Punk rock, video game, and DVD reviews

Your weekly pop culture wrap-up

A few months back, I saw some great punk rock here in Phoenix. At The Emerald Lounge, to be exact. The band was called The Wrongsiders, and they were so cool, they played a Dead Boys cover, "Caught With the Meat in Your Mouth" -- one of the coolest and funniest songs ever written. From that alone, it proved to me I picked the right town to move to. Funny and punk rock. The band also did tons of originals and one or two other covers. Then, through an e-mail, I heard they broke up. But in typical punk fashion, they have re-formed and are back at it again kicking out the jams. Go see them. Find their "live" CD recorded at The Mason Jar. And yell for more Dead Boys covers. Someone in this town has got to do "Sonic Reducer."

Speaking of the punk rock, I've been glued to my X-Box's fat-ass controller lately. Although it hurts my delicate and baby-soft skin, EA's new racer, Burnout 3: Takedown, is just about the fucking punkest thing I've played since Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know GTA: San Andreas is out. But once I even put that baby into my PlayStation 2, I know I ain't leaving the house for a month. Plus, my other joystick will feel neglected, which it will be. Anyway, Burnout 3 has the most amazing graphics I have ever seen in a video game. Which is saying everything, since I play 'em all. You race around trying to knock everyone else off the road, and the game feels like the equivalent of when you were 5 years old and knocked Tonka toys together. In other words, it appeals to everyone's primal instinct to crash into shit and blow it up. While I like to think of myself as having evolved beyond that, I haven't. Boom! Yes!!! Whee! I'm 14 years old!

Another fun video game I've been wasting my life with is Konami's Boktai for The GameBoy Advance. Or the GBA, as we all have come to know it. While the sequel to this game has hit store shelves, I've been tied up with more than 45 hours invested into this little baby. You play as this spiky-haired punk kid, who uses the sun to kill vampires. But the kicker is you really have to use the sun. Like go outside and collect sunlight through an ultraviolet sensor in the game's cartridge, then blast those bloodsuckers back into their hotter-than-hell inferno. I like to think of myself as sending them to Mesa.

There is no doubt on the planet who is the best punk rock band now in existence. And no, I'm not talking about The New Found Glory-Holes or Bad Charlotte. Not even Advil WhateverHerNameIs, or Cum 41. I'm talkin' The Dwarves. Formed way back in 1983 by Blag Dahlia and his masked and naked friend, HeWhoCanNotBeNamed, they put out some great albums, and did some of the best live shows I've ever seen. But nothing has been as good as their last four albums. Starting with their Recess/Theologian then Epitaph release, The Dwarves Are Young and Good Looking, this San Francisco band showed the world what the punk rock was really about. Kicking ass, taking names, then fucking them in the ass. Meaner than rabid pit bulls, wittier than Larry David, these guys are everything I've always wanted to be, but was too much of a pussy to ever act on it. Their next album on Epitaph, Come Clean, was nothing short of one of the greatest pop-punk albums ever written. Of course, it was so clever it went over the kids' heads like their fathers' angry fists. Then the next one, How to Win Friends and Influence People on Reptilian, was a sort of "best of," if you will, with such hits as "Drugstore," "Dairy Queen," and "Fuck You Up and Get High." But now comes their latest and greatest, and a new paragraph as well.

The Dwarves Must Die, out now on Greedy/Sympathy for the Record Industry, may just well be the punkest album ever made. I know a lot of people who will scratch their heads when they first hear this and say to themselves, "What the fuck?" Well, shut up and listen. Blag and company have done the impossible. By taking all sorts of music, starting with noise and grindcore, and mixing it with rap, hip-hop, church choir singing, hard rock, disco, and even punk rock, they have made a record that defies any label but punk rock. With songs like "Fefu," "Relentless" (which features a choir of children), and "Massacre" (which gives Eminem the best competition he's ever heard), The Dwarves simply have hit the nail on the head with a sledgehammer. The lyrics are beyond intelligent, to the point where you'll be thinking about what Blag sings for days. The music is downright awesome, and as catchy and familiar as The Beatles in that primordial ooze sort of way, and Blag's voice sounds like Elvis, Joey Ramone, Stiv Bators, and Frank Sinatra. The Dwarves Must Die is totally the best album of the millennium. Period.

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