Tag Archives: ABC

Passion Pit = Electronic-Rock’s Jimmy Eat World?

I rarely mention Pitchfork in the guise of this blog… I won’t go into great details, and I will admit it’s easily one of the best aggregators for independent-related music information, so I do visit the site regularly. But when it comes to reviews, I try to stray from their pieces. Yes, the Pitchfork writers are clearly intelligent, and are articulate… and yet, they voraciously dispense their harshest vocabulary upon criticisms of acts that don’t so much reveal what is necessarily “good” or “bad” about an album, but really display the reviewers’ own unkempt contempt for a particular genre or band. It often feels at times as if they choose a critic who’s distaste towards a musician far outweighs anyone else on staff to give a record its “proper” review.

So I stay wary of Pitchfork reviews. Granted, if one album gets the “Best New Music” seal-of-approval, I’ll check it out; Pitchfork has a select taste, and it’s good. But I’ll also be sure to take a peek at records that get trashed. After all, it doesn’t hurt one to look into a band – it hurts when you purchase the album to find out you hate it. I’ve enjoyed many an act that’s sustained Pitchfork’s wrath and many that have received their praise.

But one genre that never seems to get much respect is emo. Sure, Pitchfork loves the indie-established emo acts – to a point. Fugazi is always tops for them, Sunny Day Real Estate has done well (with the exception of The Rising Tide, though it does get a fair “ok” from em), The Appleseed Cast and Cursive fluctuate on the P-fork scale, and The Promise Ring managed to sneak in with Nothing Feels Good (only for their later material to get trampled).

But a band like Jimmy Eat World? They’re toast, put on a pedastil of emo in its worst essence and burnt to the ground. They’ve yet to achieve a good review from the site… and this isn’t even including the skewering that Clarity received that was less a review and more a transcribed taunt at all the bubbling stereotypes that were about to burst to the surface.

So I’m a little baffled with the introduction to Pitchfork’s weekly music pick on ABC. When describing Passion Pit’s Manners, Ian Cohen praises the group by saying:

What Passion Pit does is update a real passionate, really sincere, almost emo sound of the early 2000s like a band like Jimmy Eat World, and applies it to an electronic-dance sound.

Strange. He goes further in his review on the site:

Most of the time, singer Michael Angelakos’ half-eunuch/half-Jeremy Enigk voice is likely voicing some sort of commentary on his feelings. There’s an almost archaic belief that a record should have at least four singles and the nagging feeling that Passion Pit could just be another garage/emo band that traded in their guitars for samplers. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, just about all of this works in Manners‘ favor, as it’s the sort of heart-to-heart populist record that’s every bit as sincere as it is infectious– though Angelakos sings in a manner rarely heard outside of a shower with unpredictable temperature control, it feels symbolic of a band that’s completely unashamed, not shameless, in its pursuit of a human connection.

I’m sorry. What? Honestly, that is every bit as revealing of Cohen’s distaste of emo out of sheer blind-hatred than anything about Passion Pit’s music. The description that Cohen gives matches that of many a great emo act – I would hardly call Jim Adkin’s lyrics shameless… perhaps later on “not great,” but it’s sheerly “unashamed in its pursuit of a human connection.”

So why does Passion Pit get the go ahead? Well, it’s not emo for one – it exemplifies many a trait, but the band’s choice to do so with electronic music gives it something of an ironic twist, even in its sincerity. After all, the band was originally nothing more than a cute few ditties made from looped samples by Michael Angelakos for his girlfriend on Valentines Day. It was humorous and cute in its creation, and in many ways continues to be. Because the band doesn’t muddle in familiar musical antics that so many emo bands do, it’s a bit refreshing. And, again, there’s a bit of irony to bringing high-pitched falsetto to over-the-top love ditties. It gives it a twist that some may be able to stomach in a different sonic plane than in a guitar-based state. While it seems purely superficial done with three-chords and loud and noisy, for some reason, it’s high-hopes and dreams are matched with Passion Pit’s sound.

But, as is my interpretation of Cohen’s love of the band and not, well, emo.

As for my take? Well, I like them, but I’m certainly not over-enthusiastic about them. “Sleepyhead” is nearly-impossible to not get stuck in your head and enjoy… but the rest of Manners is up and down and doesn’t seem to have the same, well, passion as their single or a few of the other songs on Chunk Of Change. But, it’s nice to see a Boston band do well for itself; considering the mass of bands and music communities festering in this city, whatever gets any of the odder bands more attention because they’re from the same city as Passion Pit or any other band of the moment that’s cropping up from this town ain’t too bad.

Passion Pit – “Sleepyhead” (video):

Paging Dr. Emo

In another classic case of disabuse of the term “emo,” Newsday’s preview of the new season of Scrubs on a new network (ABC), features the following foreshadowing for the rest of the show’s final season:

“…creator Bill Lawrence has vowed that he wants to take the emo route more often in this, the final, season.”

Well, no real reason to respond to that misuse. The article also has some episode spoilers and declares that followers of the show shouldn’t be upset about the network change as the show stays true to its roots, whereas anyone who has been following the series since its debut has seen a dramatic nosedive in the show’s quality in the past few seasons. So perhaps there’s nothing to fear in the switchover, as the show was magically revived from near-cancellation, and honestly, when the characters and story were so endearing in the first place, it just might be better than nothing.

Most “emo” Scrubs episodes:

*”My Old Lady” – Season 1, Episode 4

*”My Bed Banter & Beyond” – Season 1, Episode 15

*”My Philosophy” – Season 2, Episode 13

*”My Screwup” – Season 3, Episode 14

*”My Long Goodbye” – Season 6, Episode 15


Scrubs – “Our Intern Class” (new webisode):

Peepin’ For The Full Effect

It was when I found myself staring at a nearby TV at Super 88 in Allston that I remembered a pretty reasonable realization: American television is at a creative low. Every moment I think it’s hit a nadir and then Wipeout gets an hour of airtime on ABC. It makes me pine a little for the programmes of the UK, specifically Channel 4’s Peep Show.

Mitchell and Webb of Peep Show

Mitchell and Webb of Peep Show

No, Peep Show does not have anything to do with porn. Or peeps for that matter. Instead, it concerns the daily mundane lives of Mark and Jeremy, two college buddies sharing a flat and London. The show’s name comes from the ingenious use of camera angles; the program only makes use of first-person perspective shots (and you thought Cloverfield was testing out new ground in film-making) so that it’s as if you are “peeping” in on someone’s personal life. The show – which recently aired its fifth season – makes excellent use of inner-monologues, dry wit, and unscrupulous/in-your-face social commentary in order to give a kick to modern sitcom styles. Its “humour” is as much about the truth according to the individuals as it is about the situations the characters find themselves to be in.

James Dewees aka Reggie And The Full Effect

James Dewees aka Reggie And The Full Effect

In the world of emo, no act is as provocative in truth telling and makes use of humor in order to convey a sense of sincerity as Kansas City, Missouri’s Reggie And The Full Effect. Reggie boils down to one dude – James Dewees. Dewees’ best-known musical project outside of Reggie was his role as the guy behind the keyboards in one of the names that pushed emo into the limelight – The Get Up Kids. It was during his time as a Get Up Kid that Dewees began to craft some songs that would become the first by Reggie And The Full Effect (later packaged in Greatest Hits ’84 – ’87). Packed with pop-paunch, abrasive blasts of dissonant guitar, 2nd wave emo’s caustic dynamic change-ups, and an introspective, wry sense of humor, Reggie And The Full Effect became the band for emo fans who could stand to laugh at themselves and those awful stereotypes.

Songs Not To Get Married To

Songs Not To Get Married To

2005’s Songs Not To Get Married To is perhaps Reggie’s best album. Whereas the earlier Reggie material was unabashedly filled to the brim with sincere and humorous takes on the stereotypical subjects in the emo cannon (namely, love), Songs Not To Get Married To took that combination of humor and truth to a self-deprecating peak. Inspired by the breakdown of Dewees marriage, the album puts all of Dewees’ frustrations and complaints with life and love up front, and just by the title, it’s clear that Reggie has some laughter left in the languished affairs of divorce. And with songs such as “Get Well Soon” and “Take Me Home, Please,” Dewees found his ultimate pop performance, filled with the kind of synth-based production the major labels could kill for.

Last Stop, Crappy Town

Last Stop, Crappy Town

Flash forward to today, and the music is about to stop for Reggie And The Full Effect. Noticeably darker from just a slight listen, Last Stop, Crappy Town was released near the end of June. And Reggie is about to embark on their last tour. Be sure to catch this if you can, although knowing Dewees’ up-front sense of humor, who knows if this really is the end for Reggie.

Peep Show – Series 1, Episode 1, Part 1:

…And The Two Best Reggie Videos…

“Congratulations Smack and Katie”:

“Love Reality”: