Tag Archives: punk rock

REVIEW: Polarity by Max Bemis and Jorge Coelho

Polarity

As much as I enjoy Say Anything (the band fronted by writer Max Bemis), I was hesitant to pick up this comic because, well, the premise sounds exactly like the pseudo-autobiographical premise of their first album “…Is A Real Boy,” which kindofsortamaybe chronicled Bemis’s descent into super-powered bi-polar disorder — except that, while recording said album, Max Bemis was actually diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and locked himself up for a while. But, the book was on sale for $4 on ComiXology, so I figured hey, why not.

While I tend to be the kind of person who connects with comic books more the writing than the art (although I do love a good collaboration), I’d first look to say that the artwork on this book is PHENOMENAL. It’s slightly cartoonish, but not a childish way, and accurately portrays hyperviolence, superhero action, internal mindscape struggles, and hipster culture. As for the story itself, it didn’t shy away from the fact that it was a slight variation on the story that Bemis has told several times already. The basic premise is that Tim is an artist and self-loathing hipster who suffers from bi-polar disorder, and after he’s institutionalized and begins taking pills, he can’t create his art. So he goes off his medication, and soon discovers that his untreated condition literally gives him superpowers. But maybe he’s too dangerous, and maybe there’s a Shadowy Government Organization trying to create an army of Bi-Polar Super Soldiers? Meanwhile, his art is getting better, and he meets a girl.

Overall, it’s a pretty enjoyable story, and while applying science fictional concepts to mental illness is nothing new, I actually think that Bemis does it in a pretty fresh way — by essentially saying that yes, mental illness IS a superpower, but the same way that traditional superheroes suffer from their extra-human abilities, maybe it’s still better if you take your pills and try to function like a normal person. That being said, I’m not sure how this book would read to someone who was unfamiliar with “hipster” culture. The main character spends a lot of the book criticizing everyone around him for being hypocrites and poseurs, and ultimately realizes that he’s just the same as the rest of them. If you’re familiar with Say Anything’s music, Tim’s rants are all basically pulled straight out of the song “Admit it!” As far as cultural critique is concerned, it is an interesting analysis of hipsterdom that I mostly agree with, even if it is a bit misanthropic (which works well in a loud rock song, but feels different as internal monologue).

That being said, I wonder how someone who was outside of or unfamiliar with “hipster culture” would feel about this book. It’s very insular, and some might even say that hipsters criticizing hipsters for being hipsters is THE most hipster thing possible, and while the story does acknowledge that irony (while also criticizing irony as the cheapest form of hipster self-defense), it never quite transcends it. I suspect that if you weren’t already aware of and/or immersed in that post-art-school-Williamsburg-landscape, you’d think, “Okay, so these are a bunch of Urban Outfitters asshole who are too cool for Urban Outfitters and this main character is kind of an unlikeable dick who judges everyone around him for being fake judgmental assholes — why should I care?” And if that’s you, I might suggest that you’re better served by listening to “Woe” and “Admit it!” by Say Anything, which pretty much sum up the book.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Just Dance, Mother&$%#ers!

In case you missed out on seeing Boston’s premiere all-male hard rock Lady Gaga cover band at the Midway this past weekend, you’re in luck: we got the whole thing on tape! Well, technically on built-on digital flash hardrive but, you know, whatever. The audio quality is a little rough (because isn’t it always?), but you get the gist. You can watch a playlist of the full set over on YouTube, but here are a few gems from the night:

“You & I”

“Bad Romance”

Plus we had a few surprises this time in the form of non-Gaga female pop artists (because frankly, Gaga’s catalog is kind of limited, and we needed new material). Like this:

New Lady Gaga Song!

In anticipation of this Saturday’s Alejandro & the Fame show at the Midway Cafe in JP, we put together another quick demo of one of our songs. So, sorry, this isn’t a new Lady Gaga song, but rather a better version of an already existing Lady Gaga song, done by us.

This isn’t the final mix or master, but it’s a good idea of how we rock (and if you really feel like bringing the mosh and punching someone in the face, fast forward about 3 minutes for the breakdown ’cause it’s awesome)

Turn It Up, Folkin’ Loud!

About a year and a half ago, I had the idea to record an album of classic punk cover songs, done in a folky / bluegrass style. I got most of the demo / scratch tracks down, but then of course, life got in the way, as it often does. But now that I got some fancy new toys in my musical arsenal, I decided to revisit it.

And so without any further ado, here’s the first track of the album that would (and someday might still) be called Folk In Drublic: “Radio” by Rancid. Except, ya know, with less growls, more banjo and lap steel.

(Banjo by my buddy Andy Michaels)

Wow. Our Town. Wow. Okay.

I say this with no personal bias — not because my wonderful girlfriend, the producer of this fine production, has been busting her ass for 10 months to make this show as a reality, and not as an employee of the theatre company that is presenting the show.

David Cromer’s production of Our Town at the Huntington is one of the Desert Island All-Time Top 5 Most Moving Shared Communal Experiences I have ever had in my entire life.

Perhaps it’s especially poignant for me when I think of the friends that I’ve lost in recent years, but I watched the show on both Tuesday and Wednesday night, and I couldn’t stand to watch it for a third time last night for our opening because I was already so overwhelmed with emotion. Three days in a row, and I think I would be eternally reduced to a sobbing puddle of flesh lying in fetal position on the floor. Yes, this show is so good that I literally could not watch it a third time (although I will probably go back at the end of the run, and hopefully catch some things I missed the other 2 times, because there’s so much to see in the nothingness of this production, and as the play itself suggests, we can’t possibly appreciate all of it when it’s happening).

Anyway, there’s a video I made up there about the show. I cannot stress enough how powerful and poignant this production truly is. Our Town might be seen as hokey and sentimental and high school-y to many people (though oddly I grew up in Thornton Wilder’s hometown and never read or saw the show once, although I did play lots of shitty punk rock shows at Thornton Wilder Memorial Hall), but man, David Cromer just gets it, in a way that’ll just blow your mind.

(Also don’t read the review in The Boston Globe because [a] it’s douchey, [b] IT SPOILS THE END OF THE PLAY, and [c] it’s douchey. Yes, Our Town has been around a while, so there are certain spoilers that are now beyond the statute of limitations, but to spoil what makes this production so remarkable — and to spoil it in such a nonchalant manner — is awful. If this guy had reviewed The Sixth Sense when it first came out, he would have said “And then it turns out that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time which was totally brilliant and stunning — I mean, that is to say, if you’re one of those people who enjoys brilliant and stunning things or whatever. But otherwise, meh.”)

Music To Soothe Your Jangled Innards

Quick update about a few events I’ve got coming up. One, I’ll doing a show THIS Friday, December 14 at the All Asia in Central Square, Cambridge with my / Boston’s premiere all-male hard rock Lady Gaga cover band Alejandro and the Fame. These shows are always a blast for everyone involved, and are almost always guaranteed to sell out, so make you get there (lookin’ at you, People On The Other Side Of The River Who Missed Our Last Show Because It Was Allllllll The Way In JP Oh BooHoo). Admission is a scant $6, and we hit the stage around 10:30pm!

I’m also excited to announce that I’ll be performing a short set for MORTIFIED at Oberon on Saturday, December 22. For those who haven’t heard of this, MORTIFIED is a night of performance in which real-live grown adult humans read horribly horribly embarrassing things from their high school journals / AIM transcripts / etc, and hilarity ensues. And so, during my set, you’ll be treated to some particularly painful gems that I dugout from my high school and middle school songwriting notebooks. Ever wonder what kind of angsty tunes I wrote when I was 14 (including “Dot of my ‘I'” and instant never-classic “Fuck You Hotchkiss Lane”)? Here’s your only chance to hear them live! More information to come when I got it.

And finally, I was asked to write up a few scripts for the 2nd Annual Boston One-Minute Play Festival at the Boston Playwrights Theatre, January 5-7. I believe the evening as a whole contains about 100 one-minute plays (yes, really, but c’mon, that’s barely an hour and a half!), so I’m sure there’s going to be some great variety. And if you don’t like a play, well, just wait one minute! I will say that writing a play, complete with a status quo, conflict, rising action,and denouement is remarkably more difficult than you might expect it to be, but I’m pretty pleased with what I came up with (and I should be blogging a bit more about it soon over at their website).

That’s all for now, folks! See you Friday!

Basketcase

Truth be told, I’ve always thought The Fourth Green Day has the best job in the world. He gets to reap all of the benefits of being a rock star, without any of the hassle — no publicity, no scandals. Hell, he doesn’t have to write the songs! He just plays the parts on tour (and let’s face it, Green Day doesn’t write particularly difficult tunes). But he still gets the chance to stand on stage and rock out to an adoring crowd, and get paid handsomely to do so.

If you offered me that gig, I’ve take it in a heartbeat.

“The Other Guy In Green Day” on Five By Five Hundred