Thursday, September 30, 2021

This dude on Amazon's LuLaRich

(Amazon, 2021) Lots of really great people in this documentary (in addition to the expectedly riveting Televangelist power couple-esque super villains). Many of the talking heads are extra good because they have been on camera triumphantly hawking hideous leggings on Facebook Live for years, learning how to sell like hell. But this dude, a non-on camera data entry/call center dude outraged by the company's chicanery, is the 2021 documentary MVP. Just watch it. And don't get seduced by a Pyramid scheme, please. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Eric Bibb "Dear America"


(Provogue, 2021) Dignified, sincere protest blues lamenting racism in the now, the 90s, the 50s...and all the other times. Somehow this seems pretty hopeful and lovely despite the empirical evidence it presents. Maybe because he knows as long as a veteran bluesman can execute a totally groovy-assed train song there is hope.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Lays bad chip ideas 2021


(Frito-Lay, 2021) At first I (briefly) thought Cheetos, Funyons, and to a lesser extent, Doritos flavored potato chips were several dreams come true, but then I just got mad. Lays is supposed to be using advanced food science to make a chip that tries (and ultimately, yet nobly, fails) to suggest the flavor profiles, narrative, and spirit of complex regional entrees...maybe even simulating a whole meal Willy Wonka magic blueberry gum-style! This is just taking the dust from other chip-like snacks that they had lay-ing around and shaking it on their potato chips. What's next? A barbecue potato chip flavored salt and vinegar potato chip? A Pringles flavored Lay's chip? A potato chip bag flavored potato chip? La(y)me!*

*That is supposed to be "lame" merged with Lay's, not an incite to "lay me," which this potato chip company is certainly not welcome to do. Until they can create a convincing Jim Shoo chip.

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Beach Boys “Feel Flows”

(CAPITOL / UMe, 2021)

Yes indeed, it goes without saying that B. Wilson and his familial band full of brothers, cousins and friends have enjoyed a career quite unlike any other across the cuckoo annals of show business. 

Scoring a local hit in 1961 straight off the mark with their very first little indie single, then soon after placing a sophomore release into no less than the hallowed Billboard Hot 100 – and all at a time when the majority of the guys still had to be home in time to attend class the next morning – The Beach Boys, it could be argued, really started their marathon run at the very tip-top, suicidally crash-dove towards oblivion a few short years later, and only then slowly but surely began their struggle back up the ladder of ever-lasting fame, fortune and, ultimately, all-American star-spangled glory.  

Which just all goes to show, I suppose, that blood surely runs thicker than any critic’s ink, what gets around (from town to town) comes around and that, most obviously, Brian Wilson near single-in-handedly created a body of work which can surely withstand the most brutal scourges of both time and fashion. 

That’s why it’s sometimes hard to fathom today that there was indeed a hole, roughly between 1966 and 1974, down which The Beach Boys truly hit rock ‘n’ roll bottom and were forced to really, really hustle their sunkist butts to keep everyone’s musical and financial heads above water. Bleak, sorrowful years when this once Beatle-caliber combo were reduced to hauling their act out on the road and into midwestern VFW halls alongside that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. A pitiful period when their latest brave creations were routinely being scorned in favor of those from The Archies and even Grand Funk Railroad. 

This was, in fact, a most harrowing era when, as no less a numbers man as Bruce Johnston Himself continues to recall, America’s Band could scarcely draw two hundred paying patrons to a series of gala performances within the very heart of New York City.  

In a word then? Yikes!

Of course any other band with half its wits intact would’ve called it quits right about then – or at least ditched the “Surfin’ Safari” stagewear for starters. But the Beach Boys were more than just another pop group, weren’t they? They were FAMILY, first and foremost. And rather than remain one-upped by their musical neighbors so to speak, this musical household doggedly set about getting their affairs back in order, persisting along this rugged path for year after endless year …even when all around seemed hapless, hopeless, and far, far from harmonious. On any level.  

Actually finding themselves without a homeland recording contract at the dawn of the Seventies, and with their guiding musical light apparently more interested in laying (low) than writing, arranging, singing and/or producing, Carl and Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love Not War and even that Bruce guy had no logical choice but to settle down to some good old-fashioned, decorum-be-damned hard hard work. 

So first of all, every Boy still woke and mobile began by bringing the audio mountain to Mohammed, constructing a working studio directly beneath Brian’s Bel Air bedroom (not that that helped motivate their big brother much in the long run; nice try, though). Then they boldly formed their own record company and, crazier still, set about writing and recording a wave of albums which form not only the mythical, mystical candy core of the Beach Boys’ vast sea of tunes, but in retrospect actually hold much more than their own against such bally-hoo’d, Nixon-vintage contemporaries as the Eagles, Doobies, and even that Buckingham/Nicks-model Big Mac.

Yes, these hallowed yet too-often ignored releases from the Beach Boys’ “lost years” on their very own Brother Records imprint are literally jelly-packed with dozens upon dozens of gems you probably haven’t been able to hear enough of in years. For example, the once mega-maligned So Tough album from ’72 now sounds like no less than Carl and his Passions tackling Big Pink by way of Paul Buckmaster! And then there’s 1977’s The Beach Boys Love You, which dared to croon about roller skating, shampoo, and our favorite solar system smack dab in the middle of that Pistol ‘n’ Ramone-fuelled Summer of Hate.  

Chronologically speaking then, the initial Brother albums Sunflower and Surf’s Up remain among the most universally cherished records on the planet, and both contain their fair share of Brian Wilson treasures for the ages – “This Whole World” and “Til I Die” most particularly – which rank easily amongst the very best Our Hero has yet to offer us all. Meaning: they’re some of the greatest musical works ever created by man or beast. 

The two junior Wilsons blossom forth on these albums as well (“Long Promised Road” and the new box’s namesake “Feel Flows” prove Carl learned his lessons well whilst attending all those Pet Sounds and SMiLE sessions; Dennis, conversely – as always – forged his own musical identity within Sunflower somewhere between the rock-cockin’ “Got To Know The Woman” and the sweetly rhapsodic “Forever,” John Stamos be forever damned). Meanwhile, that then-new 16-track technology the Boys toiled upon under Brian’s bed(room) allowed the band to layer on those heavenly, heavenly harmonies as never before. Or, in truth, since. “Cool, Cool Water,” to mention just one, contains chorale cascades which will continue to astound the ear today, a half-century, and countless attempts at recreation since they were first meticulously piled onto tape.  

Suffice to say, the music The Beach Boys made in the very early Seventies remains amongst their very, very best. No listener out there, discriminating or otherwise, should let these sounds slip on through unheard a single minute longer. 


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Goldfish Veggie Crackers


(Pepperidge Farm) I guess these are slightly carroty-er, but kinda the same. They still smile back, and these days I really need that, so thank you, fish.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Monsters "Monster Mash"

(General Mills Records) The cereal came out a few weeks earlier, with the song links dormant and teasing, so we were building this up in a little too much I fear, because I sure wanted this to be better and funner and funnier. The "Behind the Music"-style promo video was kinda koooky and had some good moments, but the voices seemed off (there must be Rich Little Youtube tutorials on Lorre, Karloff, Lugosi impressions...and if not, you know General Mills has the the Caliendo coaching cash!) and I just expect more from these Saturday Morning TV commercial legends. Even if the record was this meh and they had it be a cardboard cereal box cut out record I woulda been appreciative enough of the effort to give this four skulls. Then again, original "Monster Mash" is in many ways a more perfect record than anything the Beatles made, so there was no chance of living up to that legacy no matter how many late nights in the lab they worked on this. I am still glad they made this.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Frankenberry cereal

 (General Mills) Best monster cereal character design by far (the strawberry fingernails are magnificent) but at best a decent tasting fruity cereal. This is appropriate for a seasonal cereal but does not merit year round bowl time. That said, get excited about this every Fall!

Thursday, September 23, 2021

Boo Berry cereal


(General Mills) Of the Big Three of Monster Cereals this is the most exciting in that it doesn't seem to be guaranteed the annual re-release his more corporeal living dead colleagues enjoy, thus is a rare-er treat, but it tastes the worst of all of them. Definitely not particularly blueberry flavored. And not even blue, more purple-ish. I suppose they never said "blueberry" anywhere. Also, I hear they got rid of the chemicals in Monster Cereals that turned kids' poop indeed!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Count Chocula cereal


(General Mills) "Count Chocula" is the only Monster Cereal that tastes good enough to be a year-round table treat and Count Chocula the character has a funny enough design and a good enough personality that if he'd had his own cartoon it woulda made Groovy Goolies look like Drak Pack.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Monster Mash cereal


(General Mills) As we enter the pre-Halloween spooky season it is tragic and depressing and impossible to ignore that we live in an age of true horror when the actual non-fake news of the brutality, stupidity, injustice, and hatred of our neighbors, countrymen, and government feels like a hopeless beacon of actual, inevitable doom. So we have never needed moments of dumb, absurd, genuine joy more than now. I only hope that others got as much excitement as I did out of the simple perfection of this whatever the grocery industry equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize is-worthy achievement. To celebrate a half-century of monster cereals General Mills put all the flavors and marshmallow shapes of their five monsters (including their appropriately maligned 80s entry Yummy Mummy) in one box and called it, sublimely, "Monster Mash." And did I mention that they are now an Archies-esque cartoon rock band? This doesn't even taste that good. Yet it is the cereal I needed now. And I love it. True thanks to whatever god or devil is responsible for making monsters in cereal form. And the band is even releasing a song! Thanks to this I now truly believe that the world could be worse!