Reviews

Full House - The Complete Sixth Season

Jeremy Estes

Full Houseis a security blanket; an annoying sibling; a goofy uncle; a dorky cousin -- it’s persistent, like a myth.


Full House - The Complete Sixth Season

Distributor: Warner
Cast: John Stamos, Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin
Network: ABC
First date: 1987
US Release Date: 2007-03-27
Last date: 1995
Amazon

Full House - The Complete Seventh Season

Distributor: Warner
Cast: John Stamos, Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, Candace Cameron Bure, Jodie Sweetin
Network: ABC
First date: 1987
US Release Date: 2007-08-07
Last date: 1995
Amazon

Ours was never a "Full House". There were friends and family everywhere we looked, but there was nothing firm, no foundation. Even the one constant, our mother, was forever in flux, a shifting and shiftless woman prone to crying jags and fits of rage.

And there were men. Funny men, guitar players and truck drivers and men that cooked, but there were no Uncle Jesses or Joey Gladstones. These men drank and drugged and yelled and lied and chewed up bits of our childhood like cheap steak.

So it's no surprise my brother and I loved Full House.

We watched it on the little black and white TV we had in our room, bunny ears antenna sharpening the image of perfect family life in faraway San Francisco. My brother, four years younger, couldn't read the rounded letters of the show's logo, so he just called it "everywhere you look" after the theme song's refrain. But I knew what it was called and what it was about: it was Full House, it was about fun and family, and it was ours.

But seriously -- Full House? Really? After all, it's a truly terrible show, so wracked with bad jokes and clichés that I now get a headache from rolling my eyes during an entire episode. But there is something there, something to be found even now in my jaded late-20s. The show is now celebrating it's 20th anniversary, yet watching it somehow feels like stepping even farther back in time, back to the aw shucks-'50s of Leave it to Beaver. All of this, despite the decidedly nontraditional family at the series' core.

And let's not forget it was this dark cauldron from which the Olsen twins ascended to their tabloid thrones. That alone seems cause enough to banish the show from the airwaves forever.

Still, there's no denying there's something there. And I know I'm not the only one. Part of the appeal stems from watching endless repeats all through high school and college, watching until it became an acquired taste, like beer or coffee. I also spent many afternoons mind-blank on the couch watching reruns, but I watched these episodes new, following the show from its Tuesday night beginnings to its reign on TGIF and beyond.

For many of us, our appreciation for Full House is deeper than irony. Though it sounds trite, even sad or silly, Full Houseshowed us a family life that was fun and functional, a life I wanted but did not have. Like the best of fantasies, the show lifted us out of our everyday drudgery to a world, San Francisco, where feelings were hurt and healed and lessons were learned at the end of the show rather than from the palm of a hand. The show glossed over the everyday tragedies and real life dramas every family experiences (it's easy to forget the Tanner girls' mother is dead because they never talk about her), but who needs that from TV when you have your own?

So yes, it's terrible and goofy and completely devoid of any sort of familial realism, but it's re-runs are broadcast on TV somewhere right now for a reason, and it's not just the stunning good looks of John Stamos.

Seasons 6 & 7 -- both DVD sets devoid of any bonus features -- find Full Housetreading water, waiting to drown like every other profitable show kept on past its prime. DJ (Candace Cameron) is well into high school and spends much of both seasons lip-locked with her new beau, Steve (Scott Weinger); Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin), the middle Tanner girl, is what's now called a "tween", awkwardly adolescent and still living in the looming cuteness shadow cast by Michelle (Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen). It's in these two seasons where the Olsens are given the bulk of the show's focus and officially begin building their brand.

As for the adults, they almost always played second fiddle to the kids. Jesse (Stamos) and Becky (Lori Loughlin) find new struggles -- not to mention new sources of cuteness for the show -- with twin boys Nicky and Alex (Blake and Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit); Danny (Bob Saget) tones down his obsession with cleanliness and Joey (Dave Coulier) completes his de-evolution into a human cartoon by sticking around solely to do tired impressions.

Besides the onset of puberty and the addition of a couple new characters, the show was little changed by the time season six aired. The show remained doggedly wholesome, with adult themes like sex barely hinted at, as when Danny gets a wink from his long-distance news reporter love, Vicky (Gail Edwards), and coos, "That's as good as I'm going to get." Even DJ's make out sessions are PG, taking place in the kitchen or, as in the two-part season six finale, in the mecca of wholesomeness: Disney World.

But we don't watch Full Housefor its verisimilitude -- we want life lessons. In an early season six episode, Jesse travels to Tokyo with Becky and the boys to promote his number one single, a cover of the Beach Boys "Forever". There, the life of a rock star, the life he's always wanted, tempts him, quickly turning him into a bossy, cashew-demanding tyrant that thinks only of himself. It all works out, of course, after a hotel room heart-to-heart with Becky where he's reminded of what's really important: family. The ending finds the international star back on American soil apologizing to Michelle (he neglected to call or write like he said he would) and inviting her to go get some ice cream.

This sort of story is the template for many, many shows, but it's especially important to Full House. Each episode features a standout character from the family presented with a new life/ career/ personal challenge (Jesse has a number one single); their initial reaction is to embrace/ reject this challenge (Jesse finally has the musician's life he's wanted); feelings are hurt, family members are alienated (Becky and the boys are left sitting alone in a hotel room, Michelle wonders why Jesse hasn't called); people are confronted and problems are solved, often sitting on the edge of a family members' bed (Becky confronts Jesse, Jesse apologizes to Michelle); hug, repeat next week.

This formula, perfected after five seasons, rarely changes, and because of this, neither do the characters. There are no shock waves felt by Jesse's rejection of his superstar status in Japan; Michelle never misses her best friend Teddy (Tahj Mowry) after he moves to Amarillo; and the boat Danny buys to cheer the family up after the death of Jesse's grandfather, Papouli (John Kruschen), disappears, never having been christened.

The characters are quick to learn, but the lessons never stick, and in each episode they face some new wrinkle in their perfect world and they work together to iron it all out again. It's this static storytelling that keeps the characters from growing, but it's their simplicity that keeps the show fresh for new generations of viewers. Full Houseis a security blanket; an annoying sibling; a goofy uncle; a dorky cousin -- it’s persistent, like a myth. We can look back and say how corny and hokey the series is, but we are looking back, for our own reasons.

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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

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Music

The Best Dance Tracks of 2017

Photo: Murielle Victorine Scherre (Courtesy of Big Beat Press)

From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.


In June of 2016, prolific producer Diplo lambasted the world of DJ's in an interview with Billboard, stating that EDM was dying. Coincidentally enough, the article's contents went viral and made their way into Vice Media's electronic music and culture channel Thump, which closed its doors after four years this summer amid company-wide layoffs. Months earlier, electronic music giant SFX Entertainment filed bankruptcy and reemerged as Lifestyle, Inc., shunning the term "EDM".

So here we are at the end of 2017, and the internet is still a flurry with articles declaring that Electronic Dance Music is rotting from the inside out and DJ culture is dying on the vine, devoured by corporate greed. That might all well be the case, but electronic music isn't disappearing into the night without a fight as witnessed by the endless parade of emerging artists on the scene, the rise of North America's first Electro Parade in Montréal, and the inaugural Electronic Music Awards in Los Angeles this past September.

For every insipid, automaton disc jockey-producer, there are innovative minds like Anna Lunoe, Four Tet, and the Black Madonna, whose eclectic, infectious sets display impeccable taste, a wealth of knowledge, and boundless creativity. Over the past few years, many underground artists have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight and lost the je ne sais quoi that made them unique. Regardless, there will always be new musicians, producers, singers, and visionaries to replace them, those who bring something novel to the table or tip a hat to their predecessors in a way that steps beyond homage and exhilarates as it did decades before.

As electronic music continues to evolve and its endless sub-genres continue to expand, so do fickle tastes, and preferences become more and more subjective with a seemingly endless list of artists to sift through. With so much music to digest, its no wonder that many artists remain under the radar. This list hopes to remedy that injustice and celebrate tracks both indie and mainstream. From the "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique to Stockholm Noir's brilliant string of darkly foreboding, electro-licked singles, here are ten selections that represent some of the more intriguing dance offerings of 2017.

10. Moullinex - “Work It Out (feat. Fritz Helder)”

Taken from Portuguese producer, DJ, and multi-instrumentalist Luis Clara Gomes' third album Hypersex, "Work It Out" like all of its surrounding companions is a self-proclaimed, "collective love letter to club culture, and a celebration of love, inclusion and difference." Dance music has always seemingly been a safe haven for "misfits" standing on the edge of the mainstream, and while EDM manufactured sheen might have taken the piss out of the scene, Hypersex still revels in that defiant, yet warm and inviting attitude.

Like a cheeky homage to Rick James and the late, great High Priest of Pop, Prince, this delectably filthy, sexually charged track with its nasty, funk-drenched bass line, couldn't have found a more flawless messenger than former Azari & III member Fritz Helder. As the radiant, gender-fluid artist sings, "you better work your shit out", this album highlight becomes an anthem for all those who refuse to bow down to BS. Without any accompanying visuals, the track is electro-funk perfection, but the video, with its ruby-red, penile glitter canon, kicks the whole thing up a notch.

9. Touch Sensitive - “Veronica”

The neon-streaked days of roller rinks and turtlenecks, leg warmers and popped polo collars have come and gone, but you wouldn't think so listening to Michael "Touch Sensitive" Di Francesco's dazzling debut Visions. The Sydney-based DJ/producer's long-awaited LP and its lead single "Lay Down", which shot to the top of the Hype Machine charts, are as retro-gazing as they are distinctly modern, with nods to everything from nu disco to slo-mo house.

Featuring a sample lifted from 90s DJ and producer Paul Johnson's "So Much (So Much Mix)," the New Jack-kissed "Veronica" owns the dance floor. While the conversational interplay between the sexed-up couple is anything but profound, there is no denying its charms, however laughably awkward. While not everything on Visions is as instantly arresting, it is a testament to Di Francesco's talents that everything old sounds so damn fresh again.

8. Gourmet - “Delicious”

Neither Gourmet's defiantly eccentric, nine-track debut Cashmere, nor its subsequent singles, "There You Go" or "Yellow" gave any indication that the South African purveyor of "spaghetti pop" would drop one of the year's sassiest club tracks, but there you have it. The Cape Town-based artist, part of oil-slick, independent label 1991's diminutive roster, flagrantly disregards expectation on his latest outing, channeling the Scissor Sisters at their most gloriously bitchy best, Ratchet-era Shamir, and the shimmering dance-pop of UK singer-producer Joe Flory, aka Amateur Best.

With an amusingly detached delivery that rivals Ben Stein's droning roll call in Ferris Bueller's Day Off , he sings "I just want to dance, and fuck, and fly, and try, and fail, and try again…hold up," against a squelchy bass line and stabbing synths. When the percussive noise of what sounds like a triangle dinner bell appears within the mix, one can't help but think that Gourmet is simply winking at his audience, as if to say, "dinner is served."

7. Pouvoir Magique - “Chalawan”

Like a psychoactive ayahuasca brew, the intoxicating "shamanic techno" of Parisian duo Pouvoir Magique's LP Disparition, is an exhilarating trip into unfamiliar territory. Formed in November of 2011, "Magic Power" is the musical project of Clément Vincent and Bertrand Cerruti, who over the years, have cleverly merged several millennia of songs from around the world with 21st-century beats and widescreen electro textures. Lest ye be worried, this is anything but Deep Forest.

In the spring of 2013, Pouvoir Magique co-founded the "Mawimbi" collective, a project designed to unite African musical heritage with contemporary soundscapes, and released two EPs. Within days of launching their label Musiques de Sphères, the duo's studio was burglarized and a hard drive with six years of painstakingly curated material had vanished. After tracking down demos they shared with friends before their final stages of completion, Clément and Bertrand reconstructed an album of 12 tracks.

Unfinished though they might be, each song is a marvelous thing to behold. Their stunning 2016 single "Eclipse," with its cinematic video, might have been one of the most immediate songs on the record, but it's the pulsing "Chalawan," with its guttural howls, fluttering flute-like passages, and driving, hypnotic beats that truly mesmerizes.

6. Purple Disco Machine - “Body Funk” & “Devil In Me” (TIE)

Whenever a bevy of guest artists appears on a debut record, it's often best to approach the project with caution. 85% of the time, the collaborative partners either overshadow the proceedings or detract from the vision of the musician whose name is emblazoned across the top of the LP. There are, however, pleasant exceptions to the rule and Tino Piontek's Soulmatic is one of the year's most delightfully cohesive offerings. The Dresden-born Deep Funk innovator, aka Purple Disco Machine, has risen to international status since 2009, releasing one spectacular track and remix after another. It should go without saying that this long-awaited collection, featuring everyone from Kool Keith to Faithless and Boris D'lugosch, is ripe with memorable highlights.

The saucy, soaring "Mistress" shines a spotlight on the stellar pipes of "UK soul hurricane" Hannah Williams. While it might be a crowning moment within the set, its the strutting discofied "Body Funk", and the album's first single, "Devil In Me", that linger long after the record has stopped spinning. The former track with its camptastic fusion of '80s Sylvester gone 1940s military march, and the latter anthem, a soulful stunner that samples the 1968 Stax hit "Private Number", and features the vocal talents of Duane Harden and Joe Killington, feels like an unearthed classic. Without a doubt, the German DJ's debut is one of the best dance records of the year.

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