Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Two very different albums and a podcast that explains the Nielsen ratings

Underworld, Dubnobasswithmyheadman 20th Anniversary Remaster

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Like so many other fans, I was introduced to Underworld via Trainspotting. The group’s “Born Slippy (NUXX)” and “Dark & Long (Dark Train)” featured prominently in the film, which I absolutely loved as an Anglophile teen. But what really got me into Underworld was going back around that time to check out Dubnobasswithmyheadman, a record the group originally released in 1994. It’s sprawling and haunting, with sounds that move back and forth inside good headphones, making listeners simultaneously crazy and entranced. It’s long been one of my favorites, meaning I was pretty stoked when I heard the record was getting a deluxe reissue. The five-CD set not only features a sharply remastered version of the original record, but also remixes, earlier CD singles, previously unreleased recordings, and some live material recorded in 1993. It’s a deep and intimate look at the group’s genesis and development, something that’s especially interesting since it’s still going—in one form or another—even now. [Marah Eakin]

Dads, I’ll Be The Tornado

It’d be easy to dismiss Dads upon first glance. After all, its debut album, American Radass (This Is Important), featured goofy cover art and a handful of in-jokes turned song titles, but, these things aside, it was a record that proved meaty enough to more than make up for any transgressions. In the two years since American Radass’ release, the band has slowly shifted away from jokey album covers and lengthy song titles, a shift in aesthetic that more accurately reflects the band’s music. Though Dads’ core remains the duo of vocalist-drummer John Bradley and guitarist Scott Scharinger, it’s begun welcoming bassist Ryan Azada onstage to help fill out its sound at live shows, an addition that feels all the more necessary given the artistic growth found on Dads’ sophomore album, I’ll Be The Tornado. Taking the best parts of the band’s emo-punk predecessors and synthesizing them into a subtly mature follow-up that proves just as powerful as its debut. From the largely acoustic opener “Grand Edge, MI” to the post-rock indebted closer of “Only You,” Dads works through various modes, showing it can offer breakneck punk songs (“Sunburnt Jet Wings”) and emo sing-alongs (“Chewing Ghosts,” “Fake Knees”) while crafting indie-rock anthems to go alongside them (“Take Back Today”). If Radass was a messy and jubilant ode to youth, then Tornado works as to acknowledge the complexities of the adult world while still having a little fun in the process. [David Anthony]

Nerdist Writers Panel No. 155: Ratings, Recaps, Reviews Panel From ATX

Writer Kyle Killen has gone through the network wringer so many times, he could probably teach a class about the antiquated TV ratings system and why the capricious whims of 25,000 viewers got Lone Star canceled in 2010. And he does just that (sort of) in this installment of Nerdist’s Writers Panel podcast, recorded at the 2014 ATX Television Festival. In the first portion of the episode, Killen explains (in the smartest, most accessible terms I’ve ever heard) where the Nielsen ratings came from, how American viewership is tabulated and quantified, and why there’s not much incentive to change a system that’s been in place since the dawn of television. (Simple answer: Money.) For TV fans trying to decode the Nielsens, it’s a helpful Rosetta stone; for those looking for reasons to tear the ratings system down and start anew, there’s quotable ammunition, too. (“Nielsen is a ruler in a world where we need a microscope,” Killen says of the widening, fracturing world in which even your Playstation is trying to sell you TV content.) The overabundance of the era requires curators, Killen argues, a role bestowed upon the panel of critics (including former A.V. Club TV editor Todd VanDerWerff) whose discussion drives the second half of the episode. But you can hear/read those people forecasting the future of TV any day of the week in multiple places. The real draw here is Killen, whose frankness about and passion for the medium is refreshing—particularly coming from someone who’s been treated so poorly by TV. [Erik Adams]

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