy Evolution.

The first sample from the album, the track “The Devil in Stitches” can be streamed via Soundcloud and is similar to New Maps of Hell’s “Honest Goodbye.” The song’s pace is akin to their material from the past 5 years or so- trading the breakneck speed of Suffer for more textured songwriting. It however, is not lacking in the melody department. “The Devil In Stitches” proves that these seasoned punk rockers are still very much taste makers of the genre.

The Dissent of Man and Anarchy Evolution can now be pre-ordered via Epitaph. A worthwhile deal for those needing fuel for the intellect.

Video interview:
http://o.aolcdn.com/videoplayer/AOL_PlayerLoader.swf

As a bonus, Brett took Spinner on a walking tour of the Epitaph office. Safe to say this label is doing all right for itself.
http://o.aolcdn.com/videoplayer/AOL_PlayerLoader.swf

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Film, Trailers

This movie may not Suck

Rob Stefaniuk’s Suck may or may not be a good movie. On one hand, it is about vampires and I think the majority of viewers of screen both big and small, would like to collectively put a stake into the undead. It’s about a struggling rock n’ roll band discovering the secret to fame and fortune is indeed, becoming one. Blasé perhaps? But on the other hand, it boasts appearances from Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, and Henry Rollins (and unfortunately Moby).

The trailer looks promising, but after the disaster that was Lesbian Vampire Killers and that awful, awful, awful Vampires Suck, the bar is set pretty low for vampire-themed horror-comedies and their kind. There does however, seem to be a little more substance behind Suck that the aforementioned failures, a distinctly more cultish aura that sometimes drives a small film to greater heights. Plus it looks like Malcolm McDowell is playing a rather badass vampire hunter in the film. That is a definite tick in the plus column.

Suck is out on DVD September 28 via Koch Entertainment.

Trailer:

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Album Reviews, Music

Review: Taking Back Sunday – Live From Orensanz

There is absolutely no doubt about Taking Back Sunday’s rabid, cult-like following. While these last two live releases (this outing along with 2009’s Live from Bamboozle) may have been mere contractual obligations, it is still with merit that their often memorable live shows be documented in some form or another. Live From Bamboozle was a fairly decent showing of what this band is like on a grand live scale, It was however, rather tacky and lacking (being as it was an iTunes exclusive), but Live from Orensanz is a far more complete offering. Recorded over two New York acoustic shows from Angel Orensanz, this album breathes a more atmospheric feel to their music.

Away from the massive crowds of Bamboozle, the intimate setting gives tracks like “A Decade Under the Influence” and “Cute Without the E (Cut From the Team)” a new kind of appeal. It is refreshing to visit these songs stripped down, proving that they’re very much as good unplugged as they are with the volume turned up to eleven. The set list is a fare representation of their career- sticking to mostly recognized songs from all their releases without any real surprises. It is however, the way some of these songs sound that may be the real surprise, most notably their acoustic cut of “My Blue Heaven” which is just terrific. Live from Orensanz is better than Live from Bamboozle, but I’m sure someday a more complete, extensive live offering from them will be on display. Until then, this isn’t a bad way at all to get out of that pesky major label deal. (Warner Bros)

[xrr rating=3/5]

Trailer:

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Music

Vandals still being sued by Variety

Hollywood Potato Chip, Variety’s favourite Vandals album, was released back in 2004 and since then, the only thing people can remember about it is that it managed to get them sued by Variety. We believe there was a Queen cover song on the album or something but the rest of it, most definitely not very good. Nonetheless, news has come to light that Variety has resurrected their lawsuit against the Vandals claiming the cover is still floating around on the internet somewhere (the Vandals have reissued the album with alternate cover art).

The Vandals aren’t taking this lying down however, with Punknews.org reporting the band has organized a benefit show to raise funds to combat the lawsuit. Those in the Pomona area around September 10 should head down to the show at the Glass House to show their support. The band has issued the following statement:

The tickets for this show are $20.00 and AEG/Goldenvoice is donating a lot of free services to help us raise the money we need. If it turns out we don’t need all the money, we will pick one person out of the crowd and give it all to him or her, and you can get it from that person. Assorted Jelly Beans will also play; More to be announced! It will be lots of fun. Thanks for your support.

Sound the Sirens Magazine visited the Variety website and discovered there was a study done that concluded smoking is no longer prevalent in movies. Which brings us to the conclusion that this article is a true statement of our times.

We also had a crush on the girl in this video when we were 16:

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