Beauty Pill is an unusual band. They seem fairly conventional–guitars, baas and drums. But they also feature a strange light up computer device (which is called a Monome) that is a sort of looping sampler trigger. The samples are weird and unexpected and the music plays off of that–at times lurching and bouncing, at times playing smooth and conventional.
I love the crazy funky vibes as the first song “Afrikaner Barista” begins. There’s interesting samples and a cool riff. The song feels “assembled.” And I was really excited to see where it would go. But I really didn’t like the singer/speaker’s voice in his delivery of the verses. It’s a little too unemphatic–it’s neither loud nor weird not even excessively deadpan. It’s just kind of bland. The chorus is cool though, and his delivery works because there are harmony vocals to accompany him.
I also like his sort of distorted guitar solo. Mostly though, it’s fascinating watching Jean Cook play her Monome, watching her push buttons that light up and produce diverse sounds. The drums are also great–complex and dynamic.
In all of the songs, there’ a lot of repeating of lyrics–almost like a mantra. This song repeats, “I want to be the one you like.” I’m not even clear if the words mean anything. Even the title “Afrikaner Barista” is fun to say but I don’t know if its meaningful.
“Drapetomania!” is introduced as a dark song although the singer, Chad Clark, thinks it resembles the Fat Albert theme song. He says it’s about the suburbs. When the song begins, it has a kind a of creepy circus quality to it and it opens with the dramatic line, “I want more life, fucker!” There’s some fun lyrics in this song like “Morning Ralph, Morning Sam” (referencing the Bugs Bunny cartoons). Or “The neighbor’s wifi’s called “magic negro” now / I am gonna burn his house down, if I may.” And this great line: “deep in the heart of wildest Caucasia.”
The middle has a breakdown that’s lot of fun as the samples continue to play with all sorts of things, including, I believe, Clark’s voice.
The final song is called “Exit Without Saving” which he says is “either a Microsoft Word document or a situation where you feel trapped,” I like the riff of this one and the samples too. There’s more great lyrics like “a five ton mastodon frozen in mid-snarl in a ten ton cube of ice, says I don’t know how I got in here but if I get out it ain’t gonna happen twice.” There’s a repeated refrain of “you recognize that this is noise, right?”
It’s not always clear what he’s on about, but it’s fun to listen to them.
There’s so much about this band that I like but I feel like there’s just something missing–either in the voice or maybe that the samples and sounds need to be a little more prominent? I’m curious to see what these guys do next though.
[READ: February 14, 2016] Kick-Ass 2: Prelude
This book is a sequel to Kick-Ass and a prequel to Kick-Ass 2. It focuses on Hit Girl, but not her childhood (which we saw in Kick Ass). Rather, it follows her in the days following the events of the first book.
We see that Hit Girl, Mindy McCready, is at home with her mom and her stepfather. Her mom has calmed down (she has been quite hysterical lately) and her stepdad, Marcus, is a policeman trying to keep things orderly. He knows about Mindy’s secret identity (he knows all about what kind of upbringing she had as well) and he wants her to stop the superheroing. But overall, he is pretty cool.
We see Mindy at School (Kick Ass if there too, of course). No matter how tough Mindy is when she has her costume on, she is still a little girl and she is crushed by the mean girls in school. And so Mindy makes a deal–she’ll teach Kick Ass to actually fight and be a real superhero (as much as she is) if he’ll teach her to be normal.
And as chapter one ends, we see Red Mist as he is getting ready to commit the first super crime.
Chapter two shows us Mindy sneaking out: by drugging her parents. She and Kick Ass attack some crime families in what is Romita’s overly gory style. And as the chapter ends we see Red Mist commit a horrifying murder of an innocent man.
But there are repercussions. Red Mists’s dad is a policemen too, and he tells his son says that they can often look the other way but not if he’s on camera killing an innocent person. So he is sending Red Mist away.
Meanwhile, with Kick Ass’s help, Mindy figures she’s got this whole “girl” thing down. But the girls aren’t so easily swayed. Until Mindy uses her own brand of persuasion (brilliant, by the way).
Back home, Marcus hasn’t suspected that Mindy is up to anything yet, but when they receive three bullets in the mail marked Daddy Bear Mommy Bear and Baby Bear, we’re not sure if the bullets are for her or for him, since he is a good cop. But by the end of chapter four, when their paths cross in the line of duty, Marcus knows that she has been up to something.
Meanwhile Red Mist has been training (and spending tons of cash), but still feels frustrated at his abilities.
As the final book opens, the gangsters who sent Marcus the bullets show up at their house. How will Mindy protect them? (In an astonishing and violent way, that’s how). And she uses that night to settle the score with every mafia guy she can (even the one in jail). It’s pretty cool.
As the book draws to a close, Red Mist, who has forgotten the real name of Kick Ass, suddenly remembers it. And that sets his plan in motion for the next book.
As with all of these books, it is bloody and gross and hard to look at. But the story is pretty compelling and if you’ve gone along this far, you’ll need to keep up.