17 June, 2013

Tourist Trap

Tourist Trap

This is one of the numerous movies from my childhood where perhaps... just maybe, Little Ronnie should have been playing with Hot Wheels in his room instead of partaking in family horror night. This one was jarring, just fucking creepy to the hilt. My dad loved horror movies, and it's a passion he bestowed upon me. I vividly recall conversations with my dad following a night where he stayed up late watching horror, and what he described was some of the most fucked up nonsense I've ever heard or seen.

Tourist Trap came along when my sister and step-sister were living with us, and I'm sure I wanted to feel grown-up and insisted on watching the movie. It stars Chuck Connors which was probably my dad's buy-in, he was after all The Rifleman! My best guess is, Chuck Connors maybe hadn't worked a whole lot in a number of years when he signed on to be a lecherous, creepy weirdo.

The "tourist trap" is a wax museum in decline "since the new highway was put in and the traffic went elsewhere". The mannequins are frighteningly lifelike and the over-sexed, painfully oblivious, group of teenagers with car problems begin to realize why rather quickly. The too-creepy-for-a-ten-year-old pinnacle is the poignant appearance of a 6-foot freakish doll arriving to a choir of screaming, animated mannequins. That  moment is etched like scar tissue upon my psyche... so now 30 years later, Hannah and I will look upon Tourist Trap with new, much more jaded and cynical eyes.

16 June, 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs  - "Mosquito"

I could have easily avoided bothering to review "Mosquito", in fact, I'm still avoiding the review. This is more about the review mythos of YYY than the caliber of the band and their catalogue to date. From their sophomore release to today, YYY seems to usher a much different response than your average band receives from the press.

Is "Mosquito" a good album? Should you buy it? Yes, if you are a YYY fan, go buy it; download it; steal it, you know... do what you do.

What I read and what I hear in regards to the latest YYY album is always an extreme contrast. The friends tend to be critical and the reviews tend to be praising. My friends are quick to recognize the "influences" on YYY, reviewers consistently "fail" to mention "familiarities". I tend to fall in that anomalous area in between the two. Until "Mosquito", that was just the way it was.

Perhaps it was the amount of time that passed between albums, somewhat off the radar. But "Mosquito" was unveiled and the press clamored to proclaim the genius and "reinvention" of YYY. As a natural born skeptic, and not having been "informed" by my friends, I was immediately curious to hear this striking new YYY. I found exactly what I anticipated: another well done, excellent effort by this talented band. I also heard in my head all the voices of my friends making the same argument.

What exactly is happening? YYY are amazing in blending elements from several genres of music that frankly many bands of even one genre fall flat at. And I am fully convinced that there's nothing off limits or beyond "everything you can do, YYY can do better." It's three members are obvious music lovers with distinctly different tastes, and though their relationship is at times contentious, it's not a quality that translates in their studio efforts. They've mastered leaving the baggage at the door, and that's a rare quality for any band beyond their debut, several albums and EPs into their career, YYY continue to show their best time and time again. The point of contention takes shapes with those fans that are themselves music lovers. They hear and they know that contrary to what reviewers proclaim, the YYY are not breaking new ground; they have not reinvented themselves; and they are not changing the shape of the music scene to come... quite the opposite actually. Maybe my friends are frustrated with YYY because they want to read/hear the band profess that "we were listening to a lot of (insert name) while we were recording (insert album)". More than likely though, like myself, they are simply frustrated with a press that refuses to acknowledge the influences/similarities and put YYY on a pedestal of talent and originality.

Do you buy a YYY album and really believe this is going to shatter the world as I know it? Perhaps if you never heard a single song that wasn't radio-friendly from the 80's. Should you buy a YYY album with the hope that this is the one that won't remind me of the bands I love? I really doubt that's a realistic goal. Do I think YYY cross a line with their influence? No, I don't, but that's my opinion, and it's based on what I like and what I will accept as influence vs. plagiarism. For me, the YYY deliver (every time) what I expect, which is a very enjoyable and good album and the mystery more lies in what influences they will present. So, if I've come to the opinion that my friends and I won't agree on that line, then I also need to be fair that myself and those that review YYY will never agree on the originality of this band and I should stop reading after: Yeah Yeah Yeahs release a new album..."