This newsletter goes from being a fun idea to a pod-like endeavour
This one's extra saucy! :) :) :)
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Welcome to the first week of our non-promotional newsletter, where we have nothing to share with you except our true, honest selves. That’s right, we’re still here, still bickering about pop culture, but this time we’re not trying to sell you anything. Well, at least until we figure out something we want to try to sell you again. Here’s some stuff we’re thinking about this week.
Ben Folds “Exhausting Lover”
Sam: He’s back! I have deeply and unapologetically loved Ben Folds for about as long as I have loved Blink, from the summer when I started listening to ALtErnAtIvE rAdIO and “Battle of Who Could Care Less” was in light but transformative rotation (this anecdote is here to make it clear my devotion predates “Brick”) until about the mid-aughts when it felt like he was gracefully aging into a mature piano man and I was firmly committed to never not being 20. The other two tracks that have been released so far from this album are admittedly huge MPM vibes but this blessedly stupid ditty is firmly in the Rockin’ the Suburbs tradition and I am floating. What a funny little guy!
Jos: Sam you are trying to make me kill you, right? That’s what you’re doing? I see what you’ve put next on here too. We’ve said “I love you” too many times and you’re trying to push my buttons. Like every old ass white boy I obviously had a bigtime Ben Folds phase. I remember taking an impromptu road trip down the west coast with my friend Nathan where we slept on a shitty mattress in the back of my Volvo station wagon. We slept in Walmart parking lots and bought a feeder mouse from a pet store who, instead of being fed to a snake, lived in the glove box as our pet. And I had a burnt CD with a couple recently released covers, including Ben Folds’ Cure cover which I know (and love) better than the original. But this? An adorkable musical? With shitty synth sounds? In the “year of our lord” 2023?? This seems like someone at CBC Gem finally greenlit a CanCon take on New Girl, just totally outdated and sad. Ultimately I’m mad at myself.
Bongzilla “King of Weed”
Sam: The coolest thing about this song is that it’s based on a true story! I bet you weren’t expecting that. But Bongzilla really smoked a big joint and it made them super high and there’s an actual anecdote about it in the press release for this single that’s essentially that. As one half of a podcast that just ended because we agreed we had nothing left to say about pop-punk that wasn’t “sucks” or “sick,” I think it’s really magical that Bongzilla are still finding joy and inspiration in smoking one amazing joint after all these years.
Jos: Wow. The art for this is so colossally bad. I mean I knew it would be bad, but I expected like an Art of Coop style drawing of a devil lady sucking off an anthropomorphic pot leaf or something. This looks like a soft-case CD-R demo I would’ve gotten when I worked at music magazines, and instead of working, reviewing it or some other third thing, I would just get completely obsessed with the shitty band, go deep on all of the members’ social media profiles and have a giggle to myself or possibly 1 other person. No wonder I’ve been laid off or almost laid off so many times in my life. The worst part? I kinda love this. The production sounds like shit and the vocals are so stupid. It’s thin and grimy and not remotely macho. Cheers to that! (Do people say cheers with weed?)
Machine Gun Kelly “Pressure”
Jos: I think it was bound to happen, but I’m just genuinely an MGK fan now. Like 100% on board with his whole thing. There’s certain normie or normie-adjacent culture I love (A Star Is Born, the Chainsmokers, Greta Van Fleet) where the appeal is not that it sucks or that it’s good, but that it’s aggressively both at the same time. MGK is done with his pop-punk era, just like us, and he’s back to rapping. I haven’t really listened to much of his rap music, but it turns out that he’s kind of undeniably a good rapper. There’s nothing really groundbreaking going on, but it’s super corny and super good, and the beat switch-up (which I have already described as being like “Kravis Scott”) is fun. IDK this is the baggage from doing what I do. I just like MGK. Sara’s out of town this week so I’ve been wearing my MGK shorts in public, which she hates.
Sam: Despite the revelatory moment I had watching Machine Gun Kelly: Mainstream Sellout Live from Cleveland (that Josiah is right about MGK) and the shirt I bought for the occasion that I will always cherish (genuinely sick), this is bad. I’m not even a borderline educated rap fan and every time MGK raps I can hear exactly whose flow he is stealing (the best part in the concert film is a rap rock song that is just Chief Keef’s “I Don’t Like” but rap rock). I do appreciate that MGK was like “what if I did the ‘Sicko Mode’ beat switch… twice???” and also that Josiah linked to a tweet of his with one like. But this is like watching Barry and being able to spot the first year film school homages from Simpsons episodes alone. Maybe MGK is just Barry but for Josiah? Wow that’s the meanest thing I’ve ever written, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.
The Voidz “Prophecy of the Dragon”
Jos: I’m not great at separating art from artist, and I haven’t been loving Julian Casablancas’ heel turn from wife guy (let’s go!) to e-girl DM slider (erm…), but the man’s got pipes. Also his band the Voidz is interesting because they are really annoying in addition to having heartfelt, world-weary ballads. Also their aesthetic is basically what would happen if you found a lost shipping crate of Double Dragon merch and other ephemera that specifically belongs to late ‘90s, diamond-studded earring-adorned children of divorce. Basically they look like how I imagine Gavin would dress IRL. This song is cool because it has the corny bits like that “Crazy Train” riff as well as Julian’s crooning. Hell, I’ll listen to whatever they do next.
Sam: I love that someone my wife loves that I used to hate has made something with aesthetics I love and she would hate. I can’t wait to show this to her, it’ll be like her own MGK shorts in public. I have grown into recognizing the error of my Julian Casablancas opinions, but I kind of wish this delivered on the promise of the dumb parts and didn’t have all the boring parts. It’s so close to being sick but I’ll never listen to it again!
Something I found: a bit More Fun from Jeff
Jos: It’s a very interesting predicament to have all this free time to poke around the internet and have nowhere to put it. Well, I’m going to put it here. Sorry Sam. When I went on the Dave Navarro episode of Bryan Quinby’s Guys podcast, I found this dude who used to host a bizarre living-room talk show called Metal Rules Radio with some boys, another man behind the camera and a coffee table absolutely covered in empties.
That’s all well and good, but when I wanted to learn more I found something even more important. In addition to hosting his weirdly bad-vibed talk show, he’s an avid eBay seller who seemingly sells any and every item of garbage he can find on his eBay page, “a bit More Fun from Jeff.” He has thousands of listings, with more added every day (and I follow his Twitter for the full experience), with everything from vintage matchbooks to waiting room magazines to multiple sets of broken blue pens that you’d get from a bank or medical office or realtor. It’s a bizarre feeling, like you’re poking through a highly itemized online version of a yard sale, but not even a good one.
My favourite thing from “a bit More Fun from Jeff,” however, is his love of selling condiments. They’re often not even rare or interesting condiments, but instead a lot of Heinz ketchup packets, listed for an absurd amount of money. Below, I’ve screencapped some of my favourite sauce listings. This really scratches an itch in my brain I didn’t know I had. I’m tempted to order some mayonnaise from Metal Rules Radio. I wonder if he ships to Canada.
Sam: We make this newsletter in a Google Doc which I then paste into Substack, so when Josiah told me he was going to need some time to create a slideshow before he sends this out and that I was welcome to contribute I kind of assumed it would be related to the end of the pod, like funny posts or photos or mementos of some kind. Shame on me. Spending time combing through a stranger’s eBay listings feels like a trick where this newsletter goes from being a fun idea to a four hour pod-like endeavour every week as Josiah finds increasingly strange ways to express himself. I’m happy for him, and you the reader, but I am learning to set boundaries and will not be contributing to this slideshow.
Free every Friday.