“Don’t say a prayer for me, save it til the morning after,” from California cock rock bandits Eagles of Death Metal is currently playing. It’s relevant only because as i'm writing this that phrase is buming around my head.The sky in New Orleans today is gorgeous, but in fact it poorly reflects my current feelings.
Anyone who knows me well( or not well for that matter, I tend to be pretty open with things) is aware of the recent struggles in my life. After separating from my wife and not wanting it, things were obviously murky, but some sunshine was peaking through in my life. Obviously I was upset and distraught about a failed marriage. It’s a funny thing, divorce. It’s essentially a contract that takes place that makes it difficult or impossible to ever have a decent relationship with one person. What makes this arrangement difficult is the fact that more than likely this is a person you’ve shared literally everything with for the amount of time you were together. For us it was just a few months past the anniversary of the day we met, February 16. I remember that day well. I got dragged to a party by an old friend and this wonderful lady happened to be there. The weeks and months following were mostly great, and for the first time I legitimately felt like I had found the other piece to my fucked up crazy fun hilarious jigsaw puzzle.
You already know the end. After a three week visit to see a friend in England, I’m informed it’s over. Thousands of times now I’ve gone over it in my head. Part of me thinks we both failed, other parts blame it on myself because as much as I like to convey myself as an intelligent, funny, care free guy, I’m not exactly sure I’m any of those things. And if you think this is fishing for compliments, you couldn’t be farther from the reality of everything. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’m a difficult person. Even more difficult to love. That’s one of my biggest weaknesses. I’m irrational, impulsive, and often times can't handle the world as it is. Maybe it;s the artistic person in me. I was once told that funny people often are funny because it’s a way of coping with the world, and I think in my case it’s very true. It’s becoming obvious that I’m not meant to live a cookie cutter life. I’m not designed to be a normal person. Another thing i do is keep people at bay and blow things out of proportion. Whether or not this was born in me is very much up for debate. Take a second to debate.
Ok since the debate is over, let me explain why this is being posted now. For a little while I was doing well. My new job was going well, or I thought it was( It may still be, but my brain doesn’t let me see the progress I’ve potentially made). I was dating, which is weird, but somewhat exciting. Getting a chance to date as a somewhat responsible adult for the first time is fun, and because of my knack for being utterly honest nearly all the time, I feel that I haven’t conveyed myself to be that much further than who I am actually. I’m a man that wears his heart on his sleeve permanently, and who absolutely loves music, and all the beauty it offers in this world. Close friends to talk to, cry at and listen to music with have really been some of things that have saved me in these past months. Jumping backwards though, this is a post regarding everything that’s happened in the last few weeks. For some reason I hit a wall of emotion regarding my year and the varied difficulties I’ve been facing. Sometimes I think of my ex and yearn for the comfortable, other times I’m convinced she’s one of the worst people I’ve ever met. Neither one of those are completely true or false. I do miss her obviously. It’s weird as fuck to share a life with someone and then have that ripped away. And no she isn’t the worst person I've ever met. She’s maybe in limbo just as much as i am, though I wouldn’t know because she’s prone to shutting herself off, although maybe not as severely or quickly as I do. And in my case, she obviously has the right to be closed off. That’s almost the definition of divorce: I don’t want you to be involved in my life anymore. Which is I guess the way of the world. It’s difficult and great in completely different ways, but it is what it is. There are times where life is amazing, and then those periods give way to real world shit no one wants to deal with. It reminds me of what I thought adulthood was as a child. From the outside looking in you think older people have everything figured out, but it’s nearly never like that. We stumble, fall, pick ourselves back up and keep going that over and over and over. It’s the ebb and flow of things.
Also I apologize for the ramblings. I realize this is a music blog, but sometimes you have to just let it out and keep moving. If i’m being honest though, this has helped to pour my feelings out. Other things bother me too. I’m trying really hard at my new job, and while I know I can do the work and enjoy it, I’m not sure I’m picking it up as quickly as I should be. I’ve been told you’re supposed to suck at this point, but my standards are so high for everything that often times I’m not pleased. That’s another thing that I’m sure lead to the dissolution of our union. I’m super hard on people close to me. I don’t mean to be, and I know it’s terrible and I should be better, but it’s hard to be a good person all the time. Sometimes I’m sure I push people away. I most certainly didn’t do all I could when it mattered to save my marriage. Maybe that’s a sign that we weren’t meant to be, but even though I desperately wanted to save it and blossom in love, maybe I knew we weren’t right for eachother. Maybe she knew too.
Noone is perfect, and my former bride certainly has many flaws, but It's impossible to forget all the inside jokes, amazing experiences and deep emotions we shared over eight years. More than anything though, I hate the fact that we’re now statistics. We’re part of the group that didn't make it. My wedding day was easily one of the best days of my entire life, and just driving past the venue or hearing a certain Queen song is almost unbearable now.
As the sun sets on Nola, I’m left with varied feelings on life. These last few weeks have been trying for reasons i can’t even pinpoint exactly. Most of it is likely confounded by my own nature to dwell on things and not move past them. Dwelling is no good, and it’s a thing I work very hard at changing about myself. Sometimes it gets better. Like for instance, as I’m writing this various music is filling my brain. Faith No More’s “Motherfucker” rings in my room, and it does actually help.
The last thing I’m going to mention today is the idea of moving on and dating. Fact 1: Dating sucks, and while I’ve gotten better at knowing what I want in a partner, when you marry you genuinely think that’s it for the dates with strangers. Sure, I’ve met amazing people, and also people I wish I hadn’t let get so close, but that’s the difficulty of putting yourself out there. There’s a ton of shit in the world, but you have to wade through it like Andy in Shawshank to get to the gold. Hopefully someday I’ll find that gold. What is the gold? I can’t exactly say. Maybe it’s a person who fits into my crazy bike filled concert seeking world, or maybe it's the contentedness of knowing that deep down I’m a free spirit that’s not meant to be tied down to any one thing. Right now I have no answers on either of those, but I know that things could be a lot worse. I must keep going and adulting in order to prove to myself that I have worth, even if adulting really sucks ass. Either way, thanks for reading this. And for all the people who’ve helped me through this difficult time, I know it’s not easy, but I sincerely am glad to have all of you in my life. She won’t ever know what happened for sure, but after everything, my dog Bonnie has been a huge source of comfort, and I can’t even imagine not having her love around me.
In closing I’d like to quote a line from a song that’s really helped me to understand the ups and downs involved in existing.
Life is moving, can't you see
There's no future left for you and me
I was holding and I was searching endlessly
But baby, now there's nothing left that I can do so
So don't be blue
There is another future waiting there for you
I saw it different, I must admit
I caught a glimpse, I'm going after it
They say people never change, but that's bullshit, they do
Everything in regards to music is open to interpretation. That’s just how it is. No one likes all of the same things, and even people who try to expose themselves to different types sometimes can’t get into it. Today I’m posting something about the ten artists or bands who are truly pushing the limits in their respected genres. Some of these are going to be blatantly obvious, but i really tried to push more obscure, smaller artists who are light years ahead of even the most well known bands. I hope you enjoy.
10. DAN DEACON
BEST ALBUM: Bromst
WHY HE’S INFLUENTIAL: In a field filled with breakdowns and wishy washy repetitive vocal phrasing, Baltimore’s Deacon is making electronic music that does as much to distance itself from your typical EDM act as it does push the limits of what one man can do by himself. Seeing him live is more in line with a religious experience of limitless fun than actual concert, and it’s even better to watch him relentlessly turn knobs and keep busy engaging a crowd. Each album showcases something a little different but they all feel like records that he would make. I’ve been fortunate enough to see him six times now, and each show is a highlight of my year. He’s has a little bit of mainstream success, but I think in the years to come, whether he continues to refine his tools or stops making music all together, he’s likely to end up being the great dark horse in the realm of electronic music for this generation.
9. THE MARS VOLTA
BEST ALBUM: De-Loused in the Comatorium
WHY THEY’RE INFLUENTIAL: Since their days leading the absolutely electric At the Drive In, Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala have been all over the place making interestingly weird music. It’s only when ATDI broke up and the Mars Volta came from the ashes that the world actually got to see how abstract and wide ranging these dudes could be. Yes, their first album is the best, and likely most accessible, but it’s not to say that the rest of the records aren’t good and enjoyable, especially if you’re a music fan who likes being a listener challenged to grow. From album to album they pushed what prog rock was and can be, and I can’t help but think that their lasting impression is a big reason that we saw such a big turn up in that type of epic scope of music. Even weaker albums like “Noctourniquet” have their moments, but for awhile there the band's albums were as impressive as they were challenging.
8. EL - P
BEST ALBUM: Cancer for Cure
WHY HE’S INFLUENTIAL: Of the two rappers on this list, he’s the less well known one, but what he manages to do with lyrics and beats stands in a league all his own. Over the course of three full length solo records, El’s only gotten more proficient at his skill. Case in point: the vocals that open “Request Denied” from the album mentioned above. For nearly two straight minutes he belts out fluid and well arranged lyrics that bend time and space while hovering over an insane science fiction beat. Each and every album grows and gets better, and for an artist that’s easier said than done. In fact it's really fucking hard. Add his recent work with Killer Mike in Run the Jewels and you have a very viable rival to Watch the Throne. Seriously though, El-P will hopefully continue making albums that make the previous one seem week and maybe one day he’s get the recognition he deserves from the mainstream. Either way, he doesn’t seem to care.
BEST ALBUM: Jane Doe
WHY THEY’RE INFLUENTIAL: The metal/ hardcore genre can be a very polarizing one, and when it came time to pick my favorite influential artist, it wasn’t super easy, but I think I made the right choice. Since 1990 Converge has been killing it with intensely personal albums full of a range of emotions. Sometimes they convey extreme pain and sadness, while other times the music and lyrics are extremely hopeful and uplifting. It’s a juxtaposition that the band does very well, and with Kurt Ballou and Jacob Bannon helming the ship they’ve managed to stay as one of the defining bands of their universe. Even from 2001’s perfect “Jane Doe” they haven’t dwindled very much in quality. Album after album is a further reminder how good they are as a unit and how important they are to music. Heavy music isn’t for everyone, clearly, but Converge remains a band unwilling to compromise what they believe in, and that’s why they remain so vital.
6. BON IVER
BEST ALBUM: Bon Iver
WHY HE’S INFLUENTIAL: There are plenty of artists who you might think fit the exact same mold as Justin Vernon and his Bon Iver project, but what sets him apart from the other dreary singer songwriters is his ability to connect on a very personal level. Maybe it has to be with the story we all know now of the creation of the remarkable “For Emma, Forever Ago,” or maybe it’s his crooning soft voice murmuring over a foggy lake in the dawn of the day. It’s likely both of those at different times, but even though he’s only made two full length albums under his most well known moniker, both have been exquisite and have left the music world wanting more. Aside from his recent show at his own festival, news on the return of Bon Iver remains meager, but I’m sure if and when they do release a new album, they’ll find they’ve gotten way bigger in their time away.
BEST ALBUM: Demon Days
WHY THEY’RE INFLUENTIAL: I was never a big Blur fan, so even attempting to give the Gorillaz a chance was difficult at first. But boy am I glad I did. Over the course of four albums(three of which are absolutely amazing and worth mentioning) this rag tag outfit has managed to put various stylings into a blender and create one of the most captivatingly original bands of the 21st century. You could honestly pick any of their first three records as their best, and you wouldn’t even be wrong. Mixing hip hop with soul, punk rock with space rock, and bringing it all to a brand new animated world full of vibrant colors and guest collaborators and you have one of the most interesting “bands” to ever grace the mainstream world.
BEST ALBUM: 21
WHY SHE’S INFLUENTIAL: Like Bon Iver, one could argue that having only two albums isn’t enough to make an artist influential, and while that is true for many many artists, Adele is on top of her own musical mountain. Both albums have explored bitterness and sadness, but there’s a profound beauty and reality to the music she makes. Oh and there’s this little thing called her voice. It’s a voice so pure and full of passion that music lovers of all shapes and sizes are captivated by it. She’s almost like the Ferris Bueller of music. Everyone loves her, and for very good reason. So many of her tracks act like bandages to the wounds of people everywhere, and when she sings and raises her voice, you feel the strength coming from her soul. Having said all of that though, those two albums have only made her wanted more, and with news of an impending third album coming very soon, it appears as though we may all get Adele fever again.
3. ARCADE FIRE
BEST ALBUM: The Suburbs
WHY THEY’RE INFLUENTIAL: There likely isn’t a better story about a band coming out of nowhere and reinvigorating music than the story of the Arcade Fire. From the offset they’ve been heralded as brilliant musicians, and with each subsequent album they’ve developed a sound and energy that is untouchable among this generation's best known acts. From the isolation of “Funeral,” to the adolescent struggle permeating through “The Suburbs” they’ve managed to find their niche and grow into one of the biggest success stories of the last decade. If they keep going the way they are they could be this generation's Talking Heads, with their varied motivations and themes that everyone can relate to. If not for the top two bands they’d easily be the most important band on this list, but oh well, at least we can expect more compelling albums from this fine fine group.
2. KANYE WEST
BEST ALBUM: My Dark Beautiful Twisted Fantasy
WHY HE’S INFLUENTIAL: You had to see this coming right? A lot of people really dislike him, and while he has been known to run his mouth from time to time, the potency of the music is enough to give it a pass. I mean honestly can we say we wouldn’t all be that self important if we made beats as good as he did. He’s single handedly brought the rap game up with every album, and what’s even more awesome is the wide array of albums he’s managed to release that are all as different and interesting as the others. Also in regards to all the hate: Someone is buying those albums and selling out those concerts. So either people are jumping on easy bandwagons or he is actually loved for the art he creates. Either way though, I'll Be listening to every album for as long as they remain as badass and thoughtful as they have been. “No one man should have all that Power.”
BEST ALBUM: Kid A
WHY THEY’RE INFLUENTIAL: Seriously, this question is a little bit silly in terms of why Radiohead is so fucking utterly important in music. Not only are they the non rap Kanye, but they manage to repeatedly do it better than any other band currently making music. Even if stand out albums from the 90’s are excellent, the work they delivered in the aughts was more or less godlike compared to the outputs from other bands. Records like “Kid A,” “Amnesiac,” and “In Rainbows” are all basically perfect from start to finish, and even more impressive is how the records never seem to get old. I recently watched vicariously as a friend started from album one and gradually listened to all of the studio albums, and it was wonderful to see her experience the records I had long loved. Easily in my top two favorite bands of all time, the artistry they put into every album is what makes them so unique and important. They were without a doubt put on this earth to make music, and hopefully they last for as long as classics like the Rolling Stones. Thanks for reading!
Few movies in my formative years had as big of an impact as “The Crow.” Even to this day there’s something about it. From the monumental legacy of the death of Brandon Lee, to the drudge filled scenery and epic scope of “Love Never Dies,” this film is easily one of the best of the 90’s. Even more amazing than the movie though, is the soundtrack. To put it mildly I can’t think of a soundtrack that had more killer songs on it and all around great artists than “The Crow.” Today we had our first OST to the Albums of My Life series with “The Crow.” Enjoy
The great thing about this sequence of songs is that except for a few minor departures, it essentially follows the pacing of the film. And if you want to start with a bang, for this record there’s nothing better than brooding and methodical beat from The Cure’s “Burn.” It’s long been one of my all time favorite songs from the band, and the effect it has on the overall feel of the record and how it bleeds through only adds to the dark and sinister undertones prevalent not only in the film, but the record too. Not only is the song a classic, but one of the coolest things to ever see at a concert was The Cure play this at Voodoo Fest in 2013 for the very first time ever.
But, the Cure aren't the only big name on this soundtrack. Somehow they managed to get huge bands and stick them besides just as good smaller acts to make the force of the record that much better. “Big Empty,” by Stone Temple Pilots finds us at number three, and winds in with a sullen blues laden guitar, while Weiland’s voice feels slow and desperate until the heightened sense of chorus comes blowing in. Next up though, is perennial gloom master of the 90’s, one Trent Reznor. Nin’s version of Joy Division’s “Dead Souls” is probably better than the original, and in the film it serves to elevate an already cool scene where main character Eric Draven runs from roof to roof in the urban decay of Detroit.
To take a turn for a second though, soundtracks are difficult. Many of them are anchored by one or two big names and have multiple filler tracks, but at least for me that never happens with this one. Even the unknown artists of the time and the one’s who never took off bring great contributions to the record. I get the impression though that some artists really wanted to knock it out of the park and cement their awareness in the public eye. One of those bands is without a doubt Rage Against the Machine. After following the slow and deadly “Colour Me Once,” by the Violent Femmes, Rage angrily shows up with a song that doesn’t necessarily fit in with the narrative of the film, but the overall tone of the track more than makes up for the contrasting subject matter. They were fresh off the heels of their major selling debut album, but I honestly feel like they have one of the standout tracks here.
Following that we get nasty, immediate tracks from household names of their times Rollins Band(“Ghostrider”), Helmet with “Milktoast,” and the “Cowboys from Hell,” themselves Pantera with “the Badge.” All three of these tracks are really compelling songs, and while Pantera and Rollins both deliver, Helmet really knocks it home with their trademark crunch laid below Paige Hamilton’s crisp voice.
Towards the end of the record though is where some old school underground bands come belting out. For Love Not Lisa’s track “Slip Slide Melting” has everything needed to make this band huge, but for whatever reason it didn’t happen. It’s a real shame too, because the song is powerful in a way that many songs of that era simply aren’t, and it yet again drills the theme of “Love Never Dies,” into the listener’s head.
Finally the last, possibly most perfect track in the album hits us, and it's even powerful over 20 years after I heard it for the first time. Jane Sibbery'd slow, gorgeous layered "Can't rain all the Time" bathes the listener in melancholy happiness that seems our hero.Draven make the wrong right and is welcomed back to the world of the dead.to.be with his forever Shelley. It's a great song and used to brilliant effect in both the film and album.
It perfectly captures the end of the dark night with glowing optimism and warmth that stays with you long after you've heard it. Thanks for reading.
For many people, there was no better representation of the Garage rock movement of the early aughts than the could care less cool of NYC punks the Strokes. Five trashyish fellas who could also play turned out to be one of the defining bands of the decade, and along with Casablancas and Hammond, Valensi, Fraiture and Moretti managed to not care all the way to the top. Now, some albums are stronger than others, but this is a band that has managed to strive even when albums sometimes fall flat. Here’s their ten best tracks, from ten to one. Enjoy
10. Juicebox, First Impressions of Earth
I first remember being pumped about this record because at the time, I thought that “Room on Fire” was garbage(More on that later), and I was really pumped to see them bounce back. Anyway, the song has a really nice and thick guitar part, and while the drums aren’t full in your face, they measure up nicely and enhance the track, especially during the chorus. Hammond and Valensi both really do well on guitar here, and because of the back and forth, it’s able to make the song all it’s meant to be.
9. What Ever Happened, Room on Fire
So yeah I hated this album for some reason for years, and then one day shortly after seeing them at Shaky Knees I tried again. And I was blown away. This entire record is dope as fuck, but there’s no other way they could have started this record and had it been any better. Again the guitar parts glisten in the gutter, and Julian’s worn and husky voice belts out the vocals like noone else in modern rock can do. The bridge near the end of the track during the “You don’t miss me part” is wonderful, and makes you shake your hips while I remember that “I want to be forgotten and I don’t want to be reminded.”
8. Machu Picchu, Angles
The opener from one of their least lauded albums, “Machu Picchu” is a departure of sorts, but it still manages to sound like the Strokes. I don’t honestly think they can make themselves sound un-strokes like, but this song and record as a whole really serve as a good departure and reminder that they can actually do more than a few things well. The beat prevailing through the background and the slightly filtered vocals add to the 80’s feel of the song, and even though Julian’s vocals are a little muddled, it genuinely feels like the band is spreading their wings and making an album that was out of the ordinary.
7. Under Cover of Darkness, Angles
From the opening guitar chords and the pounding drums, this track has classic Strokes written all over it. One of the best songs on this often overlooked record finds us at number seven on the Top ten countdown of the best Strokes songs, but it’s true beauty lies in the chorus. Seriously it’s perfect. It’s a track that remains for me a song about lost love, and the mistakes you make during your life. You can feel the frustration throughout the song, and when the chorus kicks in again, the notes Casablancas is able to hit really set the song up to be great. I just picture someone bidding adieu and vanishing “”Under Cover of Darkness.”
6. Reptilia, Room on Fire
Opening with this song at Shaky Knees without a doubt had a major role in me surrendering to the brilliance that is “Room on Fire,” but the song is so much more than that. So many of the lyrics see JC at his off the wall best, and lyrically it might be my favorite song. When he bellows out “I thought I told you this world is not for you,” you really feel the tension in one of the murkiest of situations, but even on top of that the instrumentation kills it repeatedly. It’s a great song, full of massive hooks, and when this record came out, even though I wasn’t a super fan, people were rightfully thrilled that the Strokes were back with vengeance.
5. You Only Live Once, First Impressions of Earth
Another one that may not always be mentioned among their best sees us at Number five. For me it’s a track that’s musically chipper and upbeat while still maintaining somewhat dark lyrical content. The drums are on point throughout, and the guitar parts only help to move the song along on a upbeat rollercoaster. This album isn’t their best, but it’s certainly not their worst. Quite a few songs on this record have become standards, but I think more than any other song, “You Only Live Once” stands as the best.
4. Someday, Is This It?
It’s very hard to figure out how to mix songs and still be fair when making these lists, and it’s doubly hard in regards to a band who made two albums back to back that are utterly brilliant. “Someday” kick off the “Is This It?” phase of the countdown with a jingly arrangement and gravely lyrics that all play a part in marking the importance of the Strokes. One of the smallest but best parts of the song without a doubt is the minimal yet funky bass hook in between the first and second choruses. It’s a blink and you’ll miss it section, but it works brilliantly in keeping the spirit of the song on course while the band transitions.
3. Taken for a Fool, Angles
No idea why, but when I first heard “Taken for a Fool,” off of 2011’s “Angles,” I was completely blown away and as you can see by it's placement on this list, it’s easily one of the best songs they’ve ever written. As a person who’s worked in the service industry I can perfectly relate to the “Monday and Tuesday is my weekend” line, and throughout the song I can’t help but think the lyrics and the way the vocals are mixed really have a sweet, charming quality to them. This album is a bit more polished than other releases, but when it plays into the album in the way it does, you can’t really complain.
2. the Modern Age, Is This It?
This was a hard choice between one and two, but since I can’t do a tie, this song remains at number two. The marching quality of the song is there from the offset, and the drums are the major star of the opening section. Quite simply everything works here. From the drums, to Hammonds guitar and Julian's squirrely voice it all fits in a nice midnight NYC bow that permeates with classic hooks and a sense of I give no fucks I’m here to play rock n roll. This song exemplifies what they as a band do so well. One of the best parts of the track is the chorus, and what makes it so great is how easy it is to sing along to. That doesn’t happen in every Strokes song, so when it does happen you have to rock it out.
Hard to Explain, Is This It?
I’m sure many people will gripe at the absence of ‘Last Night” and “New York City Cops” at the top of the list, but for my money no song the band has ever created stands as tall as the perfect in every way “Hard to Explain.” Years ago I had a friend who told me he was speeding down the interstate on New Year's Eve and as he was viewing the fireworks filling the sky, this song was playing and rocking his world. I still think about this nearly every time I hear the song, and while it’s not my memory, it perfectly describes the intensity and driving nature of the song. Musically it’s brilliant, but lyrically it’s perfect in almost all ways. The play on words is great and when Julian sings “I like it right here but I can not stay,” you feel the pain of leaving a wonderful place, and while you will always love it, it’s time to depart and continue on your journey. Sometimes life is just “Hard to Explain,” which is why we have music. Thanks for reading, see you Monday.
In a quick phrase, “life affirming” comes to mind when you witness a show from the Montreal avant garde post rock icons Godspeed You Black Emperor. The show I witnessed was no exception. If you’ve seen them you know what i mean.
Playing alongside them was the odd but not godspeed odd Xylouris White!. While the two man group kept my attention, the slow meanderings and less forceful sonic element didn’t do much for the crowd at 9 P.M. on a Saturday. Having said that though, the headliners were anything but disappointing. As the familiar sounds of “Hope Drone” slowly melted into audible excitement and virtually no recognition from the band, Godspeed overwhelmed the crowd for nearly two hours with a mix of old and new, never waning or acknowledging the crowd, except for the exits during the finale.
From “Hope” the band delved into the entire new album, “Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress,” which isn’t really even new. The sections have long been staples of their sets, and for all it’s worth, it fits in perfectly with their scattered, groundbreaking catalog. To see this band, with it’s dark lights and powerful images flashing wildly behind the band, is to be completely enveloped in a concert so surreal and thought provoking you can’t help but lose yourself in your subconscious. The fact that nearly all songs are instrumentals only helps to cement the way each song is able to capture the attention of the listener in a different way. Closing with “Mladic” from the second to last release was brilliant, and as the band exited the stage, a genuine love and appreciation was felt between both audience and musicians alike. I’m aware this is a relatively short post, but this just isn’t a concert I can or want to try to properly explain. You must experience it. Thanks for reading.
Having seen Passion Pit twice before, you kind of have certain expectations, and more of an idea of what type of show it will be. Mostly, this time was no different. Over the course of one EP and three full length albums, PP has managed to stay afloat mostly due to singer and main creator Michael Angelakos, but when it comes to the live show, it’s all five members that bring it together.
So it was ultimately on this Wednesday night that Passion Pit descended on the relatively new venue the Joy Theatre to envelop the decent sized crowd to about 70 minutes of synthy electro pop. I say decent in terms of audience size because frankly, I expected it to sell out, and while I never looked to see how full the balcony was, the crowd was good but not great, especially when you factor in their recent placements in the last few years on festival posters.
Anyway, Atlas Genius opened the show, and while this doesn’t happen often, my group of friends and I found ourselves disliking them more and more as the set went on. Now, these guys reminded me of a more poppy sounding Kings of Leon. To say there was nothing special about this band is mostly accurate and correct. They had decent energy, and while they were clearly good players, the resulting sound left much to be desired. Multiple songs had elements very close to elements other bands, and it just sounded, well, blah.
Finally, Passion Pit came out and launched right into the set. Opening with “Little Secrets,” which is a pretty big song for the band takes some guts, and more or less it went off without a hitch. The band sounded tight, and as they burrowed their way through most of their well known songs(How do you not play “Moth’s Wings?”) you could tell they were finding their pacing. Honestly, finally seeing them in their own space really helped the atmosphere. Festivals are great, but one big thing never present at fests is having a crowd's full attention, and i think PP suffers from that. Tonight though they were in full force with a crowd that really got into it.
Overall though, it was a fun enjoyable concert, and while “I likely wouldn't have paid the fifty dollar door fee the night of the show, going for free proved to be well worth it, and i’m likely to see them again, as long as the material is worth a view. Thanks for reading.
When a band has as many albums and off shot projects as Reznor’s NIN, things can get deep pretty fast. For many, the studio albums and music video’s for singles are the only exposure they’ve ever gotten, and they’re happy with that. For others though, the countless singles, soundtrack contributions and remix albums are just as important as the original studio works. Today we’re discussing nin’s top ten best b-sides. This list is pulled from basically everything that isn’t on official albums, and I’d like to say it delves even deeper into what makes this band so ripe, with decay. Enjoy!
10. Gone,Still, And All That Could Have Been, CD
For my money, this song and the rest of the supplemental cd laid the groundwork for the wonderfully textured works we’d get from Reznor in the forms of the various Fincher scores he created, but this song will always be among his best and most focused. At an immediate two minute and thirty six seconds, “Gone, Still,” isn’t some sprawling piece of music, but rather acts as slow, weary transition among many of his more heavy hitting works. Perfect background music.
9. Get Down Make Love, Sin Single
One of the first band shirts I ever got was the “Sin” single shirt, but the reason for that was simple. “Get Down Make Love” stuck out in my head at an early age. Brilliantly done in a vastly different way than the Queen original, it’s one of the better industrial songs of the band's early career, and thankfully I’ve gotten to see it performed live. One of the best things about the track is it’s ability to stand on it’s own and not be overshadowed by the still brilliant original. Reznor screams and howls through the chorus, and the thumping nature of the track make it hard to not get into it.
8. Piggy(Nothing Can Stop me Now), Further Down the Spiral
This is likely an unpopular opinion, but this is easily my favorite version of “Piggy.” While TDS version is good, this bombastic and rough around the edges remix better compliments the desperation inherent in the songs bones. The background elements and beats flow freely and make the song develop a new beat, while Reznor’s remotely hushed lyrics peak in and out during the more intense sections. As far as remixes go, this is the one that succeeds over the original, and should be held up as such.
7. the New Flesh, We’re in This Together Single
Maybe one of the creepiest openings ever in the nin canon, which is saying a lot, but the way in which “The New Flesh,” bubbles under the surface and gradually loses itself is one of the most tension filled aspects of the band as a whole. You can literally hear the strings being pulled apart at the seams and before you know it Reznor is imploring the listener to ”Give it to Me.” This is a exquisite track that belongs prominently in the world of “The Fragile,” but I can see why it wasn't included in the actual format of the record.
6. the Perfect Drug, Lost Highway OST
This is likely the best known song on this list, but while it’s a brilliant track, it only makes it to number six on the best nin b sides. The track is full of nearly perfect execution, and even though it’s never been played live even a single time, it’s still one of the best songs to rock out too. It’s a damn shame that it's not played too. Rumor has it the drum sequence is otherworldly hard, but that’s part of what makes the song so great. It has its heavier element, but it’s very chipper in the melody of the vocals and to this day remains a great pop song, albeit one that is slightly hard to embrace.
5. A Violent Fluid, March of the Pigs Single
This blink and you’ll miss it interlude is maybe one of the better intro music type songs Reznor ever recorded, and while it’s only slightly over one minute, the way it slinks in and zero’s on it’s prey in a very science fiction way is what draws me to the song. It signals the arrival of a benevolent force, with conquering on it’s mind, and an appetite that knows no limits.This nearly singular beat runs rampant through the track, and as quickly and with as much fury as it arrived, it’s gone.
4. Metal, Things Falling Apart
This Gary Numan cover was initially done over a decade ago as part of the remix album that followed “The Fragile,” and while some of the songs aren't the best, ‘Metal” delivers in a wonderful way. For me it harkens back to the production quality of “Broken,” with it’s in your face beats and rough edges while continuing to redefine the concept of what thought provoking industrial could be in the beginnings of the aughts. Reznor lets loose fluidly during the first course of the song, but by the end it builds to a hauntingly atmospheric track that perfectly conveys how well nin is able to move from one area to the next.
3. Adrift and At Peace, Quiet
Another from the “Quiet” tracks, this song is among the most floaty and spatially full songs ever recorded by the band. Elements of “La Mer” and “The Great Below” are present here, but “Adrift and At Peace” is able to sit poised and cool and stand on it’s own two legs. In the three minutes the song rarely picks up pace, but that seems to be in line with the vibe and aesthetic of the track. The listener is meant to be at peace, and peace implies an easy voyage, and the instrumentation of the song absolutely sets you at a slower, more content pace.
2. Home, With Teeth B-Sides
This song is just so incredible. Seriously it might be the best thing that ever came from “With Teeth” existing in the world. Now, “WT” isn’t a terrible album, but for better or worse it has moments that are completely forgettable. “Home” however, is one of the bright moments. This is a track so good I genuinely wish it had been included on the record, but for whatever reason it isn’t. The drumming is feracious and concentrated, while Reznor’s slow sullen voice doesn’t hit full full stride until the two minute mark, but it’s gone just as swiftly. The song doesn’t have some bug operatic moment in terms of the instrumentation, but it’s not needed at all. It’s a heavy down tempo song that fills the space it needs to, and leaves hints of what’s to come in places it deems safe.
1. Burn, Natural Born Killers OST
And finally we arrive at number one.Created for the absolutely brilliant “NBK” film, Reznor makes a song so full of resentment and anger that you can feel it enveloping you as it takes your senses over. The beats are brilliant, and the story of seeing what you're meant to become, for better or worse is captivating. The vocals are an arrangement of hushed and violent, which may sound weird, but it’s generally a song about going all the way into the worse ports of yourselves, and finally getting to a point where you’re “Gonna Burn this whole world down.” Speaking of the buildup and breakdown, it’s one of the better ones ever created by Reznor, and to this this day that sections inspires many a fist pumped at concerts. In conclusion, “Burn” isn’t only the best non album format nine inch nails track, but also a song that is fundamentally perfect in the vein of violent industrial music. Thanks for reading.
Sometimes whenever you hear a band at first you really aren’t super impressed. That’s the beginning of my story involving the Arctic Monkeys. For years i resisted. Looking back I can’t even say for sure what I didn’t like about the Sheffield quintet. All my friends loved them, and insisted I was crazy. To the point though, they ultimately were correct. In regards to the talent and calm cool poised by the Monkeys, I was wrong. This isn’t an overview of their time as a band, but rather a piece about how I could have been so wrong and how one freezing night in November of last year changed my tune.
For years they sucked in my opinion. I didn’t get the look of the band, and quite frankly, felt as though Turner was trying too hard to look cool and careless. This was my first mistake. He has the ability to glide about inner circles of musicians who are the epitome of cool. Queens of the Stone Age visionary Joshua Homme is a frequent collaborator and producer, starting with 2008’s “Humbug,” and they even appeared on the wonderfully informative “Sonic Highways” on HBO, discussing the legendary Rancho de Luna in the California desert with Dave Grohl.
Quite simply they ooze a suaveness and cool demeanor that isn’t seen much these days in rock n roll. Sharply dressed on that November night, they railed through 90 minutes of pure British Invasion rock, not taking any prisoners during a set that was highlighted by “R U Mine” and punctuated by the fact that even though it was 10 P.M. Alex turner was sporting sunglasses. Normally and frequently I'd laugh at someone who did that, but for some reason it worked for this particular Brit, and it made their status as one of the coolest bands around even easier to cement.
Plenty of the appeal of the band has to do with the instrumentation and the gradual way they weave in and out of upbeat moments and marry them with low fi murmurings and mid tempo jams, but for me much of the satisfaction in listening to this band is drawn from Turner’s majestic and calculated lyrics. The word play is phenomenal, and on tracks like “Crying Lightning,” he’s proving why he’s one of the better lyricists in the rock n roll game. One of my favorite lines in any song is easily the section of “Lightning” where Turner draws out the line “But your profile could not hide, The fact you knew I was approaching your throne. With folded arms you occupied the bench like toothache, stood and puffed your chest out like you'd never lost a war.” For me there’s no lyrics I’ve heard in the last few years that project a band as being mythological and fantastic that it’s hard to turn away.
Even going back to the first album, you can see they have a clear identity in regards to what type of band they want to be. That’s a pro and a con for some bands,and I think it certainly for them too. A pro in a way that they never abandoned their natural instincts when it comes to following their dreams and ideals, but also can be a con because even though they never strayed from those ideals, the music they’re making now has more pop and force to it, and some fans may not dig their A.M. in such a way. I on the other hand, think the progression is great. Take a song like “Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair.” This song has such weight and dimension to it that it’s impossible not to get into it’s midnight rustic feeling, but this song wouldn’t have been possible even years earlier. Quite simply they hadn’t grown that much, but gradually they were becoming a band that was not only extremely talented but also was proving just how much they were getting better with every record. Each album has excelled at being better overall than the first, and while many still are obsessed with the raucous debut, even their newest record “A.M.” has people talking about the potency of the band.
In summation, the Arctic Monkeys have continually risen to the occasion, which is saying a lot considering how fast they took off. You might consider them in a similar way to how you look at Breaking Bad.” Yes the tv show. It starts fairly quickly and keeps building momentum throughout the entire length of the show. That’s what Alex Turner and his Arctic Monkeys have done for the last decade, and it the brilliant output of the first five albums is any indication, they may just keep getting better and better.
Hey guys sorry for the delay. This past week has been nonstop and very enjoyable but I haven't had time to right anything. Normal blogs will resume monday. For now here's something old but good. Enjoy!
By now we all know the story. Kurt Cobain, an extremely talented musician with a history of drug abuse and a painful stomach ulcer, took his own life in his family’s home. Shortly before the singers death however, Nirvana finally agreed to perform on this program. In many ways though, and in my opinion, it’s easily the best, most refined set ever to appear as an “Unplugged.” Nirvana was always destined to be one of the most important bands of the decade, but the fact that they were able to transform and present their music in a way that people hadn’t heard before, and that it was the last big thing they did before his death, makes this unplugged session super amazing, and ultimately the best in the whole series.
They start the set with two medium-sized hits, “About a Girl,” and “Come as you Are.” When you look back at the choices of songs, and how rare they all are, it’s a shock that MTV even allowed them to perform that set list. No where did we see “Smell Like Teen Spirit,” or “Heart Shaped Box.” Instead, they did the smart thing and picked the songs that best went with the format of the show. “Come as you Are,” probably the best known song at the time on the set list, goes so well with the format of the program that it’s easy to like this version over the “Nevermind” recording.
As my ex always pointed out, I’m really fucking old(I’m only 32), so of course I was in my teen angst phase when this released to the world. It always resonated with me so much. It’s has a real ethereal, choral component to it, and it’s the closest an “Unplugged” ever came to chamber music for the masses. Everything works well here. From the transition of the songs, to the incredible honesty portrayed, to the way the drums had suddenly changed and Grohl had found a way to bring finesse to a group of songs that were normally anything but.
It’s also worth noting just how good the covers on this record are. Listening to it now, you can tell they really thought hard about what songs would be showcased, and all of them fit perfectly like a glove. The set list, at 14 songs, is nearly half covers. That’s what is still so great about the Nirvana legacy. They didn’t give a fuck. And they weren’t even well-known covers for the most part. Aside from the blisteringly brilliant version of Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World,” all the other songs were by lesser known acts like the Meat Puppets (who performed three songs with the band during the show), Leadbelly, and the Vaselines. This is also the show that Lori Goldston and Pat Smear brought what they had been doing on the recent In Utero tour to a televised audience. And let me tell you, the added texture and sound from those two help tremendously.
“The Man Who Sold the World,” and the presentation here, make the song an unreal cover, but the context of what we now know happened mere months after that put it in a different, more sorrowful place. The song is amazing, and for my money, it’s one of the better covers of all time, and easily the best cover on the album.
Looking back though, these songs are deeply depressing and worrisome. So many of them represent sadness, and general contempt for humanity, at least from my point of view. Nirvana, and Cobain as an artist in general, weren’t really known for happy uplifting songs, but even so, the songs on the record are all super depressing in one way or another. However, that’s not to say the songs don’t shine through. “Dumb,” “Polly,” “On A Plain,” and the tense, cold imagery of “Something in the Way” make the middle section of the performance its most emotionally charged among the original content the band chose to present here, and it’s also these songs where you feel like the band starts really getting a groove for the show. Unlike every other performance in the “Unplugged” canon, the 14 song set was performed in a single take. I remember hearing that Neil Young’s performance was recorded over many hours, with Young doing songs multiple times. Here though, they gradually chip away at the list of songs, and on “Something in the Way,” everything really starts to work to their benefit. Something, possibly the saddest song in all of Nirvana’s catalog, showcases the uncertainty in Cobain’s emotions, and brings to the forefront the many emotions he must have been going through at the time. He was clearly a troubled man, and the band was on the brink of ending(although not in the way we all suspected), and he was also going through heavy heroin withdrawals during the taping of the show, which makes it even more incredible that this came out so beautiful and poetic.
This is where it get’s really interesting though. At the time they were on tour with the Meat Puppets. A band with modest success in the 90’s but a band that never really caught on in a big way. The band chose to bring the band up for three songs, and even though I have still never heard the original versions of these songs, the versions here are quite good. “Plateau,” which has a killer groove for a guitar part, was also a personal choice Cobain wanted to play. He knew that the high pitch of the vocals didn’t lend themselves to his vocal style, but he wanted to perform it for that exact reason. Even near the end of his career, and life, he wanted to push himself to try something out of his comfort zone, and for the better, it works.
Of the two other Meat Puppet songs, “Lake of Fire” is the better song, and it’s always been one of my more popular tracks on the record. “Oh Me” is the other one. “Lake of Fire” has some of the best visuals when it comes to lyrics, and it’s quite an epic song about struggling for the good of all humanity. At this point also, seven people have all been on stage collaborating, which was also a first as far as I know for any Unplugged show.
The record then gets super real and honest with the last two tracks. Number thirteen on the album, “All Apologies,” completely blows the original version out of the water, and is easily the best song on the whole fucking thing. It was always a great song, but in this light it transforms to a slow burn up until the chorus hits and the sunlight presents itself in a beautiful, but ominous haze. The only downside of the album is that it’s 14 songs. In the end though, it’s a solid choice of songs, and in the end I’d rather have 14 great songs than 20 songs or more where you only gravitate to a few, so yeah.
The ending song, the tragic, and emotional conclusion to this album, “Where did you Sleep Last Night,” brings all the pain and honestly to a somewhat uncomfortable ending, but for this band, and where they were at the time, it’s sadly appropriate. The power in the cords, and the overall instrumentation are second to none, and as we navigate down the road of the song, the screaming on Cobain’s part really makes the song resonate in an ultimately powerful way. It’s a brilliant end, but also a sad reminder that this was the last time we were to ever hear this extremely important band play a set of music, and that the set was easily one of the most valuable in their whole career as the band known as Nirvana.
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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