Monday, May 30, 2011

'Greenberg', LCD and the Perfect Album Arc

I watched Greenberg for the second time tonight. I really, really liked it the first time I saw it. I really liked it the second time I watched. The key difference there being that extra really. It kind of got bashed around a little bit when it came out by critics, but I like I said, I liked it. It’s a really good film if you’re an asshole guy (or if you’re some innocent-ish girl that’s only sort of innocent-ish in the naivety of dealing with asshole guys and all that confusing, issue-oriented jazz). Or if you dig a cynical Ben Stiller.

But anyway, James Murphy scored the soundtrack for the film! And it came out early 2010, meaning it was a prelude of sorts to This Is Happening, which means that LCD pretty much  in my love-dripping opinion  has a perfect discography arc:

LCD Soundsystem (a very nice introduction)
45:33 (a very nice interlude) 
Sound of Silver (a very nice perfect album)
Greenberg Soundtrack (a pretty nice interlude)
This Is Happening (a very nice classic conclusion)

Anyway, this is the kind of stuff I like posting here: my thoughts. Peace Booches.

Joel Samson Berntsen (The Wall - Yuck)

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Young and the Restless: College Year 1

So, I finished my year semester of college. Am I enlightened? No. Have a learned a lot? No. Have I learned much about useful things? Well, not in class. I do have new friends. That's nice. College is... Well, college is growing up, mostly. (someone punch me, right in my mouth). And now, various shit that involves bullet points, lots of namedropping, and a vague stab at bottling college life. Oh, there's also a playlist.

Favorite Moments of College, Year One:
  • Dancing for four hours to the greatest DJ ever at Hoochfest '10.
  • Roadtripping to Milwaukee to see LCD Soundsytem with my main motherfucker Brandon Foster, and then immediately driving back and jamming out for, like, five hours to stay alive and not die from a sleep deprived car crash.
  • Crossing the street, I asked Hillary Haaker if she'd heard the new Kanye album and she smiled and screamed yes and then her, Dylan Chapman and I jumped around in a circle and screamed with happiness in the middle of the road. 
  • When Brandon Foster looked up how to make an Em-Dash for me.  
  • The night it snowed at Mark Twain.
  • Devouring Season One of Fringe with Peter Legrand and Eric Briesacher.
  • (*shaking head back and forth*) "Never Again..." 
  • Meeting Rob's springfield crew and being forever hypnotized by that little niche of midwestern greatness.
  • The time that rando Maneater staffer went on a room-wide rant about how college is complete fucking bullshit.
  • Anytime anyone ever made a Community reference.
  • Watching Porco Rosso and Spirited Away with Dylan freaking Chapman.
  • Yelling Wavves really loud with Brandon while searching the frozen tundra of Mizzou for our friends
  • The Arcade Fire / National Roadtrip with Kristian, Brian, Dylan, and Brandon.
  • The first time I played Bryce in Smash Bros in that tournament. Best shit ever. (Also, all other times with Bryce). 
  • Meeting my journalism hero, Jimmy Hibsch.
  • Staying up all night playing Final Fantasy X with Dylan Chapman and Conor O'brien while I transcribed interviews for an ultimate frisbee article (even though Conor pretty much just slept).
  • The Rob/Will all-star moments at the first kickball game.
  • When I asked Brandon Foster and Eric Briesacher to guess what else I got at Streetside Records, and they, for no reason, started singing the lyrics Cape Cod Kassa Kassa, and then I pulled out a Peter Gabrial record at the same time they sang "Peter Gabrial Too"


College Year One Playlist: 53(Heavy on the Stairs)

1. All Tomorrows's Parties - The Velvet Underground
2. Afraid of Everyone - The National
3. Titus Andronicus - Titus Andronicus
4. Victory Garden - Galaxie 500
5. Common Heat - No Age
6. I'm New Here - Gil Scott-Heron
7. Only Shallow - My Bloody Valentine
8. Month of May - Arcade Fire
9. No Depression - Uncle Tupelo
10. Someone Great - LCD Soundsystem
11. Round and Round - Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti


 Seeya Next Semester, Everyone.

Joel Samson Berntsen (New Age - The Velvet Underground)

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    Tyler, The Creator: "Goblin" — B+

    Breaking into the mainstream conscious with the music video for “Yonkers,” an explosion performance on “Fallon” and record deal with XL, Tyler, The Creator has lead his crew Odd Future to gain some serious traction in the past six months. But with traction comes the price of fame, and Tyler’s been having some sobering struggles handling his new-found celebrity; he’s been overly simplified and vilified by one side and hyped, touted and glorified by the other side. This diverged dragging of character has taken an understandable toll on Tyler, and the effects indicated show up full force on his label debut Goblin.

    Tyler and Odd Future have been cranking out tapes for years and Goblin isn’t exactly a deviation from the OF norm. It maintains that home-cooked feel of an OF tape and is still littered with disturbia-filled, black lyrics (see “Tron Cat”). But where Goblin strays from the standard is how Tyler addresses pretty much every criticism of character that’s been shot his way over the past few months, be that the stress of producing since Kanye tweeted about Tyler, people saying he’s a role model, or dealing with Bill O’Reilly (“Fuck Bill O’Reilly”). 

    The thing to keep in mind, though, is that Tyler is only freaking nineteen years old. Even though he’s achieved a huge amount of success, he still deals with nineteen year old problems like a nineteen year old. He’s got self-doubt, daddy issues, and girl problems, and it’s reflected in Goblin. My pal Bryce pretty much said it best in a text: “heads up its long, really emo, and tyler breaks character :/ it’s still got some bangers on it though.” While a whole lot of Tyler’s stuff deals with super-murky topics, there is another, much more introverted, emotional side to Tyler, which can be incredibly disjointing considering the differing audiences listening to Tyler; when the misogyny-centric track “Tron Cat” goes into the friend-zone-stuck “Her” there’s a distinct moment of “wait, what?” Ultimately though, it’s best that Tyler flashes this delicate side because it shows that he’s not actually an evil Bastard (I mean he does directly tell the audience he doesn’t do any of that shit he says).  

    In the end, Goblin is just another Odd Future tape with a price tag. It strides with most of OF’s strengths: in-jokes, alter-egos, and OF culture (Free Earl, SWAG), and Tyler’s synth-haunting beats have never been tighter, especially with the surprising, Bowie-esque instrumental “AU79.” After over three years of giving away his stuff for free, Tyler’s not only deserving of some cash, but he’s crafted an album totally worth the cash (given if you have the stomach)

    Joel Samson Berntsen (Africa to America Anthem - The Very Best)

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Parks and Recreation, Watch it Already: A+

    Originally published for The Maneater.

    When “Parks and Recreation” first popped up, it mostly got brushed off as a ploy by NBC to to cash in on the popularity of "The Office"; it seemed like just another mockumentary in another office, except this time the boss was a girl. Shoot, it was even co-created by the same guy. And for a little bit there — for those first couple episodes — it seemed like it actually would just be another carbon copy.

    Thank freaking Greg Pikitis that assessment was dead wrong. Not only has “Parks and Recreation” proved itself one of the best comedies currently running on television, it’s proved itself as one of the best shows on TV period. It’s somehow succeeded in finding the sweet spot of golden television. All those "aw-shucks" moments between Jim and Pam on “The Office” have been mastered to a science and applied to pretty much every character on the show. Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope easily stands as one of the sweetest and most sincere characters in television history.
    And Poehler isn’t the only embodiment of delightful; the rest of the cast boasts what might just be the greatest ensemble presently gracing TV (Aziz Ansari! Rob Lowe! Rashida Jones! Aubrey Plaza!) and that’s with a chemistry that’s spot on flawless to boot. I mean, really, I love every single character on the show. There's not a single person on the show that I dislike in the slightest. Furthermore, the guest spots shine with such talent (Will Forte as a crazed "Twilight" Fan, Louis C.K. as Knope’s boyfriend cop) that the feeling of sadness always looms after they have their final scene. Louis C.K. and Poehler's brief relationship remains one of my all time favorite TV romances (even if it was just for a couple episodes).

    But the greatest trait of “Parks and Rec” is how successfully it blends together laugh out loud comedy with real life. It’s genuinely unlikely that a show has ever handled relationships as well as “Parks and Rec.” The show feels like real life: the break-ups, the co-worker interactions, even the economy mirror the real, which makes everything about the characters a hundred times more relatable than the average show.

    By now, “Parks and Recreation” has transformed beyond what anyone could have ever hoped. It has totally surpassed “The Office” in every aspect, be that comedy, relationships or just overall adorableness. It is one of the golden comedies of the decade and belongs to be ranked among the greats “Arrested Development” and “Seinfeld.” Now go watch it. Please, watch it! It needs to last seven seasons! Netflix it! Hulu it! Pirate it if you have to! But start with the second season! Because that first one they're still finding their vision, which they find in the second season! Exclamations!

    Seasons one and two are available on Netflix Instant Streaming.

    Joel Samson Berntsen (Frank Ocean - lovecrimes)