Here is everything I’ve written in March 2018. Boy was it a busy month. I got on my music writing grind and covered a lot of releases I’d been anticipating for a while. I even got to do a song premiere, which was pretty nifty.
I struggle with a lot of slow songs and slower genres but as I’ve listened to more music I’ve found it’s not slow music as much as it is music that doesn’t do much, whether that’s not having any dynamics or movement, not adding in new instruments, or not building up and breaking down. So I wrote about what I think makes a good slow song.
Carpenter Brut is one of Synthwave’s greats so naturally, I had to review his newest album “Leather Teeth”. It’s a short and fun romp that really does sound like it should go with some classic 80’s shlock. It’s cheesy, over the top, and pretty delightful though it goes a bit too wild at points.
In this review, I got to take on a bigger name in rock in form of “Screaming Females”. Overall, the album was good, being both catchy and inventive with regularity. The guitar and vocals on the album were worth listening to for sure but I felt the album went on for too much and could’ve been seriously slimmed down.
Political art can often go awry and read as ham-fisted or poorly done yet when it’s done well it can be so poignant. Meg Remy/US Girls made absolutely masterful political art in form of “In a Poem Unlimited” – a seriously incredible album that shows and doesn’t tell you about the damage of so many political forces Remy does not agree with.
My first song premiere! I wrote about more political art in form of Ben de la Cour’s “Company Town” – a song that surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. De la Cour made a tasteful and thoughtful song about the genuine plight a lot of small-time American farmers and dying American towns face. It’s a classic country – think Johnny Cash or Steve Earle – tune that does its job well.
Back to k-pop! J-hope, a member of one of k-pop’s biggest bands in form of BTS, released a solo album. I felt that there were some standout moments where J-hope showed his skill and his genuine ability to make catchy songs that had an incredible sense of aesthetic that captured his influences well but that the album faltered when it went away from that aesthetic into standard and dull rap tracks.
A long overdue metal review of one of my favorite technical death metal bands, Rivers of Nihil. Their new album was a wild ride, with some truly incredible and awesome tracks that felt like masterpieces of the genre and others that felt boring. The first half did very well and the second half left me wishing it was more like the first.
I reviewed an electronic, chiptune and video game inspired album that left me ultimately very pleased. Despite some isses of cohesion and flow when the album tried to mash together very different styles, I felt this one of the better atmospheric and general electronic albums I’d heard in a while. It was inventive and took on risks in meshing different sub-genres that most electronic artists don’t try to do and don’t do nearly as gracefully and subtly.
Jack White’s new album “Boarding House Reach” brought me back to the days when his music felt fun to me. Jack White’s solo projects seemed lackluster and totally lacking the bite of his old White Stripes and even Raconteurs albums. I was so refreshed by his newest album that I wrote a piece talking about how fun Jack White’s music can be and how the Fun Jack White had returned.
Snail’s House is a super prolific Japanese artist that makes electronic music styled around anime and kawaii (cute) culture. While I think many peers in his genre make lazy music, Snail’s House usually puts out a good effort. His new album definitely had good effort behind it and used great real-world samples and sounds to make a serene winter wonderland.
My March just got a little bit busy and my mind got a little flighty but I didn’t forget the reads posts. Here’s all I’ve done for February 2018. I’m gonna put up the March Reads a little after this and try to be more on top of things come April.
I reviewed Khruangbin’s newest album. Khruangbin is a band like you’ve never heard that makes a unique sound using elements from things you’ve probably heard, like funk and 60’s psychedelic music. Their new album, “Con Todo El Mundo”, has a nice blend of mellow and funky but falters when it mellows out too much.
Rhye’s new album “Blood” is long-awaited and masterfully crafted. It’s emotive, sensual, and interesting throughout mostly due to very smart compositions that build in fluid and complex ways. The album lulls too much at times but mostly sticks to its strengths well.
A rare negative review of mine. AWOLNATION is a pretty bipolar band in general for me and this album was no different. There were tracks I really enjoyed and felt had a White Stripes or The Hives-esque energy to them – fun, short, and driven by a distinct lead rhythm. Yet, more tracks than not were mediocre and phoned-in.
Reviewing “Little Dark Age” was like taking a trip through a distorted version of 80’s pop. Thing is, parts of 80’s pop aren’t that great and MGMT takes those on as well. “Little Dark Age” has the underwhelming ballads of the 80’s as well as its super fun synth melodies. Overall, it’s a super consistent and fun album with a few standout songs.
One of the better compilation albums I’ve heard, “We Out Here” captures the sounds of many of London’s best young jazz bands. The bands all made unique songs for the album so there’s a pleasant cohesion to the album that compilations usually lack. The album blends together very well and because of the distinct sounds each band has it’s an album that stays remarkably fresh.
I reviewed BoA’s new album “One Shot, Two Shot” and felt that it was a very solid k-pop album. It had a few really strong songs and pretty much no bad ones though it didn’t necessarily wow me as a whole product.
I enjoyed BoA’s new music video more than her album. Many k-pop videos focus on youth and making stars look young to a point where it knocks me out of the music. BoA, a 30-year-old musician, acts and looks more her age in her video for “One Shot, Two Shot” and I absolutely loved seeing an older pop star not made to look like she was 18.
“Marbled” was one of my favorite albums I reviewed in 2018. Abhi The Nomad is an indie hip-hop artist with some serious soul and groove, capable of creating great bars that convey some seriously deep sentiment about family, depression, and life in general. While there are times where Abhi gets overly sentimental, the album should get most people moving and thinking.
I’m unconscionably late but I’m still gonna drop everything I’ve written and publicly published (under my name) in December here! The links are the titles and the titles are the links. Check them out if you like. I’d certainly like it if you did!
A review of the last of King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard’s 2017 albums, “Gumboot Soup.” It’s a solid album and something you’ll probably like if you’re a fan of the band but it lacked cohesion and felt ultimately forgettable to me.
Finally, a non-review article. I broke down Korean R&B artist DEAN’s music video and song “Instagram”. I loved this track and this music video and felt it was the perfect example of how to deliver a strong slow-song and how to nail that unique feeling of social media melancholy.
I’m gonna drop everything I’ve written and publicly published (under my name) in December here! The links are the titles and the titles are the links. Check them out if you like. I’d certainly like it if you did!
A review of “The Last Jedi” that explains in detail the movie’s worldbuilding and plot failings that make it a mediocre film even if it is a fun film to watch.
Thanks for reading! This month was a fun one where I got to explore some of my favorite artists’ works, got to write about some of the best music videos I’ve seen in a while, and wrote my first movie review. Happy 2018.
I’m gonna drop everything I’ve written and publicly published (under my name) in November here! The links are the titles and the titles are the links. Check them out if you like. I’d certainly like it if you did!
Metal’s made a name for itself representing the heyday of Norse raiders but the genre’s heavy riffing love goes above and beyond Scandinavia. If your culture has a violent voice buried deep in its past or present, some entrepreneurial metal heads will exhume it up and slap it into an album. Results vary in terms of quality. Recently an excellent subgenre has popped up from the sparse grassroots of the East Asian steppes. Welcome to the fold Mongolian Folk Metal.
Mongolia’s rich roots of conquest and epic raiding of sedentary societies makes it an amazing target for Metal’s Asian storytellers. Pair the slams of a double bass drum and the aggression of snarling guitars with a loud vocalist and you have a method prime to tell stories of plunder and societies torn asunder. It’s no wonder that Metal made its way to Mongolia!
If you want a good glimpse into the novel subgenre, then look first to Ego Fall, Seven Treasures, and Tengger Cavalry. These bands all come from China’s Inner Mongolia province. It aptly raises some eyebrows that the big names in Mongolian Metal come from China. It is hard to tell how big a touching point is it to the musicians. Does talk of appropriation abound, or is that a creative crisis unique to western art? The bands that have a presence outside the strange sheltered Chinese internet stress their Mongolian origin. Tengger Cavalry even speaks up about the things they see battering traditional Mongolian culture in China.
Accepting Mongolian heritage does not negate a Chinese aspect either. For the state and many people living in it, to be Chinese only means to be a citizen of China. One can be Han Chinese (the ethnic majority) or Mongolian Chinese or Tibetan Chinese. The Chinese state includes all ethnicities into one Chinese “family.” In a way America does the same with all its unlikely immigrants. America tries to bind with the hot water of a melting pot and China tries to bind with the blood of kinship. In the end the resident, immigrant, and artist chooses whether to accept that stamp of nationality, put heritage above it, or settle down in the middle ground between the two extremes.
Ego Fall is probably the most identifiably Han Chinese band among the trio, with songs full of Mandarin vocals. However, they still build their sound around Mongolian folk music and metal more than anything else. Ego Fall stands tall as the elder statesmen of this budding subgenre, having played the longest and produced the most of any of the three bands.
Pinning down Ego Fall’s sound in one category is a tough task. Some songs like “Legend,” and many others off their album Inner M constantly employ Mongolian traits such as the recognizable overtone throat singing as well as the incredibly bouncy twang of the horse-head fiddle. “The Horn Starts” also features whole verses of Mongolian throat singing matched with heavy guitar riffs.
In Spirit of Mongolia Ego Fall buck the folk trend and root themselves more firmly in heavy metal territory, with deep screeching vocals and damn near heavy everything. Songs like “The Rule in Troubled Times” create an odd take on a traditional folksy style of beat by recreating it with synthesizers. Other songs like “Iron Horseshoe” break from metal to return to Mongolian folk styling paired up electronically to sound a lot like hard rock.
Ego Fall keeps things interesting between every song by making it hard to guess what they’ll do next. That wildness can also make it harder to fall in love with the band due to some of its stranger shifts. If they settle into a groove you love, you’ll never know how long they’ll stay there. Furthermore, electric guitars dominate Ego Fall’s instrumentation, so when the folksy Mongolian elements fall out their music sounds a bit stale.
Nine Treasures sticks to a more consistent style and sometimes sounds more parts hard rock than metal. The singer fluctuates between rhythmic talking and deep throat singing, but never losing grip of his characteristic low, growling vocals. Like Ego Fall, Nine Treasures relies a lot on strings, but more those of folk instruments than guitars. “Sonsii” demonstrates how Nine Treasures songs play a bit like ACDC style rock anthems with lots of rising and falling action set to simple but powerful melodies. While their style can sometimes want for more, they do a great job of making songs that fit the image of hordes of horsemen galloping across endless grassy plains and incorporating folk instruments in a way that makes the Mongolian folk element more than a quick gimmick.
If Ego Fall sits like a great khan on this genre, then Tengger Cavalry is the true challenger rising up to take the kingdom. Tengger Cavalry formed in 2010 and has since hit the studio hard. The band instantly opened with an EP, then in 2011 produced their first full album, signed with an international label in 2012 to get the album out to western audiences, and then made two more albums by 2014. Their newest album came storming in less than a month ago.
Led by a man named Nature Ganganbaigal (Tianran Zhang), this band of all Mongolian artists does not have a weak song. Each album takes on a different sound that still stays identifiably Tengger. Folk instruments ride wild side by side super heavy pulsating double bass drum beats and distorted guitars.
Songs like “Hymn of The Wolf” and “Hero” blend in Mongolian elements so well that you could have sworn Metal was meant to have them. Other songs like “Legend On Horseback” rely much more on the folk elements. The violent reverb of electronic distortion becomes scenic background noise to the folk instruments, until the guitar solos take the song back over. “The Wolf Ritual” pits the stretched and sonorous sounds of traditional strings against the choppy and heavy blare of electric guitar. Old and new battle it out in a duel of string solos that evolves throughout the song until both styles blend seamlessly together for the finale.
In every song, Tengger’s exceptional mixing puts the band over the edge. Ganganbaigal worked extensively as a soundtrack composer, and his ability shows in the way he mixes the sounds of each song. The folk instruments never get drowned out, but they never sound artificially loud. For such a young act Tengger’s almost unbelievable sound quality sets a bar for Metal as a whole. Every note resonates. What’s more, they release albums almost annually and just put out their newest work Blood Sacrifice Shaman, which measures up easily with the rest of Tengger Cavalry’s discography.
For those inclined to the clean and craftily composed, ride into battle with Tengger’s curated sound ringing through your ears. If you love anthem rock, ally with Nine Treasures. For those obsessed with the distortive elements of Metal, follow the Ego Fall horde. If you can, check out all three! One day they may stand as legends in an even more fleshed out subgenre. In some distant dawn, these sweeping steppe melodies may run over the rest of the world! Tengger Cavalry has already taken the first step with international releases and lighthearted social media pages.
~Austin R Ryan
P.S. – If you are interested in hearing more Mongolian music with excellent mixing and sound, see Nature Ganganbaigal’s recently made label, Khulug Music. If you are interested in learning about all sorts of excellent music check out WVAU – the site that originally published this piece and many better ones!
At last we entered the final area, a little square enclosed by different buildings. Each one was somewhat squat, no more than one or two stories tall, with grey shingles. Everything looked almost stylized to the imagination of an Eastern temple. Out there in the cold near all the monks in red, it all felt very real regardless. The monks eyed us and we them, standing as strangers barred by language from a straight connection. Even if we had the tongue to tie our two groups together it would have been an entirely higher level of courage to break the ice. It was nothing particular about Tibetan monks. In the majority of temples we went to the monks did their own thing and let everyone else do theirs.
The tour guide told us to sheath our cameras at this point. In a certain area we could take pictures of monks, buildings, whatever else. Inside buildings and deeper within the monastery, they disallowed photography. I felt somewhat glad for it. Pictures help with capturing and keeping a moment but not necessarily for enjoying it. It is a tricky tradeoff where I remember less of what I could not take a camera to, but absorbed more of it at the time. At this point we entered the Grand Golden Tile Hall. Here and in the Potala Palace we got cut off from our cameras and it made the dimly light and sublimely colored Tibetan tapestries come alive.
The bright and glaring sunlight made its exit and only gentle lamplight wore on our eyes now. The intricacy of the tapestries and the cloth covering the hallways was so intense that it felt overwhelming to try and take it all in at once. All the complex interweaving patterns created a sense of what the world’s cosmological phenomenon might look like. Pockets of well-organized tomes stood not far off either, sparking off endless thoughts on what they contained. Wild parts of my mind flirted with ill formed ideas of tantric secrets, but it was more likely the scrolls contained sutras and religious history.
Eventually we came to the large golden statue of Tsongkhapa himself, the man whose spiritual deeds sparked such grandeur. The golden statue itself was beautiful and awe inspiring in its own right, but the atmosphere meant everything here. A church inspires with ceilings that stretch on endlessly high, and cavernous expanses allowing all a seat. Kumbum felt small, but personal. The hallways were spacious enough, but crowded with so many banners and colors showered in dark light that in some way it felt packed and expansive at the same time. In this area we saw more monks and visitors giving offerings and sitting before the statue of Tsongkhapa. The holiness of the area radiated in a way I can only imagine Notre Dame or the Sistine Chapel or the Hagia Sophia might.
A dear friend I had made on the trip remarked to me how incredible the experience felt to him. He called it one of the most intense experiences he had. I had to agree, and felt good doing so since I heavily pumped up Kumbum to him while we explored Xining. I try to keep a healthy balance between cynicism and romanticism, to not to get swept up into breaking things down into nothing or building them up so they become everything.
Yet, Kumbum deserved respect and absolutely should radiate holiness and awe even by objective standards. Kumbum is one of the oldest religious institutions in Tibet and second in importance only to Lhasa. It should inspire in the way Notre Dame might. Centuries of tribute and donation from a mostly poor peoples, centuries of elite support, centuries of a good section of many people’s resources funneled into this site.
The result was sublime. As we loaded back on the bus, I felt enlightened by an understanding of how so many people could give so much of what little they had to a venture that never paid them back materially. Grandeur and awe incite such a flood of emotions that they become a payment all their own. As I reflect, it is not so unlike the sky scraping buildings of New York or the terrifying obelisk we dedicate to George Washington.
Nation means nothing on its own, and neither does Capitalism, but seeing all that steel and all that marble help me admonish these ideas. The abstraction springs to life in form of the finest construction people can manage. Incredible skylines remind us of how far we have come. Named after businesses, they make remarks on what might have got us there, or at least paid for the construction. Marble monuments that seat Lincoln like Zeus in a hallowed hall solidifies America into a material realm. In Tibet the grandeur of golden Tsongkhapa does not seem so different, bringing to life an abstract idea of this man become sacred symbol.
The thought makes me feel so close to so many far places but so grounded in my home. I could understand the motives and sentiments of almost any monument, but the true meaning is different. My fingers might grasp at the meaning of monuments, but I wondered how much I could ever close in on it without living in the society that made them. I still wonder if I can only properly feel the full cultural pull of the National Mall.
Before boarding the train to Lhasa and the Tibetan Autonomous Region proper, we had to see Kumbum Monastery. Kumbum provided the first real glimpse into the traditional Tibetan culture and religion that all of us had heard so much about.
Few places matter more to the Yellow Hat or Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism than Kumbum Monastery. Voices in media often speak of Tibet as one entity held tight by one faith. The reality has a few more grits to sort through. Tibet once had heavier pagan or shamanistic beliefs but these seriously started to lose prominence when one of Tibet’s great dynastic kings, Songtsen Ghampo took over. Songtsen was no small talent, quickly taking control of much of the Tibetan plateau and patronizing the region’s early Buddhism. Eventually he would even rout the forces of the Tang Dynasty.
Later on the Bon faith would arise in contrast of Buddhism, though it could never get quite as hard a hold. Tibetan Buddhists themselves could not quite agree on everything and splintered into several sects that rose and fall. The Dalai Lamas and the Gelug School now iconic across all the world started up in the 14th century with Tsongkhapa and a small town outside Xining that would become Kumbum Monastery.
Our bus wheeled up to the outer wall of Kumbum early in the day, just as it opened. We had all layered up but the cold winter morning could cut through any number of layers. The whole place was quiet except for us shivering and chattering. For a while everyone just stood outside, waiting for a signal from our guide to head in.
An eager salesman with a plucky grin spotted us. He had the reigns of a shaggy white pony in his hands and offered rides for anyone willing to pay. None of us were much pliable to the offer, though. As tourists we likely disappointed, not buying from the stands of handcrafted goods outside or opting in on pony rides. Most of us were saving up for Lhasa, a place bubbling with commerce and worship.
Aside from our group Kumbum did not have so wide an audience this early in the morning. A Tibetan woman and her kid came walking in with us and there were a few other folks scattered about. I do not doubt that, come a little later time, the place would get a bit more active. Still, Kumbum was a monastery slightly removed from the really big population center, so it may never have had so many worshipers as monks.
The sparseness of the monastery added to it anyways, at least for a visitor from far off. Generic holiness as I knew it always had this idea of solitude surrounding it. Generic holiness shows itself in form of a person alone in a church atoning, like in the movies. Yet if there was anything that the Yonghegong monastery in Beijing and my sometimes unstable routine of bible study taught me, it’s that faith and religion come alive when people come together underneath it. The people make the faith as much faith makes the people. That dialogue with an idea of something holy or unworldly good was always what gripped me.
Still, Kumbum easily shined through the biting morning cold and everything else that kept attendance away did not mean much. The monastery gradually wove upward into the side of slightly sloping mountain. The sharp red, gold and greens burst to life in the sunlight and from that moment I could feel myself romanticizing everything. I fought against that urge. I love the romantic but it can really run against you if you really want to grip something.
Red arches welcomed us into the monastic compound. Our long linger in the cold came to an end with a row of white stupas topped with colorful spirals at their tops and intricate colored patterns at the bottom. Each stupa represented a different part of the Buddha, Shakyamuni’s life and teachings. The sun shined down and the tour guide led us further in. First we visited a few rooms on the outside of the complex, shrines to various religious figures. We could not take pictures inside and unfortunately my memory cannot hold all the specific images. Still, the colors in all the temples, the deep reds and oranges stitched into so much incredible quilt work, and the glimmering gold of mighty statues has not left me. Rather, the colors just bleed into a mess of mixed images that won’t separate for all my pulling at them.
We walked through the thick and brilliantly colored cloth that covered the thresholds of some of the shrines and dropped small donations as we went. Sometimes we got shawls in payment for a donation. They feel thin to the hand and would not combat the cold, but they have beautiful color and decoration. They came with a meaning too, red for passion and love, orange for prosperity, and so on. Even with the meaning attached the shawls reminded me that I was as strange as a person could be to this place, separated by layers of culture thicker than a thousand of these shawls.
The tour guide showed us complex statues made from Yak butter, and important offer given to Tibetan temples and monasteries, before we walked off the beaten path to somewhere deeper in. Along the route we ran across some monks making their way into the main complex where we would soon be. They worse Nikes and eagerly eyed their smart phones.
It might seem a sharp contrast, but Buddhism and Capitalism do not often clash so much. Even before capitalism ever came about, any religious order needed money and resource to stay alive. Often those resources had to come from the surrounding towns, the monks and abbots too busy with holy scripture, prayer or meditation to manage all on their own. So monks in many places lived as a privileged class funded through heavy donation.
My father never pushed Buddhism very hard on any of us, but he had demystified it for me. Buddha does not wipe away the little terrors people feel. Even monks stay human, eating human food, finding human shelter, at least until the accounts say they burst into clouds of lotus flowers. Like any religion Buddhism could coexist alongside anything from something as small as smartphones or as sinister as fanatical violence. I was glad to see monks in Nike’s as another reminder to not fetishize faith.
Facebook is not a social media site, it is a battlefield. Socialization is not a fun diversion, it is a competition that you must win at every stage of your life until you are number one, the Caesar Augustus etching the name of your foes onto the proscription list. Perhaps you feel frightened to stride straight into the forum and slap down the stickers that will rile up your rowdy allies into seating you in the Senate. Well no worries friend, I am here to guide you with a comprehensive Facebook sticker/emoji set tier list! All I ask is that when you are on the very tip top of the ladder you look back down to me and say, “yes you did me a mighty kindness, I will pull your name from the list silently in the night even if you have wronged my allies.”
How does this list work? I have split all the emoji sets I could find into 6 tiers, the top tiers appearing first and the worst tiers appearing last. This way the tiers go from high as heaven to low as hell. Where will you place yourself? The ranking itself is a strict science! I consult the top Meme Scientists about my lists and they all say my lists are A-Okay. Do not ask me for the contact information of the Meme Scientists or I will ban you.
The ranking works off of three primary categories: depth of responses, art style, and true meme spirit. Depth of responses indicates how many emotions and situations the sticker set can cover. It is very important that you are ready for absolutely anything anyone can throw at you, so the sticker sets must have much depth as to speak on nearly every worldly issue and maybe some otherworldly ones too. Art style simply alludes to how striking, unique, and well-crafted the art of the stickers are. True meme spirit truly escapes all human touch. One cannot simply speak of it or even think of it. True meme spirit comes when memes master propriety with divinity, when stickers walk the path but leave no footsteps, when the emojis clap but stir not a sound, when they do all with dankness.
This list cannot explain life’s mysteries, like why it is called the Facebook Sticker Store when everything in it is free? Why doesn’t the Sticker Store have a search function? Why do the sticker sets seem completely randomly sorted? This list may not answer these questions, but it will guide you straight to the top.
God of Memes Tier:
Power Rangers, Sports Talk, Sinister Oyster, Business Fish, HamCat, MiM+, Tuzki+
Mememaster General Tier:
Text Talk, MiM, Hamilton, Regular Show, Bun, Pusheen, Mr. Baldy & Friends, Cece, The Dam Keeper, Banana, Skullington, Tuzki, Blue Cat, NuaNia , Beast, Oakley, Chumbak, Biscuit, Unchi & Rollie, Mikey
Chase the Horizon to Danker Memes Tier:
Napoli, Hatch, Baach, Dia de los Muertoons, Yes We Code, Boo and Buddy, Dance Party, Masked Wrestler Q, Bee & Pupppycat, Eagle & Snake, Say Thanks, Sugar Cubs, Yuttari Dragon, Hello Kitty, Mockingjay Part 1, Kinokoko, Yarukizero, Piyomaru, The Expendables 3, Prickly Pear, Stella Supernova, U.S. Soccer, Dweores, Facebook Foxes, Gumball, Mostropi, Bigs and Yeti, Anooki, Pandadog & Friends, Despicable Me 2
Adventure Time, Meep, Super Tiny, Friendship, Love is in the Air and other emotion based sets, The Pixar Pack, Hacker Girl, Hacker Boy, Hacker anything else, Naughty Foods, Carnival, Meow Town, Rose, Tigerbell, Nyanchi, Paul Frank, First Mate, Happy Go Lucky, Soccer!, Ref, Opi, Sunny Eggy,Ya-Ya, Free Birds, Koko, Snoopy’s Moods, Cut the Rope, Kukuxumusu, Candy Crush, Plum
Tanuki, Lunar New Year, Mugsy In Love, Biscuit in Love, Taz, Shaun the Sheep, Snoopy’s Harvest, Mango, Home for the Holidays, Wide Eyes, Part Fowls, Momo, Soccer Scarves, Ruby, On the Move, Pride, Cutie Pets, LEGO Minifigures, Likes, Fat Rabbit Farm,
Father, Forgive Them, For They Do Not Know Not What They Are Memeing Tier:
Year of the Horse, Finch, Bigli Migli, 1600 Pandas Tour 1 and 2, Waddles Winter, The Boxtrolls, Heromals, Peabody & Sherman
God of Memes Tier:
Imagine the number one supreme sports fan, the True Sports. For me this being is loud like the trumpets at a thousand jazz festivals yet speaking in a strange ancient language of furious airhorns and Darude Sandstorm and Alternative Rock and Gary Glitter and arcane gesticulation. This being has much flesh, seas of very shaky flesh, but absolutely no shirt for the colors and numbers of the being’s most admired sportsmen must adorn its multitudinous form. The true sports fan knows no other team as rival for all teams other than the home team cause this being great rage. Its mighty jowls quake, emitting the blast of airhorns like so many blasts of bees and the spray of nacho cheese like fiery geisers and bits of chips like molten rock at the mention of any team aside the one it favors.
The fan is the alpha and the omega, the yeller of praise and the thrower of batteries, the author of defenses and death threats, the starter of parades and riots. Some may call it male or female, but I believe it genderless with only the team’s decal brandishing the light of suns, the light and heat that gives galaxies life, where gentalia would be. Can you picture the Sports, the True Sports? The True Sports uses Sports Talk for sure. It loves this emoji set, and so do I. It covers a lot of bases and emotions and has a pleasant art style! The True Sports coddles this emoji set as it were a child, for it sees in the images the faint traces of itself, so I too adore it.
This emoji set has everything you could want. It covers the basic emotions with ease, it reaches out to the more complex topics and responses too. Power Rangers will give you an answer to any question or comment a friend can dish out so that ultimately you can triumph over them in conversation as the Power Rangers triumph over evildoers. The art in the set is pretty nice too and comes together in a style that surprisingly pleases the eye and captures the goofiness that a Power Ranger based emoji set should have. Besides all that, the Make My Monsters Grow emoji is the unstoppable hero facebook deserves and needs.
I do not understand how the hell a designer sorts emojis and what limitations they face, but clearly the will of heaven mandates that some sets must be divided. When most sets divide it’s to create a themed “X in love” kind of thing that just looks plain awful. How many different saccharine, heart based emojis do you need? MiM and Tuzki do not phone in their extra emojis as they easily could, they go the extra mile to make every set great. Any MiM and Tuzki set can stand on its own, but if you took them all together you’d be set to meme your friends freshly straight up to your deathbed. Once there, your friends would remember how heartily you memed and come to your funeral and weep copiously. Your funeral would have much screaming and your ancestors would be very proud.
Sinister Oyster, Business Fish, Ham Cat:
These three all forge unique sets of emojis that can speak to most situations that you would need to reply to. They have wonky and fun art styles that will impress your friends into saying, “wow I bet this friend of mine reads the New Yorker sometimes and does not spend their entire weekend on children’s cartoon based playbuzz quizzes” silently to themselves as they communicate to you.
Mememaster General Tier:
When I first saw Text Talk my mind flooded with violent visions of high school. Then I started to use Text Talk, and it actually covers most bases you’d need in facebook conversations. What’s even better, it embraces what it is with just a tiny touch of irony, overdoing everything with huge bubble letters and polka dots and strange nearly neon colors that occur more in Mountain Dew factories than nature. Overall it’s pretty damn fantastic because it captures the spirit behind the stereotypical valley girl who gleefully abuses texting abbreviations until indeed the neon and the polka dots stick to her words. This girl does not really exist, we have manufactured her as a lesson to strike fear into those who overmeme, and to limit humanity’s hubris so that memes may take our languages and senses but never our souls.
What a fun set this one is! Cece has much life and spirit painted with an interesting and fun art style. Cece can apply to many interactions that you may need to respond to. If perhaps you work in a casual office environment you can respond to your boss using a Cece sticker and your boss will say, “What a spark plug it is that works here! They have much spunk and this is good for our profits, I will give them many promotions so they will hopefully stay here.” If your work environment is perhaps more formal, do not send emojis to your boss unless maybe it is businessfish.
This fun and pleasant gorilla will impress many of your friends. However it may offend some of your friends that have been mauled by wild, rampaging gorillas that have escaped from the zoo so please be considerate! I am sick of these phantom pains…
A fun and bouncy bunny that makes many ugly faces. The scrunchy bunny is the best. The scrunchy bunny is too good. It describes much of the strange twisting awkwardness found in every corner of modern systems doing their best to manage hordes of very frustrated people. No other bun can live up to the scrunchy bun so why bother to do anything with this emoji set than spam the scrunchy bun?
I like Mr. Baldy’s strange, fleshy head and the weird discolored monsters that haunt him in the merriest of ways. Good art, good depth of responses, strong emoji set all around!
The Dam Keeper:
What this emoji set lacks in depth of responses it makes up for in unique and interesting art style. No emoji set is quite like this one. However, it is not clear why it is called the dam keeper. There are no images of dams. What kind of place makes a pig in charge of a dam? Would this not be the job of a beaver? Apparently a short film inspired these images but knowing this does not ease the burden on my mind. Why do we have emoji sets based on short, critically acclaimed, animated films? Have we gone too far? These questions plague my dreams.
MiM and Tuzki:
What excellent memeing can be done just with these two sets! Tuzki and Mim contain truly fun moving images to impress your friends and make them say such things as “wow” and “tubular” and “haha yes I do find this quite funny enough to make me laugh out loud.” The original sets alone lack the depth of responses to carry you through literally every foreseeable interaction. If you lust to meme like a heavenly being than you must incorporate their additional sets as well.
Truly one of the most baffling image sets on the internet. Does this belong in meme hell or meme heaven? The art is basic and the eyes are soulless, but at times it is so indulgent in glossy and overdone effects that it seems a poignant parody of itself. Besides that it has so much raw content that you could probably respond to damn near anything with just the one image set. Ultimately Blue Cat is strange and may give you sleepless nights, but if you harness its potentially maligned energies you may be able to wreak havoc on those around you.
The classic meme cat bounces jubilantly up and down on Facebook. It shares with you its mirthful, pudgy body. Use that body to express emotion to your friends, but just remember that while this meme has aged well, it is aged and will surprise few people.
Chase the Horizon to Danker Memes Tier:
Masked Wrestler Q:
it pains me to put the masked wrestler so low, for there are few that use this set more than I. However I have to admit that it lacks the raw content, the sheer number of relevant emojis to set you up or success in every interaction. At times this emoji set will leave you woefully undermanned, but the emotions it can express it expresses very well and with the vigor of a masked wrestler.
Yes We Code:
One of the few sets to really rock the vintage signage style to full effect. It can answer most of your friends’ responses in a creative and clever way, very solid overall though perhaps not explosive enough to wow anyone. Perhaps if you travel heavily in computer science and web design circles this image set will prove very relevant to your life and become more than memes, but in fact a fast friend for you.
If you are looking for emojis to express your love for hallmark card style greetings then this is the set for you. Even though the style is super corny and sometimes a bit too goofy, I really gotta give it to this set. It thought of just about every way to say thank you and put them all into an emoji set. Godspeed you thankful bastards!
Boo and Buddy:
This lil’ pup nearly ended up in meme hell, but as I employed these small poofy animals in daily conversation I truly was wowed by its utility. The set covers most of your emotional bases, and does so with the flippant irony that can be read into this small fluffy animal with squiggly lines drawn on its face.
A surprisingly complete set of emojis. It will do you well and stand loyally by you but it may not impress your associates. It is a fine set, but a simple set. Ultimately Sport Talk outshines it, but if you reject any Sport but European Ball Kick then maybe this is the set for you. I, for one, will stick with Sport Talk since it includes American Diamond Ball Toss, Ice Stick Combat, Advanced Statistics Wood Bat Ball Hit and even Old Man Pebble Strike.
Napoli, Hatch, Baach, etc:
These kind of emojis have solid art styles that distinguish them and bring out the fun expressions of the animals that should represent the equally fun expressions behind the words you type. They have a pretty wide range of emotions and events. Overall, they are fine, but sets like Hamilton, Business Fish and Hamcat do the same but with more distinct art styles that bring such fun to your expressions that your friends may even feel disappointed when speaking with you in real life for you lack the strong body language of business fish.
I would put this in the MehMeh tier because there’s only so much these animated dances can express, but I really like the headbang one and the twerk one.
I too love and worship the vibrant colors of the TV as it plays this my favorite cartoon show. However, these emojis have not the zest and personality of their original medium. Sure, your friends will laugh heartily when you drop that weird Lemongrab emoji, and how they might delight in seeing the Jake-Finn fist pound, but the static pictures of the cast come with few words. This set alone will not carry you through the treacherous waters of Facebook socializing.
If you talk with a lot of very old people on facebook they may find these emojis very impressive, but then they will definitely ask you for help closing internet explorer. Then what will you do? Talk your way out of it with hacker girl stickers? Fat chance.
The Pixar Pack:
You tried, Pixar, but did you really try hard? Yes these are your characters but they do little as to relate themselves to my emotion. How am I supposed to express the raw fury that wells up inside me when something tiny goes wrong during my interaction with a piece of technology or when I face one of the many bureaucracies that subtly rule my existence? I have no room to truly feel if I use this set of stickers and so I must cast them aside. Good job on the movies though! Those are great.
Friendship and other emotion based sets:
Facebook amalgamates the stickers that express similar things like love or friendship in form of one great sticker conglomerate. I won’t deny it; you will command an almost sickening mastery over certain narrow situations with these stickers. However if you use only the love set or the friendship set you’ll end up unprepared for expressing something as simple as feeling hungry for eating too little and then immediately after feeling bloated for eating too much. If you use many of them in tandem, as to cover all your bases, you will be like the person bringing grocery store brownies to the party. Ultimately everyone’s fine with it, but something you made yourself has more heart.
These stickers have a pretty rad and unique art style. They look like logos come to life to duel the players themselves in European Ball Kick. Perhaps when they win the big European Ball Kick against a team of the best Ball Kickers from all of the world’s countries we will learn their true motivations. Until then, no doubt their goals will remain murky to us. Regardless of all that, these stickers can only help you express ways in which you kick the European Checker Ball so it’s only alright.
Get this weaboo nonsense out of my face.
The emojis don’t look that bad, and I like how raucous the jumping faces of these European Ball Kick fans look. However, these scarves can’t possibly serve that much purpose. Why would you need a visual representation of a howling, scarf wielding fan from every country with a world cup team? This seems copious.
Shaun the Sheep:
We all like Wallace and Gromit and whatever Claymation masterpieces the directors of it make, but let’s not push it. This is too much. This is decadent and we do not need it. Even if we did need it, the jarring images of this emoji set do no honor to Shaun the Sheep.
Lunar New Year:
The art is pretty cool, and it acknowledged the proper zodiac animal. Yet, I cannot imagine that this emoji set has much use outside of actually talking about the Lunar New Year. If you find yourself having many conversations over the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival or zodiac signs than maybe this is for you. Otherwise there are probably better emoji sets out there.
Mugsy in love, Biscuit in love:
Biscuit and Mugsy did not need these extra emoji sets, the originals were fine. These emojis will not shame your family, but your friends may reasonably ask you why you need to have 15 different dog emojis to express romantic inclination and will you honestly have a proper response ready for them, outside of spamming scrunchy bun?
Father, Forgive Them, For They Do Not Know Not What They Are Memeing Tier:
I do not know what these disgusting mammals are supposed to be. I do not understand them and I do not like them. Please do not send them to your friends.
Year of the Horse:
What the hell are you doing still using this? Do you want bad fortune to come upon your house and hearth? Do not tempt fate, it is a wily snake and the grass and you cannot will it into your basket. Switch to a goat/sheep related emoji set before it is too late for you.
1600 Pandas Tour 2:
I do not think that the first set could do much to justify the second. These stickers try to profit off of the ageless panda-monium sweeping the world, but staring into the bizarrely pupil-less eyes of these strange sticker, you can see they have no soul. They lack any sort of interesting design or expression. Their shaky borders make it seem like they could vibrate out of existence at any moment. Judging by their soulless eyes, they would take your humanity with them as they disappeared.
This set looks like those smiley advertisements on old flashplayer websites with amusing animated shorts. When I accidentally moused over those ads they said “HELLO???” in a loud and jarring way. Those ads frustrated me to no end and so does Finch. At best this set is a poor man’s Meep and everything in the sticker store is free, so don’t settle.
What a confounding thing Bigli Migli is. Why does every emoji relate to love? Why do none of them have mouths, making them look bland and expressionless? Why are their bodies and heads lumpy, shapeless white forms? Who named these things Bigli and Migli? You will find none of these answers starting into the empty face of Bigli Migli. You will only find suffering, very bland and quiet suffering.
Peabody & Sherman:
This emoji set appears next to the idiomatic dictionary’s definition of “phoning it in.”
[If it isn’t clear by now, this article is satire. These rankings are mostly arbitrary, written in jest, and whatever stickers you use are probably fine. Social media is not a battlefield where the most epic of memers triumph. At least not yet…
I recently wrote another article for WVAU.org about Japanese music. Some tremendous music has come out of Japan recently, ranging from Metal to Post-Rock. I try to display the sound and the story of each band I talk about. If you have an interest in Japan, or in Music, check it out!
Normally I would post the full article here, but I am a bit pressed for time, and I do not think I can come close to WVAU’s standard for website design and article presentation.