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MY DAY WITH SPENT WITH JARED AND THE JOKER
August 4, 2016 11:22 am

Hours before I was set to meet Jared Leto, staring in the highly anticipated Suicide Squad, at an Italian restaurant in the West Village I was awoken out of a dead sleep by a neon-masked jester giggling as he poured ice cold water all over me. I demanded to know what he was doing here, to which he responded, “The Joker will see you now,” in a high pitched cadence. 

The jester then proceeded to take a trumpet out of his satchel with the word “Chaos” bedazzled on it. He masterfully played the tune of Reveille with the brass when suddenly, Jared Leto himself popped on my mattress, cackling sisterly. He was dressed head to toe in his much buzzed about Joker getup, a move that hinted he was still very much in character. Ever respectful of an artist’s craft, I gladly played along. “Oh no, it’s the Joker,” I yelled. “What did I do to ever deserve a visit from anarchy’s son himself?!”

Although the Academy Award winner was deeply immersed in character, I couldn’t help but notice him give a slight wink of appreciation for going along with him on this thespian journey. Which is why, out of respect, I played the helpless and hysterical victim for Leto and his unnamed assistant in mayhem while they attached alligator clamps to my nipples. I still can not decide what was more electric that morning: Leto’s performance or the car battery he used to shock me.

Following a few more downright twisted acts of torture, the My So Called Life star blindfolded me, stuffed me in a burlap sack and tossed me into the back of his car. He drove and drove. Each erratic swerve gave birth to a new bruise. Sweat accumulated onto my shirt so immensely that it began to push down on my chest every time I would try to breathe. The only thing that kept me sane was shouting the questions I had initially planned for our interview. Leto pulled over at one point, only to throw a stink bomb in there with me when I asked him what working with Viola Davis was like. After that, I passed out from the astounding commitment he had to such a sinister character.

joker-suicide-quad-rick-ross-skrillex-purple-lamborghiniWhen I came to, I found myself strapped to a chair in the restaurant I had previously made reservations for. I couldn’t help but smirk at the 30 Seconds To Mars front-man’s demented attention to detail for this sly caper he’s orchestrated. Upon noticing I was up, he bellowed “good morning, Sunshine” loud enough to cause the entire restaurant to look over to our table. The jester was summoned by Leto and asked for him to fetch my ‘present’. After rummaging around his chaos satchel for a little while, he took out a plastic butt with wide circular hole in between cheeks and a clock attached to it counting down from 6 minutes. Leto thanked him by petting him under his chin like a dog, to which the jester stamped his leg up and down repeatedly.

The waiter came to take our order. I asked for a Caesar salad with ranch dressing on the side. Leto asked for a hot bowl of madness. Seamlessly, the jester then took the waiter’s pepper grinder and immediately began playing to its phallic nature. The comedic brilliance was upped when Leto dropped to his knees and confessed how been longing to taste some flavorful wood.  The chemistry between the two was palpable for everyone.  As we were being escorted out of the restaurant by the manager, the countdown butt I was ordered to hold hit zero. Confetti sprang out of the butt’s hole, landing on someone’s pasta primavera.

Back in the trunk, I gnawed out of the newly wrapped tape around my mouth to thank Jared for such a breathtaking dinner. To have front row seats to his performance-art tour de force inspired me in ways I never thought imaginable. His brilliance will not be forgotten. The jester took a power saw to the backseat in order to create a hole to the trunk. He jutted his head into the hole and spat on me.

Suicide-Squad

Once I felt myself being tossed from the trunk to my front lawn, I knew the interview was over. But before he tailed off into the sunset, Leto whispered into my ear about his gratitude for being granted the opportunity to let someone in on his process. It was easy to see that this role would be nothing without late Heath Ledger’s work in the iconic Dark Knight and how working with Viola Davis and the entire Suicide Squad was a dream come true. “We’re all lucky enough to have the greatest jobs in the world and we worked tirelessly to make sure what we were marking would be loved by all who saw it. It was a collaborative effort all the way through.”

Before I got the opportunity to thank him, Jared Leto was back in his Jokermobile. His jester, having just cherry bombed my mailbox, ran in through the window of the moving vehicle to make the getaway appear as wildly slapdash as possible. Leto’s feral laughter was heard as he and his jester tossed molotov cocktails at all of my neighbors’ houses. Despite the claims of arson, the only fire I saw that day came from Leto’s unflinching dedication to authenticity.

Suicide Squad hits theaters this Friday, August 5th. Find out more about the chaotic group hereget tickets here and check out more Jared Leto here.

NON-STOP CADDYWHOMPUS
February 2, 2016 12:10 am

Predicting where the momentum of a Caddywhompus song will go is impossible. Each song shifts at the drop of a hat, without any notice whatsoever. It disorients and fascinates me each time, especially on a song like “Company” that jam packs about seven different identities into one song. On UrbanDictionary, the phrase Caddywhompus is described as ‘crooked’ and ‘uneven’. Fitting.

On Remainder, their debut album, the production is raw, which gives Sean Hart’s drumming a very explosive effect. The overall sound gets congested at times, but that serves as a great setup for their recent release, Feathering A Nest.

Remainder’s sound doesn’t have a structure as steady or forward moving as their later releases. Experiments with a Korg on “Let The Water Hit The Floor” makes for an interesting listen, but the lack of polish doesn’t fit in with the overall scope they accomplish in their later releases.

Caddywhompus‘ second LP, The Weight provides more raucous energy and shows a transition into what gets smoothened out on Feathering A Nest. Rehm’s guitars are at their grittiest here, especially on “The Others.” The quiet moments are the least compelling moments here, though. They dabble in bringing some folk into the mix, but it’s an element they aren’t fully ready for.

What makes Feathering A Nest a great listen is the clean sound among all the noise. The production helped amplify what was already there tremendously, being that they don’t really get their rocks off on dizzying guitar note combinations, or 13/8 time signatures. Such constant transitioning might make it feel easy to call them a Math or Progressive Rock band, but that would be misleading. The bare boned roster of Hart on drums and Rehm on guitar and vocals isn’t the prototypical Prog lineup. They don’t go on 20 minute long wandering saxophone solo.

Now that their sound has gotten a lot sunnier, even less abrasive Math Rock bands like Tera Melos and Ponytail have more of a bite to them sound-wise. This helps them run the gamut a little more. On Feathering A Nest, Chris Rehm’s vocal stylings provide a softness that helps a seamless transition into folksier territory, as heard on “Entitled” and “Stuck.”

Unpredictability in a Caddywhompus song is presented in a more contained fashion. Incredible proficiency can be heard throughout Feathering A Nest but the waves of unique riffs are each palatable and easily understood upon first listen. “Layers” gives a full spectacle of this in action. Rehm’s guitar starts off power-charged, then gets sludgy, and then ends in echoed distortion. The dexterity of fingers don’t really matter as much when someone’s able to go from one style to the next like that. It takes virtuosity to handle either side: a great riff that’s easier to emulate, and a dizzying array of meter bending shreds that someone like Marnie Stern can bring to the table.

The loud and frantic energy of Caddywhompus brings about an outlandish effort with minimal tools at their disposal. Each song has so many different variations that their best work feels like a Rock and Roll sound collage. From start to finish, you’re hit by wave after wave of ideas and there’s never a break in the action.  

LAUREL HALO’S DYNAMIC AMBIANCE
January 21, 2016 12:30 am

On her first full-length album, Quarantine, Laurel Halo gave us some of the dreamiest glitchy electro-pop you could ever hope to hear. Each synth key served as a soothing resting spot to lay down and gaze upon the swirling loops up above. “MK Ultra” felt like a love ballad being told in space to and from an unknown entity. If you’ve ever played the game Pokemon Snap, it’s basically the Mew level in musical form.

I refuse to apologize for my Pokemon fandom, so we’re all just gonna power through and move on to some more hard hitting Laurel Halo analysis.

Quarantine was a true beauty, but her more recent releases have shown that she is going for a denser sound, without any vocal accompaniment whatsoever. I personally think that’s a shame because her voice is amazing, but it adds a complexity in her songs that can be too much.

Chance of Rain, sees Laurel Halo replacing dreamy with dreary by amping up the glitch and incorporating it with a wider array of instruments, like when she splices up a somber bassoon solo on “Melt”. It’s a compact song, but the disorienting impact of it hits you immediately. The medley of sounds in “Melt” flashes by you in an instant. The juxtaposition of a melancholy piano riff playing over breakbeat drums on the eponymous track also works in such an imaginative way, almost as if a Jon Brion soundtrack is being remixed by Burial.

The expansiveness heard on Chance of Rain, makes it her most thoroughly detailed album to date. The pace is frantic and there’s so much jammed into every song that after each listen, there’s a new layer discovered. Her latest release, In Situ, offers a more stripped down approach, but with heavier sporadicism and drone friendliness. Leaves” goes at a very steady pace, while also throwing conventional structure into the waste basket. At times, you might think someone gave a baby an 808 drum kit and let them play with it for a few minutes. None of us know for sure whether that’s true or not. We weren’t there. Throughout the album she takes what’s found in most songs of the genre and brings them back to their most primal form, like on “Nah.” Each tone is familiar, but never in such an isolated context.

Laurel Halo will continue to consistently experiment and play around in her own spectacular fashion. She’s an immensely talented electronic artist with an unlimited trove of ideas, so I expect her to do plenty more re-creation upon each release. Hopefully, she’ll bring her singing back into the equation at some point, but sometimes when you’re digging deep into the cavernous hole of avant-garde electronica, you need to save your voice.

And no, I’m not embarrassed about being an adult who still loves the occasional game of Pokemon. Charizard’s flame is what makes those New York winter nights all the more bearable.