Saturday, August 9, 2014

Warp 25

 Oneohtrix Point Never - "Problem Areas" from "R Plus Seven" (2013)

Tyondai Braxton - "J City" from Central Market (2009)

Battles - "Atlas" from Mirrored (2007)

Boards of Canada - "Dayvan Cowboy" from The Campfire Headphase (2005)

Squarepusher - "My Red Hot Car" from Go Plastic (2001)

Aphex Twin "Ventolin" from I Care Because You Do (1995)

Merge 25

Hospitality - "I Miss Your Bones" from Trouble (2014)

Polvo - "Light, Raking" from Siberia (2013)

Wild Flag - "Electric Band" from Wild Flag (2011)

Arcade Fire - "Rebellion (Lies)" from Funeral (2004)

Spoon - "Everything Hits At Once" from Kill the Moonlight (1999)

Neutral Milk Hotel - "Oh Comely" from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998)

Superchunk - "Throwing Things" from No Pocky for Kitty (1991)

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Mandatory Fun

When "Weird Al" Yankovic's Off the Deep End came out in 1992, I was acutely aware that the source of the album's parodies ranged in age from seven months ("Smells Like Nirvana") to three and a half years ("The White Stuff"). The former was the perfect lead single, opening track and basis for the album title and cover art because it seized on a crucial part of the early 90s zeitgeist (you have to say "zeitgeist" at least once in a "Weird Al" review) while it was still fresh in the public consciousness. It underscored my first thought upon hearing "The White Stuff", a parody of New Kids on the Block's "The Right Stuff": he's just getting around to parodying this now?

Now that I'm older, time passes by faster and I'm less aware of the pop charts, so when Yankovic parodies a song that is a year old, the original might as well have come out yesterday. But Yankovic does study the pop charts - he has to - and his business model is becoming outdated. The old cliche goes that a week is a long time in football; in pop music, a week can mean a hundred amateur YouTube parodies. A year is a lifetime. This probably has a lot to do with why Yankovic intends Mandatory Fun to be his last album.

Yankovic has been using videos to complement his songs since 1985, when they were a nascent form, but this time he's made the unprecedented move to not only make videos for eight of Mandatory Fun's songs, but to release them one by one over eight days. But of course augmenting a song with a video becomes a curse when you're left without it on the album, and this time that's the case with two thirds of it. "Word Crimes" loses something without its animation, as does "Foil" without Patton Oswalt as a [spoiler].

Nothing on Mandatory Fun is a Yankovic classic, but it is his most consistent album, with only "Handy" (a parody of Iggy Azalea's "Fancy") and the obligatory polka medley (the latter being a personal thing on account of my indifference and obliviousness to the source material) being the only real bombs. "Handy" opens the album, but things pick up after that inauspicious start with "Lame Claim to Fame", an original about people who talk up tenuous connections to celebrities (did I mention I used to work with one of the Osbournes' former nannies?). "Foil" (Lorde's "Royals") is sort of a meta comment on Yankovic himself, making the listener ask themselves "would he really write a song about aluminium foil?" and then answering the question: not exactly. "First World Problems" is a style parody of Pixies, which I appreciate, although like Liam Lynch's attempt at the same, it just doesn't stack up to "Motherbanger". "Word Crimes" (Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines") is dear to my heart because it mercilessly mocks ppl who need too improve they're grammar.

If Yankovic is not tempted into making another album (for example, by the fact that Mandatory Fun is his first album to reach number one, let alone debut there), hopefully whatever forms his comedy takes will still include the occasional song. This New Yorker cartoon suggests the reason for Yankovic hanging up his musical satirist boots. My response: will there ever not be such a time?


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