Category Archives: reviews

An American Pickle – Double Seth Rogen Kills It In this Funny Satire.

An American Pickle; Dir. – Brandon Trost

Rating – //stream it once it’s free//

An American Pickle | Official Trailer | HBO Max

“An American Pickle,” a time-travel farce directed by Brandon Trost and adapted from a New Yorker story by Simon Rich, marinates crisp almost-timeliness in the mild brine of nostalgia. It’s not too salty or too sour, and it’s neither self-consciously artisanal nor aggressively, weirdly authentic. The subject, more or less, is what it means to be Jewish, and given how contentious that topic can become — can I get an oy vey? — the movie finds an agreeable, occasionally touching vein of humor.

The setup for most of the jokes is that, in 1919, an impoverished immigrant named Herschel Greenbaum, recently arrived in Brooklyn from a fictitious, Cossack-ridden anti-Anatevka called Schlupsk, falls into a vat of saltwater and cucumbers. He leaves behind a pregnant wife, Sarah (Sarah Snook). She has a son, who has a son, whose son, in 2019, is a sad-sack tech guy named Ben. When Herschel is fished out of his century-long bath, alive and perfectly preserved, he goes to live with Ben, his only known relative, setting up a cross-generational odd-couple situation brimming with comic potential.

All the more so because both Herschel and Ben are played by Seth Rogen, who does the bewhiskered Yiddish thing and the diffident millennial thing with equal craftiness. While the characters are recognizable types — from popular culture if nowhere else — Rogen brings more than mere shtick to the performances. Herschel is neither a sentimental schlemiel nor a twinkly old-world grandpa, but rather an impatient, sometimes intolerant striver with a violent streak. His pre-pickling experience of the world was hard and bitter, leavened only by the hope that future generations of Greenbaums would be better off.

Which is just what happened, of course. Herschel once confessed to Sarah that he hoped to taste seltzer water before he died, and Ben has a gizmo in his apartment that makes it on demand. He’s even less of a caricature than his great-grandpa — not a hipster or a nerd so much as a smart guy with a deep streak of melancholy. It turns out that what connects him to Herschel isn’t just genetics: it’s also grief. Ben’s parents are dead, and Herschel’s accident robbed him of the pleasures and consolations of family.


That’s some pretty heavy stuff, but “An American Pickle” is swift and nimble enough to avoid weighing itself down with schmaltz. It’s almost too thin to sustain its premise for the running time — a scant 90 minutes — and sometimes feels more like a stretched-out sketch than a fully developed feature.

The century that separates Herschel from Ben allows the story to leapfrog over quite a lot of history, including the Holocaust, Israel, socialism, and the complicated process of upward mobility, acculturation and self-preservation that is the movie’s very condition of possibility. The drama of Jewish male selfhood that preoccupied so many in the middle generations — the whole Philip Roth-Woody Allen megillah — is all but erased. Herschel had his beloved Sarah. Ben has no apparent sexual or romantic interests, or even any friends that we know about. There’s no room for women in this pickle jar.

But the flimsiness of the movie’s conceit also works to its benefit. At its best, it’s a brisk, silly plucking of some low-hanging contemporary fruit. Food trends. Social media. Unpaid internships. The inevitable conflict between Herschel and Ben turns a family squabble into a culture-war skirmish, a conflict played out in a way that feels both satirically sharp and oddly comforting.

And pickles can be comfort food. Not too filling, good for the digestion, noisy and a little sloppy rather than artful or exquisite or challenging. This one, as I’ve said, isn’t bad, and even allows a soupcon of profundity into its formula. The tough, pious ancestor and his sensitive, secular descendant have almost nothing in common, and the imaginative challenge is to find an identity that can include them both more or less as they are. What makes them both Jews? The answer turns out to be simple and, at least for this conflicted 21st-century Jew, persuasive: the shared obligation to mourn the dead.

Yes, God, Yes – a Smart And Funny Exploration Of Teenage Sexuality.

Yes, God, Yes; Dir. -Karen Maine

Rating –  “It’s great” / worth adding to your collection.

Yes, God, Yes is the directorial debut Karen Maine, and stars Natalia Dyer from Stranger Things, in the lead role. Developed from a short film that Maine planned on directing but later adapted it to feature-length, this is an extremely small film, in terms of budget, story, and even the run-time. Clocking at only about one hour and fifteen minutes, the film is an almost semi-autobiographical retelling of Maine’s first-hand experience of spending four days at a Catholic retreat.

Alice, played by Natalia Dyer, has been brought up in a very small town by her conservative religious parents and attends Catholic school, where sex-ed classes are taken by a priest. Not only is sex before marriage a sin, but also masturbation, and Alice is made to believe that she will go to hell if she even gets turned on by sex scenes in movies or hot boys in the class. Alice, like most girls her age, is pretty gullible and believes that she is actually committing sins by feeling emotions normal to any teenager. Set in the early 2000s, Alice experiences her sexual interaction over an online AOL chatroom, where she responds to a random dude’s creepy messages just because of curiosity and discovers masturbation. But then she is ashamed of herself and never talks about it to anyone.

At school, someone has spread a rumor about how she performed a very particular sexual activity with a guy from her class at a party, a sexual activity she that she doesn’t even know the meaning of. She asks her friend, but she has no clue either, and Alice spends a chunk of the film trying to find out what people are talking about her. But whatever it is, in order o get these accusations of her and compensate for her supposed dirty mind, she goes to a Christian retreat for four days. And this place is a straight-up horror mansion imo. Right from the beginning, with the overly friendly and enthusiastic attitude of everyone, something is definitely off about this place. Maybe it’s just my socially awkward self, but everything in the retreat is almost Get Out level creepy.

Yes, God, Yes, is a movie about masturbation and sexual awakening, but what separates it from other films of this genre is its female protagonist and conservative setting. It is not a raunchy comedy about horny guys trying to lose virginity, it is just a realistic portrayal of a girl coming to terms with her own sexuality. Maine sure finds funny moments throughout the story, but she never loses sight of realism in the central story, she rather uses the comedic moments to further develop Alice’s character and illustrate her struggles.

The teachers and elders in the story are used for jokes, but they are not the butt of jokes, they are all very misguided people themselves. If anything is joke it is religion and a society that expects young to suppress all their sexual urges, even though they know it is unrealistic. The guilt of always feeling like she’s committed a sin fills Alice with self-doubt that almost drives her crazy as she slowly starts to find out that people are doing those same things in hiding. She feels conflicted and doesn’t understand what she wants to do anymore and then she meets an old lesbian biker lady in a pub, who was once in a Catholic school too, which gives Alice a new perspective on the world. She understands that human beings are complex creatures, and it makes no sense to define them entirely by the supposed “sins” they commit. She understands that High School isn’t the end of the world, and it doesn’t matter what people are talking about behind your back, because those same people are doing equally fucked up shit when nobody is watching. She learns to give herself a chance – to finally figure out who she is.

Natalia Dyer gives the best performance of her career as Alice. So much of the movie depends on her, and she sells every moment she’s in. The rest of the cast is equally good. Wolfgang Novogratz as the lovable hunk is very charming and Timothy Simon is perfect as the strict father, a role very similar to his role from Looking for Alaska on Hulu. Karen Maine does an amazing job directing the movie. It’s hard to believe this is her first movie and she almost pulls off a Greta Gerwig, ala Lady Bird. Yes, God, Yes, is a beautiful little film about growing up and one of the best films to release this quarantine. So, if you have an hour and an hour to spare, check out the movie, you might end up reliving some your worst High School memories.

Now available in virtual cinemas and select drive-ins; available on digital and VOD from July 28.

Album Review: Folklore – The Quarantine Has Allowed Taylor Swift to Put Out Her Most Mature And Personal Work Yet.

Folklore; Taylor Swift

Rating – /Must listen if you’re a fan./

Taylor Swift – cardigan (Official Music Video)

Folklore hit like a surprise, both in how it was released and the contents inside it. The 16-song album was announced with little fanfare just a day before its release. “Most of the things I had planned for the summer didn’t happen,” she wrote in a statement, “but there is something I hadn’t planned on that DID happen.” The way Taylor Swift tells it, folklore arrived in a rush of inspiration. “It started with imagery,” she wrote on Instagram. “Visuals that popped into my mind and piqued my curiosity.” Less than a year after 2019’s Lover, it marks a departure from the sharp, radio-friendly pop music that Swift spent the past decade-and-a-half building toward.

And this truly album is truly unlike anything Taylor has put out in the past. It is quiet, somber, introspective and very moody. There are no headbangers here, designed to make white girls go crazy in a party, these songs are way more personal and packs a much bigger punch. Her usual collaborators like Jack Antonoff and recording engineer Laura Sisk return in album, but she has also ventured out in look for other more intriguing and indie Collaborators.

There is the song exile, with Justin Vernon from Bon Iver co-writing and lending vocals, which one of my favorite songs Taylor Swift has ever produced. The National: drummer Bryan Devendorf and multi-instrumentalists Bryce and Aaron Dessner, with the latter co-writing or producing 11 songs. As a result, this is the most raw Taylor Swift has ever sounded, and blunt and subtle delivery on the lyrics and songs that are very much indie-folk.

Now, I’m not gonna do a deep dive into the lyrics on each song, trying to decipher every little detail about Taylor’s personal life. To be honest, I don’t really know much about her personal life and don’t really care, and also there are so many entertainment sites doing just that. So if that’s what you want, maybe you should check them out. But, this the most mature lyrics Taylor Swift has ever written, analyzing themes without her heavy pop filter. Don’t get me wrong, these are still songs of white girl problems, Americana, and nostalgia for the past and it has also the style and flair we associate with Taylor, only now, with more weight to them.

I have feeling that without quarantine we wouldn’t have gotten this album out of Taylor. The sort of isolation from the industry and fact she will not have tour with these songs or do numbers on charts, allowed Taylor to take a risk, and put out something has was immensely personal to her. For all the bad things corona virus has brought to us this year, Folklore surely isn’t one. I highly recommend this album, even if you aren’t really a fan of Taylor.

Fav tracks: //the 1/ cardigan/ the last great american dynasty/ exile/ my tears ricochet/ epiphany/ hoax//

Least fav track: //betty//

Album Review: Women In Music Pt. III – The HAIM Sister Are Up to… Something.

Women In Music Pt. III; Haim

Rating – /Must listen if you’re a fan./

Haim – The Steps

The Haim sisters are known for their love of LA and taking walks on the sunny streets of the city, and it is also the feeling that carries on into their projects – little happy/sad sunny pop songs that go perfect with the mood of driving around Los Angeles on a summer morning. I really enjoyed their first album but to be honest I was kinda disappointed by their second as it really really didn’t have much to offer except the unique bright style the band has cultivated. This is where Women in Music Pt. III really succeeds, while it is still a collection of sunny happy/sad songs, it is also much more. With this album, it feels as though the Haim sisters are finally up to something – a big exploration of themselves and their journey.

The videos to accompany their third album, Women in Music Part III, nod to the strolls of the past and add in a few new twists. In “Now I’m in it” directed again by the master Paul Thomas Anderson, bassist Este and guitarist Alana carry Danielle (lead vocals, production, guitar) on a stretcher; when Danielle is revived and joins her sisters for their signature walk, she casts a knowing glance straight to camera. In another video, they’re followed by a gloomy saxophonist ; in another, they stand rooted to their spots. These videos show the evolution of Haim, whose songwriting on WIMPIII is likewise more nuanced, more self-aware, and frequently darker than ever before.

The biting satire of the album’s title is something of a red herring for its explicitly personal content. In interviews, each sister has described a personal trauma that she brought to the studio. Alana has spoken of the grief she suffered when a best friend passed away at age 20, and Este has talked about the low points of living with Type 1 diabetes. Most felt is Danielle’s deep depression; she traces its origin to when her partner (and co-producer) Ariel Rechtstaid was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2015.

Historically, Haim’s lyrics have been conversational and straightforward: emotionally incisive, sure, but usually vague enough that you could easily place yourself inside them. On WIMPIII, though, Danielle writes in vivid scenes, pulling you inside her personal depression fog. She blinks awake and finds herself at the wheel of a car; she watches TV and stares at the ceiling; she goes to the boulevard and can’t stop crying. On the stomping country-rock of “I’ve Been Down,” she sings about taping up the windows of her house, adding sardonically, “But I ain’t dead yet. Elsewhere, the sisters cut and paste the most offensive interview questions they’ve faced from music journalists (“Do you make the same faces in bed?”) into a candid folk song that channels the spirit of Joni Mitchell.

Danielle was also inspired by André 3000’s solo album The Love Below, an exploratory record that sewed together disparate genres with uninhibited slapstick humor. While WIMPIII is more theatrical than Haim have been before—there’s the gasp that opens the underwater rock song “Up From a Dream,” the “you up?” voicemail skits on “3 AM”—the most obvious similarity is in the band’s newfound musical fluidity. With signature production touches from Rostam throughout, these songs shift gears, often eschewing Haim’s usual summery rock to find the right genre for the mood, sometimes containing different shades within the same track. “All That Ever Mattered” peppers Danielle’s vocals with distorted screams and a mumbled interjection of “fuck no, before pirouetting away into a glam-rock guitar solo. “3 AM” and “Another Try” flirt with falsetto-driven funk and R&B, and “I Know Alone,” a song about depression-scrolling and sleeping through the day, contains dusty echoes of UK garage.

Not every song feels like a pioneering event. “Don’t Wanna” could have lived on any of Haim’s three albums: a tight pop-rock song built around an irrepressible guitar lick and an oblique story of a relationship in trouble. But their most exciting trips go off the beaten path, like the crystalline sad banger “Now I’m in It”—a song that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Taylor Swift’s Lover. This may be the first Haim album that steps out of its retro groove long enough to draw parallels with other contemporary pop music, specifically Rechtshaid and Danielle’s recent work with Vampire Weekend. Having long since proven their chops when it comes to writing a breezy 1970s-style rock song, they now sound comfortable enough within their niche to push beyond it.

WIMPIII is bookended by two songs about L.A., both featuring a saxophone and wistful “doot-do-do” backing vocals. On the first, “Los Angeles,” Danielle describes falling out of love with her hometown. But in the final song, “Summer Girl”—while its melody hits a similarly melancholic vein—she interpolates Lou Reed as she sings about the relief of coming home to L.A. from tour to be with her partner. She’s anguished when she sings that she’s “thinking ’bout leaving” the city, but hushed and reverent on a later line when she reflects on how much she misses it: “L.A. on my mind, I can’t breathe.” Placed beside each other, the two songs take on new dimensions. It’s Haim as we haven’t quite heard them before: not just eminently proficient musicians, entertainers, and “women in music,” but full of flaws and contradictions, becoming something much greater.

Fav Tracks: //The Steps/ Up from a Dream/ Gasoline/ Don’t Wanna/ Leaning on you/ Man from the Magazine/ FUBT/ Bonus Tracks- Now I’m in it/ Hallelujah//

Least Fav Tracks- //Another Try//

Women In Music Pt III review

So what did you think Haim’s new album?

Do let me know in the comments!

Movie Review: Artemis Fowl – Disney Takes A Giant Shit On Beloved Book Franchise

Artemis Fowl; Dir. – Kenneth Branagh

Rating – Horrendous. Piece. Of. Shit.

Disney’s Artemis Fowl | Official Trailer

Artemis fowl feels like some parent gave an infant a brand new toy set featuring random action figures to play with, but the kid pooped his pants before he could finish the story, so now we are just left with whatever game the toddler designed in the limited time before he pooped his pants. But no, this isn’t some fantasy a 9-year-old cooked up in his bedroom, this 125 million dollar budget Disney production starring big names and directed by a well experienced director, who has made good movies in the past – how this movie turned out to be such an epic disaster, is a total mystery to me.

To call Artemis Fowl a movie would be giving it too much praise, it doesn’t qualify as a movie. It’s a series of random footage stitched together to form something that barely emulates a feature-length movie. It doesn’t even have a story, it’s the type of movie where nothing really happens. A bunch of characters are introduced, they get together in the third act, some random shit happens I guess and the movie just ends there. There are no character arcs, no plot, no journey, no adventure – basically anything that has something to do with a story is lacking from this movie.

Sitting through the one and half hours of which movie (which definitely felt much much longer) was a torture to say the least, the movie was so boring I dozed off twice. I would not be able to tell you anything about the plot of this movie, even if I were to try, because it is fucking nonexistent. In the first few minutes we are like told how smart Artemis Fowl, and then his whole backstory and family background is explained in very exposition heavy dialogues by a counselor of sorts. It is like if in Batman Begins, Batman just straight up showed up in the first act and Alfred explained to him how his parents died and then about all the ninja training he did, in a single monologue, so that the audience gets to know who Bruce Wayne is. What’s worse is, none of those details matter, because the character of Artemis Fowl himself doesn’t matter and I really don’t know why they had to make such a big point about him being smart, it’s not like they use it in the story, because he barely does anything. Yeah, the titular character of the movie doesn’t do anything in story except just existing in the frame.

I know this an adaptation, so maybe the character is just boring even in the books. But no, I know that’s not true because I have some friends who are real fans of the book and really love Artemis Fowl. From what I’ve heard, Artemis is supposed to be this grey character who’s a criminal mastermind and he’s supposed to have this big redemptive arc over the course of the books. It’s as if the writers of the movie didn’t even read the books , they just heard what the books were about – a smart kid, fairies, dwarfs,trolls, etc, and then sort of build a plot around it that they thought would print money. But then the script supervisor came in and told the writers that he was supposed to be a criminal mastermind, so they just randomly add line at the end of the movie where Artemis says, “I’m Artemis Fowl, the criminal mastermind.”They took all the elements from the books and stripped them of anything that makes it interesting, even down to it’s protagonist. Also, I don’t really wanna be too harsh on kid, but the guy (Fardia Shaw) they cast as Artemis Fowl sucked so bad. He was s such an un-charismatic and dull presence, that even in this awful movie, he stood out as wooden.

Now, if we are talking about acting, let’s get to the two biggest names in the cast. Josh Gad plays this giant dwarf character, who also narrates the entire movie from a prison cell. He looks like someone trying to pull off a cheap Hagrid cosplay in comic-con while putting on a Batman. And yes, the whole movie is narrated in a Batman voice, and I honestly don’t get the point of the narration, it’s not like anything happens in the money. Josh Gad is not that bad technically, but his costume, voice and CGI face make it tough for me to say he was good. Also putting on a Batman voice, is Dame Judi Dench who sort of plays the fairy version of M from the Bond movies. She also has her own centaur version of Q in the movie named Foaly, which I know because he’s introduced like this – “Hi there, this is Foaly!”. Between this and Cats, Judi Dench really needs to fire her agent, or maybe she’s just gotten to the point in her career where she doesn’t care anymore, and is just building some bank for her kids.

There are also other characters introduced in the story but none of them matters in the end. There’s a side quest with this fairy who’s father is believed to be a traitor, so she wants to clear his name. She’s like supposed be the best friend that Artemis Fowl makes in this misadventure, and they try to have these friendship moments between them but it all just comes off as so cheesy and cory that you don’t even take it seriously for one second. But Artemis Fowl is supposed have this great relationship with his Butler and his niece, but don’t give two shits about them cause neither does the movie, they just exist in the background somewhere.

This definitely feels like a movie that was botched in the edit room. I mean, I don’t believe there’s a cut of this movie that’s any good, but the editing seems so sloppy and the plot doesn’t really flow from one place to another, which makes me wonder who’s fault is this that this movie tuned out so bad. Everything about this movie is bad, from writing to acting and visual effects, it’s almost as if everyone working on this movie wanted it to fail. Disney surely did, because they didn’t try to do any re-shoots, get any good editors involved or pay any money for post production and good visual effects. Instead they took this opportunity to quietly dump the movie on their own streaming, but I’m not sure what it says about their brand. It feels like Disney is saying Disney Plus is the place where we’re gonna dump all our bad movies and the good ones will be coming in theaters, and I don’t think that’s the look they want. I don’t think this movie is gonna bring any new subscribers to Disney Plus, and in case you are already subscribed, I’d suggest you skip it.

So, did you watch Artemis Fowl (if so, why?) and what did you think of it?

Do let me know in the comments!

Album Review: EARTH – Radiohead Guitarist Ed O’Brien Comes to his own On This Nostalgic Debut.

EARTH; EOB (Ed O’Brien)

Rating – /Must listen if you’re a fan/

Even if you’re not quite familiar with him you’ve definitely seen or heard of Ed O’Brien somewhere – the tall guy who plays on the left of Thom Yorke in every Radiohead concert. For all of the radical reinventions Radiohead have undergone over the past 30-odd years—the shift to experimental electronica, the redrafting of instrumental roles, Thom Yorke’s ponytail—guitarist Ed O’Brien has always remained guitarist Ed O’Brien. Amid the flurry of instrument swapping and machine tweaking that occurs at a typical Radiohead concert, O’Brien is rarely without his six-string and trusty bank of effects pedals, while his backing vocals often provide a crucial melodic underpinning for Yorke’s flights of fancy. Thus, amid the flashy contributions of guitarist Jonny Greenwood and frontman Thom Yorke, it is easy to forget about Ed O’Brien, but it is his consistent contributions that holds the band together.That grounding principle carries over to his first proper solo album. Where Yorke and Jonny Greenwood have used their extracurricular projects to further explore dissonant techno and avant-garde orchestration, O’Brien’s debut as EOB revisits the late-’80s/early-’90s student-disco sounds that gave rise to his main gig. While his bandmates are going on about Flying Lotus and Oliver Messiaen, O’Brien is preaching the life-changing effects of Screamadelia.

It’s taken some time, but O’Brien has finally stepped out from the shadows with the release of his exceptional solo debut, Earth, under the moniker EOB. He’s noted in interviews that he felt he had to release the record, that part of him would “die” if he didn’t. That sense of urgency is felt all over Earth. The opener “Shangri-La,” is a triumphant scorcher sprinkled with percussion as O’Brien acknowledges feelings he didn’t realize he had before finding the song’s titular mystical harmonious place. Never has his voice sounded so prominent — so recognizable — until now.

Much of Earth is laidback and peaceful, centered around the cerebral “Brasil” and “Olympik,” which clock in over eight minutes, tickling the brain with swirling synths and dreamy lines about love and perfection. “A love supreme is all I need,” he sings on the latter. “To be waking up from the deepest sea.” Tucked right behind “Brasil” is the stunning “Deep Days,” an acoustic slow burner that acts like a respite to the lengthy track before it: “Where you go, I will go/where you stay, I will stay,” he pledges. “And when you rise, I will rise/and if you fall, you can fall on me.”

The sparse, fairytale-like “Long Time Coming” is another standout (“A lonely city girl/looks out into her world”), but it’s the album closer, “Cloak on the Night,” that serves as the LP’s gut-wrenching highlight. Joined by Laura Marling, O’Brien carefully lays down each line over twinkling acoustic guitar: “You and me all night long,” they sing in harmony. “You and me in this storm/holding tight.”

Earth is at it’s best when it’s at it’s subtlest – it has that dreamy quality that transports you memories hanging on the brink of nostalgia. To me, nostalgia seems like the main theme of this project, it is what Ed O’Brien is drawing from, even going back to early sound of Radiohead, a sound that the band has mostly disregarded now. There are few tracks in this projects that take a total left swing from the familiar Radiohead sound, but to me those are this album’s weakest points. Like the song “Banksters”, which is good song and I do see myself to occasionally listening to i, but it feels so left out in the whole album that it hurts it in the end.

With Earth, O’Brien becomes the fourth Radiohead member to branch out and release a record of his own, following Yorke, guitarist Jonny Greenwood and drummer Phil Selway. It leaves bassist Colin Greenwood as the only person in the band yet to step out on his own. The success of all these extracurricular releases, including Earth, suggests that when he does, it’ll be worth waiting for.

Fav Tracks: //Shangri-La/ Brasil/ Long Time Coming/ Mass/ Sail On/ Olympik/ Cloak of the Night//

Least Fav Track: /Banksters/

So what did you think of this album, and what is your favorite solo project from a Radiohead member?

Do let me know in the comments!

Album Review: Chromatica – Lady Gaga’s Lukewarm comeback is tamed escapism.

Chromatica; Lady Gaga

Rating – //meh..// (but do listen if you’re a fan)

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

Singer, songwriter, record producer, (and also an actress now) Lady Gaga is back with her sixth full-length studio album, a glittery glossy electronic pop record that has been promised to be this big Comeback of sorts for Gaga. While, the album does feel much more grandeur and elaborate in it’s scope, with loud stretched out dance pop routines and lengthy butt-thumping electro-beats, the end result is just a generic and underwhelming record that just feels like a repackaging of the old stuff.

Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande – Rain On Me

Gaga’s career over the last few years have been a little lackluster. Coming from the pop queen sensation that she became upon her debut, her recent albums have lacked that edge and also the popularity among her fans. The only big hit Gaga has delivered in recent years, is her ‘Star is Born’ soundtrack, a movie which she starred in and earned her multiple Grammy and Oscar nominations, along with her chart topping duet with Bradley Cooper -‘Shallows”. But that was all Ally from the movie singing, it isn’t a Lady Gaga record. So, when Gaga announced this project and with it, her comeback to her glamorous image that she made for herself, fans got excited. And while Lady Gaga sure blasts out all horns here (literally), the result is quite mixed.

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

The album was designed and remixed right till its release with even the corona-virus pandemic affecting the direction of the album somewhat, as Gaga revealed herself. But thematically, this album is so out there and it talk about so many different things that it was hard for me follow, and its not like that the things she’s trying to say are some profound new ideas but rather cliches sold as LSD. “Earth is cancelled. I live on Chromatica,” Lady Gaga told Zane Lowe. OK, cool, but what the hell is Chromatica? According to Gaga, it is neither a fantasy nor fictional planet, but a perspective, an opportunity to re-frame pain into positivity. That said, the imagery of Chromatica is undeniably futuristic. The video for “Stupid Love” begins with a post-apocalyptic prologue: “The world rots in conflict. Many tribes battle for dominance. While the Spiritual ones pray and sleep for peace, the Kindness punks fight for Chromatica.” Again, big ideas and probably something interesting to explore through music, but when the whole theme of the song is explained in an opening exposition, followed by Gaga dancing with her minions in a short bright-pink dress to uninteresting catchy tunes, it’s hard to take the message seriously. As per traditions, there are tons of Gaga-isms sprinkled around in the album. I don’t mind them, I know that they are purposefully cheesy and I do love me some weird Gaga-ism in between songs, but then again it makes it hard for me to take the ‘big theme’ that she’s trying to convey seriously.

Lady Gaga, Blackpink – Sour Candy

Chromatica is an album that takes Gaga back to her fun pop roots of her early work, and while nothing on here is quite a banger like those early albums, her experience and vulnerability gives this albums the extra edge needed. While Gaga has long represented empowerment in pop, she often acknowledges that healing can be an uphill battle, especially when faced with physical or emotional trauma. Several songs on Chromatica seem to address her ongoing struggles with depression and PTSD. “My biggest enemy is me, ever since day one,” she sings, almost robotically, in the chorus of “911.” “Every single day, I dig a grave/Then I sit inside it, wondering if I’ll behave,” she coos on the booming “Replay.” But Gaga loves a triumph-over-hardship narrative, which Chromatica offers on songs like “Rain on Me,” “Plastic Doll,” and “Free Woman.”

Lady Gaga and Blackpink

From a production standpoint, Gaga goes all out on this album – each song has this get-your-ass-on-the-floor beat to it that is very in Gaga’s style. But the production is just way too loud for my taste, with songs that feel like are trying to poke your heart with the bass-thumping choruses. Especially. in the song ‘Stupid Love’ – it was torture to my ears, I recommend you to not listen to that songs with your headphones on. The albums has some big features on it too from her contemporary Ariana Grande, popular South Korean group Blackpink and even Elton John – and for the most part the features are big highlight for this album. I don’t necessarily love the song with Ariana – ‘Rain with Me’ – but the songs with Blackpink and Elton John are two of my favorites here.

Lady Gaga – Chromatica

So, while it might not be the dreamy comeback Lady Gaga promised it is sure an improvement from her last few albums. There are good songs in there with decent beats to bob along, and considering the ties we are living – it is the perfect sugary escapism that you might need right. But if you’re a stan, you’re probably gonna like this album anyway, because it essentially takes Gaga back to her pop origins. But, what I’m more interested to see is, how Lady Gaga evolves from here in the future.

Fav Tracks: //Plastic Doll/ Sour Candy (with Blackpink)/ 911/ Sine from Above (with Elton John)//

Least Fav Track: /Stupid Love/

Album Review: Notes on a Conditional Form – The experimental new record from the 1975 is truly an album for our Generation.

Notes on a Conditional Form; the 1975

Rating – “It’s great” / worth adding to your collection.

Notes on a Conditional Form begins, like all other the 1975 albums, with a track named ‘The 1975′ which samples audio from a Greta Thunberg speech. Greta talks in her melancholic voice about climate change and the human species’ losing battle with nature, as a really sombre piano piece is played in background. She urges people to perform civil disobedience and rebel against any sorts of politics that is keeping us from bringing about a change. But there lies the irony. You see, the 1975 are often criticised in the rock and roll music community for not being “rebellious” or “edgy” enough for an alternative/indie rock band. They are typically known to make clean synthesized ‘white girl’ music for teenagers with Matty Healy’s charming laid back observations of modern relationships. While, I don’t agree with those accusations, if you’re someone who believes them – you’re in for a surprise.

THE 1975 – NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM

Notes on a Conditional Form is not your typical the 1975 album. Like I said earlier, they make it very clear right from the very first track that they are trying to explore something deeper on this And the theme they are trying to explore is our generation’s modern life and struggles. Matty says the reason Greta’s speech was sampled into the album was because they wanted to give her some sort of pop culture relevance for being the voice of our generation’s eco friendly demands. The theme is nothing new The 1975 though, their last album ‘A brief Inquiry into Online Relationships’ dealt with similar themes. In fact ‘Notes on a Conditional Form ‘ is a sequel to that album, in their third release cycle “Music for Cars”. Originally supposed to come only months after the first album, the production of the album got delayed and after a long recording sessions in 16 different studios, the album has has finally arrived more than a year after it’s initial release date. But that long stretched production has given this album a sound you couldn’t have imagined otherwise. This with out a doubt, the most experimental the 1975 has ever been. From hypno rock to elctro-dance pop and even heavy metal, this album is mixture of sounds from variety of genre – all distorted but still connected to form a really meaningful experience. I completed listening to the album and instantly went back again. The album consists of these very ambitious àmbient music that is really exceptional all guided by the 1975’s classic books to lift them up. Also there a a couple of alternative post rock tracks sprinkled in this record, and those were just some of the best listening experiences I have had this year.

the 1975 – Guys – NOTES ON A CONDITIONAL FORM

Matty’s laid back vocals with his observational song writing are still here on this album, but it’s much more introspective here. You can surely break them apart individually and find beautiful meaning in them. Matty said in an interview that the genesis of this album came from a time he watching watching Netflix alone in his room and immediately wanted more episodes as soon as the season ended. While that might not be a good analogy to explain the theme of this album, the theme of isolation runs throughout it. But the band’s secret weapon remains drummer and producer George Daniel, who has grown increasingly adept at matching Healy’s every whim as a songwriter. It’s easy to take for granted by now that, no matter what style the 1975 attempt, it will at least sound great. A slapstick country-emo travelogue? Go for it. A shoegaze snippet with Auto-Tuned ad-libs? Why not. A lush, futuristic Americana story-song? Fetch the pedal steel.

From a production stand point this is their most ambitious and intricate work yet. If the lyrics don’t tell a story, the music is telling an unified story in itself with its strange transition and sudden blows. The music packs a punch, you don’t know what to expect next as the 1975 change from one song to another. Which is ultimately my one gripe with this album, due so many unique sonic directions sometimes it feels lost and unmotivated. The songs don’t flow into each other naturally. But the tracks are finally bound together by a deep sense of isolation, which makes them great individually. For all its sonic experiments, Notes is filled with these quiet, self-affirming moments. If the 1975’s early work felt like pop music compulsively interrupted with provocations and footnotes, then Notes takes an inverse approach: It is a long, messy experiment that just so happens to peak with some of their sharpest songs. Yes, they have expressed some of these thoughts more succinctly in the past; and yes, the tracklist could be condensed so that you don’t have to clear your schedule to get through it. But when everything clicks, their work has never sounded so patient, so personal. And in the last song of album ‘Guys’, where it Matty sings about their early days and friendship among the band mates, all the societal and personal themes come together to form one beautiful mess.

In all of it’s experimentation and observational lyricism, Notes on a Conditional Form is truly an album for our Generation- with all the perils of of our times. In the song –  “If You’re Too Shy (Let Me Know),” a late-album highlight and their highest-charting single to date in the UK. Evolving from a slow-building intro into a mechanical chug, it is the record’s closest thing to a typical 1975 song—a glittery ’80s arrangement, a ridiculous saxophone solo, a charmingly sleazy hook. Matty sings about his obsession with the cam girl of his dreams – how he’s drawn towards the laptop every time and seduced into the screen by a girl he can’t meet. “I need to get back, I gotta see the girl on screen” Matty sings with bravado, and you’re left wondering if this is what the meaning of love and connection has come to in our digital age.

Fav Tracks – //The 1975/People/Frail State of Mind/Jesus Christ 2005 God Bless America/ Straming/ Roadkill/ The End (Music for Cars)/ If you’re too shy (let me know)/ Having no Head/Me and you together songs/ I think there’s something you should know/ Don’t Worry/ Guys//

Least Fav Track – Shiny Collarbone

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jason Sheldon/Shutterstock (10567289o) The 1975 – Matty Healy The 1975 in concert at the Arena Birmingham, Birmingham, UK – 25 Feb 2020

You can listen to Notes on a Conditional Form by the 1975 here – https://open.spotify.com/album/0o5xjCboti8vXhdoUG9LYi?si=crfp7HfXSG2iCRoJ6ZuhFA

Album Review: Fetch the Bolt Cutters – Fiona Apple’s fifth record is bonkers and deliriously beautiful.

FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS – FIONA APPLE (Alternative/Indie)

Rating – “It’s great” / worth adding to your collection.

According to recent “New Yorker” article, “Fetch the Bolt Cutters” is a reference to a scene in “The Fall,” the British police procedural starring Gillian Anderson as a sex-crimes investigator; Anderson’s character calls out the phrase after finding a locked door to a room where a girl has been tortured. This theme of crimes against women, men in power and femininity appears throughout the whole album. Like all of Apple’s projects, this one was taking a long while to emerge, arriving through a slow-drip process of creative self-interrogation that has produced, over a quarter century, a narrow but deep songbook. But that time surely helped Fiona in the direction of the album, since in between all those years she kept quiet, big movements like The #Metoo Movement has shaped the entertainment industry.

Fiona Apple has been in the business for 25 years now, but this is only her fifth full length album. And while she has always worked under a male producer in her early career, this is her first album that she has produced herself and she has made to let it all loose. Musically, this is easily the craziest and most bonkers production on an album I have heard this year. And unless you can find another song from this year that features a dog’s bones as percussion, I’ll have to say that my claim is right. It has some of the most innovative sonic directions on a recent EP, even considering Fiona’s standards. For example the title track – Fetch the Bolt Cutters – features a dog’s barking noise as bass and Fiona’s orgasmic noises in the outro, Also on the opening track – I Want You to Love Me – the singer hiccups in ecstasy, facing off against an arpeggiating piano as though competing to climax first. And the piano in here is a masterpiece in itself, but that’s obvious, given Fiona’s reputation as pianist.

Lyrically too, Fiona is taking a lot of shots in this album. Just like the Strokes album from last week (another artist making a comeback this year), there’s a lot of looking back in this albums. Fiona looks back at her childhood in New York, growing up as a musical prodigy and getting fame at an early age of 17 in the uneasy times of 90’s. Men in power who who use women for their benefits and sexual predators are definitely are the first target of Fiona. And even though the music behind the song is overblown, Fiona doesn’t compensate on the lyrics, the songs here are very wordy, even more than they’ve ever been. What set’s the lyrics in this project apart, is that even though it’s dealing with such heavy subjects – they are funny as hell. But that’s not all in here, Fiona talks about past relationships, bad boyfriends, her younger self and even takes shots at high society culture. In fact major her own mind and trying to figure herself out by glancing at the past is one of the major themes. “I would beg to disagree, but begging disagrees with me,” she swaggers on Under the Table, a wickedly funny song about how she is a nightmare date at pompous dinner parties. (“Kick me under the table all you want.”)

Fav Tracks – I Want You to Love Me/ Shameika/ Fetch the Bolt Cutters/ Under The Table/ Newspaper/ Ladies/ Drumset/ On I go/ Cosmonauts/ Rack of life/

Least Fav Track – Heavy Baloon

In conclusion, all I want to say is this it is a really good album that doesn’t fear to take any risks and even if you are not into R&B or indie music, you should definitely give this album a listen. I mean it’s not like you have much else to do right now. Trust me, give it a try and maybe you will be able to appreciate all it’s weirdness too.

And meanwhile, do let me know what you thought about the album in the comments!

Album Review: The New Abnormal by The Strokes

**Before I begin, since this is my first review on the blog I think I should explain my rating system here. I don’t want to use the usual star or number rating system as I’m unable to put my verdict of something I consume in numerical terms. Instead, I’ll try to rate them in terms of what I feel of them. So here’s the rating metric I’m going to use, from best to worst :

  1. Instant / Classic
  2. “It’s great” / worth adding to your collection.
  3. Must listen/ see/ read if you’re a fan.
  4. //stream it once it’s free//
  5. //meh..//
  6. //fun for the high time//
  7. //skip it.//
  8. Horrendous. Piece. Of. Shit.

So i guess we’re good to go.**

THE NEW ABNORMAL – THE STROKES

Rating – “It’s great” /worth adding to your collection.

Okay, I should tell you that this is my first Strokes album. I was born in 2001, so I missed out on the early 2000s hype surrounding them. And their work since then has really been sub-par, with a really uneventful 2010s for them. But I know about them and I understand why they’re so beloved by so many. I have listened to their earlier music and I love it. So, when I heard “At the Door”, their latest single from their new album, I was super hyped. I was about to witness my first Strokes album.

And honestly I’m not disappointed. After seven years of hiatus have finally come back with an album which is possibly their best since their 2006 album “First impressions of the truth.” And what better, they have matured a lot since then, which is very evident on this project. The Strokes are known to look back at earlier periods like the eighties and pay homage to them, and while they still do that in this album, they are also looking back at something more. They are reminiscing at their early times as a band, New York from when they were young and past friendships and relationships among others. This nostalgia drives the sound of this album. The guitar riffs and over the top synths are very 80’s in here, which is very classic of the Strokes, yet they add to that sound in here. They beautifully nudge between poppy dance rock and ambient rock ballads, supported by the high pitched falsetto of Julian Casablancas and his extraordinary vocal abilities.

Lyrically too, The Strokes have matured a lot. Their ideas are more clear and easy to digest in this album. The lyrics are simple and dark, and while it might seem pretentious at some points, Julian’s delivery makes them work. The themes of the album are petty universal, so almost anybody will be able to connect to the lyrics. Also, the writing here is really witty and smart which adds to the fun of the songs. While there’s no storyline per se in the album, the overall themes connect beautifully. Each track has it’s own thing to say and they all together complete the story that the Strokes are trying to paint here. For example the opening track “The Adults are Talking” is shot at people in power or rich businessmen, followed by “Selfless” which is a rock ballad where Julian sings about an old romance, while the album ends on “An ode to the Mets” where The strokes talk about their childhood memories and give a tribute to their city – New York.

Fav Tracks: At the Door, Ode to the Mets, Bad decisions, Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus, Selfless, The Adults are Talking, Not The same anymore.

Least Fav Tracks: Why Are Sunday’s so Depressing

Overall, I loved this album. While it might not be a classic like The Stroke’s debut album “Is this It”, “The New Abnormal” is the best work they have put out in recent memory. It is great album and if you love the Strokes, you should definitely buy it and add it to your collection.

So that’s it for this, I’ll be back with another review shortly. Do let me know what you thought about the album in the comment below!