Still Waiting for the New Phil-Hoff

I’ll admit that Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death was one of the very first celebrity deaths to hit me hard. And the only explanation I can give is that he happened to appear or star in some of my very favorite movies, from ‘Synecdoche, New York’ to ‘Happiness’ to ‘Punch-Drunk Love.’

He was somehow able to inhabit vastly different characters while still bringing his inherent likability to each role.

Then there’s the weird trend of Hoffman being typecast as “gross.” He excelled at playing disgusting characters, inside and out, perhaps aided by his real-life struggle with drug abuse and an arm’s-length relationship with fame.

But one of my greatest sadnesses surrounding his death is that we have yet to find someone else to fill that crucial role of depicting some very nasty tendencies of the human race.

Instead, we’ve continued on in the proud tradition of taking an attractive, run-of-the-mill male actor and placing them in a vaguely creepy role. You’ve got Jake Gyllenhaal in ‘Nightcrawler,’ Bill Skarsgard in ‘IT,’ and Jared Leto as a disappointing Joker in ‘Suicide Squad.’

I anxiously await the rise of a filthy actor/actress who looks like a normal person and also has an immense talent for showing us the ugly parts of ourselves.  

Earthquaker Devices is Making Effects Pedals Important Again

Guitars are one thing. Ever since the rise of the electric guitar in popular music, the instruments themselves have always captured the collective imagination of the public. Anyone who grew up listening to Led Zeppelin, for example, probably knows Jimmy Page’s double-neck that he used almost exclusively for ‘Stairway to Heaven.’

Effects pedals, however, tend to only maintain traction with musicians themselves, partly because they’re not meant to be seen by the audience; instead, they contribute to the player’s persona, their seemingly endless bag of tricks for creating baffling new sounds.

But for anyone who knows a thing or two about pedals, this is an exciting time. We’re well past the pedal boom of the mid-2000s, but there continue to be some insanely inventive ideas among the companies who have dedicated themselves to pushing the figurative envelope.

Earthquaker Devices works out of Akron, Ohio, hand-wiring some of the wildest pedals known to man, many of them hiding synths inside their colorful cases.

Ultimately, the less we say about them, the better. Instead, take a listen. You want cascading, crazy reverb? Avalanche Run for you. An unwieldy digital brick-breaker? Data Corrupter. Fuzz that’s ugly in the best possible way? Hoof.

And yes, they will break the bank. But mostly it’s just inspiring to see that someone out there is interested in finding new sounds in the digital era.