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Relient K – Forget And Not Slow Down
10/22/09 at 01:23 PM by Jonathan Bautts
At this point of its more than 10-year career fans know what to expect from Relient K, and you have come to either love or hate it. On its newest release and sixth full-length studio album, the band displays a songwriting maturity while adding subtle variations to its sound.

After the glossy sheen of 2007’s Howard Benson helmed Five Score And Seven Years Ago, the group has reunited with longtime producer Mark Lee Townsend to continue what was started on last year’s The Tennis EP. The record doesn’t quite have a rockin’ anthem like “I Need You,” although “Sahara” and “If You Believe Me” come close. Instead, much of the time is spent on mid-tempo numbers and piano infused pop-rock, such as the standout “Therapy,” which fits into the record’s more contemplative feel.

Frontman Matt Thiessen is one of the best lyricists in the pop-punk genre and continues to show why here. This is definitely one of his most serious records, as no joke or corny songs made the cut. In its place, he has crafted Relient K’s version of a breakup record, influenced no doubt by his own broken engagement. Yet even this can’t completely extinguish his trademark positivity, as seen on the album’s two-part closer “This Is The End (If You Want It),” one of the disc’s strongest.

In the end, Relient K has turned in one of its strongest overall efforts to date and isn’t afraid to switch things up, like on the breezy “Savannah.” Once again the band has managed to breathe fresh air into the increasingly stagnant pop-punk field, and remains one of the genre’s best.

Rating: 8/10

RIYL: Jack’s Mannequin, Yellowcard, Augustana, John Cusack

Link: Mammoth Press
Tags: Relient K, Forget And Not Slow Down, Album Review
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If You Were Born Today (Song For Little Baby Jesus)
12/26/08 at 05:09 PM by Jonathan Bautts
If you were born today
We'd kill you by age eight
Never get the chance to say

Joy to the world
And peace on the earth
Forgive them for they know not what they do

Blessed are the meek
And blessed are the humble
Blessed are the ninety and nine

Deny the flesh
Deny all that's evil
Tonight you'll deny me thrice

If you were born today
We'd kill you by age eight
You'd never have a chance to say

—Low (1999), covered by Jimmy Eat World (2001)
Tags: Christmas, Jimmy Eat World, Low, Lyrics
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Interview – Yellowcard
05/11/08 at 10:55 PM by Jonathan Bautts
Curious about the future of Yellowcard? Then check out my extensive interview with violinist Sean Mackin at MammothPress.com.
Tags: Yellowcard, Sean Mackin, Paper Walls, Interview
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Falling Slowly
02/27/08 at 03:16 PM by Jonathan Bautts
Even though the musical genre is by far my least favorite, last summer I was taken in by a little film called Once, which was the most “natural” musical I had ever seen and a far cry from the overblown productions of Broadway. Then at the Academy Awards on Sunday, one of the highlights was when Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová performed and then won the Oscar for their song “Falling Slowly,” making it my favorite song to win an Oscar. Irglová’s speech, which was made possible after host Jon Stewart brought her back on stage after she had gotten cut off by the orchestra, was the most touching moment of the night. If you haven’t seen the film or checked out the soundtrack, The Frames, or The Swell Season, you’re missing out on some really great music.


Falling Slowly

I don’t know you, but I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me, and always fool me
And I can’t react
Games that never amount
To more than they’re meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat
And point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice
You have a choice
You’ve made it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can’t go back
Moods that take me, and erase me
And I’m painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It’s time that you won

Take this sinking boat
And point it home
We’ve still got time
Raise your hopeful voice
You have a choice
You’ve made it now

Falling slowly
Sing your melody
I’ll sing it loud
Tags: Once, Falling Slowly, Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová, Swell Season, Frames, Lyrics
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Movie Review - Halloween
09/07/07 at 05:08 PM by Jonathan Bautts
In 1978, John Carpenter’s “Halloween” burst onto the scene, widely popularizing the slasher genre while becoming one of horror’s most iconic films. Now nearly 30 years later, rocker-turned-director Rob Zombie (“House Of 1,000 Corpses,” “The Devil’s Rejects”) offers his own interpretation of the classic story.

This is the ninth film in the “Halloween” canon, and the first to attempt a retelling of the original. When Zombie, whose first two features generated a small cult audience, was announced as the man behind the project, fan reaction was decidedly mixed. After viewing the final result, it seems their misgivings were entirely justified.

The new tale of Michael Myers picks up during his childhood, where we witness his dysfunctional family, his encounter with the school bully, and his attraction to killing animals. One day he snaps, going on a killing spree and murdering four people, including his father and sister. We then fast forward a number of years, watching as Myers escapes from prison and returns to haunt his hometown.

Zombie proves to do a better job at directing than thought possible, though he never rises above a passable threshold. Favoring close-ups and shaky camerawork too heavily, he hasn’t figured out how to convey a sense of geography, which makes some of the scenes unnecessarily confusing. He also chooses to go for an increase in gore rather than psychological tension, discarding the very element which made the original so successful.

Still, his directing is far superior to his skill as a writer, which is immeasurably limited. The dialogue is clunky and poorly constructed, with several one-liners painfully sticking out. The storyline lacks depth and originality, never gelling cohesively or offering substance to keep the viewer interested. It seems he does little more than move aimlessly from one killing to the next, especially in the second half, never bothering to develop any of the characters or provide us a reason to care about their deaths or peril. This results in a story both shallow and empty, with an emotional center nothing more than a hollowed chasm.

The acting, while an improvement over the writing, remains far from first-rate, and none of the cast members accomplish anything of note. Daeg Faerch, who plays the younger Myers, portrays a kid with serious problems well enough, but never gets under our skin or exemplifies the chillingly evil we expect. Tyler Mane, the older Myers, is reduced to a giant in a mask, and it’s curiously never explained how he managed to transform his body from a little kid into one resembling a wrestler. The Jamie Lee Curtis character from the original, played with little skill by Scout Taylor-Compton, is reminiscent of an annoying Lindsey Lohan, and she is never able to generate sympathy or likeability in her role.

The big deal with this remake was supposed to be how it was going to shed light on Myer’s past, giving us an inside look at the man behind the mask. Unfortunately, the lengthy back story affords no real insight into the matter, succumbing to several movie clichés instead. What is left of the remainder is a condensed rehash of the original, with an increase in sleaze factor and a much higher body count. Gone with it is the possibility of anything innovative or entertaining, and ultimately a reason to watch, leaving “Halloween” nothing more than the latest in Hollywood’s long line of remakes which never should have been made in the first place.

The Verdict: C- (71%)
Tags: Halloween, Rob Zombie, Horror, Movie, Review
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