Tag Archives: Streaming

Review: BoJack Horseman Season 3

bojack s3 poster
via iMDB

BoJack Horseman (Season 3) (2016)

Netflix / TVMA

Animation / Comedy / Drama

Starring: Will Arnett, Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie

Creator: Raphael Bob-Waksberg


I was already in love with Netflix’s BoJack Horseman after its first two seasons, but lo and behold, the show’s third season made me love the show even more.  I didn’t think it was possible.  The show manages to stay fresh while delivering its trademark dark and dry humor.  It’s a show that’s brutally honest and bend over backwards hilarious.  It also isn’t afraid to get real…super real.  (You already got a taste of this towards the latter half of season two) Show creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg has a true bona-fide hit on his hand and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be slowing down any time soon.

bojack s3 1
via Webthieunhi

This season we have the post-Secretariat aftermath that BoJack (Will Arnett) has to maneuver himself through.  If you’ve been keeping track, the show has pretty much taken us through the gauntlet of what it’s like to be an actor in Hollywood.  The show’s first season portrayed the trials and tribulations of being an old washed-up actor while season two dove head first into the world of filming a movie.  This season, we get to watch as BoJack deals with press junkets, award shows, and the brunt of execs who want to throw script after script at him because he’s made it big with Secretariat.  In true BoJack fashion, he seems to be handling everything well (relatively, of course) but then things take a turn for the worse as friendships get tested and tried.  Remember when I said this show isn’t afraid to get real?  Yeah…this show gets pretty sobering in the later episodes.  BoJack might have approached his lowest point yet.  That says something, especially considering the fact that last season he was caught in a yacht with a teenage girl on prom night.  Just watch season two to see for yourself…

All your favorite characters, both big and small, make it back for season three.  BoJack’s feline agent, Princess Carolyn (Amy Sedaris), is facing some hard times with her new agency and she starts to question herself as well as others.  She even finds new love.  Diane (Alison Brie), one of BoJack’s best friends, is helping him with his social media outlets, among other things.  Her and Mr. Peanutbutter’s (Paul F. Tompkins) relationship is tested once again as they continue to work out the kinks in their estranged marriage.  Finally, everyone’s favorite lazy roommate Todd (Aaron Paul) is…well, not so lazy this season.  He still has his fair share of wacky off-the-walls adventures, but the main portion of the season focuses on his new tech start-up, which focuses on giving woman a “safe place” in the cab industry.  Although it soon starts to evolve into some crazy directions.

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There aren’t too many new characters introduced this season, besides BoJack’s publicist Ana Spanikopita, voiced by Angela Bassett.  Bassett does a great job with the character, who has to put up with BoJack’s crazy shenanigans and bloated persona.  Instead, this season mainly focuses on the character we already know and love and develops them even deeper, giving us some much appreciated backstory in the way of flashbacks.  It felt like I knew the characters even more by the end.  There’s a whole episode that’s totally devoted to each character’s backstory, which happens to be one of the best episodes of the season.

I was constantly amazed by the fresh ideas that were brought to the table over and over again this season.  The same familiar humor is still abundant and healthy, but we get some cleverly written episodes that demonstrate the show’s prowess.  There’s an episode that rewinds time back to the year 2007.  Not only do we get to see all the characters and where they were at during this time, but it’s also chock full of 2007 references.  Everything from the music to the billboards.  I was laughing out loud for the entire episode.  On the other hand, we got an episode in similar vein to the silent films of the Golden Era of Hollywood.  BoJack takes a trip under the sea for an underwater film festival, but things go south as he has to care for a newborn seahorse.  He’s unable to speak (because he’s underwater), which makes for an episode devoid of conversation but full of heart and hilarity.  Despite the lack of words, it might have been the most well-written episode of the season.

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It’s not often that we get TV shows that consistently nail it out of the park every single episode.  With its third season, BoJack Horseman truly makes the mark.  It’s brilliant up and down the board.  There’s lighthearted episodes mixed with some sobering episodes, all with a heavy dose of clever and relevant humor.  The writing this season is top-notch and almost all the characters elevate in terms of development.  This season’s finale is both sad and optimistic for BoJack, who goes through a whole arsenal of emotions of the course of the season.  It only got me hopeful for what is next in the already confirmed fourth season.  You know your killing it when your fourth season gets green-lit before the premiere even airs.

bojack s3 score

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Review: Bobby Tarantino

bobby tarantino cover
via DDOTMEN

Bobby Tarantino (2016)

Logic

Rap / Hip-Hop

Def Jam / Visionary Music Group


“This motherf***er made a number one album!  Made a mixtape after…and then he’s making another concept album…like his first s*** didn’t already go Number 1?!  This motherf***er’s like butter, he’s on a roll motherf***er!”  Perhaps there’s no better way to put it than these lines from Logic’s newest mixtape, Bobby Tarantino.  This dude is quite literally on a roll.  Fresh off the release of The Incredible True Story, the Maryland-based rapper has put out a new collection of songs, a fun little side project if you will, devoid of any deep or substantive material.  There’s some thoughtful material on the mixtape, but in the end Bobby Tarantino is meant to be a diversion in between his flagship releases and it succeeds on this front.

Logic Performs At Stubb's
via Pitchfork

Minus the rather unnecessary intro track “illuminatro,” a song that acts as a special message if played backward, we immediately are thrown some bangers that not only demonstrate Logic’s undeniable flow, but his killer ambition as well.  “Flexicution,” a single that was dropped prior to the mixtape’s arrival, is a heavy beat hip-hop track laced with an extra dosage of braggadocio.  “The Jam” is…a jam.  On a song that goes hard, Logic goes on about how he’s eventually going to be bigger than Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z.  Those are some lofty claims…but hey, there’s potential.  Logic’s got a lot more work to do though.  Besides this point, this is a pretty great track.  It would have been flawless if it weren’t for the overzealous use of auto-tune though.

Continuing the fun, we get a very humorous interlude track called “A Word from Our Sponsor,” which sees the return of the recurring character Marty Randolph.  Longer than most interludes, the track takes the form of a phone conversation between Marty and Logic’s record label that puts Marty on hold for a ridiculous amount of time.  There’s some perspective to be gained from the track, but it’s relevance and worth are largely questionable.  However, it will probably make you laugh a lot more than you thought you would laugh listening to a Logic mixtape.

bobby tarantino 2
via Follow News

The mixtape’s sole feature goes to Pusha T, on the collaborative track, “Wrist.”  The song tells the fictional story of a Colombian drug lord who decides to take an introspective walk through his inner being.  It’s a reflective track that displays some good storytelling work from Logic.  Pusha T was alright but it’s not like the track gained anything from his presence.  It’s probably safe to say that the track might have been better if Pusha T stayed on the sideline.

I think the best track off the mixtape is “44 Bars,” a well written and heavy introspective.  Over the course of the track, Logic delivers a 44-bar verse that dives into the pains and motivations that drive him to be the person that he is.  It’s a thoughtful track that cements the fact that Logic has some rapping chops…but I don’t think I have to convince you of his talent.  It might not be the most original or innovative track out there, but it’s a substantive track that stands out from most of the lighthearted fare on the project.

bobby tarantino 3
via Rap Wave

There’s some blemishes over the course of the tape that are worth mentioning.  The sister tracks “Slave” and “Slave II” didn’t really grab me.  Aside from being redundant, they don’t really offer anything new.  The notion of “being a slave to the rap game” is an idea that has been battered over and over again over the course of rap’s history.  These tracks don’t bring anything new to the table.  They sound good, but that’s about it.  Then there’s “Studio Ambience at Night,” a chaotic track that should have been relegated to the chopping block.  It doesn’t serve that much of a purpose, other than to give a preview of what’s next for Logic.  However, good luck trying to parse what that means over the humble and bumble of the track’s noise, which mimics the sounds from a late night studio session.

At the end of the day, Logic has put forth another solid project worthy of a listen.  This dude has been hard at work creating music and his hard work and dedication shows.  Bobby Tarantino is successful by giving you something to chew and digest on while the rapper grinds out his next full conceptual release.  There’s a good bit of gems amid some duller rocks, but hey, this is a solid piece of work that honestly could serve as a full-on release if it wanted to.

bobby tarantino score

On a side note, it’s kind of tough to get the album for yourself.  As of right now, I’m pretty sure it’s only available to stream on services like Apple Music, Google Play, Soundcloud, and YouTube.  I don’t think you can actually purchase it for yourself, but I’m sure that will change soon.  Personally, he should have probably just released the mixtape on the usual services…but this is a mixtape so everything’s different.

Review: Lemonade

lemonade cover
via This Is RnB

Lemonade (2016)

Beyonce

Hip-Hop / R&B

Parkwood


Last weekend Beyonce released her Lemonade into the world.  That last sentence might sound silly but it’s true, Beyonce didn’t release an icy drink but a full-length audio-visual album that debuted on HBO and Tidal.  Yes, you heard that last part right.  It released exclusively on Tidal, which makes total sense given her share in the company.  A new Beyonce album is a good reason for people to jump on the Tidal bandwagon.  However, with the album popping up on iTunes this morning, the whole release of this album further cements Tidal’s status as a joke, but that’s a story for a different time.

We’re here to talk about Lemonade.

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Lemonade might be the most personal album we have heard from the singer.  We’ve heard her get personal before, but this entire project feels like it was ripped straight out of her diary.  The diary contains pages about her relationship with Jay-Z, her family, feminism, and black activism.  Her message comes across loud and clear, a message that’s equal parts intimate and powerful.  It’s easy for an album’s overarching message to get lost in the sound but this was probably the clearest an album has been in a while.

Beyonce doesn’t waste time, immediately addressing the elephant in the room with her first batch of songs.  Her songs “Pray You Catch Me” and “Hold Up” address the relationship rumors between her and Jay-Z and the infidelity that is called into question.  She makes it clear that she still loves her husband, but she’s willing to go crazy to find out where his loyalties lie.  There’s also “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” a pointed track full of angst and thrashing guitars, thanks to some help from artist Jack White.  It’s a strong track that puts fear in even the most hardened souls.  With lyrics like, “If you try this shit again, you gon lose your wife,” things must have gotten pretty bad.  I don’t know what Jay-Z did, but after listening to this song all I got to say is he better watch his back.

lemonade 2
via Miss Info

There’s a lot of songs about her and Jay-Z’s relationship, which happens to be the core of the album.  “Love Drought” is a passionate plea to rekindle a relationship behind an airy cloud-synth beat in the background that really carries you away.  Then there’s “Daddy Lessons,” which might be my favorite cut off the album.  It’s Beyonce’s first foray into country, and she kills it.  It’s a song about her father and the similarities between him and Jay-Z.  It’s a deep song that really took me by surprise.  It’s not your typical Beyonce sound, but she harnesses some of her southern roots and gives us a sound that I want to hear more of.

Although songs of love cover most of the tracklist, there’s also some feminism and black empowerment to be found.  “6 Inch” is a song of female empowerment, featuring some vocal help from The Weeknd.  It’s a positive and upbeat song about the grind and success that comes when you’re willing to put in the work.  Lemonade’s sole single, “Formation” is a powerful black activism song that struck up some controversy for its imagery as well as its themes.  “Freedom” is another song about civil rights, featuring the always vocal Kendrick Lamar.  When you talk about issues of civil rights, Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar have definitely been on the forefront of conversation.  The track also ends in a touching way, with some words from Hattie White, Jay-Z’s grandmother.  She says, “I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to cool myself off.  I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”  There we go, it’s a statement that quite literally sums up the entire album’s message.

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“Sandcastles” is the album’s turning point.  You can hear the pain and tears come through in her voice in one of the most personal songs off the album.  It’s on this song where she starts to contemplate what comes next.  She’s made promises in her life, some of which she wasn’t able to keep.  The same goes for Jay-Z.  Despite all of this, their sandcastles still stand strong, weathering the storm.  It’s a song full of imagery and hope.  The rest of the album features a message of redemption and optimism, especially for her relationship with Jay-Z, which is always a good sign.  “All Night” is the unofficial end to the album, topping it all off with some positivity.

Lemonade’s sound is just as powerful as her lyrics.  Featuring the production work of individuals like Mike Dean, Diplo, Hit-Boy, Ben Billions, Mike Will Made It, Vincent Berry II, and Just Blaze, the album has a wide range of sounds that all work very well.  You’re not going to find too many radio-ready songs on this release, with Beyonce favoring ballads over bangers.  This might be disappointing for some but this isn’t the type of album that’s supposed to play well on the radio.  It’s a deeply personal experience.

lemonade 4
via Ice Cream Convos

Now that the album is on iTunes, hopefully a bigger audience will be able to listen to Lemonade, which I might consider her best work to date.  It’s a fascinating project that puts you right in the center of her thoughts.  She opens up a lot in a surprising amount of ways.  Her message is emotional, powerful, strong, poignant, controversial, and most of all, hers.  She makes it clear, especially in “Sorry,” that she doesn’t care what you think.  This is her life and her message and she wants to put it all out there.  This is an album that we’re going to be coming back to a lot and it’s going to be the talk of the talk when it comes to album of the year.

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Review: Love Season 1

love season 1
via Melty

Love (Season 1) (2016)

Netflix / TVMA

Comedy / Romance

Starring: Gillian Jacobs, Paul Rust, Claudia O’Doherty

Creators: Judd Apatow, Lesley Arfin, Paul Rust


Your telling me there’s another show about love?  Another show about the trials and tribulations that relationships bring with them?  I guess it’s not that surprising when you think about it.  The topic of love is a subject that has been tackled time and time again.  It’s certainly not an original theme.  Teaming up with Netflix, Judd Apatow has put out a new comedic show about the journey of love, appropriately titled Love.  So far nothing about this show sounds original…but Apatow finds another angle that makes the show a little refreshing.

love s1 1
via Beauty Slides

Love is the story of two star-crossed lovers who seem like the unlikely couple at the onset.  Mickey, played by Gillian Jacobs, is a rambunctious and loud girl who works for a radio show.  She’s an alcoholic and a sex addict who has her fair share of boy problems.  On the other hand, we have the timid and geeky Gus, played by Paul Rust, who works as a tutor at a big name television studio.  The two couldn’t be any more different but after a chance acquaintance at a gas station convenience store, the two being the long road to love.

Topics like first dates, ex-lovers, awkward parties, and sex are all covered over the course of the ten-episode series.  As I’ve mentioned before, there is nothing original about Love’s subject matter, not even the name.  Series creator Judd Apatow, the guy behind other hit comedies like Bridesmaids, Knocked Up, and Girls, manages to change things up and gives the concept of love a different perspective.  Mickey and Gus have different views on the subject of love and their outlooks on the crazy rollercoaster of romance are what make the series interesting and different from the rest.  Don’t get me wrong, there were definitely moments where I was like, “okay, this has been done before,” but the show managed to stay fresh a lot more than I initially thought.

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The first half of the season acts as a character study, examining Mickey and Gus and the type of people that they are.  These kinds of episodes happen a lot over the course of the season.  There’s even an episode that revolves around the two’s days at work and the kind of madness surrounding their respective workplaces.  Weird creepy bosses and dramatic Hollywood actresses, you know, normal fare.  Admittedly the show gets off to a slow start but begins to pick up when the two start to get into a more serious relationship.  As things intensify between the two, things get a lot more interesting.  The last couple of episodes were not only full of hilarious situations, but serious drama as well.  I wasn’t expecting the show to get as serious as it got…but there’s an interesting story to tell behind Love’s comedic exterior.

Judd Apatow has put out a show that gives a funny view of love, but also a sobering one.  Love isn’t perfect in its execution but it’s a fun show with some really likable characters.  I haven’t even mentioned Mickey’s roommate Bertie (Claudia O’Doherty) who was actually one of my favorite parts of the show.  The show gives us a stunningly accurate depiction of love, one that is instantly relatable to anyone who has had a bout with love.  Love is a fun little show, one that I was not expecting to enjoy.  The show has already been renewed for another season, so we’ll see where Apatow goes with this comedy.  Also, how many times have I said “love” during this review.  It almost sounds silly at this point.  Love love love.  By the way…..love.  Okay, I’m done now.

love s1 score

Review: Pee-wee’s Big Holiday

pee wee big holiday posterPee-wee’s Big Holiday (2016)

PG / 90 min

Adventure / Comedy

Starring: Paul Reubens, Jordan Black, Doug Cox

Director: John Lee


It’s been almost fifteen years since the quirky Pee-wee Herman took to the small screen for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.  Actor and comedian Paul Ruebens has had small roles as Pee-wee here and there since then but the quirky and sometimes absurd character has been on hiatus for a while.  It’s almost felt like there wasn’t going to be another Pee-wee movie.  Leave it to Netflix to bring an old nostalgic property to the small screen.  Pee-wee has come out of retirement…to take a holiday in the new family-friendly comedic romp Pee-wee’s Big Holiday, only on Netflix.

pee wee big holiday 1
via Collider

Were fans calling for another Pee-wee movie?  I’m sure there were some fans hungry for another adventure with Pee-wee but it’s hard to say.  When Netflix announced that they were making a full-length Pee-wee movie I was like, “okay, let’s see what they can do with it.”  Not so surprisingly, Paul Ruebens still has it.  Despite his age, he slid right into the role of Pee-wee Herman perfectly.  He’s got the goofy laugh and rocks the numerous facial emotions that will instill nostalgic feelings in any die-hard fan.  He even has the looks.  I swear Paul Ruebens just does not age.

For his latest adventure, Pee-wee decides to step out of his comfort zone and go on a road trip to New York City.  Perhaps the film’s biggest draw is the inclusion of Joe Manganiello who plays himself in the movie.  In a bout of destiny, Joe meets up with Pee-wee at his café and inspires him to travel to New York City to attend his big birthday bash at his penthouse.  There’s a big hilarious bromance that brews between the two that can get a little weird at times.  Paul Ruebens and Joe Manganiello seem like the unlikely duo to star in a comedy but the two work well together and provide most of the feature’s laughs.

pee wee big holiday 2
via Coming Soon

We only really see Joe at the beginning and end of the film, so the bulk of the comedy has its spotlight on crazy Pee-wee.  Since this is a comedy of the road-trip variety, don’t expect Pee-wee’s first vacation to go smoothly.  He runs into a female trio of thieves that kidnap Pee-wee, kicking off his journey with a bang.  Pee-wee also runs into a farmer who has a whole handful of daughters that instantly gain interest in Pee-wee.  Not to be outdone, there’s also a community of Amish people that welcome Pee-wee into their home.  Pee-wee’s journey is never uneventful and it’s full of wacky surprises.  He eventually makes it to New York, only to get himself into more foolish shenanigans.

Pee-wee’s Big Holiday has a short run-time, clocking in at about an hour and thirty minutes, but Pee-wee’s antics start to wear thin as the film goes on.  Nostalgia takes the humor for a good while but even that can’t keep it floating for too long.  The humor might work well with the younger crowd, but it just doesn’t work that well in today’s day and age.  Pee-wee’s brand of comedy had its time and place but I’m not sure it flies these days.  The movie has its moments that made for some genuine knee-slappers, but I wanted to laugh more…I really did.

pee wee big holiday 3
via Nerd Report

The movie’s production value didn’t really help its cause either.  It was from the film’s first moments that I instantly realized director John Lee was working with a slim budget.  Normally I don’t mind low budget comedies, but there were scenes were I just laughed because of how silly they looked.  There’s a scene where Pee-wee is flying through the air and yeesh…it didn’t look too good.

Fans of Paul Rueben and Pee-wee will probably enjoy the serviceable comedy that is Pee-wee’s Big Holiday.  It operates a lot on nostalgia for the character, as well as the bromance between Pee-wee and Joe Mangianello.  However, it’s a road trip comedy that wears its welcome and starts to burn out.  Luckily Pee-wee made it to New York before the comedy started blow it’s tires, because that would have put a bad cap on an otherwise serviceable trip.

pee wee big holiday score

Review: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Season 2

unbreakable kimmy s2 poster
via Christian Post

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Season 2) (2016)

Netflix / TV-14

Comedy

Starring: Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski, Tituss Burgess

Creators: Tina Fey, Robert Carlock


Kimmy Schmidt is finally starting to get adjusted to her new life above ground in the big apple.  She overcame all of life challenges that it threw at her with a cheery smile and a witty 90’s reference or two.  She even managed to win the trial against the Reverend, the man who kept her contained underground as part of his cult.  The “mole-woman” tag is starting to fade away as she starts to put those days behind her.  However, life is full of obstacles and there is still a lot that Kimmy has to learn.  This is where season two of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Netflix’s hit comedy show from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, picks up.

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via Splitsider

Last season, Ellie Kemper brought the bright and quirky character of Kimmy Schmidt to life and she returns with another knockout performance.  Think of her as an eccentric 90’s girl-meets-world.  She’s getting adjusted to her new life quite well but there is still a lot that she has to tackle.  In fact, each episode is still framed in a way that signifies what challenge she has to overcome.  Sometimes these tasks range from the mundane (giving up and driving a car) to the serious (finding her mom and meeting a celebrity), while some are just plain ridiculous. When Kimmy goes to a hotel with her Vietnamese love interest Dong (Ki Hong Lee), she learns a whole lot about what two lovers “do in a hotel.”

Kimmy Schmidt still centers around its titular character, but the returning cast is what brings the show together.  Everybody’s favorite from last season, the loud Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess), is back and he’s better than ever.  His pinnacle moment last season was his brilliant ode to Pinot Noir and this season he returns with more song and dance.  He is also in a new relationship with a construction worker named Mikey, which brings its fair share of ups and downs as well.  We also see the return of the rich and glitzy Jacqueline Voorhees, played by Jane Krakowski.  She fresh off her divorce from her rich husband and back from her Native American vision quest, which means she’s back in New York City with the mission of getting her life back in order.  She definitely can’t do it alone so she entrusts the help of Kimmy as her personal life assistant.

unbreakable kimmy s2 2
via IB Times

Perhaps one of the best parts about this season is the emergence of a returning character and the introduction of a new one.  People probably remember Kimmy and Titus’ landlord Lillian (Carol Kane) from last season.  She was off her rocker and was never afraid to do her own thing.  We didn’t see enough of her crazy antics last season.  She’s back this season and she gets a lot more screen time as she aims to fight gentrification in the rough neighborhood that her and the gang live in.  We also get introduced to Andrea Bayden, played by Tina Fey, a psychologist who meets up with Kimmy during a drunk Uber call.  (Yep, Kimmy now moonlights as an Uber driver this season) We saw Tina Fey in a minor role last season but she plays a bigger part this season, one that brings along its fair share of hilarious moments.  Nothing can possibly go wrong when Kimmy takes advice from a drunk psychologist, right?

Pop culture references of the 90s variety are still as prominent as ever this season, which was one of the best parts about the show.  Kimmy is still stuck in her 90s world and she never lets you forget that.  Everything from the Ninja Turtles (who Kimmy still can’t believe are a thing) to Seinfeld to Nickelodeon make appearances through the many different references sprinkled throughout.  The show still remains super quotable as well, especially when a character like Titus is on the show. (“I’m not the one who assumed all gay people know how to arrange flowers. Why don’t you do some prop comedy, Carrot Top?” Titus says to Kimmy during a party set-up)

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via Dork Shelf

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s second season goes places and still retains its status as one of Netflix’s biggest crowd-pleasers.  It’s a show that will make you smile in more ways than one.  (The show’s addicting theme song returns, which is a reason to smile in itself) The minor problems from last season, like the abundance of blatant stereotypes, still linger but they are getting better.  The show’s sophomore season is just as good, if not better, than last season.  All the episodes are on Netflix right now, available to binge, so what are you waiting for?

unbreakable kimmy s2 score

SoundCloud Go: Is It Really Worth It?

Great, just what we need.  Another music streaming service.

A streaming service from SoundCloud is something that we have been anticipating ever since they started getting in cahoots with some big name label companies. Some time has passed and now here we are, the launch day of SoundCloud Go, the newest streaming service from the music platform known for its B-sides remixes and user-uploaded content.  What makes this service different from more established services like Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal?  Well…almost nothing.

soundcloud go
via SoundCloud

First, let’s talk about the part that you care about; the price.  SoundCloud Go is on par with the other services, offering its services for $9.99 a month or $12.99 if you sign up on the iPhone app.  What does this mean?  It means you’ll want to sign up for the service on the website, regardless if you are going to be using the Android or iPhone app.  (iTunes’ three-dollar transaction fee is a real pain in the ass) Luckily, the service offers a 30-day free trial for anybody who is weary of signing up for another streaming service.  It’s during this time that you will quickly notice that SoundCloud Go might not be what it’s hyped up to be.

What do you get for the ten dollars a month?  Firstly, you get access to a premium library of content from well-known artists as well as some deeper-cuts.  SoundCloud has been working with record labels like UMG, Sony, Merlin, and Warner to give its premium users a larger library to choose from.  The service also promises its paying customers offline listening for individual tracks and playlists as well as an ad-free listening experience.  You know, your standard music streaming fare.  The only thing that sets SoundCloud apart from its not-so-surprising lack of music…which is a bad way to be different.

I decided to run some tests on the mobile app.  I did a search for Lupe Fiasco, which yielded these results:

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Search results for Lupe Fiasco…not bad.

As you can see, this provides an example of what the search results will look like for premium users.  Now take note of the number of tracks related to Lupe Fiasco.  151 isn’t a bad number.  The service seemed to have a good portion of Lupe’s library.

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I was impressed that SoundCloud Go had his latest, Tetsuo & Youth, on the service.

That was a good sign.  It’s when I started searching for other artists that I started to run into some problems.  Let’s take Adele for example:

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Again, not that bad…but could be better.

Once again, there was a good amount of Adele tracks, but there were some notable absences as well.  The service seems to have her albums 19 and 21 but her latest album, 25, is nowhere to be found.  The album’s key song, “Hello,” is the lone song available to users.  SoundCloud was boasting about having artists like Adele on their service…but if you’re going to boast about an artist you should probably have their library in its entirety.

What about Jay-Z?  Well…not too many marbles:

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Shout-out to that hot new track “When Is Someone Gonna Sue Jay-Z?” I heard its a banger.

This might have been a search destined to fail, considering the rap icon co-owns the streaming service Tidal, but his music can still be found on other services like Spotify.  Spotify has a robust Jay-Z library…which pulverizes SoundCloud Go’s current offerings…which isn’t much.  I did other searches for artists like Rihanna and Drake…and the lack of music was pretty consistent.

The service claims to have 125+ million tracks available to users on the platform.  However, what they don’t tell you is how this number breaks down.  Based on some reporting by The Verge, 110 million of those tracks are remixes of existing songs or user-uploaded content.  That leaves a measly 15 million tracks that are totally original.  This might seem like a large number, but it pales in comparison to its competitors.  SoundCloud has made it clear that they are working around the clock to bring more tracks to the service, but they have a lot of legwork to cover if they want to keep up with the other streaming giants.  These services are all about user-retention and SoundCloud isn’t going to keep too many of its paying customers with the library that they have now.

As you saw from the screenshots above, the mobile interface remains relatively unchanged, which is a good thing.  You don’t want too much change all at once.  One of the more frustrating aspects of the service hasn’t changed however and that is the organization.  Unlike other services, SoundCloud presents its song in an unorganized fashion.  For example, searching for Adele’s album 19 gave me this:

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Tis a barren wasteland of obscurity…

Nothing.  The service doesn’t organize its music by albums.  Your straight out of luck if you want to listen to an artist’s full album uninterrupted.  You have to go to each track individually and play them that way, which becomes super tedious and annoying.  Sure, you could get around this by creating a playlist by adding each song from an album individually…but who has time for that?  Album organization seems like a no-brainer…but you’ll just have to settle.

The Now Playing screen should look familiar to anybody who has used the SoundCloud app before:

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Standard stuff…nothing major in terms of options.

You can’t see it in this screenshot, but most tracks will have a download button that allows you to download the track for listening later, similar to most mobile streaming apps.  You can also start track stations that play similar sounds and you can add tracks to playlists.  You can then download these playlists for later listening.  This stuff seems to work pretty well…but that’s the least surprising thing about the whole experience.  If you have used another streaming service, then you should feel right at home.

SoundCloud Go still has a long road ahead of itself if it wants to catch up with its bigger and badder competitors. I always liked SoundCloud for it’s deep-cut remixes and tracks from up-and-coming artist and DJs.  Initial tests make it seem like this can all be done for free.  What you’re paying for is the bigger libraries from more well-established artists.  Unfortunately, the content availability is slim-pickings at this point, but more content should be coming in the future.  Enough to rival its competitors like Spotify and Apple Music?  Probably not.  If you primarily use SoundCloud to catch up with newer and more underground artists, then paying for premium features is probably not necessary.  As of now, SoundCloud Go isn’t worth your ten dollars a month.  Maybe the future will prove otherwise…but I don’t have good feelings for the service moving forward.

Review: Daredevil Season 2

daredevil s2 posterDaredevil (Season 2) (2016)

Netflix / TVMA

Action / Crime / Drama

Starring: Charlie Cox, Jon Bernthal, Deborah Ann Woll

Creator: Drew Goddard


Morality seems to be a hot button topic in superhero movies and TV these days.  This weekend was the debut of Batman v Superman, which focuses heavily on the actions of Superman and whether they are warranted or not.  We also have the impending release of Captain America: Civil War, which looks to put the Avengers in check for their destruction that they construct around them.  The intentions are always good behind a superhero’s actions, but you have to consider the innocent that get caught in the crossfire.  A different type of morality is at the center of Marvel and Netflix’s second season of Daredevil.  This time we have another strong season that raises the question as to whether killing is warranted or not.  It’s not the most original idea, but the season shines nonetheless with a strong story and amazing cinematography.

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via Slate

Charlie Cox reprises his role as Matt Murdock, a lawyer by day and the devil of Hell’s Kitchen by night.  The other two employees of Nelson & Murdock and good friends of Matt are Foggy Nelson and Karen Page, played once again by Elden Henson and Deborah Ann Woll respectively.  The group dynamic between the three is tested this season, unlike last season.  Last season there was tension here and there but this season we have a heightened sense of mistrust and stress, thanks in part to one of the biggest cases they have ever had as a law firm.  This big case involves Frank Castle, also known as the Punisher.

The Punisher, played brilliantly by Jon Bernthal, is a cold-blooded vigilante that isn’t afraid to take the law into his own hands…by any means necessary.  He’s a killer, with the mindset that taking the bad guys off the street for good is much better than Daredevil’s methods of putting them in jail.  After things go bad for Castle, he is put on trial for his actions.  New York and Hell’s Kitchen are tired of this vigilantism that has been taking over the city.  The public wants him out of the picture, as well as Daredevil.  Morality is a key idea that is brought up time and time again as the season goes on.  The Punisher’s character is kind of boring at the beginning of the season, but he starts to become a more multi-faceted character when we start to learn about his true motives and how he got to be the person that he is.  Even though he’s dirty in his ways, he started to become a lot more likable as time went on.  His relationship with Karen is fascinating as well and makes for some tense moments.

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via Digital Trends

One new character that was consistently interesting throughout the season was Elektra, played by newcomer Elodie Yung.  As an old love interest of Murdock’s she comes back into his life and literally flips things head over heels for Murdock.  She’s equal parts elusive, sexy, and fiery, making her one of my favorite characters this season.  She also tests Murdock’s ability to balance his normal work life and vigilante life, another big theme this season.  Between the massive court case and a gang of sinister thugs posing a threat to Hell’s Kitchen, Murdock really has his work cut out for him.

One of the things that hurts the season a bit is the lack of a strong villain.  The show’s debut season had The Kingpin, who was a fantastic and dynamic villain that proved to be a true menace.  Unfortunately, we don’t get a villain like the Kingpin this season.  The first half of the season makes it seem like the Punisher is the real enemy, but then the focus switches to the people that murdered the Punisher’s family.  Then there’s a mythical group that comes into play as well.  As the season drove towards the end, it started to become confusing as to which group of bad guys posed the biggest threat.  The last couple of episodes were pretty strong with a huge dose of intensity, but I never really understood who was the primary target of Murdock.

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via Yahoo

Just like the previous season, Daredevil continues to have some of the grittiest and heart-pulsing fights that we have seen.  Last season’s “hallway fight” took the internet by storm and we get a couple more “hallway fight” scenes this season, paying homage to the original in a way that will surely please fans.  The fights are well cut and put together, graceful with a touch of style.  They were always super fun to watch and they never became boring or too thin.

There’s a lot of powerful moments in this season of Daredevil that will please fans all around.  When it comes down to the thick of it, I liked the first season just a tad more than this season, but both seasons are special in their own way.  The second season has a nice share of callbacks to the first season while taking the show in a new direction.  The season suffers a little from a sluggish start and a lack of a clear villain, but don’t let that sway you from watching the latest iteration from one of Netflix’s best shows.

daredevil s2 score

Review: The Life of Pablo

tlop cover
via rap.de

The Life of Pablo (2016)

Kanye West

Rap / Hip-Hop

GOOD Music / Def Jam


How about this Kanye West guy, huh?  What a character.  Over the past couple of months my opinion of Kanye West has changed…and not for the better.  Before the rapper’s media cycle for his latest work The Life of Pablo, I generally had a neutral opinion of the artist.  He didn’t have the best personality, but his music sure was great.  After a couple of album name changes, celebrity feuds, and social media rants, I have started to get more negative with my feelings for Kanye.  He still makes fantastic music, but boy is his personality garbage.  The release of The Life of Pablo, the rapper’s seventh studio album, was miles from perfect.  In fact, it was a flaming garbage pile of a mess.  However, when you strip back Kanye’s personality and the release of the album, TLOP is actually a well-produced and unique collection of songs.

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via showlove

Within the confines of the eighteen song track-list is a smorgasbord of concepts, sounds, and ideas.  Some have said that the scattershot nature of the album serves as a portrait of Kanye’s mindset during the course of the album’s production.  All you had to do was follow the rapper on Twitter to get an idea of what I mean.  The wide range of concepts featured on the album isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  An album doesn’t have to have a singular cohesive theme for it to be good.  Unfortunately, the variety of tracks was sometimes a source of headache.

At this point, I might as well get my other negative out of the way, and that is the nature of some of Kanye’s lyrics.  Again, I normally don’t really care about the intensity or morality of lyrics in music.  I mean, I listen to rap, which is full of questionable lyrics.  On TLOP, I found myself cringing a lot more than normal, which usually isn’t a good sign.  Perhaps the biggest inducer was “Famous,” a track, featuring Rihanna, full of braggadocio.  The song has received a lot of word of mouth due to the line about Taylor Swift, where he goes ahead and proclaims that, “he made that bitch famous.”  First off, the line is not true and second…it just seems a little weird, especially considering he goes on to say he could still have sex with her today.  Where was Kim Kardashian during this song’s production?  Did she give Kanye the okay?  Was she like, “yes honey, I think these lyrics sound great.”  It raises a lot of questions.  There’s other songs like this one as well, including “Highlights” and “Freestyle 4.”  (Side note: Highlights would have been a great track if it wasn’t for Young Thug.  I don’t get the rapper’s appeal.  He just seems to muddle everything he works on.)

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via MCM

Now, let’s move on to a more positive note, because that’s what Kanye would want, right?  Don’t let my negativity in the beginning give you the wrong idea, TLOP isn’t Kanye’s best work, but it is still full of great stuff.  The album’s first track, “Ultralight Beam,” featuring the likes of The-Dream, Kelly Price, Kirk Franklin, and Chance the Rapper, is an angelic and soulful offering that feels like it was ripped straight from a Sunday morning sermon.  There’s good production all over the song and Chance spits a great verse, further proving himself as one of today’s most underrated rappers.  There’s also “No More Parties in LA,” featuring A-list rapper Kendrick Lamar.  The two swap stories about the fakeness of Hollywood culture and their frustrations with the rich “elite.”  The song marks the rappers’ first collaboration and it shines brightly on the project.

“Wolves”, one of the more bizarre tracks on the album, features Caroline Shaw and Frank Ocean.  The song goes through a multitude of different emotions like love, fear, and hope, and features a lot of different ideas all smacked into one.  The crazy thing about the song is that Kanye was still working on the song, even after the full album released. Thanks to the age of the internet, I guess things like this are now possible.  A song that almost didn’t make the cut was “Waves.”  The song was basically on the cutting room floor until Chance the Rapper suggested the song to be included.  After some last minute fixes, the song made it back onto the album, and it’s a wonderful thing because I really enjoyed the offering.  Lastly, “I Love Kanye,” an interlude of sorts, is a self-aware and humorous track that breaks down some of the criticisms he has received and has a little fun with it.  At least he’s a little self-aware of the kind of person he is, right?

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via News Oxy

It’s not often that we get an album like this.  The Life of Pablo can be incoherent and scattershot at times, but it is a fantastically produced collection of great songs from arguably one of the best rappers in the game.  Say what you want about his personality, but you can’t deny the amount of things that Kanye is doing for music today.  Unfortunately, the album is only accessible through Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal, so it might be a little tough for you to give it a listen.  The decision to not release the album outside of the, well, crappy streaming service is a little head-scratching.  Hopefully you don’t want a physical release of the album either, because Kanye has kissed the physical CD goodbye forever.  We’ll see how long these promises last, but given the rapper’s stubbornness, it seems likely they will.  TLOP’s release was botched, to say the least, but the final product is an intriguing look into one of the loudest and most eclectic minds in rap.

tlop score

Between Pilot Impressions

Imagine that you are 21 years old or younger.  You’ve lived long enough to gain a lot of knowledge, but you still have a lot of learning to do.  You are not necessarily the wisest person on the planet.  Your parents have always been there for you, teaching you the many ways of life.  Now let’s imagine that all of a sudden your parents start bleeding from their mouth and then tumble to the ground, knocking at death’s door.  Yes, this might be a graphic thing to think about, but it’s the brutal reality of Netflix’s newest drama Between, which chronicles the story of a small town that is under attack by a strange disease that only affects people 22 years or older.

The disease is on a rampage, taking out the town like a wildfire.  The elderly, and maybe not so elderly, are dropping like flies and town officials have no clue what to do.  Under some consideration, the government comes in and puts the town under a ten mile radius quarantine.  No one is allowed in and no one is allowed out.  The youth of the small town of Pretty Lake are left to fend for themselves within the confines of the city fences.  What a nightmare this turns out to be.

via Takes on Tech
via Takes on Tech

The only notable member of the cast is probably Jennette McCurdy of Nickelodeon fame who plays the pregnant Wiley.  If you thought the situation was tough enough, imagine having to deal with a baby through it all.  The only other cast member that I sort of grew a liking to was Jack Murray, who plays a prisoner that looks more like a pretty boy than a convict.  During the pilot we see him deal with other convicts in the penitentiary.  He’s an intriguing character and I want to see what he has actually done to get himself in his position in the first place.

The biggest thing that brings the pilot down is the actor’s god-awful acting.  Not even Jennette McCurdy can provide an interesting character.  Everybody has a stone face throughout the episode and no one seems to give a damn about what is happening around them.  Character’s parents die and it looks like they could care less.  What we get is a crowd of emotionless one-dimensional teen stereotypes that do a wonderful job of making you strongly dislike them.  I’m not going to lie, there were definitely some times where I was hoping that the mysterious disease would take out some of the teen characters as well.  The acting is only going to bring the show down, which leaves the premise and the story as the only things that can salvage the disaster.

via TV.com
via TV.com

The disease serves as the integral backbone for the story.  What is it and why is it only affecting the older crowd?  It’s a disease that seems rather unlikely in this day and age, but I will be interested to learn some answers about this mysterious plague.  I am also going to be interested in the role that the government plays in ruling the town.  They seem to have a tight grip on the town’s activities and I assume that there control is going to only get tighter.  This will most likely drive some of the characters to lead a rebellion, with the ambitious goal of taking their town back and gaining freedom.  I only say it is ambitious because of team of young tweens will most likely stand no chance against a force of highly trained officers, unless the show delivers some ham-fisted excuse for their success.

Netflix as of late has been delivering a lot of hot shows, but this is a show that they will probably want to sweep under the rug and forget about.  Unless some drastic changes are made, the show is only going to get worse.  The actors need to shape up and actually pretend like they are in the middle of what should be a life-shattering crisis for them.  Let’s not kid ourselves though, this gang of tweens is going to stand no chance, and neither is this series.

via 411 Mania
via 411 Mania