Image for post
Image for post

Greetings Programs!

I thought I was done with Tron. If you know me at all, you know I’ve loved the movie “Tron: Legacy” since the day it came out when I was in high school, but if you’ve been around me this year or have seen my Twitter, you know that 2020 was the year I became obsessive. I lost count of the number of times I’ve seen “Tron: Legacy” this year. I would show it to whoever was willing. I’d watch it when I was bored. I’d watch it to fall asleep. I love it still, but after showing…


Image for post
Image for post

Lorde’s Sea Change in Modern Pop, The Open Heart Of 2017

Do you remember being 19? What do you remember about it? What made it 19 for you? The parties? A new relationship, a difficult breakup? How many nights did you spend with music and booze that throbbed together, and how much of those nights did you spend feeling lonely with friends and lonely without? Do you remember much at all? Did you remember much more of it then? What was left when you were sober?

Lorde was 16 when she released “Pure Heroine,” and now, upon the release of “Melodrama,” is well into 20. Pop music is changing. Melodrama, though…


Image for post
Image for post

A playlist experiment teaches me why Jack White is so blue

Monday, 4:40 pm

I’ve been listening to the same playlist for two days straight. It is not a long playlist. There are six songs and the whole thing runs about sixteen minutes.

The White Stripes are my favorite band. If you say something is your favorite enough times over enough years you start to forget what that means. Like when you say a word repeatedly until it sounds like gibberish. You stop defending your choice and you just say it. It is fact.

When I was in high school I could listen to album after album of the White Stripes on repeat. Sometimes…


Image for post
Image for post

There is a nameless green just before Commonwealth Avenue crosses Charlesgate in Boston. It is a long rectangle with a stone bridge imitation crossing a knoll west of its center; that center is a stone bench that faces downtown, difficult to see anything but the Charlesgate overpass and trees that all but cover the Prudential and John Hancock towers.

I first sat here a few years ago, after buying a Judge Dredd omnibus that I only just started last month. I bought it at Comicopia, there across the top right corner of the park. Further behind is Nuggets, my least…


Image for post
Image for post

White Denim seems intent on robbing me of my good faith. I’ve held on so long, hoping for the greatness I know they’re capable of.

I don’t want to believe that they’ve become just another Black Keys copy, another band that took all of their blues cues from the White Stripes and tore out all the heart and punk. Their first EP, Let’s Talk About It, is a masterpiece of inspired deconstructionist rock’n’roll. Their last album, Corsicana Lemonade, skirted that same ethos with “At Night in Dreams,” but the rest of that album is so derivative of the Black Keys…


Image for post
Image for post

Lucius is a band about contrasts. The pouty indie rock guitar riffs contrast with the synth-washed backdrops. The mellow, crooning verses contrast with the effervescent, soaring choruses. The danceable beats contrast with the country-tinged vocals, and the vocals tie everything together by rising, potent and authoritative, above the whole ensemble.

Their second album, Good Grief, is a poppier and more energetic contrast to the indie Americana of Wildewoman, the band’s 2013 debut. What hasn’t changed is the driving choral force of the band, frontwoman duo Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig.

Together with drummer Dan Molad and guitarists Peter Lalish and…


Image for post
Image for post

What’s left to say about Kendrick Lamar? After two great independent albums he made his major label debut with Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, a massive concept album that skyrocketed to become the vanguard of modern hip-hop. Then he went and topped it with the masterful, revolutionary To Pimp a Butterfly last year, and it feels like the rest is gonna be history. He’s perhaps the biggest name in music right now, and I’d argue that he’s never made anything close to a bad song. He’s also a notoriously single-minded hard worker. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight…


Hardcore music’s not-so-wide cultural divide

Image for post
Image for post
MC Ride of Death Grips | Henry Rollins of Black Flag

There is a genre that is unique among modern popular music. It is louder and harsher than music as we knew it for most of the 20th century.

It is founded on strong, repetitive 4/4 bass lines that drive simple rhythm sections. It focuses less on melody and more on lyrical rhythms, turning the human voice into a spoken-word percussion instrument. It follows a basic “hook, verse, hook, verse, bridge, hook” structure, the verses being said lyrical percussion and the hooks being either more rhythmic poetry or a brief melody.

It has a history steeped in a counterculture of the…


Why are superheroes still around if critics are so sick of seeing them?

Image for post
Image for post

I’ve only ever been truly frustrated with my friend Joe once.

Among a group of friends, we saw “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” a film promising to be even more ridiculous than its record-smashing predecessor. If “Iron Man 3” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” were any indication, “Ultron” would be full to bursting with clever writing and action fantasy. All of us, rising juniors in college, were filled with childish glee.

We left the theater significantly less gleeful. “Ultron,” despite its fascinating themes of self-hatred, fatigue, American savior-ism and technology run amok, was disappointing. The plot was too full of…


Image for post
Image for post
Star Wars | YouTube | Don’t Sue Me

MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD

I can remember the times before I knew anything about criticism or cinema, and it was enough just to watch “Star Wars.” Look at those pod racers fly by! Look at those adorable Ewoks take down stormtroopers! Look at how spry Yoda is in this one!

But that was before the dark times. “Before the Empire.” As I grew up, I started to notice a funny feeling I got when watching certain scenes. I felt the urge to mock sequences and lines I’d never given much thought before. “Does Anakin really have to go on and on…

Ross Hsu

Writer. Music Obsessive. Professor of Star Wars Studies, occasional Kanye Scholar. Idiot.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store