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What’s the Buzz: Finds of the Week (The Masked Singer, Murakami, and More!)

Welcome to What’s the Buzz, 25YL’s new feature where members of our staff will be providing you with recommendations on a weekly basis. In our internet age, there is so much out there to think about watching, reading, listening to, etc., that it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, filter out the noise, or find those diamonds in the rough. But have no fear! We’re here to help you do that thing I just described with three different metaphors. Each week a rotating cast of writers will offer their recommendations based on things they have discovered. They won’t always be new to the world, but they’ll be new to us, or we hope new to you. This week’s entries come from: Laura Stewart, Caemeron Crain, J.C. Hotchkiss, Lindsay Stamhuis, and Paul Billington.


Laura Stewart: Dublin quintet Fontaines D.C. released their new single, “Too Real” on December 21st and I haven’t stopped listening to it since. The bands looping and relentless riffs are sublime: dark and melancholic, a taste of post-punk that feels visceral and raw to its core. If you are a fan of ’70s post-punk and love the gut-wrenching beats of Joy Division mixed with the gritty Irish drawl of The Pogues and a splash of Sonic Youth, then Fontaines D.C. is a must-have on your playlist. The vid for “Too Real” shows a series of absurdist, ping pong/eyeball-related hijinks in a pub, check it out here:

Lindsay Stamhuis: The much-anticipated third season of Kim’s Convenience premiered on Tuesday, January 8. The show has been a rather unexpected international hit, garnering fans in the United States and overseas from its native Canada. Based on a hit play by Canadian playwright Ins Choi, the show follows the Kim family and their convenience store in downtown Toronto. It might seem strange to have a sitcom deal with touchy issues such as race, but the charming cast and well-written characters have proved that comedy can deal with these issues sensitively and poignantly—in the Season 3 opener, daughter Janet Kim reasons that, in order for her photography website to stand out amongst the thousands of “Janet Kims” online, she has to change her name to something “more Korean”, with results that are both hilarious and touchingly real for children of immigrant parents. Definitely a must-see! (Kim’s Convenience airs on the CBC in Canada and Netflix internationally).

J.C. Hotchkiss:  After trying to convince my son to watch something besides Paw Patrol for the millionth time, I finally got him to change the channel. Miraculously, it was to something we both could enjoy, that show being The Masked Singer, Wednesday nights on Fox. I’d call it Nick Jr. on acid, but the premise is not the tired trope of most of the singing competitions out there right now. The Masked Singer is a group of celebrities, athletes, and actual musicians that sing for a panel of judges. The difference is they are fully covered head to toe in the most elaborate costumes as to hide their identities. The cover is right down to the voice modulation used to hide their speaking voices when being interviewed by the judges after their performances. The first episode aired last week, and the second episode last night.  I love every minute of this show. Well, maybe not every minute. There was a few times the judges tried to guess the masked person, and were so out of left field I wished I could crawl through my television and give them a good jolt. The judges are Robin Thicke, of “Blurred Lines” infamy, Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg, who’s now considered a Pop Culture Guru, Ken Jeong of The Hangover and Crazy Rich Asians fame, and Nicole Scherzinger, former lead of The Pussycat Dolls. So far we have seen The Peacock, The Deer, The Unicorn, The Lion, The Monster, and The Hippo. We soon discovered after Monster, Deer, and Hippo ended up in the bottom three, The Hippo was none other than Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers. His version of Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” did not make the cut. Who was unmasked this week? Tune in with me every Wednesday. I think I already know three of the singers, but with the new batch I just saw this week, who knows!

Paul Billington: So.. I am currently reading the 1Q84 books by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. He’s often been likened in style (or substance? Or both? I dunno!) to David Lynch—and I can see why after reading Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle first…His books have a fog of strange mystery haunting the everyday; an unhurried narrative pace; an economy of dialogue.. I honestly can’t describe what it’s like to read them—beguiling, frustrating, unnerving, fascinating…For a newbie, I totally recommend Kafka on the Shore as the book to start with. I guarantee you won’t have read anything quite like it.

Murakami - 1Q84, Kafka on the Shore, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Caemeron Crain: I spent an exorbitant amount of time with Black Mirror: Bandersnatch this past week, and while I enjoyed the whole experience immensely, it also turned me on to some great music. I already loved XTC’s “Making Plans for Nigel” (and I have a soft spot for the Primus version), which fit into the show so well, but I wasn’t familiar with Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra.”

With no offense to Isao Tomita’s “The Bermuda Triangle” (which represents the other choice in this moment of Bandersnatch), I found myself wanting to pick “Phaedra” every time, even as I was trying to map out the options. It’s an experimental electronic piece of music from the ’70s; the kind of thing I didn’t even quite know was created then. Whether you’ve seen the show or not, I’d encourage you to give a listen.

But the best discovery to come from all of this for me was the music video for Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman.” The song is great, of course, and fits perfectly with what is arguably the “real ending” of Bandersnatch (or at least the only one I really wouldn’t want to spoil for you), but the video is transcendent. After pulling it up because I wanted to hear the song, I found myself spending an evening watching it over and over again. I’ll let it speak for itself, but if you’re a fan of Twin Peaks, isn’t there a strong Sarah Palmer vibe a little less than two minutes in?


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This article was written either by a Guest Author or by an assortment of 25YL staff

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