The Crow: City of Angels OST

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 5.5/10

The soundtrack for the first Crow movie is often hailed as one of the best of not only the 90s, but of all time. It had big name artists from the grunge, rock, and alternative world who knew how to recreate the darkness of the film in music. The same can’t be said about its sequel. The movie was nowhere as good or riveting as the original and the soundtrack matches. With a less than stellar line up and songs that are just meh, it can’t even compare to the previous LP.

Part of what made the first soundtrack great were contributions from The Cure, Nine Inch Nails, and Rage Against the Machine to name a few. If you were hoping for artists of that caliber this time around, then you’ll be disappointed. There are a couple of well known acts, but it’s not enough to save this compilation. Hole’s cover of “Gold Dust Woman” isn’t bad, but as someone who’s not a fan of Hole, it didn’t do much for me. White Zombie’s “I’m Your Boogieman” is one of the standout tracks. Zombie and friends take this lame KC and the Sunshine band song and turn it into something groovy, yet spooky. Rather than waxing about a DJ who gets people dancing, Zombie talks about the Boogieman of your nightmares.

From there the songs aren’t bad, but fade into the background especially if you don’t like the artist. Filter’s “Jurassitol” has a cool opening bass line, but otherwise sounds like a mediocre grunge track. PJ Harvey’s “Naked Cousin” is interesting with its hard gritty vocals, but again doesn’t really do much, at least not for me. At least it’s more memorable than Bush’s cover of the Joy Division track “In a Lonely Place.” It starts off pretty good with the subdued, creepy music, but Gavin Bush’s vocals really kill the track. He’s too quiet and raspy for this type of song. He’s obviously trying to recreate the unnerving feel of the original, but misses the mark. While listening to it, I wished it was the actual Joy Division track the entire time.

Then there are the rap songs. I have nothing against rap and I actually like it when it’s good, but here it feels out of place. The previous soundtrack didn’t have any hip hop tracks; the closest it got was the contribution from Rage Against the Machine. The tracks “Tonight is a Special Night” and the closing number “City of Angels” stick out so bad it feels like a different record. The latter song is especially bad because it was written specially for the movie and has the lamest references jammed in there. Just look at this eye-rolling lyric: “I’m gonna revenge myself/like the crow.” Just in case you forgot what movie this was, Above the Law are going to remind you. And the song doesn’t get any better from there. It’s like one of those theme songs that tries to tell the story of the TV show. Maybe if the rap contributions were actually good it wouldn’t be so bad, but we’re stuck with some pretty shitty songs.

When you’re not listening to sloppy rap songs, you’re hearing second rate grunge acts. When the LP was released in 1996, the grunge phenomenon was pretty much over. The composers of this LP didn’t get the memo and gathered up bands who were still pushing out the music. Again, if the songs were actually any good, who cares what genre it falls in. But all these songs blend together making them forgettable. “Spit” by NY Loose (remember them? Neither do I) isn’t terrible, but ends up sounding like a Hole song, Seven Mary Three’s “Shelf Life” gets boring after the first verse, the Toadies’ “Paper Dress” has the same crunchy guitars and disinterested vocals. “Teething” by Deftones isn’t bad, but it’s definitely one of their rougher songs and sounds a bit disjointed.

One the surprising stand out tracks is “Knock Me Out” by Linda Perry and Grace Slick. The song is really slow and somber, but it’s Perry’s smokey vocals that really makes it come alive. She sounds so lovelorn and distraught as she’s singing. Then comes Grace Slick who has so much fire behind her voice. When put together, they have some of the most powerful harmonies. Their singing matched with the depressing music is enough to make you shed tears. It’s a shame that it’s buried on the album and should’ve been up way higher.

This soundtrack is nowhere near as good as the previous one. There are a couple of decent songs, but most of them are dull, mediocre, and sound too similar to one another. The LP feels disjointed at times especially when it comes to the rap tracks. They’re stuck in the middle and the end of the record which has established itself as being primarily alternative rock oriented. This one didn’t have as many heavy hitting musicians, but the previous entry had its share of unknowns as well. The difference is those bands that you didn’t recognize actually had good fucking songs. Here, they’re just okay. You don’t mind hearing them, but you wouldn’t want to hear them again. For the first soundtrack, every song felt like it belonged. Here, most of it felt like filler with a few stand out tracks. It’s best to steer away from this one.

Mini Music Movie Review: Downloaded (2013)

Release Year: 2013

Rating: 8.5/10

By now most people know the Napster story: people shared music for free, Metallica whined about it, and it got shut down. But this documentary goes deeper into the story of the infamous company, how it got started, and what lead to its downfall. And what you learn is how the media only provided the surface of the tale. There were so many more details and arguments most of the public didn’t get to see. They were concerned with setting up a villain and a hero. Of course, Napster was the villain. This film provides information from the creator, Shawn Fanning, people who were part of the company and lawsuit. What’s great about it is it presents all sides of the story and never feels like it’s trying to convince you Napster good, record companies bad.

Whether you think Napster’s instincts were good or bad the documentary gives the back story about how it started and what its original intentions were. While so many who were against the company felt it was all about getting music for free, the creators felt it was about creating a sense of community and sharing cool music with others who were passionate about it, similar to the views about pirating today. It was just two college kids who were savvy enough to create the program.

Not only are the main players in the rise and fall of Napster interviewed, there’s tons of news footage from the late 90s talking about the controversy. The best clips feature Trent Reznor, Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Spice Girls sharing their thoughts about Napster. The best part of course when Metallica comes into the story. It’s interesting to hear the different opinions on the software. Some thought it meant the death of music industry (though it wasn’t) while others thought it was a great way to get their music spreading. Depending on your stance on file sharing some of the arguments made against Napster are fucking hilarious and make it clear a lot of it was a generation of people not understanding the technology. There is also courtroom footage from the initial hearings where you can hear the final nail in the coffin.

Throughout you actually feel pretty bad for Fanning. Just imagine the amount of stress he was under when the RIAA started knocking and at only 19 years old. And you thought worrying about final term papers was a nightmare. A bit of this felt a bit manipulated since there was a random section providing Fanning’s not so perfect family background. It didn’t really fit into the story of Napster. This is more about the company, not a bio about those who created it. It’s even a bit more perplexing since none of the others involved received any of the same treatment. Still, it doesn’t change the fact that you feel pretty bad for him in the end.

It’s a captivating look at one of the most controversial moments of the 90s. For some viewers it’ll be a nostalgia ride. For others it’ll be at music history. One thing you will come away with is how Napster made way for pirating, which is facing similar backlash. Funny, how some things never change.

15 Memorable Beavis and Butt-Head Video Moments

Beavis and Butt-Head were one of the things that made MTV great in the 90s. The duo’s moronic antics at scoring chicks, being cool, and messing with Daria made the show dumb in the best possible way. But what I always felt was the highlight of any Beavis and Butt-Head episode were the videos. They watched some of the most popular and obscure videos from the 80s and 90s and each was accompanied by their weird, hilarious, stupid commentary. They’ve watched so many videos it’s hard to keep track of them all, but here are my 15 memorable Beavis and Butt-Head videos.

15. “Heart Shaped Box” – Nirvana

The boys actually like Nirvana, so they don’t have too many bad things to say about this video. They cheer on their favorite parts while Beavis claims the video is giving him nightmares that look exactly like the video. The most memorable comment of the clip is their criticism of Kurt Cobain moving his hair from his eyes only to have fall back in his eyes. The video ends with Beavis promising to set up his room with stars and lights like the one from the video and Butt-Head retorting “You’re never gonna set up your room and you’re never gonna score.” It’s probably the smartest thing to come out of his mouth. Their commentary on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” is good too.

14. “I Wanna Rock” – DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince

The best moments on the show often come from the two misunderstanding what’s happening. And that’s all this clip is, a simple misunderstanding. This song asks only one question and Beavis thinks Will Smith just isn’t getting it. “He wants to rock right now. C’mon can’t you hear him?!” screams Beavis before freaking out at the song for slowing down. By the end of the song Butt-Head thinks Smith “still doesn’t get it,” but Beavis thinks he can use it to mess with teachers leaving him to think “not paying attention is cool.” Say what, now?

13. “The Caterpillar” – The Cure

When I found out Beavis and Butt-Head watched one of The Cure‘s videos, I couldn’t wait to see what they had to say about frontman Robert Smith. Luckily, they didn’t let me down. Unfortunately, the clip is no longer uploaded online, but the duo mainly wondered why Smith never looks at the camera. Honestly, I never noticed that until they pointed it out and every time I watch the video now I only focus on Smith not staring at the camera. They also mention how his lipstick is on crooked and how he should fix it. It’s a clip that’ll give Cure fans a good chuckle.

12. “Detachable Penis” – King Missile

This is one of the few clips where the duo don’t say anything. Instead they giggle incessantly at the word “penis.” They break from their bubbling laughter only to say “he said penis!” The longer you watch the two losing control, the funnier it is. Soon enough you’re mindlessly giggling with them. On another note, the song itself is really fucking weird. Seriously.

11. “The Family Ghost” – King Diamond

Even though the guys ripped on Grim Reaper plenty of times it’s surprising to learn they hate King Diamond more. Butt-Head even says “this might be the worst crap I’ve ever seen in my life.” They then go on to say Diamond looks like the Count from Sesame Street and how sad the whole situation is. Throughout the whole thing they remain shocked at just how bad it is. Considering how many metal fans love King Diamond it’s really funny to hear them point out just how ridiculous the band is.

10. “Blind” – Korn

“This looks like it might rock…maybe” is how this clip begins, but it’s not until Beavis makes himself dizzy that the genius of it comes in. Getting the high he was looking for he then sounds like a music critic citing everything wrong with the band, how they lack originality, and how they take ideas other bands making them bland. Not only is it funny, but it’s a spoof on all the hatred and criticism that got thrown at Nu-metal. Afterward Butt-Head slaps some sense into Beavis and tells him “you got all dizzy and started talking like a dumbass.” Nice dig there, Mike Judge.

9. “I’ll Stick Around” – Foo Fighters

There are so many hilarious moments from this clip from Butt-Head implying Beavis “swings that way now” to wondering if the band is dressed in white because they drive ice cream trucks. But the best part is when Butt-Head says “Hey it’s the dude from Nirvarna.” Beavis replies “Um I don’t think that dude’s with us anymore. You shouldn’t say that.” It’s a funny and clever way to sneak in a reference to Kurt Coabin’s death that wasn’t nasty or mean. I’m sure at the time it also made viewers take pause and reflect on the newly departed rockstar.

8. “I Alone” – Live

Did you ever wonder if the dude from Live was actually a pull string doll that screams and wets itself? That’s what the duo come up with while watching this video. Watching the clip now it looks pretty ridiculous, but Beavis and Butt-Head knew this while the clip was popular. Why is he making all those faces? Who’s that guy walking around on the set? What is up with that little braid? It’s these observations that show these guys may be dumb, but they at least say what everyone else is thinking.

7. “March of the Pigs” – Nine Inch Nails

Beavis and Butt-Head manage to rip apart this NIN video and make it seem silly instead of intense. Though they like the clip, they bring up several issues by demanding Trent Reznor put down his arms and start the song already. Comments on Reznor stumbling around like he’s drunk, touching other people’s stuff, needing to rehearse more, and wondering where they got those shiny pants makes you see the video differently. It doesn’t seem so intense and heavy in Beavis and Butt-Head’s hands. But the one thing I want to know is why is Reznor touching himself during the second verse? Maybe I don’t want to know after all.

6. “If I Only Had a Brain” – MC 900ft Jesus

This clip is pretty simple but works so well. Butt-Head drivels on about something while Beavis sings the bass line of the track throughout the entire clip. He stops for a second when Butt-Head slaps him across the face, but starts right back up again. No matter how many times he says “shut up, Beavis” he keeps going. Eventually Butt-Head can’t resist and starts doing it with Beavis. It may not be much, but it’s the mindless singing that makes this clip so funny.

5. “Long Hard Road Out of Hell” – Marilyn Manson

This isn’t the duo’s first time watching one of Manson’s videos, but they have the best commentary for this single. Aired during the Thanksgiving special, it starts out with Butt-Head complaining how people go all religious for Thanksgiving followed by Beavis stating “It is a Jewish holiday.” They then go on to confuse Manson for Cher saying she’s gone downhill thanks to “mentopause,” which makes her boobs get smaller and her butt swell up. They later figure out who it really is and wonder how he manages to hide his junk in one scene. It all ends with Butt-Head calling Beavis a lesbian since he apparently wants to have sex with “a dude.” Unfortunately, I can’t find the video online, so enjoy clips from their Thanksgiving special instead.

4. “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” – The Clash

For the majority of this clip Beavis and Butt-Head talk about Seinfeld. Why? Because they believe frontman Mick Jones is Jerry Seinfeld. This prompts them to discuss their favorite characters (the fat guy), that time when you can see Elaine’s boobs, and their favorite episode about “choking their chicken.” It’s hilarious because with his skinny frame, big eyes, and haircut, he kind of looks like the comedian. They finish the clip complaining about the volume of the video not being loud enough, yet they’re too lazy to turn up the TV.

3. “Sweating Bullets” – Megadeth

After watching this commentary from Beavis and Butt-Head, you’ll never hear Dave Mustaine the same way again. After trying to figure which guy was Mustaine, spoiler: it’s all of them, and discussing whether or not he was raised by wolves and why that would be awesome, Butt-Head makes an eye opening observation. “Hey Beavis, this guy talks like you.” Listen to Mustaine sing and Beavis chatter and you’ll see how right Butt-Head is. Hearing this revelation will ruin kick ass songs like “Peace Sells” for quite a long time.

2. “Step Down” – Sick of It All

Whenever I think of memorable Beavis and Butt-Head clips this is the first one that comes to mind. It starts out with Butt-Head actually being right about something: how shitty their lives are. He lists how they have no friends, are not in good health, they’re not happy, and they live in a crappy apartment. But it doesn’t matter since Butt-Head says “we’re cool” right after that. But the thing that makes this clip so great is when the two show off their own dance moves in a similar fashion to the music video. Their moves include “The Dillhole,” “The Bunghole,” and “The Fartknocker Double Inverted Nad Twist.” It’s a hilarious way to pay homage or mock, however you see it, the video they’re watching.

1. “Fear No Evil” – Grim Reaper

These two really hate Grim Reaper. They never have anything nice to say about their videos and they rip this one to shreds. They poke fun at the ridiculous costumes, the corny effects, and the singer, who they think is pretty ugly. When a guy in half a wolf costume pops up Butt-Head wonders if that’s how they draw Wolverine in England. Beavis keeps saying “That’s not Wolverine” until Butt-Head shouts “Shut up, Beavis!” Oddly enough, creator Mike Judge ran into the guitarist of Grim Reaper, who actually loved how mean the boys were and sent them the band’s other clips. Just shows how even musicians have to laugh at themselves once in a while.

What’s your favorite Beavis and Butt-Head video? Any moments that I missed? Let me know in the comments.

The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste – Ministry

Release Year: 1989

Rating: 9/10

Ministry has evolved several times throughout the years. They went from being a copy cat new wave band to being at the forefront of the industrial metal movement. For their fourth album the band went in yet another direction: heavy metal. Some of the industrial elements are still there, but the music is more guitar driven as opposed to synth. The result is one of their most brutal and strongest albums to date. This is when the band was on top of their game and when they managed to creep you out with just a riff.

Their previous LP was aggressive as hell, but they went even further and harsher for this one. “Thieves” opens the stellar album with the shuttering riff that’s reminiscent of rapid fire bullets going off. Hearing it you know you’re in for a brutal ride. The riff builds up the tension until Jourgesen begins screaming “Thieves! Thieves and Liars! Murderers!” sounding furious and intense. After the verse, everything picks up and turns into chaos, which fits perfect with the line “inside outside, which side/we don’t know.” It’s an amazing track and one of their all time best. The chaos continues with “Burning Inside” with its heavy shuffling riff and maddening drums. Jourgesen sounds like he’s dunked in water since the vocals are obscured as he sings about drug addiction. The music drives the song creating this huge tension that feels like it’s bound to snap and cause massive damage.

Never Believe” goes back to their industrial side with a stark dark synth riff that’s made for a Goth nightclub. Soon enough the dirty guitar takes over and brings it back into the world of heavy metal. The vocals, done by Chris Connolly, are delivered like a weird sermon. The whole thing has a tinge of horror to it, but it’s pretty subtle. “Cannibal Song” sounds pretty disturbing. It relies on distorted voices, eerie sounds, crows cawing, and garbled samples that are hard to make out, but unnerve you just because it sounds so weird. The vocals don”t make anything better since Jourgensen keeps stretching and wavering his voice to make him sound deranged while singing. The heavy bass is your only saving grace since it keeps you moving. Otherwise, it’s the eeriest track on the album. “Breathe” is another intense track, which finds Jourgensen turning a simple action into a violent command. The best is when he demands “Breathe! Breathe! Breathe, you fucker!” With the pounding music and aggressive attitude, the whole song hits you in all the right places.

Then there’s “So What,” which is the ultimate Ministry song. Everything about this track shows why Ministry were one of the heaviest, most disturbing bands out there. It uses samples from the Ed Wood film The Violent Years and Scarface for most of the lyrics and it’s fucking effective. One of the creepiest things about the song is the sinister laugh that echos throughout the track. Though the song starts off on a slightly muted note then it roars up and punches you in the jaw repeatedly until you’re singing “So what?” with Jourgensen. There are even moments when it lures into a sense of calm before snapping out of it and punching you one last time. It’s a brutal, violent song, which is funny since it’s about cultural violence, and one that Ministry fans still love today.

While the album is amazing, there are some lackluster moments. Ministry mixes rap and metal with a mediocre result on “Test.” The music is great with slaying guitars, but it keeps repeating while Tommy Boyskee dishes out a very 80s rap flow over it. The song is okay, but something you have to get used to. Otherwise, it catches you off guard. “Dream Song” is a bit better, but pretty weak as a closing track. Rather than being hard and brutal, it’s oddly ethereal with sensual singing, not from Jourgensen, and a bit weird and creepy with various samples clashing together. It’s a little creepy, but it’s still not as harsh or brutal as the rest of the album. You’d think with so much strong material here, the album would end in a mass of destruction and chaos.

Ministry have a lot of strong albums in their catalog, but this has to be their best. It’s a brutal record packed with more violence, aggression, and destruction than a Michael Bay movie. The songs are killer, Jourgensen sounds pissed off as hell, and the whole thing is downright horrifying. Some of the music alone makes you shiver, but you love every minute of it. Not everything on the album is a hit, but at least they’re still listenable. They just may not be songs you turn to when you want some classic Ministry. Either way the album is heavy hitting and show why Ministry were one of the most brutal bands around.

The Last Tour on Earth – Marilyn Manson

Release Year: 1999

Rating: 7.5/10

Ever since he became public enemy number one with parents and religious figures across America, Marilyn Manson‘s shows have always been a hot topic. From his special guests, costume changes, and wild antics, you never know what to expect next. Is he going to burn the American flag again? Or just tear out pages from the bible? Of course his shows now are way tamer than they were during the height of his fame, but this live LP was recorded at the band’s peak. With a solid setlist and the band on point, there’s one major thing that keeps this from being a flawless live LP: the band is too damn good.

Marilyn Manson is a very visual band and the frontman himself is all about theatrics. That’s what makes their live shows so much fun; there’s so much thought put into every aspect. Not surprisingly, this doesn’t translate well on the album. The band and Manson sound awesome; everything is always on point and never sounds dull. The problem is they sound so good, most of the songs are close to the recorded versions. This may not be an issue for everyone, but I personally like live versions to differ somewhat from the original recording. With the visuals in tact, songs like “Rock is Dead” and “Great Big White World” would be exciting and thrilling to hear. Without them they sound good, but it doesn’t have the same effect. There are moments where this works against the track, like on “Lunchbox.” Everything sounds great until the extended break where you know Manson is doing something and interacting with the crowd, but all we hear are distant cheers and occasionally Manson screaming “I wanna grow up!” Maybe this was left in to immerse listeners, but it doesn’t work.

There are a few songs that stand out as being superior live renditions. The first is the opening track “The Reflecting God,” which has awesome raw vocals from Manson. Otherwise it doesn’t differ drastically from the recorded version. Another is “Antichrist Superstar” because everything sounds more intense and in your face than the original. Here his vocals are loud and grueling, whereas before he was almost whispering the lyrics. But the best live track is “Last Day on Earth.” The song has always been dark and depressing, but this take features acoustic guitars and a stripped back sound, making it more desolate and haunting than before. It’s very bare bones, which makes it so damn chilling. When you think about it, it’s kind of a grim, somber way to end a live LP. There’s a good chance it was intentional, as with most Manson projects.

The setlist features mainly singles from the band’s first three albums, so expect to find popular songs like “Dope Show,” “Beautiful People,” and “Get Your Gunn.” There may not be any deep cuts here, but it is nice to get some live versions of songs from the first album, especially since Manson doesn’t perform them as much as he used to. “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” is another highlight from the band’s second LP. Manson sounds like he’s performing with fury and fire. He’s so fucking aggressive and in your face you think he’s going to punch you next. The entire track is chaos incarnate and ends with everything collapsing in on itself.

The album ends with the non-live track “Astonishing Paranormal End Times,” which was previously released on he Celebrity Deathmatch soundtrack. It’s one of Manson’s strongest and is actually what got me into the band. The track is energetic and brutal as hell. Manson’s vocals are sinister and viscous as he condemns those who are obsessed with violence and television by singing “Kill your god/kill your tv!” As he continues to sound threatening, the music gets chaotic and out of control. The best part is when he spits out “This is what you should fear/you are what you should fear,” which should be familiar to anyone who’s listened to “Kinderfeld.” It’s one of those songs you lose your fucking mind to and love every minute of it.

The album is a pretty good live compilation, but it has a lack of variety since many of the songs sound like their recorded versions. Either way, the setlist is solid, the band sounds amazing, and Manson’s voice is as sinister as ever. Though if you want to experience Manson live without paying ticket prices, it’s best to watch one of his concerts. No matter how hard it tried, this LP isn’t immersive and doesn’t capture the energy and excitement of the band live.