Fear Inoculum, Surviving Confession, and More!

Rebecca (Rachel Bloom) holds a plant with a forced smile on her face

Welcome to What’s the Buzz, where members of our staff provide you with recommendations on a weekly basis. This week’s entries come from: Caemeron Crain, Abbie Sears, Don Shanahan, and John Bernardy.

Caemeron: I mentioned last week that Tool had officially announced the name of their new album, Fear Inoculum, and released all of their old music on streaming platforms. I was excited. But had I known that they were going to release the title track of that album this week, I might have held off.

“Fear Inoculum” was released on Wednesday (August 7th), and I of course came home from work and proceeded to listen to it approximately ten times (maybe more?).

The song clocks in at just over ten minutes, but despite that and the difficulty of Tool’s music, it currently has a little more than three and a half million views on YouTube (and this is just audio, though there is a pretty cool pic in the background).

So perhaps you don’t need me to tell you about the new Tool song, but I’m going to anyway. They are my favorite band, after all, and it has been 13 years…

My first reaction was that “Fear Inoculum” could have fit perfectly well on 10,000 Days, as various riffs remind me of that album, or even also of “Lateralus” (the song more than the album).

I could try to go through and talk about how this or that moment reminds me of this or that previous song, but I don’t think that’s really worth doing.

Part of this impression is that Danny Carey now has those electronic tabla as a part of his insane drum kit, and part of this is just Tool continuing to be Tool. The riffs aren’t exactly the same, after all. It’s just that Tool’s sound has meaningfully evolved from Opiate to Undertow to Anima to Lateralus to 10,000 Days, and there is a way in which “Fear Inoculum” instead feels like it is “just” more Tool.

We should be fine with that, however, and I certainly am. This song is great. But I also realized, after a couple of listens, that there was something else going on in my experience: I think this sounds like a Tool song, but with A Perfect Circle vocals.

Of course it is Maynard James Keenan singing in both bands, so this might be a weird thing to say, but there have tended to be some stylistic differences, as hard as those might be to pin down. I wonder if others share, or understand, my thought here.

This is not at all to demean “Fear Inoculum.” I love it. And I love A Perfect Circle, and also Puscifer—it’s just that Maynard’s vocal style with each of the three has seemed meaningfully different. And the style here seems “softer” than we’ve tended to get with Tool—more melodic and drawn out. It’s more like “Disillusioned” than it is like “Vicarious,” “Wings for Marie,” “Lateralus,”  “Jimmy,” or “.”

I wonder if that will hold for the album as a whole, or if it is just a matter of this one track. Honestly, I’m fine with it either way. I love all of Maynard’s projects, so the idea of Tool but with APC vocals is perfectly fine by me.

All we can do is speculate on that question until August 30th, but the lyrics to “Fear Inoculum” might provide some clue:

Immunity long overdue
Contagion I exhale you
Lying I opened up to you
Venom in mania

Now, contagion I exhale you

The deceiver he says you belong to me
You don’t want to breathe the light of the others
Fear the light
Fear the breathe
Fear the others for eternity
But I hear them now inhale the clarity
Hear the venom, the venom in what you say — inoculated
Bless this immunity
Bless this immunity
Bless this immunity

Exhale, expel
Recast my tale
Weave my allegorical elegy

All that I’m to do
Calculating steps away from you
My own mitosis
Growing through delusion from mania

Exhale, expel
Recast my tale with my allegorical elegy

Forfeit all control
You poison
You spectacle

Exorcise the spectacle
Exorcise the malady
Exorcise the disparate
Poison for eternity
Purge me and evacuate
The venom and the fear that binds me

Unveil now
Lift away
I see you running
Deceiver chased away
A long time coming

The contagion that he is referring to here is clearly fear. Look at the title of the song, and the album: Fear Inoculum. If it’s an inoculum, it would be to protect one from fear. That’s the mania, and the poison. The question is what can inoculate us from it?

The song doesn’t really answer this question, but Maynard’s lyrics do suggest that the fear is based on a lie: “The deceiver says that you belong to me.” And it further suggests something about the causes.

I’m reminded of Puscifer’s “The Remedy” but here instead of just declaiming against trolls and asking if they have ever been smacked in the fucking mouth, Maynard seems to suggest that it is fear that underlies their tendencies.

It’s fear that makes you attack people online, or be a misogynist dickhead, or shoot people up. Afraid of the Other (the disparate), one seeks out the spectacle. Exhale…expel…exorcise all of that shit.

But it’s also fear as I react: my fear of the asshole with a gun out to kill people, or my fear of Mitch McConnell, that creates a certain venom in me. It’s a reaction, perhaps, but it is still there—this poison that harms me more than them, as I start to think that the world is fucked, and lash out because of it.

“Exhale…Expel… Recast my tale with my allegorical elegy.”

It’s the fear that is dead. It was based on a lie. The deceiver wants us to believe that people are terrible, but in fact they are fundamentally all pretty alright. They might have some fucked up views on some things, but there really isn’t really a reason to fear the most of them: they are just people trying to get by in the world.

Fear is the poison. Exorcise it. And then view the world in those terms: enumerate all that you’re to do.

If that is the message of this song, and it holds to the album of the same name (Fear Inoculum) I wonder what we might be in for. It seems like it could be a Tool album without the hatred, without the anger—without the fear—if Maynard is taking this kind of position.

So maybe no “Ticks and Leeches” or “Aenima” on this one. We’ll see. Regardless, I am excited enough that I’ve pre-ordered the CD even though it costs $45.

In fairness, that apparently includes a 36-page booklet and a little video screen that is supposed to provide exclusive content. I presume that shit will end up online within about a day, but it would be cool if it didn’t. If Tool somehow took extreme measures on that front, I’d be on board. Or if everyone who shills out that money were to somehow agree that this is for us only, I’d be impressed. But I don’t expect that.

One way or another, look for Fear Inoculum on August 30th.

Abbie: So since Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ended in April, we as fans have morphed into the hamsters in a cage that we once sang about, waiting and hoping for any kernel of content from Rachel and the entirety of the cast. We have been re-watching, analysing, questioning Rachel on social media, and sharing cast member Instagram stories with each other because we are desperate to see something new from our family.

Well, this week we were given the greatest gift of all: a new music video.

This song takes you right back to a middle-school disco and a video plastered with neon colors featured on dark backgrounds and emojis and stickers that appeal to your inner 11 year old. The lyrics to this new song entitled ‘I’m so happy 4 u’ are completely drenched in denial and sarcasm, which is a Season 1/Season 2 Rebecca Bunch staple. But I do think this might have had some impact on the song being cut from the show originally, because by Season 4 Episode 5, even if she doesn’t see it, Rebecca’s road to self discovery has already started, and including this song may have been taking a couple of steps back.

On the same day as the release, yet another gift was sent from the heavens (is this Christmas?) The Season 4 official soundtrack dropped, and I couldn’t be happier about this. The Crazy Ex-Girlfriend soundtracks are my go to albums for any occasion, and is any fan who hasn’t sang ‘Getting Bi’ as loud as they could while jumping up and down in their kitchen really a fan? With the Season 4 soundtrack we get some of my favourites, including ‘What U Missed While U Were Popular,’ ‘I Hate Everything But You,’ ‘Anti-Depressants Are So Not a Big Deal,’ and the song that returned my beloved Greg to me ‘Hello, Nice To Meet You.’

The album is everything we have been waiting for and as Crazy Ex-Girlfriend soundtracks do, it ends with recordings of original song drafts from the work room and even some magical instrumentals from the show. It’s so heartbreaking that my favourite show has come to an end but I hold on to the fact that I know it means just as much to the cast and the creators as it does to us, that is something really special. This is the last album release there will probably ever be, but there’s always hope for an extra cut-song that’s being stored away in a closet somewhere, right?

If you haven’t seen Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, you should really start it now. It’s all available on Netflix and when you fall for a show like this, you enter a community that will always understand you. If you are already a fan, get the album on Spotify or iTunes. It’s so worth it to relive the show through music any time you want to.

Don: I don’t know how many Catholics are walking through this movie classroom, but if your impression of the holy sacrament of reconciliation looks and sounds like Steven Colbert’s “Midnight Confessions” bit on The Late Show, you are not all that far off according to Surviving Confession from director Matthew Tibbenham. There is a peculiar yet fascinating internal and external posturing match occurring between what is inane and what is spiritual that cannot be denied. Imagine the scenario, if you will.

You, the participant, have mustered the courage to come forward and willingly confess your mistakes in strict privacy. Juggling guilt and honesty, you find yourself face-to-face with a trustworthy figure of godly representation. That priest is there to listen without judgment, yet they now know intimate details. Even though “the seal of confession is absolute,” you have to shake hands and exchange pleasantries with this person when you leave the room and life goes on. This resulting absolution is meant to be a gift from the church, but not feeling some level of shame in doing so seems impossible.

Now imagine you’re the priest in this exchange. You have to both witness and share this wrenching process and ordeal repeatedly, with every visitor on every occasion, and remain unflappable and restrained in doing so. Who has it harder now? Breaking the fourth wall and spilling waterfalls of internal monologue, Surviving Confession pokes and prods the person who is supposed to be the pillar of strength. The film debuted July 30th on VOD platforms.

Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 actor Clayton Nemrow’s Father Morris is meant to be that man. He is the spiritual sponge soaking up the regurgitation of sins for years now. What used to carry odd pleasure that led to sterile gossip has become abrasive to the reverend’s patience. Father Morris chose this life of sacrifice, but questions whether it’s worth it anymore. Looking us in the eye and detailing his assertions, the crassness and exhaustion couldn’t be more clear, and Nemrow’s performance nails that exacerbated weight. His pointed monologues and irked unraveling raises our eyebrows and capture our immediate attention.

The hardest present button-pusher of this rapid deterioration is the troubled teen Amber, played with acidic bubble by Jessica Lynn Parsons. Crudely claiming she’s killed someone and cussing up a storm, she seems to be making a mockery of the activity. The wise side of Father Morris plays along with the doubts. He thinks he can beat her immature wit and not fall for her competitive games that try to pry and challenge so-called truths. Even the belligerence you see coming or see through can still wear down wills.

Parishioner after parishioner, including an adulterous love triangle between a married couple (Kevin Ging and Jayne Marin) and a guilty mistress (Sarah Schreiber), come to the confessional just to say they tried. What’s the point when no one wants the help? The repetition is the bother. They’ll complete their tidy prayers of penance half-heartedly or less and end up right back with the same errors. Many on Father Morris’ watch do not attempt full redemption or corrective change. This adds to his growing disappointment in both the world and his lot in life.

Like the wild swings of actions and intentions acted on by the core characters, Surviving Confession skirts the boundaries of this appropriate versus inappropriate. More than a little of Tibbenham’s movie is off-kilter and out-of-bounds, but that’s the point. Someone’s blasphemy alarm is going to launch if they take this movie too seriously. Still, even by satire standards, too many walls fall a little too easily and too many guarded principles get splintered. The power is in the talk and folks here talk hard.

The biting commentary of Surviving Confession makes for a wringer of self-reflection versus outward honesty. Writer Nathan Shane Miller, in his debut feature, penned this standoff of patronization. The million-dollar line of his script is the big question of whether Father Morris can be “a bad priest but still a good man.” With each revealed secret, the debate rages and the language piles on to turn inner musings into brash outward disdain. Director Matthew Tibbenham charges Nemrow and Parsons to echo that growing rage. Staying tight and shrewd, Tibbenham effectively creates a precarious single-setting picture. The result is a trying yet damn interesting jaunt through prickly pressures and uncomfortable themes.

John: Twin Peaks Unwrapped has made it to its 200th episodes this week, proving its staying power with interviews with cast members, Charlotte Stewart and Michael Horse, as well as a cameo from Kyle MacLachlan himself.

Stewart talks with hosts Ben and Bryon about how David Lynch got her involved with Season 3, why Little House on the Prairie ended with an explosion, her real life friendships with Don Davis and Dana Ashbrook and her upcoming convention schedules in case you’d like to find an opportunity to meet her. She also shared how she’s having memory issues these days and how Lynch was with her through her scene as Betty Briggs. It sounded tender and wonderful and exemplifies the good people she and Lynch are. She also spoke to how lucky she is and told us how her friend said “you could fall down a manhole and end up with a set of dishes.” Stewart appreciates how lucky her life has been.

Michael Horse had his own aspects of Lynch to share, as they’re both artists. Horse talked about his living map and ledger art, and how he and Lynch both had post-world war dads for their upbringings. He shared aspects of the genuine friendships the Twin Peaks cast has with each other, complimented the fans, talked up Robert Forester and Amy Shiels, and even revealed he’s been in touch with Eric DaRe, who is starting to come to festivals after a long time away.

Horse talked about his role in the upcoming Call of the Wild movie with Harrison Ford releasing this Christmas season, performing on the Secret History audiobook despite dyslexia, the show Claws, and Spirit Waters.

After this the podcast shifts gears and Ben and Bryon speak with Scott Ryan of the Red Room Podcast, who reveals he’s now also the publisher of their upcoming book, which is “the podcast in book form.” I’m going to be pre-ordering that for sure because if there’s at least 200 pre-orders that’ll get us a podcast version of part of Ben’s interview with Kyle MacLachlan. That’d be worth it all by itself, but that book is going to be a glorious addition to our Peaks bookshelves (I know I’m nowhere near the only person with one of those).

The hosts also announced that they’re closing their doors at episode 250, so there’s only 1/5th of the show left to be had. It’s a good marker for them, and also a really easy way to make us appreciate how much love and work Ben and Bryon have done for Twin Peaks and our fan community. And they promise they have more secrets…

Those are our recommendations this week! What are yours? Let us know in the comments!

Written by TV Obsessive

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