Tag Archives: The Ten

Body

Caught a preview screening of Jennifer’s Body. It wasn’t as awful as I’d read, but I can say that there’s going to be a cadre of folks who are interested in seeing the thing just for Megan Fox’s body. And they’ll be disappointed, because though some of the billboard adverts have given it that bro-skin-flick sheen, that it ain’t. It may have some overbearingly brazen Hollywood affectations (let’s cram as many pop songs as possible in the most awkward situations), Diablo Cody may have gone a bit too over-the-top with her Diablo Cody-isms (though, to be perfectly honest, I know people who speak with the same “quirky” speech affectations), and the humor-horror mixture sometimes trips over itself.

Sometimes. It’s still fairly entertaining, though I wish Cody would’ve explored certain aspects in greater depth (though I can see how it may have been overkill/distracting).

WARNING: Potential spoilers ahead. (Nothing too terrible, but if you’ve seen or read anything about the film, you won’t be caught terribly off-guard.)

At the crux of all the movement is a band called Low Shoulder, who end up performing in the backwoods town that Jennifer lives in and results in a massive Great White-like disaster. (As an aside, I thought the horror take on a club fire was kind of in bad taste… perhaps because it’s exploitative nature that’s eerily like an event that feels so recent/always feels close to home considering the countless teeny spaces I myself cram into for shows could always be a potential nightmare.) In any case, the town and nation are somehow deluded into thinking the band are heroes, with the entire local high school head over heels for the group. A conversation ensues where a Needy (Amanda Seyfried) gets in an argument with a classmate who worships the band based on facts she read over wikipedia and claims that “we need them now more than ever.” It’s this kind of stuff that makes me really respect Cody: she may write a kind of dialogue that goes to extremes of online banter as used in life, but her abilities to display how people react in the most insignificant of situations is uncanny. I found that one relatively sideline scene to be so endearing, the idea that people will seek anything as a source of hope and use the word “hero” for a person who may not well deserve it, a third rate entertainer no less. (It’s kind of funny seeing Adam Brody in another role outside of The Ten where his character is revered for no apparent reason.)

On another, more scrupulous note, Brody’s fake band reveals a certain way people perceive, well, certain kinds of bands, within the context of a film and out of it. Left Shoulder are basically billed as an “indie” band on several occasions in the film, and the watered down song that’s parlayed throughout the film is basically as bland as anything that can be passed off as such. And though the only mention of emo in the entire film is something of a “quirk line” (“puncture wound? That’s so emo.”), some folks are already calling Brody’s faux act an emo band. So sayeth Metromix’s Geoff Berkshire:

When rising emo band Low Shoulder come to town, Jennifer makes it a priority to meet the lead singer (Adam Brody), leading to a night that changes her forever.

The giveaway for the band being remotely “emo”? Probably Brody’s guyliner. As Brody told MTV about his role:

I play this guy named Nikolai Wolf, and he’s a singer in an emo band. He’s looking for fame and fortune and is basically a sociopath who came upon the idea that devil worship and sacrificing a girl is the surefire ticket to fame and fortune. And he has no problem doing that, whatsoever.

….

Yeah, there’s some Jared Leto in there. I threw in a bit of Brandon Flowers. There’s a little Maroon 5. There’s no nail polish, but there’s a little bit of eyeliner.

And there you have it. Gotta love how Brandon Flowers, though he’s previously been outspoken against emo, is probably a greater basis for Brody’s character than Leto: Brody’s stage manner resembles that of Flowers in that over-indulgent, I’m-so-great-look-at-me-slowly-sway kind of way.

What’s more interesting is the band’s supposed evil status. I realize the film is a mixture of comedy and horror, but this is where the mixture doesn’t really work. The ease with which Brody and his band-mates are compelled to commit some heinous act with barely any 2nd guessing (that being the whole “hey, it’s either this or be a barista” argument, which is fairly lame) just didn’t do it for me. Why? Because any band that would have such a brazenly vanilla sound probably wouldn’t be in the same room as anything occult. Nor would they think “that dude from Maroon 5” is cool. Because no one thinks that guy is cool.

Now I’m just nitpicking…

Jennifer’s Body trailer:

Don’t Shudder

Great news today from reunion land, where Shudder To Think will join a growing list of acts banding together to make a little tour. It’s not much, but I’ll certainly take it. It also doesn’t hurt that Boston is one of the few locations in America that the band is scheduled to hit; they’ll be playing at Paradise Rock Club on October 11th.

Shudder To Think\'s Dischord Days

Shudder To Think provided one of the most interesting sounds on the Dischord roster when they joined in the late 80s. Sure, Fugazi was turning all notions of post-hardcore and emo on their heads, but Shudder To Think was an entirely different beast. They were a band that pulled more and more towards the aesthetic elements of psychedelia over time, though their ethos was still intensely grounded in the DIY punk realm. Their earliest work veered through the quick one-two punch of hardcore drumming before opening up to gaping waves of 60s-flavored guitar-work (see “Chocolate” off of Funeral At The Movies).

The band did refine their sound, as seen on 1992’s Get Your Goat. Shudder to Think did more than simply re-tread the old aesthetic waters of Revolution Summer emo acts. They took the combination of hardcore and pop on a roller coaster to the clouds; it didn’t hurt that frontman Craig Wedren’s eerie falsetto became as controlled, textured, and wholly unpredictable as the band’s sound. Their work mirrored and even impacted their future touring partners, Sunny Day Real Estate (at least according to the Alternative Press article on the 23 bands, where Shudder To Think is name-checked as being one of the DC bands perpetrating the particular style of emo). It’s hard not to see the connections between the two bands. Both made use of intelligently-crafted punk rock, both sought solace in the musical realm of the 60s and 70s, both featured vocalists with unusual singing styles in the realm of punk, and both brought a distinct change in style to the labels they became a part of (although, Sunny Day’s work at Sub Pop was more a rejection of by then typical grunge than it was an evolution of the label’s aesthetic… then again, Dischord had a fluid aesthetic that lends emo a certain sense of flexibility that exists to this day). Shudder To Think’s status as not only a creative, genre-bending band, but a cross-national influence works to establish their importance in the narrative of emo; their eventual connection with Sunny Day is one of many moves that helps to solidify a cross-substantial aesthetic idea of emo, as well as a burgeoning community surrounding emo (touring would become an important part of the Mid Western emo community as many bands that toured with one another shared ideas and friendship through their troubadour spirits).

Shudder To Think would continue to spread the idea of an evolutionary emo sound when they signed to Epic to release the Pony Express Record; they were only one of two Dischord bands to sign to a major label frenzy in the great alternative buyouts in the post-Nevermind music world. But the world wasn’t ready for the Pony Express Record (nor was it ready for most of the bands that were signed in the major label buyouts). Hell, emo wasn’t really ready either. Shudder To Think always had an odd style, but it got even weirder with their major label debut. In an aesthetic style that prided itself on lyrics that were both ambiguous but contained a sense of personal investment to the band and listener, Shudder provided a great thesis in that flexibility and a great revolution against the concept. Pony Express is lyrically obtuse, it’s music strung all over the place. And it’s still positively great, though a little rough to get into at parts. If emo means emotional music over punk rock, nothing fits that idea better than the wailing anthem that Wedren lets out against a sea of guitars on the two-plus minute long chorus closing out “X-French Tee Shirt”.

The rest of the Shudder To Think tale is all over the map. Wedren battled Hodgkin’s Disease while recording their second major label album. And a couple of projects were made under the Shudder To Think name: a soundtrack for the movies First Love, Last Rights (featuring guest vocals from folks such as Jeff Buckley), High Art, and a selection of songs for the glitter-rock inspired film Velvet Goldmine.

Shudder To Think broke up shortly thereafter in 1998. Wedren has been the most visible and successful of the band members since the breakup with a solo career. However, Wedren’s solo work is probably best recognized in the guise of three other guys: Michael Showalter, Michael Ian Black, and David Wain. Wedren has been the trio’s go-to guy for movies like Wet Hot American Summer (he wrote the song “Wet Hot American Summer” and co-wrote the hilarious track “Higher and Higher”), The Baxter, and The Ten (in which he also played an extra in the chorus of nude dudes).

Craig Wedren

What will happen with the new Shudder To Think reunion? A new album? Five new albums? Or just a simple tour. Whatever happens, something good is sure to come.

Shudder To Think – X-French Tee Shirt (video)