The General returns to join Berg as they continue on their Half Assed Review of the "Prime Universe" with the fifth installment, The Final Frontier. Originally recorded on June 17, 2018. Listen and Enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.
And the adventure continues as the journey through the Prime Universe brings us to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. This week the General is away but he emailed his list so returning guest Peter Cooley and Berg can continue their half assed review. As always, listen and enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.
Note: We recorded in a new setting that through the accoustics into a echo throughout.
After a slight schedule delay the guys are back to share a new installment in their "Prime Universe" half assed review of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. As always, listen and enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.
We return for another edition in our HAR series, this episode has us covering the original series episode "Space Seed" and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Join Berg and the General as we break them down. Listen and Enjoy, and as always Thanks for Stopping By.
Greetings listeners! In this all new episode the crew sits down with first time guest Peter Cooley to begin their Prime Universe review series of the Star Trek films. We begin with The Motion Picture to discuss the good, bad, and ugly of the film. As always, listen and enjoy. Thanks for stopping by.
Lance and Berg saw a movie. That movie was Jupiter Ascending! Hear our review of it and our recommendations. We try not to spoil it initially so you can hear the bare bones review and leave before we really get into the movie. As this is the first HAR in a while we tend to tangent off the movie. Listen and Enjoy.
Another week and another new HAR! This week I decided to review a “new” release from another of my favorite bands, The Gaslight Anthem and their “B-Sides.” Without any more fluff and rambling lets get into it.
Collecting their b-sides from the Side One Dummy years this release comprises several acoustic tracks, covers, radio spots, live and digital exclusives. For completist (for which I am one) this will round out their early years from unknowns to knowns. Some of the tracks are different versions of their more notable songs.
Let me first state that I truly enjoy all of these songs except maybe one. I think what really comes through is the bands talent at writing songs and Brian Fallon’s ability to alter and tweek these songs in multiple ways giving new layers and depths to songs that are already pretty deep. Some of the acoustic tracks are just Brian and his guitar, others are truly different acoustic tracks with added instruments, changed tempos, altered lyrics and a different vocal delivery. Examples of this can be heard in track 7, “Great Expectations,” and track 10, “Boxer,” to name two.
As for the covers on this album the one that I like the most is “Tumbling Dice.” Now, it may just be due to my love of the Rolling Stones but I could listen to this song over and over again. I’ve heard many covers by The Gaslight Anthem up to this point. Their iTunes Session album consisted mostly of covers and there are numerous others to be found on YouTube, this band seems to have an uncanny ability to take songs and present them faithfully or recreate them as their own. I’ve always enjoyed covers and I think it is a great way to also get to know the band and those that influenced them.
The Bad and Ugly:
I’m joining the two categories here because I do not have too many negative criticisms to warrant seperating the two. For the bad I would choose the “State of Love and Trust Live” tack. It is not that I dislike the song and I understand the band loves Pearl Jam, for me, it is a personal preference that there isn’t much to distinguish it from their studio recording of it. The real benefit of having this album, as stated above, is the difference from the studio recordings that set it apart.
As for the “ugly,” I would lean towards the selection and their availability already. Most of these tracks can be found elsewhere and I would have enjoyed more. Last year I purchased the “singles collection” boxset of 45s. All of which are the same as the B-Sides LP. The packaging was better and had a nice asthetic that cost more but gave more, I feel. Is it more convienent to have them on one LP and not having to go through the process of switching out 7” after every song, yes, but the tedium is overshadowed by the presentation of each single and the collectors item that accompanied.
Addressing the song selection, though I enjoyed what was given I would of loved to have a double album comprising all that which is hard to come by. For example, the “Antonia Jane” and “Queens of Lower Chelsea” tracks came from the KEXP interview Brian did just prior to the release of “American Slang” LP, on that performance were other songs too that I would have enjoyed as well as the version placed here. Furthermore, versions of “She Loves You” BBC and the record store release of “Misery” EP would have rounded it out nicely.
The Wrap Up:
All in all I”m happy with the release. Gripes aside, it is a good rounding out for fans. Will this bring in new fans? That is something I’m not so sure of. Those already familiar with the band are fully aware of their talent and ability to change up songs for different presentations. If anything it further demonstrates the song writing and crafting of the band to make songs that are good in any setting.
Til next time and please remember that I don’t really know anything, I’m just half assing it.
Welcome back H.A.R., I know it has been a while since I reviewed anything on this page. Let me just say that there has been a lot going on with FUNNY and personally for me. But, I return with a review of Against Me’s new album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Without any further bs or recap on my part lets get into it.
The Album: Synopsis and History:
Originally slated as a concept album that follows the life of a trangendered prostitute that has now morphed into a personal confession, of sorts, of frontwoman Laura Jane Grace and her public transformation Against Me! has given fans their most intimate glimpse into an artist in some time. In order for this album to come out the band’s lineup has changed, moved from a major label to their own indy, Total Treble, and has taken four years to debut. (I could go more in depth here but feel that would detract from the album itself)
The Good: (I must preface this with saying that I was alread a huge Against Me! fan so I will admit to a little bias)
There is so much good in this album I don’t rightly know where to start. Running time. At 29 minutes there is no filler and they get right to the point making it crisp, concise and straight to the point. More often than not concept albums get to be grandiose and bloated. Sometimes they turn out great (Titus Andronicus’ “The Monitor,” or even Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.”), other times you get an album that has flashes of brilliance but loses the audience inbetween (The Clash, “Sandanista.”).
Lyrics. LJG pulls no punches and doesn’t let the album get p.c. or mired in commercial appeal. In the opening title track she sings about wanting to be seen like other girls but instead being viewed as just a faggot. Then follows questions of how does God see a trans person, the desire to fit in, denegrated as an enemy or lifted up, loss of friends, a sincere ballad to her daughter, and striking back at the world. I’ll admit that this is a base over simplification of the lyrics of the album but I could spend too much time analyzing each song and I feel that is something you should explore yourself.
Production. I’ve read too many commentors on other sites bemoan the production of this album saying it was under produced. First, Fuck You. Second, what do you want? It was these same commentors that hated “New Wave,” and “White Crosses” because they were over produced. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of either album though with plenty of time I can enjoy them as they are. (side note: if you mix those albums in with an all songs playlist that jumbles them alphabetically they mix in well) With this album Against Me! returns to the diy roots and does it all in-house. I had no trouble hearing the lyrics, feeling the hit of the instruments or following along. Plus, with them doin it themselves I got a sense of nostalgia and felt a throwback to early AM! albums.
Black Me Out. The closing track that any fan has heard already doesn’t disappoint. If, in the last four years, you’ve seen them play live or sought out new songs on YouTube you may have already come across it. Hearing it produced and from a studio doesn’t take anything away fom the song, in fact, I think it solidifies it as one of their staple songs that any fan will continue to sing along to at shows. (It is my favortie on the album)
The Bad and The Ugly:
I honestly don’t have anything to put in these categories about the album itself. Here I’d like to address Entertainment Weekly’s twitter style review of the album (because, lets face it, it’s not shit by Beyonce or Lorde nor holds the commercial appeal of Top 40). They said the album could benefit from some catchy hooks that would be radio friendly. I think they missed the point of the album entirely and will be on the wrong side of history on this one. If the album had those pop-style catchy hooks the album could have suffered from a watering down effect. As it is, the album is gritty while remaining crisp and direct.
It is my hope that this band and album help expose the flaws in the scene that I love and helps correct the stain that goes counter to what punk itself stands for. For too long we’ve allowed racism, sexism, homophobia run rampant through our genre. Like Leftover Crack once stated, we speak of unity but then divide ourselves along those lines. There are so many talented artist in our scene that don’t get a fair shake because of fear and hate. Maybe exposing that flaw and speaking openly about it will help start the discussion that leads to change.
So, Against Me! “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” gets five stars, or two thumbs up….whatever. Listen to the album and make your own decision because in the end...I’m only half assing it.
1/2 Year In Review
How about something different? Berg here, bringing you the story so far in music, my half year review of the best (my favorite) albums of 2013. Or maybe just a list with a little explanation. First, let me state that I am not a musician but an extremely rabid fan and constant consumer of albums. Second, I know what I like and why I like it. My main purpose behind this is to maybe expose you to something new. Our monthly playlist gives you samples of songs we are digging, this list will give you complete albums.
1. “The Future Is Cancelled,” Captain, We’re Sinking.
Not only is this album at the top of this list but this release has edged its way into my top ten albums of all time. Starting off frantic and edgy with “Adultery,” it then transforms itself into larger narrative with “Brother” through “Shoddy Workmanship.” Reoccuring themes of abuse, addiction, abandonment, love and loss, desperation and hope. Using melodic/hardcore punk with lo-fi and sincerity this album is a delight to the ears. Well, at least, mine. My favorite is the three song set of “You Have Flaws,” “Lake,” and “Here’s to Forever.”
2. “The Bronx IV,” The Bronx.
With their fourth self titled release LA’s The Bronx have continued their path of total rock sonic destruction along a heavy riff trail and powerful vocals. They have steadily progressed from stooges influence to a more straight up rock sound. Every album they’ve released has upped the ante to get more in your face. On a side note I saw them open for Bad Religion in April and it was a phenomenal set. They are also playing this years musicfestnw. Take my advice, go see them. My favorites of the album are “The Unholy Land,” “Style Over Everything,” and the slower “Life Less Ordinary.”
3. “Ordinary Silence,” Mixtapes.
Another year and another release from Mixtapes. That may sound like a detraction but it is not. Let me just say that their release last year, “Even On The Worst Nights,” was an exceptionally good album and I was leary of another release so soon. But it was unfounded, “Ordinary Silence” is very mature and a quality album. They still have songs that are very funny but they mix in songs that are personal and poignant. My favorites of the album are “Everything’s Eventual,” “A List of Things I Can’t Handle,” and “Be the Speak That You Change About.”
(Mixtapes will be playing Backspace Saturday July 13th)
4. “Leavetaking,” Elway.
The Colorado boys release a all around solid album. Full of literary references and catchy hooks this sophmore release from Red Scare Record delivers where others sometimes falter. With 12 songs and a running time of just about 34 minutes they rarely go over 3 minutes per song, which means straight to the point rock and roll. My favorites are “The Salton Sea,” “Prophetstown,” and “There Is A Line.”
(Elway will be playing at Backspace with Masked Intruder, Sam Russo and Sundowner for the Red Scare Across America Tour on August 2nd)
5. “Banquets,” Banquets.
What can I say? Another band from Jersey delivers. A little more refined, a better recording mix than previous releases. Still, they have the chops to eventually play bigger and bigger crowds. Great vocals with lyrical content, slow at parts and fast where it needs to be. If you don’t go and at least sample this album then you’ve done yourself a disservice. Check out “Call It A Comeback!”
6. “Signed And Sealed In Blood,” Dropkick Murphys.
There is no reinventing the wheel for this band or this release. They know what they do and they do it well. Having cultivated a massive following by smart marketing and merchandising they have become a household name. However, they still have not lost sight on what has brought them here. Sing-a-longs and songs of unity dominate. The best songs on the album are the ones that deal with family. Plus, they do a Christmas song! My favorites on the album are “Burn,” “Don’t Tear Us Apart,” and “My Hero.”
I know there was only six and I logically should have stopped at five but who the fuck cares? I mean, come on, I’m only half assing it anyways.
Hobbs has Dom and Brian reassemble their crew in order to take down a mastermind who commands an organization of mercenary drivers across 12 countries. Payment? Full pardons for them all.
Director: Justin Lin
Writers: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson (characters)
Stars: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson | See full cast and crew
Fast and Furious 6
The team returns, this time on the “good” guys side, to do vehicular battle with a group of motorized “terrorists.” With the added incentive of a believed to be dead member hanging in the balance. The high octane franchise keeps revving its engine for a sixth installment. Now, the nitrus fueled review...
Bringing it all together! The sixth installment attempts and succeeds at pulling together loose plot threads to bring all the films in the franchise together. Furious 6, the unofficial title as the previous was Fast 5, is actually the fifth film leading into Tokyo Drift (the third film). That is right, we got some star wars backward action going on. That shouldn’t come off as a criticism. Director Lin does a magnificent job of giving resolution to fans questions as to how it all fits together. Speaking of Lin, he does a wonderful job at keeping fans interested while giving high speed action (albeit not plausible) with “heart.” It appears that the good guys are super heroes of sorts but without the special powers, unless you count souping up cars and doing physics defying extra vehicular feats as super human powers. I’d be inclined to think so. Lin infuses the “heart” being the repeated belief of the principles that family is everything and you should do whatever it takes for family.
The Cast. I was recently asked what the draw of this franchise was to so many people. I ventured my hypothesis as its racial diverse cast that does not necessarily lend itself to stereotypes. Yes, there are some acknowledged ones but they are also lampooned to great comic effect. Moreover, the actors seem to own these particular roles just as seriously as any I’ve seen. The comfortable familiarity within the actors chemistry is contagious. The women are tough and smart and do not fall into the frail and girl in distress cliche that some summer popcorn blockbusters fall into. Overall I think this is one of the major draws of these flicks.
Set Up! One of the best parts of Furious 6 to me is the set up and acknowledged seventh installment, probably coming in 2015. I can not go into detail here for that would spoil too much. However, I was getting up to stretch and use the lavatory during the initial run of the “first” credits when Big Cat (Lance) motions me to return to my seat and I was rewarded with the payoff which also is the link to Tokyo Drift. Take my advice and stay the extra five minutes to see it, which is better than ten plus minutes for any Marvel movie.
Contradiction. Some of this appears in the good as well as in this section. Gone is the “realism” of the very first Fast and Furious for the physics defying stunts worthy of any bond flick or cape movie. I’m not asking for accuracy, but, come on, two people sailing through the air in different directions collide and ones trajectory is not altered but takes over the others without altering it one bit. Furthermore, said individual lands on a car windshield and is safely cushioned by it. No blood or broken bones!
Another gripe is how long is that final runway? Answer, long enough!
Finally, I’d like to go back and count how many times “family” is said in this film. Just for shits and giggles.
The white British high end car salesman. I won’t say anymore, you’ll see it yourself. Also, I won’t see my favorite member of this cadre anymore. Again, you’ll see.
The Wrap Up:
This was an extremely fun movie. Go see it! I’d even venture to give it a solid five out of five for being exactly what I expected it to be. A high octane popcorn-action flick. Never taking itself too seriously in the right parts and the right amount of “heart” in the other. Turn off your brain and suspend your disbelief. Movies are about escapism at its basic core. This was that and more. Even that which I found bad I still put in the good section. That should say something. (For a brief talk about this movie you can listen to episode 14 of FUNNY where Lance and I talk a little about it)
So, that’s my take. But, honestly, what do I know...I’m only half assing it!