I'll be the judge of that.

DOPE Digest vol. 28 – Savages, Neck Deep, The VVitch and more!

 DOPE Digest is a weekly roundup of pop culture miscellany, with succinct analysis from our contributors.


Savages – “Adore” Video

Julia: This is my first favorite single of 2016, it is so great. The composition is basically perfect – it builds so dramatically, like the best Arcade Fire anthem – but is also super dark and coolly ironic. I would like to sing this in a car.

I really want to like Savages; I just can’t quite get there. This frustrates me because I am 100% pro-guitar music, pro-noise – particularly when female-backed – and Jehnny Beth seems like an all-around “cool chick.” Buuuttt somehow, it’s like they make good songs, but then 2/3 through are like “WAIT – forgot we wanted you to hate this song, we are going to ruin it with excess shouting and word repetition!!”  I wish they could maintain the focus and restraint of “Adore” in the rest of their catalog – and I’d say about 40% of the Adore Life album does successfully – but at the very least this is an excellent song and maintains my high hopes for this band.

syvo: Wow, I like this way more than I expected to. My general opening position on Savages is that they’re overrated; or, more precisely, it’s too clear to me that I like the “idea” of Savages more than Savages itself. I’m really into the gothy post-punk stuff that they’re credited with, but in a way that leaves me wondering what makes them such an extraordinary example of the genre over the many, many underground artists out there that do the same thing in a more radical, interesting way (see, e.g. Arctic Flowers).

But! I digress. This song is great, I’m really impressed by its somber mix of aural dreariness and lyrical positivity. Seems a lot different than what I remember their older stuff sounding like. Maybe I need to take a second look at them or something.

BK: Serious cheek bone situation here for Jehnney Beth. I can get on board with that – makes her seem even MORE European.

This is an awesome track, but the problem with this it is that the title reminds me too much of ‘Adorn‘ by Miguel, and even 4 years later that song is an absolute jam. Maybe Savages can cover ‘Adorn,’ and Miguel can cover ‘Adore’. Crossover appeal for everyone! I love it.

The VVitch Trailer

syvo: The words don’t exist for me to state how on-board I am with this movie right now, so I’m not really going to bother. The short answer is I’m vaguely obsessed with witches  and occult subculture, and I’m also really excited by the abundant indie horror we’ve seen over the last ten years or so (check out my old essay on the modern horror genre).

I’ve seen this trailer like twice already while in a theater so far, and it’s already too many. It’s clearly too great-looking a movie for me to risk having it ruined by its own trailer. So I haven’t re-watched this trailer in order to give you some keen observation about it. In fact, I don’t even want to talk about it. I just hope it’s better than the insanely overrated stupid Scott Snyder comic book from last year, Wytches. I still haven’t finished it.

Julia: I started this trailer thinking “OH god I hope it’s not the one with those goats.”  And then it WAS exactly that! This looks so scary to me; I’m already preparing for the subway ride home after I see this, when I feel terrified to my core and reassure myself i never have to move to the country and/or milk anything.

BK: I’m not typically one to trek out to the theater to see a horror movie; I can watch teenagers getting impaled in the comfort of my home thank you very much. However, this trailer has me feeling the way I felt seeing the previews for 28 Days Later back in 2002. There is something both plausible and somehow familiar about the way this movie looks, and that feeling adds a level of creepiness that I’m psyched about. Critics are clearly loving it too, with the film winning tons of awards at Sundance and receiving nearly universal acclaim online. And as if that wasn’t enough – weird kids and weird goats pop up left and right! What could be better?!

Neck Deep – “Kali Ma” Video

syvo: I saw these guys open for Knuckle Puck a year or two ago. I had no idea who they were, but the crowd went insane for them. Really seemed like they were gonna be a big deal. Soon thereafter, they released the critically-acclaimed Life’s Not Out to Get You, and today they seem like one of the most popular, successful, and purehearted pop-punk bands of the last few years. They’re probably way more popular than Knuckle Puck by now; perhaps fans found Copacetic was a bit lackluster a follow up to their literally perfect 10/10 six-track masterpiece/opus While I Stay Secluded.

Anyway, this track “Kali Ma” is great, and the video is pretty standard fare. They’ve got great spirit.

BK: Neck Deep has quickly climbed up my list of new pop-punk bands to throw on whilst cleaning or playing video games (Ok, more often the latter). Their songs are so catchy that I feel like I can do anything! Grease stain on the stove? Got it! Tough level in Call of Duty? No problem! Shower curtain needs a good scrubbing? Well, I am sure someone else can handle that while I put “Kali Ma” back on and get a beer. And might as well toss on Gold Steps while we’re at it.


Hey Violet – “Blank Space” Live Cover

syvo: When Taylor Swift tweeted her support for this live cover of “Blank Space” by girly tween pop-punk act Hey Violet (apparently on tour with quasi-pop-punk B-list tween heartthrobs 5 Seconds of Summer), I assume her true object was to confirm a longstanding, provocative theory of mine, one that I have been pushing for several years now: Taylor Swift is pop-punk!

I’ve been saying it for years. Taylor + power chords = pop-punk*.

This is by no means a recent phenomenon. It is not a mere  collateral consequence of her well-known 1989 popification. Rather, I first realized it a few years back while watching the video for “Change,” from her 2008 breakout album Fearless. That song sounds like it was ghost-written by the Starting Line.

We find further confirmation of my theory by testing it with a converse relation: this Tonight Alive song “Come Home” is pretty much just a Taylor Swift song. And, before you object that Tonight Alive sucks and is “not even pop-punk,” I’ll have you know that I personally saw Tonight Alive open for Taking Back Sunday in 2014 when I was a twenty-six year old man. So there.

*Crappy pop-punk, but pop-punk nonetheless.

Julia: Just like Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, and Lead Belly before him, so Taylor Swift has joined the canon of American Folk music. Her songs are so perfectly crafted that they can draw together a crowd of wayfaring strangers into a singalong that traverses pop-cultural sub-factions. We will be older, and our children will be at summer camp, sitting around a bonfire singing “Blank Space” with the same nod to tradition and heritage as “Johnny Appleseed” or “Return to Pooh Corner.” Is it pop? Is it punk? Is it pop-punk? Nay, it is all of us – we are all Swiftian.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Trailer

syvo: Okay, this trailer came out like a month ago, so you may be asking why it’s here, where we only deliver commentary on the freshest and most piping-hot pop culture morsels. But what you should be asking is how on Earth has our staff not already weighed in on this trailer, considering our well-tread history of thorough Ninja Turtles analysis. Also, why hasn’t the rest of the world made more of a big deal about this trailer?

It’s amazing!

Why, why can’t these movies just be good? I went into the first one with my mind made up, well in advance, that I already loved the movie, and walked out finding it to be an insurmountably indefensible position. I was massively disappointed, and not even Megan Fox in a yellow leather jacket could change that. But this time will be different. This movie looks awesome. I think they’re really gonna nail it this time.

BK:  Just this screengrab of a ridiculous looking Rocksteady  (ridiculous, even, for a giant, gun-toting bipedal, leather-clad rhino) is giving me flashbacks to the disgusting digital rat that was Master Splinter in the last TMNT. And I already feel nauseous.

I too wanted that movie to be good, but it was so far from anything resembling a decent movie that nothing, not Megan Fox, not Will Arnett (in one of his worst roles ever) not even Raphael could save it from itself.

But who knows – maybe it just took all that diligent world-building to set up the sequel.


 DOPE Throwback:  Marilyn Manson – “The Dope Show”

syvo: In honor of Brian Warner’s forty-seventh birthday earlier this month, enjoy this classic gem of creepy, sterile androgyny. Yeah, Miley is definitely boyish, but back in my day, our male rockstars had boobs!

Long live Marilyn Manson.


Follow syvo, Julia and BK on Twitter.


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