Monday, July 3, 2017

Blues Brothers for the New Millenium

I went to film school during the height of the indie film movement in the 90s, so you'd think my favorite movie would be something classy or artistic. Like something from Kurosawa, Herzog, or Paul Thomas Anderson. You would be wrong.

My favorite movie of all time is The Blues Brothers, a silly comedic musical spun off from a Saturday Night Live sketch. The one-liners! The car chases! The music! Dude, the MUSIC!

I've seen a lot of musicals, and even the best of them seldom seamlessly combine the music and the rest of the story. Blues Brothers was the first movie I can remember where music felt like a part of the story as a whole. It bounced along to its classic blues and R&B soundtrack. It's like the movie WAS music.

I bring that up because I just saw Baby Driver and it was chock full of that same feeling. Baby Driver pulses, almost breathes, to the rhythm of its soundtrack. It's not just the music that's playing as protagonist Baby (Ansel Elgort) spins the wheel of his getaway car, it's part of his thought process.

Baby Driver introduces us to its title character (Elgort) as he's closing in on paying off a debt he owes to his boss, Doc (Kevin Spacey). He also meet Debra (Lily James) and is quickly smitten. Baby and Lily plan to get away from their lives and start new, but when you're good at crime, it's not so easy to get away from it. Drawn back into Doc's gang for once again, Baby plans to get free from Doc and his gang for good.

There's no denying Baby Driver is an Edgar Wright flick. He's subdued his usual kinetic camera style, although he still has some amazing shots. Wright is also the king of fantastic scene transitions. His mastery of editing stands out even more amidst incompetently hacked-together shit like Suicide Squad and Tom Cruise Mummy movie.

Wright fuses his camera moves to the music on the soundtrack, and it works so well the camera almost looks like it's dancing. His car chase scenes move and have an energetic feel without suffering from an overabundance of shaky camera and Michael Bay-like chaos. You always understand what's going on and who's involved.

And the writing is stellar. The dialogue is far more catchy and witty than the way everyday people talk, buy it doesn't cross the line of being full-on cheese. Each character has a unique voice and that helps boost the performances even higher. Elgort and James have a palpable chemistry. Spacey, Jon Hamm and Eiza Gonzalez are great in their roles.

But it's Jamie Foxx who steals the show. He's menacing, hateful and hilarious. I haven't dug a Foxx performance this much since he was Motherfucker Jones in the first Horrible Bosses flick. And his comeuppance scene is the best, most-satisfying comeuppance scene in recent movie-dom.

I LOVED this fuckin' movie. It's my favorite movie of the year so far. That includes stuff like Logan and Wonder Woman. It was the perfect fusion of art and violence, speed and wit, writing and action. It made me laugh, dropped my jaw to the floor and tugged at my heartstrings. I sincerely doubt I'll see anything I like better the rest of the year.

Now, time to crank up the tunes and go for a drive! PEACE!!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Now THIS Is How You End Something!

Let's get the big thing out of the way right off the bat. Logan, the final movie starring Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, is good. Really good. Really, really fucking good. I'd go so far as to say it's the best X-flick to date. Yes, that includes Deadpool. You're fucking A right I said it.

Logan finds its titular protagonist close to the bottom of the barrel. The X-Men are long gone, and Logan's sole purpose is serving as a caretaker for the rapidly deteriorating Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart, of course). Which is ironic, since Logan's badly deteriorating himself, sick, tortured and trying in vain to drink away his pain.

Logan's relative equilibrium is shattered when a young girl named Laura (Dafne Keen) enters his life. Logan takes Laura and Prof. X on the run from a band of well-armed assholes with bad intentions. The goal is to reach a safe place where Laura doesn't have to live in fear. The pursuit is filled with bloody action set pieces and a lot of Logan struggling against his fate and what's left of his better nature.

I won't lie. Logan was hard to watch. Not only do you kinda know where things are headed from the first frame, but it straight-up SUCKS seeing Logan and Xavier as shells of their former selves. The dread builds as Logan progresses toward his fate and all you can do is watch and hope.

And yet that also leads us to the best thing about Logan: It has genuine emotional weight. It affected my emotional state in a way no other superhero movie ever has. It addresses issues like losing your capabilities as you age and what happens when you're broken and you have no clue how to put yourself back together. That's heavy shit that I deal with every day and can totally relate to. And because it has genuine emotional heft, Logan satisfies in a way no other comic book movie can.

That said, Logan isn't the most fun movie to watch. I mean, it's pretty fun watching motherfuckers getting shredded like cheese. But it's not a cool action-filled romp like most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe flicks. It's not a symphony of dick jokes and superhero movie deconstruction, like Deadpool. But, while I've enjoyed all those movies, they haven't had me examining my own life the way Logan did. I wasn't expecting that heading into it, but I really think I needed that.

I'm not gonna break down the writing or the directing, both of which are more than good enough to get the job done. I will say that both Stewart and especially Jackman give two of the best performances I've ever seen them give. I hope they somehow get recognized for their work in Logan. It's exceedingly powerful stuff.

I was a teary-eyed mess by the time Logan ended. Admittedly, part of that came from knowing I don't get to see Jackman and Stewart playing Wolvie and Prof. X anymore. But Logan is a powerful, emotive story that might make you think if you're not careful. I can't recommend this movie enough. If you have any interest in seeing Logan, get your asses to the theater as soon as humanly possible.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Expectations Are Too High?!

It's snowing like a motherfucker right now. Enough to make a wampa die from fright. And yet, I needed dinner, so I tromped out to my car and headed to Wal-Mart. Because, in my neck of the woods, Wal-Mart is virtually the only place to get what I needed. And I also wanted to see what movies were new on Blu-Ray (Nothing too interesting except for Arrival).

Whilst I was perusing the frozen foods, I ran into someone I knew years ago and haven't seen since Batman was still a Tim Burton flick. I was confident that with my beard and my hair all long and shit, this dude wouldn't recognize me, but I was dead wrong. I should've worn my Stormtrooper helmet. Of course, that may have given me away even faster.

The dude approached, and after I got over the shock that I'd been recognized, we exchanged pleasantries. His next question: "Don't you love it when our wives send us out in this kind of weather?" I laughed it off and explained that I was still single, and for all intents and purposes, retired from the dating racket.

What followed was a sermon about why I shouldn't give up. It was filled with the usual cliches like "It'll happen when you're not looking for it" and "It's not about finding the right person, it's about being the right person". I hate this shit and I'm pretty convinced that couple-ized folk say crap like this just so they feel good about themselves.

Anyway, I shot down his points one by one until he got to one that made me mad enough to beat him to death with a stack of frozen pizzas. "Maybe you want too much. Maybe your expectations are too high", the guy says. MOTHERFUCKER. I was so pissed I had to cut him off and leave before I went nuclear.

"Maybe you want too much. Maybe your expectations are too high." That must be it. You know me so well, despite the fact that stars have formed and burned out in the time since we last saw each other. Wait, no. All you know about me is Jack and Shit, and Jack left town. (Any Army of Darkness fans reading?) Allow to enlighten you a little bit...

  1. I expect to be alone for forever. FOOOOOOOOOREEEEEEEEVEEEEEERRRRR, like Squints would say. I wouldn't think your expectations could get any lower than that.
  2. You don't know what I want. Hell, I don't think even my closest friends know what exactly I'm looking for, and I've talked about dating with them a fuck ton more than I've talked to you about it. If they don't know, why the fuck would you?!
  3. I'm 98% sure this would've ended with him offering to set me up had I let it run on. Yeah. I've met women through friends and other people, and I've decided that they're even worse at picking dates for me than I am. I'm pretty sure that couple-ized folks just see two single people who are lonely and they think "He's alone and sad and she's alone and sad. They should be together." They don't put much more thought into it than that. And that's a recipe for failure.
  4. I hate being lonely, more than anything there is. More than the the DCEU. More than Donald "Orange-Face Whinypants" Trump. More than the motherfucking New England Patriots. (I'm a Dolphins fan. what did you expect?) Well, almost anything. The one thing that's worse than loneliness: being stuck in a relationship with the wrong person. I've been through that, and it's the most hatefully soul-crushing thing I've ever experienced. That includes my brother being murdered. I can NEVER put myself through that again. I won't.
  5. Therefore, I'm lonely by choice. And since I only seen to attract women I'm not interested in, I see no use in trying to date. If you only attract the wrong person, what's the use? 
As for what I'm looking for, I could give you a big, long fucking laundry list of qualities and personality traits I find attractive: smart, funny, creative, beautiful (at least, I need to find her beautiful), and so on. But even that wouldn't really encapsulate it all that well. In the end, I'm really looking for two things:
  • The first thing is I need to feel a pull, a compulsion that drives me to want to want to get to know her better. Something that fascinates me about her. Call that infatuation if you want, if I don't feel a pull toward a person, there's no chance I'll remain interested. I get bored with people really fast.
  • The second thing is something I've only ever encountered twice, but now that I know this exists, I'll be damned if I'm ever gonna get into a relationship if I don't feel that. I'm not sure what exactly you call it, so I'll try to explain it. It's that feeling that when I'm with someone, no matter where we are, regardless how many other people are around, she's the only person there with me. It's like when I'm with her, everybody around us just disappears. She and I are the only two people in the universe. I love that feeling. I need that feeling.
The problem is that I don't attract women who make me feel like this. I tend to attract women who aren't smart or funny or anything else that might spark my interest. Nobody who makes me feel that pull. Same with the ladies people set me up with. I either get women who feel like they can mold me into something I'm not (and don't want to be) or women who bore me to tears. And, at the risk of sounding like a narcissist, I deserve more. I deserve someone who captures my imagination and fills every one of my needs. We all do. And I guess I'm not afraid of loneliness enough to settle. That's about all there is to it.

Anyway, now that I've nattered on way too goddamned long, I'mma close this up. To the guy at Wal-Mart: Thanks for the fucking sucky-ass advice. I promise it won't stir me to action. And if wanting to be with someone I feel compelled to spend time with and who makes every other woman in the world (figuratively) disappear is too much, I guess I'm up Shit Creek in a leaky toboggan. But then again, loneliness is really all I expect.

Monday, January 16, 2017

La La Land: A Movie for People who Love Movies

(Haven't blogged in a long ass time. Hope this is like riding a bike.)

I'm about to saying something incredibly pretentious and douchey, but bare with me, cuz it needs to be said. I apologize about this ahead of time. Now let's roll.

There are two kinds of movie fans: those who love movies and those who love THE movies. Folks in the first camp enjoy the spectacle of superhero daring do, melodramatic love stories or fiery action shootouts. They love the escapism and the storytelling Far less common are those who love everything about the movies: their history, the personalities behind them and the technical processes that allow movies to be put together. It's to this second group of people that I say: Get your asses to see La La Land as soon as humanly possible.

La La Land is a throwback to the musicals produced during the 1950s. It's romantic, colorful and just a wee bit campy. It features complex song-and-dance numbers captured in sweeping long takes. The way the camera moves makes it another character in the movie.

The story is pretty simple: Sebastian (Ryan Gosling) keeps crossing paths with Mia (Emma Stone), and before too long, romance blossoms between the two of them. They chase their dreams, life takes its twists and turns and we get carried along for the ride.

Gosling and Stone are fun to watch together, and they play appealing characters that would probably be fun to hang out with and talk to. You can't help but pull for Sebastian and Mia.Gosling and Stone acquit themselves pretty well in their singing and dancing, and Gosling actually plays the hell out of the piano. I could watch these characters all day long.

Director Damien Chazelle captures the story in sweep camera moves and brightly-colored compositions and his script drips with love of music and love for his characters. What Mia and  Sebastian want and why they do what they do completely makes sense. The dialogue is witty, wry and provokes easy laughter. There's a scene where Sebastian plays in a cover band that made my side ache from laughing. And I was happy about it, too.

My favorite thing about La La Land is the way it played my emotions. I laughed. I smiled. I swooned, cuz Stone has the biggest, bluest eyes ever. And that Ryan Gosling... he's a dreamy dreamboat, too. I don't want to spoiler everything, so consider this a spoiler warning: but La La Land has my favorite kind of end. It's not overly happy, but it is bittersweet and hopeful.

So much of what I loved about La La Land came out of my love of movies. The way this flick hearkens back to musicals past, like Singing in the Rain. The virtuoso long takes, and paying special attention to the shots to see where Chazelle could have hidden cuts. The bright color palette that sticks out like sore thumb next to the cool monochromatic color schemes of today's big budget tentpole flicks. If stuff like this gets you excited, you'd probably love La La Land, too.

You don't have to be super into film history or movie making techniques to get something out of La La Land. You can enjoy the music and the love story. You can enjoy watching Stone and Gosling bounce off one another. You can chuckle along and be completely content. But if you love the history and the whys and hows of film making, you owe it to yourself to see this movie ASAP!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Guns n' Bullshit

I have to get this off my chest, and because I think people on both sides of this issue are a bunch of buffoons, I don't really care if I piss anyone off. If I do offend you, please feel free to unfriend me. (Also, I use a lot of bad words in this rant. You've been warned.)


Guns are waaaaaaaaaaay too easy to get in this country. And the fact is that there are some people who shouldn't have access to firearms. Like myself, for example. I have serious depression and anxiety issues, and I should not be allowed to own a gun. I mean, I would never willfully purchase a firearm in the first place, but because I'm so fucked in the head, I probably shouldn't have one.

That said, because guns are regulated so loosely, it would be easier for me to get an assault rifle than it is for me to squeeze into my pants in the morning. Now, suppose I get a gun, have a really bad day, fucking snap, and go shoot up a school, or a mall, or a fucking Burger King. How do you react?

I can hazard a guess. The fucking gun control advocates will start demanding that all guns everywhere be confiscated so that innocent people will stop dying. The fucking gun rights douche bags will start spouting bullshit rhetoric like "guns don't decide to kill people" or "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun". Wayne LaPierre would probably fly in to give a speech involving prying his gun outta his cold, dead hand, probably just so he could keep receiving kickbacks from weapons manufacturers. And the real fucking problem would get lost in a fog.

Easy access to guns is at least part of the reason Orlando happened. That Mateen cock bag who shot up Pulse did so with a gun he legally purchased a week before his shooting spree. He got a gun in spite of the fact that he had been questioned by the FBI multiple fucking times about his ties to radical Islam. That isn't on ISIS. That shit's on us.

I don't see why it's such a fucking travesty to make guns harder to get. Make people who want a gun take safety training. Make em take a psych evaluation. Make it so it takes weeks to get a gun. It would definitely be an inconvenience for responsible gun owners wanting to purchase a new weapon. But it’s a lot more inconvenient being dead.

This makes a lot of sense to me, but I’m like 99.9% certain that nothing will change. The ignorance and stupidity of people on both sides of the issue is fucking staggering. Just getting a few realization into these people’s tiny little brains would be a great first step.

First off, gun control people need to take a lesson from history. Alcohol was prohibited, but that didn’t work out too well. And penalizing millions of responsible gun owners for the actions of a few just creates more issues. (I don't see having to wait to pass a psych test to be a penalty. Just delayed gratification.)

And the gun rights ass hats have to get it through their thick-ass redneck skulls that their personal rights to firearms in fact DO NOT trump the rights of others to, you know, not get shot. They also need to realize that when the Constitution was written, there was no way the Founding Fathers could have fathomed the destructive power that some of today’s firearms possessed. Maybe the 2nd Amendment is a little out of date.

Mostly, though, I just want to see people on both sides pull their heads out of their asses and sit down together for a thoughtful, respectful discussion on how we fix the gun violence problem in America. The old “good guy with a gun stops bad guy with a gun” logic is flawed. By the time the bad guy has his guns, it’s way too fucking late. We need to find a way to either get to the bad guys before they get guns or keep them from getting guns at all.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

May The Ghost of Harold Ramis Grant A You Slow, Painful Death

Ok Rant time. (Bad words will follow. Read at your own risk.)
The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that, unless my editor puts a gun to my head and demands that I review it, I'll be skipping the Ghostbusters remake.
Yeah, I know. My refusal to see this movie means that I'm a misogynist asshole who can't stand the thought of four women replacing the males leads in a movie that's meant to replace a movie I've loved since I was a kid. I know. I'm just another angry, spoiled, overly-opinionated white man. You fuckers at Sony keep telling yourselves that.
Truth is, I might be a misogynist. That would explain why I'm still single. But I don't really have a problem with re-doing Ghostbusters with four female leads as long as it's done right. I truly believe cinema is in dire need of more strong female characters. Hollywood needs more woman directors and writers telling good female-centric stories. I had movie role models like Han Solo (R.I.P.) and Alex Rogan from The Last Starfighter growing up. I don't understand why girls can't have the same type of strong characters to look up to.
What I have a problem with and what Hollywood doesn't need is an ill-conceived, poorly-executed remake that would be shitty no matter what gender the leads are. That shit needs to stop.

But what I have a problem with most is how GB 2016's director Paul Feig, studio big wig Amy Pascale, and the rest of the Sony douche crew have treated the original movie and its creators. It's clear Feig is clueless what made the original movie so great, since he's letting his actors play stupid stereotypes instead of actually acting. I mean, when the fuck is Melissa McCarthy gonna learn how to play any characters other than herself. That shit is old.
And Leslie Jones gets stuck with the "street-smart black person" cliche. How the hell can Feig go around calling others misogynist assholes when he won't even let the black woman in his movie be a scientist? How is that not a racial stereotype, Feig? It turns out you're as big an asshole as the rest of us.
Feig is oblivious to what made Ghostbusters a great movie because he's obsessed with watching the ladies develop ghostbusting tech (snore...) and he apparently thinks all the ghost in the movie need to look like rejected Scooby-Doo villains.
And Pascale obviously doesn't respect or give a shit about the original film, or she wouldn't have shit on Ivan Reitman as hard as she has. Reitman, who directed the original two films, was effectively frozen out of the new film to the point that his producer credit is essentially marquee only. If she cared about Ghostbusters as anything other than a financial asset, she wouldn't have turned it over to Feig after she heard his lame-ass pitch. If she respected Ghostbusters, she wouldn't ever have considered suing Bill Murray to squeeze a cameo out of him.

What the fuck, Amy? You don't get to threaten Bill Fucking Murray with litigation because you can't figure out any other way to sell your piece of shit movie. And you know it's shit, or you would be treating Bill Fucking Murray like an indentured servant. You know if you can't lure crowds with cameos from the original cast, your movie is gonna flop harder than Reggie Miller versus the Knicks. You know you're fucked. Proper fucked.
Wait. What if Harold Ramis died as a "fuck you" to Pascale...
So, that's it. I don't want to see Ghostbusters 2016 because I don't want to support assholes that would treat the creators of an absolute classic like feces-filled diapers. Fuck you, Paul Feig. Fuck you, Amy Pascale. Fuck you, Sony. You can call me a misogynist. You can call me a whiny, hate-filled white man. Considering the tirades Feig has been on since the first Ghostbusters trailer came out, your insults mean almost nothing. Feig is every bit as much of a whiny, hate-filled white man as I am. 
And one last thought: If you want to avoid this kind of backlash that comes when fans of a property feel you're disrespecting something they love like a member of their own family, maybe you should look at hiring people who actually have some fucking love for the source material. It's a thought...

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Lightning Round Record Reviews, vol. 1

So, I've picked up quite a bit of new music lately. I'm so far behind that I decided to do a round of quick-hitter reviews to catch up. I hope to do more long-form reviews down the line. Each of these records deserves that treatment. And I may do more Lightning Rounds as I pick up new records. Not just brand new records, just new to me. We'll see how this goes...

Baroness - Purple

I tried Baroness out a few years ago when they had just release their Red record and just couldn't get into it. Boy was I a fucking dummy. Baroness is arguably the best stoner throwback metal/prog rock bands going right now. Purple proves that point.

Purple is a portent mix of passion and energy, guts and talent, texture and brute power. From bludgeoning riff rockers like "Morningstar" and "Chlorine and Wine" to poppier numbers like "Shock Me", Baroness pours every ounce of energy and passion they have into their songs. And the closer, "If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)" is just majestic. For inspired music that fills your ears with a terrifically varied soundscape and that burrows into your bones, you'd be hard=pressed to do better. 


BEST SONGS: "Morningstar", "Shock Me", "If I Have to Wake Up (Would You Stop the Rain)"

Megadeth - Dystopia

I wasn't keen about the prospects of a new Megadeth platter after the last one, Super Collider. Perhaps that's because Super Collider was a steaming heap of pig shit. Then half the band walked away and formed the pretty damn awesome Act of Defiance. But Dave Mustaine shrugged off those losses and recruited a new drummer (Chris Adler) and lead axeman (Kiko Loureiro). The resulting record, Dystopia, is a giant bounce back from Pooper- I mean Super Collider.

Dystopia finds Mustaine still piss off about war and politics, but his voice isn't as strong or menacing as it once was and his lyrics are more infantile than they should be. Dystopia is saved by the performances. Mustaine still has it as a guitarist, meaning an avalanche of killer riffing. Loureiro shreds with fury and grace, and he pushes Mustaines solos to new heights. Adler is the best drummer Megadeth has had since Nick Menza, and maybe ever. And bassist David Ellefson is the secret weapon, holding down the bottom end with skill and tasty bass licks. 


BEST SONGS: "The Threat is Real", "Fatal Illusion", "Conquer or Die" 

Anthrax - For All Kings

Who thought Anthrax was still capable of being this good? 

So, Anthrax's last record wasn't horrible, but it got way to close to Halestorm and Nickleback-style FM radio rock at time for comfort. And this is Antrax we're talking about. They're on of the Big fucking Four thrash bands. Not some pussy-ass modern rock outfit. Thankfully, the band pulls out of that nose dive and gives as For All Kings.

For All Kings finds Anthrax switching out lead guitarists, bringing in Shadows Fall axeman Jon Donais. Donais gives the band a firm kick in the ass, help sharpen the edges of the band's sound and bringing much-needed energy. The foundation of this band is still the trio of riffer Scott Ian, bassist Frank Bello, and drummer Charlie Benante, and they mare sure the song sound like Anthrax, but Donais makes them a leaner, meaner band. And singer Joe Belladonna hasn't sounded this good in years.

I may sound a little crazy for saying this, but For All Kings not only smokes anything Anthrax has done since Persistence of Time, but it also smokes anything any of the other members of the Big Four have put out since the early 1990s. Believe it.


BEST SONGS: "You Gotta Believe", "Breathing Lightning", "Evil Twin", "Defend/Avenge"

Killswitch Engage - Incarnate

Jesse Leach's second record since returning to Killswitch is a moody, varied affair. It's pretty clear that Leach is a lot more comfortable with his bandmates than he was on Disarm the Descent, and he owns this whole record. From his passionate delivery on "Alone I Stand" to his more melodic moments like "Until the Day", Leach is magnificent. 

Leach's bandmates don't let him down. Adam D and Joel Stroetzel crank the riff machine up to 13 and dish out tasty fury like like McDonald's slings shitty burgers. Meanwhile, Mike D and Justin Foley keep the bottom end rumbly and tight. The bottom line is this: As Daylight Dies is my favorite Killswitch record and always will be. But Incarnate isn't far behind.


BEST SONGS: "Hate by Design", "Strength of the Mind", "Until the Day", "Ascension"

Babymetal - Metal Resistance

Metal Resistance is a more mature record than its predecessor. Producer Kobametal and the songwriters have taken a big swing at being taken more seriously as a metal band. As a result, the band freewheels through more metal styles than before, and there's less youthful exuberance in the music. But that's okay.  Bands that don't grow musically become boring. Fast.

And while Metal Resistance may not be the sugar rush that the last record was, there's still plenty to enjoy. From the hard-grooving "Karate" to the rampaging "GJ!", Babymetal keeps things interesting. This is one record that never gets boring. I could do without the power ballads, and all the EDM flourishes seem out of place on an album that wants to be taken seriously by the metal community. Still, this is a fun listen and I'm already looking forward to where Babymetal's gonna go next.


BEST SONGS: "Karate", "Mata Taro", "GJ!"

Amon Amarth - Jomsviking

Amon Amarth's past couple records, while far from bad, have felt a little too samey and safe. This is one of the best fucking bands on the planet, and you expect them to be nothing less than stellar. Thankfully, the band decided to tell a narrative story on their latest record, and they find what's been missing on recent records.

Jomsviking tells a tale of unrequited love, but there's still plenty of the bad ass lyrical imagery and references to Norse mythology that makes Amon Amarth Amon Amarth. Soncially, the band has slowed things down a tad to facilitate the story telling, but they've lost none of their brutality. And when the break into a gallop, it's devastating. Then there's "A Dream That Cannont Be", which features vocals from the legendary Doro Pesch. In a word, magnificent! Amon Amarth takes a chance by giving us a concept album, but, goddammit, they hit it out of the park.


BEST SONGS: "Wanderer", "On a Sea of Blood", "At Dawn's First Light", "The Way of Vikings", "A Dream that Cannot Be"

Weezer - The White Album

Weezer was nearly dead, at least as far as most fans were concerned, when something strange happened. They released Everything Will Be Alright in the End and, suddenly, they had new life. They were still capable of producing some pretty awesome rock music. Their latest record, The White Album, continues their comeback with a platter full of sunny, fun power pop tunes.

Despite its title, The White Album has a lot more to do with the Beach Boys than the Beatles. Weezer set out to create a collection of cheery, breezy songs about summer fun, and for the most part, they succeeded. Songs like "Wind in our Sail" and "(Girl We Got a) Good Thing" are insanely catchy songs that just begged to be sung along with. It's not a perfect record. The moody "Do You Wanna Get High" seems out of place among the rest of the happy pop rockers on this record, and I can't stand "Thank God for Girls". Still, with choruses like "Summer Elaine and Drunk Dory", The White Album is infectious fun that begs to be the soundtrack to your summer road trip.


BEST SONGS: "Wind in our Sail", (Girl We Got a) Good Thing", "King of the World", "Endless Bummer"