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REVIEW: 30 Rock Season 2
Posted on December 1, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
30 Rock: Season 2 doesn’t even need a review, because it is a fact that every single person (sources pending) in the world loves it now. And rightfully so.
The writers strike put the kibosh on a third of the planned episodes for Season 2. This allows the short season an easy three rotations in your DVD player before remembering the life you once had, if, you know, you’re super crazy and stay at home and basically just watch 30 Rock and eat pasta all the time. Hypothetically. (Damn.)
Reasons why 30 Rock Season 2 owns lives for three months straight:
1. SUPERSTAR CAMEOS! Jerry Seinfeld, Will Arnett, and Matthew Broderick are just a few of the huge stars that love 30 Rock and appear in season two. If we know anything about celebrities, it’s that they dictate what we like. So, we like.
3. SUPERSTAR GENIUS-BRAIN WRITING! See: everything, always, again. Lightening fast, topical, self-deprecating, borderline offensive. It’s like the perfect storm, sitcom-writing styles. Also, your friends will really really like when you inadvertently (and shamelessly) start using these brilliant phrases and dialogue in your everyday conversation as if they were your own creations. Try it.
4. SUPERSTAR TINA FEY! Aka Liz Lemon, aka Tina through her own eyes. Season 2 takes Liz through relationships with new boyfriend Floyd, old boyfriend Dennis “Rat King” Duffy, and through continuing conflict between finding maturity amidst the continuous daily circus that is her life working on the Tracy Jordan Show. She is sort of okay sometimes I guess, if you like insanely smart hilarious adorable talented people.
Liz drunk dials the condo board that won’t return her calls; sings “You Oughta Know.”
5. SUPERSTAR FAN! That’s you! GO WATCH, LEARN, LOVE, so much love.
If there is one downside to 30 Rock Season 2, it is that, much like 30 Rock Season 1, after watching it, nothing else will seem nearly as funny… except more 30 Rock. You know what that means.
REVIEW: Kanye West – 808s and Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella)
Posted on November 28, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
Man. Kanye West is really bummed out.
His mom died then he dumped his fiancée and then T-Pain gave him the keys to the Auto-Tune and friends, there you have 808s and Heartbreak.
TAKE HEED. This is not a hip hop record. This is a pop record. It is an eerie, angry documentation of a very specific time in West’s life, and it might actually be his most consistent release since 2004’s excellent College Dropout (which, if you’re not familiar with it, has one of the most flawless track successions EVER starting with 3 all the way to 13. Just sayin’).
Kanye had some sad melodies in his broken heart and so he wanted to sing, not rap. Relying on the aforementioned Auto-Tune not only allowed him to do this on every song, but also effectively gives the album its permeating cold, dark texture. Combined with the classic (and album namesake) Roland TR-808 drum machine chants, 808s and Heartbreak’s production is minimal but detailed, repetitive but melodic — disparate, yes, and not at all desperate. Musing entirely on love lost, Kanye isn’t sorry or pleading – he’s pissed. In the classic pop music post break-up fuck you, we only get West’s side of the story. He calls his ex out for being heartless, evil (Heartless), and a spoiled drama queen (RoboCop). Sort of a dick move, but hey, no one ever said Kanye wasn’t a dick.
It’s a little weird, this one. Weird and pretty great. 808s and Heartbreak gets 4.5 stupid sunglasses out of 5.
JUICEBOX REMEMBERS: You Can’t Do That on Television
Posted on November 26, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
Today we reminisce about the most charmingly low-budget, shamelessly non-educational children’s programming there ever was. And it was all ours! Good job, Canada.
As you probably know, the internet is really good for bringing crazies who love things like long-defunct potentially offensive sketch comedy together. Enter SlimeCon, the YCDTOTV (sweet acronym) fan-organized convention which has–up until now–only happened twice. 2009 marks the 30 year anniversary of YCDTOTV, and what better way to celebrate than by road tripping to Ottawa for SLIMECON 2009! Have a peek at the fun and games to be had:
It’s always encouraging when many successful careers are born of the loins of a little project that could. With YCDTOTV, the opposite is true -– basically none of the cast ever did anything else. Except for one person whose name might ring a wee bell.
It never gets old!
For way, way more–-a disturbing amount of more actually–check out the official fan club website, or the German site, which I particularly love because of the inexplicable galleries of a young Justin Timberlake and the Moffatts. Comedy!
THIS WEEK IN WIKIVANDALISM: Tom Gabel of Against Me!
Posted on November 11, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
I found this in a thread about a Jimmy Eat World tour on Punknews.org, which 1) Somehow makes this even better, and 2) Is very telling about how I choose to spend my lonely evenings.
It just shows that Tom Gabel has really made it. Big shiny expensive albums, power ballads with the laziest videos ever, and a solo EP that doesn’t hint at being even remotely interesting have all brought you here. Congratulations, Gayballs. You’ve been vandalized on Wikipedia!
REVIEW: Mother Mother – O My Heart (Last Gang)
Posted on November 2, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
This record is a perfect reminder of what a jerk I can be sometimes. Because it’s really good, and everyone “buzzed” about them last time around, but I couldn’t be bothered. I just ignored them and every good thing every one of my friends said about them.
If you skip past the few slower tracks, O My Heart sounds like the Pixies wrote some songs with the New Pornographers and then they all had a giddy indie rock party in the studio. Can anyone confirm if this is also what their first record might sound like? If so, I’ve been missing out huge, and the jerk level increases.
Mother Mother play a CD release show in their home town of Vancouver on Nov. 28, so if you live all the way over there, go. FOR ME.
Posted on October 22, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
Fifteen years, guys. It only took took 15 years. And a reported $13 million. And one fantastic hoax that I wish happened for real.
I propose a round table listening party on November 25 (ASHLEY CARTER BIRTHDAY LISTENING PARTY) when Best Buy exclusively releases the ever-elusive album. Who’s in!?
ED.’S NOTE: This news also means a free can of Dr. Pepper!
According to MTV.com:
Last March, the beverage company announced it would give away free cans of the soft drink should Guns issue their LP before the close of 2008. Last week, a spokesperson for Dr Pepper told MTV News that, while additional details will be forthcoming, the company’s plan to distribute free cans of its product will involve some sort of an online coupon system. “People will go on Dr Pepper’s Web site and we will send them a coupon for a free one,” the spokesperson confirmed. “It’s going to be real easy.”
REVIEW: NKOTB – Live in Toronto, Sept. 18, 2008
Posted on September 23, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
The rest of you can carry on.
I guess you could say that part of me has been waiting 20 years for what happened Thursday night.
Without a trace of irony, myself and 8,999 of my closest friends packed the Air Canada Centre for the first stop on the New Kids on the Block North American reunion tour. As a wee lass growing up in rural Nova Scotia I never got a chance to see my first favourite group in concert during their early 90s peak. The closest I came was when they were rumoured to be playing Halifax, and while my dad called the venue to check, my sister and I did the Dance of Joy like Larry and Balki from Perfect Strangers. Turned out of course to be a dream-crushing lie, and we didn’t get to see them. So, I went last week. And I had the most fun I’ve had at a show in a while. My cousin, who I brought along, said it was the best night she’s had since her wedding earlier this summer, and probably better than any night before that for a long time. Magic.
As mentioned, I left the irony at home, but there was no way I wasn’t showing up drunk on nostalgia. It was actually exciting to be there. I know, shut up. But it was. I’ve never heard an audience as loud (NKOTB was my first and only foray into any sort of pop-phenom territory, so I don’t know, I’m sure the Jonas Brothers get it all the time), and seriously, if I was going to be there, why bother being a jerk? That means I cheered obnoxiously with everyone else, and it means I checked in with my other co-attendee via eye contact whenever we thought something especially funny (code for swoonworthy), and I generally had an insane amount of fun. I even did the “Hangin’ Tough” arm sway thing. You know the one. Do you guys still want to be my friends?
What can I say about the group? Yes, they’ve aged. Some of the notes were a bit… strained. And I can’t help but think that the extended costume changes were actually just a time-buyer for breath-catching and maybe some snacks. I bet when they disbanded 15 years ago they never pictured themselves on a sold-out arena tour again, but they handled it graciously, and were even a little surprised at the reaction. Donnie Wahlberg did most of the talking, at one point very creepily pointing out that we the audience were indeed old enough to party now. Jordan and Joey were their fan-favorite solo-singing selves, and Jon and Danny pretty much awkwardly hid in the back. Just like the old days! They danced, they sang, they’re the New Kids on the Block, what else are they supposed to do? It really wasn’t even about them. It was all us. Audience observation highlights include Joey “Victim” McIntyre being hit in the face with a bra, and the extremely vulgar comments the ladies behind us were screaming all night, also directed to Joey. Seriously, they were filthy. I was blushing.
I couldn’t help but think of how I would have been reacting at that very moment if it was eight year old Nicole in attendance (assuming those women would have been my age and not saying those terrible things):
Current Day Nicole: This is hilarious! I wonder what they’ll open with.
Eight Year Old Nicole: AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Current Day Nicole: Cool, these new songs actually sound like pretty decent Top 40 stuff (turns out they worked with Timbaland, DUH).
Eight Year Old Nicole: I WONDER IF JORDAN CAN SEE ME.
Current Day Nicole: Wow this is so loud! My ears sure are going to hurt tomorrow!
Eight Year Old Nicole: AHHHHHHHHDHGDGDK STEP BY STEP OOH BABY GONNA GET TO YOU GIIIIIRRRRLLLLL
Whether or not those could both have applied on Thursday night is not up for discussion.
MORAL: Trips down memory lane are fun! Just like the shoddy, graphic-heavy slideshow projected above the stage said: They’re BACK. I never thought I would see Jordan Knight’s wispy button-down shirt blowing all around him as he danced on an air vent (a visual made famous by this video), but I did. I saw it. And now I am complete.
BEST FRIDAYS: with Girl Talk
Posted on September 18, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
What’s Worst Mondays without a dark and villainous foil? That’s the kind of thinking that forced us to create Best Fridays. So for all our weekend warrior brethren: Wooooo, T-G-I-F, right? Herein we hope to bookend your awful week by quizzing our previous Worst Mondays candidate about slightly more encouraging things. Every Friday!
So how does Girl Talk make a career out of using hundreds of songs by other artists without sample clearance? By (somehow) not yet being sued. And how does he do that? By licensing his music under Creative Commons, a U.S. based non-profit org that basically aims to “protect works while encouraging certain uses of them.” Pretty cool. But do you guys want to read boring blabitty blab about Girl Talk’s legal loopholes, or do you want to PARTY? IT’S FRIDAY!
And don’t forget, super-extenda Girl Talk party on Tuesday when you line up to buy the album, and on November 12th when Gregg hauls his laptop (PC, natch!) and his goodtimes to the Kool Haus. See you on the dance floor, hopefully not being too awkward to actually dance. Like me. PARTY!
I had my front left tooth knocked out while stage diving over my dad’s head at a hometown, Pittsburgh show. It’s a cool look. It definitely gives me an edge.
Best historical figure?
My favorite T-shirt is a homemade band shirt of the late Baltimore rap group, Dogg & Pony. They played my parents backyard when I was a senior in high school, and they gave me a shirt which has a spray-painted tag of their band name. It’s huge on the front of the shirt. It was very stiff and difficult to wear the first few times. Over the years, I wore it down, and it’s really comfortable now. It also looks raw as hell.
Best thing to do with $20
It’s very easy to go buy a new CD and some fast food for $20. You go home, pop in the album, jam out and eat!
Best party trick
My signature move is a one-armed keg stand while crushing a beer can on my head with the free hand.
Best question ever asked of you in an interview. Now answer it!
Best historical figure? Beethoven.
WORST MONDAYS: with Girl Talk
Posted on September 15, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
At JUICEBOX HQ, we’ve never really had a case of the Mondays because we don’t have real-people jobs. But for those feeling a bit garfield this A.M., feel free to wallow in other people’s most hated things. Every Monday!
What do you get when you combine Top 40 pop hooks and super science engineering brains? A party, that’s what. And it comes in the form of seamlessly intricate mash ups from sir hit-loving smarty-pants, Girl Talk.
Not to be confused with the borderline insulting 1980s board game of the same name, Girl Talk is the stage name of Pittsburgh’s most famous laptop DJ, Gregg Gillis. He’s been around since 2002, but you’ve maybe only heard of him recently. In 2006 Night Ripper was released, containing far more (mostly current) hit song snippets than his previous releases. The hooks, so conscientiously woven together (in either their original or slightly re-worked state) found their way to the taste-making ears of the blog world. Next stop, the rest of the real life world.
The short and the kitsch of it is that, regardless of your level of popular music consumption, you attach yourself to the time, place and feeling of a song. Listening to a Girl Talk record is like an audio scrapbook of pop music past and present, but with less decoupage and less lame. The nerd (and long?) of it is that everything is so mathematically dissected and rearranged, it’s hard to write this stuff off as mere coattail riding. The Wikijunkies have (almost complete) lists of all GT’s samples per album, so you should go read those, and love him.
Mr. Talk’s newest album, Feed the Animals, has been available as a pay-what-you-want download via Illegal Art since June 19th, and it comes out in stores on shiny CD format next Tuesday. Oh, and the party won’t stop anytime soon; Gillis got to quit his job as a biomedical engineer last year to focus full time on making you dance. Jealous?
K-Mart, summer 2003. I’ve worked a bunch of jobs like this but usually, I would try to get a stock position or anything where I didn’t have to deal with people. I worked at the front register, and everyday was a battle against the world. These jobs can be cool or horrible depending on your managers, and I had some of the oldest, most horrible managers ever. I had to miss the Van Halen reunion show with Diamond Dave on one of the last days of summer for this! I had tickets and was not supposed to work. They called me in and told me I would be fired if I didn’t come, and I needed the money!
I’m proud of almost all my haircuts over the years but looking back on the yearbooks now, my middle school complete shaved head look was pretty weird in a not-good way. I was really into playing basketball, so it was a functional cut but it really didn’t work with my skinny frame.
I went to London, Paris, and Brussels with a girl I had met once and my rude and annoying best friend. It was difficult to define what was happening, but I think she was coming for an extened European date and my buddy was coming for an extended European rager. Those interests conflicted heavily. I tried to juggle the two, but it just wasn’t happening. The girl slowly grew to hate my friend and I. She said at one point that we were “on a constant quest to out-dumb each other.” It all peaked with her drunkenly crying and throwing McDonalds’ french fries on the ground in the Moulin Rouge district.
I just had my flight canceled out of Newark airport yesterday. The only flight they could re-schedule was out of New York Laguardia. I didn’t know it when I got in, but the car service to the airport cost me $120! It sucked.
Worst way to die?
Being eaten by ants, Indian Jones style.
North By Northeast East (East)
Posted on June 19, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
Most have already forgotten, but this past weekend saw the 14th annual NXNE music/film festival and conference shove into Toronto, bringing with it hordes of industry geeks, regular people, and oh yeah, bands. I scored two wristbands and though I wasn’t stoked on too much this year, I do enjoy scouring data and making lists, and I definitely enjoy wandering into venues with the freedom of the above mentioned wristband.
It makes perfect sense, then, that I would be out of the city (out of the province!) for the festival. Months prior, I’d taken advantage of a cheap seat sale to fly east and visit the family for a week, not realizing the overlap. NXNE apparently didn’t care about my absence and carried on anyway. Jerks:
CBC Radio 3 Showcase
Not wanting the wristbands to go to waste, I conducted a rigorous audition process to select the worthy recipient, one Shaun Axani of Toronto, to be my personal roving North By Northeast East East (I was on the east coast, get it?!) reporter.
THURSDAY JUNE 12
I’m pretty sure I sat on my ass at my Dad’s and re-read some Douglas Coupland and watched Whose Line Is It Anyway? Meanwhile, Shaun caught seven showcases! Good work, Shaun. The night’s winner seemed to be Halifax’s Mardeen (who snagged a great spot playing to a packed Rivoli for Two Hours Traffic fans). I listened to them afterwards and dig those meandering pop hooks. More… »
REVIEW: Sloan – Parallel Play
Posted on June 12, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
It’s hard to pretend I’m still excited about Sloan when even the band sounds bored.
Sounding at best like a decent b-sides collection and at worst like wallpaper AM radio tunes, Sloan’s eighth studio album Parallel Play fails to follow the promise of last year’s reckoning, the 30-track grand slam Never Hear The End Of It. NHTEOI was more than an acceptable apology for the two preceding discs, Pretty Together and Action Pact, albums which, in all their modern rock radio gloss and gloat, at least showed us glimpses into the changing four-headed pet monster that is Sloan. NHTEOI brought the whole together, greater than we’d yet seen the sum of their parts, then they gotta go and drop this disjointed yawnzo bomb on us? Dang.
Using a psychology concept (referring to children who play side by side with nary an interaction) for the album title makes me hope they know they’re being stubborn children this time around; each wanting to exert their own personality (Patrick likes guitars, Andrew likes Frank Black, Jay likes pop records, Chris likes Chris) and get full attention for it, but somehow I mostly just picture a comfortable-to-a-fault old married couple who co-exist in habit, knives scraping the dinner plates as they finish another meal, another day, another record.
Of course I’m not so disappointed that I won’t listen to this record a lot this summer; I mean, it is a Sloan record. I hold them to unfair levels of expectations, just like any good parent would to a child whose potential shouldn’t go to waste. (I believe that is, like Parallel Play, another ultra scientific term called “tough love.”) The thing is, this weird little bump of a record won’t win any new fans (no hit singles here), and it will likely, ahem, underwhelm other faithfuls. What now, Sloan? (Murderecords)
REVIEW: Kanye West – Live in Toronto, May 21, 2008
Posted on May 23, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
Playing the part of space cowboy, Kanye West hauled his Glow In the Dark circus into the Molson Amphitheatre Wednesday night. And in true Kanye fashion, the futuristic theme of his set was hinged on him being needed to save the planet as, naturally, the best and brightest star in the galaxy. These are actual lines that his talking spaceship said to him. Yes, a talking spaceship. Not unlike KITT from Knightrider.
Her name was Jane (aww!) and throughout the 90-minute set, her job was to motivate Kanye to keep fighting the good fight in the face of haters, gold diggers, and a general assortment of negative influences who want to keep him down, or, in this case, lost in space. Did I mention that the stage looked like rough outer space planet terrain? With an IMAX screen showing fire, stars, and desert skies? And giant, descending glowing orbs? Oh, and an elevated stage? How it didn’t seem bloated or obnoxious, I don’t know. Must have been the magic.
Despite being the only person running around the set, Kanye filled the stage. When he’s up there, he’s working. He’s focused and serious… but I guess he was trying to save the planet. That’s pretty important stuff.
Lupe Fiasco was probably awesome, but I didn’t get there in time to see him. Apparently he only played four songs, though he did close the show with Kanye, coming out for his part in “Touch the Sky,” so I saw all I needed to see. Ladies Love Cool Pharrell and the rest of N.E.R.D. pretty much broke the stage both with their bass rattle, and with their awesomeness. And as much as I was excited to see Rhianna, she cheaped out and did a typical medley of hits, both hers and others (notably snippets from Lauryn Hill and M.I.A., the latter of which got maybe the biggest applause of RhiRhi’s entire set). More magic ensued when she sang “Umbrella” and everyone had umbrellas, because it was raining! You can’t make that stuff up.
It wouldn’t be a true Kanye experience unless he went on a crazy rant, which he did before leaving the stage for the night. He talked about how people don’t often like him because they’re afraid of his realness. He encouraged us all to be all we can be and to stand tall in the face of our very own haters. And when leaving the show, we were all handed Kanye-made books called “Thank You and You’re Welcome,” which were full of inspirational quotes like, “Believe in your flyness, conquer your shyness.” It was pure, Kanye West-ified magic.
REVIEW: Rock On: An Office Power Ballad, by Dan Kennedy
Posted on May 13, 2008 by Nicole Villeneuve
You know when there’s something in life you’ve always at least partially wanted to do, but due to circumstances or laziness or paralyzing fear of failure, you just don’t? It’s nice when someone else does it instead and it turns out to be a bust. Saves you the upset. Instead you sit and listen to your excuses and neuroses ring of sweet validation. The only possible downfall (seriously, otherwise this is a really good way to live life and I highly recommend it) is that you probably don’t get to write a hilarious book about your misadventures.
Rock On: An Office Power Ballad documents Dan Kennedy’s abrupt and anxious time as a mid-level marketing exec at Atlantic Records. Through a fluke freelance copywriting gig at the label he found himself employed full-time for about 18 months, starting in 2002. Remember that terrible women’s razor campaign that featured the even worse Jewel song of the same name? Well, you can thank Dan for that gem. But don’t hate him. He hates himself for it more than you or I possibly could.