Posted in Geeky Stuff, TV

“If I don’t come back, I’m dead or in jail.” (Fargo: Year 4 review)

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Happy Friday, bibliophiles! I suppose that the bibliophile greeting doesn’t *quite* fit for this post, but hey, you probably followed this blog for books, right? Today, we’ve got something a little bit different–but at least I kept my promise, didn’t I? I hinted at doing a review for at least a week prior to today…

At the beginning of quarantine, my brother and my parents had just started binging Fargo. So like so many of us have done with different shows in the last 6 months, I starting doing some serious binge-watching. I’d already been exposed to Noah Hawley’s masterful storytelling through Legion, but Fargo never ceased to wow me. I forgot about it for a few months after finishing up season 3, and then the trailer for season 4 came out in September. I didn’t see it coming, but little did I know that this newest season would be my favorite yet!

Chris Rock Leads the Future in New Fargo Season 4 Teaser

Here’s the special thing about Fargo: each season follows a plot that, chances are, you’ve seen before: murder mysteries in small towns, sibling rivalries escalated to astronomical proportions, dysfunctional crime families; this season, in particular, centers around the politics of rivaling Italian and African-American gangs in 1950s Kansas City, and a mortician’s family who unwillingly gets caught up in the action. But every season, without fail, Noah Hawley spins it into something that you’ve never seen before, be it with the characters, the cinematography, and the plot twists (and there’s a LOT of plot twists). Fargo is all about the unexpected, and season 4 brings the factor of the unknown and unseen up to levels that I haven’t seen since…well, I guess that season 3 ending…(no spoilers.)

And maybe I’m biased for this one. October was one of the hardest months I’ve had in quite a while, and Fargo was, without a doubt, one of the things that kept me going through it. As the season came out, my days started to revolve around the Monday nights that would inevitably bring another episode to fuel me with enough dopamine to keep me going through the rest of the week. But I genuinely believe that this show embodies what storytelling should be–what good TV should be, really. And this season has truly cemented Fargo as my favorite show. (And considering that I don’t readily jump for murder mysteries/historical fiction, that’s definitely saying something. That’s just the power of Noah Hawley, folks…)

Now, TREAD LIGHTLY! This review may contain some minor spoilers, but for your benefit, I’ll try to keep it light on them. But even so, be warned…

Fargo" season 4 has spun a complex, compelling American fable of race and  crime | Salon.com

I…can’t really find anything major that I didn’t like about this season, so consider this review a breakdown of most everything that I loved.

THE GREAT:

  • Characters/casting/acting: With every Fargo season, there’s no shortage of complex characters and masterful actors (for previous seasons, see: Martin Freeman, Bokeem Woodbine, Jean Smart, Ewan McGregor, David Thewlis, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, etc.), but season 4 in particular had them in no short supply. I loved all of the (HUGE) main cast and many of the supporting characters, but for one reason or another, this is the first season where I’ve gotten really attached to more than one character. And considering that Fargo is one of those shows that 75%-80% of the main cast is killed off by the time the finale rolls around, it…didn’t go over well with my emotions. But in all seriousness, THESE CHARACTERS!

Let me just digress to talk about my three favorites in this season:

Fargo Season 4 Episode 5 Review: The Birthplace of Civilization | Den of  Geek
  • Doctor Senator (Glynn Turman): let’s be honest, what’s not to like? He consistently has some of the best lines/general dialogue in this season, he’s strategic, he’s clever, and he’s instantly likable. I’ll get more in depth on the morally gray theme of the whole season later on in the review, but leave it to Fargo to make us AGGRESSIVELY sympathize with all manner of mobsters and criminals…anyways, this guy’s the best.
In 'Fargo' Season 4, All the Cops are Bad — Noah Hawley Explains Why |  IndieWire
“I am Ethelrida Pearl Smutny. And I am one of a kind.”
  • Ethelrida Smutny (E’myri Crutchfield): LOVE HER! She’s one of the few characters in this season who’s morally right and seeks to do the right thing, and she is such a lovable character in every way. She’s frequently underestimated by most of the adults in this season, but she shows herself to not only be smart–smarter than them, in some cases–, but compassionate and determined to do the right thing. The world needs more people like Ethelrida.

And last but most definitely not least…

Fargo' Season 4 Character Guide: Who's Who in the New Series
“If I don’t come back, I’m dead or in jail. Do your lessons.”
  • Patrick “Rabbi” Milligan (Ben Whishaw): [SCREAMS AND CRIES INTO THE VOID]

Out of the three I just mentioned, he’s absolutely my favorite. He’s endured so much tragedy and trauma over the course of his life, but all he wants is for Satchel to have a better life. Again, no shortage of clever and insightful lines, and objectively one of those characters that just needs a big hug and a mug of hot chocolate. Just…just trust me on that one. You’ll see.

FX Postpones Fargo Season 4 After Production Delays Due to Coronavirus |  Consequence of Sound
I hate myself for thinking about that “What do you have? A KNIFE! NO!” vine when I saw this scene…

But as far as characters, it doesn’t stop there. Everybody, from Chris Rock (Loy Cannon) to Jason Schwartzman (Josto Fadda) to Jessie Buckley (Oraetta Mayflower) truly shines in season 4. Each character is distinct, complex, and it was an absolute joy to see all of their stories unfold. (Also, it’s worth it just to see Jason Schwartzman just SNAP…that scene of him just pretending to hold a gun and just go “HAGAGAGAGAGHGHAGSDHAGHGHGH” just lives rent-free in my mind now…)

(Plus…THE GAYS WON 2020, EVERYBODY! Can we just talk about how Zelmare and Swanee INVENTED “be gay, do crime?”)

Preview — Fargo Season 4 Episode 8: The Nadir | Tell-Tale TV
[intense sapphic happiness ensues]

Whew, that went on for a while. BUT WAIT–THERE’S MORE, BECAUSE THIS SHOW IS VERY NEARLY FLAWLESS:

  • Score and soundtrack: At this point, I think it’s just impossible for Jeff Russo to ever make a bad score for a movie or a TV show. Besides all of the remixes of the music from previous seasons, I loved all of the new songs. I particularly liked Odis (Jack Huston)’s theme (somehow it almost sounds like a car alarm? But in a good way) and the Legion-y song with the shootout with Zelmare and Swanee at the train station. And I loved all of the other songs that were slipped in. No spoilers for the context of the Johnny Cash song in the finale, but when I tell you that I SOBBED…
  • Timely themes: One of the main complaints I’ve seen about this season is that it’s “too woke,” (🙄) which I think is utterly idiotic. This season’s set in 1950, but it’s more timely than ever–there’s discussions of race, police brutality, immigration, and what it means to be an American. And it’s all handled quite well, I think. One thing I’ve always appreciated about the show as a whole is how it depicts the American police system–for the first three seasons, there’s usually 1-2 cops that actually know what they’re doing, but they’re frequently dismissed by a largely unbelieving and sexist police force. This season is the first where we have both of our main cops as largely corrupt, but we still sympathize with one of them (PTSD relating to WWII). Most of the characters are morally gray as well (I mean, most of the main cast are members of separate gangs), and that contrast was also well-done.
  • That classic, Noah Hawley weirdness: in every season, there’s at least one episode or plot point that’s highly out of the ordinary, and lucky for us, we got that in the form of episode 9. Besides having a whole episode of Rabbi and Satchel after not seeing them for two episodes, there’s an amazing Wizard of Oz theme with the whole episode. I’ll shamelessly admit to thinking about it for a solid WEEK.
Fargo' Season 4, Episode 9 Recap: And a Little Dog, Too - The New York Times
  • All the Coen Brothers references, of course: Treehorn? The Raising Arizona screaming? Everything that I missed? LOADS OF FUN.
Chris Rock Says Irish Actress Got Best Part on 'Fargo,' Evil Nurse Oraetta
“Ya like pie?”

All in all, this was a masterful show from start to finish. My favorite season out of the four, by far, although I love them all. I’m already rewatching the whole season over again…

MY RATING: ★★★★★

TW/CW: Graphic violence (mostly gunshot wounds, but there’s some parts that definitely made me queasy), racism, xenophobia, police brutality, some brief racist/homophobic/ablelist slurs, poisoning, loss of loved ones, alcoholism/substance abuse

EDIT: Whoooooooa, apparently this is my 500th post! Dang…😳

Today’s song:

I haven’t heard this song in so long…the memories…😭

That’s it for this TV review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

My 5 Favorite Songs of 2018 (so far)

Hi, everyone! I hope you’re all having a good Monday! (Well, as good as a Monday can get. Hopefully that’s better than my standards for Mondays.)

Let me just start off by saying that boy, this has been a pretty fantastic year for music.

I’ve already reviewed two albums that came out this year (See Twin Fantasy Re-Release and Lush), but now, there’s even more awesomeness out there to listen to! Also, I did end up seeing BOTH of the artists whose albums I’ve reviewed this year (Snail Mail and Car Seat Headrest. Best nights of my life. I met Lindsey Jordan, who was incredibly sweet, and Will Toledo said that we were the best crowd he’d seen on this tour 😭), which has further increased my appreciation for those bands. Some of my opinions have stayed the same, but others have grown on me since I first listened to them. But I’ll get to that later; here are my five favorite songs so far!

 

1. “Bodys”, Car Seat Headrest 

Nobody can match Will’s moves. Really.

 

My original rating for this song was about a 7/10. But it has grown on my a significant amount, not only from increased listening, but from this performance as well. That, and the fact that I found out that the “need-to-know-basis” thing at the end was Andrew Katz. Hysterical. 

This is my go to feel good song, one that you can bop to no matter what mood you’re in. And I won’t deny that when Car Seat Headrest played this when I saw them, I danced so much that I feared that my new glasses would fall right of my nose and plummet from the balcony. I sang myself hoarse, too. But it was totally, 100% worth it. ❤

 

2. “Heat Wave”, Snail Mail 

After watching this video, there’s basically no need for an explanation. 10/10. Five stars. ALWAYS YES. Also, this was the first song that they played when I saw them, and THEY ABSOLUTELY NAILED IT. I WAS SO HAPPY!!!

 

3. “Everybody Thinks They Know (But No One Really Knows)”, Naked Giants

(The video’s just as weird and fun as the song. Trust me.)

I first got introduced to Naked Giants through Car Seat Headrest. They opened about an hour before CSH, and they were INSANELY TALENTED. Spectacular job.

We bought a few of their songs a few weeks after that performance, and this is the one I fell in love with the most. The perfect balance between light, dancey pop and alt-rock, that isn’t so cringey that you immediately switch the station. (Also, I’ll admit to listening to it on repeat in the first week of high school to remind myself that the other freshmen were just as confused as I was.)

 

4. “No Going Back”, Yuno

(Cute little video as well. Simple, but somehow perfect for the song.)

I first heard this song through Sirius XMU, and even though the DJ made a terrible pun about the artist in question, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. Kind of like #3, where it struck the perfect balance between pop and rock. A bit like the child of Tame Impala and…something I can’t quite place. Either way, such a fantastic little song. 🙂

 

5. “Valley of the Dolls”, Santigold 

I swear, Santigold has become the ultimate “blast-this-song-out-the-car-window-at-full-volume” artist. No matter what, her music has the uncanny ability to make you dance, no matter what mood you’re in. (Or, at the very least, nod your head or tap your foot.) “Valley of the Dolls” was no exception. Out of I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions, this was my favorite. The perfect balance, the goldilocks. Also, it just brings back this funny memory of my family talking about a completely different, really depressing album (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, if you’re dying to know 👌), and this happened to be playing in the background.

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Well, I hope I exposed you to some new music through this post! Enjoy the rest of your day, and stay tuned for the next BRT tomorrow!

Posted in Music

Twin Fantasy (2018 Re-release) album review

Yep, that’s right, everyone! Here is your promised Car Seat Headrest album review!

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Let me just start this off by saying…

There is not a single bad song on this album. 

 

Okay, that’s probably a teensy bit biased, but that’s what I’ve truly come to believe. I had bought a few songs off the original album, and they blew me away, but this re-release truly blew it out of the water. Don’t believe me? Here’s my review!

 

TRACK 1: “My Boy (Twin Fantasy)”-8/10

Though it’s only around two and a half minutes long, this song is a beautiful mix of simultaneous hope and poignancy, with consistancy and slowy building vocals and instrumentals. *sad smile* Aww, Will…

 

TRACK 2: “Beach Life-In-Death”-7.5/10

Normally, my patience for songs runs out at about eight minutes. “Beach Life-In-Death” clocks in at about thirteen. But the good thing about this song is that it’s like three different songs. The first five minutes or so have lyrics that reflect a sense of boredom and redundancy. Then, it changes to melancholy and regret, then slowly transitions back into fast-paced instruments similar to the first third of the song. Me gusta.

 

TRACK 3: “Stop Smoking (We Love You)”-8.5/10

 

 

This was one of the songs I initially bought off the original version of the album. A beautiful, pleading melody with a great message to top it all off. This new version backs up the instrumentals in the background a lot, making the song almost more powerful and meaningful, in some strange way.

 

TRACK 4: “Sober to Death”-10/10

 

This was the second song I bought off the original album. And OH MY GOD, Car Seat Headrest blew it out of the water EVEN MORE with the new version of this song! I loved the original the second I heard it, but this version makes me want to jump out of my chair and scream, cry, and dance. It really stirs up my soul and makes it want to burst at the very seams with pure joy. I swear I’m not overexaggerating-THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST SONGS IN RECORDED HISTORY. PERIOD.

 

TRACK 5: “Nervous Young Inhumans”-9/10

(This is the greatest music video ever. I gotta learn Will Toledo’s little dance.)

This song was the other one that I bought off the original album. Though I miss Will Toledo’s little rant about galvanism and Frankenstein and whatnot, I loooooooove the new version of this song. The lyrics (slightly changed) are easier to understand now, and their cleverness and wit truly shines through with this track.

 

TRACK 6: “Bodys”-7/10

Not the best track on the album, but a fun, catchy, and at times a bit hilarious song.

Okay, I’ll admit, the first time I heard Will Toledo say “Is it the chorus yet?
No. It’s just a building of the verse…” I cracked up. No joke. It’s almost like he wanted the song to end…God, I love Will so much.

 

TRACK 7: “Cute Thing”-9/10

 

Aaaaaah! Lovelovelovelove! Such a beautiful, quirky, song-something about it feels like a sort of anthem. An Indie-Rock love anthem. Also, kudos for the They Might Be Giants references.

 

TRACK 8: “High to Death”-7/10

This song moves about like a lazy river, foggy and misty, almost like a kind of wistful dream. Almost beautifully melancholy, and in the slightest sense, almost dirge-like. The lyrics of “Stop Smoking (We Love You)” are hidden in there too, but they’ve been twisted a bit, which I thought was interesting.  I didn’t like the random samples and looped vocals for the last two or so minutes of the song.

 

TRACK 9: “Famous Prophets (Stars)”-7/10

 

Like the track prior, “Famous Prophets (Stars)” has a dream-like quality, albeit a 16-minute long dream. It’s a pretty song, but after about around ten minutes, you kind of get the feeling like, “Jesus CHRIST, is this song ever going to end?” Like “High to Death”, there were some odd samples, and more lyrics from other songs (this time, slowed down lyrics to “My Boy (Twin Fantasy)”.

 

TRACK 10-“Twin Fantasy (Those Boys)”-7/10

With some lyrics borrowed from one of their older songs (“Sunburned Shirts”), more looped vocals, more brief Will Toledo musings, and an air of melancholy, regret, and almost jealousy, “Twin Fantasy (Those Boys)” makes for an interesting track. I like it about the same as I did “Bodys”. A sweet, wistful kind of song.

 

Just like I did with MASSEDUCTION, I averaged all of my scores for each song, and came out with a solid 8. Overall, pretty dang close to a masterpiece as far as albums go. An amalgam of melancholy, angst, hope, and poignancy that I doubt I’ll get tired of in the near future.

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I hope you enjoyed my album review, and have a great rest of your day!