June 21, 2011

I Still Love the 90s Part II: Harder.


Sorry, I can't hear you. You're going to need to speak up.

Oh. The music? Yeah, it's pretty great, isn't it?


No, I...uh, I can't turn it down until the song's over, man. Sorry, it's...it's too good!

But in the meantime, let me tell you what I love about the alternative rock scene of the 1990s. In a word, it was overwhelming. There was so much of it around, so many bands who all sounded a lot like each other while somehow sounding remarkably different. Sure, Alice in Chains resembled Mother Love Bone, but you would never confuse the two if you heard their songs back to back.

I've lauded the shinier, happier version of 90s alt rock, but let's not forget this was also prime time to get up to your elbows in sludgy rock anthems about disappointment, depression, and distaste for everything that preceded. It was a time to wear your heart on the sleeves of your flannel. Sorrow was now a badge of honor. Lyrics about burning loins and drowning livers were ousted in favor of ones about tortured souls and wrecked childhoods.

Basically the 90s.

Here's what's problematic about all this, though: the 90s grunge/alt rock/whatever scene usually tends to separate people into extremely differing camps. There's the hardcore, slightly elitist who view Mudhoney, Pixies, and Dinosaur, Jr. (and other bands no one not in those bands has ever heard of) as the only alt-rock music worth listening to. Then there's grunge traditionalists who cling to Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and maybe Alice In Chains. The recluses look to Radiohead and Sonic Youth. The goths love Manson and White/Rob Zombie. Those who wandered in late to the party can't get enough of Bush, Stone Temple Pilots, and all the other "grunge-lite" acts.

And then there was Nickelback and Creed. (But we're not going to acknowledge them any further.)

And then, of course, there's the relentless number of sub genres trying to incorporate every Neil, Chuck, and Mark to ever pick up a guitar: industrial rock, college rock, ska punk, post-grunge, post-punk, Post Cereal rock (bringing us such greats as Honey Bunches of Shotguns and Shredded Guitar Wheat), and so on.

Categorizations and individual preferences aside, though, I think it's safe to say everyone can agree on one thing: Hole was a fucking awful band. Right? I don't even care what you think about Courtney Love as a person--if you want to call her that--but you absolutely do not enjoy Hole. Every copy of every Hole album is now on a Goodwill used CD rack. That's not hyperbole, it's fact.

And every hole in Courtney Love is currently filled with a Goodwill employee...

But I'm not here to dwell on the rotten apples. I also realize that hate is subjective. So while I proclaim Hole to be the worst thing to happen to the 90s (at least until Sugar Ray came along), there's going to be someone out there shouting some combination of the words "stupid," "douchebag," and "charlatan" at their computer screens once I confess how much I loved the first Linkin Park album. (Luckily, I won't hear any of this because your laptop speakers do not link directly to my inner conscience.)

So on with the love! 

Though there's far too much to point out individually, I'm going to run down a list of the great music that was made to incite, emote, and make ears bleed. We, as a people, learned about "Sex Type Things" and "Bullets With Butterfly Wings." We were fed Cake, Crackers, Placebos, and Pearl Jam. (Just like grandma used to make.) Some of us even ate Korn and Bizkits but regurgitated it all a few years later.

Much of the decade was a Blur, a rather "Cumbersome" Orgy of "Teen Spirit" that took quite awhile to "Comedown" from. We had "Machineheads" that doubled as Radioheads. We planted Soundgardens and Screaming Trees. Dave Grohl became "My Hero" after Nirvana was no more. Eddie Vedder "Led Better" (and longer) than his grungy counterparts.

Whatever you called your poison, whether it was "grunge" or "heavy alternative" or "space blood rock," there's no getting around the fact that, for better or worse, it was an infinitely cool era to plug in a guitar, dress like a lumberjack, and get your bummer on.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go put on some Our Lady Peace and take a trip down Bleak Lane. Join me?

March 25, 2011

Word Sex

Auto erotic asphyxcianado = Someone well-versed in the art of sexual choking.

Balloon-y Tunes = Bugs and Daffy in a Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Bananigans = Restaurant with a very limited menu.

Beelzetub = A hot tub that's just far too hot.

Goo Goo Fighters = The band behind every rock song on the radio in the 90s.

Medieval Knieval = Man who jumped fire-breathing dragons on his steed.

Mismanage à trois = Why you and your best friend aren't on speaking terms.

Parentesticals = An aside to one's genitals.

Pronounciationanigans = What's keeping you from being able to say this word.

March 16, 2011

American Airlines Charges Extra for Those Fleeing Bahrain, Also Offers Charlie Sheen Free Tropical Getaway.

Increasingly dangerous protests in Bahrain that have so far resulted in riots, several deaths, and a general sense of hostile unrest, can now also add "population isolation" to its effects on the island.

American Airlines, a primary source of flights for U.S. citizens traveling to and from the island, has begun sharply increasing the price of tickets from Bahrain to the U.S. in order to capitalize on the amount of people trying to leave the area.

In related news, American Airlines has also offered to fly actor Charlie Sheen to the tropical resort of his choosing, and put him up in an ocean-view suite, at no cost.

The long-running grudge between Sunnis and Shiites has now escalated to the point that the king of Bahrain has declared a 3-month long state of emergency. Many American citizens were told by booking agents at American Airlines that they would have to pay much higher fees than they would have in previous weeks if they wanted to leave the island.

When reached for comment about why the airline is now charging extra, one AA manager commented that the situation in Bahrain, where martial law was recently implemented, "must not be that serious."

However, Charlie Sheen's recent breakdowns in the national news media have now elevated the possibility of his permanent withdrawal from television and film to "super serious" levels. Representatives for American Airlines realize how taxing the last couple weeks must have been for Sheen, and considered the free vacation a necessary deed to the Two and a Half Men star.

"He's given all of us so much joy over the years," said one AA spokesperson. "We figured this is a good start to showing our immeasurable gratitude."

A one-way ticket from Bahrain to the United States currently costs more than a round-trip flight. Theoretically, if someone wanted to permanently flee the dangerous riots of Bahrain today, that person would pay $1,106 to land in Des Moines, Iowa. However, if that person wished to flee the riots for only a day to get a whiff of the fresh, relatively kill-free Des Moines air, and then promptly return to the dangerous conditions of Bahrain the following day, they would pay just $818.

Sheen has been going back and forth between either Sandals and Bali, but so far hasn't reached a final decision for his fully-comped trip. He's ruled out Maui because he's already been there several times with his ex-wife Denise Richards, which, in Sheen's own words, "totally taints the thermal ecstasy of the sand now."

Another spokesman for American Airlines stated the company plans to raise prices even further if the civil unrest isn't resolved by next week. "People paying $1,100 now should count themselves lucky," he said. "Next week we're going to start charging pints of human blood."

*In a completely farce-less sidebar: please show your disgust by posting this article to your Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking account and write in to American Airlines about this outrageous act of greed!

**Also, only what's presented in bold is factual information, the rest is purely fictitious.

February 18, 2011

Brad Pitt and Johnny Depp to Star in Movie Together, Bring Women Everywhere to Tear-gasms

"It's finally happening," says 39-year old Julie Seyers of Elkhart, Indiana. "It's my most beautiful dream coming true."

Rumors about a film starring two of the most prominent actors of the last two decades arose in an online forum discussion titled "OOOOMaG! JoHnNy n BrAd 2getha SOOOOON!!!!!"

"Except, in the dream version, I'm in between them. And there's a lot of non-toxic oils involved," the mother of two continues.

A blogger with the username Brand_Pijol, a less-popular portmanteau of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, tweeted the post, adding that the film will be "offfffff the hooooooook sexAY!"

"Oh, the things that we do to each other. Sometimes it's me and Johnny. Sometimes it's me and Brad," says Seyers, who celebrated her 12-year anniversary with her husband, Paul, in January. "And other times, it's just Johnny and Brad."

Several of the web's most reliable sources, including TMZ and Perez Hilton, have since confirmed that Depp and Pitt are signed on to co-star, with Ashton Kutcher, Leo DeCaprio, and Ryan Reynolds filling the supporting roles. George Clooney and Denzel Washington will reportedly make cameos.

This will be the first time the two 47-year-old heartbreakers have shared the screen since 1988, when a then twenty-something Pitt appeared on 21 Jump Street.

"That Brad is such a tease sometimes," adds Seyers, now 20 minutes late for picking her son up from soccer practice. "But Johnny...he's down-to-business. They compliment each other well."

It remains unclear how the superstars were brought together for the project, though some speculate it was a connection through Angelina Jolie, who recently starred alongside Depp in The Tourist, that made it happen.

The as-of-yet untitled project will feature both stars "shirtless in sophisticated situations," according to every comments section of the World Wide Web.

February 7, 2011

Commando Cats

It's 0200 hours. Me and my men have the only open eyelids in a 550-square-foot radius.

Our rations have dwindled to almost nothing. Some have already grown delusional with hunger and we probably don't have enough Whisker Lickin's to make it through the night.

But I'll be damned if I'm gonna walk away from this mission without a victory. I will not live in a world where mangy, backside-sniffing, walking puddles of slobber rule with an iron paw. I will not stand aside as they pant their way to the top of the heap, offering nothing but an occasional hot mess on the new carpet.

I will never say die to a dog.

We've lost some good felines along the way. I...lost a best friend. And I won't soon forget the image of Sergeant Pickles--the best goddamn soldier a commander could ask for--being chased into the vast darkness of that basement...where only the unspeakable happens...

"Major Bojangles, one of your paws is bleeding, sir! We should have the medic take a look at that."

My mouth is suddenly overwhelmed by the taste of kitty litter. Private Muffin Top is a good kid, but he's got the nerves of a squirrel and the gas of a 15-year-old house cat. I can only imagine what his guts must feel like in the heat of battle. I'm just glad he's got better control of his weaponry than he does his colon.

"Son, I ain't got time to bleed. And if the medic's lookin' at anything, it's gonna be that suffocating stench you carry around in your intestines."

If I had a penny for every time I made a new solider whimper, I could make it rain Fancy Feast.

"Listen up, troops. We're getting ready to move into the final phase of our mission."

As I scan the faces of my men, I see a collection of weary eyes and heartache-heavy expressions. It's sometimes easy to forget that these cats have feelings, too.

After all, we're not hate machines. We're just war machines.

"I know we're all tired. Our souls...they're heavy with fatigue and even heavier with the memories of those we left behind: Blaine. Dutch. Poncho. Colonel Spiffy. Our enemies...they want this jungle--with its mountains of suede and its electronic sunrises--to shut us out. They want us to feel out of place. They want us to feel like men without a home.

Well I say we lay out the welcome mat for these bastards and show them whose place this really is. Tonight we take back what is rightfully ours!"

A collective purr rises into the air. They come up off their haunches for the first time since The Battle at Ottoman Square.

"I promise you all one thing: when this is over, when we've got canine teeth under our feet and their slobbering jaws tight in our hands, you're going to go home to your wives, your kittens...your favorite lounge pillows. 

You're going home, soldiers."

If they knew how to clap their paws together, the applause would be overwhelming. As it is, the meows are loud and screeching; the way they should be.

But joy doesn't last very long on the battlefield. Within seconds, the high-pitched exclamations of my soldiers are overtaken by a series of low, hollow grunts--the unmistakable sound of a bloodhound.

From out of the shadows, his dripping snout appears; a hound's only real weapon.

Another booming grunt sends my soldiers scattering for cover, barricading themselves behind the square, painted trees and ducking into plastic leaves.

It's easy to fear what you do not know. But I know this snot-ridden face is nothing to fear.

"Brigade, regroup! This hound isn't a threat. He's nothing more than a scout with a scary voice."

The first to inch out of hiding was Corporal Skittles. "But sir, he's a purebred!"

"Skittles, I eat purebreds for breakfast. And right now...I'm pretty hungry..."

To Be Continued...

February 1, 2011

I Still Love the 90s. Hard.

Tell me, do you like hip-hop?

Then I'm not talking to you.

How about indie folk?

Get the fuck out of my face. Seriously.

How about 90s rock music?

Yeah? How about 90s alt rock? Okay, how about 90s light alt rock?

Well then, all right! Let me buy you a beer!

No, not really. This is the internet. I have no way of doing that. But, tell ya what, I'll go grab one from my fridge, you go grab one from yours, and we can drink together across the wires.

I gotta tell ya, it's nice to finally find someone who's not too busy "gettin' their swag on" or "crankin' that" to appreciate a bouncy and/or mopey 90s rock song when they hear it.

It was a fucking amazing era, wasn't it? I swear, every time the radio plays Oasis, an angel gets high and fails out of angel college.

True story: in 1993, the Statue of Liberty read: "Give me your Blues Travelers, your Foo Fighters, your Collective Souls yearning to be Better Than Ezra." (Sidenote: It was promptly replaced to its original wording in 1995 when Collective Soul released "The World I Know." What a shitty song.)

Go ahead, call me a fag for listening to the Gin Blossoms.

I dare you.

The fact is, anyone who listens to Hey Jealousy and doesn't get a little wistful...well, they're the ones who are wrong.

The 90s were breeding grounds for some of the best One-Hit Wonders to ever not...ya know...get a second hit. Remember all the success The Verve had after their big breakthrough? Me neither! But Bittersweet Symphony was a great fucking song.

Like a cheesy, melodic wine, these tunes only get better with age. "Breakfast at Tiffany's," for example: like nails on a chalkboard when I first heard it, but 15 years later, it's delightful. Ditto for anything the Spin Doctors ever put out.

(Some of you right now are thinking to yourselves: who are the Spin Doctors? And who sang Breakfast at Tiffany's? ...was it the Spin Doctors? To you people: go read a book, the rest of this does not concern you.)

I'm sure a few of you are thinking, "you're just selectively remembering the best parts of the era; there was a also ton of shit on the radio from 90 to 99." This is the part where you "helpfully" namedrop bands like Goo Goo Dolls, Blessid Union of Souls, Sister Hazel, Hootie (and his Blowfish), Matchbox 20, Vertical Horizon, Live, Tonic...and Sugar Ray.

Mark McGrath: the worst thing to happen to music since AIDS.

I can't say much in response to that. But I can say this: Dizzy was a good song, Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me) is better than you remember it being, Sister Hazel put out two great albums in the past two years, Hootie is the most tolerable thing in country music, and all those other guys are most likely working for minimum wage somewhere in Idaho. So it all evens out.

Now, I've already listed some wonderful goodness to come out of the speakers of the 90s, but I've left out some of the greatness.

Between 1990 and 1999, we were lucky enough to have the radio give us Everclear, No Doubt, Mighty Mighty (mighty) Bosstones, the lighter side of Green Day, the beginnings of Ben Folds, the Lemonheads, a very commercial (and more fun) Tom Petty, "Today" and "Tonight, Tonight," Oasis a.k.a. the most artistic drunks in the world, two types of Crows (both Black and Counting), Third-Eye Blind, the mopiest of R.E.M., and Lenny Kravitz.

Remember Lenny Kravitz?

So, haters of this wonderfully prosperous decade for the jaunty, jangly, less-distorted side of alternative rock music, you have fun with your Daughtry and your Fray and your Coldplay.

I'll be over here in the corner listening to Fastball.

January 29, 2011

Essentially Condensed Reviews: Michael Jackson - Thriller.

Today I'm looking at the album that spawned half a dozen hits--including "Beat It," "Billie Jean," and "Human Nature"--and jump-started the solo career of the youngest member of Jackson 5. I'm talking of course, about Thriller.

It's, uh...it's got a great beat. Really danceable.

Next week I'll take a look at an album that featured a plain, white cover, and went on to sell millions.

January 18, 2011

interREview with Nickelback's Chad Kroeger.

Thanks for logging onto Pop Farce, your home for the best in music reviews. I am sitting here with Chad Kroeger, lead singer for the world-famous hard rock band Nickelback, for a special feature called "interREview." This is where we talk to artists for a collaborative reviewing process and let them share some of thoughts on their past work. This week, we’re looking at the album that gave Nickelback their breakthrough into the mainstream, Silver Side Up. Chad, it’s good to have you here. 

Chad Kroeger: Yeah, thanks for having me.

Pop Farce: Now, Silver Side Up was no doubt a defining moment in your career. It certainly broadened your audience, and with that, allowed for many future successes. But it also opened the floodgates to detractors who felt that you had gotten too big too fast. One critic said that you went "from relative obscurity to radio leeches in less time than it takes to shave a pubic mane."

What did you think when you first heard these types of criticisms?

Chad: Well, actually, I'd never heard that particular one. And I think the term "radio leeches" is totally unfair. We didn’t go to the radio, the radio came to us. But as far as becoming one of the top-tier rock acts of this decade--everyone in the band knew it was just a matter of time. We worked hard and played even harder, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when we climbed to the top of the charts.

PF: When the radio "came to you," some critics said they also "came all over the ears of the listening public" by making you guys the Most Played Rock Artist of 2002. Tell me, in your opinion, do you think that title was a blessing or a curse?

Chad: It opened all the doors for us, so it wasn't a curse. It gave us a lot of exposure. People got to see our faces, which made them go out and buy our records.

PF: Speaking of the people who went out and bought your first album, let’s talk about Never Again, the first track on the album.

Chad: This is one of our heaviest songs to date. We start with these crunching power chords and then I rip in through the chorus with this howl that just sets your ears on fire.

PF: That's a stunningly accurate description. Did you actively try for a harder sound or did it just kind of happen like that?

Chad: We never try to be hard, it just happens. We’re a hard group of guys.

PF: …right.

Ya know, I've heard trying too much can make it more difficult to be hard. But then again, staying hard can be just as difficult sometimes. How long do guys plan on staying hard? Because I've heard some say that once the hardness goes away it can be a very long time before it comes back.

Chad: ...This is making me uncomfortable. Can we talk about something else? 

PF: Next on the album is the uber-mega-super-smash hit, How You Remind Me. Was the intention there to create a radio-ready single?

Chad: People ask us that a lot, but I always have the same response: if we knew beforehand how huge that song was going to be, we would have made an entire album full of songs like it.

PF: Mm. And...you...you didn't...do that.

Chad: Every song on Silver Side Up represents a unique side of Nickelback. If we want to play fast, we do it. If we want to scream loud, we do it. And if we want to do both at the same time, all we have to do is check with the label to see if that’s all right, and then we do it. And we do it our way.

PF: How did your label, Roadrunner, feel about this next song, Woke Up This Morning? You drop a few curse words in that one. Did they ever put up a fight?

Chad: No way man, this album was raw Nickelback, and the label got that. 

PF: Can you speak a little more about the "raw" sound? What does that mean to you?

Chad: It's just unrefined, razor-edged rock and roll! You know? Like shards of glass in your whiskey! Fuzzy, heavy, distorted rock with a small bit of tweaking once it came time to mix the album. Then a little bit of layering with the guitars, some spicing up on the drum track, a little overdubbing on the vocals. And of course, we eventually had to teach my brother how to play bass guitar so we could add that in when it was all said and done. 

Ha! That last part was a joke.

PF: The whole album was...

[Clearing throat] Your second hit single, Too Bad gets my vote for the least awful...best song off the album. I uh...I really almost love that chorus. It screams "we have an aggressive male vocalist and know about rhythmic syncopation!"  

Chad: I get the feeling you're mocking me. 

PF: I wouldn't dream of it.

...I heard you asked Eddie Vedder to come in and do a few guest spots on the album. How did that work out?

Chad: That never happened. What...what are you talking about, man?

PF: No, I just heard he turned you down and that's why you chose to impersonate him throughout the album, just to get his goat a little.

Chad: All right, this is bullshit. I'm done.
[Stands up and marches out of the room.]

PF: Didn't see that coming. Who knew the lead singer of Nickelback would leave when he realized no one wanted to listen to him? 

[Long pause] Hey, does anybody know the lead singer from Fuel’s phone number? I've got a few questions for him...

January 11, 2011

Blockbuster Says 'Fuck It,' Charges $500 Per Rental

Executives at Blockbuster Video, once the nation's largest distributor of the Leprechaun movie franchise, announced Tuesday their plan to finally run themselves out of business once and for all by increasing the cost of movie and video game rentals to $500 per night.

James W. Keyes, Chairman and CEO of Blockbuster Inc., said the company has been considering drastic measures since it filed for bankruptcy in September of 2010.

"We understand that we're no longer relevant as a business," said Keyes at Tuesday's conference. "And we have no delusions about digging ourselves out of the hole we're in. But if we're going down, we're going down with our middle finger in the air and our genitals exposed."

The long, slow decline in business, resulting in $900 million worth of debt, could be considered just another casualty of the current recession. But it's worth noting that the company's biggest losses coincide with the rising popularity of Netflix and Redbox.

The face of considerable debt.
Blockbuster has made several attempts over the past year to remain competitive, recently adopting their own brand of self-sustaining kiosks--which are blue, and therefore much different--and advertising that they stock stock select titles 28 days before Netflix.

A representative from Netflix, while literally wiping his ass with a hundred dollar bill, said "there is no concern about Blockbuster's past or future ploys." Meanwhile, when reached for comment, one Redbox kiosk simply spat out a copy of Inception in exchange for a freaking dollar!

Keyes, along with most of his management team, believes competition was the least of their problems and places the blame squarely on internet piracy.

"We have copies of The Bodyguard that haven't moved off the shelves since early 2004," said a sobbing Keyes. "Now, I hate to jump on the anti-file sharing bandwagon like this, but if Kevin Costner and the incomparable Whitney Houston can't move product, then what excuses are left?"

Before Blockbuster goes the way of Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video, execs are hoping to recoup some of their lost assets with a bold move, upping the cost of nightly rentals by more than 10,000 percent.

"I know for certain that some people would willingly shell out a few Benjamins to watch Matthew McConaughey woo Sarah Jessica Parker," Keyes cackled. "And those people should pay."

At the beginning of February, Blockbuster will launch their new campaign, creating a tiered pricing system in the process. For example, a 3-day rental of a new release will increase from $4.99 to $1,499, while older titles will cost whatever the store clerk decides to make you pay. In conjunction, Blockbuster kiosks will only be stocked with movies directed by Tyler Perry, which will cost you one portion of your soul per night.

Keyes added, "Oh, and game nerds, that new Halo game you've been dying to play? Two grand per night, you pirating assholes!"

The campaign is tentatively titled "Bring Home the Magic For a Stupid Sum of Money, Just Because We Can, You Cheap Motherfuckers."

They still won't charge any late fees, though. So there's that.
David Cook, founder of Blockbuster, says he saw the "Block-pocalypse" coming for years, but chalks it up to personnel issues. "Since day one, we've painstakingly sought out the snobbiest, most socially inept employees we could find," said Cook. "It just caught up with us."

He added, "Also, we don't offer any free movies to watch online. So that's pretty shitty."

Outside a Blockbuster store in Pomroy, Ohio, frequent customer Marty Dellaford explained he would probably continue to rent from the chain even after the new pricing system takes effect.

"I dunno," said Dellaford. "I don't have a computer and those Redbox machines always have lines."