Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A noisy record, a classic zombie film, and an old favorite

Christian Fitness, I Am Scared Of Everything That Isn’t Me

Andrew “Falco” Falkous fronted one of the greatest, noisiest bands of the turn of the century, Mclusky, and continues his battle against stupidity with Future Of The Left. (He also gave us a particularly insightful HateSong a while back.) He took a slight sidestep recently with the solo-ish project Christian Fitness, which quietly released a full-length called I Am Scared Of Everything That Isn’t Me. The record—recorded almost alone, with some drum help—sounds like a rougher but less intense version of his other bands, with all the top-quality songwriting and devastatingly biting wit, but less sheen. (Not that either of those bands were exactly glossy.) “Soft Power Itches,” with its rumbling bass and funny chorus (“In all my time on panel shows / I never saw a Diet Coke in the hands of an Action Man”), is the best song here, but fans of either of his other bands will find plenty to love. [Josh Modell]

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The Return Of The Living Dead
Last weekend I went to the drive-in for the first time, an admission that will probably get me booted from some of my more esoteric Facebook groups, but whatever. As expected, it was great—the McHenry Outdoor Theater in McHenry, Illinois, for our Chicagoland readers—but the best part was re-visiting Dan O’Bannon’s The Return Of The Living Dead for the first time in a decade. I, like most everyone else, was there to see the 40th anniversary restoration of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it was Return that really hooked me by blending cartoonish comedy with the occasional moment of genuine terror. The kickass punk soundtrack, suitably goopy practical effects, and bleak comedic ending worthy of Dr. Strangelove didn’t hurt either. Also, fun fact: It was The Return Of The Living Dead that popularized the concept of zombies eating brains, as opposed to just any old human flesh. [Katie Rife]

Cat Stevens

I recently decided it was time to catalog my records, taking a suggestion from a co-worker to use Discogs. So far, I’ve only managed to enter 116 of my records to my collection, 15 of which are by Cat Stevens, something my co-worker pointed out with a bit of astonishment. I can’t remember the first time I heard a Cat Stevens song—my best guess is that “Wild World” or “Peace Train” was playing on Superior, Wisconsin’s local oldies station—but by high school, Wes Anderson’s Rushmore and Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous had introduced me to two of my early favorites, “Here Comes My Baby” and “The Wind,” respectively. From there, I listened to the standards—Tea For The Tillerman and the like. My first year of college came and with it my first record player, and so began a four-year stretch where I would complete homework to the sounds of Stevens’ (and James Taylor’s) greatest hits. That was also the year that, like many college students, I watched Harold And Maude for the first time. If I wasn’t hooked on Stevens’ often winsome lyrics and smooth folk sound already, the soundtrack—composed entirely by the singer-songwriter, to what’s become one of my top five films—would have done it. “Don’t Be Shy” and “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out,” originals for the film, became instant classics in my heart. Both are poignantly positive, much like Maude, and I’ve never found a time or been in a mood that doesn’t welcome either song. If you haven’t dug into Stevens’ discography yet, now is as good a time as any. I’ll leave you with another favorite to get you started… [Becca James]

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