SOUNDTRACK: FOXBORO HOT TUBS-Stop Drop & Roll!!! (2008)
This is the least cleverly concealed “side-project” in rock history. At this point Billie-Joe Armstrong’s voice is so recognizable, that it’s impossible for him to hide. But Foxboro Hot Tubs were a way for Green Day to release something different after their mega-successful American Idiot album.
I mean, how do you follow up a number-one reaching concept album? Answer: drop all pretense, drop all complexity, and churn out a dozen songs that sound like they were written and recorded in your garage.
At first listen I didn’t like the album very much. Well, that’s not true. I liked the first song, “Stop Drop and Roll” quite a bit, but the rest of the record got a little repetitive for me. And, worst offense: they TOTALLY ripped off “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks for their song “Alligator.” I mean, chord riffs, chord changes, even the chorus are so close as to be actually irritating.
It was only after listening more carefully that I realized that FHT rip off a lot more than the Kinks. And, although not quite a pastiche like The Rutles, the ripping off is more of an homage/twist, rather than just cheesy thievery (because honestly, who thinks that Green Day could get away with ripping off the Kinks’ most popular song?)
On my last listen through I heard “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” in “Sally,” “Roadrunner” in “She’s a Saint Not a Celebrity,” some earlier Green Day songs (like “When I Come Around” ) in “Pedestrian” and “Run Run Run” by the Who in “27th Ave. Shuffle”
After getting past those “influences” the album is mostly fun (especially the flute (!) solo in “Dark Side of the Night.” They’re clearly not trying to write the next epic, they’re just cleansing their palette before their real follow up. And, heck, the fact that it actually did quite well in radioland didn’t hurt either. Foxboro Hot Tubs make some fun garage rock.
[READ: Winter 2008] You Suck
Christopher Moore’s book covers are very striking. That’s not a good reason to read his books, though. The titles are also pretty funny. Which is also not a good reason to read his books. It’s the content inside that is the reason to read him. A little while ago I had read Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal and it was very fun indeed. So, I picked up You Suck, which was his most current one at the time.
I didn’t realize it was a sequel to Bloodsucking Fiends until after I started reading it, but I didn’t find that to be a problem. Obviously I’ll go back and read Bloodsucking Fiends as well, and we’ll see if it makes a difference for this book.
As the book opens Tommy learns that his girlfriend Jody (who was in Bloodsucking) has turned him into a vampire. Her reasoning is so that they can be together forever. At first he’s pretty angry (drinking blood is disgusting), but he soon starts to appreciate the benefits of being a vampire (the sex is amazing!) Plus, he has a groupie: “Abby Normal” is his vampire in training. (She’s “in training” because Tommy can’t bring himself to turn her). She writes in her journal all about the exciting world of being a minion. Her journal entries are hilarious in their text-messagey absurdities.
But it all goes bad for Tommy when he learns that there are not one, but two groups of people now seeking to kill him. The first is Elijah, the ancient vampire who turned Jody and now is trying to get her back. The second is, unfortunately, Tommy’s old friends at Safeway. They are stock-boys turned vampire killers and are quite upset that he’s no longer part of their group. And, of course, the police would like them to move on as well, because, well, how do you report vampires to headquarters?
The story follows all the rules for vampire tales. And, as such, it’s not terribly original. But that’s part of the joy of the story: Moore plays with the conventions and then parodies or subverts some of them. And, while the story is kind of dirty and not afraid of vulgarity, it is very, very funny. Moore’s way with words is, as usual, wonderful, and provided you enjoy vampire stories, there’s a lot to love in this one.
Some other highlights include: a Vegas call girl called Blue (who is dyed blue (!)– long story) and a giant, shaved cat.
He definitely gets added to my favorite authors list.