When starting to understand and appreciate the Canadian rock gods known as Rush, it can be daunting. Yes, what I had heard previously was great, but for me, whose currently about 15 albums behind on what they created, it’s not as easy. Today we’re gonna be taking a little trip down into progressive rock territory with a little piece I thought should be called “Learning to Love Rush.”
For many rock fans, the voice of Geddy Lee is a breath of fresh air, while others go hard for the dynamic drumming of the best rock drummer to ever exist, one Neil Peart. Or maybe it’s the soaring melody of guitarist Alex Lifeson, who I assume has his own set of devotees. My point is, there are very, very few bands that match the artistry and instrumental skill that the members of Rush possess. On this journey, and for the sake of time and space, we’ll be exploring the more critically acclaimed albums, or rather the ones that made me wake up and go, “Holy Shit Rush is great.”
When I was young and uninformed, hearing the name Rush meant very little to me. I wrongly associated them with the other “classic rock” of the time, which means shit like Styx, Eagles and whatever nonsense from that era you can think of. It wasn’t until I heard the self-titled debut from 1974 that I realized the original rock gods started as a very free wielding, soaring type of classic rock that even fans of heavier music could get behind. Take a song like “Before & After,” which starts off gently enough before the bluster and energy ramps up is a perfect example of the type of musical capabilities the trip exhibited from an early point in their career. That means, this thing called RUSH was just getting started.
For my money and insight, by 1976 the band was on the cusp of a major, major breakthrough of acclaim, led by the first of five ridiculously solid albums, titled “2112,” began to showcase the true progressive rock the band was attempting to perfect. From the first track of 2112, the very long “2112:Overture,” which has a longer title I’m not going to include, shines with intensity as q voice shreds the front end while Peart decimates the background mix.
What stands out to me about this record, and the next few especially, is the exacting nature of the music. Rush as a trio is capable of some of the most interesting yet precise music of all time, yet the band never seems to get lost in the complicated nature of prog rock that so many others do. Pushing it even further, the band can rock and pummel at one moment and then go back and make a progressive sounding pop song in the way of “A Passage to Bangkok.” All of this is to say that by the time 1977’s “A Farewell to Kings” came out, the band was both highly acclaimed and unrelentingly popular, thanks to the hard work and execution of the trio.
From there, it’s hit after hit, and while I’m running out of space and time, think of the catalog of songs. “Closer to the Heart” is mesmerizing in its poignant haziness, while cuts from other records, like the classic stadium rock of “The Spirit of Radio” from 1980’s “Permanent Waves,” are still recognized for their brilliance by ever engaged music fans far and wide. There’s simply not a bad song among the bunch, which brings us to the landmark album known as “Moving Pictures.”
The record as a whole is marvelous, but a cornerstone of a great album is, you guessed it, great songs. The reason for that little game of a sentence is to demonstrate that while the band had been naturally maturing over the course of their career, there hadn’t been any album that had jerked me awake like the 40 minutes of triumph presented in “Moving Pictures.”
From the start of “MP,” you feel (or at least I did when exposed to the record) moved not only by the dynamic opening of the seminal classic “Tom Sawyer,” with its futuristic guitar and synth work, but other classics like the monolithic vibe of “YYZ” and maybe my favorite Rush song ever, “Limelight.”
The song speaks to me, one because its a brilliant fucking song, but also how personal and forward it is. While the music was composed by Peart and Lifeson jointly, the lyrics spoke directly to how Peart, and by extension of being the lead vocalist, Lee felt about the band's recognition in the world at large. Peart, who actually wrote the lyrics, had become increasingly aware that he couldn’t just be a normal dude anymore as the band's popularity took off. It sucks to feel that way for sure, but good god damn is “Limelight” a masterpiece.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this somewhat researched but more heartfelt article. In conclusion, Rush made me feel like I hadn’t in many years, and for that, I salute them. RIP to Neil Peart, may you be drumming for the cosmos.
Although a somewhat new band, Idles, in just four albums have become one of the most interesting, chaotic and politically driven bands of the Aughts and beyond. During Covid lockdown I became enamored with the band, diving headfirst into their discography with furious abandon and energetic movements accompanying the frenzied music. I hope you’ll enjoy this look into what I consider to be the Bristol England legends best songs. Enjoy!
10 REIGNS: ULTRA MONO
I’m not sure if you’d call this punk, post punk, or anything, but I know this song, not to mention the entire album, has the ability to give energy that motivates its listener to chant, stomp and raise their fists in calculated anger. Singer Joe Talbot’s throaty vocals and annoyed intensity build the song in an immediate and punishing manner, while the drums add to the chaos and bombastic nature of the song. It’s a track that very much feels like it belongs in the year it was created, 2020, and the anger simmering and eventually bubbling out is all the more proof of its potency, even now two years later.
9 ROTTWEILER: JOY AS AN ACT OF RESISTANCE
Not to say that every song isn’t thoughtful as well as intense, but few match the rage present on this roughly named track. It just fits so well with the overall messaging of the band. Musically it’s not quite post rock, but the antagonist spirit in singer Joe Talbot makes the song joyous to move to. That same idea of joy as resistance is full force in this nearly six minute rabble rouser of a song, and with the added intensity from guitarists Bowen and Kieran the heaviness of the track keeps growing as Talbot expounds, and as Jon Beavis kills it on the drums, which are amazing. The band closed with this song when I saw them, which is a fitting finale to an epic punk show.
8 MR. MOTIVATOR: ULTRA MONO
When first getting into this group of warriors, “Mr. Motivator” as it’s called was an early stand out track. The usage of celebrities' names in the playful wordplay style of Talbot stands out and paints often hilarious imagery of the names dropped during its duration. Beyond the lyrics the drumming from Jon B (I hate writing his last name, just feel bad for the guy) is stellar, with punishing galore as the song careens into a spectacular finish of brutality and angst.
7 CAR CRASH: CRAWLER
As far as technicalities go, this very much not a Hip hop song sound very much to me like what would happen if Idles tried to write a hip hop song. The bass and reverb coming from the speakers are heavily distorted in a classic hip hop manner, not to mention the cadence used when Talbot the vocalist is harping unapologetically on his human conditioning, as well as acting like a destroyer lyrically as he describes himself as a “Car Crash.”
6 THE BEACHLAND BALLROOM: CRAWLER
At first listen this could easily seem like the men of Idles were attempting to construct a crooning love song. Unless you decided to dismiss the lyrics you may have thought it was a love song. But then once you factor in the vocals, all bets are off. Talbot wails for minutes about the agony of what I assume is a failed relationship. The imagery of torment present does little to fight that concept, but among their four current records, there’s something very refreshing and poignant about this bitterly cold song.
5 DIVIDE & CONQUER: BRUTALISM
It’s not often enough that I get to use the phrase “approaching destruction,” but the guitar part by Bowden speaks to me like a film where bad guys are walking powerfully, surveying their destruction. The only difference here is the lyrics are motivated by corruption and greed, with the underlying message being how us normal folks are often pitted against each other as the shorty elite force their wills on us.
4 COLOSSUS: JOY AS AN ACT OF RESISTANCE
A few months ago I went with a buddy to see Idles here in Denver, and as the opening moments of this song, aptly named “Colossus,'' I knew the show would be something special. It has that classic slow build that serves as a perfect album or show openers. The drumming is exactly and time sensitive to the growing power of the guitars at play. It’s better live than it is on record, but the energy expelled by this quintet is deliberate, sturdy, and furiously angry at the world left for us. A perfect song for releasing energy.
3 NE TOUCHÉ PAS MOI: ULTRA MONO
Probably my favorite song from the often lauded, yet misunderstood tongue in cheek record “Ultra Mono.” The song, whose title translates to “Don’t Touch Me,” is a in your face slugger featuring Johnny Beth of Savages fame. Her vocals add an unusual style of ferocity that only she’s capable of, yet at its core the song relays on message over and over again. The idea of body autonomy is large here, and if you can’t get past the “Consent” chant in the song, you haven’t been paying attention.
2 MOTHER: BRUTALISM
Another track about struggle, “Mother” lands at number two on our Idles Top 10. The song itself fumes with volatile ramblings of the increasing need for less tolerance in the world to things like violence and sexual abuse, while also pounding in the idea that the cowardice votes of conservatives often stands in judgement of people seeking out something better, and trying to become more enlightened in a world that increasing hates shades of grey. Idles simply shine a light on the hypocrisy of the ideas of “rules for thee, not for me, which is something every “Tory,” or GOP member is in love with. In short, if you don’t have an open mind, Idles is not the band for you.
1 NEVER FIGHT A MAN WITH A PERM: JOY AS AN ACT OF RESISTANCE
Sure, the title of the song is hilarious and memorable, but underneath it’s playful name is a song brimming with more macho man than Randy Savage himself. It’s a slap in the face to every wanna be tough guy out there. You know the type. Regardless, the guitar sections are hostile and alarming, while the robustly in your face lyrics by Talbot offer even more levity while discussing unfunny topics. Again the wordplay is brilliantly executed here, not to mention the usage of a phrase “You like look a walking thyroid,” is sorely missing from music, until now that is. Live the song is a rally call for dancing and fists in the airX and it’s even a banger if you’re driving in your car. Full of energy, “Perm” stands as the best Idles song. Thanks for reading.
As a band approaches their third, and even fourth decade, they usually start to dwindle in quality, surviving off the often vast catalog of hits they may have created during that time. For Pearl Jam, who’s long weird journey began in 1990, being a band in their 30’s has only made them more independent and aware of what works. They still play 3 hour sets each night, often with a drastically different setlist than the nights before and after. Today we share the Top Five records by Pearl Jam. This list features some stuff you’ll immediately recognize, and some you aren’t as well versed in. Thanks for reading!
5 VITALOGY (1994)
We start our countdown with a record from the early days when Pearl Jam as a unit went to war with Ticketmaster and all the chaos and change that forced. By the band's third record, they were arguably the biggest rock band around, but with the Ticketmaster controversy still happening, the band found themselves up against a wall, commercially. “Vitalogy” kicks off with rockers in the shape of “Last Exit” and the punk rock tinges of “Spin the Black Circle.” Still, there’s plenty of emotionally raw numbers for the emotional PJ fans. Case in point, “Nothingman,” with its slow, somber, and wonderful narrative. The vocals are day dreams of an abandoned illusion consisting of what dreams we chose to forget and not pursue. It’s this emotional pull and push that makes the song so beautifully tragic. Songs like that stand musically apart from tracks like “Corduroy” or the haunting consistently of “Tremor Christ,” that ramp up the musical intensity. But then you get songs like the utterly odd “Bugs” thrown in while also including “Immortality.” Give it a listen soon, it's better than you remember.
4 NO CODE (1996)
Even among the hardcore PJ fans I’ve met, it’s rare to hear this being ladued as one of their best, but “No Code.” to me is the brilliance coming out from darkness in a manner most wouldn’t expect from the Seattle titans. The opener is slow yes, which helps once you get to the rocking “Hail Hail,” all the way to the blink and you’ll miss it “Lukin.” There’s also plenty of epic moments throughout. “Present tense” is a master stroke of alternative brilliance, with the lyrical component being serene but also eye opening. The album overall wasn’t as commercially successful, which is strange given its content, but everyone has an overlooked album. It's not quite to the level of, say, a “Pinkerton'' (the early Weezer album that was initially dismissed by fans) but still, it's hard for me to understand why this one didn’t do as well. Sure the hits aren’t as soaring and obvious, but tracks like “In My Tree,”with its tribal drum beat and Vedder's wide ranging voice, prove that the record isn’t one to be missed. I’ve fallen in love heavy with this record in the last year or so, and continue to hope everyone will give it another chance.
3 VS. (1993)
From the opening moments of “Vs.” all the way until the conclusion of “Indifference” there’s a certain gritty danger permeating through this record. That danger morphs and changes as the record goes, with “Daughter” being one of the more gentle sounding songs, even if it’s only musically tender and not lyrically gentle. Tracks like “Animal” and album opener “Go” both have that raw energy coasting through them, but then you have a track like “Elderly Woman…” which showcases the anger and reservations of never leaving a small town like so many others who gave up on experiencing the world. On the other end of that, there are songs like “Blood” and “Leash” that are as aggressive as the band gets during the 45 or so minute runtime of the record. Overall the record delivers in different ways than its blockbuster predecessor, but it’s way more immediate in movement than their debut was, and you can tell the time between records, albeit small, did help to make the band better than they were before, even if the record didn’t end up being as perfect or popular as “Ten.” When listening to songs like like the earlier mentioned “Blood” you feel vindicated in battle, as if you’re fighting with every fiber of your life, while during selections like the classic “Rearviewmirror” you feel the need to figuratively haul ass away from the dangers of the present, bracing for change. All of this encompasses the struggles and action among the band to strive to be their best.
2 YIELD (1998)
In 98 I was just figuring out my love of not just rock but metal and other varieties, but I’ll always remember getting this one random Sunday at a backwoods walmart I happened to be in with my mom. I loved “Brain of J” and the harsh reality of change it put in the forefront. The song obviously is a pointed look at the death of President Kennedy, but it's also written from the perspective of a person who grew up without seminal events happening just before his arrival, growing up in a different world than the one his parents mentioned. The album feels more sentimental than many of their others to me as well, with songs like “Given to Fly” being a sort of life affirming moment you can only get from good ole’ american rock music. The one two punch of “Given” and “Wishlist” also earmark the band as truly American in their attitudes, loves and philosophies. Next to Tom Petty maybe, I can’t think of a band better suited to address the woes of modern blue collar Americans, even if they are rich these days. “Yield” as a record has this ability to settle you while discussing the harsh realities of our world. It even knows when to be sarcastic in the form of a rant known as “Do the Evolution,” which again thumbs its nose at our constructs and institutions. Track after track is stellar, concluding with rockers like “MFC,” anthems in the way of “In Hiding,” and plenty of other memorables tracks. Also, having Matt Cameron of Soundgarden fame join the fold really helped things along in terms of creativity.
1 TEN (1991)
What can you really say about “Ten” at this point that hasn’t been stated before? Mostly nothing, except that it’s just as good, Maybe better than you remember. When I began writing this, I was fairly certain my number two choice, “Vs.” was going to be the number one. That is, until I actually listened to “Ten” for the first time in god knows how many years. What I found was that not only have certain songs become more relevant than ever, but also songs that have more emotion running through them than your average rock band. From the start it’s clear Vedder wore his massive heart on his sleeve. Songs like “Alive” deal with the pain only family’s can provide, while opener “Once” flies above the real world Problems inherent in the lyrics. Then you have tracks like the ominous and heartbreaking “Black,” not to mention the now commonly occurring themes that make “Jeremy” all the more terrifying and eye opening. Many times listening to “Ten” I felt that familiar connection to the lyrical content simmering throughout “Tens” duration. It’s not only one of the best rock albums of the still getting farther away 90’s, but also the best collection of songs the five Piece of Seattle has ever conjured up. Thanks for reading!
Since early on in their career, the Arcade Fire have been a band worth watching, more or less. With their first three albums they became stars, and though they’ve suffered slightly from some not perfect records, the “Suburbs” still stands as an indie triumph in the shadow of glitzy pop and rap. Today, we’re going to discuss my personal favorite, the critically acclaimed third album “ The Suburbs.” Enjoy.
From the announcement of the album’s name and the slow leak of songs that were presented, you could tell this was going to be another lesson in how to craft an album that bridges the gap between indie rock and epic arena rock. Arcade Fire is so good at shaping an album into what they want to create at this point that It should be a crime, and many of their records are full of emotional turmoil, and the importance of coming of age. “The Suburbs” is no different. The first song, which also happens to be the title track, opens us up to a very realistic world. It’s a slow kind of Sunday song. The band has mentioned this album was inspired and imagined on a trip that Win and wife Regine took all over the country, just driving around. You can feel that on the full length of the record. It's the sort of free spirited album every generation coming into the world should have.
The music is steady, and Win Butler’s use of piano is the perfect undertone for the start of this album.Listening to the opening track you can tell it’s very much a road record. The winding opening of “The Suburbs” sets the stage for a driving record that is at times both peaceful and beautiful, as well as dark and sinister. From there we’re treated to the hurried, shimmering darkness of “Ready to Start.” I’ve always thought of the first song as a little teaser and an intro to the rest of the album, and the buildup and feel of the second song doesn’t do much to discourage that idea in my head.
The great thing about this band is their ability to make songs that are at once pushing their sound in a new direction and reminding you of where they were previously. “Ready to Start” is easily recognizable as an Arcade Fire song. At times in the music the listener gets the vibe present throughout their Sophomore release “Neon Bible.” The whole song is quintessential AF. Furthermore, “Ready to Start” the second song in a perfect row of 5 great songs. Don’t get me wrong; the album is remarkable, but the first 5 songs are so impressively strong that it really builds the momentum and helps the rest of the album evolve and open eyes.
By “Modern Man” and “Rococo” you start to see the themes of the album building into one cohesive vision. I’ve mentioned this before, but the album to me is about the death of innocence. The struggles of this “Modern Man” are easy to relate to because we are all these people. You’re taught as a youngster growing up that everyone is special in their own way, but when we grow up we quickly realize that we’re not all special, and some of us are doomed for mediocrity. The band themselves are able to make music that is so thoughtful and powerful that you really at times forget that they weren’t always so prolific in the quality of output.
One of my favorite songs on the album is the feverish, and crazed “Empty Room.” From the violent violin opening to the immediate pace, this song is a rocker in a very unrocking way. Regine, finally allowing us to hear her voice on this recording, is frantically singing about the perils of growing up and the safety many of us have felt inside the four walls that make up our room. This is a clear example of the band making a lot of focused noise. At times you might think they’re losing control of the music, but not only is the music coming out of them so fast, they are mastering it and are growing in leaps and bounds as the thick, dense sounds exit their bodies. From then we’re immediately thrust into the Springsteen-esque “City of No Children.” The lyrics here are as good at telling a story as any other song on the album, and it’s a perfect entrance to the middle of the record, which is full of weight and meat.
This album came out three years after the previous record “Neon Bible.” Now, while the band did tour quite a bit for Bible, the growing success they were finding was instrumental in the band wanting to take some time away and grow as artists. You can absolutely tell the amount of structure and overall power that this band had gained during the down time between albums. Songs like “ Half Light 1 & 2” are place holders for the momentum, and they manage to marry the concepts on this album.
On one hand you have the knowledge of knowing that your once youthful passion may have been misplaced because you didn’t know what the world actually had to offer, but on the other hand, at least you got to experience it. You’re likely a better person. Sometimes it’s a good thing to put your faith in things you aren’t sure about.
In these types of writings, I’ve tried hard to give a detailed but less song oriented structure to the pieces, but when the album is this amazing, it’s hard not to discuss everything you’re hearing. That’s the power of this album. You can’t help but feel like you’re part of something when Win Butler is echoing his pain about things “Have changed so much since I was a little child” in the finale of “Half Light II(Celebration). Trust me, this isn’t a wonderfully happy record, but the power and weight behind the words are unifying and powerful in a very cathartic way.
The album then switches gears a bit and brings us to the one two sequence of “Suburban War” and the thick, heavy sounds of “Month of May.” “War” whirls down a slow, pretty path and again the pain is palpable in Butler's voice as well as the instruments of the other band members. One of my favorite parts of the entire album is the shifting of gears that occurs at the end of this track. I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s just a flood of sound and the vocals are as haunting and ethereal as you’ve ever heard in an Arcade Fire album.
From then we’re abruptly thrust into the “Month Of May.” This has to be one of the best and more overtly aggressive songs in the band's whole catalog. When I first heard it I couldn’t believe it was the same band. It’s easily the closest this band has ever gotten to punk rock. The drums and guitar are so forceful and strong that you almost lose track of the general concept behind the song. But in the end it’s ok, because the song perfectly kicks ass and takes names in the way this band hadn’t done previously.
One of the best little tricks of the album is its reuse of lyrics. “Month of May” and “ Wasted Hours” are the best examples. “First they built the roads then they built the town” are both used and also used in different ways. “Wasted Hours” has all the gorgeous tones of classic Arcade Fire. It might be the most open song on the album. When vocalist Butler wants to lay it on in an emotional way, he knows exactly what to do. This album has stayed so strong in my head because of this ability. It’s the perfect album for the moments when I think about my developmental years. Kids would drive around for hours, hoping confidently for a bright future. Sometimes it works out, and sometimes you wake up years later and it’s awash in a mist of troubles and failures. That for me is the concept behind the “Suburbs.”
“We Used to Wait” is a solid start to the last chapter of this album. The piano is great here, and although the tempo doesn’t really pick up until the conclusion, it’s a very good song that goes hand in hand with the tracks that both follow it and came before it. From here we venture back to the suburbs for the modern-day of the Sprawls. “Sprawls I(Flatland)” is a hauntingly painful song. It stinks of the failures we’ve discussed earlier. The pain behind Butler's voice here is the most clear they are the whole album. This leads us into what is quite possibly the strongest song the band has ever written.
“Sprawls II(Mountains Beyond Mountains)”has a very retro 80’s vibe to it, and you can clearly hear the makings of styles that would become the basis for the next album. It’s a down beat but danceable. Like the rest of the album, it contains moments of freedom and feeling invincible. Also contained are clear-cut downers about the realities of life outside of the “Suburbs.” Regine’s voice soars on the track, and it’s clear to see why it was such a joining song for the band. They’re all at their best here, and Regine especially hits it out of the park with her unique but beautiful singing.
The album closer is a slow reminder of where we began. “The Suburbs(Continued)” is a slow but appropriate down wind sound that wraps up the album. As a person who loves adventures and overwhelmingly positive experiences, the lyrics “If I could have it back, all the time that we Wasted, I’d only waste it again” speaks to the free spirit inside many of us that loves for the responsibilities and rewards that come with adulthood, but also yearns for the time when this were beautiful and everything worked out. For us, that was in “The Suburbs.”
Where do you begin with an article called “The Rise and Fall” of anything? Well, for this writer, it starts here: while there was a time when not only was Kanye West the best musician performing, but he seemed mildly reasonable. That time is long past though. Either way, this will not be a celebration of who West is as a performer, as a man, and as a celebrity. It will be the opposite of praise, and if you’re uncomfortable with that, I apologize and suggest you realize who West actually is.
For many, including myself, Hurricane Katrina was when i first deftly acknowledged West as a man intent on staying whatever the fuck he was inspired to. It was refreshing, yes, but it showed a propensity for outlandish statements just for the sake of an outlandish statement. West knew exactly what he was doung, and while its definitely true that George Bush doesnt give a fuck about black people, it was a genuis move to keep his name in the news right before a huge solo album was entering the world.
With that statement, Kanye West had arrived, to the point Even my mom spitefully knew who he was after that. You also had the mouthshut vocal range West produced on the breakout track “Through the wire” to show you this was someone was something special
When I think of this man's career, five things stand out to me, which we’ll be discussing further in this space. For years, West had positioned himself as a sounding board for what forward thinking hip hop could be. Every album released during his massive popularity rise was a classic. The Graduation trilogy as its known put KW on the map, with classic bangers like “Jesus Walks,” “All Falls Down,” and of course, the song of that summer, “Gold Digger.” It was all infectious, and his genius was obvious. This was long before records like “Pablo” started to fray the edges of his genius with more and more self observed misses like “Famous.” Before that however, we got “My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy.”
This album is so strong from start to finish that its damn near impossible to truncate it into a post that’s not an in depth look at every song. I’ll try my best though.
Let’s start with the multitude of guests on this record. It’s staggering and the various voices force West not only to bring his A game, but it also sets the tone of of unpredictably that finds the listener at every song. Guests like Jay, Rihanna, Raekwon from the 36 Chambers respectfully shows up, as do Rick Ross, Kid Cudi, Nicki Minaj, John Legend, and dark horses like Chris Rock( who’s monologue at the end Blame Game is hilarious and raunchy) and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon all show up and give their best in function of West’s vision.
An early cut like “All of the Lights” is a triumph of hip hop history, and while I rarely like solo Rihanna, this is another example of how great she is as a guest star. Then you have a song like “Runaway,” which is a nine minute monolith of music that displays and blows away anything he’s done before or since. The way the track uses the minimal beats early on and grows and builds from their is quite simply brilliant musicianship.
It’s recommended listening as you need to listen to this record all the way to fully immerse yourself in the darkness West has composed for us, because it works best as one singular piece as opposed to different tracks for different days. It runs the gamut of musical imagination, and it’s for that reason this stands as the best work of Mr. West's career, so far at least.
After “MBDTF” sent everyone into a tailspin, Yeezus was a complete flip of the script in how West compelled and produced an album. Rumors swirled for months that the production of the record was a mess, but after getting much needed guidance from the incomparable Rick Rubin and slimming the record down drastically to the ten songs that formed the album, it’s hard to say it wasn’t worth it.
From the early moments of tracks like “Black Skinhead,” which finds West again working with Daft Punk and putting white people on notice for practices that we as a people might not even know is wrong. It’s a great mindset though when an artist is angry but also willing to not shy away from difficult issues. The whole album is easily the most aggressive and angry of his catalogue, but it’s also his most potent in terms of originality. “Yeezus” also shows that he can carry an album with minimal guests(unlike the other records, not to say it’s a bad thing) as he circumvents his critiques of culture with unrelenting songs like “New Slaves” and the eye opening sincerity and pain behind “Blood on the Leaves.”
You may be wondering how we bridge the gap between genius West and whatever he is now, which is certainly nowhere near genius level. It all starts with his mom, Donda, who sadly passed during plastic surgery, and if you know anything about KW, you know his mother was everything to him. She was a sounding board, and when she left, a lot of that genius he possessed started to fade as well. It’s hard not to relate to that loss in a significant way, but it’s even sadder when you see the drastic change in Kanye the performer, and the person.
Two of the biggest issues are his associations for the last five years or so, as West has consistently shown the public a few very important things. One, that you can be a brilliant artist while not being a good person. Two, he’s a person capable of making the ultra up their own ass, self -importance of Kim Kardashian seems somehow normal and in need of support, when in fact she’s neither. She’s still the same horrible human being we’ve always known, but it’s to be applauded at how “normal” she seems when compared to the behaviors of her ex-husband.
In short, Kanye was once a legend, now, in his current parish phase, it’s hard to find much worth celebrating. Hopefully that change is coming, but we shall see.
It’s hard to put into words how much I enjoy the epic metal of Mastodon, so i won't even try. Instead, let's just jump right into the countdown, Follow us for more content at @thedeathofthemixtape on Instagram, Facebook and Spotify. Thanks for reading.
10 ALL THE HEAVY LIFTING: THE HUNTER
Something to know about me is that I love love love soaring vocals and big choruses. It’s almost as if it’s implanted in my DNA. This song has both of those things, which is likely why it ends up as Number three on our countdown. The “Just Close Your Eyes,” section of the chorus manages to tingle the skin as the story of a frantic family trying to survive is unfolded before us. Lyrically it’s a powerful song able to also shine musically in an introspective way. The band is utterly focused and winds through sections with ease and a grace that is missing sorely in music. In the end though, “All the Heavy Lifting” is about solidarity and remaining calm under extreme pressure
9 IRON TUSK: LEVIATHAN
Oh my god the opening of this insanely brutal song is like no other openings I’ve ever heard. They don’t even get to 100 miles per hour in the first five seconds because that’s where it fucking starts. It’s as in your face and rambunctious as anything they’ve ever written, and in the context of the Moby Dick inspired concept album, you can imagine this track being set to imagery of the mighty creature devastating everything it touches in the ocean waters, and not taking any prisoners, but only lives. It’s a polarizing song that hits hard with every punch, and also remains one of the heaviest tracks they’ve ever created.
8 AQUA DEMENTIA: LEVIATHAN
When listening to this blistering track from the epic “Leviathan,” I like to imagine the song being written while the band members, aka crew members, are fighting the great whale, and for their lives on a monstrous boat on the sea. It’s that chaotic energy that’s makes this song so powerful and intense. The guitars from Hinds and Keihler don’t much hurt either. At roughly four minutes, it’s more music than vocals, yet it never gets old or tedious. That’s how you know it’s being done right. You may not like the band or genre, but you simply can’t say these guys don’t know their instruments.
7 MORE THAN I COULD CHEW: HUSHED & GRIM
A newer selection gets lucky number 7 on the top ten Mastodon countdown. The guitars and drums rose and fall like a storm passing through a heartland, while the vocals of Troy Sanders shimmers brightly through the murky instrumental sections. The high pitch wail matches well with the more throaty vocals, which again speaks to the versatility of the band and of Sanders as a vocalist as well. In short, another heavy ass masterfully constructed epic price of music.
6 THE MOTHERLOAD: ONCE MORE 'ROUND THE SUN
The video with the butts. Yes, you read that right. Mastodon tends to be all over the place with their music videos, and for this clip, they incorporate ladies you’re more likely to see in a Juvenile video than a metal one. Either way though it works its magic, and adds to the essence of the song. Speaking on the song, the drums and vocals, both presented by Brann Dailor make themselves the stars of the show, and thus they propel the song to a high energy place that makes it difficult to ignore, whether you like it or not. I also really dig the Ozzy-esque sounding vocals mixed through the track. It doesn’t come off as trying to rip him off either, which is easier said than done when you try to pay homage.
5 BLACK TONGUE: THE HUNTER
for my money there’s few opening moments guitar riffs that match the explosive kinetic energy of “Black Tongue,” from the often overlooked “Hunter” album, which in itself is a tragedy. Regardless the vocals are epic and full of dark whimsy, while Dailor’s drums fight for the attention, much to the joy of this listener.
4 COLONY OF BIRCHMEN: BLOOD MOUNTAIN
One of the best things the band does is concept albums. Time after time they’ve demonstrated, and with “Blood Mountain” from 2006, the may have made an album that matches up against their other great concept album “Leviathan.” Accompanied by Queens of the Stone Age founded Joshua Homme, the song whirls and climbs slowly up the treacherous mountain in search of safety, which likely won’t be found. Homme especially adds a great mixture to the track with his signature voice. I wish they'd have more guest vocalists, but if he’s all we ever get, I’ll gladly take it.
3 MARCH OF THE FIRE ANTS: REMISSION
My first introduction to this band was this video, as seen back when MTV2 played video(Seriously read that sentence again and mourn that the channel specifically made for videos doesn’t even do it.) Moving on, the vocals are cutthroat and gravelly, and the power behind the rhythm section is top notch, even for a band at their early days. Almost everything about the song is a force unto itself, but of all the new wave of american heavy metal bands that came forth, Mastodon managed to stick through it and have become an amazing band,.
2 TREAD LIGHTLY: ONCE MORE 'ROUND THE SUN
It’s hard to top a killer album opening song, but they always seem to start off every album in wonderfully epic and big ways. “Tread Lightly” off the most recent “Once More ‘Round the Sun” is another solid example of the band blowing up sonically to introduce a new record. The vocals are harrowing and hopeful, and even enlightening at moments. Seriously it’s one of the most uplighting metal tracks I’ve ever heard, and because of this it finds itself way up on the countdown. Doing this is tricky, especially in the genre they’ve been lumped in with. It’s an eye opening example of what metal can do, and along with the brilliance of the instrumentation, it never gets old and played out. If anything it gets better with every listen.
1 BLOOD & THUNDER: LEVIATHAN
Maybe an obvious sort of choice, but the song is so well thought out and paced that it’s difficult to argue with, at least in my eyes. From the crunchy opening of the guitars, to the blowup at the end, this song easily has everything a fan could want out of his band. The opening track off of their mind-blowingly good, timeless record “Leviathan,” “Blood and Thunder” shatters windows with it’s sprawling drumming, the backup vocals, and especially the guitars. This is likely the band’s best known track, and always a highlight at their live performances. I can’t even imagine another track opening the record, which is good, because it sets the epic scale and quick pace for the remainder of the record. Records like this don’t come around too often, and it’s song like this that makes albums this special. The vocals at the end regarding “the White Whale” only add to the tension of the song, and for that reason it lands at number one. Thanks for reading!
Throughout the duo’s reign in the early Aughts indie rock revival scene, Jack White, along with his then by then ex wife continued their band and over the course of roughly 15 years, made an impact few others did in the genre, unless you’re the Strokes. Regardless, today we’re jumping into a sorta on the fly entry. I hope you enjoy it.
10 IN THE COLD COLD NIGHT: ELEPHANT
When this track dropped, audiences, myself included, found themselves enraptured in the slow strength of Meg's voice reverberating over the singular guitar. Its a sexy track, very accessible, and it gave Meg a platform to be more than just a drummer. At number ten, “in the cold Cold Night welcomes us to the world of Megs' lovely, raspy voice, and a rarely mentioned gem in the Stripes catalog.
9 THE BIG THREE KILLED MY BABY: DE STIJL
Since first hearing this rocker, I’ve always found it to be more in vein with 70’s stoner rock than the genre tey found themselves in. The drums are epic, boisterous even, but the guitar riff is oozing with black Sabbath heaviness, and the vocals are forced and angry, which lends itself perfectly to the anger simmering during this killer track. After all, they should be angry, they found out their baby is dead.
8 THE HARDEST BUTTON TO BUTTON: ELEPHANT
A video that's more remembered than the song, but listening to the track again reminds me that the song is where it all started. By this point, the Stripes were the biggest band in indie rock, and arena’s came calling, “Hardest Button to Button” is a perfect compliment to the newly enlarged venue sizes, it fills a large room with unattainable energy, especially when the chorus hits. Its sing structure isn’t as unique as their earlier works, but the energy, the drums and the electric guitar all make this an important inclusion in this list.
7 FELL IN LOVE WITH A GIRL: WHITE BLOOD CELLS
Many songs stand out over time, and for me this is one of the most vivid reminders of where I was when I first came into touch with this kick ass Detroit duo. Nearly immediately after hearing the pulsing energy of “Fell in Love with a Girl” the album was purchased and filled my house with electric jams that were unique and familiar all at the same time. Even after all these years, I still get pumped when “Aluminum” rips apart with reckless abandon,
6 HOTEL YORBA: WHITE BLOOD CELLS
For a band known for being on the rock spectrum, few songs swing to country tinges as easily as “Hotel Yoruba.” It has gentle, albeit upbeat guitar and drum patterns, but the lyrical content fills the listeners heart with a swaying relaxing sense of comfort. When White yells “Let’s Get Married,” you feel the love radiating from his senses and brain, and it makes the song that much more sentimental for me.
5 A MARTYR FOR MY LOVE FOR YOU: ICKY THUMP
One of the saddest songs on this countdown , “Martyr” captures all the hardships of a relationship failing. The lyrical sections of the song, sung softly at first touch on the complexities of this failed love, while as the song progresses the turmoil in the singers heart comes to the surface, with grave warnings of future actions being spread through the song. As a person prone to outbursts and being mentally unstable, I feel the urge to leave people alone, for fear of overdoing this. This theme permeates the song, and leaves the listener reeling with emotion.
4 THIS PROTECTOR: WHITE BLOOD CELLS
All these years later and I still don’t really know what this song is about. I do know I miss the piano being used by this band, but oh well. It’s a simple song, but with simple examining you find the track to be a call to arms to protect your world, or at least that’s how I see it. It’s under three minutes, but that’s all it needs to be memorable.
3 DEAD LEAVES AND THE DIRTY GROUND: WHITE BLOOD CELLS
And finally we get to the raucous beginnings of the band's mighty reign. This didn’t the first song the band ever released, but for many it was the first time they heard the album and song. It’s psychedelically heavy at the forefront, yet it manages to veer into garage rock heaven immediately after that. It’s one of the bands best known songs, and in general is just a top tier song. For these reasons it lands at number three on our White Stripes countdown.
2 WE’RE GOING TO BE FRIENDS: WHITE BLOOD CELLS
One of the coolest images from any White Stripes video is the entirety of this video. Jack softly plays guitar and regaling us with the memorable days of school as an adolescent, while Meg peacefully sleeps on the couch next to him. Beyond that though, the song is simple and beautiful in the way many of their songs tend to be, but there’s a gorgeous naivety to it that profoundly displays what it’s like in the simpler years of your life where the only thing you want to do is explore the world with your new favorite person in the world, who you just happened to meet that same day.
1 SEVEN NATION ARMY: ELEPHANT
I still remember the moment my old friend and I first listened to this record. Of course, the now classic “Seven Nation Army” had already been blowing up the FM frequencies, but it’s the powerful opening this track gives to the album that truly makes “Elephant” even better. With Meg on drums and principal songwriter Jack White laying down grooves and a blues infused guitar part, this song catapults the listener to a type of rock that becomes hugely popular and anthemic, even though that maybe wasn’t the intent. It’s still one of their best overall songs, and well these days, for better or worse, it’s used far and wide at sporting events. I can’t say for sure how the White Stripes feel about that, but I’m sure it garnered them more fans than they expected when they started out in a room in Detroit.
Over the course of four eye opening records, Kevin Parker has managed to not only bring us some of the best alternative music of the last decade, but he’s also been able to find a niche in his creativity that doesn’t hobble him based on subject matter. While no official word has ever been given on how much Parker pulls from his personal life and past relationships in order to reach his fullest potential, many of his songs appear deeply experiential. Today we’ll be talking about Impala’s music, and how in just a matter of records he’s gone from underground sensation to full fledged rock star capable of selling out huge festivals and arenas.
From the first track of Tame Impala’s debut album “Innerspeaker,” (which very well could be a metaphor for pouring out the turmoil and regrets that fill all of us from time to time) Parker is able to paint a vivid picture of a lovelorn man meandering contently “sitting around smoking weed.” The she in question on this song, titled “It is Not Meant to Be,” doesn’t appreciate Parker’s approach to life, and the song is a construct of the many things that could go wrong once you realize that the shoes of a particular relationship no longer are able to fit the feet of the participants.
Mutterings of this nature abound on many of these songs, but it’s this first track that let’s us know that Tame Impala, and really Parker solely, are able to go there and bring this type of music to a place where few ever dared to stray. Part of why this works so well for Parker is that it comes off as genuine. Songs work best for mass audiences when you’re able to connect to experiences that the listener has also been through, and throughout many of his songs, Parker is able to do that with ease.
As you go further into his works though, influences and romantic nuances are trickled through many of the songs. This helped to make those first two albums so powerful in terms of emotions stemming from previous experiences. On Parker’s sophomore release, “Lonerism,” the themes of lost loves and regrettable moments sneak a little bit more into the forefront. On a track like “Why Don’t You Make Up Your Mind” from the first record “Innerspeaker,” the message is more narrow in terms of a typical person incapable of being decisive in regards to what they want, but Parker expands on that greatly on “Lonerism.”
Tame as an entity continually straddles the line between normally routine things in psych rock (i.e. visions of the future or of the end of the world), but what they add in grandiose imagery is only as good as the lyrics being presented, and this is where Parker kills it. Even a song like “Apocalypse Dreams,” seems like a letter from a person struggling to understand what is happening in his sphere of existence. The song is more about the monotonous nature of life and how nothing ever truly changes. Whether or not this is in regards to a former partner or not, it’s plays to the idea of the ability to romanticize anything, from a breakup that was always supposed to happen, or to the eventual death of our world.
For every song whose meaning is indeterminate and abstract though, there’s a song like number four on “Lonerism,” “Mind Mischief.” The song and video alike are both built to perfect effect and fully burrow into the concept of unrequited love. When Parker belts out “She remembers my name,” you know the thrill of someone you feel connected to actually knowing who you are. This might seem strange for some, but as a person who’s had feelings for someone I barely knew, or who I was convinced had no idea I even existed, this concept is enthralling and exciting at the same time.
Above all else though, the song that most clearly speaks to heartbreak on the second album is without question “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards.” Many people have felt this way (I know I certainly have), but the pain involved in any long term relationship can have a crippling effect on the participants. This song works so well because it’s relatable, human, and the listener can quickly find themselves in the headspace of the musician sending out his signals of heartbreak, uncertainty and misdirection.
I know the pain, specifically because I’ve lived through it. I’ve been at those points where I can recall a time where I heard a former partner's voice calling out to me, and I’ve felt stagnant in a position where there was no easy way out. The song’s brilliance and triumph are ones made from the blood, sweat and tears of it’s composer. On the third record, all nodes or nuanced statements are essentially blown away for something much more literal, and in your face with the pain and openness exhibited.
The first obvious sign of this direction on the album comes to us during the song “Yes I’m Changing.” The record all in all is a mix between a typical psych-rock record with sweeping beats that pulsate, but there’s a very clear indication that this is a R&B classic breakup record simply done in the way that Parker had refined on the first two albums. Now while Parker has gone on record and said this is not a breakup album, it’s hard to see his logic when discussing it’s most personally profound tracks. That’s why “I’m Changing” is such a stark contrast to what had come before. I know the pain behind the song because, while I was still getting to know this record, a detachment from my ex-wife was taking place and enveloping every fiber of my being. This song became my pick me up and make me understand song, even though all the keys I needed to make sense of this terrible event were already in my head, waiting to be worked out.
On that track, you don’t get the impression of a good guy or a bad guy. Breakups are incredibly hard, and the more time you spend trying to make it work, the worse you feel when it ultimately ends. No one comes out the victor, just two more people with a little less trust and hope in their hearts. Over and over again on “Currents” you are thrust into that breakup mentality. Songs like “Eventually” drill the notion home that mistakes happen and that everyone will “Eventually” make their way through the downsides of failed love. When Parker croons “But I know that I'll be happier and I know you will too,” you feel the relief of knowing that even though it sucks at this moment, it does eventually become better. I, for one, can fully understand the concept of moving on is easier if I never knew a person, but with all that hard work, you’re able to grow and set out on a new path with your remade self to attempt to make something work in this toxic, never good enough world. Halfway through “Currents” we meet a song filled with classical romantic moments of regret, and of witnessing the person you want giving their attention to someone that isn’t you.
That song “The Less I know the Better,” isn’t only the best track on the album, it seems to be the most rational and realistic. We’ve all felt how Parker feels when he explains how he “was doing fine without ya, ‘til I saw your face, now I can’t erase.” This section is a huge bomb of truth dropped, simply because we all know what the feelings and emotions running through you are like when these moments come up, usually as a relationship deteriorates and all sense of what is supposed to work and not work suddenly become a thing you can’t separate.
Songs like the one’s mentioned, as well as tracks further down the tracklist of the album (“Cause I’m a Man,” or album closer “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”) further build the notion that while “Currents” may not be an autobiography of a breakup in Parker’s life, at the very least it has an overarching theme of heartbreak, suffering and the resolve of a person trying to learn from their fuck ups and unfortunate circumstances, and how that pain can truly be a catalyst for change.
At the start of the year, 2020 literally the night before my step-mom Babs passed away, my wife and I got the most recent Tame Impala record, “The Slow Rush.”. I didn't know it at the time, but yet again a Tame Impala record would be very much like my year. A slow rush of emotions, huge changes, massive decisions and plenty more unsettling news to grapple with had never reeling emotionally and mentally.
The album, while not the classic that many perhaps expected, is still powerful, albeit heavily produced and nuanced in its soundscapes. In other words, a normal between album progression from Kevin Parker. The songwriting is mesmerizing and beautiful, nothing new there, but the growing maturity of Parker has started to be reflected in his more precise but ultimately more groove oriented psyche-pop. It’s not perfect, but it doesn't deserve the lackluster response it's gotten from many.
Much of the vibe surrounding the “the Slow Rush” revolves around tightly arranged dance notes, with more upbeat elements than on previous efforts. We already talked about this in some length earlier in this piece, but “Lost in Yesterday,” likely the best track of the album for my money, deals with lyrical content that's rooted in real life stresses and turmoil about the future that faces all of us.
It’s easy to get lost (no pun intended) during the four minute run time, most likely because of the infectious beat, but seeing the song live, with a full band and a light show that would make Pink Floyd jealous, really is something that takes your breathe away.
Plenty of folks apparently didn’t latch on to this record like Parker’s previous three, but there are plenty of great songs to go around. “Borderline,”, with its synth dance vibes and difficult to pin down lyrics., is a song about the dangers of contentment, and what may come out of that feeling. You can tell during the song that feeling of uncertainty even though he’s grateful to have found a worthy life partner.
Again all of this is done on the shoulders of Kevin Parker, who’s mastery in songwriting is now very well documented. “Slow Rush” and its parts might not be masterpiece worth, but tracks like “Borderline” show no less skill or attention than what we’ve become accustomed to when it comes to Tame Impala. With four albums Parker has changed not only the shape of alternative rock, but has also left the lines blurred in a world that’s able to combine indie, psyche rock, R&B and whatever else Parker decides to integrate into his works.
IIncubus has always been a varied band. Although I haven't listened to them routinely in a few albums, large amounts of their work are great. They swing from heavier ranges, to eclectic tracks that vaguely sound like other styles or artists, to swoony ballads to make female knees weak. One of the few successful bands that was initially lumped into “Nu- Metal” they’ve managed to build a large base over the years, and although they aren’t in my top ten all time, there's no discounting them as a bad band. Today we count down what I think are their favorite tracks. Enjoy! Up top you’ll find a link to listen as you read.
10 HERE IN MY ROOM: A CROW LEFT OF THE MURDER
Without a doubt one of their most romantically charged songs. “Here in my Room” is the tale of lame late nights forcibly trying to have fun until suddenly, you’re greeted by a lovely vision of a person you have yet to meet. This is one of the best examples of world building the band has done, and the guitars are inescapable in a beautiful, science fiction inspired way. Boyd even explains in detail how if “the world would fall apart in a fiction worthy wind” it would be fine because he’d be with the most important person in his life. It’s a triumph that is often overlooked because it wasn’t a radio hit, but as you can see by its placement here, it’s one of the reasons I keep going back to this band.
9 IN THE COMPANY OF WOLVES: IF NOT NOW, WHEN?
By this point in the band's career, there had begun talk that the band had seen their peak. Though still a massive draw, the critical acclaim was sliding, yet when you listen to the meandering, dark tinge of “In the Company of Wolves,” it feels like a brilliant and natural profession. It’s also more experimental than many of the other songs on this record. Boyd’s lyrics in this song portray a brutal, tough world. The boy mentioned early in the song is now dead, figuratively speaking, as the man out in the wild is forced to navigate a black, unflinching world. The instrumental section perfectly compliments the natural growth of the vocals. In the end, at least in my mind, it became a classic and a reminder of his great these guys can be.
8 A KISS TO SEND US OFF: LIGHT GRENADES
While I still have yet to hear this album to the extent of some of the earlier ones, this track absolutely left me blindsided in the best way possible. It’s one of the heaviest, most epic openings they’ve ever done, and when the rock begins, you're lost to the momentum. Everything about this track kicks my ass. Boyd has a little bit of a Mike Patton thing happening in the chorus, which is fine by me, but beyond that the guitar soars, his voice soars higher, and the drums somehow reach even higher to make a truly mind blowing track that is Incubus at their heaviest. A seriously underrated track that I still can’t get enough of.
7 SICK SAD LITTLE WORLD: A CROW LEFT OF THE MURDER
For a band that has been known as a melodic, sorta romantically tinged rock band, they never get enough credit for their skills as musicians. The bass line in the first verse reminds me of the early funk of the chili Peppers, while yet again Brandon Boyd’s vocals soar with biting critiques of the surrounding grimness of the outside world. Performed live the song is even more upbeat and open to butt shaking.
6 DIG: LIGHT GRENADES
Quite frankly, this is one of the most sincere, heartfelt songs I’ve ever heard from the California rockers. Everything about this track makes me grateful for the people in my life, as we all secretly go through things deep in ourselves. Finding a way to come to terms with your past, and your mistakes is a big part of adulthood, which the lyrics represent and display in a sobering way that still manages to impact the listener. Life is always going to be hard, but the biggest part of that life is continually finding a way to dig past the bad shit in search of your true, love filled self. Hopefully that last part isn’t too sappy for you guys.
5 MEGALOMANIAC: A CROW LEFT OF THE MURDER
I remember getting this record and thinking there was no way they could perform the last record. I ended up thinking I was correct, but I also remember thinking “Megalomaniac” was a perfect choice for an album opener and first single. The static buzz beginning the song feels like impending doom, with Einzigers guitar ringing up the intensity as the upbeat explosive nature of the chorus blasts out of your speakers. Lyrically the song isn’t some revolution of Boyd’s talent, but everyone hearing this song can think of a person that reminds them of the ugly mentality tossed around throughout the track.
4 THE WARMTH: MAKE YOURSELF
If only going with the flow and not letting the little stuff get you down was as easy to learn as this song is to listen to. Filled with warm moments, and a radiating energy that makes you imagine a life more calm, “The Warmth” envelopes you much like it’s namesake with gorgeous, layered keyboard and him guitar work, while Brandon’s voice shines above the mix, as the listener leans into a world where you’re loved and welcomed
3 JUST A PHASE: MORNING VIEW
Like a swinging breeze that lightly flows across your skin, “Just a Phase,” recorded for the “Morning View” sessions, lands at number 3. The track starts with some gorgeous layering by the rhythm section of Ben Kennedy and DJ Kilmore, and it genuinely is a gorgeous passage of music. That isn’t what ultimately sells the song though Boyd’s idiosyncratic lyrics work here because of the unnerving nature of a person slowly bubbling over with frustrations. By the time the song has its big splash, so to speak, you’ve already been on quite the ride.
2 PARDON ME: MAKE YOURSELF
Some of you might have a hard time seeing this not in the first slot, but it is what it is. Regardless, “Pardon Me,” alternative rock anthem of a dying century, still holds up during this new century. The musicianship is simple but forward thinking, with the vocals soaring as Boyd beckons out the chorus. I always think this song was about the awaiting superstardom the band would face after this record ended up being a smash hit, but it will never not be the anthem that made them a household name. “Pardon Me,” is exactly the kind of song that changes a band's path, and in the case of Incubus, the rest is history.
1 AQUEOUS TRANSMISSION
More than likely this is the most unlike Incubus Incubus track the band ever recorded, but it’s also the best. The Asian mood flows gorgeously through the opening minutes, and quietly, patiently, Brandon Boyd’s voice emerges. This is the best storytelling the band has ever done, and the world creating technique’s they employ here leave you wishing you could experience it for yourself. Certainly the main character is alone at the moment, but where exactly is the river taking him? One might assume he’s being led by the water to his beloved, and while you might be right, nature sometimes has its own course for us, so we can never be sure. While this album is likely my favorite, it’s this record closing song that brings it to a place it hadn’t yet reached in the previous twelve tracks. “Aqueous Transmission” remains Incubus’ most compelling, unique track, which is why it’s placed at number one on this list. I hope you’ve enjoyed this
In the last few years, naturally, the way people react and experience music has changed. For many like myself, you’re just getting back to concerts. Last Tuesday April 19, I ventured out on a gorgeous night to catch up with the rising trio Automatic, open for rising legends Idles at Mission Ballroom here in Denver.
Typically if I’m seeing a band, I try not to listen to them, but having a working knowledge of the band helps when you’re reviewing a concert. Once the show was over I realized it wouldn’t have even mattered, but the great news is, I was introduced to Automatic. The band came out right at eight o’clock, dressed to the nines in what I’ll say reminded me of futuristic shades of Blade Runner and a classic rock flair. Pretty quickly the band got into it, and while I am still learning song names, everything I heard I loved more and more.
The vocals of Izzy Glaudini, who also helms synth, have this swagger to it that shares elements of Ladytron, while even Glaudini’s vocals reminded me of the vocals of the Go Go’s. The crowd got into the set pretty early, I’d say by the second song everyone was dancing. The trio of Gladudini, the low key off to herself bassist coolness of Halle Saxon and energizing to watch drummer Lola Dompé, who also sings made it easy to absorb the music, as the hallucinationary nature of the logo displayed in the accompanying screen blasted through the menu.
With only thirty minutes, Automatic didn’t waste any time. Every song got better to me, and I felt for the first time in a very long time that I had just discovered an amazing band I couldn’t wait to learn more about. The energy was unbelievable, the music was a brilliant contrast to the punk mentality of headliners Idles, and all in all, it was nearly impossible to say that the band didn’t make a good impression with the crowd, judging by the reactions of the attendees.
Currently the band only has one album released, but that won’t last, as the bands second record, “Excess” is due June 24, released through Stones Throw Records. Keep an eye out for it, and don’t miss the chance to see a band that’s likely to be making big waves soon, Automatic.
Landon Murray is a music connooisseur who craves sounds of all shapes and textures. He's seen over 2000 bands and looks forward to welcoming you into his world of sound,
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