Monday, August 8, 2022

5 Albums From The 90s You Should Own

Gonna miss looking back at the 90s fellow Otaku & Metalheads.

I’m definitely gonna miss looking back at the decade of our childhood. I’m going to miss looking back at the last decade where there was any common sense, and we weren’t at each other’s throats like we are now. However, I don’t want today’s post to be absolutely soul-crushing. In fact, I want to talk about the music of our decade. The music that’s definitely in my generation’s CD collection, but may not be stuff the younger generations have listened too (Maybe even the older generation hasn’t listened to these either). All of these I’ve either listened to when I was growing up, or discovered years later, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. With that said, here are 5 albums from the 90s you should own. Let’s begin!

1) Nirvana - Nevermind (Song)

I will always stick up for Grunge. Falsely accused of be the sole reason that classic Heavy Metal was killed in the 90s (Despite the fact that it was really the music companies that did the deed, and Grunge was just a highly convenient scapegoat), it somehow manages to remain in the consciousness of many music listeners from that time, and is a nice musical treat for anyone discovering it now. Practically at the forefront of the movement was Nirvana, not to mention it’s tragic frontman Kurt Cobain, and Nevermind was the face. A punky yet heavy release, Nevermind (And by extension Grunge as a whole) was different from Heavy Metal in that it was about reality. It wasn’t about being a rock star or being in a party mood, but it was about the real world & it not being quite as glamorous as we were led to believe. It doesn’t smash you in the face with it, but neither does it put the training wheels on. If you want to relive a piece of musical history, or want to see a metal elitist have a brain aneurysm, then Nevermind is a great choice!

2) Metallica - The Black Album (Song)

Last year marked something pretty significant in this album’s history. On the 12th of August last year, Metallica’s divisive fifth studio turned 30 years old. An album that firmly cemented them in the commercial spotlight, it’s legacy is still spoken of over 30 years later. On top of that, this record is some of the very first music I can recall with absolute certainty I listened to. Yes, there is a huge commercial element to the songs, but it’s still got that Metallica punch during the entire runtime, and the overall quality is very top notch! I admit that early childhood nostalgia has me eternally loving this album, but at the same time there are still people to this day that hold this release aloft into the metallic sky & sing it’s praises. There are still individuals that have their feelings split in the middle about this record, but The Black Album is still Metallica at it’s best.....despite the commercial nature.  

3) Queen - Innuendo (Song)

And here is where I had some trouble, as I was considering tying Made In Heaven here, or just Made In Heaven by itself. Like I said above, I didn’t want to be soul-crushing with this list, so instead I wanted to go with Queen’s last badass hurrah with Innuendo. Despite getting a mixed reaction upon it’s release (And receiving heaps of praise upon Freddy Mercury’s death), the last time that the band was truly together was perhaps the best thing they’ve ever released. There’s literarily something for everyone on this album: gospel, hard rock, AOR, Heavy Metal, you name it. Though the band definitely felt stronger & more united on their previous release, that strength and unity is 10 times more potent & obvious on Innuendo. It may have been the last time the boys were together, but that last time would be the biggest thing Queen ever released in their career, and one I finally treasure. As a way to go, Innuendo was one of the best!

4) Type-O Negative - October Rust (Song)

Ah Type-O Negative.....your music is still potent to this very day.

Despite iconic frontman Pete Steele now being gone from the world for over 12 years, him and the rest of the Brooklyn juggernauts that were his bandmates & friends carved a niche in the music scene with their own brand of Gothic Metal. Mixing in some Beatles, Black Sabbath, and a few other things, it’s easy to see why they are still spoken about by the fans long after the band split up. Practically any of their 90s output I could have put here, but October Rust eclipsed them all. The very first album I listened to, the more ballad-like structure of the songs created a slight fantasy vibe, as well as the atmosphere that is the embodiment of Gothic Fall. The wind is crisp and cool, leaves of brown, orange, and gold hang on the trees or lie on the ground, and there’s a gentle feeling that the year is going to end. October Rust also has the distinction of turning 25 years old in 2021, and there’s no sign that people will forget it’s autumn message for 25 years more. If you’re interested in the American side of the Gothic Metal scene, the October Rust is a perfect gateway. You won’t be disappointed.     
 
5) New Radicals - Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too (Song)

And so I end this list with an album that’s the living embodiment of the 1990s. I said it back in June twice, and I will repeat myself here: this one-hit wonder encapsulates all of the good, the bad, the hopes, the dreams, the fears, and the ideas of the 90s. Using a mix of Alternative Rock, Pop Rock, and your standard Pop music, Gregg Alexander & his band of musical misfits crafted an album that has something for everybody. Sure, Maybe You’ve Been Brainwashed Too is not the heaviest record on here, and I can easily understand why anybody would laugh at this, but this lone release from the New Radicals is the living embodiment of not judging a book by it’s cover.  

And those were the 5 albums from the 1990s that you should own. The most experimental decade when it came to music, it left us with tunes that my generation still remembers fondly to this day. For those of you who weren’t born in that decade, these records will be your gateway into my generation’s past. So, I got to end this look at the 90s with something big. Something.....explosive. So join me next week, when we’ll take a look at a game that stars my no. 1 characters of all time. See you then!






Monday, August 1, 2022

Game Review: Wolfenstein 3D

Welcome to the final part of my trip into the 90s fellow Otaku & Metalheads!

I’ve had a lot of fun with this journey back in time. Back to the era of my generation’s childhood, it’s all the more important to look at a period in the world that wasn’t plague ridden or on fire. Back in June I looked at some of the most iconic records of the 1990s, and last month I reviewed two equally iconic 90s Sci-Fi anime. This month I’ve decided to devote to games, and they’re both titles that are still talked about in 2022. One might not have as much shine to as before, but they’re both games that are quite enjoyable still. So, salute the American flag, chamber a round into that Luger you grabbed off the guard in front of you, and enjoy my review of Wolfenstein 3D. Let’s begin!

Development History
Taken from Wikipedia:

id Software his star developer, and he guaranteed id a US$100,000 payment on the project. Mark Rein, who had been brought on a few months prior as id's probationary president, also sold the idea of doing a retail Wolfenstein project to FormGen, which had published id's December 1991 Commander Keen in Aliens Ate My Babysitter, overcoming the publisher's concerns over Wolfenstein's proposed content. This put id in the unique position of selling simultaneously to the shareware and retail markets.

The project officially began on December 15, 1991. Romero and Hall designed the gameplay and aesthetics. Romero wanted the goal to be "to mow down Nazis", with the suspense of storming a Nazi bunker full of SS soldiers and Hitler himself, as well as dogs, blood "like you never see in games", and straightforwa In October–December 1990, a team of employees from programming studio Softdisk calling themselves Ideas from the Deep developed the three-part video game Commander Keen in Invasion of the Vorticons, the first game in the Commander Keen series. The group, who worked at Softdisk in Shreveport, Louisiana, developing games for the Gamer's Edge video game subscription service and disk magazine, was composed of programmers John Romero and John Carmack, designer Tom Hall, artist Adrian Carmack, and manager Jay Wilbur. After the release of the game in December through shareware publisher Apogee Software, the team planned to quit Softdisk and start their own company. When their boss, Softdisk owner Al Vekovius, confronted them on both their plans and their use of company resources to develop the game—the team had created it on their work computers, both in the office after hours and by taking the computers to John Carmack's house on the weekends—the team made no secret of their intentions. After a few weeks of negotiation, the team agreed to produce a series of games for Gamer's Edge, one every two months.

Ideas from the Deep, now formally established as id Software, used some of these to prototype ideas for their own games. Adrian Carmack used them to push his preferred, dark art style, while John Carmack began to experiment with 3D computer graphics, which until then was largely the purview of flight simulation games such as Wing Commander (1990). Carmack found that this was largely due to the limitations of personal computers of the time, which had difficulty displaying a fast action game in 3D due to the number of surfaces it needed to calculate, but felt that the increasing computational power of PCs meant that it may be possible. During 1991, he experimented with limiting the possible surfaces the computer needed to display, creating game levels with walls designed only on a flat grid rather than with arbitrary shapes or angles. He also took the unusual approach of creating the displayed graphics through ray casting, in which only the surfaces visible to the player were calculated rather than the entire area surrounding the player. After six weeks of development, Carmack had created a rudimentary 3D game engine that used animated 2D sprites for enemies. Id Software then used the engine for the April 1991 Softdisk game Hovertank 3D, in which the player drives a tank through a plane of colored walls and shoots nuclear monsters. In the fall of 1991, after the team—sans Wilbur—had relocated to Madison, Wisconsin, and he had largely finished the engine work for Commander Keen in Goodbye, Galaxy, Carmack decided to implement a feature from Ultima Underworld: The Stygian Abyss, a role-playing game in development by Blue Sky Productions. Ultima Underworld was planned to display texture-mapped 3D graphics without Hovertank's restrictions of flat walls and simple lighting. Deciding that he could add texture mapping without sacrificing the engine's speed or greatly increasing the system requirements as Underworld was doing, Carmack enhanced the engine over six weeks from Hovertank 3D for another Softdisk game, the November 1991 Catacomb 3-D. Upon seeing it, Scott Miller of Apogee began to push the team to make a 3D shareware action game.

In November 1991, with the second Commander Keen trilogy of episodes nearing completion and their contractual obligations to Softdisk almost finished, id Software sat down to plan out their next major game. Designer Tom Hall, who initially wanted to do a third Keen trilogy, recognized that Carmack's programming focus had shifted from the 2D side-scrolling platform game series to 3D action games. After an initial proposal by Hall of a sci-fi project, "It's Green and Pissed", Romero suggested a 3D remake of the 1981 Castle Wolfenstein. The team was interested in the idea, as Romero, Hall, and John Carmack all had fond memories of the original title and felt the maze-like shooter gameplay fit well with Carmack's 3D game engine, while Adrian Carmack was interested in moving away from the child-friendly art style of Keen into something more violent. Encouraged by the reception to his idea, Romero expounded on it by proposing a "loud" and "cool" fast action game where the player could shoot soldiers before dragging and looting their bodies. The core of the gameplay would be fast and simple, for Romero believed that due to the novelty of a 3D game and control scheme, players would not be receptive to more complicated, slow gameplay. He felt the game would occupy a unique place in the industry, which was then dominated by slower simulation and strategy games. Adrian and John Carmack were excited by the prospect, while Hall felt that it was enjoyable enough, and that since he was the company's designer that they could return to his ideas at a later date.

Initially the team believed that they would be unable to use the Wolfenstein name due to trademark issues, and came up with multiple possible titles. They contacted Castle Wolfenstein developer Silas Warner, but learned that Muse Software had shut down in 1986, with all rights to Wolfenstein sold. The rights last belonged to someone in Michigan, and the team was able to purchase the trademark around mid-April 1992 for US$5,000. Thus they were free to use the name Wolfenstein 3D. The game concept met with immediate approval from Scott Miller of Apogee, who considered rd, lethal weapons. He also composed the general storyline for the game. Hall designed the levels while also adding collectible objects in the form of treasure and food for health items. He also did sketches for the bosses and the title screen. Carmack programmed "the core" of the game's engine in a month; he added a few features to the Wolfenstein 3D engine from Catacomb 3-D, including support for doors and decorative non-wall objects, but primarily focused on making the game run smoother and faster with higher-resolution graphics. The game was programmed in ANSI C and assembly language. The graphics for the game were planned to be in 16 color EGA, but were changed to 256 color VGA four months before release, which also enabled the game to have higher resolutions. Romero in turn worked on building a game with the engine, removing elements of the initial design, like looting enemy bodies, that he felt interrupted the flow of fast gameplay. The sprites for the enemies and objects were hand drawn at eight different angles by Adrian Carmack using Electronic Arts's Deluxe Paint II. Initially the team had an external artist who assisted him and created animated wall textures, but the team felt that the quality was poor and did not use it in the game. The level design, by Romero and Hall, due to the grid-based level design, took some inspiration from Pac-Man, and paid homage with a hidden Pac-Man level. Romero later said in 2017 that making the levels was uninteresting compared to those from Commander Keen. The team was going to include some anti-fascist references and Nazi atrocities, but left them out to avoid controversies. They ensured that the presentation of the game created the atmosphere that they wanted, adding violent animations by Adrian Carmack for enemies being shot and music and sound effects by Keen composer Bobby Prince to make the guns sound exciting. Prince took some inspiration from his days as a platoon soldier in the US Army. With the aid of a 16-bit sampler keyboard and cassette recorder, he composed realistic sounds from a shooting range in addition to Foley sounds. The development team along with Scott Miller did the voicing for the enemies. Some of the enemy shouts were based on the original Castle Wolfenstein game.

As development continued, id Software hired their former Softdisk liaison Kevin Cloud as an assistant artist, and moved the company out to Mesquite, Texas, near where Apogee was located. Scott Miller of Apogee was pleased to have his star developers nearby, and agreed to not only increase their royalty rate to 50 percent, but have Apogee create their next game for Softdisk, ScubaVenture, so that id could focus on Wolfenstein. The game was intended to be released using Apogee's shareware model of splitting it into three episodes and releasing the first for free, with ten levels per episode. The level maps were designed in 2D using a custom-made program called Tile Editor (TEd), which had been used for the entire Keen series as well as several other games. Upon finding out that the team was able to create a level in a single day using the program, Miller convinced them to instead develop six episodes, which could be sold in different-sized packs. Around the same time, the team changed members and structure: id fired probationary president Mark Rein and brought back Jay Wilbur, who had stayed in Shreveport, to be both their CEO and business team; Bobby Prince moved into the office temporarily to record sound effects, while Adrian Carmack moved out of the office to get away from the noise.

As the game neared completion, FormGen contacted id with concerns over its violence and shock content. In response, id increased these aspects; Adrian Carmack added skeletons, corpses, and bloody wall details, and Hall and Romero added screams and cries in German, along with a Death Cam that would show a replay of the death of the final boss of an episode. The team also added "Horst-Wessel-Lied", the anthem of the Nazi Party, to the opening screen. John Carmack, meanwhile, added in walls that moved when triggered to hide secret areas, a feature that Hall had been pushing for months but which Carmack had objected to for technical reasons. Hall also added in cheat codes, and wrote a back story for the game. The team did a month of playtesting in the final stage of the game's development. In the early morning of May 5, 1992, the first episode of the shareware game was completed and uploaded by Apogee and id to bulletin board systems. The other episodes were completed a few weeks later. The total development time had been around half a year, with a cost of around US$25,000 to cover the team's rent and US$750 per month salaries, plus around US$6,500 for the computer John Carmack used to develop the engine and the US$5,000 to get the Wolfenstein trademark.

The following summer, most of the id Software team developed Spear of Destiny, except John Carmack, who instead experimented with a new graphics engine that was licensed for Shadowcaster and became the basis of the Doom engine. The one episode of Spear of Destiny was a prequel to Wolfenstein 3D and used the same engine, but added some new audio, graphics, and enemies. It took two months to create, and was published commercially by FormGen in September 1992. The publisher was concerned that the material would be controversial due to holy relics associated with World War II, but Romero didn't think it was that different from the Indiana Jones films.


In-Game Story
Taken from the game manual:

You’re William J “B.J.” Blazkowitz, the Allies’ bad boy of espionage and a terminal action seeker.

Your mission was to infiltrate the Nazi fortress Castle Hollehammer and find the plans for Operation Eisenfaust (Iron Fist), the Nazi’s blueprint for building the perfect army. Rumors are that deep within Castle Hollehammer the diabolical Dr. Schabbs has perfected a technique for building a fierce army from the bodies of the dead. It’s so far removed from reality that it would seem silly if it wasn’t so sick. But what if it were true?

You never got a chance to find out! Captured in your attempt to grab the secret plains, you were taken to the Nazi prison, Wolfenstein, for questioning and eventual execution. For 12 long days you’ve been imprisoned beneath the castle fortress. Just beyond your cell door sits a lone thick-necked Nazi guard. He assisted an SS dentist/mechanic in an attempt to jump start your tonsils earlier this morning.


Let’s get this out of the way: id Software was never deep with a game’s lore. Outside of Doom 2016 & Doom Eternal (Maybe even Doom 3), stories were kept incredibly simple. As John Carmack once said:

Story in a game is like story in a porno. It’s there, but you’re really not there for that.

Gameplay
The dawn of the FPS genre was exceedingly simple in 1992, and Wolfenstein 3d is no exception. In this game’s case, you shoot nazis, you find keys to unlock doors, etc. However, it’s the little things that leave an impression. For starters, you got a live system. You earn lives through killing enemies, grabbing treasure, and finding live orbs, as well as getting points at the end of a level for how much you stuff you did. When you die with a life, you’re respawned at the start, but no weapons. It’s cool, but oddly pointless since there’s also a save system. Health is also interesting, as there are a variety of items that refill various amounts of health (10% from dog-food, and full health with a life orb), but if you have an incredibly low amount of health (below 10), you can actually get some hit points back if you drink blood off of the floor. That’s gimmicky, but is actually really useful if you can’t find any immediate health items!

However, there are some significant issue with this game. Chief among them are the secrets. For starters, it’s incredibly difficult to find them. Due to the graphics (More on that below), you will constantly be clicking on ever single wall to find them. On top of that, there’s almost never a sign that show’s a secret nearby, and you can even theoretically block a secret off due to how a wall moves, which means the only way to access it is if you reload a save from before. Another issue is how damage is dealt. There is an odd hitscan like system in place, and if you or a target are far away enough you won’t deal damage. It’s only until either side gets close enough that you can hit somebody, and even then it seems oddly random at how much you get hit by, This doesn’t help when you’re playing on high difficulties, as it seems so much more potent a lot of the time.

But, the biggest problem with Wolfenstein 3d is that the whole experience is so.....overwhelmingly.....repetitive! Back in 1992 gamers probably didn’t notice this since the FPS genre was so new at the time, but over 30 years later it’s far too obvious. It doesn’t help the fact that some levels are far too big & maze-like (Especially in later episodes), and as such you’re more than likely to get lost, and with the lack of a map button you will stay lost for a bit unless you’re a master at the game. This isn’t so bad if you play just the 3 original episodes, but if you decide to go through the extra 3 in the Nocturnal Missions, then it becomes obvious. I don’t have as much issue with this since the game has been with me since I was a kid, but every once in a while I do notice it.

Graphics
So, back in 1992 Wolfenstein 3d was oddly impressive to look at. Regardless of the genre, games didn’t exactly look all that impressive (Alone In The Dark was an exception in my view), but id Software really did step up the game. There was more fluidity in the movement of enemies & objects, and there was much more color than normal, giving things a “realistic” appearance in 92. I definitely recall my 5-year old mind being blown away by it back then, and I have to admit it still has a nostalgic charm to it. That being said, things have aged horribly over 30 years since it’s release (Hell, it was aged horribly even by the end of the 90s). Limitations back then included non textured floors & ceilings, and no realistic lighting. To simulate lighting, there were certain wall textures that were either a little darker or lighter, and the illusion was further enhanced by lamps or other light fixtures. However, I hinted at this earlier, but this makes finding secrets an absolute pain. There’s no slight texture change to even remotely show that there’s something off about a particular wall you can push, and even when there’s some object placed nearby to give you a hint, you still can’t tell. It was infuriating back in 1992, but nowadays it’s more of an annoyance thanks to guides (Video & readable).  

Other
If you’re curious about this game, click on this link below:

Wolfenstein 3d (Longplay)

Overall Impression & Rating
Wolfenstein 3d is ageless & timeless. Doom may have pushed the FPS genre into the spotlight, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the actions of Mr. Blaskowitz. Yes, by today’s standards it is exceedingly dated & repetitive, but back in 1992 it was something special. It’s a game of 2 sides: one side is just fun & nostalgia, while the other side shows that time hasn’t been kind. It’s strange, but at the same time it’s a game I still have fun with whenever I have the urge to play. If you’ve wondered what the beginning of the FPS genre was like, then I suggest you give it a go.

Wolfenstein 3d gets a 10 out of 10 due to pure nostalgia, but perhaps a 7 to 7.5 out of 10 practically.

And that was my look at Wolfenstein 3d. It was special in 1992, and it’s managed to remain so over 30 years later. If this game isn’t on anyone top 10 FPS list, then I will pray for those people. So before we get to my other game for this month, I’ll be showing off the albums from the 1990s you need in your musical library. See you next week!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Anime Review: Cowboy Bebop

Welcome to the end of part 2 of my look at the 90s fellow Otaku & Metalheads!

A week ago, I spoke about my time at Connecticon (Read here if you haven’t yet) & how much of a blast I had. Today, I conclude my look into the last great decade by talking about one of the most legendary anime of the late 90s. An anime that’s still talked about today by oldtaku, and discovered by newer weebs. It’s a show that I knew about for years, but only got into it when it received a re-release. So, get the biggest bounty you can find, load up your spaceship, and enjoy my review of the iconic Cowboy Bebop. Let’s begin!

Story/Setup
Taken from the DVD box:

Explore the far reaches of the galaxy in this undeniably hip series that inspired a generation – and redefined anime as an indisputable art form. The Bebop crew is just trying to make a buck. This motely lot of intergalactic loners teams up to track down fugitives and turn them in for cold hard cash. Spike is a hero whose cool fa├žade hides a dark and deadly past. The pilot Jet is a bruiser of a brute who can’t wait to collect the next bounty. Faye Valentine is a femme fatale prone to breaking hearts and separating fools from their money. Along for the ride are the brilliant, but weird, hacker Ed and a super genius Welsh Corgi named Ein. On their own, any one of them is likely to get lost in the sprawl of space, but together, they’re they most entertaining gang of bounty hunters in the year 2071.

That description is incredibly simplistic than the full story. At it’s heart, Cowboy Bebop is about people. It’s about people, and how they interact with one another. They come from all walks of life, races, religions, etc. It’s about the best of people, and it’s about the worst as well. From the most positive of individuals, to the most cynical of souls, all kinds of people can be found throughout this show. In a twist that surprises me, Cowboy Bebop has a healthy dose of grey morality.....and I actually like it! Those of you who know me personally know that I’m not a big fan of grey morality, but that’s more to due how & why it’s implemented rather than the what. In this show, it’s allowed to occur naturally rather that being shoved into my face in an incredibly cynical manner. Granted, there are episodes where things are more cynical than they should be, but for a giant majority of the show’s runtime, reality is allowed to happen naturally rather than artificially. That’s a plus in my book!

Animation
Cowboy Bebop is a tale of two animation styles. 2d & 3d. One is really good, and one nowadays is awful. The 3d animation is the awful one! While it may have been impressive to look at in the late 90s, nowadays they appear incredibly dated and really cheap. Luckily, this is only during certain portions in space, so it’s limited in that regard. The 2nd animation, on the other hand, is incredible! It still is incredible to see in the decades since this came out, as the retro-futuristic nature of the series is displayed in incredible detail. There’s so much color & lights, the various characters move around really well, and even the various spaceships seem realistic as well. Like Outlaw Star from earlier this month, it’s amazing to think that Cowboy Bebop was animated during the time where things were moving from classic animation to digital animation, but it’s remarkable all the same.

Voice Acting
This is one situation where the English Dub is infinitely superior to it’s original Japanese voice acting. It’s not that it’s bad, because it isn’t. It just that the English voice actors did such a good job, the original voices are inferior. Steve Blum was perfect as the sarcastic yet dutiful Spike Spiegel, Beau Billingslea embodied the gruff Jet Black, Wendee Lee portrayed the femme fatale Faye Valentine, and Melissa Fahn fit right into place as the quirky yet diabetes-inducingly adorable Ed. The crew of the Bebop are just a few of the main characters that have great voices, and even the secondary cast have fantastic voices as well. This is all incredibly surprising, since this was a late 90s/early 2000s dub, and any old-school Otaku knows about that dubbing period well.

Characters
Equally as iconic as the voice acting & story are this series’s characters. Cowboy Bebop has a legendary roster of individuals, but what’s so incredible about this show is that sometimes a secondary character (Or characters) actually has a role to play. When many other shows treat secondary/background characters as window dressing, this series occasionally lets them pull some weight. There are still some secondary characters that are just around, but even then they’re still entertaining. My personal favorite are the 3 old guys that show up in the most random of places, as you don’t know how they show up where they are, but somehow it makes sense. Apart from that, what makes CB’s cast work so well is that they’re real. Not the cynical kind of reality in something like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, or god forbid like the live-action Cowboy Bebop series Netflix did last year, but in the real world reality kind of sense. Everybody comes across like somebody you’d bump into in your day-to-day life, although some of the bad guys you would never want to meet.....for obvious reasons.

Availability & Pricing
Cowboy Bebop is actually fairly easy to find for purchase, thanks to the re-release by Funimation back in 2013/2014 (Forgot the year). Over on Amazon, you have a few options: New copies of the Blu-Ray edition start at $34.95, and $36.97 for the standard DVD version. That’s not a huge price gap by any means, so pick whichever one you feel you want to get.

Overall Impression & Rating

Cowboy Bebop is a legend of the anime world. Even after all this time, it’s still remembered by it’s long-time fans, and the newer generation of Otaku who’ve discovered it in recent memory. It story is still top-notch, and there are people who cosplay many of the characters even now. While I find that some of the greyness within the show tries too hard, it’s one of the few times I actually like something that’s a little more realistic. If you’ve heard of this series but never had the urge to watch it, I highly suggest that you do.  

Cowboy Bebop gets a 9 to 9.5 out of 10.

And that was my review of Cowboy Bebop. A show that has weathered the sands of time, and remains standing strong among many of the old-school titans. Again, if you’ve only heard of this series, then give it a watch when you have the time. So, part 2 of my trip back to the 90s has come to an end, so join me in August for a wrap up of this last incredible decade when I’ll take a look at some classic 90s games. See you then!

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Convention Review: Connecticon 2022

Another Connecticon is in the books fellow Otaku & Metalheads!

Once again, the city of Hartford, Connecticut, beckoned me to travel to it’s streets, and seek refuge in the monolithic Hartford Convention Center. To mingle amongst the numerous geeks, weebs, nerds, otaku, metalheads, cosplayers, etc. Okay, I admit that was a bit on the dramatic side a second ago, but this convention means a lot to me! I’ve been going for over a decade (Save for 2019......long story), and not at any time did I hate my experience. 2022 was no exception, so let’s not waste anymore time, and take a look at my review for Connecticon this year! Let’s begin.

Good Points ***
For starters, we got the venue & hotel. The Hartford Marriot was always a place I loved, and this year was no different. It has always given me a sense of awe stepping into the main desk area (Which is only eclipsed by the Gaylord Hotel for Katsucon), and it’s got a kind of energy I can’t quite describe. This translates over into the convention center, which is a titan in it’s own right. When I went to my first Genericon, I was definitely impressed, but when I came to Connecticon my 3rd eye opened (Once again, only eclipsed by Katsucon’s venue). The hotel was stocked with a lot: Starbucks, a bar, and a restaurant are just some of the things that were useful. As always, the breakfast buffet delivered on it’s quality, and the woman who was at me & my friend’s table was quite nice!

Next up is the Dealer’s Room & Artist Alley. As it has always been in years past, these two areas of the convention center are always filled to the brim with a giant variety of vendors selling all kinds of goods. Cosplay parts, figurines, anime, manga, MTG and D&D, etc. In the Artist Alley, there’s webcomic artists, jewelers, soap & tea makers, you name it! One of the best ways for a convention to succeed is having a varied and well-stocked Dealer’s Room & Artist’s Alley, and Connecticon always delivers in this regard!

Adjacent to the Dealer’s Room and the Artist Alley, the panels have always been a big plus for Connecticon. To this very day, the con’s “Everything But The Kitchen Sink” moniker is highly apparent in the massive variety of panels that are hosted. Cosplay tips, badass women in media, The Great Old Ones in RPG games, and Heavy Metal were just a tiny sprinkle of salt among an entire spice rack of panels. I actually made sure to go to as many as I possibly could this time around, when in prior years I didn’t go to as much. I did have one issue with the panels this year (More on that in a bit), but said issue in no way impacted the experiences I had in each & every room I entered.

Next positive this year was Cosplay Championship Wrestling. They first showed up last year, and made their return for Connecticon 2022. CCW is just pure geeky fun! Take characters from comics, video games, and a hint of anime, then dump them all into a 6-sided ring for some damn good fights! Cosplay Championship Wrestling definitely isn't WWE, AEW, or even Impact Wrestling. Instead, they're their own quirky little company, concerned with just putting on a fun time for those in attendance. The wrestlers do a damn good job in the ring, and really try to embody the characters they're representing (Some do have their own spin if a story needs to be advanced). I hope they come to Connecticon until the end of the world, because they're one of the few reasons why I still love professional wrestling!

And finally, there was the cosplay. Normally I’d talk about this earlier in this portion of the review, but there was something special. As usual, I saw a wide variety of cosplay from a wide variety of mediums. There was also a wide variety of quality, yet nothing was ever bad. However, the one particular cosplay trend I saw was a lot of people cosplaying as the precious metallic jellybean from Stranger Things season 4, Eddie Munson. Dudes, Chicks, and everywhere in between. I saw a lot of people dressed up as the wholesome Heavy Metal cinnamon roll, and it brought a smile to my face. Partially because his character brought back renewed interest in old-school Metallica (As we as other classic Heavy Metal bands), and also because for seemingly the first time ever, we got a positive representative of a metalhead in media. Eddie’s not an asshole, nor a meathead, but an honest-to-goodness human being. Practically everybody cosplaying him embodied this heavy ray of sunshine, and it warmed this old Heavy Metal fan’s heart.   

Okay Points
The one thing that surprised this year was the announcement that there was no vaccine card requirement, nor did you need to wear a mask within the venue. This was due to the local government, who said that since cases of the Plague have been down since the end of May (Someone correct me if I’m wrong about that time) I’m genuinely conflicted on this, as on the one hand it was nice to not constantly have a piece of cloth on my face during a gathering like this, and I appreciated not needing to bring along an important document that could potentially get lost. On the other hand, I admit I was a little nervous about it. I will say I did bring a mask along, and it was worn in certain areas I felt it was needed (Panel rooms, Dealer’s Room, Artist Alley, Game area). It felt weird & strange, almost like some mutant form of what things were before 2020 came. I can easily understand why some were scared by this, even infuriated, and I think because of this mix of feelings I felt putting this solitary point here.

Bad Points
There honestly isn’t that much wrong with Connecticon this year. The staff put on a hell of a con, and there was so much going right for it. Unfortunately, there is a little I found wrong with it. For starters, the lack of a physical conbook bugs me. To play devil’s advocate, I understand the need to save a little bit of money, and going for a digital guide is an easier route. Personally, I’m not a fan of this. I loved being able to flip through a con booklet, and writing out the stuff I wanted to do. Again, it’s easier to keep track of stuff digitally, but I had issues downloading the program for whatever reason.

The second issue is the severe lacking of games this year! In the case of gaming in the hotel, You still had the various card games & such, but there was absolutely no board games! It’s always been a tradition from among the group I come to the con with to sit down & play a board game or two (Betrayal At The House On The Hill in particular is a favorite). If there was an issue in this regard, such as logistics or not enough of a desire, then I never saw it anywhere. This is doubly so for the games room adjacent to the dealers. There was still plenty of console gaming both old-school & new, but the company that brought in the Japanese game consoles were not there this year. At first, I thought they just decided to bail out, but then I learned the last day that said company closed! I admit that I never frequented the machines that often, but when I did I hate a lot of fun! If this fact was announced on the con website or Facebook page, then I never saw it.

Final Thoughts & Rating
Connecticon 2022 was just fun. Pure, unadulterated fun. Yeah, it’s got a dent or two in it’s armor, but otherwise it stands tall as one of the best I’ve been too. With it’s mighty return last year, I can only hope that this con stays around for a very long time. If anyone reads this and hasn’t gone, do yourself a favor.....book a room, grab a 3-day pass, and take in the energies of one of the finest conventions hosted in the northeast. You won’t regret it!

Connecticon 2022 gets a 8.5 to 9 out of 10.

And that was my review for this year’s Connecticon. It was simply wonderful to walk along the hallowed paths & halls of the Hartford Convention Center once again, seeing all the sights & experiencing all I could. Much like last year, it was a hell of a time. So, I’ll see you all towards the end of the month, when I’ll take a look at another Sci-Fi anime classic. See you then. 


(Updated on 7/19/2022, 10:45 PM, Eastern Standard Time)

Monday, July 11, 2022

Anime Review: Outlaw Star

Fellow Otaku & Metalheads.....welcome back to the 90s!

After a pretty depressing post last week, I’m getting back to some good vibes with today’s review. As I said on the Fourth Of July, I would be taking a look at the Sci-Fi classic Outlaw Star. A late 90s classic in Japan, American audiences would get a taste of it in the very early 2000s on the anime block that shaped many of our tastes, Toonami. I actually wouldn’t watch this series until well into the summer of 2013, but none the less that I loved the hell out of it all the same. So, find yourself a dependable crew, get your Caster Gun loaded, and take a look at my review for Outlaw Star. Let’s begin!

Story/Setup
From the Funimation re-release box:

From the studio behind Cowboy Bebop comes a classic space western that brings all the adventure, gun blazing action, and seriously hilarious hijinks.

Gene Starwind is a jack of all trades responsible for odd jobs and bounty hunting with his partner, Jim Hawking, on a rundown planet. The work is simple and relatively uneventful until a bodyguard job goes sideways, and they get wrapped up in a fight against space pirates! Between gunshots, naked women in suitcases, and much more, Gene has to face his worst fear—going into space.

The vastness of space is the least of Gene's worries when he winds up as the owner of the Outlaw Star—a sophisticated space ship wanted by the Kei Pirates and undesirables everywhere. Luckily for him, he's got a crew made up of a boy genius, an android who seems more human than not, a beautiful but deadly assassin, and a feline warrior from the Ktarl Ktarl Empire! A ragtag team for sure, but this group will work together to get to the sought after Galactic Leyline and uncover the mysteries of the universe. If they survive, that is.


And that’s pretty much it. Compared to the other show I’ll be looking at this month, Outlaw Star has a simple story behind it. It’s not until the final 3 episodes that things take a turn for the surreal, and actually disrupts the flow of everything else before it. Outside of that, this series is nothing more than a really fun space adventure that’s fairly lighthearted (Apart from a couple serious moments). Nothing gets truly soul-crushing, but it’s not diabetes-inducingly sweet & colorful also. This is definitely a Sci-Fi series if you want something easier to watch.     

Animation

Despite being a late 90s series (It was around this time that computer-assisted animation began to crop up), everything here looks like it was done purely by human hands. Outlaw Star, despite it’s age, still manages to look fantastic to this day. Great usage of color, detailed backgrounds & settings, and the movement of characters & other objects still feels as slick as it did when it original came out back in 98. There are moments where it seems like things may have not been drawn or animated as strongly as everything else, but the overall appearance of the entire show is a feast for the eyes.

Voice Acting
Outlaw Star has pretty great voice acting behind it’s cast. Though some of the secondary characters are merely good (Nobody is truly terrible in this show), everybody puts in a lot of work when it came to their respective role. Bob Buchholz embodies the tough yet mildly vulnerable Gene Starwind, Brianne Siddall was perfect as the lovable & plucky Jim, Emilie Brown brought a great deal of sweetness & innocence to Melfina, Lenore Zann commanded the goofy yet fierce Aisha Clan-Clan, and Wendee Lee was perfect as the stoic yet sensual Twilight Suzuka. Nobody ever slips up during the 26-episode run, and everything sounds great overall!

Characters
The characters of Outlaw Star are simultaneously it’s biggest strength.....and it’s biggest weakness. On the one hand, this is a great cast. Good guys, bad guys, primary characters, and secondary characters. The characters that are likable are really likable, and the ones you’re supposed to hate you really hate. Everybody has a distinct personalty, and like I said above the voice acting adds quite a bit of life to them. The problem with the cast is that.....they’re not the deepest. If anything, the characters don’t really evolve over the entirety of the show’s run, outside of some small upgrades to their personality. There is one time a few episodes in where Gene has a moment of crisis, but it seems to be quickly swept under the rug by the time that episode is done. If there’s one good thing I can say about this, it would be that secondary characters don’t suffer from this.

Availability & Pricing

This is one of the weirder aspects of Outlaw Star, for there are 2 editions of this out there. The original Bandai Entertainment version, and the Funimation re-release from a few years ago. The Bandai version has been out of print for quite some time, as new copies on Amazon go for a whopping 139 dollars ($29.99 used), but the re-release goes for the considerably more humble $24.99 across both new & used copies. Unless you’re a collector, it’s obvious which one you should get.

Overall Impression & Rating

Outlaw Star.....is just a fun time. This is the kind of anime you watch if you’ve had a rough day, and you want to see a mostly lighthearted series about good guys on a fantastical journey through space. You don’t have to worry about real world problems, heavy grey morality, or characters that you don’t really care for because they’re such jerks. There may be a scratch on the paintjob of this show, but it doesn’t distract from the sheer awesomeness of the whole package. You definitely don’t want to pass this series if it ever crosses your path!

Outlaw Star gets a 9 out of 10.

So that was my review for the iconic Outlaw Star. It was a hit back in the late 90s/early 2000s, and it’s still a hit today. Well, I got another classic 90s anime to review towards the end of July, but beforehand I got a review of a convention that you all know of quite well. See you soon!

Monday, July 4, 2022

Food For Thought/Thought For Food No. 26: No Celebration Today

I was originally going to do a 2nd “Top 5 Badasses Of World War 2” list to celebrate today, but I was too lazy to even remotely start it. I was then thinking of doing a review on the DN3D expansion Duke It Out In DC, but what happened late last month has taken precedent over all of what I was planning. As you can tell by the first picture in this, I’m gonna be speaking about the recent murder of Roe v Wade at the hands of the supposedly neutral Supreme Court of the United States of America. The safeguard for women against unsafe abortion, Roe V Wade was a shield for all of the female gender in this nation, but horrifically that is no longer the case. Now, it has been taken behind a shed, given a bullet to the head, and left to rot. Already, states in the country that claim to “love” life & Jesus have implement fascist laws against women, making it illegal for a woman to terminate the grown fetus within her. Whether it’s because of rape, incest, or health issues, it doesn’t matter. Women’s bodies are further not their own, and it’s all due to the highest court of this land.


To be perfectly honest.....I’m actually not surprised by this. If anything, the seeds were planted during the entirely of the Trump presidency, when the justices that he personally picked were nothing more that absolute jokes who don’t know a damn thing about the law. Instead, all they know about is ignorance & religious extremism, as well as having no scruples or honesty. From the day they were interviewed they did nothing but lie. They lied to who asked them questions, and they lied to every single person in this country. Their kept their dark ambitions hidden & close to their chest, revealing it when the time was unfortunately right. That “Leak” about Roe v Wade on the executioner’s block back in late April or early May (I can’t recall) was the perfect opportunity for them to unleash the evil that they wanted to spread. Sadly, they were successful.

I’m genuinely still stunned by this. This decision to kill the protection that women were rightfully deserved is nothing more than that catering to an extremist religious minority that wishes to transform this land into their own rigid theocracy, who in turn are catering to a rightfully deposed despot that doesn’t even give an absolute shit about them. If this was all about the sanctity of life, then laws would be put down that allowed women to take paid months off from work to raise their newborn. Women wouldn’t have to pay a dime out of their wallet so they can give birth. However, none of this exists. At the end of the day, the execution of Roe v Wade was an obvious & direct attempt to assert their own beliefs on a group of people within the United States. This was done to further erode the boundary of Church & State, inching us further & further until we become something akin to China, Russia, the Middle East, or England like in V For Vendetta. We are inching ever closer to where we will become almost indistinguishable from those that we criticize.  

Right now, God & Jesus are weeping. Weeping because their names are once again being dragged through the mud by the grifters, swindlers, and con-men on the supreme court. Hell, I would completely understand why the heavenly red reset button. If Jesus suddenly showed up back on this world, and by sheer coincidence popped into our neighborhood, he would be shunned by those that claim to love him. He’d be declared a pussy, labeled a socialist, and be considered a traitor to the white race by the worst of the worst in the United States. We are so far backwards, that even he would throw his hands up in the air, turn his back, walk away, all the while screaming “DAD!? FUCK EM ALL!!”

And so.....I’m not really planning on doing any celebrating today. I would find it hypocritical to celebrate the birthday of a country that claims to support freedom, yet take away the rights of a giant portion of the nation in order to cater to a minority extremist cult, who in turn are catering to a deposed cult leader that doesn’t like his own fucking cult! When you have a country where women can’t always get proper healthcare when it comes to abortion, yet the access of guns of 50x easier, our priorities are screwed up (This is coming from a WW2 gun nut, btw). Given that clarence thomas (Not bothering to capitalize his name) said that he and the rest of SCOTUS might “look” at contraceptives & gay marriage, that is further proof that we truly don’t have rights. In the immortal words of George Carlin:

We have a series of privileges. A series of temporary privileges.

So before I end this brain spasm of mine, I want to address some people. For starters, to the Democrats, because unfortunately they’re part of this fiasco. When they had the opportunity to ratify Abortion into the constitution back in 2009, this was their mentality:

It’s not an issue at this point in time.

I’m sorry, but that pattern of though alone puts them into the same shitpile as the Republicans. Yes, they apologized for that, but you know what would have been better? ACTUALLY RATIFYING ABORTION INTO THE FUCKING CONSTITUTION! An empty apology is just that. Empty. There are still people (Too many, to be honest) that think that the Democratic Party still believes in the little guy, but it’s stuff like this that keeps me dissolutioned......and that’s coming from a Democrat. 

To the GOP & 90% of Republicans that dwell out in the open, showing off their true colors to not only people like me, but to the rest of the world. Thank you for continuing to prove that you don’t give a shit. Thank you for continuing to show to the rest of the world how much of a joke this country has truly become. Thank you for showing off your blind belief in the Evangelical way, when we weren’t even founded on religious beliefs to begin with! Like I said above, if this recent decision to end safe abortion for women was truly about life, you would have implemented free & incredible maternal care. You would not have women pay to push a kid out. You would have implemented paid maternity leave that would last for months. However, this decision wasn’t about life. It was about control. It was about domination. It was about further establishing an extremist religious theocracy in a country that wasn’t founded as such to begin with! You claim to treasure life, but when you cheer when someone you don’t like gets executed, or when people with maybe a different skin pigment gets hurt or worse, you show that you don’t care about life. You are pro-birth, and nothing more. 

To the remaining 10% of all Republicans in this nation. The ones that continue to believe in people over party. The ones that continue to celebrate country over politics. The ones that are actual religious people! Thank you for showing your soul. Thank you for standing up against the rest of the MAGA infested body of the GOP, and thank you for raising hell against the recent injustice against the women of America! You are the true conservatives & right-wingers of the United States, not some fanatic that can’t (Or won’t) realize that the last guy that ran this nation wouldn’t lift a finger to help them. Next time you see someone online or in public fellating the deposed orange orangutang......do me a favor and slap the jackass out of them! 

To the men. I’m not talking about the idiots that stormed the capital, or so called “Patriots”. I’m talking about the good men, great men, amazing men. The men that stand by their women (Mother, Grandmother, Daughter, Sister, Aunt, Girlfriend, or Wife), who know what’s going on is completely wrong, supporting them with all they got. You beautiful bastards rock! Even the gay guys that none the less love their female friends & family! You are the real men of this country, showing off actual masculinity & strength! Not some fat fucker that waves around a rifle, claiming he’d be able to defend “Muh Murica” from whatever phantasms that lurk in their empty skull. Stand by your ladies dudes!

And perhaps mostly importantly.....to the women that read this. Whether you were born a woman, or you became a woman.....raise hell. March, protest, send letters & e-mails to your politicians both local and national, unite, and make the “Supreme” Court, GOP, Democrats who didn’t raise a call to arms, and Evangelical “Christians” shit their pants. And if any of you lovely ladies just so happen to be a witch, voodoo priestess, or a practitioner of another magical belief......well, I don’t think anyone is going to mind a bubbling cauldron or two.

I want to end this rant on a very simple note. In the immortal words of Captain America:

This Isn't Freedom, This Is Fear.

Next week, I’ll return to the 90s with a review on Outlaw Star. See you then.






Monday, June 27, 2022

Album Review: New Radicals's Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too

Part 1 of my look at the 90s ends today fellow Otaku & Metalheads!

I’ve been having a blast so far everybody. Look back at the decade that many of us grew up in feels like a refreshing blast of clean air. The last time it seemed like there was any kind of sanity in the world, the 1990s sometimes seems too distant in our memory. Fortunately, the music of that decade can often bring us back some kind of piece, and the subject of today’s review is a prime example of that. Though tragically releasing just this one record, the band I’m talking about today none the less crafted an album that can truly be called a 90s classic. I certainly liked this as a kid, but it’s been in recent years that I’ve truly LOVED this release, and I felt it was appropriate to do a review of it during this festival of our youth. So, get on your Jnco jeans, see if there’s some Crystal Pepsi nearby, and enjoy my review of the New Radical’s only album, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too. Let’s begin!

Background
Our story begins with one Gregg Alexander. Prior to forming the New Radicals in 1997, he had released 2 unsuccessful albums before hand. Michigan Rain in 1989 and Intoxifornication in 1992. Both weren’t that successful, generated no charting singles, and would receive mixed reviews from critics. Prior to actually forming the band, Gregg would be dropped by not one, but two record labels (A&M and Epic Records respectfully) put ultimately would get signed by MCA Records in 97 and allegedly received $600,000 in advance to record his first release under the company. That must have been true in some way, as on October the 16th, 1998, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too.

While recording the album, Gregg stated that he "completely ripped up the rules that applied to his first two records". Though Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too is credited as a New Radicals album, it’s more often credited as a Gregg Alexander album, as he wrote most of it’s songs, produced most of it’s songs, played several instruments on the album, and is the only constant band member. Alexander sand this in reference to the numerous guest musicians that helped him record this record:

Most of that record was me pulling favors with studios or musicians that had played on earlier records and were like, 'Oh, Gregg's down on his luck—let's go play on his demo for the hell of it, we'll have a good laugh, have a couple of beers and maybe smoke a jay or whatever.

Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too would go on to be a surprising hit. Taken from wikipedia:

In the United States, the album debuted on the Billboard 200 at number 199 on the week of November 28, 1998. On January 16, 1999, the album rose into the top 100 on the chart for the first time, climbing 33 spots to number 79. The album reached its number 41 peak on February 13. The album remained at its peak the following week, then fell to number 51 on the Billboard 200 dated February 27. The album spent a total of 40 weeks on the chart, and placed at number 126 on the year-end Billboard 200 in 1998. It achieved Platinum status (1,000,000 copies sold) in the United States less than a year after its release.

The album also achieved some foreign success. On the UK Albums Chart, the album reached a peak of number 10. The album also charted within the top 40 in Austria, New Zealand, Germany, and Sweden, and peaked outside of the top 40 in the Netherlands and Switzerland.

The New Radicals' debut single, "You Get What You Give", was released on November 13, 1998, and was commercially successful. It reached number one in both Canada and New Zealand, and the top five in the United Kingdom. In the United States, the song peaked at number 36, on the Billboard Hot 100. The song reached the top 10 of the US Alternative Songs chart, where it peaked at number eight, and also performed well on the Pop Songs and Adult Pop Songs charts, peaking at numbers 14 and 11, respectively. The song also entered the top 40 in Australia, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, and Chile.

"Someday We'll Know" was slated as the album's second single, but the group disbanded before its official release, and the song was far less successful than its predecessor, charting in several European countries. In the United States, the song failed to enter the Billboard Hot 100, although it did manage to reach the Adult Top 40, where it spent 11 weeks and peaked at number 28. In the United Kingdom, the song managed to enter the singles chart, but it peaked at number 48 and spent only two weeks in the top 100. "Mother We Just Can't Get Enough" was planned to be the album's third single, but was never commercially released, due to the group's dissolution.


Basic Description
The 90s.

I said it at the beginning of the month, and I will repeat myself again: if someone was to ask me what album best represents the 1990s as a whole, I would say that Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too is the best representative of the decade. Everything about the 90s is in each & every single song. All of the positivity. All of the negativity. All of what we were dreaming. All of what we feared. All of the potential. You name it! New Radicals were really tapping into the energy of the decade, even though the album was released towards the end of that time. It’s nothing brutal or heavy, but there is plenty of emotion across Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too. On top of that, there’s this gentle hipster kind of vibe as the music plays. It’s not like the modern kind of hipster where you want to facepalm youself & slap the other guy, but it’s something else. I can’t quite explain it, but the hipster-ness on MYBBT is more innocent that what it’s like now. This all culminates in a package that’s upbeat & hopeful, yet at times goes realistic but not overwhelmingly so.

Best Track
I think people who’ve never listened to this album at the very least have of the first single off of this album. You Get What You Give definitely has a majority of the positivity on this album, what with the optimistic lyrics & feeling. Gregg Alexander has pretty strong vocals throughout the entire runtime, and the rest of the band are fantastic as well. Perhaps the part of this song that people who haven’t even heard the whole tune.....know the following lyrics:

Health insurance, rip off lying
FDA, big bankers buying
Fake computer crashes dining
Cloning while they're multiplying
Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson
Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson
You're all fakes
Run to your mansions
Come around, we'll kick your asses


That bit definitely rubbed some egos back in 1998. Apparently, it was written like that because Mr. Alexander wanted to write some social commentary into the song, and was curious to see if it would go un-noticed by mention some celebrities he’s never met before. Marilyn Manson in particular went on record saying that if he met Gregg, he would punch him in the face, and Gregg Alexander ran up to Beck upon meeting him for the very first time & apologized profusely, saying that him calling Beck out in the song wasn’t personal. Given he was apologizing to a total stranger, it seems to be the case.

You Get What You Give

And then there’s the absolutely odd title track. In a way, it’s incredibly difficult to describe Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too, as it’s such a headtrip. It’s filled with weird soundscapes, organs, and a moody yet mysterious atmosphere that feel like something you’d here in a hazy dream. I will say that there’s a solid beat throughout the whole thing, and Gregg Alexander has a much more subdued & ethereal way of singing on this song in comparison to the one I talked about above. Please do not skip this!

Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too


(Quick Note: according to one comment on Youtube, the reason the lyrics for "Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too" are different than what's published in the liner notes is because the original track was so insanely anti-corporate that they refused to publish it.)

Worst Track
While an undeniably fun album, Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too’s tracklist isn’t......perfect. For every catchy song, there’s one that either doesn’t start off the right way, or maybe is a bit too cheesy for it’s own good. Nothing on this album is bad per se, but when you have goofy lyrics in Jehovah Made This Whole Joint for You, the somewhat rough chorus in In Need of a Miracle (BTW, this song also has some silly lyrics in it), and Technicolor Lover with it’s overall ridiculous nature, which is ironic since it’s got a pretty good groove to it. I can easily understand why newer listeners may be turned off by Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too because of these 3 songs, but that would be an incredible disservice to the record as a whole.

Other
If you’re curious about listening to this album, then click on the link below:

Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too


Overall Impression & Rating

Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too is a relic of it’s time. Whether good or bad, you know that the album is straight from the 90s upon listening to just the first few notes of the opening track. Like I said at the beginning of the month & in the basic description above, this is the album I point to when someone wants to know what the 1990s were about. All of that decade’s positivity, negativity, hopes, dreams, fears, you name it! There are some songs that certainly lag behind in terms of energy, but the overall package is a treat. Newer music fans will love the vibes, but for someone like me, it’s another nice reminder of the last best decade.

Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too gets an 8 out of 10 objectively, but on 90s nostalgia alone it’s a solid 10 out of 10 for me.

And that was my review of Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too. The sadly lone release from the New Radicals, it somehow manages to hold up nostalgically for 90s kids like myself, while at the same time being an interesting curiosity for the newer generation. With that, my first look at the 1990s has come to an end. Join me in July for when I take a look at some of the most iconic anime to have been released in that time, but until then.......EXTREME!!!!!!!



***
If you’d like a possibly less biased review than mine (One in which I used some aspects & info to help make this one), then click on the link below:

Rocked: All Time Favorite Albums: New Radicals - Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too

Also, if you’d like to look at a more comprehensive take on the band, check out the wikipedia entry. It’s worth a read!:

New Radicals (Wikipedia)


Maybe You've Been Brainwashed Too (Wikipedia)