Category Archives: monotony monday

PCP: Dethklok

Monotony Monday #10 – Most Metal

Dethklok: Timeless

The short of it: Parody that outdoes its source material is rare. Not only does Dethklok successfully mock the quirks and ridiculousness of metal, it outdoes most metal bands in terms of talent and performance. 

The pilot episode of Metalocalypse portrays Dethklok as the world’s most popular band, with legions of fans willing to die to hear the band play.

Three albums (more or less) later, it’s actually understandable why their animated fans would go to the brütal slaughterhouse that is a Dethklok show.

The band is effectively just Brendon Smalls playing with himself. And the result is some of the funniest jokes about the genre delivered through genuinely great metal.

Pretty much every track manages to both kick ass and bring a grin to your face. You’ve got songs like “Dethharmonic,” with these gorgeous, orchestral strings backing this shuddering riff and it’s just beautiful.

And the song is just about not wanting to pay taxes. It’s funny on the surface level, but, like all of Dethklok’s music, makes this grander point about how dumb most metal lyrics are. Even though Small’s got wonderfully clear vocals, other metal bands’ muddled screeches and snarls disguise the utter inanity of most lyrics. And Dethklok is both pointing that out and saying that it’s actually fine– the pretentiousness and elitism that riddle the metal community are as silly as the eighteenth reference to Satan in a three minute song. If it sounds good, it’s good. If it sounds metal, it’s metal.

Dethklok, as a band, is impressive. Dethklok, as a comedic avenue, is impressive. Dethklok as a single man’s project is indescribable.

Well, maybe not.

It actually just takes three words.

Metal. As. Fuck.

PCP: Rain Come Down

Monotony Monday #8 – Vince’s Vivacious Victories

Vince Staples’ “Rain Come Down”: Fresh, Ain’t Fishy

The short of it: A master of delivery and lyricism, Vince is quietly one of the best artists in hip-hop. His upcoming looks to continue his trend of hitting it out of the park.

I’m a huge fan of Vince Staples. His debut album, Summertime 06, immediately impressed me and stayed on heavy repeat for a few months.

Honestly, I’m still not over this one line from “Señorita.” It’s the kind of line that makes me want to grab everyone I see by the shoulders and shout in their face, “DO YOU UNDERSTAND HOW GOOD THIS LINE IS?”

We crabs in a bucket / he called me a crab / So I shot at him in front of the Douglas

It’s quintessential Vince– it’s compact, catchy, and clever. There’s like, three layers of brilliance, and each one gets me hype as hell.

But this PCP isn’t about “Señorita.” It’s about one of his three singles for his upcoming album Big Fish Theory.

“Rain Come Down” is the longest of the three released tracks, and it’s easily my personal favorite. I was just walking around at work singing, “When the rain come down!” to myself. Ty Dolla $ign kills the hook, which is great considering the fact that Vince’s weak point is his hooks (everyone has to have a weak point, and I don’t think Vince is anywhere near, like, Tyga or something in terms of hooks).

It’s got the classic amp up outro that isn’t quite as good as the one on “Señorita” (damnit, I said this wasn’t about that song), but it’s still interesting. Same thing with the video– although Vince didn’t need a visual accompaniment since this is just the audio version, the imagery of the fishbowl in the rain is amazing.

The production is pretty classic Vince, with a bouncing bass accompanied by a spread of high hats that shows off his entrancing flow.

Admittedly, I still haven’t listen to his last project. Maybe it was burnout from the album, maybe his work was a little too consistent. But considering this track and his Gorillaz feature, I’m pretty excited to see what this big fish’s small pond sounds like.

PCP: Raleigh Ritchie

Monotony Monday #7 – Music n’ Missandei

Raleigh Ritchie: A Raleigh to Really Rally Behind

The short of it: With a charming mix of melancholy and joy, Raleigh Ritchie’s music is almost always an airy delight. It’s downtrodden indie pop that plays with the genre as well as Jacob Anderson plays the Unsullied leader. 

Roughly four years ago, I downloaded a “Best of June 2013” tape from Sunset in the Rearview. It came with a bit of a melancholy tune by Raleigh Ritchie, who I assumed was just another British sadboi musician that’d never get the acclaim he deserved.

Three years after that, I was screaming at my TV, begging for my favorite secondary Game of Thrones character, Grey Worm, to escape his near-deadly encounter with the Golden Harpies. As soon as he emerged in the third season, I knew he was going to be on my “Please Don’t Die” list.

Lo and behold, it turns out Jacob Anderson is just brilliant as pretty much everything he does.

With the pseudonym of Raleigh Ritchie, Anderson creates ballads of hopeful heartbreak. His music is painfully honest. He gently sings of his sad dreams and struggles, his fantasies and nightmares, everything from his luckiest stumble to his worst mistakes.

It’s absolutely delightful hearing him bounce over the noisy sounds of tracks like “Cowards” before powering over the simplistic piano tune of “Stronger Than Ever,” (my personal favorite).  Everything’s brilliantly and uniquely produced, but they’re all outshone by Anderson’s crooning and lyricism.

I’m more than familiar with the sad said of indie pop and the evolutionary successor to emo, where every girl is a beautiful devil and every fault is your own. But Anderson uses these incredibly human and tender stories of how scared he is of, well, the scariest non-scary parts of living. Growing old, changing, losing the ones you love, he manages to encapsulate them all in songs that never hit preachy or whiny. His versatility with handling the most common of fears is as stunning as the visuals in his videos.

Everything just fits so well in his music. His consistency and experimentation should clash, but they’ve yet to do so. His versatility keeps him afloat, even in the face of the most challenging music possible: Dan Harmon’s freestyling.

Man this dude’s great.

PCP: The Glass Cannon Podcast

Monotony Monday #6 – Mindful Maladies

The Glass Cannon Podcast: An Explosively Good Time

The short of it: Familiarity between both the players and the players and the general rules cements this podcast as a hallmark of quality play. From episode one to one hundred*, the show boasts the most consistent quality and content of any I’ve listened to so far.


*I’m only on episode 23, but I’m willing to bet it stays true.


What, another RPG podcast? Isn’t this getting tired and repetitive?

First off, nah, this stuff is still dope, especially since I haven’t been able to get IRL tabletop time in.

Second off, the GCP guys play Pathfinder. It’s totally different from Film Reroll’s GURPS and so completely 100 percent different from DND.

The reality of it is that the GCP’s game is somehow the most rule-centric but most free. The players knowledge of the game, ranging from vague to frighteningly specific, allows them to move forward in every weird situation. Of course, dealing with weird player choices is typical of even the most noob of RPGs. What makes the GCP so special is how every player operates appropriately– sliding between the legs of a massive rc one minute, gently retreating the next. It’s honestly how a game should be played.

Basically, the Glass Cannon is true to its name (but not in fragility). It’s amazingly smooth, but it’s constantly packed with gunpowder (sulfur more like sulFUN).

The player monologues before each episode are genuinely welcoming bits of advice and personal stories for new players. However, they don’t structure themselves as a tutorial or a introduction to RPGs. Instead, they occasionally drop some helpful tips or an explanation of more complicated rules when it fits. One of the players’ unfamiliarity with Pathfinder makes these explanations natural and appropriate.

The humor in the show is pretty par for the course (that course being RPGs with buddies). Riffs range from players’ word flubs to the ludicrousness of their situation to the often misplaced sound effect amidst their brutal battles.

Those battles, despite often having a goofy sound or two, are far more real and realized than any of the other podcasts. As it gets explained in episode 22, a true threat to player characters that are worth an emotional investment makes games so much more than a roll of the dice. It’s a tension that can’t be found in Settlers of Catan or any other tabletop experience. It’s life on the line– it’s a character birthed from a bit of the player’s soul and subconscious.

The true glass cannon is the characters that slowly merge with their players– their power lies in their teamwork and camaraderie, as well as their slowly increasing powers and abilities. But with one bad roll, they can be flung into their tomb. And that’s what makes this podcast so much more genuine and fascinating than other shows.

It’s deadly to free time. Get ready to blast off.

PCP: Night Lovell

Monotony Monday #5 – Meek Musical Musing

Night Lovell: Good Night and Good Luck

The short of it: Top-notch production and a consistently good flow makes Night Lovell more than his genre. 

On RL Grime’s 2015 Halloween mix, there was this one track that always blew me away. I figured Grime had done something to it, only to find out that no, Night Lovell is just that dope.

Lovell’s subgenre is hard to pin down–it’s easy to distinguish it from other artists by ear, but analysis is a little tougher. A YouTube commenter referred to it as shadow rap, I thought of it as spooky trap (cleverer name pending), but in reality, it’s closer to a more refined cloud rap.

Spooky trap takes the vocal samples and ambient production of cloud rap and combines them with a concentrated flow and darker tone. It seems to often have some form of layering on the vocals, deepening them, but not to the degree of anything Houstonian.

It’d be a lie to say the style doesn’t borrow- artists like Lovell reveal the legacy of Lil B and, by extension, Clams Casino. Lovell’s work is a reflection of other new artists from both the mainstream, like Travis Scott, and more Internet-popular artists like Jazz Cartier. The Lovell/Cartier connection is interesting- there’s multiple occasions where their production could be switched without any noticeable different. However, whereas Cartier leans more into the rap-pop sphere, Lovell’s influences are harder to specify- the closest being horror core. Lovell’s occasional usage of vividly violent image (“pool of blood”) reflects this, but, when mixed with his overt emotional honesty, create something far outside those bounds.

He features the Canadian-Carribean patois, and, much like Drake’s attempts on Views, ends up a bit short of a credible impersonation. Fortunately Lovell goes for the humor rather than the homage, elevating it above Drake’s efforts. This is where any comparison between the two ends.

Night Lovell manages to isolate himself as a unique talent in this era overflowing with soundcloud success.

PCP: clipping.

Montony Monday #4 – Midcity Madness

clipping.: ndstrl n mzng

The short of it: clipping. is what I think Death Grips sounds to their fans. It’s industrial with melodic sensibilities; Diggs’ lyrical ability and adaptable flow make him on of the most underrated MCs in the game. 

The one sound that makes every working person’s skin crawl is the breeching sound of an alarm clock.

And clipping., made of rapper Daveed Diggs (of Hamilton fame) and producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes, turns it into a pulsing song where his voice darts between each blare of the alarm. He begrudgingly credits the painful wake up for the 9-5 as a way to survive but twists the drudgery of an office job as the struggle of the street hustle.

clipping.’s beats are often minimal, allowing Diggs plenty of room for his particular method of storytelling. Every description is oddly fascinating, a mix of simple and esoteric. His street stories are humanizing potrayals of the broken souls lost in poverty. He tells tales of murderers and arsonists, gangsters and dealers. They become whole people, compete with their flaws and desires that create their criminal behavior. Every single one of these characters is so vulnerable, a side of the most vulnerable population that is rarely used well in stories.

All of this is backed by simplistic, often pulsing beats where the most common sound is arguably bursts of static. These beats don’t ramp up to complicated climaxes; instead, they maintain their constant thumping as Diggs effortlessly follows along. The hooks often see a slight transition of a slight upwards pitch or a slowly rising bassline, but they never overpower or challenge the vocals. Instead, the two interweave to form a single musical force. Every clipping. song is a harmony of dissonance, with discomforting sounds blended into melodic stories.

clipping. is absolutely deserving of the period at the end of their name- they’re the high point of the experimental hip-hop movement.

 

PCP: SleepyCabin

Monotony Monday #3 – Might Not Make More

SleepyCabin: The Time for Sleep is Never

The short of it: A bunch of internet guys that find no topic off limits and no story too embarrassing. Although their language can be hurtful to some, they’re only bullying each other. Filled with outlandish scenarios that spiral out of control almost immediately, the show’s two season run is filled with enough humor to make it a nice vacation from reality.


Note: This podcast is pretty offensive, so I’m not going to advise listening if taboo topics and words make you uncomfortable. I personally disagree with some of the language these guys use, but I find listening worth it regardless.


Deep in an endless sea of trees, lies a cabin impossible to see yet unavoidable to sense.

And inside this cabin, there’s a bunch of dudes that just kinda shoot the shit.

So opens every episode of SleepyCabin’s SleepyCast. Featuring a changing cast made up of three or four out of seven decently famous web animators, the guys start a conversation that snowballs into something horrendously offense and tremendously funny. Battleblock Theater‘s Stamper, Newgrounds sergeant JohnnyUtah, parody extremist psychicpebbles, and animator-turned-letsplayer OneyNG are just a few of the stars, although each would probably prefer the title animator over anything else.

A podcast made up of a bunch of animators famous for their vulgar cartoons shouldn’t have this high of a production value. From the charmingly campy cabin-hidden-in-the-woods intro to the guys’ talents as voice actors, each episode is a pleasure to listen to; their audio levels are curated enough to make their hilarious screams enjoyable rather than painful. The gentle classical music in the background as the guys argue over whether or not having sex with a clone is gay or masturbation adds a certain charm to the vulgarity.

The most refreshing part about the podcast is the fact that all the guys are internet veterans, most of whom made their way up the ranks of Newgrounds before YouTube blew up. Maybe I’m just burnt out on web celebs, but the fact these guys trudged through the darkest corners of the internet is genuinely nice to hear. They’re able to talk about the things everyone does but are too uncomfortable or afraid to bring up, from shock sites to embarassing puberty stories.

Of course, their use of slurs and insults are often in bad taste– although the guys are comfortable with people of every kind and lampoon actual bigots, they’re more of the “intention is more important than historical context,” with language. Although they constantly call one another out for their opinions as straight white men, more often than not, they still end up arguing against lame straw men the rare times they address some controversy.

But, like a drunk relative at Thanksgiving, their moments of offensiveness are more far more humorous than damaging. Plus, the attacks are against each other rather than some minority.

Like a nice nap, though, the Cabin is brief. After roughly 50 episodes, the podcast ended, leaving about two days of absolute insanity worth checking out for a wink or two.

Listen: SleepyCabin

Soundcloud

iTunes

 

PCP: The Film Reroll

Monotony Monday #2 – Wat Da Dice Do

The Film Reroll: Roll on the Floor Rolling

The short of it: The podcast equips you with a grin that never comes off. The cast’s all-out dedication to their roleplaying, game master included, makes the premise of playing in an established movie universe believable, and, more importantly, entertaining. 

Movies are stories in a vacuum– they take place in their own worlds with their own rules, and the story ends in a few hours. The vacuum that surrounded it, however, lives on.

The Film Reroll is a podcast that takes the cap off these vacuum-sealed narratives, and, like most things that are faced with a rapid decompression, explode.*


*Note: I’m not a science guy, but let’s say that’s what happens.


Using the Generic Universal RolePlaying System, GURPS, the cast play through film premises as the protagonists. This means playing The Wizard of Oz has four people playing as Dorothy, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and Scarecrow for example. The game master, typically the host, Paulo Quiros, then introduces the players to the beginning of the film before allowing them to make their decisions on how to move the story forward.

Without a true author to guide the story, the result of the players’ decisions is made by a roll of the dice. This is where the explosion happens– the randomness of the dice forces both the players and the game master to adapt to new scenarios that’d never make it to the big screen.

The resulting adventures deviate from standard film fare, building new worlds in these already-established universes. With the wit and chemistry of the cast, these worlds are filled with brutal quips and delightful tangents, both in and out of character. Their episode of Stand By Me includes the gang of boys trying to decide if elves have sex, while E.T. sees the cast discussing fan theories about the Smurfs.

With a cast full of film, acting, and role playing experience, The Film Reroll possesses a, well, dynamic group dynamic:

  • Paulo Quiros’ worldbuilding and patient storytelling
  • Pitr Strait’s biting sassiness
  • Jon Miller’s staunchy nature
  • Joz Vammer’s carefree chaos
  • Andy Hoover’s entire existence

Each of the cast also boasts an incredible improv talent, never faltering on their ability to roll with every bad dice roll and new story element. They’re invested in the role playing enough to deal with unusual developments in-character but self-aware enough to break and poke fun at their own stumbles.

The first five or ten minutes of the Jaws episode is enough to sell the show to just about anyone, and that’s before they even start fully playing.

Even though a few of the episodes are less successful than others, the ones that work do so beautifully. Jaws holds the tense shark battle and internal struggle of the original, Halloween adapts the dread and horror that plagued audiences when the original aired, Stand by Me remains a tale of the final summer of adolescence, but each episode warps the stories enough to make them a whole new experience with far more laughs.

The Film Reroll has induced a lot of relistens and actual rolling on the floor laughing– rerolls, if you will.

I promise the jokes in the show are better than that. They’re way better with dice.


+ Great cast dynamic
+ Consistently interesting premise
+ High quality recording
– Occasional grating accents or characters

Check it out:

iTunes

Film Reroll

PCP: The Adventure Zone

Monotony Monday #1 – Listen Like Now

The Adventure Zone: Humor and Heart in an Hour

The short of it: The Adventure Zone is more than just dragons in dungeons and whatnot. The podcast gently unfolds into a series of moving narratives that erase the line between crying laughing and crying; it oozes character. It’s got more heart in it than Zelda’s Pottery Barn.

A lot of my day is nothingness. Menial labor that doesn’t require a brain or thought; in fact, I’d advise against doing much thinking while on the job. It’s like realizing you’re in a nightmare, but you can’t wake up.

Thankfully, I discovered The Adventure Zone.

About a week and a half later, I ran out of episodes and hit replay on episode one.

wfpebjnp

The Adventure Zone is a Dungeons and Dragons adventure in the form of a podcast, hosted and dungeon master-ed by the brilliantly-named Griffin McElroy. Joining his virtual table are the other McElroy men, Justin, Travis, and their father, Clint. The McElroy family is a whirlwind of talent and personality, producing thousands of hours of brilliant content on multiple platforms. I don’t mean to gush, but it’s hard to oversell the boys.


Tangent for Myth-Based Named Individuals

There’s this panic-inducing thought I have every so often where I compare myself to people with my name, and Mr. McElroy is first on that list (besides that guy that jacked the @griffin twitter handle). I realize that I’m the equivalent of some jobber on the Griffin circuit; in RPG terms, I’m the mimic sitting next to the real final chest.


The beauty of The Adventure Zone isn’t in its cast though, it’s in its characters (technically speaking, they’re the same thing, but that’s not as descriptive). TAZ revolves around the, surprisingly enough, adventures of three part-time heroes and full-time goofs.

Taako Tacco, beautiful idiot of an elf wizard, played by Justin.

Magnus Burnsides, human fighter with sides of burn and heart of gold, played by Travis.

Merle Highchurch, dwarven cleric with as much healing capacity as a thornbush, played by Clint.

The boys find themselves wrapped up in a global conspiracy that takes them to the farthest reaches of their fantastic realm. The podcast’s format of adventure-filled arcs offers them plenty of opportunities to make jokes while exploring Griffin’s lovingly-crafted worlds.

Role-playing games try to be as immersive as possible to allow for the ease of actually playing the role of the characters. That’s generally where their concern ends– there isn’t much thought for an audience. Griffin, on the other hand, manages to weave a world so realized that it’s hard not to be drawn into the fantasy.

As the heroes move from typical goblin-infested woods to a murder-mystery-ified train to a carnival of existential terror, they grow into these complete, real characters. There’s genuine humanity in these heroes (even the non-human ones, har har) that are ultimately made up of a sheet of skills and dice rolls.

The show welcomes every listener and proceeds with genuine respect and care towards both the audience and the characters in the podcast. It encouraged me to read more on DMing games of DnD and ultimately served as a very stable base for me to learn how to do so.

It’s actually crazy difficult to adequately describe the show. There’s plenty of clichés I didn’t use that would fit: it’s an experience, it’s a journey, it’s an adventure all on its own, and so on. Trying to sum up their journeys and the value of the show is impossible. There’s more reasons than I can count to listen but few I can adequately describe.

The Adventure Zone is goofy. It’s silly and ridiculous, and it embraces its weirdness wholeheartedly. Role-playing is strange, but taking that one step off the ledge and into the world of fantasy is wondrous and worth the brief moment of discomfort. TAZ breezes past the restrictions of an audio-only medium, highlighting the strength and power that lies in genuine storytelling.

“So strap on your fantasy seatbelts and brace your asses for The Adventure Zone!”