Hundred Word Reviews: Weezer | ‘The Teal Album’

weezer teal record review

This is peak hipster nostalgia. Releasing the silly cover of “Africa” on vinyl was bad enough. But now we have this. Just look at the art: They’re wearing cringeworthy ‘80s fashion, like oh-em-gee! Is hipster irony chic a thing? It is now. As for the music, it’s almost entirely a frustrating failure. The band needlessly smears power pop riffage over the originals. Meanwhile, Cuomo’s wooden delivery suggests Teal exists purely because the Toto cover went viral; this is social obligation, not enjoyment. The lone exception is Bell’s vocal on “Paranoid,” the only part of this that’s fun.

A Word on the Packers’ 2015 Season

Tomorrow, the Packers play the Redskins for the Wild Card spot. Depending on the outcome, their season continues or ends.

I don’t know what will happen in the playoffs for the Packers. We can only wait to find out. I, much like all of Packer Nation, hope they win. I always want my team to win.

What I do know, however, is this: whether our season ends tomorrow or not, we all have to admit that this season has been one for the books. It’s been a helluva ride, with most excitement since the 2010 season.

I think my brother Todd said it best a few weeks ago: the heart-attack Pack is back. Perhaps not fully, but there are shades of HAP this season – including shades of Favre-esque, last-minute hurrahs.

From the good (the hail-mary against Detroit) to the bad (the embarassing loss to Arizona), it’s been a thrill-a-minute for sure. Whether you define this roller-coaster as “fun” is up to you – but I certainly do.

Explain how we went from 6-0 to 10-6 any way you want. The media certainly has, with plenty of blame to go around. And even if we didn’t get the Division title this year, we still have five titles under McCarthy – including four straight. That’s not nothing. This season hasn’t been the best, to be sure. But it’s still been one for the books. The highs approached the Heavens and the lows descended towards Hell.
And, you know what? I don’t think I’d have any other way. After all, Packers football is the closest thing I have to a religion.

Album Review: Ella Eyre | Feline

The following review was rejected by some editors at Best Fit, so I’m posting it here instead.

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Being stuck inside of major label pop record confines can be frustrating, both for artist and listener – especially when it’s obvious to the latter that the former has so much more to offer than what’s on record. With Ella Eyre’s debut, Feline, this is certainly the case.

The UK rising star clearly wants to make it as a pop star, as witnessed by fantastic guest turns on Bastille’s version of “No Scrubs,” Rudimental’s “Waiting All Night”, and DJ Fresh’s “Gravity” (which, curiously, is included in this set).

Problem is, it seems Virgin wants to pigeonhole Eyre as an pop star and nothing more. Much of Feline is milquetoast EDM produced for the masses without much care for creativity. Which is unfortunate, given the team of songwriting and producers in the liners, including Wayne Hector, Ilya Salmanzadeh and Paul Berry.

Most of the songwriting here is good, not great. Synth stabs and processed drums paint most of the arrangements here. As a result, the first four tracks bleed together, and not even a strong personality like Eyre can make these compositions interesting. They’ll play well in clubs, sure, but so what? Even when horn-driven chorus of “Together” or the piano flourishes of “Worry About Me” can salvage the sheer blandness of it all.

Interestingly, the lyrics are the bright stop. The album discusses relatable topics like philandering men, uneven love and empowerment, but largely does so in a mainstream fashion: ” About time the bird flies/ About time that I try” is cringe-worthy and the driving/racing metaphor used in “Two” regarding a failed relationship is awkward at best.

That said, for every bland dull line (of which there are many), there’s a diamond in the rough to be found. “You know I’ve worked so hard to give you all that you need/ And from the start you never gave a shit about me” and “This is a bad idea/ It’s the fuck-up of the year” are effective in their directness, and demonstrates that Ella Eyre is captivating despite the claustrophobic production around her.

But perhaps the best line comes from the album’s best song, “Comeback”. Here, Ella Eyre offers advice for every woman who’s been fucked over (literally and figuratively) by cheating men: “We’ve all been played, we all get hurt /Just take the pain and let that motherfucker burn”. It’s as silly as it great, and gives Eyre some room to express her own identity. It’s just too bad she wasn’t given more.

A Word on the Charleston Shooting (and Guns)

What happened last week at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church is a tragedy, to be sure – despite what Bill O’Reilly says. (Apparently, an act of terror can’t result in a tragedy – as if they’re somehow mutually exclusive.) The pain resulting from the loss of nine innocent lives shouldn’t sting more because of racial motivation, but somehow it does. Racism in America still exists, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. Watch Jon Stewart’s moving and heartfelt monologue for what will probably be the most reasonable and intelligent reaction to what happened in Charleston.

For my part, it’s fucked up and my heart goes out to all those affected.

But that isn’t my point or what I’d like to discuss. Instead, let’s talk about the weapon of choice here (a gun) and its consequences. Yes, I’m going to politicize this (if not come dangerously close) because a few things need to be said and reiterated.

Jon Stewart rightly prophesied about the aftermath, “[W]e still won’t do jack shit” about gun control or regulation. “And that’s the part that blows my mind.” How many shootings have to occur before we can sit down and finally have a serious debate about actual gun regulation?

Between 1982 and 2011, the US had 69 mass shootings, or about one every 200 days. Since then, the rate has almost tripled to about one every 64 days. Basically, one every two months. That’s insanity. (Note: The unofficial standard for a mass shooting, according the FBI, is four or more victims.) The data used excludes mass killings in domestic cases, making the data used here focused on public shootings.

Of course, having the right to own a gun – as we do – comes with consequences. As James Fox argued on CNN:

We treasure our personal freedoms in America, and unfortunately, occasional mass shootings, as horrific as they are, is one of the prices that we pay for the freedoms that we enjoy.

Yes, that’s true. And it’s also a ludicrous argument. The Second Amendment protects the people of this country from government tyranny, we get it. But the regulation of gun ownership as a attempt to prevent – or even lower – future needless violence is somehow seen as infringement.

It’s funny, because we have laws regulating the sale of alcohol and laws against drinking and driving…but that’s not seen as infringing on our ability to have a beer. Then there’s the argument gun control won’t work because bad guys will always find a way to obtain a firearm. Yes, much like illicit drugs, that will probably always be the case. However, the idea that regulation simply seeking to lower the rate of gun deaths is pointless because we can’t completely prevent them is absurd. By that same logic, we shouldn’t have laws against cocaine or marijuana at all.

The change in attitude towards drunk driving over the last 25 years, and the resulting increase in penalties, has seen a steep decline in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities (down 36% since 1991) and in drunk driving fatalities with those under 21 (63% in the same time). Even more impressive, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities between 1982 and 2013 went from 21,113 to 10,076 – that’s a 52% decrease.

Legislation and lobbying efforts didn’t completely erase drunk driving-related injuries or deaths, but that doesn’t negate or even minimize in any way the progress already made. Similarly, gun control – even something as simple as mandatory background checks on any and all gun sales – could prevent some gun-related deaths. Trying to prevent any amount of gun violence – even one death – via regulation has nothing to do with your flag-waving bullshit. We on the side of gun control don’t want to take away rifle from a hunter or a collector. What we want is to remove the chance of another racist or mentally unstable person or felon or any otherwise run-of-the-mill nutjob from acting out their murder fantasies with a firearm.

A gun isn’t inherently dangerous – which is to say, a gun placed on a table and left alone won’t hurt anyone. Much like dynamite, a gun requires an outside agent for it to serve its purpose. I’ll concede the point that, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” because it’s true. That said, guns sure make it easy. And that’s the problem.