Monday, September 9, 2013

Music Monday: Leper's Beautiful Gray Day

(Review originally posted at A Flame in the Dark in February '13)

Grrr Records has never had a massive roster, but has nevertheless managed to bring forth an eclectic group of bands and musicians. Over the years, the label has introduced the blues rock of Resurrection Band, hardcore punk from Crashdog, a modern, post grunge effort by a group of teenagers named Sheesh, Celtic folk rock, hippie rock, and now solid goth act Leper.

Leper, who has been around since around 2000, describes themselves as "a darker Pink Floyd, an Edgier Cure with some NIN mixed in." This seems like as good a description as any.

Beautiful Gray Day is Leper's third full-length album, and possibly their most accessible to date. Though the first two albums were replete with monster movie and horror references, BGD eschews such enticements in favor of a subtler, more moody approach. For one thing, even the title is just a touch more upbeat than the instantly-depressing title of their sophomore effort, "And Everybody Died." Their debut was even less subtly titled Kreischen (from German, The Shriek).

Leper tends to let their lyrics dictate the flow of the music. Because of this, some of the tracks sort of plod interestingly along ("Ascolta"), while others lean toward Nine-Inch-Nails-inspired industrial ("Spezza Spezza Spezza"). Possibly the most accessible track (read: radio friendly) is the medium-paced "Perseguita (Haunt)." The song borrows heavily from The Cure, leaning almost toward catchy before pulling slightly back to maintain its mostly dreary feel.

Lyrically, you get a real feel for the ministry aspects of band on this album, more so than in previous works. Some of the songs on BGD ("Oido Tutto - I hate Everything," and "Fai Come Vuoi - Do As Thou Wilt") seem almost a direct challenge to much of the Goth/Scene lifestyle, while others, like "Non Ho Piu Paura Di Dormire (I'm Not Afraid to Sleep Anymore)" act more as an answer to the fears and emotions that drive people to it.

Overall, this third effort from Leper is a dark but enjoyable musical journey from dark alternative rock to an ambient industrial. Whether you or not you describe yourself as "goth," Leper presents an almost friendly introduction to a mysterious, and often beautiful, artistic style.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How To Write A Syfy Original Movie...

A friend of mine just posted on Facebook that he wants to write a Syfy original movie. Which is awesome, because I've been harboring the same dream for a few months now.

I believe I can make this a reality, because I believe I have figured out the formula. But why should it stop with me and my Facebook buddy? Take a crack at it yourself - but remember the formula.

Ready for it? Here it is: the recipe for crafting hit B-movies for the Syfy Channel!

1. Introduce a random character nobody will care about. Then kill him horribly.

2. Introduce the main character, preferably driving. He can either be introduced with a faithful dog who will outlive almost every other human character, OR, with a group of 4 buddies (2 girls at LEAST), 3 of whom will also die horribly. There should be some inexpensively derivative music on the radio.

3. Find a convoluted way to bring "science" into it. This will work best if delivered by somebody nobody will
ever, in a billion years, believe as a scientist. Write the part for Tara Reid, because there's a good chance she's available.

4. Find a roll for one of the following (at least): Dean Cain, Mark Decascos, Judd Nelson, or C. Thomas Howell. Give that person all the "tough guy" lines, unless it's Judd Nelson.

5. Write an entirely context-inappropriate sex scene between two characters who barely know one another, one of whom should have by now suffered the trauma of watching his or her sibling, best friend, or lover die.

6. End Movie.

7. Gotcha. Monster gets back up... kills somebody. Probably Tara Reid.

8. End Movie for real this time.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Webcomic Wednesday - Between Failures

Today's featured comic isn't the first webcomic I've ever enjoyed -- but it is one of the first I've actively followed since college. I can no longer even remember how I found Between Failures, but I remember very clearly reading that day's page, and then immediately backing up to the beginning. And then sitting there, for over an hour, until I'd read every single page. After that, I made note of Update days, and have been back every week since (sometimes three times to catch each update as it came out).

"Between Failures" art and pages (c)
Jackie Thomas Wohlenhaus
Used with permission
The comic takes place, mostly, in a media store (selling books, videos, video games, and music), and follows
the staff as they tackle gaming, nerd culture, sex, love, life, and each other. At time humorous, at others poignant, and often both at once, Between Failures is more than a workplace strip. The characters love one another, each in their own way, and none more so than the group's unofficial Godfather, Thomas (the main character). It is a story -- several stories -- of life lived, as creator Jackie "Crave" Wohlenhaus reminds us, between failures.

Between Failures is a real look at real life and real love. As messy as it is. As imperfect as it is. As infuriating, frustrating, sad, ridiculous, and wonderful as each of our own.

So, go read it, but I'm sending you to Page One. Start there. This is not a "jump in the middle" kind of comic, though I'm sure Crave doesn't particularly care how you begin. Nevertheless, the story is best appreciated from the beginning, in order. So go do that. Hope you like it. Let me know in the comments, yeah?

Page 1: Every Story Has To Start Somewhere

Oh! And read the blog posted underneath the title page. It'll give you an idea of what to expect, including the fact that the first chapter or so is fairly rudimentary on some levels, but he improves as the work progresses.

*My more sensitive readers should be reminded this is easily a PG-13 comic for language, sexual situations, etc (back in the day, it would've been R for language alone).