Music

Alien Ant Farm: truANT

Christine Klunk

Alien Ant Farm

truANT

Label: DreamWorks
US Release Date: 2003-08-19
UK Release Date: 2003-08-18
Amazon
iTunes

One of the great rock 'n' roll stories: Band makes hit record. Gets real famous. Struck by tragedy, nearly killed. Creates a stellar comeback album detailing said tragedy. Regains spotlight.

Now, this disaster could be drug abuse/overdose, loss of an extremity, adultery exposed, death of a friend, plane crash, car crash, etc. Whatever adversity there is to overcome, the band is stronger for having gone through the ordeal -- hopefully. In this case, Alien Ant Farm endured a severe bus accident that left the driver dead and the band and crew seriously injured. Suffering such injuries as broken legs and a cracked vertebra, the band had a lot to overcome just to get their bodies back in order. Adversity with a capital "A".

But, AAF is back with truANT, the band's newest album from Dreamworks Records. Now, just because they survived a near-fatal bus crash, doesn't mean they have to write about that incident. They don't have to reflect and lecture on mortality. Pretension certainly isn't flattering. Indeed, rather than bemoaning how temporary and fragile life is, these California natives bounce all across the board, writing shameless pop-rock songs about drugs, breakups, moths, infidelity and sinking ships. Maybe the band hopes to show their complete recovery from the accident by writing music that doesn't have much to do with reality.

Singer, Dryden Mitchell, mourns the deterioration of a fictional heroin addict on "Sarah Wynn". He writes nonsense verses on "Quiet" simply because he likes the way they sound in his ears. He cites John Lennon as inspiration for this technique. "I'll be the bumblebee behind you / I'll tear up everything inside you". OK, sure. He makes up a balloon ride on "Drifting Apart", fictionalizing a failing relationship set during the ride. He sings about moths that constantly travel towards light even though that light will eventually kill them, much like an unhealthy relationship. On "S.S. Recognize", he even uses the metaphor of a sinking ship to describe feelings of hopelessness.

This is all well and good for a four-piece pop-rock band from California whose only interest is scoring a couple hits on modern rock radio and then fading into the background. But, ANThology sold 3 million copies, and featured tight compositions of emotional honesty and forthrightness. Mitchell's voice held a certain potency on "Attitude" and "Movies". And their version of "Smooth Criminal" paid slick tribute to the original. In other words, ANThology had guts and grit.

Given the artistic context within which AAF now exists, they should be producing deeper, more earnest work. Sure, Terry Corso plays his guitar with typical rock aggression. Tye Zamora and Mike Cosgrove beat on their bass and drums with a heavy-handed consistency. And, yes, Mitchell's voice gets way too nasally after more than a few songs. But, these guys suffered broken bones! Their driver died! Mitchell fractured his neck! Sadly, AAF don't seem to have come away from their near-death experience with any sense of their own limitations or their own transience. Instead the band simply exists within these limitations.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less
Film

Hitchcock, 'Psycho', and '78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene'

Alfred Hitchock and Janet Leigh on the set of Psycho (courtesy of Dogwoof)

"... [Psycho] broke every taboo you could possibly think of, it reinvented the language of film and revolutionised what you could do with a story on a very precise level. It also fundamentally and profoundly changed the ritual of movie going," says 78/52 director, Alexandre O. Philippe.

The title of Alexandre O. Philippe's 78/52: Hitchcock's Shower Scene (2017) denotes the 78 set-ups and the 52 cuts across a full week of shooting for Psycho's (1960) famous shower scene. Known for The People vs. George Lucas (2010), The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus (2012) and Doc of the Dead (2014), Philippe's exploration of a singular moment is a conversational one, featuring interviews with Walter Murch, Peter Bogdanovich, Guillermo del Toro, Jamie Lee Curtis, Osgood Perkins, Danny Elfman, Eli Roth, Elijah Wood, Bret Easton Ellis, Karyn Kusama, Neil Marshall, Richard Stanley and Marli Renfro, body double for Janet Leigh.

Keep reading... Show less

Mary Poppins, Mrs. Gamp, Egyptian deities, a Japanese umbrella spirit, and a supporting cast of hundreds of brollies fill Marion Rankine's lively history.

"What can go up a chimney down but can't go down a chimney up?" Marion Rankine begins her wide-ranging survey of the umbrella and its significance with this riddle. It nicely establishes her theme: just as umbrellas undergo, in the everyday use of them, a transformation, so too looking at this familiar, even forgettable object from multiple perspectives transforms our view of it.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

In a staid city like Washington, D.C., too many concert programs still stick to the basics. An endless litany of Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky concerti clog the schedules and parades of overeager virtuosi seem unwilling to vary their repertoire for blasé D.C. concertgoers. But occasionally you encounter a concert that refreshes your perspective of the familiar. The works presented at The Kennedy Center on 25 October 2017 might be stalwarts of 20th century repertoire, but guest conductor Antonio Pappano, leading the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia, reminded us how galvanizing the canonical can still be. Though grandiose executions of Respighi's The Fountains of Rome and The Pines of Rome were the main event, the sold-out crowd gathered to see Martha Argerich perform one of her showpieces, Prokofiev's Third Piano Concerto. Those who regard the reclusive Argerich as one of the world's two or three greatest living pianists—classical or otherwise—would not have left the concert hall disillusioned.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image