Tag Archives: review

The Cinch Review

Lady Gaga – “Applause”

Review of Lady Gaga ApplauseLady Gaga has released a new single titled “Applause,” the first song to be heard from her forthcoming album Artpop. (Video at bottom.) Frankly, to these ears, it is three minutes and thirty-three seconds of brain-battering bombast. Not long ago, I wrote about the recent Miley Cyrus hit (“We Can’t Stop”) and—although both the song and the video have fairly obvious objectionable elements—it was possible to appreciate some qualities of the tune purely as a pop-record that were well-executed and attractive to the ear. It’s understandable why it would be a hit. Unfortunately this is not so for Lady Gaga’s “Applause,” although it is getting plenty of attention and views on YouTube and is likely to be a very big hit in the coming weeks. Purely from the point of view of sound, however, it seems like something she might have cooked up in her bedroom with an electronic keyboard in about twenty minutes. Of-course, people can dance to it in the clubs, and that might be all the success that really matters to her and her business colleagues, but as a lasting and worthy piece of pop-music it falls rather short; actually, it doesn’t even arrive.

Lyrically the song disappears into an abyss of self-regard. Gaga is aware that she’s been criticized for being highly unoriginal, and in “Applause” she seems to be basically calling out to her fans to defy her detractors:

Applause Lady Gaga ReviewI stand here waiting for you to bang the gong to crash the critic saying
Is it right or is it wrong?
If only Fame had an IV
Baby could I bare being away from you
I found the vein, put it in here

I live for the Applause, Applause, Applause …

This may all be very meaningful for Lady Gaga, but it’s a slight stretch to imagine listeners relating to it and singing along, or even remembering it a few months from now. Continue reading Lady Gaga – “Applause”

Miley Cyrus We Can't Stop

Miley Cyrus: “We Can’t Stop”

Miley Cyrus We Can't Stop review

It’s time to pause for an appreciation of what I’ve heard described as “the song of the summer.” That would be “We Can’t Stop,” by Miley Cyrus.Cyrus is twenty years-old, the former star of the Disney Channel’s Hannah Montana, a show that continues in reruns and is most popular with pre-teenage girls. Miley Cyrus has been maturing at a rapid rate since leaving that show, if maturing is to be characterized as becoming more provocatively and publicly sexual with each passing month. (For former Disney child stars, at least, that seems to be what passes for maturing.) This new record, then, “We Can’t Stop,” along with its accompanying video (embedded at bottom), establishes a new apex of maturity for Miley. The video features Cyrus and a bevy of youthful friends alternately boogieing and lounging in various states of undress in what seems like an extremely plush house that they have to themselves. Some are portrayed as sprawled either in states of exhausted unconsciousness or death. The lyric features a variety of declarations like the following:

It’s our party we can do what we want to
It’s our house we can love who we want to
It’s our song we can sing if we want to
It’s my mouth I can say what I want to

And we can’t stop
And we won’t stop
We run things
Things don’t run we
We don’t take nothing from nobody

I don’t think you have to dig too deep or enlist a professor of poetry to get at the theme of the song, which is something like this: “Life is a party. We’ll do whatever we want, however we want, with whoever we want. No one can stop us. We can’t even stop ourselves. And screw you if you don’t like it.”

The tune features two drug references, one to ecstasy (“dancing with Molly”) and one to cocaine: “And everyone in line in the bathroom / Trying to get a line in the bathroom.” Continue reading Miley Cyrus: “We Can’t Stop”

The Cinch Review

Bastille 1789 (a French Whisky)

[PLEASE SEE CRUCIAL ADDENDUM TO THIS REVIEW AT BOTTOM]

Review of Bastille whisky from FranceIf vous are like moi, you certainly don’t associate France with whisky (or even with whiskey). Cognac and brandies, to be sure, but not the kind of whiskies one might order on the rocks or mix with soda and guzzle while gobbling peanuts or potato chips. So very un-French. Indeed, the one time that yours truly visited France, I tried ordering some favored spirits on the rocks, and was disappointed; the portions were skimpy, the glasses were inappropriate, the ice was bad, and the drink just plain didn’t feel right while sitting on a sidewalk in Paris. I soon realized that one should not try to drink like an American while in France. Instead, drink like the French do: alternate red wine with cappucinos, act blas√©, and take August off.

Yet, it turns out that French whiskies do exist, and, like so many things both good and bad these days, they appear to be multiplying uncontrollably.

Let’s try to get a handle on at least one, recently encountered, which goes by the name of “Bastille.” The large “1789” on the bottle does not refer to the origins of the whiskey, which are considerably more recent, but instead to an event known as the French Revolution. (I suppose they don’t mind if a few impulse-buyers are fooled.)

It is described as a “hand-crafted whisky,” distilled from wheat and barley, and utilizing water “naturally filtered for centuries through Grande Champagne limestone.” It is a blended whisky. It is aged in wood casks, “including the most luxurious French Limousin oak.”

Cutting to the chase
Continue reading Bastille 1789 (a French Whisky)

The Cinch Review

Koss PortaPro Headphones

Review of Koss PortaPro HeadphonesThe other day we did a review of the SanDisk Sansa Clip MP3 player, which seemed a solid choice for the frugal consumer. A necessary accessory is clearly a pair of headphones or ear-buds or such. So here’s a brief look at one option, namely the Koss PortaPro headphones. They are listed at $50 but at the time of writing sell for $39.99 on Amazon.

They’ve been around a long time and seem to be quite popular. Their advocates maintain that the Koss PortaPros are a nice, affordable and portable alternative to high-end headphones. They are said to have a frequency response of 15 to 25,000 Hz. If that means a lot to you, so be it. I’m not going to belabor the technical issues. Is the sound significantly better than the $10 earphones I was using before, which I picked up somewhere I can’t remember? I cannot really assert that it is, to me. In my experience one tends to hear things pretty darned clearly through headphones or earphones that are working properly, just so long as there is not excessive ambient or background noise. (The Koss PortaPro headphones are not the noise-cancelling variety.) The chief difference I’ve found with the Koss PortaPros is instead in the area of comfort. They are well designed in this regard. I have a very large head (as you might well imagine) but these expand to fit comfortably and easily. A key comfort feature is the small cushion on each side which rests above the ears, thus reducing the pressure of the cushioned ear plates. The ear plates also pivot. So, after putting them on and adjusting them for comfort, they are very unlikely to annoy you at all, as opposed to those ear-bud things which can chafe after a short while. The metal band which goes over your head might be noticeable or might catch your hair when you’re removing it, but I suppose that’s a trade-off for portability. Continue reading Koss PortaPro Headphones