Just a quick note of some of the funnest content I consumed last month (in no particular order):
– I’ve been working my way through the videos of a Japanese beat combo called Band-Maid, after overlooking them for far too long… I was initially put off by their gimmicky outfits, but I finally got the joke when I heard how hard they rocked. Seeing Kanami Tōno shredding out guitar solos with a frilly doily on her head is objectively hilarious, and I often find myself wishing the camera focussed on her for longer, ‘cuz she’s awesome! I’d also love to see more of drummer Akane Hirose, who always seems to be having the time of her life bashing away at her kit.* During my “research” for this post, I found a (slightly techy) interview with Kanami on the Guitar World site, which ends with the line: “We wear cute maid outfits as a band, but our music is as good as any male group, so please check us out for yourself!” Amen. Meanwhile, the group’s super-cool “co-vocalist”/rhythm-guitarist Miku Kobato has launched a separate side-project, called Cluppo, whose “Peace&Love” promo dropped in March.
– St. Vincent released her unique “Art-rock” take on Metallica’s “Sad But True”, to herald a forthcoming charity covers compilation called The Metallica Blacklist, which will also feature contributions by Cherry Glazerr (“My Friend Of Misery”), Imelda May (“The God That Failed”), and Corey Taylor (“Holier Than Thou”), among many others. While searching for more info on this album, I also found an old Rolling Stone article, in which Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) discussed what a huge influence the band was on her as a teen, while chatting with their lead guitarist Kirk Hammett!
– Apparently Mouse Rat, the fictional band from Parks and Recreation fronted by Chris Pratt‘s character (‘Andy Dwyer’), are now releasing music irl, and recently posted an endorsement from ace Pawnee Journal reporter ‘Shauna Malwae-Tweep’ (aka Alison Becker) to their Insta. This then inspired me to watch a bunch of Becker’s old online skits, including CollegeHumor’s “If Google Was a Guy” compilation, in which she has a brief bit-part as a human manifestation of ‘Siri’, while Brian Huskey stars as ‘Google’ it/himself, Milana Vayntrub and D’Arcy Carden appear as curious search-engine users, and Randall Park plays the upstart rival ‘Bing’. Fun fact: Becker kinda shares her name with a (male) Brazilian footballer, hence her recording a spoof video accepting his “Best Goalkeeper Award” back in 2019!
– For some reason I haven’t mentioned Honest Trailers here before (possibly because it’s hard to find a single link for all the eps, with Screen Junkies arranging them by “seasons” instead!), even though I watch them compulsively every Tuesday, and frequently rewatch a couple of old eps as a quick, reliable pick-me-up at the end of the day. To summarise for those who aren’t already hooked, it’s a web-series of parody trailers for various films and TV shows, using genuine footage overdubbed with a snarky, mocking narration (usually by Jon Bailey alone, sometimes joined by a special guest)… though, true to the “honest” part of their title, they do sometimes compliment the movie/show in question. Either way, like Ryan George‘s Pitch Meetings, it makes me laugh super-hard, but also spurs the scriptwriter in me to examine and dissect my own work a little more sharply, to avoid the imagined jeering of these critics! If you’re curious, some kind souls have compiled a list of eps over on Wikipedia (Imho the pre-2013 ones, which had different narrators, are a little rougher on the ears… but that may just be in comparison to the later ones…?).
– Big Shot finale-d out last month, with [SPOILERS!] a pleasantly weepy/sappy ending, and a refreshing absence of nail-biting cliff-hangers! Phew! I’m not sure this season as a whole has really lived up to the pilot episode, with potentially interesting conflicts quickly resolved/evaded (largely off-screen, in the case of ‘Louise’s (Nell Verlaque) overbearing father), and amusing quirks forgotten (such as the character “Giggles” (Cricket Wampler) swiftly losing the nervous tic that earned her that nickname), but then again they were trying to get this show made during a global pandemic, and suffered several Covid-related-shutdowns during production, so it’s probably unfair to judge them too harshly. The romance between “Mouse” (Tisha Custodio) and ‘Harper’ (Darcy Rose Byrnes) was very sweet and engaging, with the latter’s mother/drama-teacher ‘Miss Goodwin’ (Kathleen Rose Perkins) also proving to be a fantastically flamboyant/eccentric foil for ‘Coach Korn’ (John Stamos). There were a couple storylines I skipped through, and several super-convenient plot contrivances that pained my brain, but overall it was a good, fun, heart-warming ride, and hopefully it will put its younger cast-members on the map (especially Sophia Mitri Schloss, who’s impressive singing-voice was showcased in several eps), even if it doesn’t return for a second run…
– Garbage performed a track called “Wolves” on Late Night with Seth Meyers, to promote their new album No Gods No Masters… while Sleater-Kinney performed “Worry With You” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (“live” from a drained/disused swimming pool!), to promote their equally new album, Path of Wellness! Both discs were scheduled to drop on June 11th, which would’ve been a very exciting day at the record store for me, if such things still existed, and we were legally allowed to visit them…
– Samantha Bee roped her “close friend” Steve Buscemi into helping her prepare for the return of live audiences by heckling her over a video-call, which doesn’t seem super-helpful to me, but it is very funny, so yay for that!
– Allure challenged Awkwafina to try “9 Things She’s Never Done Before”, including naming lip-sticks and “reading” a crystal ball… endearing shenanigans ensued.
– Oh, and I finally finished the first volume of Simon Schama’s The Story of the Jews (“Finding the Words: 1000BCE – 1492CE”) (2013), which I’d originally picked up for historical research, but found to be a surprisingly entertaining/addictive page-turner. It’s quite eye-opening/depressing to learn just how long-lived certain Anti-Semitic canards/practices really are… such as forcing Jewish people to wear distinctive clothing/badges to mark them out from the majority population, which dates back to the Middle Ages! Feh! Despite the subtitle suggesting a strictly chronological order of events, Schama occasionally skipped forward to the 19th/20th Centuries, to discuss the archaeologists/archivists who’d discovered/surveyed the artefacts/evidence he was referencing, which could get a little confusing at times… but then again I’m easily confused, and was only reading it in short bursts at night, so I’m probably more to blame for that than the author is!
* Apparently the limited-edition deluxe version of their new live BR (Online Okyu-Ji) comes with a bonus disc that allows you to watch various performances with the camera fixed on a single member… but that sells for around £72 (before p&p), which is waaay too expensive for this miser! They’ve also just launched a “subscription-based video distribution service” (named “Band-Maid Prime”), which includes clips focussed on individual players… but again it costs ¥1,100 per month (roughly £7.17), so it’s too rich for my blood!