Month: November 2023

Strays: Jane’s Addiction Returns with a Bolder Sound

Jane’s Addiction Are Back With Strays

Twelve years after they first smacked modern rock upside the head, Jane’s Addiction are back with Strays. Producer Bob Ezrin gives the band a bigger-than-big sheen that works well for some of its songs.

But it also leaves many tracks pithier and more basic than the band that once mixed an indefinable amalgamation of punk, metal, funk, junk and the elemental.

True Nature

Blossoming from the Los Angeles underground music scene in the early ’80s Jane’s Addiction made their poodle-rock peers look passe. Following the band’s commercial breakthrough in ’88, the group imploded in ’91. Farrell busied himself with Lollapalooza and Porno for Pyros while guitarist Dave Navarro put out a solo effort that year (the unremittingly bleak Trust No One).

Twelve years passed before the band returned to record new material. Strays features three out of four original members and is produced by esteemed knob-twiddler Bob Ezrin. But the band has shaved off their rough edges, leaving a sound that’s bold and basic. Despite the Zep-riffs and by-the-numbers hard rock, Strays fails to live up to its predecessors. A missed opportunity.

Superhero

Superheroes suffer from a high degree of angst, and they typically live secretive lives with extremely poor relationships. Most superheroes also battle mortal enemies with superhuman powers, and they often are grouped into crime fighting groups.

In addition to spoofing Spiderman and the Doom Patrol, there are also references to the Fantastic Four, X-Men, and Batman. There are a few parody-worthy chuckles to be had, but they are few and far between.

Other characters include Flaming Katy (who is a protector and can fly), Merry Andrew (a mute scarecrow dressed in late ’80s fashion), and Jill-in-Irons (wrapped in large chains, possibly a reference to Jack-In-Irons). Also in the Underground is Sylvia, who bears Jane’s feelings of claustrophobia; she is locked inside a small room reciting poem fragments.

Wrong Girl

The first Jane’s Addiction album in 13 years, Strays continues the band’s blending of punk, rock, funk, junk, sensual and the elemental. With three out of four original members, the album is a powerful return to form.

The hedonistic excess and contemptuous bravado of their early days are gone, replaced by more mature songwriting with a broader lyrical focus that nevertheless still captures the essence of Jane’s. Farrell’s voice is as strong as ever, and Navarro and Perkins remain among the best musicians in the business.

12 years after their smack-addled implosion, Jane’s Addiction is back and surfing a wave of newfound popularity with an album that picks up right where 1988’s Nothing’s Shocking and 1990’s Ritual de Lo Habitual left off. But can the band keep it together this time?

Hypersonic

The United States and Russia are developing hypersonic weapons that travel faster than the speed of sound. Unlike traditional ballistic missiles, which follow predetermined trajectories, hypersonic weapons can maneuver throughout their flight. This makes them harder to defend against.

The hype around these weapons has fueled big increases in their development budgets and heightened fear, distrust and the risk of conflict between the U.S. and Russia or China. It has also fueled false alarms that can cause nations to react rashly and blunder into war.

To be considered hypersonic, a vehicle must fly through the atmosphere at speeds greater than Mach 5 and have the ability to maneuver during its entire flight. The physics and chemistry of air change dramatically as objects reach hypersonic speeds, roasting the vehicle with radiant heat.

To Match the Sun

After returning to the music scene with the two tracks on the compilation album Kettle Whistle (1997), Jane’s Addiction aimed to make a proper comeback with Strays. With classic albums like Nothing’s Shocking and Ritual de la Habitual, the band had gained a reputation as pioneers of alternative rock.

Produced by knob twiddling Bob Ezrin (Pink Floyd, Kiss), Strays is the sound of a cleaned up, drug-free Jane’s Addiction. Vocalist Perry Farrell sounds as sleazy and mysterious as ever, but he’s a less ferocious arch-hedonist than before.

The band is still a joy to hear, with tight waves of crescendos crashing from Farrell’s hypnotic vocals, Navarro’s blistering guitar and Stephen Perkins’ propulsive drumming. The album’s only downfall is a production that sounds more manufactured than on any of the group’s previous releases.

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A Raunchy and Hilarious Dog Movie with a Stellar Cast

Strays Movie Review

Strays is a dog movie that will make you howl. It is an R-rated comedy that combines human expectations and lost-in-translation animal experiences. It is directed by Josh Greenbaum and written by Dan Perrault.

Will Ferrell brings a wide-eyed, childlike charm to Reggie, a naive innocent unloved by his deadbeat stoner owner. Jamie Foxx delivers a streetwise swagger as Bug, while Isla Fisher and Randall Park provide the supporting characters.

Will Ferrell

This animated heist film isn’t the most original of its genre, but it still possesses a special kind of off-the-wall, absurd genius that makes it worth a look. Ferrell is at his finest here as Mugatu, a fashion icon who’s brainwashed into assassinating the prime minister of Malaysia. He also delivers a couple of standout musical numbers and is perfectly cast alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor.

The Ghost of Christmas Present (Will Ferrell) tries to redeem himself before his retirement in this high-concept tale about a heartless media conglomerate mogul who gets haunted by three ghosts. He taps into his Elf man-child charm for this role, and is surprisingly funny. He’s also a natural with Ryan Reynolds, and their odd-couple chemistry is infectious.

Jamie Foxx

If you’re a dog lover, then Strays is the movie for you. It features plenty of toilet humor and off-color jokes, but its characters are well-voiced and the animation is excellent. The story is about Reggie, a naive dog who gets ditched by his deadbeat stoner owner Doug (Will Forte). After defending himself from three other dogs, including a Rottweiler and a Doberman, he meets streetwise Boston terrier Bug and learns to love being a stray.

Strays rises above the usual nonsense of talking animal movies. Its cast is well-suited to their roles, and its script combines real animal performances with VFX. Despite a hefty dose of poop, penis, vomit, and pubes jokes, the film is smart and sexy. It also delivers a meaningful message about the importance of loving pets. It’s a movie for dogs and humans alike. Watching it will make you laugh, but you’ll also want to hug your own pup a little more tightly.

Isla Fisher

Abandoned by lowlife owner Doug, naive but lovable puppy Reggie finds himself among a pack of streetwise strays in this crudely funny, unabashedly R-rated animated adventure. He’s rescued from two Rottweilers by Bug, a street-smart Boston who introduces him to the rules of life on the outside: pee on anything you want, hump whatever you see, and enjoy the freedom of being on your own. Along the way, they meet a group of fellow strays including Maggie, an anxiety-ridden therapy dog who washed out of K-9 police training, and Hunter, a Great Dane with a knack for sniffing things.

The movie is full of off-color jokes and toilet humor, but the strong cast and animation help it rise above a script that’s too often predictable. Isla Fisher has a good sense of comedy and is especially effective as the love interest for Reggie. She’s a proven performer who also starred in Wedding Crashers, Hot Rod, and Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Randall Park

Fresh Off the Boat star Randall Park makes a winning directorial debut with this crude comedy. The film centers on a group of stray dogs who plot revenge against their former owner. It features a stellar voice cast, including Will Ferrell, Jamie Foxx, and Isla Fisher. The film is raunchy, with plenty of toilet humor and off-color jokes. It also has a few touching moments.

In Strays, the protagonist Ben (Justin H. Min) is the type of man who has a laundry list of shortcomings. He is a total jerk to his girlfriend Miko, he is incompetent at work, and he can’t seem to get ahead in life.

But Ben’s misanthropy isn’t the only reason to watch this film. It’s also an entertaining romp featuring a likable, appealing cast. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, although it doesn’t break new ground. It’s like a slightly more adult Sausage Party or Ted, without the big fights or charged monologues.

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