Aside

And the only solution was to stand and fight( Or giving Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials one more try)

The year was 2011 and I was upset. A band called Florence and the Machine, who I had fallen in love with because of their previous album “Lungs,” had just released a new album that I was less than thrilled with. On first listen the songs fell flat, and the mystery and choral chanting that had enthralled me had been replaced by an artist trying to make the most profitable album they could. I abandoned it and told myself this was just another band that only had one solid record in them. I considered the band a waste of my time and moved on.

Maybe a year later, I happened to hear a single from the now not so new album, “Ceremonials,” and I decided to give it another listen. How lucky I am to have realized the error in my ways.

Almost from the first song, “Only if for the night,” I was possessed by the same magical spirit that had taken over me upon hearing the first album. The production was better, and much more layered, and the themes presented were more of mythical and of epic proportions. She had captured me again, and I was thankful.

This album has many great gifts among it, one of which is the absolutely powerful “Shake it Out.” This song has stadium anthem written all over it, and you can tell that’s what they were after. It gives power to powerless people,and makes the trials of life easier to circumvent. The listener can relate to the lyrics “It’s hard to dance with the evil on your back,” because we’ve all been there. Now, while I don’t really think the devil exists, the negativity we all endure is real, and the song presents us with a mantra to triumph over difficult things. There are many songs this uplifting on the album, but this is the strongest in my opinion.

“What the water gave Me,” the first proper introduction the world was given to the album comes next, and if you were a fan of the first album’s slowly moving dramatic songs, you likely enjoy this song. Florence Welch’s voice is on full display here, and the song is almost reminiscent of a twisted, dark age hymn one might here. It’s very atmospheric, and works beauitfully in the place it has been arranged on the album.

Speaking on sequencing, they do a marvelous job with this album especially. Most great album are albums that walk the line between a middle that perfectly moves the pace along without making the listener bored and wondering when the thing will end, and this one knows exactly what it’s doing in that regard. Songs like “Never Let Me Go,”Breaking Down,” and “Lover to Lover” keep the album interesting for the middle sections of the album while also giving some new things a try. The piano on Lover brings you into a smoky burlesque club full of hardened souls with nowhere to go, and somehow makes it ok.

The second half of the album however, is where things take on a diiferent beast than the previous half.
“No Light,No Light,” is just a plain epic fucking song. The vocals come in amid a storm of background chamber music, and you feel like you’re in a church at the darkest time of your life. The song is full of amazing imagery, depicting a battle between good and bad. While I’m not sure who comes out victorius, it’s clear the pain behind the song has caused both sides bad injuries. It’s such a good song! Easily in my top five that the band has ever recorded.

“Seven Devils” is the next treat in the ever giving gift bag that is this album. It’s the perfect song to start a concert with. I imagine the lights going down as the band plays this behind a giant sheet and the effects and shadows take you over until the curtain drops and you’re face to face with the band as the fight to kill the evil darkness surrounding them.

At their very best, Florence and Machine bring about the best of the light and the worst of the darkness. Hearing these songs you feel the fight is constant and the turmoil is at times overwhelming. That’s what I like about the band. They are mythical gods coming to the forefront. Everything from the piano, to the pounding drums and the vocals, all work perfectly I tune to each other.

The ninth song, “Heartlines” comes at us like a brigade pounding on stationary drums flanked by red flags proclaiming victory. It’s also a wonderfully positive song, instructing you to keep going and obtain what you desire most. It a song like this that makes you think you can do anything.

The album closes with the back to back punch of “All this and heaven too,” and “Leave my Body.”
“All this and heaven too” yearns for the answers everyone is seeking, “Crying out” for the proper direction in which to fulfill your destiny. She’s begging for, and trying to figure it out just like the rest of us. This makes the album human, and understandable. We all want the struggle to be over and for things to rest peacefully, but that’s not what life is. Album closer “Leave my Body” brings us one last glimpse into the mind of the band, and presents us with a person who needs to the closure she has been trying to attain. She wants to walk away and start fresh from all the pain.

While the band has never said anything regarding this, the album very much feels like a concept album about the struggles of a modern woman who is fighting demons, and paying for her sins in a very real way, while trying to stay above the current of the sea. I’ll likely never know if this is true, but I can’t help but think the themes events in this album are just random thoughts and aren’t at least a ver loose story. If you haven’t checked this album out, you should. It’s pays you back one hundred times over and keeps on giving in the realm of music. Thank you for reading.

Aside

I’m Rich, like a hot noise(Or the brilliant chaos of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs)

For awhile now, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have been making some of the most interesting alternative rock around. While they haven’t gotten as big as I think they deserve, the output we see from them hasn’t become stale or redundant. Today we’re gonna talk about how they came to be known, some of their highlights, and where they stand currently in halls of alternative rock of the newest millenium.

My first exposure to them, like many, was the video for “Maps” in 2004. At the time, I was slowly crawling out of my self-imposed metal years, and reaching out for new and different sounds. I happened to just get exposed to this band via MTV. Even then, the channel was still kinda playing videos from time to time. Oh how times have changed. The lyrics “They don’t love you like I love you” immediately reached me at the core, and I sat captivated while the lovely video played through. After that, the album had to be mine. Upon purchasing however, I was overjoyed to find the album wasn’t a one trick pony at all. “Maps,” and “Modern Romance” especially were deep and thoughtful, but the album also has moments of intense sexuality, frustratingly erratic rockers, and general avant-garde art house rock with a thin layer of glimmering lights cascading over the sound. Nick Zinner’s guitar playing stood out to me as a sort of translucent sound that you almost never hear. Zinner, along with born to be a rock star singer Karen O, and the always smiling Brian Chase had captivated my world, and it’s still one of the best albums I’ve ever heard in my life. For years, “Fever to Tell” made various long trips with me, and was a constant companion.

Finally, in 2006, we were given the second proper album “Show your Bones.” This album was not only a perfect step in a new direction, but for many moments of this enjoyable album, it tops the substance and vibe of the previous album. “Gold Lion” has a whole tribal gypsy vibe, while “Phenomena” has a strutty disco cat swagger to it. It’s sexy, slow, and it moves you in a gentle way then envelopes you and makes you become part of it. After being obsessed with this band for a few years at this point, they were announced as being part of Coachella 2006. I was basically going because of Daft Punk and Tool, but having them be part of the bill as well was a nice bonus. The show didn’t disappoint at all. They came at the crowd with the kind of rock star attitudes you would expect from a band this electric. One thing that has stayed with me all these years was how the drummer Brian Chase was grinning ear to ear the entire set. Maybe he was thrilled to finally be playing this great festival, but I’d like to think he’s like that at all the shows.

Probably the best song on Bones to me though is “Cheated Hearts.” I was going through one of the darkest periods of my life when this album came out, and once again, the emotional core and the sad elements of the song drew me to it. All aspects on the song work effortlessly to make a really meaningful, beautiful song. It’s always fascinating to me how hearing a song can propel you back to the feelings you once had and you can remember that you got through whatever was going on at the time, and that a piece of art helped you to do so.

After that, the band released an incredibly overlooked EP called “Is Is.” I won’t spend too much time here, other than to say it only contains great songs. They all work together, and it’s one of the better EP’s I’ve ever purchased. It contains the violence, tinges of punk, pretty yet atmospheric sounds we had come to expect from this band of indie misfits. Furthermore, upon hearing that the band chose to perform the full album at shows in complete darkness served to make the album stand on its own and add a slightly sexual predator vibe to the whole thing. I can’t even imagine how surreal that must have been to experience in a little dingy club.

What followed after that, the album “It’s Blitz!,” was a dramatic departure for the band, but ultimately one that I think paid off in huge dividends. For me, this is the disco themed album by the band. It’s bright and sparkly, and has much more of dance floor feeling rather than that of a dark disgusting bar that the albums before it possessed. Just listening to songs like “Heads will Roll,” and album opener “Zero” makes you wanna dance. I love that they tried something new, and in this instance, it turned out to be a success. So many of these songs are good songs. “Dull Life” has a slow build that turns into a funky rock anthem with a jump in its step that reminds me of a more mature band, while the one-two punch of album closer’s “Hysteric” and “Little Shadow” showcase how this band had evolved and managed to create another awe inspiring album full of textured, interesting sounds. I think at their core this is a group of opposite’s who try to find a varied mix of sounds to suit them all, and they succeed valiantly. This band, along with Queens of the Stone Age, has to be one of the most criminally underrated when it comes to levels of notoriety. They both should be headlining major festivals, but the world of mega rooms has eluded them thus far. But that’s fine, because they both just keep on making fucking jaw dropping epic albums.

After the success of “It’s Blitz,” the wait was on. It was three years between all the previous albums, but this time, they gave us an extra year. Whether it was time to take a break, or they wanted to make an adventurous new album, is hard to tell. They’re known for being a band that tours a lot for an album, so maybe they were just burnt out. Either way, what emerged was another interesting album in a long line of cool albums. Now don’t get me wrong, “Mosquito” is by no means a classic album, but it has quite a few really different, cool songs. “Subway” is a slow creeper and the band’s version of a nightmare meets lullaby, while “Slave” moans and writhes in a strobe light filled room. I like the chances they took here, and I think it will prove to move them into even more unknown territories. It’s also the darkest album they’ve made. As a side note, the cover art is awful. Having said that, a band this good is allowed an occasional misstep. The last three songs, “Always,” “Despair,” and “Wedding Song” all mesh appropriately together. “Always” is a quiet, shimmering light in a dimly lit park at dusk, but the darkness and brooding approaches when the translucent playing by Zinner emerges on “Despair.” As an aside, if you haven’t watched the video for this song, you should. It’s really beautiful, and to top it off, it’s the first video to ever be filmed atop the immaculate structure we know as the Empire State Building. The last new song we’ve heard by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs comes in the shape of “The Wedding Song.” It’s a slow burner but it also showcases how quaint and lovely Karen O can be when she’s not growling in the pale moonlight. It’s a sobering, heart breaking song about the trials of love. The closing words of the song, “You’re the breath that I breathe” touch me in an emotional way because that’s exactly how I feel about my amazing wife, and how nothing is possible without her.

I’m gonna do this like its high school: In conclusion, today we have discussed the merits of the band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who have been putting out music that encompasses everything from wild, fun, sexy, heartfelt, and loving, and how they manage to tie everything into a nicely shaped bow, only to tear the bow apart when they decide it’s time to get weird. Thank you for reading. 

Aside

Pictures of Fields without Fences(Or my Rage against the machine top 10)

Good evening we are Rage Against the Machine from Los Angeles California.” If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to get to experience this band live, you’ve heard those words as the opening for every show they’ve ever performed. One of the truest quotes I’ve ever heard that perfectly describes the feelings of the band came from Coachella founder Paul Tollett,who described the band as “a voice for people who are fed up.”Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, Tom Morello, and Zack De La Rocha have now, for nearly 30 years, been explaining to the world how power, corruption, greed, and complacency have fueled the refuse of our slowly crumbling world, and how if we ever wish to get out lives back from the vicious cycle of bullshit extolled on us, we have to take the power back. Enjoy the list:

  1. Born of a Broken Man, Battle of Los Angeles:I first heard this song on pay per view when it was debuted at Woodstock 99. The opening cords, thick and full of purpose, draw the line in the dirt where the battle is about to happen. One of the amazing things about this band is the ability to tell a story that just about everyone will get. We’re all pissed off about something. Maybe it’s out of our control, maybe it’s not though. Maybe we can change it. This band is all about change. The vocals and guitar propel the song the most here, but the urgency and underlining tenseness of the drums also help to keep the song going. You can almost picture de La Rocha sitting in the desert, watching a fire burn into the night sky, telling the story again to whoever might be around him, and educating them on the trials one will face during their time on earth.
  1. Bulls on Parade, Evil Empire: When this song first hit the airwaves, it was like a bomb blast into the world. Looking back, this was the song that let everyone know they weren’t going anywhere anytime soon, and they still had a lot to get off their chest. Morello and Wilk especially make the song what is it. The grooves throughout are killer, plain and simply. So many themes within this band has been unearthed and learned through the important lyrical content, but somehow even after over a decade, the song and the sound still seem fresh and relevant. Morello is still in a world his own when it comes to the style of guitar playing, which ultimately makes the song everything it needs to be.
  1. Vietnow, Evil Empire:The percussion: Damn man, damn. This song is so funky. But the star of the song is Zack. The lyrics are just sobering, but it’s supposed to be that way. I like to think the name “Vietnow,” is meant to suggest how that pain and humiliation we felt as a nation during that horrible war is still alive and well. Our government didn’t win the Vietnam war, but we learned how to properly lay waste to things that get in our way. For me, this is a Rage song that is closest not only to the protest song of the 60′s but also a pure hip hop song. For a band that has only dark songs, the negativity and pain presented here stands among the groups darkest. Fear is your only God.
  1. Sleep Now in the Fire, Battle of Los Angeles:Without a doubt one of the best singles the band ever decided to release. It has the same awareness of other songs by the band, but it manages to be a more rocking, positive song. The contrast among the idea’s in the song are inherently interesting also. One minute we’re discussing the greed of politicians to always stay on top, while other areas showcase the strength of the common man, and how people who are deceptive deserve to pay up. Will the world ever rebel against the powers that force us to stay weak? I’m not sure, but if it does happen, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this song became an anthem for the army of the frustrated and tired.
  1. Down Rodeo, Evil Empire:A song of unabashed violence. The visuals painted not only in the song title, but also in the lyrics. The undertones of racism are still very fresh, and the idea of hardships among minorities are central themed here. Everyone, whether they’re black, white, yellow, brown can relate to doing their best but still being held down by the powers that they have no luxury of using. The song also, is one of their funkier, groovy songs. The bass line’s here are just perfect for the image of a brown-skinned person strolling down an upper class street full of people who are worried about designer clothes more than people suffering below them. The screams for “Just a quiet peaceful death” at the end song perfectly exemplify the state of mind of the main character in the song and bring the song to a powerful, albeit depressing ending.
  1. Testify, Battle of Los Angeles:Maybe the most epic build up in their whole catalogue. Yo can cut the pressure and tension with a knife, and when the song explodes with a flurry of guitar that resemble the howling of sirens, and drums and bass, you can barely contain yourself. It almost sounds to me like a sermon meant to bring about an uprising, but that’s just my opinion. The band has always been about engaging and bringing about the secrets people want to hide, but this song seems more to me like they want everyone to join together under common goals and figure out a way to positively bring about change. It’s an amazing, powerful song, and the perfect way to start what would end up being their last original studio album.
  1. Know Your Enemy, Rage Against the Machine:When making a list of a bands best songs, often difficult choices are made. One of them being the choice to only include two songs from the first album. This song is full of spit and venom, and presents a song about the misguided nature of our police system. A man in a room,and people trying to get him out. The song is a giant fuck you to the corrupters of our whole military and judicial system. The song is only made better by the vocals of Maynard from Tool as he provides a little frustration to the mix. Yet again the guitar shines bright. Morello is simply a god among men, and the instrumentation here brings it all to a head. The theme of keeping people dumb, and putting into their heads at an early age to not ask questions as a form of acceptable ignorance only makes the message that you shouldn’t trust anyone in power and you should always walk through life with your surroundings in mind all the more important.
  1. the Ghost of Tom Joad, Renegades:While this song isn’t an original song, I’d say it’s one of the few covers to take a song and make it their own. The atmosphere they all set is of a glowing, post apocalyptic world where man has been left to his own devices, and the fall out is one of an incredible desperate feeling. I have no idea who Tom Joad is, but I assume he’s a symbol for the every man who’s forced to deal with the aftermath of a giant world that decimated whole countries, where everyone is left acting how they left it get so bad?”
  1. Revolver, Evil Empire:I’ve loved this song since the very first time I heard it, and when I heard about their reunion at Coachella 2007, this was the first song I went for. It’s so jamming and rocking it’s impossible not to get into. The vocals are quitter at first, but it serves the purpose of the backing music. It perfectly builds stress in the right spots, until it’s time for a release. The release comes in the form of the amped up chorus, with chanting taking over slowly. The song gradually also gets more intense as it goes from verse to chorus, and back again. The image of fields without fences has to be one of the most beautiful and tranquil things ever in a song by this band, but before you know it, that tranquility is gone again and replaced by immediate urgency and anger.
  1. Wake Up, Rage Against the Machine:Not only the perfect rage song, but also the perfect song for someone who’s frustrated in their life. It’s just so fucking good. It just makes me wanna bounce and rock out every time I hear it. It has everything you could want in a song by this band. It’s strength, it’s power and it’s an example of going after what you believe is right. It’s also a lesson to everyone living in their own world that what we need is unity. Rocha is literally begging us to explain to him what he has to do Wake us up from our self-imposed ignorance when it comes to dealing with the world. Also it’s refreshing to see that there was once upon a time where big corporate record labels saw the value in bringing bands to the main stream that weren’t just there taking up space, but also in taking on projects that were as thought-provoking and meaningful as the message brought forward by this group of like-minded individuals who were sick of sitting idly by. Just ask yourself: “How long? Not long, because what you reap is what you sow.” 

Time after time those fanatical minds to try rule all the world( Or my review of the BUKU music fest)

For everyone who’s read this space before, you should be aware how much I love Dan Deacon. His music is amazing, and he’s just an overall good person. He’s especially good to his fans. His generosity to his fans is how my wife and I found ourselves at the second day of the still kinda new Buku Music fest. He was awesome enough to add us to his guest list and experience a day of sometimes awesome music. This isn’t a full review, but more an overview of what we encountered in our five hours at this crazy mix of a festival. 

So this is primarily a EDM heavy affair. I honestly can’t think of who played except for the people I was interested in. I think that David Guetta guy was there? Anyway, we arrived and luckily enough spotted Dan Deacon just hanging out with his assistant. We thought it would be nice to bring him some New Orleans treats, since in interviews I’ve read I’m aware he likes to cook. I hope he enjoys them, but either way, it’s nice to show someone you appreciate a gesture.

We planned to see about six bands that day, but I guess the overall vibe, and the lack of really anything to do besides watch bands, we bailed pretty early. I heard later we missed some good shows, but for us especially, it was every clear how older we were than the average attendee, and it was like being in a zoo. Remember that scene in Mean Girls where they’re at the mall and all the teenagers turn into monkeys and start fighting? It was like that. Just with the worse type of dance music playing. 

So Dan Deacon starts setting up, and after a little sound difficulty it was ready to rock. Covering about 6 songs, it was an awesome set, but I’ve come to a conclusion: This dude is too awesome to be restricted by time and festival sound boards. I understand festivals are a good pay day, and you have to make a living, I just wish it was longer. Out of the five times I’ve seem him, two have been at festivals, and he always seem to have trouble with the sound systems. I guess that’s the price you pay. Anyway, there were TONS of concert activities thrown into the set. We ran and high fived, ran in a giant circle, and more or less just had an amazing 45 minutes. It never really gets old seeing him play since the show is nearly always different. He may not drastically change set lists from tour to tour, but you never get the impression he’s phoning it in.

After that, we had about 2 hours until the Flaming Lips played. At most festivals there are plenty of activites to engage in between sets, but at Buku that’s simply not the case. The grounds are way too small for the amount of people they’re trying to get to attend, and there’s nearly no entertainment other thana few merch booths and watching people paint this giant mural. That was actually pretty interesting. Anyway people are just standing around, trying to decide what to eat among the whopping 8 food tent choices( seriously guys, eight food tents?) Meanwhile if you’re not hungry, there are literally 7 beer tents. Finally we made to it the undisputed rave tent. Normally I’d avoid it like a plague, but it happens to be set up in the same area where all the Mardi Gras floats are held. For the uninitiated, the festival is held at Mardi Gras world here in Nola, so there’s plenty of Mardi Gras themes abound. We look at the floats, and all the edm kids losing their minds, check out some shirts, and make our way out of there and go hang at the man stage. Finally the Flaming Lips come on, and while the show was a little downbeat, it was still a really good show. The band sounded great, and even though the slowed down most of the songs, It was still worth it to stick around and listen to. The stage show was as always amazing. I just wish we had gotten to see them at their own show, or at least a better festival. The crowd was simply one of the worst I’ve ever seen for such a well known band at a festival. No one was into it, and most of the rave kids just stood there jaw flapping about how “crazy David Guetta” was going to be. The show ended, and having been made to feel my full age surrounded by overgrown fetuses all day, we decided to go eat Chinese food instead.

I’d say I would go back to the festival again, but it would likely involve me paying, and if there aren’t enough good bands playing, theres just no way I can motivate myself to deal with that crowd. They also need to move the venue. It’s just too small and vastly unorganized. Thanks for reading!

In fact this is twice in a row( Or my Neutral Milk Hotel review)

About a year and a half ago, I was lucky enough to get to see Jeff Mangum, who in case you didn’t know, was the main songwriter, and force behind the seminal indie rock band Neutral Milk Hotel. He was a recluse for years, but slowly he began emerging more and more. That show left me speechless in a way that many shows simply don’t have the chance to. I was happy that I at least I got to witness him perform those songs once in my life. I never thought I’d get to see NMH live, as they hadn’t performed together in a decade or so.

Thankfully I was wrong. Mid-way through last year, dates for a tour began popping up, and wouldn’t you know it, a New Orleans date was announced. Once I found out one of my best friends had purchased tickets for us as a wedding gift, the excitement had to be held back for months. Finally the night had arrived.

The show was held at a pretty new place in New Orleans, called the Civic Theater. Inside the theater, it was very pretty, and it had a certain buzz to it. People were excited about seeing this unicorn out in public. We arrived probably half way through the opening band, who I can’t even name. They were decent enough, but when you’re stoked for a certain band, usually the opening band is just an obstacle, which this one very much was. After a totally random encounter with Charlie Day from “It’s always Sunny in Philadelphia,” the houselights began to fade as the crowd got re-energized. The opening notes of “ the King of Carrot Flowers Part One” took over as Mangum strummed and sang through the opening song as the remainder of the band slowly walked out to fill the room with sound. Seeing a band not disappoint when you’re that excited is always an excellent thing, and they sounded amazing. It was as if for the years they were apart they had been perfecting their craft and getting better.

The band covered all of their albums, but obviously it was “ In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” that the most attention was given to. “Holland 1945” rang with the immediate nature that deserved of it, while “Gardenhead/Leave Me Alone,” was thrown in for good measure to remind everyone that the in fact didn’t have just one album. There’s really nothing bad to say about the set.

Something else that was reassuring was when Mangum asked the crowd to put cellphones away so they could properly experience the evening. It was refreshing to say the least. That needs to happen more often at concerts.

Oh Comely,” “ Songs against Sex,” and “ Snow Song, Part One,” rounded out the full set and the band wandered off stage. Thankfully they weren’t done with us yet. “Ghost” was a full on jam, and they ended the set with a one-two punch of “ Two Headed Boy, Part two,” and “Engine.” Just a fantastic end to the evening, and I’d be surprised if anyone left let down. It was just incredible and not a show you see too often. Hopefully the band agrees.

SETLIST: The King of Carrot Flowers, Part One,The King of Carrot Flowers, Parts Two & ThreeHolland, 1945A Baby for Pree / Glow Into YouGardenhead / Leave Me AloneEverything IsTwo-Headed BoyThe FoolIn the Aeroplane Over the SeaNaomiFerris Wheel on FireOh Comely, Song Against SexRuby BulbsSnow Song, Part On

ENCORE: Ghost[untitled]Two-Headed Boy, Part TwoEngine

And it’s for my heart that I’ll live (Or Warpaint : A legend in the making)

Many new bands emerge every year. Hell, every day I see or read about new bands. Much less often than that though, a new band emerges and the sound is so interesting and new that you wonder how you didn’t find out about them sooner. That’s the case when discussing Los Angeles’ Warpaint. These ladies, all four of them, are quickly becoming not only festival favorites, but they’re announcing their arrival in a big way. The new album, titled ‘Warpaint,’ is a show of force, but also of finesse. But we’ll get to that soon enough.

Founded in 2004 by Emily Kokal on guitar, Theresa Wayman on guitar and vocals,and bass brought to us by Jenny Lee Linberg, the sound is soothing, but also quite complex and deep. After forming and toiling away in the local L.A. Scene, they emerged with the five song E.P. Exquisite Corpse. For most who heard it is was the first invitation into the world of Warpaint. The album was produced by former Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist John Frusciante. Now, you likely may be aware of my disdain for the RHCP, but I’ve always respected Frusciante as a brilliant player, and on this one he also manages to showcase his craft in bringing out the best parts of the band and also helping to mature a sound of a growing talent. Songs like “Beetles,” especially have a brilliant mix between upbeat, wandering, and focus. It’s almost as if they took a lesson from Interpol’s Turn on the Bright Lights, mixed it with the quiet feeling you get in the desert that’s learned from so much of Mazzy Star’s discography and figured out how to make a perfect album that should be played at two in the morning while wandering the streets. The stand out song from Corpse though has to be “Billie Holiday.” Although mostly written by the band, this excellent song features an excerpt from “My Guy,”by the incomparable Smokey Robinson.

Having constructed a pretty interesting first E.P. They returned a few years later with a proper full length album, “the Fool.” Not only did it stand up to the first offering, but it was a gradual growth in terms of songwriting, song structuring, and blending of sounds, both old and new. Warpaint is proving that music doesn’t have to remain a boys club. These awesome, talented ladies have the ability to ease you into happy submission in a way that most all male bands simply can’t. And it’s not just because of their sex. They really play their instruments well. They’re fucking great in fact. “Undertow,” from the second album stand out as a particular masterpiece, as well as “Composure.” Undertow takes what they started with Billie Holiday and veers down multiple paths and expanding on an initial sound and creating something that’s so thick and dense you’d think Kevin Shields was helping to produce.

Shortly before the recording process began, the band finally had some luck in finding a suitable fourth member in the talents of Stella Mozgawa. Her timing is accurate and it adds subtle little things to each song she’s featured on. For Warpaint, in my opinion, it was finding the missing piece in Mozgawa that finally propelled this band to where they could start to compete with the big names in indie rock. I highly suggest you track down “the Fool.” It’s a little known gem and has only gotten better in the years since it’s release.

Which brings us to the newest album, simply titled “Warpaint.” There’s not enough good things I can say about this album. Quite simply, it bitch slaps the previously released works and proclaims “ We are Warpaint, here to take you an a journey in a lyrical and musical equivalent of a lush, tranquil jungle.” Songs like “ Love is to Die,” maintain the signature sound of the band, while yet again fine tuning the production of the band. It’s pretty unusual when listening to something on your laptop to feel like you’re sitting in the room with the band playing the music, but that’s exactly how I feel. I have no clue in earth how they do it, but they manage it. I can’t even imagine how’d they sound on record, or better yet, in person at a show. I truly think in the next five years or so we’ll see them getting prime spots o big festival stages and seeing them headline smaller festivals like Pitchfork or Fun Fun Fun Fest. I know they’ve earned it with these first albums. If you’re not aware of this potent force, you should be. Warpaint has arrived, and hopefully they’ll be making us weak in the knees for quite some time. 

Albums of my Life #6(Marilyn Manson, Anti-Christ Superstar)

Back in the day, Marilyn Manson was an amazing musician. Looking back, he’s exactly what I needed I terms of a thought provoking rock star. He was dangerous,thoughtful and had exactly the type of style that was required at the time. His most well known, and arguably best album, Anti-Christ Superstar was, and still, and example of frustration over the way the world is.

Every song from the scorching opening of “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” to the more pop hooks of “ The Beautiful People” still work in regards to what it needed to accomplish. Today we’ll be discussing the songs, ideas, as well as Manson’s legacy among heavy metal circles.

The album opens with “Irresponsible Hate Anthem,” and it’s clear from the get go this is an album that is going to take no prisoners. They pound through the song, and dive headlong into what’s still his best known song “ the Beautiful People.”

There’s the reason the song had such an impact on “modern rock radio” of the mid to late 90′s. The hooks are extremely crunchy, and the vocals, along with the lyrics, perfectly fit into where the average teenager probably felt around this time. I know I did.

Now, while the title certainly troubles many people, I’ve always thought of it as more of a play on the idea of good ad evil. The world isn’t black and white. It’s completely grey, and many things are shrouded in it. This example tries to explain how sometimes things get misconstrued and how you need to take everything at face value, as opposed to judging before you examine it.

Like “the Beautiful People,” many of the songs have a more song driven, traditional rock and roll format. It doesn’t hurt that the album was produced by Manson’s mentor of sorts at the time, Trent Reznor. Even back then, Reznor brings a certain aestethic and production knowledge to everything he did. The overall sound of the album is smooth and glossy, but not in the traditional pop ways. The quality of the sound was something that hadn’t really been presented in a heavier album at the time, except if you count Reznor’s earlier masterpiece “ The Downward Spiral.”

I’ve always felt like Spiral and Superstar went hand in hand with each other. One album is about losing control of so much in your life, while the other one is clearly about fighting back and never giving up.Also, both nin and Manson would be propelled into higher realms of acknowledgment following both of the albums.

Now, that’s not to say all of the album’s success is due only to Manson and Reznor. Yes they were both crucial, but without Manson’s lineup at the time the album wouldn’t be nearly as good or hold up as well as it does. By this time, the band had finally begun to take shape, and it’s this lineup that’s most regard as being the best backing band that Manson ever had. The chaos brought on by these four individuals; Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy, Daisy Berkiwitz, and Ginger Fish is most palpale and immediate on songs like “ Little Horn,” as well as the slow moving, creepiness on “Kinderfield.”

Little Horn” especially seems to act in part as an army, hell bent on destruction. Manson acting as the general with his four cohorts gladly bringing up the rear. The album continues barreling down a sinister path, and gets gradually angrier but also more personal as the record meets the second half. “ Mister Superstar” arrives to us at the right moment. This song displays more of a autobiographical side to things then many of the songs on the album. It’s also quite catchy. It’s always struck me as a cross between the Manson of previous albums, while incorporating a little Bowie, if Bowie had ever been this dark or aggressive.

Now, for many people who just chose to assume that Manson was the literal devil and was hell bent on bringing the world to the end, they clearly never took the time to hear him explain his ideas and give not only thoughtful, but highly intelligent answers. Let me be clear, I’m not talking about the drug addled mess the world witnessed on the “ Talking Dead” awhile ago. I’m referencing the man who gave brilliant answers in regards to civil rights, the culture of scapegoating( in the aftermath of Columbine) or was one of the few musicians of the time that was determined to make people think for themselves. He always struck me as a person who honestly didn’t care what you thought of his music, but insisted you seek it out for yourself and draw your own conclusions. In the end, that’s the most important thing: Have your own opinions. Don’t just align yourself with something without doing some research on your own. Even people who don’t agree with your overall view with respect you in the end if you come at an issue with genuine, real opinions, as opposed to one’s that you just except from whoever because you can’t think for yourself.

 

The next, and final six songs all get better and better. The slow, lumbering mechanics of the previously mentioned “Kinderfield,” stalk the corn fields at night like a nightmare looking for a vulnerable child. It doesn’t hurt that this was one of the first times I’d ever seen Manson perform( albeit on home video). In the song, he’s seen marching all over the stage in a weird head gear type situation while walking around on very tall 5 foot stilts. He’s over 6’0 so you can imagine the visuals. As a teenager, it both terrified me and excited me. Like I said, Manson was my first true rock star.

The next track is the title track from the album “Anti- Christ Superstar.” It’s still one of the most rocking and kick ass songs he has ever recorded. The song features Manson preaching so to speak from a familiar pulpit, but that’s more for show value and doesn’t really have anything to do with the content of the song. Having said that, it works perfectly in regards to a live show setting. “1996,” the next song, is the only song that could have followed the previous one. It’s the ultimate anti establishment, with Manson and company raging on everything under the song. The song is the perfect song for not only angry teenagers, but in general for angry people who are realizing the world is not as easy to understand or deal with as they had been led to believe.

The album then takes an interesting turn and heads down a slower, more melancoly path with “ A Minute of Decay.” The bass line of the song is pretty Vicent Price if you ask me. I feel like if modern horror movies were made in the vein of older, black and white horror films this song would have been a perfect inclusion. Everything about it speaks of macabre, twisted black and white imagery. The song is also extremely dark I terms of lyrical usage. It’s as if he’s at the end of his rope, but he’s still not willing to give up. He’s the enemy of some, but ally to others. The crescendo of the end that brings the song full circle is a gradual thing that comes at the breaking point of not only the song, but the whole album. This the end of whatever is happening, and there’s no turning back.

The album ends with the juxtaposition of the synth heavy dynamics of “the Reflecting God,” and slow, somber conclusion that is “the Man that you Fear.” “Reflecting God” is slightly mechanical in terms of the music being presented, but it also has the strange ability to be completely human in how it relates to the listener. The drumming near the quarter length mark spirals into pure chaos and Manson is growling out vocals the army behind him continues to pummel the audience with intense music. Seeing this live is really one of the coolest things to witness in a giant arena.

 

The last song, “Man that you fear,” is a slow, and super depressing song about the loss of childhood innocence. Manson’s vocals here are impeccable,and the last chapter on this amazing record is better because of his use of imagery in his lyrics that help move the song along. For me the song has always been a reminder of the world. It’s a cold, bad place, and it likely always will be. That’s what’s so interesting about the song, and also the world. As adults we all adore smiling faces of children, but in the and those beautiful, pure faces will be ruined by the world that we created, and in the end they’l lend up as the same assholes who currently dwell in it. As the song concludes, the lasting image you get is Manson imploring us to “Pray your life was just a dream.” The song fades into a dry, dying buzz and the last thing heard serves not only a reminder of what life may become for countless people, but also perhaps what happened to Manson himself as he was never really able to replicate the brilliance found on this When album and ended up just becoming a parody of himself: “ When all your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed.”

 

In the end though, the album still stands out to me as one of the first one’s that I ever felt truly spoke to me, and it taught me to value my thoughts, and opinions, as well as being responsive and open to opposing views. 

My Baby I’m afraid I’m falling for you(Or Weezer’s Top 10 Songs)

Weezer has been a band I’ve loved since a pretty early age. The music was fun, nonsensical at times, but still had quite a bit of tortured soul behind it. Now, obviously the quality of music has dropped a bit in the last decade, but for me, Weezer, especially the first three albums, have always been albums that I go back, and keep on enjoying.

10. Falling for You, Pinkerton:

We start the list with a song from the once despised, to the now highly regarded Pinkerton. I think this album was such a initial failure because of the drastic departure from the first album. It has almost none of the carefree, joyous riffs that accompanied the Blue album, but that’s not to say it’s a bad album. In some ways it’s better than it predecessor. Everyone know’s what it’s like to be falling hard for someone. It’s always a bit nerve-racking but exciting at the same time. The doubt you feel about the outcome of the situation can be overwhelming, but hopefully things work out for the best.

Across the Sea, Pinkerton:

Some might say this is a bit creepy, but if you know anything about River’s Cuomo, it’s pretty in line with how he genuinely seems to be. The idea that he holds this person he’s never met to such high esteem speaks on his tendencies to being a romantic at heart. Any man who’s a romantic at heart can relate to it. I know I can. The idea of love isn’t a rational thing at all. It does something to you, that at times its unhealthy and dangerous. It’s important too though. It’s good to give yourself to something you don’t fully understand every now and then. Across the sea laments that agony that the perfect person for us, might be completely out of our reach, and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Pork and Beans, Red Album:

This might be a surprising entry in the list, but the song really goes back to the old fun days of the band. It sounds like an update on the anthems presented on the Blue Album. If you’ve seen the video, then you know how well it goes with the overall vibe of the song. At this point Weezer hasn’t kept to the impossible status they produced with the first two albums, but this is a good example of how great they were once, and that maybe they still have some interesting things to say musically.

7. Undone(the Sweater Song), Blue Album:

For many of us this song was our first encounter with the greatness of the Weez. I’m still not sure what the opening monologue means, but after all these years I don’t really care. Also the song is pretty all over the place at times. It has equal parts where you scratch your head at the content, but it’s also a fun song. The great thing about this band is that they aren’t trying to push the limits of music. It’s just about rocking out and having some fun. Who else could get away with putting in a line about “Superman Skivvies” and have it not be completely weird. Lastly, why was there a horde of dogs running onto the set at the end of the video? I guess it was to be memorable, which it certainly is.

6. Say It Ain’t So, Blue Album:

Probably their most well known song, and it’s for a damn good reason. The majority of the album is fun and down to earth, but this song is a verbal “heartbreaker” in every song. We wouldn’t fully see the pain and depth presented on this song until the next album, but the sadness is real. I never found out if the basis of the song has an acual back story, but I think it works so well because everyone has felt pushed aside, forgotten and used in their lives. It’s never a good feeling, but hearing a song you can relate to is often a powerful song. The song is both anthenmatic and depressing, and that’s no easy feat at all. It’s still one of my favorite songs of all times, and you can’t help but belt it out when it comes on. The guitar work at the end of the song ties in perfectly, and the very last lines of the song remind us of sorrow we’ve all felt.

5. Island in the Sun, Green Album:

One of my favorite memories in life was seeing this band for the first time. One of my best friends and I went to Houston to see them, and it was probably one of the best days of my life. For this song in particular, Cuomo came out into the crowd and played this song surrounded by the crowd. To be probably 50 yards from him seeing this played on his acoustic guitar remains one of the coolest things I’ve ever been a part of at a show. The song itself is lovely, and fits in nicely with Weezer’s brand of easy going hits that flow off your tongue.

4. Don’t Let Go, Green Album:

This was the first album that followed Pinkerton. I believe it took about 6 years to arrive, but in my opinion, it was as good of a third album as we could’ve gotten. It’s extremely quick and fun all in one. For the band I think this was an easy choice for the type of album they needed to make at the time. It’s good old american guitar driven rock and roll. Like I said earlier, things don’t always have to be so well thought out to still have an impact. This song, the first song on the album, is not only fun but sets the stage for the rest of the album.

3. Butterfly, Pinkerton:

Easily one of the darkest and saddest songs in their discography. The butterfly in the title has always been a metaphor to me for a ruined loved. The ruining of the love was of course brought upon by a person who thought they could hold on to something beautiful and lovely forever and that the love would never fade. Sadly the writer was mistaken. Love takes work, and you can’t just keep your love locked up in a bottle and still allow the love to grow. The most heartbreaking part of the song is the ending notes and singing of “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

2. My Name is Jonas, Blue Album:

The most rocking and appropriate opening song for an album? I’m not sure about that, but when you hear it it’s immediately a sing along event and it set’s the tone for the rest of the album. One thing that has always drawn me to this band is the ability for some songs to be romantic, some are downright comical, and other songs, such as this one, make little or no sense at all. What does “ the workers are going home” actually mean? More than likely it means nothing, but you wouldn’t know it or care when you’re singing along to this awesome song by this awesome band.

1. Only in Dreams, Blue Album:

A truly epic song that brings the conclusion of the album to a dramatic climax. I’ve never paid much attention to the lyrics, besides the fact that it seems to be another song about things of love and a whimsical nature. For me the song remains a mythical type of creation. It somehow feels different than any other song they’ve written as a band, and that’s probably why I like it so much. I imagine a couple under beautiful trees at night, being enveloped by tiny lights overheard, slowly holding each other, as if to say “ Let’s not allow this night to end.” Meanwhile, the bass line keeping the pace perfectly, while the drums and guitar slowly maneuver to something explosive and thick at the end of the song. When you hear Rivers Cuomo screaming “Only in dreams,” you realize this song is almost too perfect to exist, and it’s not meant to be heard too often, because it wouldn’t be good, because then it would be normal and not special.

 

Things the 90′s Ruined (Or a look back into Guns N’ Roses November Rain video)

Remember when this band was the biggest band in the world? I sure do. That was one of my first memories of an artists truly being larger than life. The epicness of the music, the soaring vocals of Axl Rose, and who can forget the sincerity and craftsmanship when it comes to Slash’s guitar playing. The best representation of this is the once classic, now pretty laughable video for one of the band’s biggest hits, “ November Rain.” This isn’t an overview of the band, but it might as well be, since I think of this video as a perfect example of a once great thing that just kept getting more and more extravagant and how it ultimately killed what was once an incredible band.

The video opens up with Rose chugging some pills in a blue, stormy room. The next scene quickly goes to a very nice theater and the band is flanked by a full orchestra. Oh look there’s a wedding with a little black girl throwing roses, then a crying jesus. My god, there’s so much happening at once I can’t even keep up. Anyway, we then cut again to a very hot Stephanie Seymour walking down the aisle to meet an Axl Rose that looks equal parts bum on the street and fencing instructor to royalty. Trust me, it’s even sillier than I’m explaining. Also, why does Rose have all 4 other members of the band as groomsmen but Seymour only has one woman. This makes no fucking sense.

Next they’re all just “hanging out being pals” at a local bar, sucking down smokes like the world’s about to end. I’m assuming this is meant to showcase the happy times before it started raining once upon a time in November. So yeah the video isn’t even half over but you can tell things are gonna go bad soon enough, much like they did within the band.

Ok so back to the wedding where a drunken Slash can’t find the wedding ring, and everyone just snickers as if to say “ Oh that silly Slash! Always losing stuff.” Then I guess after feeling so bad about almost losing the ring, Slash walks out of the wedding and starts immediately playing guitar in a desert, even though moments earlier we were just in sunny downtown Los Angeles.

While the video has aged horribly, the song is still really good. They’re all around good musicians, and a craptastic video from the early 90′s isn’t likely to change that. After the epic guitar solo, the bride and the groom run out of the church and into a really nice Bentley, but something is going on with Stephanie Seymour. There’s pain behind her eyes, but we don’t quite know what yet. Is it lupus? Is it the fact that she’s acutely aware that she’s just married a soon to be washed up rocker who has a history on incredible instability? Time will tell….

So then, and this is one of the dumbest parts of the whole thing: Axl Rose is walking all forlorn in a deserted town from something out of Deadwood or Blazing Saddles. Why is he here? How’d he somehow find out about this abandoned western town. Then back to the wedding. Bride and groom are cutting the cake. Everything is going great! That is until the Rain part of the song title shows up and just shit’s on everyone’s lovely day. C’mon rain, things were going so well too….

Suddenly people are falling over, things are breaking, and all hell is breaking loose, because apparently no one in SoCal has ever seen rain in their goddamn lives! To top it all off, some colossal asshole decides he can’t take the rain anymore and jumps THROUGH THE WEDDING CAKE!!! Did you read that? This douche just leaps right through a wedding cake that probably cost thousands of dollars. I know this because I just got married recently, and the amazing cakes we got were not cheap at all. If someone would’ve jumped through our cake, the world would have literally stopped while 20 people take turns ruining that person’s life for the foreseeable future. Seriously we would’ve went the route of Marsellus Wallace and gone “Medieval on his ass.”

So now that that’s all over, the song takes a turn for the darkness and sees Rose’s bride dead in a very nice casket. I wonder how much that cost. So yeah she’s dead, and no explanation is given, but I’m gonna assume it was lupus. Axl is seen crying while looking up as if to say “ Why Me?!, Why Me?!”

Anyone else picturing Nancy Kerrigan on the ground right now, or is it just me? The other thing to mention is that this church that was full for a wedding just 3 minutes ago is now half empty. What kind of friends are these people? Thanks everyone for coming to my wedding and celebrating but for leaving me in the cold “November Rain” when my wife dies 3 minutes after we say I do!!

Of course it starts raining at the funeral, and Axl Rose is left mourning his incredibly hot wife who just died. The video ends with him bolting up in bed, I guess to portray sadness, and his kneeling by her coffin as a rose that was once red slowly turns white and the video fades to black.

All in all, it’s pretty ridiculous video and one that will go down as one of the worst examples of a work of art truly not standing the test of time.

She had withered all away (Or the way music helps our sorrow in the time of loss)

Sorrow is a thing everyone encounters in their lives. Much sorrow is brought about from the loss of loved ones. This is a fate we can not escape. The loss we endure can feel hollow, deep and all encompassing, all at once.

Today we’re not gonna talk about anyone in particular, but instead attempt to explain why music, and all types of art in general, can help the grieving process, and why it’s necessary to let your emotions flow freely, and to not hide away from the pain.

Does music really help? I can’t speak for everyone, but for me it’s always been a very cathartic experience. Sometimes you just need a good cry, and it helps when there’s actually pain behind it. When my grandmother passed, it wasn’t a shock at all. She had been sick for months, and we knew what road our family was venturing down. We all knew where it was going to end with her. That doesn’t suggest however that it was easy. It was awful. Sometimes you feel fine about it, and other time’s you don’t. I remember heading home and “Hoppipolla” by Sigur Ros came on shuffle. It was at if that was the song the universe knew I needed at that moment. If you’ve ever heard it, it’s really quite beautiful. The vocals, although not understandable at all, really helped to bring everything into focus.

This is not a depressing song at all. In fact, it’s rather uplifting. It helped me in that moment to appreciate that even though my loved one was gone, I still had all the amazing memories with me.

Other times in life, you need to forget the pain. You need to go out and enjoy yourself, and celebrate life as it happens. The pain you feel is temporary, but the loss is real and palpable. You need release. Other times, you need art and entertainment that you can associate with.

The best example of this in my case has to be what I call my Pinkerton years. The album Pinkerton, by Weezer, is an amazing album, but it isn’t happy in the slightest sense. It’s an album that was thought of and came to be during Rivers Cuomo fall semester at Harvard. It’s said he was in a depressing place at this point, and the album reflects these things. Heartbreak, sadness, being withdrawn, and contempt for joy are all represented here. The last song “ Butterfly” is as depressing of a song as the band has ever written, but it’s a perfect ending for the album.

I needed this album at a low point. I was drinking a lot, and had little prospects in either a relationship with a woman or a general idea of what I wanted to get out of life. For nearly two years, the album spoke only to me, and in the end, it helped me to feel like I wasn’t alone. It was what I needed in that time period. Music showed me I wasn’t alone, and that pain was needed to wrap your head around the world. It helps you to keep going, and because of those words, and notes I’ve heard throughout my life, I’m a better person.

In conclusion, music makes the sadder times in my life better to deal with, because it’s understood that we all have pain, and without a way to handle it and get through it, we’re lost at sea. Thank you for reading.