Mike Patton has always been one of my favorite performers. Everything he does is both interesting and varied. The thing is, most people wouldn’t have ever known he existed if his second band, Faith no More, hadn’t broken through with a song that served as a foundation for what became “Nu Metal.” “Epic” is a song that changed everything, and while most people forget about the band after that initial hit, they continued making albums for nearly a decade more.. Today I present to you the top ten songs by the marvelously eclectic Faith No More
Again, listen as you read.
10. Helpless, Album of the Year
When you first hear the aggressive guitar opening the song, you expect a certain something. Insead though, we cruise into a mid tempo number, full of Patton’s patented(see what i did there?) crooning. The track has some of the best playing on the entire record, and while the song can be thought of as retrospective, it also has a warm quality to it. Patton is amazing as a lyricist, and the line “I even tried to get arrested today, but everyone looked the other way” is one of the best lines I’ve ever heard. The whole band is especially tight, but Mike Bordin on drums adds both precision and force to the song. This would end up being part of their massively underrated initial swan song(they’ve since reunited and are releasing a new record very soon), but from the quality of the album, you would never know this was a band on the brink.
9. RV, Angel Dust
A creepy, piano driven song that fits perfectly in a smoky, downtrodden freak show finds us next. Once again the lyrics are odd, and the variations Patton uses in his voice keep the listener guessing as to where it’s going next. The song reeks of loneliness, hopelessness, and the idea of failure. The song changes pace briefly though, picking up the pace at the about the 75% mark, but quickly the western vibe returns, and this time the song has more purpose than the early goings. Getting back to his voice though, many times you get surprised at what he brings to the table, but it’s always innovative, and it’s never done just because. ,
8. Mouth to Mouth, Album of the Year
Another from this great album features a signature 90’s sound, with the guitars courtesy of Jon Hudson, has some of the most intense vocals from the band. Now he’s not screaming in your face like you might expect from my choice of words, but it’s sort of like a growl mixed with actual singing, and every now and then Patton lets this amazing type of chant out. By the time the second chorus comes, your body is moving, and you get lost in the song. All around great track, full of gusto and power, in only this band is capable of.
7. Stripsearch. Album of the Year
This track always reminded me of if Mike Patton did a song with Depeche Mode. It also happens to be a song that stands out among their more rock oriented arrangements. It’s a midtempo electro blast that features soft melodies and the usual clear cut vocals. The drums here are perfectly steady, and not only do they drive the force of the song, but it’s easy to get lost in them. That’s not a thing you see often, in any genre. That’s what's great about FNM. They have all these different weapons to force on you, and you never know what you will get. That makes a memorable band. Most incredible bands are able to make a switch in style look effortless, and FNM certainly are good at that.
6. A Small Victory, Angel Dust
My favorite part of the number six of my top ten Faith No More tracks lands. The highlight here is without a doubt the soaring vocals. Patton does a great job of not overdoing it, and the airy guitars only add to the feel and greatness of the track. This record is among their best known, and it’s tracks like “A Small Victory” that cement the special quality of this record. I mean, who doesn’t love Small Victories, seriously? They make the burden of everyday life a little easier to swallow, and in music form, this track is indeed a victory worthy of a celebration. It’s a triumphant track full of funky styles, killer rhythm sections, and one of the best voices in terms of rock music of the nineties.
5. the Gentle Art of Making Enemies, King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime
For my money, there’s not a bigger “Fuck you” song than this one. It’s completely in your face, and the sarcasm is through the life. The lyric “I deserve a reward cause’ I’m the best fuck you ever had,” is in my top ten all time lyrics, and the songs intent is clear: Faith no More is here to seize the day, regardless of if you want them to or not. The bass line B. Gould delivers is fantastic, and while the lyrics are great, the vocal range Patton throws down here is even more memorable. I imagine him running around like a deranged lunatic with a knife, tormenting a quality hilltop community.
4. Collision, Album of the Year
From the first second, this top ten song lives up to it’s name. Soaring vocals, big guitars and a slamming of the drums immediately pull at us, and the song doesn’t let up with the momentum for it’s entire duration. The band does something interesting here. The music never gets soft, but it’s a steady wave the whole time. During this though, Patton’s voice continually alters to accommodate his band members. He goes where they go, and you feel them as one entity. The album opener is the perfect example of how to start a record off right, and although the rest of the record isn’t this heavy, you know for in for something special.
3. From Out of Nowhere, the Real Thing
Number three of our countdown of the top ten Faith No More songs reaches back to the early dies. The song itself has a less prominent production quality than most of their other records, but give them a break will you? They were just getting their legs stretched with this one. Having said that, the keyboards are incredible, and don’t take away anything from the force of the song. You can see from early on that this wasn’t just your typical band, and although it’s a dated track from the early days, it still kills. It has this hip swinging energy to it that’s impossible to get away from, and the best part of the track is Bordin’s drumming. It’s a pure force of energy, and without a doubt the best song from “The Real Thing.”
2. Ashes to Ashes, Album of the Year
Man, this song. It was a doozy trying to decide between this one and the number one, but in the end this lands at number two. Everything About this song is simply epic. The guitars are lush, on point, and exacting in their methods, while Patton’s voice is at his low pitched, and soaring best. “Smiling with the Mouth of the Ocean” unleashes a force of emotions the band rarely hits, and while the song is a reflective song full of good bye memories and missed chances, it’s Patton’s voice that is the main selling point. Don’t get me wrong, the drums, and especially guitar(That Solo man omg) are the waves pulling Patton into the force of the track. The whole song is simply incredible, and every time I hear it I’m reminded why I love it so much.
1. Midlife Crisis, Angel Dust
And here we go.Number one of the Top Ten Faith No More songs, “Midlife Crisis” takes our heart with a track that exemplifies all of the versatility in one fail swoop. The opening drums are reminiscent of bongo’s, and Patton’s early husky whispers soon give way to the normal soaring nature of singing he provides so well. This song wasn’t a huge hit when released, but for the life of me I can’t figure it out. It’s a driving nature and the momentum it builds throughout is better than most everything that was on the radio at the time, and although the keyboard, sample section of the track might have turned some casual fans away, it’s that that made me realize not only the intelligence of the song itself but also of the band. Although I haven’t had a “Midlife Crisis” yet, I hope that it goes down as easy as this song fills me ears and my heart. Seriously, if you haven’t heard this song, stop what you’re doing and find it. Number one on the list of Top Ten Faith No More songs, “Midlife Crisis.” That is all. See you Monday]]]
In the last few years, Superhero movies have become not only easy money makers in the film industry, but quite a few of them are very well made, riveting films. Many deal with redemption, struggling to overcome great adversity, and ultimate victory. The list today runs the gamut from clean cut superhero movies, to comedies, to gritty remakes, and everything in between. Hope you enjoy.
10. X Men: First Class, 2011
When you have a film as bad as the third X Men film, it can be hard to bounce back. To do that, the filmmakers went the oft laughed off prequel idea. This time though, it worked. With a brilliant cast including Kevin Bacon, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and others, this movie makes memories of “the Last Stand” a lot easier to forget. The acting, as well as overall story are compelling, and you can relate to mutants in ways you couldn’t in the last trip to the X universe.
9. Spider Man 2, 2004
Rarely does a sequel overwhelm in ways that it’s predecessor didn’t, but the Doctor Octopus featured film does just that, which is saying a great deal because the original is still excellent. You feel for Alfred Molina and his struggles and ultimate loss in overcoming the impulses of his steel arms, but he’s a great villain. It’s visually spectacular, and action fills it from the early scenes all the way to the climatic battle at Doc Oc’s river pier headquarters. More than likely the best Spider Man movie ever, if you haven’t seen this great example of how great a sequel can be, do so as soon as possible.
8. Kick Ass, 2010
At the same time a comic book movie about growing up while your head is in the clouds and a raunchy joked filled masterpiece, Kick Ass has something for everyone who loves Superbad type movies and superhero films. Hit Girl is a major highlight of the film, while Kick Ass’ story makes you sad for what he goes through. It’s a different kind of coming of age movie, but the core message is still there. It’s funny. sad at times, and in the end, you feel invincible, much like teenagers tend to do.
7. the Avengers, 2012
More than likely you've seen the major setup of films leading to the massively successful first Avengers. The way director Joss Whedon manages to combine what we loved most from Iron Man, Captain America and others makes this a must watch for fans of the comics. It's a slick, fun action flick from start to finish, and the Thanos tease at the end got my nerves working in ways plenty of films are unable to. In a few months Part Two will be out. If they can keep up with the action and spectacle of the first one, it should be a blast.
6. Watchmen, 2009
This book changed my life. It was among the first to open my eyes to what a comic book with adult themes could be. The film in the itself is a master to behold and although it wasn't a giant hit at the time its regarded and one of the best page to screen adaptations ever. Every scene perfectly gets the vibe of what the book is. Many scenes are spot on in their accuracy and portrayal of the novel. Over decades we grow to hate these characters, love them and understand that they all have flaws but that's where the heart and soul of the watchmen comes out. The Comedian is a tragic, flawed man, while Rorschach is certifiable in many ways, but at the core of the film you get the impression that these figures are all struggling to do what they believe is the best course for the world at large.
5. Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, 2010
I've still only even read bits and pieces of the comic but this quickly became one of my favorite movies of all time. It's littered with secret jokes and things you have told see to believe. One of the best qualities about Scott Pilgrim is its value in terms of rewatch-ability. I've seen it dozens of times now and you always hear something new and always pick up something new. Another aspect where the film shines is the cast. Michael Cera absolutely nails the portrayal of self absorbed yet love struck twenty something Scott Pilgrim, while Mary Elizabeth Winstead sizzles as Ramona. The imagery is pitch perfect, the humor is some of the funniest in any movie of the last few years, and from what I’ve heard from hardcore comic readers, it’s very close in spirit to it’s source material. Also, “Bread Makes you Fat?!”
4. Sin City, 2005
Easily one of the most brilliantly laid out comic book films ever, “Sin City” remains an achievement of high standards. First, the cinematography is beyond surreal, and the usage of the green screens and the Noir feel perfectly compliment the style of the comics. The other big success of the film is the way it handles stories in a non- linear way. The world of Sin City is cast, complicated and dirty, and Robert Rodriguez and co-director(But also creator of the comics) Frank Miller seamlessly bridge the gaps between the stories of Marv(played expertly by Mickey Rourke), Nancy, and Hartigan. The whole film has this dark vibe to it, and just like in the book, they don’t shy away from hardcore subjects. Cannibalism, abuse, pedophilia and corruption are served up in huge doses, and it leaves the audience wanting more. In terms of visual stimulation and a Neo-Noir style, “Sin City” is the watermark of comic adaptations.
3. the Crow, 1994
When I first read the comic, I had already become enamored with the film. It’s still one of my favorite all time movies, and every time I watch it its with the same love that I had for it at age thirteen. The story itself is full of Gothic wonder and mythological implications. A man and fiancee die horrible deaths, and one year later his spirit is dispatched to seek revenge so that they may dream in the world of the dead peacefully. It’s an incredibly dark film, but underneath it’s somber, rainy tone, it’s a story of love conquering all. The performances are excellent, from top to bottom, with the late Brandon Lee leading the charge. Another thing that puts it over the top is the music. The soundtrack is full of some of the better known bands of the time(Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, the Cure, and Nine Inch Nails) but even the little known acts deliver powerhouse songs. To this day it still gets played, at least in my house. Among cliche films of the decade, “the Crow” stands out as not only a film that has held up incredibly well, but also a film that will be making people celebrate devil’s night for a long time to come.
2. X Men: Days of Future Past, 2014
This movie kicks so much ass it isn’t even funny. Many fans of “X Men” will remember this story line from the animated series of the early nineties, but the groundwork laid in the episodes completely comes through in the feature film. In the future, just being a mutant is a crime, and it’s a dire situation for the entire race. In the comics and animated show, a major highlight is the unrelenting Sentinels. In the film, they annihilate without hesitation, and they are determined to wipe out the mutants. The film explores this, but we get so much more. We get the amazing Quicksilver sequence, Mystique trying to do what she thinks is best, and well, Wolverine being Wolverine and Magneto fully realizing his villainous potential. I saw this the weekend of my college graduation, and it instantly stood out among its peers. It’s a hell of a ride, and a movie that’s fun to watch again. It even sets up a sort of Apocalypse that will get comic book readers super excited.
1. the Dark Knight Trilogy, 2005- 2012
When deciding how to approach this list it became quickly apparent to me that I could either have these three extraordinary films take up various spots on the countdown, or I could simply make them all number one. The reason for this is simple. All three of these films helped in large parts to bring the comic book movie culture to the heights it currently reaches. If Nolan, Bale and the various members of the team hadn’t ironed out such amazing stories, Batman not only would not have been able to wipe itself clean of the horrible memory of the Schumacher films, but it may not even have been able to continue as a widely known and loved franchise.
The first film, “Batman Begins” struggles to know a man who is trying his best not only to save the city he loves, but also come to grips with the idea of doing what no one else seems capable of. With the help of Rachel Dawes and Jim Gordon, the Bale helmed Caped Crusader digs deep into his connections to not only defeat the Mob, but also to bring down the underrated villain Scarecrow. The main villain though, Rah’s al Ghul, played by Liam Nesson, is masterfully trying to destroy a city that he believes has overstayed it’s welcome in the world.
“The Dark Knight” finds us shortly after the first film, and the Mob is still the mob, but an even more chaotic element emerges. This of course is the Joker, played with manic precision by the late and great Heath Ledger. When he was first announced, it was quite laughable, but as rumors of his performance started to leak out, and teasers were spreading through the internet, it seemed as though they had nailed it. In fact, they had. Ledger’s performance won an Oscar,and the movie(on the strength of the now legendary turn as the best known villain all of D.C. Comics has to offer) catapulted to astronomical success. The fact that I saw that movie about five times in theatres, and have since watched it probably over fifty times speaks for itself. It’s one of the best movies of the last twenty years, and it’s legacy is solidly at the top of Comic book films.
The question is, how do you make people forget about this incredible movie while trying to finish up a trilogy. Well you go in a different direction, and once again tackle a bad guy that can actually defeat the protagonist. That man is Bane, and much like in the comics, Bruce Wayne get’s broken to the core of who he is as a person. Bane serves as the reminder that the League of Shadows is alive and well, and his mission is to burn Gotham and make up for the first failed attempt. Bane is a powerhouse, and his storyline is full of sorrow and strength, but it’s Talia al Ghul who’s pulling the strings, and it takes everything Batman and Gordon have to win this battle. The film also handles the inclusion of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, in a brilliant and snarky way. Anne Hathaway essentially steals the movie(Pun Intended) and every scene with her oozes depth, sensuality and sophistication in a way the Pfeiffer performance wasn’t able to. The action is well paced and in your face, and by the end of it you’re exhausted from a nearly three hour exploration of who Bruce Wayne and Batman really are, and how difficult it is to separate the two. In my opinion, it’s not only the pinnacle of comic book film making, but also the best trilogy of all time.
Guilty Pleasures. We all have them, in various forms of entertainment. Why are they called “Guilty Pleasures though?” Today’s entry won’t be super long, or have scientific research to back it up. Quite simply, I’m going to share my thoughts and feelings on why the term exists, and why I think it’s silly and unfair.
For instance, I like Linkin Park. Now not very much, and I likely wouldn’t pay to see them if they came to my city, but for better or worse, I think they have good, quality songs. Some people would think otherwise, but the fact of the matter is they have developed a signature sound, and have consistently grown since breaking out in the early aughts.
One the other hand though, you have artists like Sade and Taylor Swift. Those two aren’t similar in sound to each other or to LP, but I find myself liking both of them. Swift has a few great songs, but those songs remain the only one’s I’ve ever heard. Sade on the other hand is an amazing performer and artist, and I’m not in the least bit ashamed to say I’m a fan.
What am i working at here? My only point is that in this day and age, fan bases are starting to merge, and become obscured. People aren’t just sticking to one style or genre, but exploring everything. It’s much easier to go down unfamiliar paths and find great artists. This is helped greatly by how easy it is to get new music, and also to music fesitcals that push the boundaries of the types of acts they stick together. I once saw Public Enemy, Phish, the Dillinger Escape Plan, and Bon Iver in a weekend, That simply would not have happened twenty years ago.
I spent the weekend at my sisters wedding, and being a groomsman I was with the grooms family for a significant portion of the time, and one thing stuck out to me. In the limo, on the way from the church, I found myself with multiple grown man… dancing and singing along to “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift. Unabashed, thrilled, and fun. Now I like the song, but they love the song. This is why term “Guilty Pleasures” is both unfair and bullshit. In truth I’ve thought this for a long time.
I’ve been told I myself have GP’s for a long time and I've Always defended them. I have a certain penchant for Romantic Comedies starring African American casts. I love them, just like i love bands that you would think i wouldn’t be caught dead listening to. My point is, no one should be ashamed of where they get their pleasure from, especially in forms of entertainment. Yes i may think some choices are simply not of good quality, but who am I to tell anyone they should feel bad for liking it. I’m the guy that happens to like death metal such as Cannibal Corpse and Deicide, but i also LOVE Sade, “Two can Play that Game,” and even a little bit of Taylor Swift. They bring me joy and pleasure in various ways, and i don’t give a shit if you think a man who is of a certain age can’t like things that might not be the norm.
The too long didn’t read of this article is this: Who cares what anyone thinks about what you like. You do you, and enjoy what you want. Life is short, and we’re all allowed to like what we want, even if it’s not expected.
Thanks for reading, see you Wednesday.
Incubus 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 week. 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. Vitamin, S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
The murmuring opening the song give hints to the explosions coming,and quite quickly the wormhole like transformation is complete. To this day I still have little idea what inspired this song, but it’s a reminder that this band has a sonic force to it that can bring out various elements of rock, funk, and everything in between. When Boyd is screaming in the chorus, it’s hard to not get pumped up, and it’s songs like this that proved to people that this was a band that could possible be going places in the music industry. Their big break came on the Family Values Tour(with Korn, Limp Bizkit, and others) but within five years they’d be headlining arena’s on their own.
9. Mexico, Morning View
The record that exploded them into mainstream is also their most critically acclaimed and diverse record. “Mexico” is a musically quiet track that speaks volumes in the world of a failed relationship. You can feel the difficulty and stubbornness throughout it’s four minutes and twenty one seconds, but it’s a truly beautiful song. Boyd’s pain in the song are presented without being cliche or overdone, while the string sections enhances Einzinger’s guitar perfectly. When you're dealing with this type of heartache and strife, it’s difficult to know what to do, but maybe you should get “on the first train to Mexico.”
8. Make Yourself, Make Yourself
While it’s not a super heavy song, the lyrics are some of the most abrasive and bullheaded in the band’s career. It’s quite tongue and cheek, and it’s the closest fuck you the band has given to the music industry. This song always made me think it was directed at the lack of originality in the industry, and while I might be more or less wrong, there’s no denying that there’s some firm rocking and agitation throughout the track, especially when it comes to the lyrics and style of singing.
7. Privilege, Make Yourself
One of those tracks that when you hear it it brings you back to a certain point in your life. I remember being completely blown away but not just the album, but this song, which happens to open the album. They come out strong. The drumming and the crunchiness of the guitar is a relic of the rock music of the late 90’s. There’s simply no denying that. There are times when dating of a sound can be bad, but here it simply represents the dominant themes of the era. A Dj spins throughout, and the production level is a little too clean, but the song still has the force it did when I first put it in my car cd player in 1999.
6. A Kiss to Send us Off, Light Grenades
While I still have yet to hear this album the amount of some of the earlier one’s, 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 starts, your 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.
5. Circles, Morning View
The tapping of the drums signals not only the approaching bouncing quality of the track, but also the opener of the show I attended during this tour. I’ve often thought this song had a certain 311 quality to it, but by the chorus you’re in full Incubus mode. Not to diss 311, but Incubus always attracted me in a way they simply couldn’t. Back to this song though, it’s a track thats easy to sing along to(especially during choruses), and you feel the difference on this track from their previous albums. The story of “Circles” is a good reminder that life goes on and on, and that missed chances will eventually circle around us again, hoping we’ll be there to seize the day.
4. The Warmth, Make Yourself
Am I the only that imagines this song being played on a starlit sky near or perhaps in the ocean? Certain aspects of the instruments remind me of animals, and the song has a definite outdoor vibe. I just keep picturing whales swimming through black waters, and people on the shore marveling at the vast oceans at their fingertips. The production value is also excellent. You get a perfect mixture of spacey guitars, drums, and textures that perfectly wrap around the vocals, which in the end makes the song more cohesive and involving. There’s a reason this album brought them one step closer to the big rooms of the world, and it’s brilliant songs like this that helped their cause.
3. 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.
2. A Certain Shade of Green, S.C.I.E.N.C.E.
Maybe the most jamming song on their second album, this track is all over the place when it comes to intensity. Boyds vocals are rushed, the bass is hammering away like a young Flea might have(although not that fast), and the scratching of the vinyl is keeping pace as best it can. The song has always been a fan favorite at concerts, and it’s not hard to see why. The energy and visuals painted in the song are fun to envision, and it’s one of the few “Nu Metal” tracks that has held up and isn’t a silly laugh of a mess. That probably has to do with the talent of the band, and their intentions not to get stuck in an any one genre. Thank god for that though.
1. Aqueous Transmission, Morning View
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 it’s 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. See you Friday.
There are way more bands that aren’t well known then there are huge established acts. Today’s blog focuses on a few of the ones I think you should be checking out. Just to clarify, some of these are older, some newer, but in the end it doesn’t matter because they’re all good. Enjoy, and discover!
If you’re into the band Deerhunter, you might enjoy the other band that Bradford Cox creates music for on a regular basis. It’s a bit more spacey and floaty, but Cox knows how to develop an idea and turn it into something tangible and pure. They have a few albums, but for my money there’s nothing better than the Laetitia Sadier sung “Quick Canal” off of the album “Logos.” It’s a gentle track that shows how Atlas Sound is a different beast and mindset from the Deerhunter moniker
Though I’ve still only listened to their most recent record “III,” this Canadian trio is a really act that i wish more people knew of. They still have time though. It’s only been a few years that they have even been a band, and already collaborators of bigger names than their own are popping up. Frank Ocean, Ghostface Killah and others have joined them, and that’s a good sign. While those names are hip hop oriented, the music reminds me of a funk, hip hop infused type of jazz that you don’t see too often.
While not for the faint of heart, Converge have been one of the most original and influential bands in the hardcore punk/metal scene for two decades now. One of the most electric bands I’ve ever seen live, each album shows a depth, and thoughtfulness in both lyrics and musicality that to be blunt, is lacking in modern heavier music. Their landmark 2001 album “Jane Doe” remains one of the best metal albums of the aughts, and I don’t see Converge slowing down anytime soon. Thank god, we need more bands like Salem Massachusetts own Converge.
Chino Moreno is best known as the singer of the Deftones, but his multiple side projects are worth a listen too. Crosses is the newest one, and it’s a merge of a more modern rock feel and electronic. This is the more singy interpretation of Moreno’s voice than we’re used to seeing in the Deftones, but he’s always had a really interesting vocal range and this is his baby more or less so it’s a gorgeous mix of all the things you expect from him. “Thholyghst” is likely my favorite track of theirs, and it’s soaring vocals and epic guitars make it a great song to experience if you have a day to look at the world from a beautiful point.
By this point Riggs should’ve gotten the recognition he deserves, but he keeps on making amazing swamp fueled southern Gothic rock. From his work under the names Agents of Oblivion, and Deadboy & the Elephantman, he’s brought multiple records to us, and he’s still a wonderful example of music that sounds exactly like the area he’s spent a significant amount of his life(Louisiana).
Hurray for the Riff Raff
A newer attraction from Louisiana, Hurray for the Riff Raff is the style of down home banjo driven country you don’t get to much these days. It’s a perfect sound for an early morning on the porch, and the relaxed nature of many of the tracks on “Small Town Heroes” harken back to a simpler time where things came harder, but many less distractions filled the air. You may have seen this band among many best of year end lists, and there’s a good reason for it. See You Wednesday!
Awhile ago on my old page i wrote a thing about good songs by bands i thought weren’t really that good. That can be applied to quite a few different groups and songs, so i decided to do another post in that vein. The difference on this, and for post with this title from now on is that it won’t be a top ten, but rather a list of songs. Anyway, Here’s Part 2 of Good Songs by bad bands
311, Beautiful Disaster
I was a fan of these guys long ago, but somewhere along the way they lost me. Either way, this might be their best all around song. Nick Hexum’s voice is really crisp on the track, and the rhythm section gives the fixed point and from there on the song flows in a really positive way. For real though, there’s not enough that can be said about the layers and effect used on Hexum’s voice. Not that he doesn’t have a good voice, but for some reason I just really dig the production value of this song. I feel like if they did more songs like this, i’d dig them. To be honest though, they may very well have songs like this, but i haven’t tuned in in over a decade, so i would have no clue.
30 Seconds to Mars, the Kill
Another act that I simply lost track of along the way, but they do have some solid tracks. “The Kill,” their best known song, is a powerhouse of a track, and it sees the band becoming bigger as the song progresses. The strength of Leto’s voice is hard to beat when compared to other songs, and the soaring qualities he employs absolutely go hand in hand with the style of drumming exhibited here. The band hasn’t really been taken seriously, or as seriously as they should have, but this quality track is a stand out among modern rock radio, and it’s still a very well known song. Among their catalog, “The Kill” is at the same time their most well known song and their best, most emotionally powerful song.
Bruno Mars, Locked Out of Heaven
I would have never touched I’d be saying this before it occurred, but his Super Bowl performance was one of the better one’s we’ve been treated to in the last decade. On “Locked Out of Heaven” you can see why. His voice has an old school soul vibe, and the backing band is tight in ways that most modern pop musicians aren’t. The whole song oozes fun and makes you want to dance the night away. Lyrically, the song goes back and forth between downright dirty and heartfelt, which is a thing not everyone can accomplish. A pure party song at it’s core, “Locked Out of Heaven” helped to bring Mars to a whole new level, and it’s well deserved.
Cheap Trick, Surrender
The opening of the song is drums! In the era they were in, this was a pretty powerful song, and thankfully it’s stood the test of time. While the drums are the most stand out trait of the song, don’t discount the rest of it. The guitars are perfectly written, and the melody is the stuff of legends. I read an interview once where people talked about the combo of the two good looking guys with the two off kilter fellows, and how it was weird enough to work. Well, they ended up being one of the biggest bands of the era, and “Surrender” is still a track that people love to sing along to.
There’s this video online called “The Greatest Hit of Disturbed” which is basically a joke about Draiman’s vocal style, and it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, but it got me thinking about what I consider to be their one authentically good song. “Prayer” is a anthem made only for the Ozzfest circa early 2000’s fanbase, but it is a good song. His voice especially on the chorus has this deep bellowing effect that makes the entire song worthwhile. Draiman’s voice has always been the best quality of the band, and when he’s actually singing and not doing that thing that he does, he is a good vocalist. They really should do more tracks with him singing more often, because they can be enjoyable.
Lady Gaga, Bad Romance
Apparently i just involuntarily put mostly pop songs on this list. For that I’m sorry. Anyway, I’m always written off Gaga as a musician trying to be as weird as she can because she thinks it makes her more interesting. In my opinion she essentially was an easier to get into version of the avant garde pop of “The Knife.” Either way, this is one of the best song’s under her umbrella. The beats work in a pure dancehall type of way, and her singing is impeccable. It’s really to bad that she seems more intent on being the “weirdest” person in pop music, as opposed to being a legitimate artist. That chance is likely long gone, as most fads fade, but if she could someway deliver more songs like this, there’s a chance.
Metronomy, A Thing for Me
The instant i heard this track, i was in love. Even about this spoke to me. The vocals are a perfect amount of high pitched perfection, and the indie keyboard adds a gloriously fun touch to the track. This is a song made the late night indie dance circuit, and even after years i still think it’s an excellent track. The issue is that the majority of their other material doesn’t bring out the fun that “A Thing for Me” manages to deliver in a very quick burst. It’s a shame too, because this song has remained a favorite of mine for years, even if the band isn’t that good overall.
Miley Cyrus, Wrecking Ball
One of the best song of the year it came out in, I think she really missed a great chance to became a truly iconic artist. The song is terrific, and I’m not ashamed to say i’ve listened to it multiple times. The sincerity and strength of her voice pulls you in and makes her pain your pain. The issue with me is the video. It could’ve been a cinematic achievement, but instead forever it'll be known as the video where she took off her clothes for a possible sexual predator(director Terry Richardson)?). Getting back to the strong points though, her voice had never been that strong, and it really drives home the fact that she is a legitimately good singer. The song works so well because we’ve all felt this way in various relationships. and it’s part of why the song was universally loved.
Rancid, Ruby Soho
Quite simply, i never liked Punk music as the whole. Except for Bad Religion, Pennywise,and a few others, it just isn’t my thing. For some reason though this song has always been a favorite of mine. The beats are quick and to the point, and while the vocals by Armstrong leave something to be desired, the chorus is where it kicks into full energy high gear. I remember it being quite popular at the time it was released, and for my money it’s still a pretty good track. I have no idea who “Ruby Soho” is, but the song remains fun even after the fact that it’s almost 20 years old.
Taylor Swift, Shake it Off
For some reason, the more song’s this girl write about her ex’es, the bigger she gets. I’ve been told she’s branched out a bit on her newest album, and on “Shake It Off” she seems to take all the ammunition against her and manages to turn it into a tongue in cheek song. The most shocking thing about her new found approach to pop music is that it actually works. The song is insanely catchy, and it’s hard not to get pulled in on the fun. Her voice is also really tight and works in ways it didn’t(at least for me) while she was a bona-fide country artists. This is Swift’s attempt to make a modern pop masterpiece, and if the reviews of the album and the sales are any indication, she succeeded admirably.
See you next week!
With another week, comes another major U.S. festival announcement. Truth be told, about four festivals have been announced this week, but today we’re focusing on two specific ones; the Bonnaroo Music Festival, held every year in Manchester Tennessee, and the relatively new but super awesome Shaky Knees festival in Atlanta
First, let’s get to Roo’.
So I have to be honest, the headliners are a bit underwhelming. Billy Joel, Mumford and Sons, Deadmau5, and Kendrick Lamar make up the top four. Yea, you read that right, Kendrick Lamar is a headliner. not that he’s bad, but it’s kinda sad that out of the four headliners, only two of them has more than two albums. It’s a bit lame to consider that headliners usually get 2.5 hours, and only Joel and Deadmau5 actually have 2.5 hours or more worth of material. Just my opinion, but it’s a bit of a missed opportunity in the booking department.
But, the good news is, the undercard is really solid, and wide ranging. Want some metal? You get Slayer, Pall Bearer and Between the Buried and Me. Want some hip hop? Run the Jewels will blow you away. Want some free form jazz? Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood it is.
Some of the other more interesting pics include Florence & the Machine, Earth, Wind & Fire(Who will tear it down I’m sure), Gary Clark Jr.(who brings it on the guitar unlike most do), My Morning Jacket, Tears for Fears, and Hurray for the Riff Raff.
One section that this lineup excels at is without the doubt the dance, hip hop and electronic section. It’s really fucking impressive. Aside from Run the Jewels, they give us, Sbtrkt, Flume!!, Tycho, the vastly underrated STS9, Jamie XX, and Rustie.
I mean honestly though, it’s not the strongest lineup in the history of music. Truth to be told, I was very much on the fence about going. On one hand i wanted to experience the festival again, but while I found plenty of bands that were enjoyable, there was just something missing. But, thankfully my hopes and wishes for Roo lineup came to me the next day, in the form of the third annual Shaky Knees Festival, in Atlanta.
To put it bluntly, most of the bands I was wishing were at Roo are here. Generally I have a rule that I won’t attend a festival if I can’t find 30 bands that interest me. While there’s not that number, at least ten bands are among my favorites of all time, so obviously exceptions can be made. I don’t know how they managed it, but this is an early contender for lineup of the year.
When you start off a lineup and have the return of the Strokes, as well as Wilco, the legendary Pixies, and Tame Impala all in the first three lines, you know you’re doing something correct. The undercard however, is where it gets insane awesome times. Mastodon will devour the crowds, Neutral Milk Hotel will blow one more festival away, TV on the Radio, Death From Above 1979 and Flogging Molly will all have us loving the moment, and Panda Bear will show everyone just how accomplished he is as a solo artists. Also I’m really looking forward to finally seeing the underrated Spiritualized. That’s gonna be a good show.
But, it only keeps delivering even as you make your way down the bill. The Black Lips, Trombone Shorty, Real Estate, Wavves, and Built to Spill all bring their unique indie sensibilities to ATL, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will spice things up with some New Orleans flavor.
One big area where they win this lineup battle is pricing. At $200 a ticket, it’s almost half of Roo’s, and it’s closer for me, which played a huge part in my selection. Also trying a new festival in a city is always memorable, so it’s sure to be a good time.
Either way, whichever route you decide to go down, it’s a good pick, and I’m sure both festivals will have memorable performances. See you Tomorrow.
Cocaine’s a hell of a drug. I mention this, because well, we’ve all seen that Chappelle’s show episode, and I can’t help but imagine all of those shenanigans occurring during the period where Charlie Murphy’s brother thought he wanted a singing career too. Today what I have for you is a special edition of Things the 90’s Ruined. I say special because this particular piece of horrible art is from the eighties. Today’s TT9R, Eddie Murphy’s “Party all the Time.”
First thing first, two guys walk down the stairs in an urgent manner, as if anyone was in a rush to hear this pile. Cut to quintessential 80’s gems like zooming in on the soundboard, because why not? I mean seriously. Eddie Murphy turns out to be one of the stair people, and he enters a room and is quickly embraced by you guessed it, Rick Fucking James. Rick James’ hair looks kinda like a poodle took a shit and just laid in it, and Murphy has some art deco meets Cosby sweater.
Then it’s showtime. Murphy enters the “recording studio” while tons of people watch him through the glass, because it’s simply too cool. I actually almost feel bad for him once he starts singing. He seems genuinely giddy with excitement, and all of the band members are THRILLED to be alive. The song is so dynamic that even people in the recording booth are rocking out. I mean Rick James even has time to clap in unison while trying to produce the song. Quickly, what’s the white dude with a blazer only on doing rocking the fuck out? How much did they pay him to be in this wild menagerie? Also said white man has white pants on. Hey buddy, Winger called and they want their style back.
If the video isn’t awful enough, the song is quite perplexing, simply because the song itself exists. In the interim, Rick James is still “producing” the song, and he’s singing, and more and more people seem to be dancing in the room than before. The fashion in this video is a whole different scenario. Besides the white man who’s determined to have an outfit that looks like an oreo, theres a fella with a blue leather suit(also sans shirt), and then there's the woman with the big hair and yellow dress who somehow knows all the words to a song that is LITERALLY BEING RECORDED RIGHT THAT FUCKING SECOND! God seriously, I know it’s the eighties but goddamn this shit is bad. Just watch the video. People really seem overjoyed to be part of this. Eddie Murphy should take some acting lessons from these buffoons because they are selling the shit out of it. There’s a piano in the room, even though it’s not integral to the song at all. On second thought, I doubt any of these instruments are plugged in.
Seriously, Cocaine’s a hell of a drug. At this point Rick James is high fiving everyone, and Murphy is trying to dance. This is what boggles my already fragile mind. Eddie Murphy was so successful and on such a good role, that whoever commissioned this really believed in it. It reminds me of the making of the Star Wars prequel trilogy. At this point no one could tell him no. He had done so well with “Delirious,” “48 Hours,” and “Beverly Hills Cop,” so who would have known that the singing career would be anything but a massive success?
Then, like a mentally handicapped catfish scaring you, Mr. James jumps in and starts playing guitar and singing. First, who’s producing the song now, and secondly, why haven’t you just been playing the hole time. Thankfully, this signifies the end of this wretched video. Murphy would go on to record a whopping two more albums, but “Party all the Time” will always remain the musical equivalent of the heinous “Norbit.” Thanks for reading, see yall Wednesday!
The year was 2000, and i was on my way to New Orleans to see Nine Inch Nails on their Fragility tour. This show was special for many reasons, but one key reason was the opening band. A Perfect Circle, a group everyone assumed would sound exactly like Tool, was set to open. It’s silly to me now, but people were very curious about what Maynard’s other band would have for us. Would they play Tool songs? I legitimately wondered that.
While they didn’t play those songs, the songs they performed in their 45 or so minutes were awesome. The album hadn’t even come out yet I don’t think, but once it did, I instantly purchased it, and it touched me in ways that Keenan’s other group hadn’t. Today’s Album of my Life, A Perfect Circle’s “Mer De Noms”
From the start of opening track, “The Hollow,” you can feel the intimacy and difference from much of the “modern rock” of the era. The sweeping of the drums, as well as the swelling of the guitars, courtesy of band founder Billy Howerdel add the subtle emotion to the track that really pushes it along. Also, for many, hearing this different side of MJK’s voice was a beautiful gift. It would be stupid of him to do the same thing he did with that other group, because it’s not the same group. I might be wrong, but it’s silly to join a new band when you want to continue doing the same thing. APC afforded the various members chances to do things outside of their “day Jobs.” Howerdel was a long time guitar tech(for Nin mostly), Troy Van Leeuwen was a member of Queens of the Stone Age(Still is), and the singer had that giant fucking band that I’m gonna try to stop mentioning.
Much of the album has this hazy, glazed approach to it. Many of the songs feel to me like they’re part of a doomed dream sequence, and the way the album is mixed only helps to elevate all the important pieces exactly when they need to be. Keenan’s voice on tracks like “Magdelena” and especially “Rose” blend simmering anger with quiet gentleness in a way that most other singers can’t. The guitar part at the bridge of “Rose” is exceptionally done and brings the qualities of MJK’s voice that you want in a good record.
Probably the best known songs on the album find us over the next few tracks. “Judith” erupts quickly with a slamming of the drums and it’s one of the angriest, most intense tracks the band ever produced. The song was clearly a reference to Keenan’s mother, but I also find it quite interesting. They were known to be close, but these lyrics aren’t sweet or positive in the way other tracks regarding her have been. I mean “Fuck Your God,” is a pretty direct statement, so I’m always unsure of his opinions towards the situation at this time, but if I had to guess it was frustration over her religious beliefs and how it may have played into her medical condition.
Track number six, or “3 Libras,” is a excellent song that is both lovely and purposeful. The guitars, keys and overall textures of the song showcase the more delicate arrangements the group are capable of, and Keenan’s voice has never been more honest and warm. The pictures painted with the lyrics can’t be touched by most artists, and it’s really hard not to fall in love with this new voice that people who loved Tool were hardly aware he even possessed. When he belts out “You don’t see me” you feel the pain of being ignored, and you’re right there with him.
The second half of the album continues to flow accordingly, although iit get’s a little tiny bit heavier. Not much at all, but it’s there. Mythological concepts continue to be explored, with the aptly titled “Sleeping Beauty” showcasing the darkness surrounding all fairy tales, if only we can find them.”Such a Fool to think I could wake you from your Slumber” remains one of my favorite lyrics from the band ever, and it’s delivery is full of doubt and hopelessness.
Briefly, I’d like to discuss the large amount of songs with people’s names as titles. Some of these I’m aware of the references, but many I’m not. “Renholder” is dedicated to former Nin bassist Danny Lohner, and “Judith” is a clear nudge towards Keenan’s mother. Quite simply, many of them ended up being in regards to people the band members knew, which I guess is a cool nod, but its rare when song titles alone stick out to you, but in the case of “Mer De Noms,” it happens.
After an awesome intro like “Renholder,” we’re treated to a kick ass song called “Thinking of You.” It’s a rocker of a song, and while it brings in some groovy keyboard effects, it also has a slight trip hop vibe to it. Now it doesn’t really sound like Massive Attack or Portishead, but there’s some underlying beats that are very in line with early PH or MA albums. Beyond that though, the guitars and drums are what makes this song what it is. It’s just a really good song, and the placement at the end of the album helps keep the momentum going. Lastly, the growl and repetition of “Thinking of You” at the end is both terrifying and deliberate in a menacing sort of way. I have always thought this song fit in nicely with Jack nicholson dragging the axe down the hallway in “The Shining” trying to find Wendy so he could eliminate she and Danny. Those visuals added to the overall texture and mood of the song paint a worrisome picture, but it works.
As the album nears it conclusion, “Brena” sweeps over us like a cloud of fog creeping across a lake in the early morning. Much of the album lends itself to perfect imagery like this, and it’s one of the things the band does best. The song is a mid tempo reminder of what we’ve been through, and it really brings everything together.
If the previous songs were heartfelt, than the last track “Over” is downright strange lyrically, Quickly though you see the quiet piano doing it’s trick in the simplest ways. There’s not much to the track, to be honest, but at the very last moment it builds, and you think it’s about to break open, but it doesn’t. It simply ends. Thanks for reading, see you Monday!
So it’s early January, and with the start of a new revolution around the sun, so with it comes the meager beginnings of the upcoming Festival Season. As you may know, one of the biggest and best festivals in the States was announced today, and with said annoucement comes plenty of excitement, but also some skepticism. Today we’re going over the always eagerly anticipated Coachella Lineup for 2015. Let’s get started!
First things first, AC-DC. Now I would have never thought this was a real possibility a few weeks ago, but lo and behold, there they are as the Friday headliners. While they are legendary band with a huge following, will their fans wade through youngsters and EDM kids to see the legends kill it? I don’t know, but it can’t be any worse than that time Blur and the Stone Roses headlined and played to barely anybody. One of the next things on Friday that jumps out is the Tame Impala billing. Sure they’re an incredible band, but are they well known enough to be playing that late in the day? Well whatever, they deserve the attention, and it’ll be a great night of Aussie rock.
Quickly, Steely Dan really?
What the day does have plenty of though, is a really good undercard, which, at this point, is more of a reason to go than the three headliners. Interpol is back(Do they always play the Friday of Coachella?), Ride will bring nostalgia, and growing icons Flying Lotus, swedish songstress Lykke Li are all showing up. Two really awesome and quite unexpected additions? Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killa from the Wu will be murdering the crowd, and Squarepusher will teach the noobs what real electronic music is. I will admit, even though I’m not attending, there are plenty of interesting sounding things I want to get into, and that for me is one of the best parts of music festival season.
Next we have Saturday: Honestly, this might be the most lackluster Coachella lineup they’ve ever done, and for me it gets extremely obvious right after you move past the awesomeness of Jack White as headliner. He’ll kill it for sure, and with his wealth of material it’s gonna be a good, solid show for rock n roll fans. That’s where most of the excitement stops though. The Weeknd, Axwell ^ Ingrosso, and alt-J round of the “big hitters” of the day. Alt-J is good, but all the reviews I’ve read of the Weeknd live have been pretty bland, to be honest, so I’m a bit at a loss. Belle & Sebastian are excellent though and Ratatat should be a interesting show, given their high placement. Coachella has been doing well the last few years with punk, and this year is no exception with legends Bad Religion finally showing up. Seriously, that show will be exceptional.
Rounding out Saturday, you have Run the Jewels, The Mighty Swans, War on Drugs, Parquet Courts(who have been buzzing lately), and Perfume Genius, who is billed way too fucking low for the type of year he had in 2014.
Now, here’s where I lose it. Fucking Drake is closing out Sunday? Seriously? Was there no other person who raps available? When I think of Festival closers, you want something huge, a spectacle, and someone universally praised. Drake might be huge, but they must have been desperate. How are the children going to decide between him and Kaskade? Omg. His best song (“Hold on, We’re going Home”) is a straight Frank Ocean ripoff, and until a few years he was best known as the token black guy on Degrassi.
Next though, is the awesome Florence & the Machine. This makes me excited because it means that 1: a new album is fast approaching, and 2: hopefully she’s at Bonnaroo and I can witness her again. EDM kingpins Kaskade and David Guetta tear it down for the dance enthusiasts, and the wildly exciting St. Vincent helps to round out the second line. Hopefully she get’s to close out the Outdoor Theatre while Drake plays. Marina and the Diamonds is gorgeous with a capital G, and she has some lungs on her too, so it’s nice to see her back, and Panda Bear, while billed much much too low, will be an excellent mid day set for everyone to relax to.
Overall, I think it’s decent, but I wouldn’t be surprised if people who were traveling far distances decided not to go. There’s simply not enough for some, and slowly, but surely the EDM scene is taking over the festival. I’ll still be watching the webcast, but every year it get’s a little bit harder for me to want to travel across the country and pay upwards of 400 dollars for a ticket, especially since ‘Roo is so close, and it’s more in line with my eclectic tastes. For those that love these bands though, it’ll be a great time. Thanks for reading guys, see you Friday!
Landon Murray is a published writer and an avid lover of music, books and films. He's also a lover of the New Orleans Saints. He was born in 1982 and has a chainsaw tattoo on his arm.
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