Archive for the ‘S.S. Taylor’ Category

expedSOUNDTRACK: JAPANDROIDS-Celebration Rock (2012).

japan2So, the cover looks the same and there’s still only two of them and there are also 8 songs and it’s also 35 minutes long.  I guess the Japandroids second album is going to be more of the same.  Well, yes and no.

Their debut was a surprise success (which actually prevented them from breaking up) and they seem to take the successes of that album–big choruses and sing along sections to even more glorious heights.  The songs are still poppy and super catchy and they’ve removed some of the noise that was on the first album.  Of course at the heart of the album is still two guys playing kinda sloppy, poppy punk with loudly yelled lyrics–not exactly a formula for pop success, but not too far away from it either.

The disc is pretty unmistakably from the Japandroids–the duo is still loud and fast with distorted guitars and vocals.  But there is a lot more melody here.  The guitar riff that opens the album on “The Nights of Wine and Rose” is simple, but it sounds like a new edge for the band.  “Fire’s Highway” has a guitar sound not unlike Tom Petty until again the propulsive drums (and guitar) follows along.  But there’s a lot more space to breathe on this song–it takes some of the punk edge off (although again the chorus is fast) and those backing Oh ohs bring it to a catchy conclusion).  And check out the “Oh Yeah, Alright” section of  “Evils’s Sway,” another Tom Pettyish nod to major catchiness.

“For the Love of Ivy” is a cover and it very distinctly does not sound like a Japandroids song (which sounds obvious, and yet it’s fascinating that it fits with the album but doesn’t sound like anything else they’ve done).  It’s followed by “Adrealine Nightshift” a song that adds a kind of classic rock anthemic feel–a very different kind of anthemic feel than the other songs–to the mix.  “Younger Us” is a powerful rocker that gets more and more chaotic as it goes along–but it starts from such a poppy place that it’s a great ride to take.  “The House That Heaven Built” has a kind of Arcade Fire feel to it (ironic given the disparity of band members), but it’s got that same big vibe and lots of oh oh oh ohs.  The guitars start fast and don’t let up.

The final track, “Continuous Thunder” sounds like a slightly different band–the vocals are cleaner and the drums are more martial and less frenetic–although the guitar is still continuous and by the end the pace is simply breakneck.

So yes, this is a poppier version of their debut (and a successful one at that).  If one still cared about bands selling out one might suggest that that’s what’s happening here, but it’s still a far cry from a pop album.

[READ: February 11, 2013] The Expeditioners and the Treasure of Drowned Man’s Canyon

This is the first book in the McSweeney’s McMullens collection that is written for young adults.  And while the writing isn’t perfect (there were a number of sentences that I found a little awkward), the story is wonderful and very captivating.

The book is set in a parallel universe or a distant dystopian future.  The protagonists live in a borderline-wilderness state.  There is little money for food, there is no electricity and no modern technology.  But the big difference in this book is that there are places that have yet to be explored.  New worlds, new territories that are not on the map.  So it must be a new world?  No, because the protagonists venture to Philadelphia and Arizona.  So, perhaps this is set way in the future after the deterioration, when maps proved to be unreliable?  It’s never exactly explained, and does it really matter?  No, not really.

The protagonists are three kids: Zander, the oldest , M.K., the youngest and only girl who is a whiz with tools and tinkering and Kit, the middle child and narrator.  Kit is the smart one, able to read his father’s maps and make smart decisions based on given information.  Their mother is long gone (mothers always fair so poorly in adventure stories) and their father has recently disappeared.  He was on an exploratory mission and has been reported killed.

However, government officials did not approve of their father’s recent actions and had him stripped of his ranking as an explorer (could they be fabricating his death as well?  Or at least the cause of his death?  With the government acting in a very dictatorial fashion, anything is possible, especially since they have eyes everywhere.

The story gets underway when Kit, who is out buying food at the market  is grabbed by a tattooed man.  The man knows who Kit is and presses a book on him, saying his father wanted him to have it.  He tells Kit to be careful and runs off.  Kit puts the book in his backpack and heads home, with his mind reeling.

When he gets home, government officials are at their house.  The kids are lucky–since they are technically orphans, they should be removed from their home, but for some reason, the government has not taken them away yet.  But they ask if Kit or any of them has been approached by a man with a tattoo.  Kit lies, and the men eventually leave.

This sets in motion a series of events that lead the kids to realize that their father has half of a map of Drowned Man’s Canyon in Arizona.  The kids believe that their father wants them to find the treasure there.  But how could they possibly find it?  They can’t travel unnoticed, they have practically no money and they’re not even really sure what they are looking for.  Well, that is the story, now isn’t it? (more…)

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