You may have noticed a trend with this second Tool post.. The reason for said trend is tomorrow I’ll be seeing Tool for the 21st time. Yeah you read that right. 21 times. To celebrate I share with you my Top 10 Tool Songs of all time. Warning: Some of these are pretty long, but hopefully informative. Enjoy!
10. Schism, Lateralus
Now, more often than not, singles are not a truly fair representation of a band. They are meant to draw in people who otherwise would not go out and buy an album. As with everything, Tool also does this differently. It’s a really awesome song, and the video is both creepy and fascinating to watch. While making this album, the band was at a breaking point. It’s been documented that they just weren’t seeing eye to eye. Maynard Keenan went and wrote the lyrics for this song about this tension within the camp, and while I don’t know for sure if it was a turning point, anyone who has ever been through a difficult situation can understand the tension, or the schism within the band. You see, a band isn’t just fun. Creating anything is difficult. Creating things with other creative beings is very difficult. Four people, four brains working differently, and four opinions that everyone else has to take into account. I imagine that can get messy. Keenan screaming at the end “ I know the pieces fit,” sounds negative, but it’s not. It’s a man trying to figure out why things that once worked before simply aren’t this time around. But in the end it works because making the best album of your career isn’t supposed to be easy going
9. Cold and Ugly, Opiate
This is an oldie, but most definitely a goodie. The track opens with what appears to be a diss from Maynard, but anyone who knows Tool should be aware that it’s actually a joke brought on by one of the audiences attendees, namely one Zach de la Rocha from Rage Against the Machine fame. Once that line is delivered though, the song kicks into full gear. The guitars and bass drum up the energy, while Carey pounds furiously on his kit. It’s not nearly as introspective and meandering as songs from later in the band's time on earth, but it’s still a very high energy track that showcases how dangerous and intense they can be when their at the perfect combination of pissed off and inspired.
8. Jambi, 10,000 Days
This is one of the song’s off the last album that instantly stuck out. I had purchased a ticket to the 2006 Coachella Festival, out in California. Tool was the headliner of the final day. About 6 days before, this album leaked. I knew I couldn’t wait to hear this songs live. For 6 days prior I consumed this album. While not as excellent as Lateralus, it still had plenty of what every Tool fan wants. The names on this album at first glance don’t make a lot of sense. But as with many things involving this band, you can’t ever be sure if they’re fucking with you or not. Why exactly was this song named after the genie from Pee Wee’s playhouse? I have no idea. But the song is as heavy as it is melodic. While the earlier albums are still very good compared to most other albums, the introduction of Justin Chancellor on the previous album really helped to bring their sound and experimentation to the next level. The bass is really crunchy, and he’s an excellent player overall. No disrespect to the former boss player, but Chancellor was the missing link that was needed. With the lyrics you can also tell Keenan’s choices had become even more cryptic, but also more meaningful. This album he discusses everything from the death of someone extremely close to him to being tripped out on drugs.
7. Right in Two, 10,000 Days
One of the most thought provoking songs for me. The great meaning of life is a main centerpiece of this song. The eternal question of an afterlife, and if there is a god is represented here. Is there a god? I have no idea, but I’m also don’t care either way. On one side of the song, you have angels baffled at the evolution of our world, and how we could chose to live such destructive lives. On the other side you have animal after animal tearing each other apart wondering what the purpose is. It’s an intensely thoughtful song. Maybe he’s trying to say everything has a purpose, or maybe we’re all wasted afterthoughts. I’m stuck somewhere in the middle. The world is awesome to me for the bonds I’ve built, and the journey’s I’ve been on. But it’s also horrible for me because you see that overall people aren’t meant to be trusted. We steal, lie, treat others horribly, treat our planet horribly and consistently think we know more than every other creature on earth. The journey to the end of the song is classic Tool. Carey on drums is a marvel to hear, while the vocals coming in are also well executed. The high note at the end sounds almost like he’s pleading for someone to make him understand why all the bad things are needed, and why they must be apart of this world. To me though, we must know horrible pain and loss to experience amazing love and growth. The world is neither black or white. Everything is gray.
6. Stinkfist, Ænima
For many, this album and lead track was the big break that got them into the band. I had heard the previous records of course, but when this record came up, it lit up my imagination and showed me tons of new sounds I had never knew possible. This track, the one that begins the record, is as drudge filled and intense as anything else you hear on the remainder of Ænima, but it’s also just a phenomenal way to begin this landmark album. The lyrics are dark and twisted, and while i imagine horrible things happening in the shadows, I can’t turn away to shield myself from the ugliness of the track. It’s quite simply an intense ride that sets us off an ff road, difficult course.
5. Pushit, Ænima
Early in my life, when I was less aware that bands had considerably long songs, listening to a nearly ten minute song blew my mind. Now that I’m older, and have been able to properly understand the concept of time, lengthier songs don’t bother me at all. This was one of those first songs that properly made me comprehend the journey of long songs. While Tool doesn’t even have the longest songs in general ( Sunn O))), Godspeed You Black Emperor, Motion Sickness of Time Travel come to mind), their songs truly are journeys of interstellar proportions. For people unfamiliar with this band (I’m assuming those exist), these aren’t nearly just long songs. The band has said many times how they meticulously go about searching every rabbit hole, and exploring the boundaries before they decide that’s where this road is taking them. Many bands rush to record, and you can tell because the end product suffers. Tool simply refuse to do this. As one of the lengthier, but equally stand out songs of their entire career, Push It serves as not only an excellent leap forward into more trippy landscapes, but also as a clear indicator as to where the band was heading next. In my opinion, the journey of this song is the tipping point for brilliance. From where I’m standing you can clearly see that not only were they pleased with the road this took them on, but that they could dive even deeper with subsequent releases.
4. Lost Keys(Blame Hofmann)/ Rosetta Stoned, 10,000 Days
Now this song has probably my favorite set of lyrics that Kennan has ever written, but I’ll get to that in a minute. Let me just say quickly, that while most believe, and I guess rightfully so, that this song is about a hippie on DMT who is hallucinating horrible things, I personally like to believe that not only is this song about a man who has seen unbelievable things, but also that the meaning of what he’s trying to tell everyone is of vast importance. Secondly, the conspiracy nut in me believes this song is loosely meant to be the aftermath of the final track off of Lateralus “Faaip De Oiad.” That song see’s a man sprinting across the country from the forces he worked for at Area 51. It’s eternally creepy. I like to believe that “ Rosetta Stoned” is what happens after the man simply can’t make it another inch. Stumbling, murmuring nonsense he seeks help in the only place he thinks might be able to help him, a hospital. He may be dying, but the listener can’t be sure. Tool doesn’t always have such clear plots in their songs, but at least for me this creates the perfect view of what is happening, and what has already happened to this poor soul. Now, like I said, While the DMT drug story holds up, and much can be explained away because of that, for me it’s just more fun to imagine the limitless potential of the gift these Aliens have bestowed upon this high school dropout. In that respect it's also a very sad, depressing song. Through the course of the track you are made to realize that this man believes he can’t communicate, or that the message he’s meant to present to the world isn’t presentable.“Overwhelmed as one would be placed in my position, such a heavy burden now to be the one. Born to bear and read to all the details of our ending, write it for the whole wide world to see. But I forget my pen, Shit the bed again, typical.”
This for me is the emotional climax of the song. A man, given the gift to save the world from darkness, and bring the news of epic proportions to the eyes and ears of the world, but he’s unable to. He just can’t seem to escape his own mind. Perhaps the immense responsibility of the job he’s been enlisted for is just too great for him, and thus, the world changing secret will be kept quietly inside the fragile brain of this entrusted man.
3. Third Eye, Ænima/ Salival
“Think for yourself, question authority,” might as well be the motto of the band. While this song hasn’t been played a lot at the shows I’ve attended, I’ve heard that phrase quite a few times. The opening of the “Salival” version, provided by Tim Leary, basically sets the stage for the most epic, mind melting pieces in their catalog. This song has more loops and turns than an episode of “LOST.” It also happens to have a persistence that doesn’t quit for the entire 14:05 minutes of the song. Seeing this song live, and especially as the show opener is just insane. Most bands don’t have the nerve to open a two hour show with the longest song they plan to play that night, but Tool do it without missing a beat. Adam Jones’ guitars, to me at least, have always reminded me a little bit of something you’d hear in an Egyptian science fiction movie. Speaking on the topic of mixing, and making sure that every part is integral is something no one except maybe Radiohead does better than Tool. They understand the lyrics are the not the overwhelming plot point of the song. Everything you hear is meant to induce emotions. Sure the lyric helps, but all parts are equally valuable. With more than five minutes left, the song takes yet another turn. It goes from ominous foreshadowing to the welcoming of a love thought lost perhaps. Then another turn down a spiraling rabbit hole. Imploring us to open our eyes may or may not have something to do with the opening dialogue on the track. Humans aren’t meant to be conditioned by rules. We are too great of a people. Life without boundaries is the most ultimate gift anyone can achieve, yet at times it’s those very rules of society that help us to stay safe. Then another, even uglier turn, this time with the intense drums of Carey while Keenan proclaims “ Prying open my third eye,” as the song comes to a final, full circle resting place.
2. Eon Blue Apocalypse/ the Patient, Lateralus
This song, and especially Lateralus as a whole is where Tool took on a much deeper, knowing sense of purpose. This song creeps, and builds upon itself. It’s an eye opening song, one where they transcend the stagnant waters of the modern rock radio they’ve been wrongly lumped into. This band doesn’t belong on those stations. , I’m of the opinion they don’t belong on any station. Even when I hear this track now I still remember the first time it entered my life. It’s a track that brings all these emotions and concepts of growing and trusting, and it’s a moment of clarity for the band. This song is like witnessing someone reach their true and best potential. The lyrics, the guitar, everything just works. The journey this song takes us on is a beautiful one, and once again, Keenan’s lyrics at the end of the song, not to mention the melody is his vocals and the arrangement of the instrumentation bring the track to a more spiritual, otherworldly place. For this song, words, simply aren’t enough, and you can feel it throughout.
Thanks for reading!
One of my favorite all time bands is Tool. Since first hearing Sober in the years of my adolescence, it was something I gravitated to. Among all of the bands I love, Tool is the band I’ve seen the most, second only to Nine Inch Nails. I’ve been to Tool shows 20 times. Flown to California, driven to Bonnaroo, and seen them in about six different states. All of those shows have been amazing, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything. Their third full length album is the perfect melding of all of the things that made the first 2 albums and the early Opiate E.P. worthwhile. It has anger, long songs, experimental rhythms and chords, and a kind of free form spiritually that isn’t often heard in heavier rock. Today brings another entry to “The Albums of my Life” series, with Tool’s magnum opus Lateralus.
Does anyone else think the opening moments of “The Grudge” sound similar to an elevator going down in a creepy horror film? Maybe it’s just me, but it always signified the beginning of a musical journey that blows all of the previous albums out of the water. The thumping of Danny Carey's drums are immediately heard, while Keenan’s vocals slowly lurk up from the background. When the album was being created, things were a bit tense within the band. Many times it seemed like things might not be completed. Thankfully for us though, cooler heads prevailed, and we got this excellent album.
One of the things I like especially about this album is how mythological some of the lyrics and ideas conjured here are. Talk of “Saturn Ascends,” and “Wearing the Grudge like a Crown,” show where the band was at this point. Or maybe Tool is just a band that likes to lead fans on wild hair-brain theories for their own amusement. Either way, it makes for interesting conversations among die hard fans. The almost Egyptian guitar part at the tail end of the song is also done very well. For some reason I’ve just always found Adam Jones’ style and overall guitar sound to be ancient, clean, and yes, Egyptian.
So if you’re a fan of Tool, you by now know that these “songs” tend to be a little bit long. I say “songs” because a few times they cover more than one track on the album. While the proper album stretches to thirteen tracks, many of these are two and three parters. Ultimately the album ends up being eight songs, or pieces. The first multiple-part track, and one of my personal favorites is “Eon Blue Apocalypse/ The Patient.” The quiet segue to “The Patient” is appropriate and leads slowly down a darkened path, The chimes and cymbals from Carey’s drums are whistling in the background, and you hear Keenan’s vocals echoing distantly in the background until you hear a breathe and the words are more intelligible. The song has all the makings of a classic among the other songs on the album. The buildups are simply incredible. I’ve probably heard this song over one hundred times in my life, but it still rewards me every time. The up and down measures and notes keep coming all the way to the end, and we’re treated with not only some of the best lyrics of the band's career, but the vocals are completely mind blowing. I’ve seen this song probably 9 times live now, and every time it’s a pretty emotional thing. It’s just a masterpiece in my opinion.
Even the singles on this song are pretty cool. Over the next two tracks, we get the ultimate rocking of “Schism” and the slow tension builder of “ Parabol(a)” “Schism” talks indirectly about the tensions in the band, and the jam out part at the conclusion is one of the best moments of the entire record. The vocals are a little angry and raspy, but the guitar part is what really stands out in this song. “Parabol(a) builds up in a very quiet and gentle way only to let itself go and enter into the heavy arena rock territory the band had now begun easily filling up. Now you are likely thinking that my spelling of the song is incorrect. I guess to an extent it is, but honestly I just really like the way it looks. To me it makes perfect sense. Parabol comes first, warning us of the impending doom, and then Parabola arrives to seek its payment. But there’s more to this song. It may get very heavy at times, but it’s one of the more uplifting and spiritual songs on the whole album. Sonically it’s in your face and chaotic, but the lyrics aren’t in that vein at all. It’s a song about living life, and giving it all in a positive way to make your world a better reality. “We are eternal but this Pain is an Illusion” is a perfect example of how Keenan felt around this time. Working to one goal can be hard as fuck sometime, but it’s important to keep your eye on the prize. In interviews during this time, MJK had spoken about the “Saturn Return.” Essentially it’s a theory that around the ages of twenty-nine or thirty, people have an awakening of sorts, and these new revelations about themselves and the world serve to lighten their load and allow things to get easier. I think that is lyrically what’s happening here. “Celebrate this chance to be Alive and Breathing” perhaps points to the bands difficulties and how MJK wants to learn from the mistakes of the past and let the anger that was so obvious on the first albums dissolve and become a non issue. This is all just speculation on my point, but thought like this make me grateful that even heavy music can at time be meaningful and positive. That’s the magic of Tool.
The next song however, come from an older place. “Ticks and Leeches” is easily the most angry, throwback Tool song on the album. The drums in this song are FUCKING INSANE. They open at the extreme start of the song, and they never even slow down a little bit. It’s a pissy, venom filled song, and while it doesn’t lyrically fit in snug with many of the other songs, it showcases how Tool can still be pissed off. Keenan’s vocals here are without a doubt the most aggressive of the whole album. While I’m thinking about it, can we talk about the epic hellfire scream that’s unleashed near the end of the song? “Suck me dry” is quietly whispered at first, but as the song breaks into madness, these same lyrics are screamed at an incredible intensity for well over thirty-five sections. Now, that might not be super impressive to you, but the sheer intensity of it always amazes me. It’s really quite badass. As a conclusion to that scream conversation, it’s so difficult for Keenan to perform this is one of the songs that rarely is played live.
Now, the next song is a juggernaut. The ninth track on the album, which also happens to be the title track, “Lateralus,” begins with a nice but slow guitar part. Before long though, the drums and Justin Chancellor’s bass come thumping in and the song really takes off. The song is probably among the best the band has ever written, and it’s also one of the most popular. Again the lyrics here speak to a certain otherworldly positivity that wasn’t really embraced on previous albums. It’s a song about “Overthinking and overanalyzing” and about “separating the body from the mind.” Pretty progressive stuff happening here if you ask me. For many of the shows I witnessed, this was the closer, and it’s perfect. The song makes you want to go into the dark willingly, and tackle whatever obstacles may face you. It’s about the pain we suffer, and the love we give, and how without one we can’t possess the other. It’s an overwhelmingly thought-provoking song, and with this concluding a concert you truly feel like you can go out into the world and be victorious over anything you need to conquer. Finally getting to the music itself though, the time signatures here are really something. The original name of the song was 9-8-7, which is the 16th number in the Fibonacci sequence. This is interesting because while music was being made, the band had no idea this would happen. The time signatures happened just to be 9-8-7. To tie all of this together, the themes of spirals in the song also tie into the Fibonacci sequence. Now, there’s no way to know if this was done on purpose, but it’s pretty cool to think about.
The album concludes musically with a three-part beast of a song. The first part, “Disposition,” is a quiet drop off from the after effects of the previous song. While it’s very slow and even, it musically is very interesting. The drums are quiet and light, as are the vocals and guitars. It’s a pretty great transitional song, even more so when you consider where the song is going from here. As “Disposition” ends, a drum beat appears that isn’t like the beat you hear on the song. This signals the second movement of this piece. The slow rise and pull of part two, or “Reflection,” glides over and once again we’re greeted by music I imagine you would here in a Stargate type movie, except this music is better than anything found in that movie.
“Reflection” is to me an example of where the band would go even more so on the next album “10,000 Days.” Lyrically it starts out late, and you can tell the band went many different directions before they decided ultimately on going down this meandering route. The music bob and weaves down into uncharted territory until nearly four minutes in when Keenan’s voice comes into voices. The echo effects used on his voice are really spectacular, and it helps to add another layer of depth to this already solidly deep song. This might be the song where MJK’s voice is most unlike what was expected of him, and that is awesome, because he shows you yet again his exceptional range and how he knows precisely how to use his instrument, his voice. The buildup and crescendo of the finale is great, and it gives the song a little boost when it’s needed to put it right over the edge. “Triad,” the last part of this arrangement, is totally instrumental, and is basically one pulsating drum part over and over again. There’s not much variation, but it completes the song in a really carefully.
The last song on the album, is the super fucking creepy, is it or isn’t it real “Faaip De Oaid.” While I know now it’s not a real thing, it’s still cool to my conspiracy theory filled mind to think that it’s true. Basically a caller is trying to reach out to anyone who will listen. As the call goes, the man becomes more frantic in explaining how since his firing from Area 51, he’s been chased around the country, and how ultimately the government, with the assistance of E.T.’s are trying to get people into giant metro to wipe them out. It’s incredibly creepy, and I’m really not doing it justice, but it’s the last moments of the album, and it takes a toll.
Lateralus was a rare gift that saw the band rise to absurd heights of perfection, and for that, the world received an amazing musical gift. Thanks for reading!
Finally, the great and diverse Bonnaroo has announced their lineup. Every year sees a very diverse list of bands, from top to bottom, and 2016 is no different. It’s gotten mixed reviews so far, but honestly, if you’re used to going(like I am) and have a diverse range of likes in musical areas, this lineup has plenty to work with. Let's get started shall we?
Starting at the top, and well so far this is my overall favorite top 3 of any festival. Pearl Jam will continue their history with what is sure to be a great headlining set that could easily last beyond three hours. Personally, they’re one of the important bands from my early years, and they’ve continued to be awesome, so yeah I’m excited. Now to honest,I’m not even slightly a fan of the Grateful Dead, or hippie culture, so that’s a quick pass for me. But the lack of a decent number 2 headliner is fine with me because of the return, finally, of LCD Soundsystem to the farm. This is the biggest draw for me to go back, and finally I’ll get to see James and company have an epic dance party. I just hope the community of Roo embraces them like they should. Many people have been on the “wtf who is this” train as of late, so hopefully they figure it out so we can all dance ourselves clean.
Next though, is a somewhat wild and all over the place undercard. There are plenty of awesome choices there, and while there’s a few misses, it’s solid. There’s a lot of mainstream here, but i don’t really judge music by whether it’s well known or not. J.Cole, Ellie Goulding, and Macklemore are all decent, and I’m sure the crowds will love them, but I have to still do some digging(especially with Cole) to see where my interests lays. Macklemore though? He had a few great moments on “The Heist,” but it’s all gambling on his new album being as good, which may or may not happen. Personally I wish he was billed a little lower, but oh well.
Anyway, like I said there’s tons of great bands that you should be excited about. Tame Impala will bend time and space with a special late night set, and hopefully my dreams come true and they schedule Chvrches, LCD and Tame Impala back to back on the Which Stage. That would be simply perfect. Death Cab is there too, M83 will blow up crowds with a epic dance party, Big Grams will continue their festival stops, while Two Door Cinema Club and Band of Horses will both be supporting new albums, I assume. Biggest random acts though? Gotta go with classic vocalist Mavis Staples and Lamb of God. These two have nothing in common, but it adds to the diverse mix. Personally I’m thrilled about both, so hopefully everyone else is.
Beyond that though, there are tons of bands I Can't wait to explore and investigate: Vince Staples, Blood Orange, St.Lucia, Lettuce, Saint Motel, and various others are all remarkable bands that have been gradually rising in visibility, so yeah, check them out and make the best of your experience. See you on the farm!
Today we present another installment of “Good songs by Bands I don’t like.” Now, this is always a tricky subject. These are bands that I either can’t stand wholeheartedly or bands or artists that I haven’t really fallen in love with like the other subjects we encounter. Enough of that though, enjoy!
Rancid, Ruby Soho
Like many people, I jumped on the bandwagon when the band came to prominence, but never really stuck around. “Ruby Soho” though, is one of the great not often mentioned songs of the rock movement of the late 90’s. Tim Armstrong's squirrely vocals come spewing out, and before you know it, the chanting chorus is taking full effect. Out of all the tracks on the excellent “And Out Came the Wolves,” “Ruby” is easily the best and most well known, but it’s a testament to how solid they are as a unit that the song is still in at least one person's mind.
Marcy Playground, St. Joe on the Schoolbus
Everyone knows “Sex and Candy,” and while it’s their biggest hit, it pales in quality to this track. I always felt this song was better and should have received the attention that “Sex” received. The vocals are troubling and fit in with the vibes of the era, but the musicianship and melody is deep and thumpy, which ultimately gives the song the panache it needs to be a memorable song. Everyone can relate to being bullied and pushed aside, and that’s probably what resonated with a 16 year old me. If you haven’t checked it out, please do, it deserves to be the song Marcy Playground is remembered for.
Garth Brooks, Thunder Rolls
Quite frankly, Garth Brooks is a legend and is unparalleled in the world bringing country to wide ranging audience that many country artists simply couldn’t reach. I’m not a huge fan, but there have been quite a few drunk sing along to Brooks, so this song fits in the context of this entry. The scope of the music and the solitude of the lyrics linger much like the “Thunder” depicted in the lyrics, and the song is epic above all other country songs. Brooks has always been an expert showman, but “Thunder Rolls” stands over all of his conquests.
Savage Garden, Truly Madly Deeply
I haven’t listened to this song in probably fifteen years at least, but I remember it being played incessantly during my high school years. It’s a standard sappy song that fifteen year old girls get aroused to when they listen, but the band never could capitalize on this tracks massive success. Some bands are just meant to be one hit wonders, and that's how it goes. The video is especially full of 90’s cliches, but for the time it was released in, it works perfectly, It couldn't have fit in any other era, and thankfully, the Savage Garden era ended right around the time of Y2K.
Tori Amos, Silent All these Years
Not that I dislike her, but she never really spoke to me. Maybe it’s because I’m a dude and I can’t relate to the subject matter(having never been physically abused), but the song is a monument to long suffering people everywhere(I hope that doesn’t come off as shallow or insensitive). Having said that, the piano and Amos’ strong voice and force give the song the power it requires to make it a memorable song.It’s a great song, and thankfully Tori Amos is still a well respected artist who hasn’t backed away from touchy or difficult subjects.Thanks for reading!
Last year, my friends and I ventured all the way to godforsaken Atlanta(we’re Saints fans) for a festival that would end up being one of the most fun, and overall well organized music festivals I ever attended. Obviously off the back of those amazing three days, we’ve been anxious to see what Shaky Knees would come up with this year, and if they could build an even more stellar bill for everyone to enjoy.
To start with, the lineup is good, and solid, but sadly it doesn’t quite hit the high water mark of this past year. Headliners include Florence and the MAchine, who I’m sure will bring her grandiose style to the fest, while local favorites and namesake of the fest, My Morning Jacket grace the top line. In the third slot though, and I’m a bit surprised to be honest, we see Jane’s Addiction performing their well known album “Ritual de lo Habitual,” Overall it’s a decent mix of various forms of rock, enough said.
The undercard though, is stacked, and something to be excited about. At the Drive in is apparently back, and honestly, it’s one of the highlights of the entire bill. Following that, finally a festival books the seminal Deftones. These guys are one of my all time favorites, and as well as they can rock a crowd, I’m pleased to see them get the chance to blow away whoever is watching them. Quickly though, Huey Lewis and the News? Ok then Shaky Knees, I’m ready to dance like Pat Bateman to the man.
One of the things that so impressed me last year is the lower lines, and once again there’s a crap ton of awesome shoved in there. Silversun Pickups, the Kills, Bloc Party, and Eagles of Death Metal are all well known bands who are good live, and in these positions they’re poised to deliver solid sets in the afternoons of the fest. Eagles of Death Metal will blow it away easily.
Rounding it out though, Savages, Ghost!, Baronnes all bring their unique heaviness, while Crystal Fighters, Wolf Alice, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, and Wild Nothing add their alternative spin to the already eclectic lineup.
Overall though, the lineup is solid, and I’m sure whoever decides to head out to ATL for this will have an amazing time! Thanks for reading!
Very rarely does someone, as an entertainer come along and not only change the face of art, but manages to stay relevant through decades, some more productive than others. I don't often post on Mondays, but with the news of David Bowie’s passing, I felt compelled.
Today is a sad day. There’s simply no other way to phrase it. While many, many millions of people have fallen in love with his music, musicians and artists of all caliber have come out and expressed their sorrow at this gargantuan loss. Honestly though, he knew with his latest album that he was departing this world. Even if we didn’t Bowie the man himself did. His family did also. There’s always a weird connection I feel when a well known personality fades into oblivion. For a multitude of people he was treasured for his creativity and gungho spirit and unwillingness to ever conform to what may have been going on in music. He was stubbornly innovative. But we who are fans only see him as that one thing. That’s not all he was though. Consider his family,his close friends and confidents who he spent decades with, laughing and enjoying life quietly outside of the limelight. For us he will always be one song away, but his family will always have memories that no one else will ever be aware of. Anyway I digress.
I first became aware of Bowie when Nine inch Nails recorded and toured with him, and while I didn’t instantly understand the appeal, over the next twenty years I gradually became to love Bowie intensely, same as everyone. “Low” is a fucking killer album, and while many people instantly think of “Ziggy Stardust,” so many of his albums are as all over the place as they are brilliant. Way too many to name. Just start at the beginning, and find what sticks out to you.
I mean, shit, just belting out “Heroes” at this moment sends shivers through me, for a gift from the stars is gone forever. I could go on and on rambling about the faces of Bowie, his codpiece from “The Labyrinth,” or the parody played brilliantly by the Flight of the Conchords, or how so many great times were able to exist listening to a once in a lifetime entertainer. The loss to the music community is incalculable on many levels, but his gifts to Humans everywhere will always be readily available to change the lives of the next waves of music lovers.
Godspeed Bowie, you’ve gone home.
Normally I never do the same thing twice in a week, but I just saw this movie last night(January 2) and I wanted to talk about it while the bombastic actions of its three hour run time are still fresh in my head.
In typical Tarantino fashion, he’s made a sprawling, gorgeous layered film with tons of curse words and plenty of increasingly solid plot points and acting. The general premise here is this: This woman Daisy, is a bad woman, but she very well may be better than the Hangman bringing her to her death. This hangman, played by Kurt Russell, is a special type of vile, but once you get to the meat of the film, you quickly learn that no one in this film is particularly worth knowing, and through it all, they give their best as well as receive the type of punishment only QT can deliver.
For as long as the movie is(nearing three hours), their isn’t much in the way of varied locations. The first forty or so minutes is all conversation in a horse drawn carriage enroute to the main central location where the rest of the plot plays out, to perfect effect. Now with any QT film, you have generally something that’s little bit of a slow burn. As I mentioned earlier, the film gravitates to and unfolds in one solitary environment. The setting of Minnie’s Haberdashery is pensive and unsettling. You know something is coming, and of course it’s a violent outburst that seems to come out of nowhere, but once you understand the stakes of the eighth film by Quentin Tarantino, you are able to see that this means love, hate, and a strange sense of compassion all play a role in this.
Now any movie can live and die based on its cast, and “The Hateful Eight” blows it out of the park. While there’s no real “star” here, plenty of great actors grace the screen. Sam Jackson essentially plays himself and is completely ridiculous, while Russell is a special kind of torturer. But the main takeaways, at least for me are Jennifer Jason Leigh as Daisy Domergue and the always on point Walton Goggins as the new Sheriff of Red Rock. That’s not to say though the rest of the cast isn’t great. Bruce Dern is the perfect hateful racist, and QT even manages to make you feel horrible for him at one point(which I won’t spoil), and Tim Roth is finally back in the directors world rocking it like he did in “Pulp Fiction” and others.
Overall though, the movie is another exceptional film in a canon that remains a cut above the rest and only adds to his legacy as one of the best filmmakers in the world. Thanks for reading!
To put it mildly, there are few months in the year that I look forward to more than January. Mostly it’s because as a music festival fanatic and general music snob, I love seeing what the many festivals around the world come up with. Nearly every year it starts with the Coachella lineup, and while they weren’t the first to unveil this year, no festival lineup released thus far holds a candle to what they cooked up this year. Let’s get started shall we?!
Ok so for now months we’ve known that LCD Soundsystem and Guns N Roses were reuniting. It was easily one of the worst kept secrets in the music industry, and low and behold, they both are headlining a day, but we’ll get to my opinion on GNR shortly. From top to botton Friday is pretty solid. I mean you can’t really go wrong with LCD being back in the world, and frankly, I’m really freaking excited about potentially seeing them somewhere in the coming months. Coming after that though, they have some rather surprising entries, which really shouldn’t be a shock since Goldenvoice is able to lure some big names who wouldn't normally do fests. Sufjan Stevens is one of them, and while I like him a decent amount, picturing him performing at sunset at that immaculate location is making me jealous of everyone who will actually witness it.
Also, fucking Underworld??? Hello! This is awesome. The fact that they finally got those dudes back in Indio is wonderful, and add The Last Shadow Puppets to that and you have an already solid mix of everything the fest is known for. Other notable acts worth mentioning Friday include Of Monsters & Men, Savages, Mavis Staples!, HEALTH, and Miami Horror.
Next we have the killer day of the festival, if you don’t count the headliner, which is Saturday (the day, not the headliner). I’m frankly just unimpressed with the other two headliners(GNR and the utterly terrible Calvin Harris), but I’m not really surprised about Harris’ inclusion. He does fit the mold of what the festival has become. Roses, on the other hand, seems like a heavy handed bet that will likely not pan out. I mean, first off, Axl doesn’t really sound amazing these days, and while I’m sure the stage show and musicianship will be great, can you count on this man to not act an ass? It remains to be seen. Either way though, they nailed it with Day two.
From the top though, Saturday includes simply amazing acts(in the form CHVRCHES, Grimes, Courtney Barnett, Run the Jewels(which is surprising), and Bat for Lashes, who I wasn't even aware was recording) that are definitely worth seeing. But they also have some solid rare acts and reunions. I mean, Ice Cube is gonna kill it, while the looooong overdue Lush reunion is finally happening at the polo fields. It’s not just a good day, but a great day!
And finally Sunday, the final day of the festival hits, and while there’s plenty of good stuff happening, it pales in comparison, at least for me, to Saturday. Harris headliners, Sia will draw a huge crowd I’m sure, and apparently the 1975 are much bigger than I thought. Beach House, Flume, and Rancid are all worth being stoked for though, and at the very least you can’t say it’s not diverse.
The thing is though, while this lineup is good, it’s not the best the festival has ever produced. You spend god knows how much on Guns and LCD, and while the EDM junkies will hopefully kill themselves to see Calvin Harris on the main stage, but even beyond that the lineup is good but not nearly as deep far down as you’d expect. For the first time ever, at least half the names are names I’ve never heard of, so either i’m losing my edge, or GV is going cheap and underground to accommodate the huge costs of the top lines. Either way though, they don;t care- the festival will sell out for both weekends, and tons of people will have a wonderful time. Even if the bands playing the fest were terrible, the perfect outdoor atmosphere is enough to make for a great weekend. Thanks for reading!
THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!!
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 18 months, you’re more than likely aware that a new film, which would start a new Trilogy of Star Wars films was being made. If you didn’t know that brace yourself: A New Star Wars movie has been filmed and is in fact currently out in nearly every theater in the world.
Now, before we start this movie review, let’s just get this out of the way. This film is decent. Not amazing, but decent. It’s extremely fun, and watching it you’re instantly reminded why you may have loved the fourth, fifth, and sixth episodes of the series. I’m also reminded fairly quickly after viewing this film twice now, that the reception wouldn’t have been nearly as positive if not for the fact that besides Episode Three: Revenge of the Sith, all of the Prequel trilogies were terrible. Episode One was marginally void of logic, but the idiocy really prevailed during Episode Two: Attack of the Clones.
Ok, moving on from rambling, let's talk Episode Seven: the Force Awakens. First off, the visuals are utterly captivating and offer not only a genuine but also a very much anticipated look at the world in the decades after Return of the Jedi. Han Solo is there, as is Leia, Chewie, and various other characters. More or less, all of these moments play well with the audience, but only in brief sections do they actually further along the plot exponentially. Thankfully the film wisely puts most of its focus onto new characters, which will obviously push the story where it needs to go in further Episodes.
Rey, and Finn(John Boyega) appear early, and while I wish severely that Finn would have been killed by Kylo Ren(Adam Driver), Rey, played wonderfully by Daisy Ridley and Kylo own this movie. Both of them are supremely awesome in their roles, and if the fights between the two are any indication, the next films will only expound on that, as the two characters continue to grow in their fighting skills.
Driver’s Kylo Ren is especially interesting. I’m gonna hope everyone reading this has seen the film, but if not you’ve been warned twice now. The Reveal of Kylo as the son of Leia and Solo is awesome, and well done. For everything that happens after that, i.e., the Death of Solo, the initial play of him being Vader's grandson is a well formatted reveal, and it really gives the story the conflict of family that makes the Star Wars galaxy and stories so easy to get into.
Another thing about Kylo Ren: Driver isn’t only perfect for the role, but it’s such a wave of fresh air to see a villain who’s not only unsure of himself, but who is clearly working the road in order to get his skill set where he feels he should be. The Freak out scenes are perfect, and make the character more relatable, which is in stark contrast to trying to understand Vader and Maul from previous movies. Ren is struggling in this film, but with the killing of his father and his dark fate seemingly sealed, I fully expect to see a confidently solid, powerful Sith Lord arrive strong and prepared to devastate in Episode Seven.
Now, while the movie is fun, the plot holes are boundless like the depths of a Sarlacc and while you can dismiss them in the frenzy of the first viewing, these holes are much more difficult to ignore the second times around.
So yeah those were just the ones I thought of off the top of my head, but there are more, trust me. But also, the movie provides excitement that the franchise has sorely been needing since the much maligned prequels(I still stand by Episode Three being enjoyable and worthy).
In the end though, Star Wars Episode Seven: The Force Awakens isn’t the perfect SW film we all want, but it’s lightyears better than the last set of films, and the direction it seems poised to go into is one that will push the limits of where this franchise can go, and because of that, I’m stoked for the next Episode(s). Thanks for Reading!
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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