Author: rnhaas

1999, Music

The Slim Shady LP (1999) by Eminem

At this point, having listened to a number of big hip hop records over the last few years, I have two types of reactions to hip hop albums: The first is I admire the production (and/or the musical diversity) and can spend my time focusing on that. The second is, I can’t do that, because …

1999, Music

Keep It Like a Secret (1999) by Built to Spill

I think I am predisposed to like every Built to Spill record. There’s something about a good guitar solo or jam that goes straight to my heart. Martsch is such a compelling player that he long ago overcame whatever aversion I would have to his voice, a voice which is not the kind I normally …

1994, Music

In the Nightside Eclipse (1994) by Emperor

I really enjoyed Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, the follow up to this record, because I really had no idea what I getting into, and figured it was just some run of the mill black metal. I am listening to this one after that one because apparently like to do things out of order.

2016, 2018, TV

Westworld (2016)

Westworld was a pretty great concept when it was conceived and it’s a great concept now. It’s been forever since I’ve seen the movie – the inability of 1970s special effects to capture the concept well forever immortalized by The Simpsons – but the idea was so ahead of its time that it feels entirely …

1994, Music

Troublegum (1994) by Therapy?

When I first heard “Knives” I thought “YES!” and figured I had just found a new favourite band. But that track turns out to be the album’s most immediate track – it’s a smart thing to lead off with in some respects but a bad idea in others.

1989, Music

Oranges & Lemons (1989) by XTC

I don’t know anything about XTC really, just that one of their early ’80s albums has been on my “to listen” list for a very long time. I sort of assumed they were a post punk band but knew basically nothing else. Not knowing anything was good, as it often is, because I didn’t see …

1967, 2015, Movies

Censored Voices (2015, Mor Loushy)

This is a compelling and moving documentary with a relatively novel format, which may not initially seem compelling but which is well worth your time. The film tells the story of Israeli soldiers’ experiences during the Six Day War through audio recordings made just after the war, which were suppressed by the Israeli government for …

1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, Books, Fiction

Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories (1962) by John Updike

This is a collection of Updike’s short stories and I feel like it might be his first collection. They range in length and quality but, on the whole, I think they are worthwhile if you like Updike as a writer.

1984, Music

The Smiths (1984)

The British music critic establishment and whomever else greeted this band as saviours must have been so desperate for guitars to greet this band – this jangle pop music – as the thing to deliver them from synthesizers, instead of something louder or more interesting (or both). The Smiths are one of those mystifying bands …

1974, Music

Sparkle in the Rain (1984) by Simple Minds

What do you do when you’ve heard one band your whole life and not another, and then you hear the second band and they sound a lot like the first? But, the thing is, the second band was actually first, and really doesn’t sound that much like that first band.

1974, Music

Pretzel Logic (1974) by Steely Dan

I liked Countdown to Ecstasy more than any other Steely Dan record I’ve ever heard. And it imbued me with the hope that I would hear further records, probably from this time in their career, that I would also enjoy more than most of their records. I had that hope until I listened to this …

1999, Music

14:59 (1999) by Sugar Ray

I hated Sugar ray. I hate “Fly.” I hate “Every Morning.” I hate Mark McGrath’s flat singing and his fame-whoring. I hated their super poppy “fusion” thing which seemed like some weird kind of experiment of what would happen if a generic “alternative” pop rock band tried to incorporate hip hop like it was nu …

1999, Music

…Baby One More Time (1999) by Britney Spears

I’m not sure I can convey the loathing I felt towards Britney Spears when she first debuted. I hated both her music, the singles of which were catchy enough they were hard to ignore, and what she represented: manufactured pop. I told myself she was a puppet. In 1998 and 1999 it felt like we …

1989, Music

Technique (1989) by New Order

The fusion of alternative and dance was such a big thing in the late 1980s in the UK. But it’s not something I really get because, well, I don’t like dance music. But I wish I could appreciate it more, because there are all these bands, with all these acclaimed albums, and I listen to …

2006, Books, Non-Fiction

Children of the Sun (2006) by Alfred W. Crosby

This is a brief but informative and fascinating history of human use of energy. It is so brief that it’s hard not to recommend it because my experience with “big history” books of this ilk is that they are normally gigantic, with a forbidding page count that turns most people off. So, before I get …

1984, Music

Footloose Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1984)

I don’t review soundtracks normally for at least two reasons: normally they are not entirely composed of original music and they are not culturally significant enough – i.e. some kids probably bought it but the rest of us likely ignored it. But this one, well it is composed of original music, to the best of …

1984, Music

1984 by Van Halen

I know when I listened to Van Halen’s debut album – I think the only album of theirs I’ve actually listened to all the way through before this one – I was thinking it lacked one thing: synthesizers. The decision to add a cheesy ’80s synth to a sound that was already pretty fucking dumb …

1984, Music

Learning to Crawl (1984) by Pretenders

I never liked Chrissie Hynde. I don’t know why I didn’t like her when I was young – maybe I just didn’t have an opinion and don’t remember – but I know why I didn’t like her as an adult: I watched her and Morrissey shit on prog rock in New York Doll while I …

2019, Movies

Fyre (2019, Chris Smith)

This is a fascinating film about the disastrous Fyre Festival that we all heard about on social media. It’s a classic story of the problem with “fake it until you make it” mentality of entrepreneurship. If you’ve watched or read anything about fraud, you’ve probably heard this story before. But it’s also about the problems …

2015, Movies

Rak ti Khon Kaen aka Cemetery of Splendour (2015, Apichatpong Weerasethakul)

There are certain types of films which require patience. I am almost always better able to appreciate films which require patience in the theatre where I don’t have distractions. At home, I’m liable to find my way to my laptop pretty quickly if a movie is deliberately paced. It’s less bad with English language films …

1965, Books, Fiction

Of the Farm (1965) by John Updike

There is a genre in American drama in which a family get together or reunion builds to a emotional climax where everyone’s feelings are revealed. It is not a genre I love. I am familiar with many plays in this genre but, honestly, I’m not sure if I’ve ever read a novel in that genre …

1993, Music

Quique (1993) by Seefeel

I don’t know ambient music much beyond the 1970s, aside from a few 1990s albums I’ve encountered due to my podcast. But I do know that the vast majority of ambient music in existence has been created with synthesizers and other electronic instruments, keyboards hooked up to synthesizers and now computers, not rock band equipment. …

1978, Music

Public Image First Issue (1978) by Public Image Ltd

Simon Reynolds begins his definitive history of post punk, Rip It Up and Start Again with “Public Image” and this album. He argues that Lydon leaving the Sex Pistols, recording and releasing a song about them and releasing this record mark the point at which punk wasn’t just punk, but evolved into something else. It …

1973, Music

Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh (1973) by Magma

The first time I heard Koenji Hyakkei I thought “Oh my god, what is this?!?!” and kind of lost my mind. It seemed like someone had invented a new spin on prog rock in the 1990s and I had just missed it during my teens. It was a while before I knew about Zeuhl or …