Monday, December 29, 2014

One Album Wonders (Or, Whatever Happened To The Propellerheads?)

About five years ago, in one of my iTunes running diaries, I touched upon a British big beat techno band called The Propellerheads and lamented that they had never released a follow-up to their 1998 debut, Decksandrumsandrockandroll. Unfortunately, the band has still not come out with a proper follow-up.

Unlike some other bands, there isn’t a really good indication online for what the issue is. Since 1998, they’ve released one new song according to Wikipedia – “Ten Years (Johnston’s Strut Part One),” which was a single track for a compilation in 2003, and is so obscure it’s not even on YouTube. The band’s debut peaked at No. 6 in the UK, and went gold, so it’s odd that there was no second album. They’re one of the ultimate “you’ve heard them, even if you’ve never heard OF them,” thanks to their appearances on The Matrix soundtrack and other spy stuff. “History Repeating” with Shirley Bassey was their one U.S. radio hit.

This got me thinking about some other One Album Wonders (in contrast to One Hit Wonders) floating about in my iTunes collection. From that same blog post, there is New Radicals. Their front man, Gregg Alexander, was strongly anti-corporate and odd, and the band self-destructed as a result. They have one album, the wonderfully-named Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too, and they’re best known for the earworm “You Get What You Give.”

The Postal Service was a side project of the guys from Death Cab for Cutie and other stuff. Unlike the first two bands mentioned, they actually did claim for years to be working on a second album to follow up Give Up. However, it never materialized between 2007 and 2012. The band then got back together for some shows in 2013, and disbanded again. How frustrating! (Also, this is somehow the first time I’ve written about The Postal Service, even though they were basically my soundtrack for sophomore to senior years of college. I was probably just burnt out on them for a couple years after…)

There is also the case of the Weezer side project Homie, which didn’t even get to one-album status. They had a single song, “American Girls,” that was awesome and on a movie soundtrack. (Meet The Deedles, a horrible Disney movie that attempted to hijack surf culture and starred Paul Walker.) “American Girls” is peak-Rivers Cuomo, and Homie also featured members of Cake and Soul Coughing. Apparently, there are live performance bootlegs out there, but I haven’t listened to them… yet. (One other “incredible soundtrack song” from the 1990s is “JAR” by Green Day, which was initially only available on the soundtrack for the otherwise forgettable Angus, but has since made its way on to some other Green Day releases.)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Now That You’re Done With Serial…

… Here are some other podcasts you might want to check out. Not because they necessarily have anything to do with true crime stories, but just because I like and listen to them. I might write about Serial at a future date, but I’m he
sitating so far because everyone else on the Internet has seemingly weighed in, plus, I’m still formulating my own thoughts on it.

Amazingly, I think I’ve only really written about podcasts once before, and that post is horribly out of date. Adam Carolla’s podcast has been horrible since the first year, and Dave Dameshek is now on (and still worth listening to, if you like the NFL). An updated list:

- Planet Money on NPR. While this is allegedly an economics podcast, it’s more like economics mixed with general interest, since they typically tackle specific issues instead of diving deep on wonky policy stuff. If you want a good recent episode to jump into, I’d recommend 591, “War? What War?” It’s about Ukrainian investors trying to get money from Western folk like… now, despite that little war issue. And since gyms and fitness are popular subjects around the holidays, “The Planet Money Workout” is also excellent.

- It’s on a bit of a holiday break right now, but 99 Percent Invisible is the other podcast that I typically listen to “first day.” One benefit to it and Planet Money vs. some of the other shows on this list is that they’re usually about 15 to 30 minutes, making them the perfect length for a short drive. 99 Percent Invisible focuses on how architecture entwines with and shapes modern life. Good recent shows have been about a light in a California fire station that has been running for almost 100 years, and about the fascination people have with trophies.

Raw. Is. Jericho.
- I’m not sure why exactly, but wrestling podcasts are huge. If you like pro wrestling at all, there are a ton of niche and popular shows for you to check out. We’re talking shows by Jim Ross, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and about two dozen others that I don’t have the time to listen to. Of those three, Jericho is the one I listen to the most, since he’s a bit more general entertainment than the other two. Austin and Ross can get really bogged down in the old school wrasslin’ talk at times, and my mind checks out when they’re talking about seeing Haystacks Calhoun at the old Iowa Coliseum.

- The Grantland family of podcasts is pretty solid when it comes to entertainment, less so when it comes to sports, which is odd, considering that they’re owned by ESPN and run by Bill Simmons. (Then again…) As a journalist, my favorite is definitely The Moment, which is just a simple one-on-one interview between American filmmaker Brian Koppelman and a guest each week. Since he made Rounders, there are quite a few poker guests, along with businesspeople, stand-up comedians and (oddly) self-help gurus. Even these episodes tend to be good though.

Other highlights from the Grantland Network are The Lowe Post, which is a super nerdy basketball show, and Hollywood Prospectus, which is a general look at TV, movies and music for the week. The original podcast, The BS Report with Bill Simmons, is still high in my queue, but the quality can really vary depending on the guest and Bill’s focus. The ones I enjoy the most are usually shows with other Grantland people – Andy Greenwald, Lowe. Some of the celebrity interviews, like a recent episode with Chris Rock, were clearly tough goin’.

- And finally, The Nerdist. I’m positive it has been written about a million times, but like The Moment, I’m a sucker for an hour-long sitdown conversation. The shows that feature just Chris Hardwick and a guest are better, but even some with the peanut gallery of Matt Mira and Jonah Ray are still OK. Skip the hostfuls (the shows with just the three of them) at all costs.

Honorable mentions: Gilbert Gottfried (excellent but sooooo profane and very hit or miss depending on the guest and Gilbert’s interest level), Norm MacDonald (profane and funny and wonderful, but it goes on break all the time), Dave Dameshek’s podcast (previously wrote about him), The Dime For Scale Movie Club (previously wrote about it and uh, I’m on it).

The Planet Money logo is a common one on their page. The Jericho image is one I cobbled together in Paint years ago.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Blog Status Update #764, and a Short Movie Review

My poor Blogger blog… How I neglect you so! Even though you continue to earn me (a meager amount of) money because of past stellar posts on the 1990s hit Freshman Fall and the short-lived Jerry Springer-hosted Baggage. Like seriously – I can’t believe how often people are looking for information on those two subjects! I also really like it when someone comments on a post five years after the fact.

It’s also odd for me to read some posts that are now 5+ years old. Yikes, they ain’t great, as Shakespeare once said to Roger Bacon. However, they serve as a good reminder of how I’ve progressed, so I’m begrudgingly leaving them up. Plus, I need to keep getting’ them (meager) checks based on search engine hits.

One other housekeeping item – I’m on a movie review podcast with some random strangers I know from the Internet. If you’d like to listen, you can go here. I mostly serve as comic relief, and as a result, I say incredibly horrible things sometimes! Good times! The latest movie review I participated in was The Santa Clause, so it’s very time-sensitive. Before that, I thought the Snowpiercer and Krull shows were also really solid.

I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions, so I won’t resolve to update you more. However, since I do have a bit of a light schedule the next few days, the least I can do is to provide some content in these hot news days of late December and early January. Such as…

Random movie review – I saw Boogie Nights today. Yeah, it IS weird that I haven’t seen it before! I felt like I’ve seen it before, given how many references Bill Simmons makes to it. But with its weird mixture of humor, drama and smut, I can see why it is so widely celebrated. If you’re in the mood for a dramatized (maybe!) flick about the porn industry and mommy issues, with a dash of humor, it’s definitely worth checking out. (And also, there is an awesome real-life crime article it borrows from, and that article is worth reading – “The Devil and John Holmes.”)

The Boogie Nights “Dirk Diggler” image is a common screen grab floating around the Internet. The top image comes from a public domain gallery.


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