I’m don’t know what Three Fourths Home was supposed to be, but it definitely shouldn’t have been a video game. There was nothing about this story that warranted it being played or visualized in this medium. The graphical element of a car driving through cornfields added nothing to the story, the controls and playability added no feeling or connection with the characters—if anything these components distracted from the plot and created a barrier between the “player” and what the story was trying to convey. To me, this story could have easily been a novel or perhaps a film—as a video game it was a frustrating and underwhelming experience.
The story takes place in a struggling fishing village in the Pacific Northwest; a setting that plays seamlessly with hipster-savvy characters and strong female leads. You take control of our budding photographer protagonist, Max, on her 18th birthday as she’s recently enrolled in prestigious art-driven boarding school for gifted students. In the opening scene she has a crazy premonition and discovers that she has ability to control—reverse—time. It’s awesome. It’s every indie stereotype personified in a cataclysm of so much sugary-pop goodness that it hurts your teeth and rots your mind—only to later sideswipe you with depth and soul.
For some reason I’ve avoided writing about Ghost Notes since it came out last summer. I’m not sure why—I really like this album. I also love Veruca Salt. They make the short list of my all-time favorite bands. The only thing I can think of is that I was trying to keep this album for myself. It’s like reliving a memory—something you’d only share with someone who understands what you’ve been through. Or maybe it’s because Nina and Louise harmonizing again feels like a freshly washed blanket out of a warm dryer and I just want to curl up and daydream while I listen. It’s been my sanctuary, invitation only.
Ghost Notes is vibrant, powerful, and packed with refined adult angst; it’s also extremely familiar. That’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s my favorite quality of the album. It’s everything I miss about Veruca Salt and how I’ve romanticized the idea of what it would be like to recapture teenage love. Reality will never be as good as the fantasy, but in Veruca Salt’s case they’ve managed to rediscovered the magic they had from their first two albums, and in doing so brought me right back into my high school bedroom. Maybe you can never go home again, but if you could this would be the soundtrack. Older, more mature, and all of the childish insecurities buried deep beneath an exterior of defiance and collared shirts.
Not that Veruca Salt was ever the youthful exuberance of pop rock, the band leaning more on cerebral advances and driving guitars, but this album is a living will of their progression as musicians and songwriters. They’ve become masters of their craft, something only time and experience can develop—a kick to the nuts of the double-edged tragedy that is rock n’ roll’s youthful expiration date. Eddie Vedder keeps doing it, Beck—even though Jack White and Billy Joe Armstrong will never see another Teen Choice Award—nostalgia aside—the craftsmanship of their music has dramatically improved with their age.
As much as I love music, and devoted a significant amount of my life to it, I can still be pretty closed minded. I like what I like and over the last few years I’ve lived deeply in that bubble. Why listen to the radio when I’ve got 20k+ songs in iTunes? I also no longer care about being cool—I’m over having to be the first to hear a new rock band or searching for the meaning of life within lyrics. I think there’s two reasons for this:
One, I’m getting older. Not all music, or even the music I used to like, resonates with me like it used to. There’s nostalgia attached, but I certainly can’t get excited about the new pop punk band singing about getting kicked out of high school—nor should I. I never thought I’d see the day when I didn’t have much of an interest in Warped Tour or picking up an issue of AP—but those days are over, and I’m okay with that.
Secondly, my time at Sony forced me to listen to a lot of music I’d otherwise have no interest in. Leaving that world was like a spiritual backlash to anything Top 40—I could refocus on the music that moved me, rather than it’s commercial viability. New music doesn’t mean good music, and now being a private citizen, I only have to worry about good music.
With that said, Taylor Swift’s 1989 is good music.
Experimenter is available for streaming on Netflix and is a biographical drama of the controversial social psychologist, Stanley Milgram. Staring Peter Sarsgaard as Milgram and Winona Ryder as his wife, along with notable actors making small appearances throughout, the Experimenter flew under the radar and was quietly released in October of 2015.
In the 1950s and 60s, minds were still fresh with what the Nazi’s had done in World War II. Former Nazi leadership that fled after the war were still being hunted down across the globe and being tried for warcrimes. The public was still learning of the atrocities as reports, photographs, and footage were still being released of concentration camps. The war wasn’t a distant memory and a young Jewish psychologist, Milgram—like most of the world—was curious as to how humanity could ever allow this to happen. How could an entire nation support mass killings? What would ever turn normal, decent humans—a baker, a mechanic, a school teacher—into a Nazi extermination force? Why would a rational, casual citizen standby and allow this cruelty to occur? Or worse, willingly participate in it?