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Archive for the ‘Prudence Shen’ Category

 nothing canSOUNDTRACK: DJANGO DJANGO-Django Django (2011).

220px-Django_Django_Album_CoverI heard about this band when “Default” became a kind of alt rock standard.  It got a little overplayed, but there was something so catchy and yet so slightly odd about it that I really wanted to hear more.  So when I heard how catchy and fun “Hail Bop” proved to be, I knew it was time to check out the whole album.

And the album is full of quirky, delightful songs.  In fact, despite how weird the album cover art is, it actually represents the sounds of the album pretty well.  It’s a kind of arid looking desert but with a futuristic weird alien thing scampering amidst it.  Thus, there are acoustic twangy guitars underpinning the songs that are liberally sprinkled with oddball sci-fi sounds and tweaks of gloriously fun synths.

The album has a completely cohesive feel (which I believe comes from the sunny vibe and the beautiful harmonies), and yet there is a great amount of diversity in the music.  Many of the songs are synth heavy and catchy, but not dance rock at all.  “Waveforms” is a strange song with synths being manipulated over a heavy drum beat.  But it’s those vocals (especially in the chorus) that elevate the song above the mechanical nature of the music.  “Zumm Zumm” is even weirder with the kind of sci-fi effects that get thrown around, and yet that chorus once again is really pretty.  And “Default” sounds like it is skittering and repeating as it pounds away–a strange and infectious single.

But for all the weirdness, “Hail Bop” is a supremely catchy sweet song.  And “Firewater” is propelled by a low bass with acoustic guitars on top.   Reference points for me include Super Furry Animals and The Soundtrack of Our Lives, neither one glaringly obvious sign posts but they have that same harmony filled vibe.  See especially “Love’s Dart” another catchy song with a fun twangy Western feels.  There’s mellow guitar on “Hand of Man” and there’s a surf guitar stomper in “Wor” and more stomping drums in “Storm.”

My album contains some extra remixes.  I’m not a big fan of remixes so these are needless additions (and add about 20 minutes  to the total running time).  But that’s got little to do with the album itself, which is really a treat for fans of poppy quirky rock.

[READ: August 2014] Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong

Sarah gave me this book for my birthday because we both like Faith Erin Hicks (and we both like First Second books).  And I was not disappointed.

Obviously, a title like this leads you to conclude that everything will go wrong, and it pretty much does.  The cover image doesn’t quite convey what’s at stake in the story, although closer inspection reveals a kind of geeks (the ones with glasses) and cheerleader (the ones in uniforms) vibe.  Which this story certainly has.

Nate and Charlie are old friends.  Charlie is the captain of the basketball team and Nate is the president of the robotics club.  But unlike a typical pairing of these two types, Charlie is laid back and totally mellow while Nate is neurotic and angry with a huge chip on his shoulder.

As the story opens, Charlie has just been dumped by his girlfriend, the head cheerleader. Charlie doesn’t seem so upset by it but Nate is furious (as usual).  Of course, he is mostly furious because he thinks that Charlie is still with Holly and because the cheerleaders have declared war on the robotics team.  Specifically, they are trying to take the science funding to use for new uniforms (can this actually happen in school?  It happens in fictional schools all the time).  Obviously there’s nothing that Charlie can do about it, so he just goes home, allowing Nate to stew.

But mellow Charlie also has a dark storyline.  There’s a note from his dad telling him to call his mom to which he says “Yeah, that’s not happening.”  We learn a smattering of information about why Charlie is mad at his mom, and it is clear that their feud is going to build to a head before the story ends.  So tension is definitely present in the story. (more…)

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