So after my first Moderna shot, I started rewatching the Fast and the Furious series for the first time in years. In a haze, I took notes on my phone. Names of characters and the actors who portray them are mixed together with no rhyme or reason. I make no apologies for spoilers. Here’s a fast five of the first five, so far:
The Fast and the Furious: Just unbelievable stunt driving… when the Honda hangs under the semi? Holeee sheeeet. I realize this was released at the height of N*SYNC’s domination, but don’t know who thought it’d be a good idea to give O’Connor ramen noodle hair. Mia, why are you falling for this white boy? They literally called that shit “race wars” and apparently real people do them now. Dom says “family” a lot.
2 Fast 2 Furious: A friend of mine said that the early FF movies were basically hip-hop videos, but let’s be real, the women are too skinny. Pretty sure Tyrese has “apropo of nothing, takes off shirt” in his contract. Suki is the only woman racer named. I thought these movies were about racing cars, not cops and their egos. Ramen Noodle Boy is less curly, but dammit, Eva Mendes, you can do so much better. I just got my first dose of Moderna, so I don’t really know what’s going on at any moment tbh.
The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift: What is it with this series and inoffensively cute white boys with dumb faces and dumber haircuts? The dialogue, motivation and drama of these characters make absolutely no sense to me, but the drifting is legitimately so cool that I’m willing to forgive this movie’s serious lack of Film School basics. Han likes chips, is stupid handsome. They freaking killed Han???!!
Fast & Furious: When shit starts to get ridiculous, but doesn’t fully commit (see: opening scene). I thought Han died? (Wait… is this a prequel?) Dom is emo. Mia is back… with bangs! Why the heck do they keep trusting the white boy? He is literally the feds. The bad guy told y’all he was the bad guy — is no one listening? Mad Max finale is dope.
Fast Five: The one with The Rock, who thinks he’s in a hard-boiled cop movie from the ‘80s. Oceans 11 minus any semblance of heist movie whimsy. They raced for a car and we didn’t even get to see the race. Mercilessly mowing down folks with machine guns. Wait… Han is still alive? What is going on with the timeline of this franchise? Women start to get some agency, and then they literally use Wonder Woman’s ass as a prop. Dom and Hobbs desperately want to kiss. Other than the cop revenge fantasy, a joyless slog that takes itself way too seriously.
# Bandcamp 6-Pack A new sixer (almost) every week. Follow my collection on Bandcamp.
MESUM, Enigmatic Existential Essence (New Standard Elite): For the past month or so, I’ve been listening to an inordinate (unhealthy?) amount of slamming brutal death metal, and that thing has happened where I can now hear the nuances of an extremely un-nuanced sub-sub-genre. Nick from Krallice turned me onto MESHUM, one Turkish dude (Erkin Öztürk) who plays everything on this debut album, including machine-gun drums (no drum machine!) with a snare sound so dirty and foul that someone should really call protective services. The blasting? Incessant and hypnotic, but rounded out with slammin’ grooves. The riffs? Crunchier than an unwashed battle vest, but pinched by squealing harmonics. The vocals? Pig howled and slaughtered.
Mother Nature and BoatHouse, SZNZ (Closed Sessions): In recent years, it’s become clear what styles of hip-hop I’m most drawn to: idiosyncratic soul-sampling (MF DOOM, J Dilla), rumbling grit (Wu-Tang), weirdos (Kool Keith, Young Thug when he wants to be) and, well, just about anything from the South (be it Clipse, classic crunk, OutKast or UGK). In short, I like boom-bap, but seek beyond a straight 808. Mother Nature’s got a little bit of everything above — the Chicago hip-hop duo’s got a summertime swagger, when your neighbor’s parked car bumps the perfect vibe. BoatHouse’s production leans into a sun-beaten asphalt heat as rappers Klevah Knox and TRUTH’s cooler-than-ice-cold flows even out the heat.
New Life, Visions of the Third Eye (Early Future): I thought I knew Steve Reid’s drumming — his funky flow freeing up the rhythm and movement of Rhythmatism, Nova and Odyssey of the Oblong Square in the ’70s, and doing much the same with Kieran Hebden in the early 2000s. Didn’t know about this 1979 date with guitarist Brandon Ross and bassist David Wertman. This one’s an earthy scorcher, as Reid breaks up distortion-less minimalist rock — and, dare I say, mid-’60s freak-folk — riffs with raw beats and punked-up swing. Missed on the physical edition of this vinyl reissue, but too good to miss these tunes.
Stygian Ruin, The Blackened Temple (self-released): Stygian Ruin’s stylish blend of atmospheric black metal and dungeon synth feels more akin to Popol Vuh, Tangerine Dream and John Carpenter — ancient and cinematic, loaded with bass-y synths, stirring melodies, crashing drums and a din of noisy guitar distortion that evens out the bottom-heavy production.
Model Village, World of Carp (Towed by the Ghost / Kingfisher Bluez): If, like me, your tastes in indie-pop lean towards British twee in the late ’90s and early 2000s, then, dang, here’s your new favorite band. Model Village has actually been around a minute (and I’d highly recommend 2015’s Healing Centre), and makes pop music for and by punks a la Martha: smart and sophisticated, but with a raw underbelly that roughs up the lush sound. For the first time, Lily Rose takes the lead vocal throughout, giving some uniformity to songs that dance from Yo La Tengo to Saint Etienne to Blondie.
Årabrot, Norwegian Gothic (Pelagic): I remember Årabrot’s run on Fysisk Format almost a decade ago, but apparently missed out on the Norwegian band’s transformation from AmRep’d bulldozer noise-rock into a cathedral-shaking rock-and-roll powerhouse. Norwegian Gothic has a gorgeous surreality pulsed by throbbing bass and windmill power chords, tastefully (but still bombastically) arranged with strings, theremin, Mellotron and the dynamic vocal presence of Kjetil Nernes and Karin Park.
37 tracks. Opens with new white-hot psych-rock blooze via Birds of Maya, a band I have missed! Marina has exactly zero chill, which has always made her a fascinating pop music figure to me. Young Thug’s Slime Language 2 feels like a return and an expansion. Chubby and the Gang’s new song is kinda clean for a gruff punk band, but I’m curious to hear more. When did Tirzah turn into Codeine? Lucy Gooch glides in Cocteau Twins Land, a place I want to be. I mostly know Jason Nazary from the freak-jazz quartet Little Women; this track’s got some electroacoustic wheeze that makes me woozy. Slam and grind via Shinda Saibo No Katamari, Meshum, The Hirs Collective, Dead Heat. Dance yourself in fractals of green: True Peak Limit, Mentrix, Downstairs People. Berlin’s Crazysane sent me a bunch of records recently, which — of course — feeds my collector habit, but also turns me onto a bunch of rad stuff like German bands AUA (motorik-driven experimental rock) and Entropy (Foo Fighters-y emo a la Colour and the Shape). Throwbacks to Yellow Magic Orchestra, Darkthrone, Nikto, Squill, Unwound, Erica Freas, Vic Chesnutt. Ends with Hayley Williams’ Broadcast cover.