As geeks we can get passionate about our entertainment. Here’s a short list of the movies and music that piqued our passion this year.
Earth, Athas, or beyond? You be the judge on this sonic journey.
Mastodon’s Emperor of Sand is not merely one of 2017’s best albums and a prog-metal masterpiece in its own right, it’s also a veritable 11-track Dark Sun campaign in the making! Experience the “Sultan’s Curse.” Explore the ruins of the “Ancient Kingdom.” Smell the “Scorpion Breath” and quake before the “Jaguar God.” Just don’t get a Brent Hinds-style face tattoo. Actually, you know what? That’s your call. You do you, holiday shopper!
“Life sucks, Brendon. That’s your lesson. Go enjoy it.” — Coach McGuirk
Before Metalocalypse, before Dethklok and Galaktikon, writer/comedian/musician Brendon Small was introduced to the world as 8-year-old wannabe movie director Brendon Small, the star of UPN’s (and, eventually, Adult Swim’s) animated cult classic Home Movies. This new Shout Factory box set collects all 52 episodes of its Squigglevision glory—featuring the talents of Small, H. Jon Benjamin, Paula Poundstone, Jonathan Katz, and even the late Mitch Hedberg—into a single perfect package sure to please the off-kilter cartoon enthusiast on your list.
Image: Furious Rose Productions
Feel What You Feel is an original masterpiece from Lisa Loeb focusing on themes of self-empowerment and a healthy dose of fun. Both adults and kids will find this album inspiring and heart-warming. Tracks like “It’s All Right To Cry,” “You Can Count On Me,” and “Say Hello,” are well played in our home, even when the kids are nowhere to be found.
Image: Furious Rose Productions
Lullaby Girl features two original songs from Lisa Loeb, and 11 remakes from a wide range of genres, each re-imagined as a lullaby. Favorite remade tracks are the title track, “Lullaby Girl,” and “O-O-H Child.” This album makes a great gift for music lovers of many genres, and is particularly wonderful for new parents looking for help with lullaby options.
Greta Van Fleet’s debut studio EP demands your attention.
From the beginning guitar riff and lyrics of “Safari Song,” the first cut on Greta Van Fleet’s first studio EP, you know you’re listening to something special. The first time I heard them, I actually stopped what I was doing and gave the music 100% of my attention. It’s that good. The Michigan quartet, made up of three brothers and a friend, is so reminiscent of Led Zeppelin, you will question whether you’re listening to vault tapes. Close your eyes, Josh Kiszka *is* Robert Plant. The guitar ranges from soulful blues to carefully picked acoustics to playful rock. I could go on, but just go listen. It’s great.
Rush celebrate the 40th anniversary of their 5th album with a special, updated version.
Rush, “A Farewell to Kings, 40th Anniversary Release”
Suggested By: Dave Banks
Purchase: Rush, “A Farewell to Kings, 40th Anniversary Release”
A Farewell to Kings, the fifth studio album from the greatest band on Earth, turns 40 this year. The album counts its eponymous song, Xanadu, Closer to the Heart, and the first part of Cygnus X-1 among its cuts. On this special release set, you’ll get an Abbey Road remaster, along with the complete (and remixed) 1978 Hammersmith Odeon show (34 minutes, of which has never been released before), along with four newly-recorded cover versions of songs from the original album by Dream Theater, Big Wreck, The Trews and Alain Johannes, and an instrumental studio outtake of the spacey sound effects the band has creatively titled Cygnus X-2 Eh. Rush on!
Does anything a Spider-Man can
Spider-Man: Homecoming is by far the best big screen adaptation we’ve ever gotten of the classic web-slinging superhero. Tom Holland is amazing as Spidey and possibly one of the most believable versions of “teen Peter Parker” ever. Michael Keaton delivers a performance as the Vultuer that’s shockingly nuanced. And unlike previous Spider-Man movies that collapsed under their own baggage by the third act, this Spider-Man is funny and fun. It’s so good that it’s rocketed to take a spot in my top 5 MCU movies. It might not quite supplant Civil War, but it got incredibly close (ironically, I think it’s the introduction of Spider-Man in that movie that helped save it). If you’re a Marvel-phile, Spidey fan, or just a fan of superhero movies in general, you owe it to yourself to grab the DVD and see it again to get ready for Spidey’s next appearance in Avengers: Infinity War.
If only it came on cassette
Guardians of the Galaxy is as much about the music as it is about the characters, and this year’s sequel was no exception to that rule. Awesome Mix Vol. 2 dives even deeper into the late 70’s/early 80’s rock and pop that provide the constant soundtrack for the adventures of Peter Quill and his band of intergalactic hustlers/heroes. You’ll be jamming out to the title from the trailer, “Fox on the Run” by The Sweet one minute, only to find yourself gazing out the window contemplatively as Cat Stevens sings “Father and Son” the next. It’s a great companion to a thoroughly entertaining movie. Plus, it’s got the surprise David Hasselhoff song that played over the credits. How can you deny The Hoff?