PROGRAMMERS NOTE: The planned posting of the Top 5 Pearl Jam albums will not be read today, as we commemorate the death of an interstellar star system as it left our galaxy on February 22, 2021.
Every now and then a band reaches you at the exact moment where you needed positivity and energy the most. This was the circumstances under which I fell in love with French duo extraordinaire Daft Punk. Around 1999 i was deep in with the metal of the era- Slayer, Slipknot, Nine Inch Nails and various other heavy as shit bands were consuming my life in the best way imaginable, but i was starting to notice other genres, other music and tons of things i normally wouldn’t be interested in.
In 2001 I got “Discovery” and away I went. The music filling my car, house and various other spaces spoke to me in a way that metal never could. The record as a whole is a huge leap forward for the modern electronic era, combining the knowledge from their debut and the direction EDM ( as it eventually became known) was naturally going. With songs like “Aerodynamic,” the romantically tinged soulmate sharing of “Digital Love” and of course, the one song that would catapult them to another level. It's called “One More Time” is a disco explosion of beats and remixed vocals. The song, up until a point, was the band's best known selection, but in the years that followed plenty of things would change for the best electronic band of all time.
In 2005 a new record emerged, this time titled “Human After All.” The album, while not as game changing as their predecessors, isn’t as bad as most people rememberBy this point the plotline of humans being destroyed and coming back as robotic programmers had been known for several years, but they still hadn’t played a show in the new millennium. That would all change come 2006, when the group would surprise everyone and be the talk of the music world with their dominating performance at the mecca of the music world, Coachella.
The show itself is nothing short of perfect, and having been fortunate enough to see it three times, I can safely say that Daft Punk's music has been a tremendous motivator for me and how I navigate this world. Yes its bleeps and blops and not for everyone, but for me it worked, and made me better than i was before.That the strength of music.
So, as we close this thing that i wasn’t aware I’d have to write today, thank you to Thomas, to Guy Manuel, to getting “Lucky” with friends while we escape our everyday lives, and to the everlasting memories of a giant glowing pyramid as it single handedly changes who musicians approach live performances. And while many assumed we’d already heard the last of the french robots, let us not forget all the music they’ve left behind, and how we got to witness the “Primetime of our Lives” through joyous inspiring music. Thank you guys for all the robot rock.
\\During the game changing music scene of the 90’s, Britain's Portishead created a sound as imaginative as it is genre defining. They blur lines left and right,often combining genres that you wouldn’t automatically think would work. As a band in their “third decade”, Portishead has been less than prolific. Three studio albums, one live album, and a few one-off singles are all we’ve seen over the band’s twenty plus year career. Having said that you can’t really fault them for taking their time to correctly present their vision, when the ultimate vision ends up being so thoughtful, solid, and beautiful. Today, we’re talking about their first album, the modern masterpiece known as “Dummy”
Let me first say that in a world full of unoriginal bands with no impressive ideas, Portishead manages to sit atop a mountain with a few other vastly important bands still making music that is years ahead of anything the mainstream audience might experience. I mention that because their first album “Dummy” is the album that started the upward mobility.
Released in the late summer of 1994, “Dummy” isn’t a typical album. It’s not a warm loving record. Instead, vocalist Beth Gibbons, Geoff Barrow & guitarist Adrian Utley took elements from the 30’s, mixed them with a new type of sound called “triphop.” From the opening of “Mysterons” you get the cold, harsh, but often calculated ambiance that the band created for us. An interesting tidbit about the band, before the recording of this album the band only consisted of Gibbons & Barlow, but after working well with Utley, he was brought on to be the third member, and that’s still the core lineup that the band uses today.
If you think about the music of the times, a few things come to mind. One, does this album sound even remotely close to any of the modern more well-known music being released at that time? Of course not, but that’s why unknown bands are sometimes the best. They can survive and create without the restrictions of big level record companies, and in this case, it helps to cement a great band’s legacy. In the climate of today;s music industry, bands like Portishead wouldn’t even get the big label treatment. It’s too much of a risk to the record company, at least in their eyes,
The second thought that occurred to me was what other now regarded classic alternative albums had come out that year. Nine Inch Nails “The Downward Spiral,” Soundgarden’s “Superunknown” and Tori Amos’ “Under the Pink” all were released in the same year. With all of those great albums, I’d be surprised if that didn’t help “Dummy” to get a little bit more attention than it would have gotten had it been released during a time where the thirst for “alternative” music wasn’t at an all time high.
One of the best things about this band is the skill they have to combine sounds and textures. Gibbons' voice is reminiscent of a cabaret singer, quietly vocalizing in a dark, smoky red-lit bar at two in the morning. The sultry, painful voice, combined with the precise use of a drum machine and synthesizer make the overall sound of the band impressive. It’s especially obvious on tracks like “It Could be Sweet,” and the track that follows, “Wandering Star.” Having purchased this album on vinyl, it’s really the way it was meant to be heard. The album on its own has a very warm quality to it, but on record it’s even more undeniable.
The wobbly but consistent beats on “Wandering Star” are probably one of the most electric beats on the whole album. The album has so many layers to it that it’s hard to focus on one at a time, but that’s what great bands do in a way that makes the music seamless and effortless when played for avid listeners. They add layers that might not work on their own, but together, it’s radiant and glorious. Most great bands are good at this gentle art, and Portishead is among those great activators of sound.
One of the cinematic, epic songs on the whole album is “It’s a Fire.” The symphonic beginning quickly dissolves and gives way to the quiet of a piano behind Beth’s voice, until the other beats slowly bleed through, forcing you to acknowledge them. Her voice here is one of the more lovely parts of the whole album, and it’s also one of the few parts where you get a hint of positivity. Even with a hint of optimism, that’s not implying this is a happy record.
One of the saddest, albeit most beautiful songs on the albums, “Roads” is the perfect foundation for the rest of the band’s work. It’s not only the best song on the album, but it’s my favorite song by the band. The song speaks to the listener from a solitary, desperate place. I can relate to this position of the speaker so much because sometimes in life you feel like you’re alone, and without a net to save you.
The imagery set forth here is unbelievably powerful, and the music does just as much for the overall feel of the song than the vocals do, if not more. If it were up to me, this song would be put in a time capsule for the future children of earth to find two thousand years from now, if we even last that long. The song both begins and ends with a warm fuzz of a beat coming in and out. I’m not sure what instrument is being used to bring it to fruition, but it works wonderfully to propel the song to its ultimate apex.
From the first time I was ever exposed to this album when I first heard the single “Sour Times,” to the years working my way through this collection of songs, so many of them have spoken to me in a personal, life-affirming way. Even songs that have a sinister undertone like “Biscuit” still work even twenty years after the album was released. That’s how you can tell a band knows what they’re doing. The music has only intensified in the time since it was unleashed. Album closer, and overall great song “Glory Box” is one of the better reminders of this.
Like much of the rest of the album, “Glory Box” presents imagery that is both epic and mythological, while juxtaposing a quiet burlesque feel that is both haunting and a throwback to the times of the roaring twenties. Tell me you can’t see that in this world? Gibbons voice is perhaps at it’s best on this track, and the emotion pouring out of her is at the same time defiant and dependent on whoever she is talking to. It’s the perfect song to conclude this monster of an album, and it helps to permanently claim the trio’s spot among great bands.
When the third album, “Third” came out, it was evocative of everything they had done previously, and it still worked. They had taken the basic idea experimented with on “Dummy” and had refined it and made it new and fresh. That’s what this band does. They evolve and change but they remain uniquely brilliant. Eventually they’ll make a fourth proper studio record, and when they do, I have no doubt it will be as important and interesting as the other three albums currently making up their discography. Thanks for reading
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As a band approaches their third, and even fourth decades, they usually start to dwindle in quality, surviving off the often vast catalog of hits they may have created during that time. For Pearl Jam, who’s long weird journey began in 1990, being a band in their 30’s has only made them more independent and aware of what works. They still play 3 hour sets each night, often with a drastically different setlist than the nights before and after. Today, a week before a post about the bands 30 year career, we discuss the bands Top 10 best songs. This list is sure to get people talking, with more than 11 albums featuring some truly remarkable songs. This list features some stuff you’ll immediately recognize, and hopefully plenty of others you’ll grow to enjoy. Thanks for reading! What are some of your favorite PJ Tracks? Share in the comments below, or join the conversation on instagram at @the deathofthemixtape.
10. LOVE BOAT CAPTAIN: RIOT ACT
When I first encountered “Love Boat Captain,” it was the opening number of the now legendary first appearance by the band at the Bonnaroo festival. The song enters in a slow emotional manner, reminiscent of a road weary man marching himself towards a greater goal of love. The song speaks to the need for admiration, for love, for partnership, but it’s written with an earnestness you’ll find in plenty of stuff created by Vedder himself or the band. As we open the countdown, “Love Boat Captain'' shows the strength of knowing your place in the universe is meaningless at best, but for a certain few in our world, we get to share love and the craziness of the planet as we fight against being meaningless.
9. LIFE WASTED: PEARL JAM
One of the best straight rockers in this list, “Life Wasted” comes from an album later in the band's career, but it spits with all the urgency of a band hungry for relevance, which they still had for many middle aged grey haired dads across the world. The guitars by (Gossard & McCreedy) are rushed and antagonizing, with Vedder's voice harping on the life you've abandoned, with the catch coming during the moments of the song you realize his attacks and pleading are all focused inward on himself. He’s trying to get his road straight, and with the urgency of the music under your wings and your ears, you’re transported to a place where pushing yourself is the only way to succeed.
8. NOTHINGMAN: VITALOGY
Even though this is a band very often overlooked in terms of genuine, beautiful “ballads,” there still exists plenty of soul crushing slow tunes in the catalog. While most are amazing, tear inducing, and heartfelt, “Nothingman” is the most obvious choice for me. It’s slow, somber, and wonderful. The vocals are day dreams of an abandoned illusion consisting of what dreams we chose to forget and not pursue. It’s this emotional pull and push that makes the song so beautifully tragic. I’ve still never gotten to see this live, but hopefully someday I will. I’d like to talk more about this, but some songs are best left to let you hear, rather than for you to read about.
7. DO THE EVOLUTION: YIELD
Even before we discuss the actual song, we shouldn’t forget the brilliance of the Todd MacFarlane video for this classic apocalyptic track. The animation presented in the clip ties in perfectly to the nihilistic approach permeating this journey through times and platitudes. The vocals are scratchy, while the guitars and drums both feature tinges of the garage rock days of the band's journey to the top. It brims with the intensity of a world undone by itself, and we’re all mammals trying to not be part of the next extinction.
6. JEREMY: TEN
For me, this song is a sad reminder of wasted youth, and how we as humans are so quick to forget bad events, as long as they don’t interrupt our important lives. But then you still have to factor in the polarizing video. The video, which is still tough to watch, portrays a bullied teen, ignored by his self-important parents, and harassed by his peers, brutally taking the lives of the people he should have been feeling free with in the afternoons and weekends of his adolescence. It was a shocking video to say the least, but in the end it didn’t matter, because the mass population still overlooks shootings as something that just “happens.”
5. ALIVE: TEN
Most folks hearing “Alive” believe it to be a song seeping with positivity at having made it through the difficult thing called life, but in reality it’s far more downtrodden. The song is indeed a roaring anthem, but buried in the subconscious of the song is the massive pain felt by Vedder at the early age of his father. The song, written in regards to the turbulent relationship between his step father, who for a long time he believed was his actual father. In truth. His dad died during his still developing years, and the impacting death made the creation of this song possible. Just remember, when we’re singing and hollowing to the “I’m Alive,” at your next Pearl
Jam show that it was never about Eddie, but instead about the complicated relationships with his fathers.
4. ELDERLY WOMAN BEHIND A COUNTER IN A SMALL TOWN: VS
Like the forgotten dreams of a teenager destined to be stuck in a shitty go nowhere town, “Elderly Woman…” tells the story of the long years gone by, the regret as we all carry with us, and the knowledge that we were meant for better things, if only we could escape. The song itself tells such a normal, painful story that it’s easy to forget that this came out so long ago, but it hasn’t changed the meaning and merit behind it. It’s not instrumentally aggressive like other tracks on their often overlooked second record, but it’s humility and. Eye opening regret make it worth the love it gets among long time PJ fans.
3. GIVEN TO FLY: YIELD
Overwhelmingly optimistic once you get through the rough parts. That’s one way to start. Another would be to say It’s a quite beautiful song, and the music alongside Vedder's simmering, soaring voice really helps to bring me to a place where everything is right in the world. This song exemplifies so much of what life is really like. Darkness, murder, power, love and optimism. I can’t help but think that life is supposed to be experienced, and not to be ruined by pleasing other people, or how much money you have in the bank. Life is what happens when you’re busy trying to figure out what's next. At number three, with its call to soar and to be free, is “Given to Fly.”
2. REARVIEWMIRROR: VS
Like a speeding car roaring away from a shitty relationship, This bad boy kicks all kinds of ass. It’s immediately in first gear, and the flow of the song never lets up, especially in the chorus. Musically it’s rooted in the heyday of the grunge era, but the emotions presented lyrically are the things we never share as they're happening, saving them for the inevitable meltdown. Musically it has everything a PJ fan would love. That bass line going underneath everything also helps to tie the song into a perfect bow. The vocals at the end are what ultimately makes it an amazing song. It’s clear whatever he’s dealing with, he wants to be done, or as he says it, he wants it in his “ Rearview Mirror.”
“Black” may be the band's darkest song, but more Importantly it might also be their best. This song is so emotional in so many ways. The song has so much sadness and desperation in it, but it still brings out pure raw emotions that ultimately make it a priceless song. As a listener I never feel at home in the world of “Black,” rather I feel lost and in the dark as the narrator fights for his redemption for all the damage he’s done. Again, as a listener, the song speaks to the turbulent life of the narrator, and when he speaks to the things “All washed in black,” you know the damage is done, but his heart is broken and full of regret. Moment after moment during “Black” leaves you reeling emotionally, even as you hope for the best outcome you’re certain won’t come. In fact, during the closing moments of the song you don’t get that repeal, instead watching that special one venture away from you and your “Black.” Even more meaningful for me was the first time I saw this performed, which ruled just as much as you might think. If you haven’t yet heard this song, please track it down. It’s the emotional core of not only that album, but the core of the band. Thank you for reading!
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Since early 2004, Montreal based Arcade Fire have been (mostly) successful in bringing thoughtful, poignant indie rock laced with arena rock bravado to a scenethat wsn’t always open to that concept. In the more than decade since their debut, the band has released five quite different albums. Themes of abandonment, loneliness, and recklessness seep through them all. Truth be told, this list was difficult to make, if only because the band has so many worthy songs, but in the end I think it’s a full and complete list.
10. NORMAL PERSON: REFLEKTOR
Starting the countdown at number 10, we get a haunting, slow burning track in the shape of “Normal Person.” On a first listen the song doesn’t stand out as the underrated gem it actually is, but with added listens it begins to click with the listener. “Normal Person” starts with an ease and reverb that both work well, but as the track sways behind Win’s hushed, slightly whispered voice, as all the pieces come together. It has an attitude that’s easy to spot, but it’s not a dick head attitude. It’s the confidence you get from growing from your art, and I suppose being praised by many many people. It’s a track that blends gothic rock and soaring chorus in a way that could only work for the Arcade Fire.
9. KEEP THE CAR RUNNING: NEON BIBLE
The plucking of the strings, added with the more orchestral elements signal the arrival of the track much like the headlights of a running car announce an arrival. This symbolism is hard to spot, but the urgency of the song makes for a bold, yet unexpected brand of chase music.. The chanting by Win and company during the bridges gather like voices around a fire, and the agony of the beat aching to be free, sets your spirit. With the engine roaring, and the windows down, you feel free in the imagery presented. If the theme of the song is running from your problems, then the voices reminding you of the difficulties you face during the song are your call to arms for escaping.
8. MY BODY IS A CAGE: NEON BIBLE
Win's voice comes out, and the sadness is not only palpable, but it's as if his life depends on getting these words out. The whole theme of the album really comes into extremely clear view here too. The choral atmosphere, along with the chamber music and organ makes the song thick. Early during the song the tension is built methodically by the use of the organ and the oldest Butler's voice until the moment the pressure can’t be contained. The song is the statement of defeat by a generation stuck between getting everything they wanted and not expecting anything at all. That in itself is a difficult world to navigate, but in these resounding moments of clarity, “My Body is a Cage” is a reminder that we are all still living, breathing, navigating this thing called Life.
7. HAITI: FUNERAL
Named after Regine’s homeland and sung by Regine herself, “Haiti” is a love letter to her native land, with the instrumental leaning more heavily into island culture and rhythmic arrangements most average Americans take for granted, if we acknowledge it at all. The song borders on indie world music, but it never fully gets there. Regardless, Regine’s voice has a raspy yet purposeful pace to her delivery, and in moments like the Haitian language delivered finale,you allow yourself to get lost in it, which never hurts when you’re experiencing a song that comes from dueling lands and attitudes.
6. NO CARS GO: NEON BIBLE
In contrast to the other song with “Car” in the title, “No Cars Go,” a song nestled near the end of “Neon Bible” reverberates in a rushed manner throughout its nearly six minute duration. The drums from Jeremy Gara beat like your life depends on it, while the xylophone and other instruments move the track along in a way that hookes the listener while also making it easy to digest the nature of the lyrics. Those lyrics, again speak to an escapism of sorts that only Arcade Fire specialize in creating. “Between the click of the light and the start of the dream,” isn’t just a beautiful line, but in fact is everything that is possible when your mind is clear and open to what if. That’s what “No Cars Go” is to me, all the possibles and places we can go and things we can do if we separate from the contest hustle and bustle.
5. MONTH OF MAY: SUBURBS
Probably the most intense, blink and you’ll miss it song on the list of the Top Ten Arcade Fire Songs, “Month of May,” finds us at number six. It’s always reminded me of an angry version of an Arcade Fire song if surf punks had recorded it. It’s full of folded arms being disobedient, but that only lasts until it’s time to put your fists in the air and chant “First they built the roads, then they built the town.” That moment is important, but it’s made even better by the drum beat that precedes it. From the first listen until now, it’s remained a stark example of how different this band can be when the moment calls for it, and that they can in fact write a very intense, gut wrenching track. It’s unimpressed in your likes and dislikes, and it wants you to feel it.
4. REBELLION (LIES): FUNERAL
Everyone by this point should have seen the epic performance of this song at AF’s first Coachella appearance. One could even argue it’s the performance that poised them for the major success that was yet to come. It’s still really incredible. Anyway, the track is one of the last on the all around perfect “Funeral,” and over the course of five minutes and eleven seconds the band proves what’s now clearly obvious, and has been for years. That is simply, that they rock in many ways. The album itself reeks of death and mourning, and on “Rebellion(Lies)” the band drill that concept of life and recklessness into existence. The backing vocals are well placed, as is the powerful yet subtle drumming by Jeremy Gara. The song builds and builds until the climax, and everyone is urged to joyously sing and dance to the “Rebellion” happening all around us.
3. READY TO START: SUBURBS
Another song in the top five that is largely remembered as part of a landmark, historic performance at Coachella. The third time the band played, finally landing the headlining spot, the encore started with this track. By this point the balls that had fallen from the stage were turning lights in sync with the music, and of course the crowd lost their mind. The track itself though has this mysterious hue over it, and the energy surrounding the track is dark and foreboding in the best way the band knows how to deliver. Clearly a great song off another nearly perfect album, “Ready to Start” not only stands as a dark reminder of what “The Suburbs” may have in store for us, but it also comes in at number four on the Top Ten Arcade Fire songs.
2. WAKE UP: FUNERAL
Without a doubt, there wasn’t any other song that could have been number one. At the top of the list, “Wake Up,” from the seminal “Funeral,” presents us with chants galore which are able to allow us to free ourselves from complicated lives, if only just for a moment. Everything soars here, quite simply. The guitar riff at the outset sets the pace, then the drums add a little bit of force to it, but then the real magic happens when the iconic chant occurs nearing the thirty second mark. The songs on the album speak to the truths of life, and that all things must come to an end, but I think “Wake Up” stands up as a reminder that sometimes life is dismal, but it’s the unfortunate events that truly make us better people. It’s also a sobering look at the world we live in, and how important it is to stay positive as “our hearts get torn up.”
1. SPRAWLS II(MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS): SUBURBS
The choice between number one and two was difficult, but in the end it had to be done. “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)” not only reaches nearly to the top of the pile, but it helps to tie all the themes running rampant on “The Suburbs” into one spectacular and beautiful bow. Regine’s voice again shines through, but through it all the song's success lies not just with her gorgeous rendition of a monotonous life, but in fact with all the members of the band who excel at writing music that people can relate to. That idea of “We can never get away from the Sprawl” is a real, complicated feeling that many people have with their hometowns, whether or not the grow up in “The Suburbs,” but it’s in that moment you realize the world is one big Sprawl, and over Mountain lies the potential to exist a Sprawl that’s perfectly weird in the exact way we are, and we can make the best of what the world has to offer.
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: HUGE SPOILERS AND INFO REGARDING CHARACTERS, DEATHS, ETC. ENJOY!
As we approach the two year anniversary of the beginning of the final season of Game of Thrones, I thought it a good time to go back and discuss. As you’ll find out during the course of this piece, the confusion didn’t just start in the final six episodes, but as the series began to wound down in season seven.
By season 6, the show had a very clear path towards its finale. Cersei had just destroyed everything that stood in her way during the finale of “Winds of Winter,” which stands among my own and many others’ favorite episodes of the series. Even so, King in the north Snow has defeated Ramsay Bolton, and Daenerys Targaryen has completed her conquest and restructuring of Mereen, and the army of the Dead is heading down south.
In season 7, things begin slow, but purposeful. It’s dragging more than most thought, especially with the explosive opening of Arya killing the male Freys, but eventually the plan begins to pull away from anything other than the Others, or White Walkers as they're called in the show, as the decision is made to head North to prove their existence to Cersei in King's Landing. This is where the timeline starts to bend, as well as the narrative idea the series had had from day one, which is “no one is safe.” While traveling north on their reconnaissance mission, Jon Snow, or Aegon Targaryen as we’ll soon find out, are joined by Tormund, the Hound, Beric Dondarion, and of course Jorah Mormont and some others as they navigate the harshest elements the North has to offer. That essentially means blue eyed dead attacking bears, or dead attacking blue eyed ice men, or just normal blue eyed zombies, whichever you prefer. Anyway, they get the zombie but are seen and heard, so the escape becomes paramount. They break ice, create some time, and send for help.
Now this is where things get screwy with the time. For years it's been established as a slow moving show, that gradually ramps up and expandas over entire episodes and sometimes seasons, like the Littlefinger arc that gradually grew in notoriety and mischief for seven seasons before finally being resolved. It’s established also that while Jon and company march north for the White Walkers, he’s been gone for weeks, but in their time of peril the bastard of King Robert Baratheon, Gendry, manages to run in bitter temperatures with creatures everywhere, at least days away, and then they manage to get a raven from the Night's Watch to Stormborn and then the Dragon Queen flies north and saves them, all in less time than it takes literal arctic temperatures to fill in ice? I’m no scientist here, but it seems doubtful. Even a more plausible approach here would have been to have the Hound break the ice, but then to have many of the zombies fall in, creating more tension and dramatically impacting the area of the ice and the time it would take to freeze over. If done right, the time can seem long but also compact, based on the amount of time in the episode.
This would also help change the haste of the next episode, in which the wall falls, a Lannister lies to protect her family, and Littlefinger meets his end. It all feels rushed with the still fresh images of Jon Snow again nearly dying and or freezing to death immediately after seeing him standing up and marching into negotiations in the next episode in King’s Landing, only to then go back to the North the next episode. These trips, up until this season were discussed in terms of weeks, and chunks of episodes were sometimes spent on the road, going from one place to another. Many times it was the setting of some fantastic fight or twist you never saw coming. But now, with the urgency of finishing a series that only two people actually wanted to end, they cast aside all allusions of gradual travel with choices that defied logic and the concept of time entirely.
Much has been made of the rush to be finished by D&D, otherwise known as David Benioff & D.B. Weiss, but at least from the outside, with the full breadth of the internet at my disposal, this much seems at least optimistic: The duo were burnt out and ready to move on, and with the promise of the next Star Wars trilogy offered to them, they decided to bow out. Many of the stars of the show have even mentioned no one wanted to end, and everyone else thought that with this story line trajectory, it could go for ten seasons, with some saying even more could have been possible.
Even so, with the pieces they have in the show, with some simple shuffling around and rearranging, it still could have worked. With the opening of the season, The Dragon Queen and the king of the North arrive in Winterfell, and the rest is mostly formality, with the various roads over the years finally converging on all the Starks finally being together again. After all, they are the first family we see in the opening episode. Beyond that, news of the Lannister betrayal makes its way north, and plans are beginning to take form. All of this seems appropriate, but again, the time crunch makes you question just where the conclusion is heading.
The second episode, while interesting and filled with moments that are poignant and entertaining (the Knighthood of Brienne of Tarth and Tormund’s story about the milk come to mind) lacks things most expected. One of those, especially when how amped up the storyline was, was the little info we ever get regarding the Night King or anything else regarding their history or beginning.
Which takes us to the much discussed “The Long Night.” At this point, we know the truth of Jon and his patronage, and how it relates to the ongoing, some would say self created, plight of the Mother of Dragons. She’s a powerhouse throughout the later years of the series, but in season eight, especially in the last two episodes (as we’ll talk in a bit) she begins to question and kill anyone that threatens her, even if the argument is somewhat valid.
The reasons for the split to her role as the Mad Queen makes sense, but once again, it rushes itself. This sub-plot should have been sprinkled among the last ten to twelve episodes, with the doubt slowly filling her. What we get feels squeezed in to just get it done with, and not at all something that works in this new rushed setting. Which brings us back to the “Long Night.” which for all the complaints, still stands to me as a shining achievement in execution and sheer terror.
The episode itself is a fast paced, thrilling ride, and for my money, the best action the series ever produced. The fear and the sense of dread are abound on the first watch, with the White Walkers finally showing the full force of their carnage. The opening scene is masterful, and brutal, but those aren’t complaints. However, the visuals don’t completely line up with the outcome, which brings us to the point of “no one is safe.” Earlier in the series, this was paramount, with huge deaths like Ned Stark, or Joffrey, or even the barbaric events of the “Red Wedding,” being almost routine in how they divided the audience and impacted the show's future.
In “the Long Night” no one on the front line with any prominence dies, with the major losses only coming from the Dothraki storming into the night as their torches vanished into the endless Winter approaching. Brienne, Jamie Lanister, the Hound, Jorah and everyone else we know and love makes it out. Now maybe it's sensible storytelling, but to me it speaks yet again to a rushed pace. Now, the episode is great,and I still get pumped watching it play out, but I think yet again D&D made a fatal flaw in how the episode is laid out. For years, and YEARS, we’ve been told the White Walkers were the big bad, the ultimate threat, but we rarely get insight into them, and one of the few episodes devoted entirely to them and the fight for survival, ends up being the middle episode when it should’ve been the series finale.
They build up a threat for literal years, insisting to us time and again that death comes for anyone who crosses the path of the WW, and then we get some good deaths, but nothing like the bloodbath we’ve been trained to expect. Theon gets his great redemption arc (which oddly works in a season muddled by wrong moves), but Melissandre and her “Lord of the Light” quest comes to end with basically no questions answered, and well, Jorah dies defending his queen. That moment is poignant and would have been better placed somewhere else in the final episodes, but in the heat of the episode the death scene works, even if it means the death of all the Mormonts during the Long Night.
Lets jumped forward a bit while also going back. In the later episodes we see the siege of King's Landing, the death of the second dragon, and the death of many other people. Some of the final moments of the seventh season also take place in KL, which brings me to my next question- Why wasn’t there a set up by Cersei waiting for them? They couldn’t defeat the armies, sure, but Cersei and company could have left the negotiations with all their enemies in shackles below the Red Keep. This would have created a very moving, and, in my opinion, more believable series of events. The Breaker of Chains, Daenerys Stormborn, Jon Snow & Tyrion Lanister all imprisoned by Cersei. This action leads Jaime to feel ultimately betrayed at the knowledge that this was planned and executed behind his back.
Here’s where the big reveal should’ve come. Jaime, ready to kill Cersei and help the prisoners in the Long Night, finds Cersei, with him… except it's Arya, obviously. Cersei rips off the mask, pushes Arya away, and runs to Jamie, who embraces her. Then he takes her life, fulfilling the prophecy offered by the witch. During this, we’d find out about the real relationship of Targaryen King & Queen, Aegon and Daenerys. We’d also see the much hyped and, to me worthwhile, CleganeBowl, except having the Hound end the life of the Mountain, cutting his head off and pushing him into the fire below.
If done correctly, this gives the final episodes more meat in more important meetings and encounters, but it also ties up the Lannister threat in a way that gives the great villainy of Cersei one more chance to shine before the demise we've been waiting for since the opening episode of the series. As I said earlier, the pieces are there and can be solved optimistically, but the lack of direction from the creators, not to mention the personal choices they made for the characters themselves, leaves much to be desired.
In my eyes it's so simple: You have the war with the Lannisters, you conquer Westeros, and Daenarys, still gradually sinking into her paranoia, but she isn’t able to pull it together enough to rule confidently. If done right the slow descent into the Mad Queen has been happening for many episodes, and when she finally turns it becomes a terrifying moment where everyone has to band together.
Imagine going into the Long Night, with vastly more men than what they had initially. Killing Cersei, Eurion and all the others in the Lannister camp would have resulted in deaths, but much less than what we saw. They also wouldn’t have to make the destruction of Kings Landing as big of a centerpiece. The battle over the sea and beyond the gates could happen intact, same as before, except with the ending finding us at the point of the Mountain's death, as well as the death of Jaime and Cersei, with Jaime killing his sister moments before a recovering Arya nails him as she takes the final names off her list. By this point Jaime has killed Euron Greyjoy, same as in the episode.
Before we continue, I’d like to also mention the choices that strayed from the books more and how they affected the outcome. Let’s just say it, show Euron was terrible, and lacked any of the viciousness we see portrayed in the novels. He’s more used as a snarky side kick who only wants to kill and fuck and make shitty jpkes. They never seem to know exactly what to do with Euron, and he quickly gets old. Another one worth mentioning is the sudden turnaround in Tyrion's intellect. Smartest guy in the world turns into a second guessing idiot in the last episodes, and while the acting is still great, you can see the choices not making sense. In any other show nothing would have changed, but yet again it paints an idea in my head that the choices made weren’t made in service to the story, instead serving as a means to tie up loose ends quicker, whether or not they make sense.
Finally, here we should have been. The world's remaining forces make their way to Winterfell, to defeat the ultimate threat. In the final episodes the world saw, and which most left unsatisfied, a major disservice was done not only to Clarke as an actress but to Daenerys as a character. Sure, we all knew the chances of her becoming the Mad Queen seemed decent, but as I’m about to explain, maybe it didn’t need to happen at all.
Allow me to pose a question: did having the Breaker of Chains, the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Stormborn, first of her name going mad really make the end of the series any better? In my opinion, the answer is no. Instead, wouldn’t it be better to see her take the crown, sit atop the Iron Throne, thus fulfilling her prophecy? We could have had that leading up to the final episodes in Winterfell, with our Queen meeting her fate at the hands of the Night King. This would have worked in a few ways. One, it gives the Queen and the character a satisfying death while still giving Jon Snow and company a reason to fight til the end.
Honestly, nothing much about the episode would even have to change. Jorah can die still protecting his Queen, Theon can still get his redemption arc, and we get a major death near the end. It also works in how the finale could end. All along the Queen has made difficult choices but always with an eye toward freedom for anyone who wants and deserves it. With Daenerys dying, it gives everyone a reason to continue to create the world she helped envision and shape.
This act makes the battle worthwhile, and all the deaths before it worthwhile. The Queen and Drogon die in battle, as her Nephew Aegon, son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark continues on with Rhaegal, their dragon's blood bonded between them. During the closing moments, the deaths are observed, with many prominent faces being laid to rest from the devastation. We see Brienne, Gendry, the Hound, only defeating his monstrous brother to help the Brothers without Banners and company one more time as they fought the White Walkers, and died for it.
During these segments, plans are made, mass funerals and burnings are held, and Tyrion, speaking to the now King Aegon “Jon” Targayen as he takes his seat on the Iron Throne. Sansa takes over in the North, Arya begins to build her legend, and Bran rests, as the darkness is temporarily sidelined after the defeat of the Night King. Sure it’s a little bit of fan service, but sometimes people should get what they want.
Very rarely in life do events happen that you still remember every aspect years or even decades later. For me and others I know, seeing Daft Punk in concert stands as one of those experiences. For me it first happened at Coachella 2006, alone in a crowded tent losing my mind for 80 riveting minutes. Then came Miami, a two day drive from Louisiana to Florida, then back as soon as the show ended. Finally, what brings us to the subject of this article, the Alive 2007 tour, which then helped birth the live record of the same name This time myself, sister, mother and then girlfriend got to see one of the most legendary acts of all time, at one of the most incredible venues in earth, Red Rocks.
Live albums as a whole tend to be tricky. You don’t want to overdo and select only hits, but you also want to give the people a certain amount of what they want. After absorbing the record countless times, it's fair to say they balanced it brilliantly. This show, along with most of the shows it helped to spawn, doesn’t really follow a traditional song pattern. Throughout the 12 segments presented here, each one has at least two songs constantly intertwining. Sometimes, a beat from a song will disappear entirely from a song, only to make itself known again down the line. When you witness the show, it’s a type of energy that makes the moments blur. “Robot Rock,”the opener, gradually builds you up continuously untuk rge energy bursts, with the ending notes of the returning “Human After All” coming in, you don’t really stop moving. It's infectious, there's no doubt about it.
By this tour, I had gotten the chance to see this tour twice, so going in you are pretty aware of what you’re about to see. This is both true and untrue. Since the show was unveiled 14 months earlier, the show had been tweaked in small but very noticeable ways. The “Fuck it” coursing through track two “Touch It/Technologic” wasn’t presented at the previous shows, but that’s the kind of thing you can do when you spend a year or so making a perfect show even better.
As the story goes the duo only accepted the Coachella offer because the amount of money was enough to put on the stage show they had envisioned for years. This idea became known as the pyramid, and it essentially changed how live shows are approached. ESPECIALLY for dance acts. Remember shows? Ah, yeah me too.
Probably my favorite section comes within the first few movements of the show. The beats from “Television Rules the Nation'' burst out of the speakers, while “Around the World” gloriously rips through on the audio vocal end of the music. The music, on top of the accompanying visuals really do the job of capturing human existence in its primal exchange.The buildup is something to behold. Relentlessly, like the train from the Dark Tower, “Crescendolls'' joins the fun created by the first two tracks and things get wild. The build up and explosion is maybe the best thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Even at the shows, I remember being torn between filming it or enjoying the moment. I think in the end I filmed maybe 5 seconds and chose to lose myself to dance(see what I did there?).
There’s a reason these two men are supremely important to the electronic music scene. Much like Kraftwerk were instrumental in the 70’s and 80’s, Daft Punk have taken similar risks in bringing their unique style of “Robot Rock” to mainstream audiences. The contribution is incalculable and utterly important.
I picked this album specifically because while I do have a favorite stand alone album, the sheer talent and skill represented in this live album brings everything to the table. It has tracks from every album up to that point, mixed and arranged in a way to make them their own unique tracks. The cut it up, slice it, and transform these songs to work in the live setting. One of the best examples comes when Steam Machine” enters at the end of one section of a beat and carries the tone and elements over to the next section where “Around the World” returns and is joined by the beat of one of the better songs in their catalogue, “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger.”
It stops abruptly, but slowly a singular thump lays down under the vocals and gradually brings the tempo back up to a party atmosphere. The band had mentioned that this show felt like an opera to them, in the way that opera’s have movements that flow effortlessly, and little things in each movement are allowed to change as long as the end goal remains the same. You can really see the motivation on this track. It seems like a mess at times, but it might just be because no one was used to hearing so many elements from so many songs happening at the same time. Music then, and even now, hasn’t caught up to some of the things they accomplished and produced during these shows.
From this point, the show keeps on going in the same way it has been. Which is to say unabated. Over the next three songs we’re treated to re-workings of at least 7 songs. I imagine if you had only seen or heard this album, you might not be aware that these aren’t the album versions, but it’s totally understandable. That’s a testament to what great producers Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter are that as two individuals they can mix multiple things and bring an incredible stage show and have the end result be a seamless mix of beautiful visuals, gorgeously layered sounds, and leave the crowd still wanting more after a full concert.
This is where the set begins to change a little bit compared to the Coachella show from a year earlier. Nothing leaves, but more is added, which we’ll get to in a moment's time. The familiar bells of “Aerodynamic,” with their foreboding wail, give way to the unmistakable ding of hopefulness that is the mega hit “One More Time.” I swear I’ve heard this song hundreds of times and it’s still as awesome as it was the first time it ventured into my life. If there’s a single part or song that captures the full message of the show and the energy it delivers, it’s easily “One More Time.”
During this segment of the record, things dial down again only to do what theyve done before and get everyone listening re-energized. The double whammy of vocals provided from “Primetime of Your Life,” interlaced over the rough scratching of “Brainwasher '' make it a deliberate entry into the set. On traditional records both of these songs are super heavy in terms of rocking bass, but in the live setting, it’s pretty killer. The beat also only ramps up as the song goes on, but at a full on dance party, you kinda have to do it.
With two songs left, we find the group doing something that they’ve perfected by now: Very quietly inserting segments from the next song into the mix in such a way as you can barely hear it until it’s at your door ready to party. This time, the track in question is maybe the song with the best beat to it, “Da Funk.” How they do it though slightly varies. You can hear the intro in the previous song, but it ends mid way through, only to have it re-emerge in full force on this track. It’s one of the few parts of the show where this song is the only one on display, even if it’s for a brief moment. “Da Funk'' is clearly an incredible song, and the placement here is quite appropriate.
This, unfortunately brings the last segment of the record, and as far as show closers go, it doesn’t disappoint. We open up with the heroic vocals from “Superheroes,” but that isn’t the only thing prevalent here. The beat from “Human After All” is also there, and that’s where the song really soars. If you’re trying to make a complete show, it’s logical for a band who opens with “Robot Rock” to then close with “Human After All.” I like to think it’s to demonstrate that while they have been performing for the crowd, in a way we’ve been performing for them, and making them feel good. We’re gifting each other with a legendary experience.This band is likely the most important electronic band every to make music, and this collection of songs proves why. It’s timeless, fun, and thoughtful all at the same time. This is also a band that has been a part of a few awesome memories involving people I care about, and in the end, “Music Sounds Better With You.”
Follow us for more content at @thedeathofthemixtape on instagram, facebook and Spotify. Thanks for reading.
The year had just started, 2020, and what a year it was going to be. In a little over a month, my wife and I, along with our dog and cat would load everything we own into a car and make our way out west, to glorious Denver. We had just landed jobs, with me finding a freelance gig at what I thought would propel me to a more prominent local role of covering concerts, reviewing albums, and everything else that comes with it. Life was exciting, and we had tons of plans for our new lives. For Ashley it was a chance to get to settle into a new place with her best friend and others, but for me I was looking forward to one thing- Red Rock shows and seeing what Denver had to offer my music devouring soul.
Regardless, the year started out amazing. We had tickets to see Tool the first month of February, right before we left Louisiana. For me, it was my 24th evening spending it with maybe my favorite band, but it was also more than that. Sharing something like that with a spouse is a big deal to both of us, not only because it's frankly awesome, but because we get to share in something very special. For me that's what shows, festivals and life experiences have always been about. I’m never been swayed by money in the way many people are, it just wasn’t as important to me as making a dream become a reality, whether it's venturing to a show that cost too much(Tool tickets were about $300 for us both) or making it to a music festival across the country, experiences propel happiness and creativity alike.
It's with all of those and many more thoughts that I entered 2020 with. I wanted to take what I had learned in New Orleans and use it to get even deeper into the world I'd always felt called to. It's nearing March now, and I've just interviewed the lead singer of one of my recent favorite bands, Pup. It goes well, Stefan Babcock is an absolute gentleman and extremely open and easy to talk to, and finally it feels like this might be something I can make something out of. In Denver, Pup played and although it was great to finally be seeing a show in my new home city, the year was just beginning.
If you’re reading this and you know me, you know how crucial music and concerts are to my general well being. I stopped talking to some family this year, all for the best, and i’ve dealt with not only the drastic impact of the pandemic, but also the diagnosis of my strong as fuck wife wit breats cancer. Any other year, concerts and festivals would’ve been there to help us navigate stress and live life, but not only did the communal nature of our world disappear, but with it came venues closing, bands unable to tour or make money, and oh so many exciting moments for millions of people, gone in an instant. That's the virus dictating our lives, and music was one of the great sufferers of this pandemic. It's estimated that the general music industry lost somewhere between 2-4 billion in 2020, but that's only one side of the loss of live music.
Artists like U2, Taylor Swift and other mega hitters will obviously be fine, but what of the venue workers, or the the middle of the road opening bands with day jobs, or the sound engineers, light techs and every other person who helps put a performance on? They can’t afford to wait around as we argue over $600 checks and asshoiles who refuse to wear masks because of their “constitutional rights.”
My point is, everyone fucking suffered tihs year in one way or another, but its still a loss of uncalcuble lengths when you factor in not only music but entertainment as a whole.Just think about your plans for the year. Any concerts included? For me, 2020 was to mark the first time I'd take my sister to Bonnaroo, where we’d spend four blissful days off the grid doing something we almost never get to do. Tool was gonna play, as was Lizzo and Lana Del Rey, who my sister loves. There were even rumors of a King Gizzard late night set that was sure to be transcendent and utterly bonkers. Nick Cave was coming to Denver, as was Pearl Jam, and i was hoping to do a story on it, but alas we know how that ended.
I could go on and on, and this really wasn’t meant to be the first official post of the year, but the weight of creative endeavors that were not to be was just too deafening for me to ignore. After all, music had saved me, and plenty of others. This year at home, we needed it more than ever. I can’t speak for everyone, but my vinyl collection more than doubled this year, due in large part to not really being able to do anything. We were stuck at the house, Ashley was suffering for much of this year, and we needed something new to help us get through. Again music had helped me and others I know navigate through multiple impossible situations at once.
So even though “Roo and Rage and Pearl Jam, along with the Killers and xenu knows who else weren’t meant to be experienced this year, i hope we all are aware of how music and the arts helped us this year, and how great it will be to (safely) venture out to venues and festival grounds alike as the world (hopefully) can keep itself same.
Lastly, welcome to 2021! There’s tons of cool stuff planned for this year, with weekly posts planned and plenty of awesome mixtapes that will be available on spotify, as well as the instagram page, which brings plenty of off the wall music fun and plenty more.
Follow us for more content at @thedeathofthemixtape on instagram, facebook and Spotify. Thanks for reading.
What a goddamn crazy year this has been. Between cancer, covid, and so much more, music has really been a guiding force for many this year, myself included. Below are my top 20 albums of the year, as well as the honorable mentions list, below. This lsit has everything from goth rock, avant garde metal and R&B, good old rock, hip hop and everything in between. I hope you enjoy the lost, and i look forward to hearing your thoughts!
JASON ISBELL: SOUTHEASTERN
THE KILLERS: IMPLODING THE MIRAGE
MEGAN THEE STALLION: GOOD NEWS
MR BUNGLE: RAGING WRATH....
OTHER LIVES: FOR THEIR LOVE
20 PEARL JAM: GIGATON
Over the years Seattle legends Pearl Jam have had their share of successes, critical and in popularity, but they haven't always knocked it out of the park. Gigaton is at times both inventive, exciting, and still feels like a genuine PJ record. It's seasoned but fresh, with Vedder as usual adding his signature views to biting and sharp guitar parts, and a rhythm section as good as any rock band. One song “Quick Escape'' has a very familiar sound that grunge fans will recognize, but it seems more organic and less forced, which is good. Overall the band delivers one of the best of their catalog in recent memory, and it proves that you really can just get better with age.
19 LIANNE LA HAVAS: LIANNE LA HAVAS
Even before I checked this album out I knew I’d like it. Her first release in 2015 was transcendent, and though this one isn’t quite as perfect, it’s more mature, easier on the ears, and really dives in lyrically to her mentality and thought process. “Read my Mind'' is a breezy day song if ever there was one, but it's sensual in its honesty about motherhood. Even her cover of Radiohead’s “Weird Fishes'' can at times rival the original. Her voice just evokes so much depth and emotion in those two tracks it's hard to ignore. It’s romantic cuddle music at its best, incredibly personal and beautiful.
18 THE CHICKS: GASLIGHTER
Having not been greatly exposed to country music before meeting my wife, I never really gave these ladies a chance, mostly because I was just never exposed to it, and out of sight often means out of mind. Regardless, this family themed record, documents all the nasty dark spots of Natalie Maines’ horrible sounding divorce. It's raw in its criticisms for sure, but it's extremely honest, and the band really brings it together in a way that just connects with the listener. It's not a full blown country, more in sync with rock anthems at times then their past. Either way it works, especially tracks like the opening title track.
17 JULIANNA BARWICK: HEALING IS A MIRACLE
Rarely is a release from Barwick something that doesn’t bring me joy. The exact opposite tends to happen in fact. Time after time her atmospheric yet blossoming songs can captivate a listen to old and new. Her vocals are harmonies that intertwine themselves with the background notes. Think of a garden choir serenading you at sunrise and you'll have a pretty accurate picture of the vibes of this record. It's only 33 minutes, but it's enough to make any day better just by sheer presence. Perfect for early morning while your ears adjust, or even cleaning or work background music. She really is a treasure, you just have to discover her.
16 KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD: K.G.
On their 1700th record since 2015, Stu McKenzie and his King Gizzard cohorts continue to drill deeper down a weird but often fascinating rabbit hole that has helped cement them as one of the best rock bands of current times. The album lifts from various genres and jumbles them all together to make a sound that’s anything but boring. You can hear maracas sprinkled through songs like “Ontology” but then you get a song like “Intrasport'' which mostly feels less like a King Gizzard song and more in line with strange European dance music. Like I said, it’s a rabbit hole of random sounds that shouldn’t work but do. This 9 piece never falls to elicit excitement when they release something, but on “KG” it seems like their weirdness is finally making sense to a bigger audience.
15 MARILYN MANSON: WE ARE CHAOS
Just to show you how crazy this year has been, I'm writing about the frankly amazing eleventh album from Brian Warner, aka Marilyn Manson. Early in his career he made a name as a shocker, but lately, we as an audience find Manson turning in on himself in terms of style, making something new and exciting but often familiar much in the way Pearl Jam does, as I mentioned earlier. The album and tracks like the dark and captivating title track, or the sinister country twang of metaphorical attention with “Paint You with My Love” really shows his strength as a creator and a writer. It's often upfront and personal, in a way he often hasn’t been. Produced and envisioned alongside producer Shooter Jennings, it's a masterful return to form that should have convinced audiences he still has it, at least when it comes to making an album.
14 BIG MOON: WALKING LIKE WE DO
On their second album since 2017, Juliette Jackson and her Big Moon band members have taken a natural progression forward in the quality and craftsmanship presented on “Walking Like We Do.” The London quartet paint a picture of upbeat indie rock while also showcasing the word play and melodies that give the band an edge up on their indie counterparts. Jackson's voice is throaty while still gentle and tracks like “Holy Roller” and the gradual build of “Your Light” both show different sides of the same coin. Jackson and the rest of BM can be anything they need to be for the sake of their art, and they prove it here with an album that’s very different from its predecessor but engaging throughout.
13 SAULT: UNTITLED (RISE)
Truthfully in my eyes there hasn’t been a more mysterious band since I learned of the Knife, or maybe even Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Even then though there was at least information on the members somewhat available. SAULT is unique because of the mystery; but also because after 3 very good records recorded and released over the last several years no shows have been okayed, no interviews conducted, nada outside of records. The albums though, speak for themselves. It’s never just one thing, and often is several different energies combining into one that you quickly get used to. The rhythmic qualities remind you of a lone tribe outside of the technological world, while other moments have you feeling like you’re in a dance club, or a speakeasy. The mystery surrounding SAULT is enough to get you interested, but the funky bass lines and sultry vocals and drums will keep you coming back.
12 HAZEL ENGLISH: WAKE UP!
Some music transports you to simpler, even more glamorous times, which is to say, Hazel English and her record “Wake Up” have all those qualities. The soft light of the verses, coupled with the brightly lit chorus, make even the opening “Born Like” worth remembering. “Shaking” is a glorious indie anthem just waiting for a big enough room to matter, The album is the type of record meant to be played live, and I'm sure it will connect when it gets that chance with audiences. Hazel’s voice is smokey and a little playfully deceptive at times. It’s all about attitude in those moments, and it adds some gusto to the scene. Really excited to see where she goes, as you should be too.
11 SUFJAN STEVENS: THE ASCENSION
For longer than I can recall I’ve always loved Sufjan records, but never in that way that many others I know have. Even then, I wasn't upset when I learned of the long gestating new solo record coming out. Titled “The Ascension,” it's a densely layered electronic avant garde record, with Stevens’ low but deliberate vocals simmering just above the heavy synth tones filling up the space of sound. At 80 minutes it’s a slight commitment, but great for driving, or just zoning out on the couch, The opener “Make Me an Offer I Cannot Refuse” is great and darkly pulsating, while strangely enough “Ativan,” though dark lyrically, captivates the listener in quick burst of info that create a remarkable visual accompaniment, if you’re the type of person that enjoys that.
10 MOSES SUMNEY: GRAE
Grae, with all its perfect touches, captivates the audience in a way that few others can. It’s calmly and respectfully triumphant, but it lets you figure it out throughout its sixty-five minute runtime. Somney creates the type of album he’s been searching for since seven years ago, and the bubbling of voices under him, accompany him with vocals, drums and other instruments.
“Virile” is gorgeously elusive and extravagant, with what I believe to be a harp in some sections. It's also just got a great beat in the bridge that captivates and wows. It’s music as performance art in a way, but for Sumney’s type of art it works splendidly. Even the strange but incredibly seductive “jill/jack” track can make even the most calm person get hot and bothered. It's sensuous but also beautiful and fierce. Not to be trifled with.
9 TOUCHÉ AMORE: LAMENT
Like many I've heard the name many times over the years, but for some reason I hadn’t given this type of punk a chance. Either way, this year the record got awesome reviews, and low and behold, it's one of the better records of the year. Energy is important, but honesty counts for a lot, and this one titled “Lament” is a big hard look in the mirror. From the beginning with “Come Heroine” to the high energy wake up call that is “Limelight” all ring true, especially in a year seeing so many different cultural and health risks. Those most poignant moments come during closer “A Forecast'' where singer Jeremy Bolm laments over the loneliness during a tragedy when no one reaches out. I feel that, and have felt that, but in that moment the sadness is real, He mourns his family “not to cancer but the g.o.p.” but its fucking powerful and a beauty, albeit messy end to a true triump of a punk record.
8 HUM: INLET
One of the most endearing things about Illinois’ Hum is how evolved yet fine tuned they are in their blend of space heavy post rock. If you didn’t know any different, it would be easy to think they had only been gone a few years, not the 22 it had actually been since they had recorded an album together. Songs like the majestically heavy “Desert Rambler” live up to their supposed imagery and paint a picture of a windy sandy landscape on the edges of society. It’s densely crafted, with Matt Talbott’s shimmering shiny but distant vocals meandering and popping up here and there. This band is the reason I met my wife, and because of that they remain special to me, even if most have forgotten or are completely unseasoned in the genre. Either way, it's an excellent return to form, and with songs like “Cloud City” and the epic closer of “Shapeshifter,” it's hard not to be pumped that at least we got one more incredible Hum record.
7 IDLES: ULTRA MONO
In 42 minutes, the members of Idles, Joe Talbot(vocals), Adam Devonshire (bass), Mark Bowen (lead guitar), Jon Beavis (drums), and Lee Kiernan (rhythm guitar) dismantle the mythos of patriarchy blue bloods, the obnoxious rich elites looking down their noses and the financial crooks casually giving among us. It's volatile, combative, and exactly what music needs more of, especially during a year of potentially huge changes in our world and equality for all. “Kill Them with Kindness” is bratty and defensive but it's also a remarkable slap in the face of the less idealistic popstars. Almost like they know this is in your face with no regrets or shame. I just feel invincible when I listen to Talbot rally for the common man, and the instrumentals are remarkably heavy and combative, it's great.
6 TAME IMPALA: SLOW RUSH
At the start of the year, literally the night before my step-mom Babs passed away, my wife and I got this record. I didn't know it at the time, but yet again a Tame Impala record would be very much like my year. A slow rush of emotions, huge changes, massive decisions and plenty more unsettling news to grapple with. The album, while not the classic that many perhaps expected, is still powerful, albeit heavily produced and nuanced in its soundscapes. The songwriting is mesmerizing and beautiful, nothing new there, but the growing maturity of Kevin Parker has started to be reflected in his more precise but ultimately more groove oriented psyche-pop. It’s not perfect, but it doesnt deserve the lackluster response it's gotten from many.
5 PHOEBE BRIDGERS: PUNISHER
Ever since I was introduced to her in the summer of 2017, Bridgers has stayed on my mind and musical palette only when the darkness falls, along with the loneliness of her music. On “Punisher” she’s just as blunt and honest as she's ever been. The picture painting starts early with the planting of flowers to commemorate the death of a racist skinhead neighbor. Kyoto touches on the loneliness and regret surrounding a father who among other things has forgotten some birthdays along the way, but in this tense exchange the song comes alive, as does the optimism on the album itself. Even then, songs like the remarkably well named “Punisher” pulls at every emotion about the art of disappearing in plain sight. Over and over Bridgers gives herself to the mercy of her art, and it pays off unlimited dividends, and carries you along to see the world through the eyes of our narrator.
4 TAYLOR SWIFT: FOLKLORE
Maybe I’ll get slack for this, but I considered this, along with the next 3, all for the number one spot. “Folklore” is significant because Swift again subverted expectations with an indie dream pop, mostly solo created record during this year of the stay at home projects. Nearly every song has something positive going for it, and with Taylor reaffirming her identity in a more personal way, there’s almost no stopping her. The songs are soft, eye opening, metaphorically brilliant, and strangely closed off to a future now unsure. “Cardigan'' is a poignant yet potent reminder of the strength of being remembered after the loneliness of solitude and sadness. That type of feeling goes through “Folklore” in a way that's central and for the most part she succeeds. It's just as great with a song like ‘Exile” with Bon Iver, where she isn’t the center stage, but even that is perfectly mixed and layered. “Mirrorball” is a masterpiece; every time I hear it, I’m sucked back in. Towards the end we get the pleasing agony of “this is me trying,” which to me screams as a deep look in the mirror of perceived failures and wrongs. Its eye opening in terms of state of mind. She specifically speaks to her regrets, and in that moment, we all know what she's going through in the year 2020. Lastly, “Betty” fucking rocks and is a of classic.
3 RUN THE JEWELS 4
What a sobering record for a sobering new world. It’s as violent of a reaction as you can have in modern music, but it's a call to arms that's more than worth everyone’s time. It’s quick beated, loud and relentless, but it never fails to get its point across. El P And Killer Mike once again prove why they've been so successful, and this time they are squarely gunning for the throne, and soon they'll have it. It may have happened this year with their “What Could of Been” tour with Rage, but the excellence of the record is enough to keep re-starting the conversation. Lyrically, both members have never been better, and the time off to get even better and more experimental, both lyrically and musically, has paid off. “Walking in the Snow,” my song of the year if you’ve been keeping track, is brilliant and eye opening, but it's not the only holy shit moment. “JU$T'' is somehow more fun but more inherently evil because of how spot on it is. The smears and stains can never be undone, and plenty of people are sick of it. Both Willians and de la Rocha give inspiring and pointed verses, giving the song even more bump and energy. Even with a track like “The Ground Below” they manage to make a song picture perfect for a rabid arena crowd throwing down. By the time we get to Mavis Staples and Josh Homme guesting in “Pulling the Pin” you’ve been marveled by more logical and eye opening wordplay than a typical listener can handle, but it's critical of the masses, the world as a whole, if it's doing evil. Finally with the apocalyptic love letter of “A Few Words From the Firing Squad,” you know the stress of the situation and the direness for reflection and ultimate change. Like they say during the rtj4 team, if “you hate run the jewels you don’t love the troops.”
2 DEFTONES: OHMS
I’ve been trying to figure out exactly how to explain this album in a rational way for awhile now, but sometimes you need to just buckle in and experience something. This is where I find myself thinking about the brilliance of the Sacramento purveyors of sonic metal and ethereal soundscapes. “Ohms” finds the band arguably more in line than they've been in years. As vocalist Chino Moreno gytterly claims “I finally achieve balance,” on the assaulting open of “Genesis,” you can tell the band is backing him up one hundred percent. Each song is mesmerizing in how easily you pick up on the energy of the band. The scope is also something of a pleasant surprise. Some albums veer more guitar, while others have been more concerned with seemingly thinking outside the box and seeing what the results are. “Ohms” does both, with tracks like “Urantia” having the classic Carpenter guitar riff long time fans will notice and appreciate. But then you have songs like “Pompeji” that are heavy and intense, but wildly beautiful. Even so, the lyrics are some of the darkest, and frankly adversarial in tone that the band has ever welcomed. Chino is in peak form here. “The Spell of Mathematics” sees Moreno wailing chaotically and one moment about the dangers of trusting in mythological terms, then bathing in the musical moonlight of a densely orchestrated bridge. Even the full on attitude and smug nature of “This Link is Dead,” feels like a band reborn. The time signature is unique, and the verses never fully feel like traditional ways. But you're also so captivated by the music that you don’t really care how the information is relayed, just as long as it is. “Ohms,” an incredible album for a band in their twenty-fifth year.
1 FIONA APPLE: FETCH THE BOLT CUTTERS
“Oh you mean the record with all the weird drumming?” someone told me this year when asked about whether they had heard “Fetch the Bolt Cutters'' yet. While it is true that FTBC has a lot of unconventional drums congregating throughout, the album itself is way more than just a record with non-traditional approaches. The music and ideas are fleeting thoughts, gone with the same quickness they arrived. Apple’s quiet, in the background demeanor are present here, but the real stars are the lyrics, often nonsensical, at times hilarious, but always honest. That being said, the album is personal in the traditional Apple manner, with most of the songs being auto-biograpbiucal in varying degrees. Beyond the vocals and lyrics, Bolt Cutters showcases quirky, quick paced piano work. “Shameika,” a song about the trials of being a child desperate to convey strength and coolness, is a great xample of this. Sure thing lyrics paint an intimate poryaint to the mindset of a highly accomplished musician, but the piano’s meandering excitement offers just as much to the track. Much has been made of the perfect score obtained from Pitchfork months ago, but a number is just a number, whether its me putting this at #1 or pitchfork giving a rare and converted perfect 10. The point is, how many more people ventured to listen to this because of the score, or placement on a list. Yes it might be a number, but aside from a dedicated fanbase, Apple isn’t exactly headlining mega festivals or even doing what more traditional artists partake in. Now, Fiona probably doesn't care much about all this attention, but the album is a resounding success, both on a cathartic level, but also in the word of mouth way. Everyone I know has at least listened to this record, and that's where the beauty of the perfect score comes in- way more people listen. If you still somehow haven’t at least given this one a chance, I'd recommend doing so. The music is brilliant, often challenging, but the rewards from multiple listens is worth the price. And it's with that that I give my album of the year to“Fetch the Bolt Cutters,” a difficult but often brilliant album free of the confines of mainstream albums that feels years ahead of where we currently sit.
What do you think is the best album of the year? Comment Below and let us know!
PROGRAMMING NOTE: This year has been crazy, for all of us, and I thank you for venturing this way for weird music articles. Follow us for more content at @thedeathofthemixtape on instagram, facebook and Spotify. Next year we’ll be back with weekly posts, reworked ideas, new blogs, more mixtapes on spotify, and hopefully even some interviews, as well as a possible podcast(still working out logistics on that) .Thanks for reading. See ya next year!
As we start to wind down the shit hole of ayear, its only appropriate that we talk about son e of tne songs that have helped us get through everything. You'll find plenty of variety in genres, ranginbg from good old rap music, to heartfelt ballads about bad fathers, to everything in betweem. Enjoy!
10 CARDI B, MEGAN THEE STALLION:
Before we get started, this is very much a novelty pick. No it’s not some new revelation for either artists and their skills, but art doesn’t always have to be. Instead, Cardi and the Stallion both showcase the gifted raunchiness they've been known to add to their music. It’s pretty filthy, and even for a grown man like me I found myself blushing. The imagery is pretty incredible, and extremely sexual, obviously. We all know what the anagram WAP is based on so it doesn’t need to be stated again, but the mastery of the song lies in the sheer bluntness and sexual positivity permeating the song.
9 THE WEEKND:
BLINDING LIGHTS, AFTER HOURS
During his decade or so as the Weekend (Abel Makkonen Tesfaye) has crafted the sort of rough edged pop music various generations can enjoy and get behind. “Blinding Lights” is no exception. The opening synth beat projects itself like something out of an 80’s action movie, yet it never feels old or rehashed. Tesfaye lines the song with optimistic vocals with his trademark silky voice, And even though I’m sure we’ll be hearing this song in some commercial at some point in the near future, it’s merits are clear and it continues to prove that, as The Weeknd, Tesfaye is still one of the best popular musicians we have currently.
REIGNS, ULTRA MONO
I’m not sure if you’d call this punk, post punk, anything, but I know that this song, not to mention the entire album, has the ability to give energy that motivates its listener to chant, stomp and raise their fists in anger. Singer Joe Talbot’s throaty vocals and annoyed intensity build the song in an immediate and punishing manner, while the drums add to the chaos and bombastic nature of the song. It’s a track that very much feels like it belongs in this year, and the anger simmering and eventually bubbling out is all the more proof of its potency.
7 TAYLOR SWIFT:
Hate still pours on Swift pretty regularly, but she’s consistently demonstrated her skilled fullness at songwriting, which she does exemplary once again on “Mirrorball.” The song shimmers gently, as Swift’s vocals slowly pull in the listener. The song is filled with the type of romantic urgency she’s known for, but it’s more human, less antagonistic than her earlier works, but it’s still very Swift. It’s a gorgeous, easy listening track that showcases both her vulnerability but also her willingness to be part of something greater than herself.
FIRE, SAINT CLOUD
It’s taken Katie Crutchfield a few years to build her career, but anyone who’s been listening since the beginning already knows the intimacy and bluntness she routinely delivers in her work as Waxahatchee. Her voice evokes thoughts of a similarity between herself and Joanna Newsom, but the uniqueness of the vocal style makes it difficult to forget or move on from. The gentle guitar work also adds a bedroom isolation type of vibe, which in turn makes it feel more personal. The song itself speaks to learning from your past self and becoming comfortable with the person you’ve become. It’s a tricky journey for anyone to be on, but in the end “Fire” stands as a reminder to love ourselves and to let our future be determined by the lessons we’ve learned along the way.
5 BEACH BUNNY:
Pop infused indie rock has come a long way lately, but when Beach Bunny does it you feel the type of carefree most commonly associated with summer days with no plans. It’s fun in a bounce around sort of way, but Lili Trifilio’s lyrics have the ability to put you right in the middle of whatever scene is currently presenting itself. The melody here is easy to get used to, and the music, although energetic and complimentary, never gets in the way of the vocals, which ultimately makes the song that much better.
4 TAME IMPALA:
BORELINE, THE SLOW RUSH
Plenty of folks apparently didn’t latch on to this record like Parker’s previous three, but there are plenty of great songs to go around. “Borderline” is probably the best track on the album, with its synth dance vibes and difficult to pin down lyrics. It’s a song about the dangers of contentment, and what may come out of that feeling. You can tell during the song that feeling of uncertainty even though he’s grateful to have found a worthy life partner. Again all of this is done on the shoulders of Kevin Parker, who’s mastery in songwriting is now very well documented. “Slow Rush” and its parts might not be masterpiece worth, but tracks like “Borderline” show no less skill or attention than what we’ve become accustomed to when it comes to Tame Impala
3 HAZEL ENGLISH:
SHAKING, WAKE UP!
In this shit year, one of the best new artists I discovered was named Hazel English, an Australian American singer songwriter who already deserves more recognition than she’s gotten. “Shaking” has a lovely but gently soaring chorus, instrumentally speaking, but her coy, strong voice gives way to a backing band that rises and swells with the power of Hazel's voice. It’s a pretty irresistible song for me, and one I’ve gone back to countless times this year. Any other year I’d be lining up to experience this artist and this great song live, but as you know this year blows, so we can’t have nice things like more Hazel English in our lives.
2 PHOEBE BRIDGERS:
Simply put I can’t get sick of Bridgers brutally phrased, delicately delivered vocals. Her last two albums have been engaging, dark, and aggressively honest, but songs like “Kyoto” only serve as an added bonus when listening to Phoebe. The song feels conflicted to me, with the push and pull of emotions. It snakes sense though, since the motivation for the song itself was a pay phone conversation with her estranged, alcoholic father. The love is taken away as we listen to Bridgers unnerving uncertainty about whether she even wants to accept this new situation. The song, while musically upbeat, is mostly an homage to the changing nature of relationships, and the stresses those changes can bring to a life.
1 RUN THE JEWELS w/ GANGSTA BOO:
WALKING IN THE SNOW, RUN THE JEWELS 4
There are songs that hit at the exact time it would be most impactful. “Walking in the Snow” is one of those songs. The song emerges in the middle moments of RTJ4, like an unexpected moment of dread in a horror movie. It's a song that shows you how high the stakes are, and how important resistant, yet logically sound music and art can be. El’s verse is casual but critical, as he takes the chance to paint & view society as a cult on their way to the eternal punch bowl, which in this year seems accurate. Its a great addition to the track, but it’s not the main feature. The narrative painted by Killer Mike is stark and terrifying, a world where you’re determined to be a wash based on generations of unacknowledged bias, at best. The fact that the song was written possibly long before the death of George Floyd, yet it features the all too eerie “I can’t breathe” brings even more depth to how bad the problem is. The song is a wake up call to how bad things are, and because of the stress and reality bursting through the song, “Walking in the Snow” is the Song of the Year. Thanks for reading!
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Artists tend to have this natural flow, where the wellspring of content that flows first is the strongest, most undiluted when speaking to genuine artistry and imagination. This is true also in the case of Marilyn Manson, a kid from Canton Ohio, obsessed with Kiss and Van Halen, who wanted to be larger than life.
This story starts in 1996, with the release of the blockbuster “Anti-Christ Superstar.” You can imagine parents terror everywhere when their precious children start aging up and delving into this type of entertainment. Manson is the biggest star in heavy rock music, carefully cultivating a following based on talent, but also with a brain capable of truly amazing spectacles live in concert. Manson, or Brian as he’s known in the daylight, grew up on Ozzy, Dio, Kiss, all of them. What this does is it teaches you what gets people's attention, and how to get your point across if you want to be something in the world of music. The best way, of course, is parental outrage. I know it worked for me, probably in the same way it worked for my parents who loved these bands and films like “The Exorcist,” even though their parents would've loved to erase all of it from the history books.
It’s why he’s been so successful. Even from ACSS, the cultivation of the image was paramount. It had to be something persuasive that would get kids thinking about concepts like evil, conquering death and living to the fullest. The album, and the two successive albums are all linked by a story we won’t fully examine here, but the story, known as the Triptych, is well thought out and explained. It's a violent indictment of our times, and looking back, it has aged well but horribly in the corruption seeing the light of day. Songs like “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” are purposeful, but also calculated to push the idea of a man becoming more than. Produced by Trent Reznor in the same Nola studio that created The Fragile, the record brims with a darkness that the industry needed at the time, and Manson’s success made it easier for bands like Korn and others to get big returns with records and tours in the years following. Now, obviously having Reznor involved in the bands early albums and tours was pivotal, but Manson was always going to be a star, even if his later albums don’t match up to what is being discussed here.
When you’re a teenager, hating your life is easy because you’ve known very few things that will become tangibly important. Myself, I hated everything, I resented my parents for sure because of the perceived hypocrisy of my life, and in ways I was right. Hearing songs like “Tourniquet” delivered the message to me that I was in this fight alone, and that my success depended mostly on my persistence and pursuit of knowledge. Much in the way the main character of the Triptych evolves and becomes more, people like me were listening for the first and hearing things that got our minds going. I was already questioning the existence of god our savior, and the concepts popping around in my head ending up being concepts explored in the course of ACSS. I wasn’t alone, and my intuition was proving me right.
Song after song on the record proved to me that music like this, often dismissed as being too negative and ripe with disillusionment and apocalyptic thoughts, could also be positively transformative. It opened me up to a world of knowledge I’d only wondered about in my early formative years. Songs like the title track “Anti-Christ Superstar” rise and fall with authoritarian swagger, which was probably pretty close to what parents thought was going on with their kids. In truth, it's just an anxious but deliberately orchestrated song. Like I said previously, the beat hammers in and out, with Manson’s vocals stretching across the surface. There’s alot going on here, but it's terror and force are overwhelming. Presented live in concert, with the ACSS podium front and center and a flag adorned across the stage, it’s a mesmerizing image, and in the context of the record it speaks to the slow takeover of the main character in his relentless journey. This song, followed by the truly anti establishment track “1996,” set the stage for our Adam to overtake all the bad in the world, but it comes with a price, and it’s that there’s no one left for you.
That conclusion is realized as the moments of “The Reflecting God” and the finale of “Man that You Fear” percolate over your ears and brain. “Man that you Fear” is an especially dark moment in the record, but it elicits its darkness and pain in a beautifully symbolic way. That's one of the best things about the song, and well, the artist himself. Warner, or Manson has never had difficulty in explaining things in metaphorical ways that also perfectly convey what he’s feeling. As the song wanders on, the line “Pray your life was just a dream” is delivered as a prayer but also a curse. You can win everything, but none of it is real, as long as you don’t want it to be. Our Adam has no choice in bringing the doom to the world, it’s merely his place and purpose. To make all the wrongs right means, he has to destroy everything. He’s the “Anti-Christ Superstar,” and his message of “When all of your wishes are granted, many of your dreams will be destroyed,” has been delivered.
Now, shortly following the profound success of “ACSS” and its massive two year tour, somehow Manson and company, which still featured Twiggy, Pogo, Ginger Fish, all the great members, had produced a new album, which was the middle part of the planned trilogy. “Mechanical Animals” had arrived, and the story was about to evolve.
So, I hope if you’re reading this you have a little previous knowledge about this, because here is where it gets a little weird and confusing. Basically, this masterpiece, often overlooked, is the middle of the trilogy, which is easy enough, except this story is told backwards. ACSS, which we just discussed, is the culmination of the story, and the yet unmentioned third album is the beginning. This is important because of the landscape in which this record takes place. The setting, in a landscape motivated by popularity, excess, and celebrity worship, is the catalyst for the character of Adam to view the world in such a way that leads to the end of this journey. All concepts aside though, it's a damn great album that nearly rivals ACSS in terms of pushing the limits. It’s a glam industrial record,pure and simple. It’s rock n roll for sure, like Bowie was, but while it's clearly paying Homage to that version of Bowie, it feels more fresh than it has reason to.
Once again, like with ACSS, the title track is a stand out that reinforces an important idea of being used and tossed aside by those that would never understand you. The lyrics are almost filtered through a fan in a way, both menacing and enticing. The production here and on the album is exceptional, and you can really tell the tutelage of Reznor helped create a more dynamic, soundscape type of record. It’s futuristic and implemented with modern emotional conditions of loneliness, depression, and overcoming your obstacles. The only difference, is in this context the obstacles are the world, and you’ve been entrusted to change it, for better or worse. Getting back to narration, the album is undoubtedly a warning to the overindulgent and empty, but what it captures so brilliantly is the element of persuasiveness that the character at this point feels. “I Don’t like the Drugs (But the Drugs like Me)” speaks to the charm of early drug use, where its glamorous but deeply intoxicating, while “New Model No. 15” delves into the recycled nature of our world, and how the beauty of the outside is often created at the expense of the emptiness inside.
Both songs are more menacing and downtrodden than the upbeat nature of the instrumental would suggest, but it's done in such a unique, subtle way, the listener doesn’t even really know at first how to take it. Finally you get “User Friendly,” with its horrible message of empty use and refuse. People so desperate to feel they choose to feel hate and resentment towards those that give them pleasure. By the end of the record. Our character knows what the path is, and the emptiness of the world around him is the last straw in a desolate world that used to be perfect. Like the song says, they threw him away. Like millions of others, this spoke to me. I was taking meds for depression, consumed by the world changing around me, and I resented all of it. “Come White,” as a finale, is almost as good as that of “Man that You Fear,” but the songwriting is captivating and engrossing in its apathy towards the forced confirmations of a world that doesn’t make any sense.
When I finally saw the tour, in New Orleans with my dad Kevin, it was simply amazing, and the sets were even better than they had looked on MTV. My dad said the stage show and playing was great, which at the time I wasn’t sure if it was true, but it was.
And now, the beginning of the descent into becoming the Anti-Christ Superstar, with “Holy Wood.” By 2000, Manson had written an amazing auto-biography that captured my friends and I’s imagination in a way no book had before. Maybe that last part was just me though. Anyway, the book was filled with stories that might be partially based on truth, but it built the image that was necessary for his success. After all., this was the music business. He had had feuds with Reznor and made up, been blamed for school shootings, been branded every bad thing you could be branded, and still, he had become a giant success and a real pioneer of thought provoking heavy music. It was time for this tale to end, and he wanted to do it full steam ahead.
It wasn’t easy though. After all, Manson was just a man trying to make art. The criticisms of him and his music after Columbine were so bad he was forced to retreat into the darkness where he couldn’t be harmed by the pushed negativity campaign against him, He was even forced to cancel his Denver appearance at Ozzfest because of backlash. I tend to think pushing art into the background because of a social issue is bad news, but the worse impact was what it potentially did to Warner the man.
The record itself is filled with more anger than either of the other ones, and while speaking to this time in his life, it also explains where our Adam comes from. “The Fight Song” rebels against the conformity of the religious world of “Guns, God & Government.” The album isn’t as sharp as the previous works, but it still holds up very well. One might say it's even more relevant today than it ever was.
I haven’t really talked about the big singles of these albums, but there’s an interesting overlay I’ve been considering. “The Beautiful People,” “Dope Show,” and “Disposable Teens” all follow a path of wanting to be part of something, and then spurning it in the face of its hypocrisy; whether it’s because of the messaging, the feeling of losing the excitement, or the feeling of not being good enough. All three songs convey all of these ideas in brilliant, albeit different ways.
As the album descends deeper into the story of the why and not the how, Manson and his band take some chances musically that probably wouldn’t have been hugely successful early on. “In the Shadow of the Valley of Death” is a perfect example of that. What starts out as a bleak country ballad, soon evolves into a full orchestral demon, with Manson's voice slowly crawling back from the abyss. Another example is the science fiction coldness of “Crucifiction in Space.”
Seeing “CIS” in concert was probably one of the dopest things I’ve still seen, visually speaking. Mansons begin the song with this wedged type dress on, and gradually Manson rises to the ceiling of the now abandoned State Palace Theatre in New Orleans, as the dress becomes enormous and all encompassing. I’ll never forget that night. With one of my best friends, Manson played for over two hours, there was a Reznor spotting, and it was the shit, basically.
By this point in my life and his career, I was starting to branch out more and more in what I liked in music, but Manson was never too far away. This album still holds up, but we still haven’t answered the question of why this character went this way. In short, the emptiness of the world and the realizing that a changing force is filling you with untold powers and challenges alike.
In short, Adam was consumed by the recklessness of the world, saw the world and it’s “mechanical animals” as things that needed to be “put to rest in the sun” and “in the dirt.” You see him become unimpressed by the state of the world, and by the time we get to the unhinged violence and caustic actions of “Burning Flag,” there’s no turning back from what he knows he must do.
And here, the journey has become. A worm will become a man, and the emptiness of the world will be purged. First it shall be purged through drug consumption and emptiness, and then the “Reflecting God” will come before you, and there will finally be a “Man that you Fear.”
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Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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