Ought might just be the most straightforward band every released by Constellation Records. They are a rock/punk band with some spoken word singing that sound at times like Mark E. Smith. However, the music is a bit catchier than The Fall’s with fast moments and really slow almost ambient stretches.
“Pleasant Heart” opens with a raw echoing guitar riff and chords that sound like nothing else on the album. The song lurches through some great sounds and Beeler’s unusual chanting style of singing. There’s also a cool bass line rumbling throughout the song built with lots of drum fills and chaos.
About half way through this six-minute song the bass and drums drop out leaving just a squeaky violin and harmonic guitar (this squeaky violin is possibly the only thing that makes this record sound like a Constellation release). The bass comes back in slowly. But it’s not until almost two minutes of this instrumental that the song resumes with a crunch and the lurching melody and verses continue until the end.
“Today More Than Any Other Day” was the first Ought song that really grabbed me. It starts out slowly with some spare drums and meandering bass. It doesn’t really feel like its going to resolve into anything. By a minute and a half it’s finally starting to sound like something–a slow meandering song perhaps. Around 2 minutes Beeler starts whispering “we’re sinking deeper, and sinking deeper.” And then the song starts building and turning into something else . We’re now half way through this 5 minutes song when the guitar starts chiming and he states “The name of this song is ‘Today more than any other day Parts 4-43. So open up your textbooks … or any kind of reading material.” And as the guitar plays the verses he recites various things that have happened today more than any other day (making a “decision between 2% and whole milk.” A cool bass line starts playing as else drops away and he starts chanting a rather laconic “dah dah dah dah dah” following the bass. It reminds me, strangely enough of the Dead Milkmen as its kind of not exactly out of tune but almost as if not really caring. But when the song resumes, it’s all right on again. It’s a weird and wonderful, strangely catchy song.
“Habit” opens with a nice slow bass riff and chiming guitars. It brings the intensity of the previous song down some. And the vocals sound a little different, especially in the chorus, where the whole song take on a kind of Talking Heads vibe (the falsetto singing in particular). It slows down toward the end with some scraping violins. The song is quite pretty in an alt-sorta way.
I love “The Weather Song” from the opening harmonics and intriguing bass line to the way the song suddenly ramps up for the chorus. In addition to the catchy spoken opening there’s a great chorus of “I …. just wanna revel in your lies.”
“Forgiveness” is a relatively short 4 and a half minutes and opens with almost an organ sound. A scraping violin sound joins the drones. After 2 minutes he sings in a very slow drawl “forgiveness is a drug that you take with a shrug.” It has echoes of the Velvet Underground’s “Heroin” although it never changes tempo or intensity.
“Around Again” has a very 1980s guitar riff and whispered vocals until the whole band kicks in and it grows in intensity. And then the whispered “go slow” returns the song to the beginning. After 3 minutes, the song builds and then drops out with a spoken: “It’s coming. Why is it you can’t stand under the sun but you can stick your head into a bucket of water and breathe in deep” and then a whole new sound of dissonant guitar and thudded bass and drums “we have reached the intermission.” But it’s not an intermission it goes through to the end of the song like this.
“Clarity!” opens with what sound to me like “Love Will Tear Us Apart” but with guitar chunks played over the top. Slow harmonics and whispered vocals move the song forward. After 2 minutes it rocks out, with a returning ringing high note and interesting sound effects. And by the end the song comes to a plunging conclusion
“Gemini” opens with some low rumbling notes and then a sprinkling of keyboards. There’s some scratchy guitars and a rumbling bass. After 2 and a half minutes, the song’s punky parts take over with jagged guitars and screamed vocals. The end of the song is mostly just two-note thumping while he screams “you wanted … wanted … wanted … wanted.”
I really like this album a lot.
I noticed that the lead singer changes his name on each release. So, to help keep it straight:
Matt May: Keys
Ben Stidworthy: Bass
Tim Keen: Drums, Violin
Tim Beeler: Vocals, Guitar
[READ: September 20, 2016] Assassination Classroom 1
Assassination Classroom has a very strange and unsettling premise–the students of this classroom are being taught to assassinate their teacher. Given the current climate of guns in the US, that’s probably not a comfortable position to take. However, Matsui alters the premise to make it more palatable, and frankly more fun. The students’ teacher is actually an alien (or maybe not, but it is certainly not human). He (I guess) is a multi-tentacled creature who can move at Mach 20, is exceptionally perceptive and can’t be harmed by most conventional weapons. But wait, there’s more. The students are sent to assassinate this particular creature because he blew a huge chunk out of the moon (it’s now a permanent crescent) and is planning to do the same to the earth in a year’s time. But wait, there’s more. One of his conditions for not blowing up the Earth sooner is that he be allowed to teach this particular classroom. Although no one is sure why yet.
The class is 3-E, the lowest of the low, the worst students in the very prestigious Kunugigaoka Junior High. The 3-E class are misfits–they were smart enough to get into the school, but they have done something wrong and they are treated very poorly because of it. In fact, 3-E is used as a kind of cautionary tale for the other students–act up and you could wind up like them. (Why they don’t just leave the school is not addressed).
The kids call the creature Koro Sensi (which is a pun on the Japanese “Koro senai” which means “can’t kill”), and it turns out he is actually a pretty great teacher. He really seems to care about the kids. So why would they want to kill him? Well, aside from the destruction of the planet, there is also a ten billion yen reward (the amount seems to change some in the book, but it’s roughly 100 million dollars). Of course, as the name implies, this guy is really hard to kill. And when they try to kill him in a way he finds beneath them (they are training to be great assassins after all), his own revenge will be swift. At the same time, he heartily encourages them to try their best to kill him–and he applauds their most creative efforts.
Koro Sensei has that same big grin on his face all the time, so he’s hard to read, although his face gets a bright red circle when you are correct and a dark purple X when you get it wrong.
But starting with chapter 2, he starts to help the students individually. There’s Sugino who wants to play baseball (he tried to kill Koro Sensei with a baseball) but was dropped from the team. Koro Sensei envelops him in his tentacles and reads his muscles to determine that if he threw pitches a different way he’d be almost unbeatable (and it works).
In Chapter 3 we sort of get Koro Sensei’s point of view–he is so happy that the students are trying to kill him. And that’s when Nagisa–a boy who looks so much like a girl I couldn’t believe he was a boy–starts compiling a list of his weaknesses–he makes mistakes when he shows off ; he panics easily ; he’s a sore loser ; weak punches (his tentacles have no real hitting power).
One of the people trying to organize the assassinations also takes over as P.E. teacher. But in Chapter 4 the dynamic changes–a suspended student named Karma has returned. Karma is angry–at teachers in general–and he is quite violent and clever. He’s also smart and cocky. And within minutes he has inflicted the first real damage on Koro Sensei. But since Koro Sensei can regenerate quickly no real harm is done. As the section ends we see Karma say “I can’t believe I get to kill a teacher with my own hands. It’s payback time after what happened with the last one.”
But once Koro Sensei has sized him up, Karma becomes ineffectual. In his last attempt, he moved so slowly that Koro had a chance to paint Karma’s nails.
The final chapter focuses on Okuda, a sweet girl and an amazing chemist who has no skills in anything else. No communication skills, no guile. She brings Koro Sensei some poison and asks him to please drink it. We see Koro Sensei spending extra time helping Okuda with some problems. he gets her to communicate better and even helps her make the poison (which proves to be something else).
As book one ends, the military is calling in a real professional, and she looks to be quite sexy.
This book is rated T for teen. I wasn’t sure if it was really necessary (besides the premise of course), but it is set in junior high and there are some junior-high related issues addressed, especially in the next book.
This manga is written in the traditional style of right to left, which is fun. It is translated by Tetsuichiro Miyaki with an English adaptation (whatever that means) by Bryant Turnage.