Sunday, December 25, 2011

Song Of The Week: 12/25/11

Song: "Oh Comely"

Artist: Brand New

Album: Unreleased Live Cover

Year: 2008

"Oh Comely" is a song that was orignially performed by 1990's indie rock band Neutral Milk Hotel and released on their 1998 album, "In The Aeroplane Over The Sea". Neutral Milk Hotel's frontman and chief songwriter Jeff Mangum is very much known for writing extremely vague lyrics in many of his songs and "Oh Comely" is no different. Many have said the song has some connection to Anne Frank as Mangum did have an apparent deep fascination with her story. Long Island, New York band Brand New has covered "Oh Comely" several times, both at their own shows and when Brand New frontman Jesse Lacey has performed solo. The version of the song I chose as my song of the week was performed by Brand New in February of 2008 in Perth, Australia. Brand New formed as a band back in 2000. With their first album, 2001's "Your Favorite Weapon", Brand New seemed to be on a path of that of a pop punk band. However, with each album thereafter, Brand New's sound would evolve to feature a more experimental or indie feel. Suprisingly, the changes in musical style actually helped Brand New achieve more success. In a time when bands get crushed for evolving their sound or branching out into new territory, Brand New was actually praised for it and it showed. Their third album, 2006's very dark "The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me" would feature the band's highest charting single, "Jesus Christ". Also, their most recent studio release, 2009's "Daisy" would go on to be the band's highest charted album. It's not often in today's music world that a band is offered the freedom to explore their style and sound and not be forced to put out the same old same old that made them successful. When recording "Daisy", Brand New frontman said he felt the album felt like the ending of something or a closure of sorts. He wondered if the band had run it's course or if he was content that Brand New had said everything he wanted it to say as a band. Luckily for fans of the band, Lacey and bandmates confirmed that the band was not breaking up. Currently, Brand New have been focused on performing on the road as of late. They also re-released their first album, "Your Favorite Weapon" which featured some unreleased demos. The band is also considering whether to release full albums in the future or just release music digitally a few songs at a time. After fulfilling their record contract, Brand New has total freedom to make these decisions as they see fit.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Song Of The Week: 12/18/11

Song: "In The Air Tonight"

Artist: Lostprophets

Album: "Last Summer" EP

Year: 2004

"In The Air Tonight" was originally written and recorded by former Genesis frontman Phil Collins and released on his 1981 album "Face Value". The song was written about a failing relationship between Collins and his then-wife at the time. The song is full of bitterness and anger towards his former wife and at the betrayal with which she did to him. "In The Air Tonight" is arguably one of the most popular songs which came out of the 80's decade. Lostprophets covered "In The Air Tonight" and in 2004, released the song as a b-side to their hit single "Last Summer". Lostprophets formed as a band back in 1997, hailing from Pontypridd, Wales. The band's first album, 2000's "Thefakesoundofprogress" definitely garnered the band some attention but it was their next two album that really blew up for the band, especially in America. 2004's "Start Something" and 2006's "Liberation Transmission" really put Lostprophets on the map in the music world, mostly thanks to successful singles such as "Last Train Home", "Wake Up", "Last Summer" and "Rooftops". They were a hard band to actually label because so many musical styles influenced their work. Sometimes they were referred to as nu-metal, other times alternative rock or just plain hard rock. They definitely used various elements to help create their own signature sound. You can hear elements of metal, pop, and even punk at times in their music. After releasing "Liberation Transmission" it took the band some three years to finally release their follow up, 2010's "The Betrayed". By the time of this release, Lostprophets lost some steam in the States as far as popularity goes, but in the U.K., they were still largely successful. Due to their past successes, they are still considered "headliner" material when it comes to tours and various festivals around the world. Currently, Lostprophets spent most of 2011 hard at work on their soon to be released fifth album which is slated for an early 2012 release.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Song Of The Week: 12/11/11

Song: "Jeffrey Lee"

Artist: The Explosion

Album: "No Revolution" EP

Year: 2005

"Jeffrey Lee" is a rare song or a b-side if you will recorded by Boston, MA punk band The Explosion. The song was a tribute to Jeffrey Lee Pierce, who was the frontman of 1980's punk band The Gun Club. Pierce passed away in 1996 due to a brain hemorrhage. The Explosion formed as a band back in 1998. They built a steady following and slowly but surely began joining the ranks of the many Boston punk bands that were part of the scene, including Dropkick Murphys, The Ducky Boys, Far From Finished and the Street Dogs. Their debut album, 2000's "Flash Flash Flash" was a definite critical success for the band. Spin Magazine even went on to say that the album was one of the top twenty albums released in 2000. The band would even be courted by major label Virgin Records who would release their follow up album, 2004's "Black Tape". "Black Tape" would see the band gather an even bigger following, mostly thanks to the singles "Here I Am" and "No Revolution". After having released two studio albums, six EP's and a couple of live albums, The Explosion began working on their third studio album which they hoped to release in 2007, however Virgin Records decided to drop the band from their label. An album was supposedly completed and was entitled "Bury Me Standing". It was thought that the band worked out a deal with Paper + Plastick Records and that they would release "Bury Me Standing", however some three years later and the album has still not been released. From 2008 to 2011, it was generally believed that The Explosion were broken up or at the very least on an indefinite hiatus. The good news is that legendary punk band The Bouncing Souls have confirmed that The Explosion will reunite to play on the Bouncing Souls' "Home For The Holidays" concerts scheduled for late December 2011 in New Jersey. Perhaps this is a good sign that The Explosion will be releasing new material in the near future.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Song Of The Week: 12/4/11

Song: "Apparition"

Artist: No Use For A Name

Album: "Keep Them Confused"

Year: 2005

"Apparition" appears to be a song about complete and utter depression. The vocalist feels so rejected by the outside world that all he wants to do is lock himself away in his room and lay in bed. Even trying to sleep his life away comes with it's problems as well, as his sleep is often interrupted by constant nightmares. While he tries to call on his ego to help him get out of this funk, his ego appears to him as nothing more than an apparition to him. Therefore, the one thing that might possibly save him ultimately can not. No Use For A Name is a punk band hailing from San Jose, California which started out back in 1987. Early on, No Use was more of a hardcore punk band, especially with original lead singer John Meyers at the helm. By 1989, Meyers would be replaced by guitarist and vocalist Tony Sly. Sly would eventually become the driving force of the band, becoming the chief songwriter and changing the musical direction of the band. In 1993, No Use joined historic punk label, Fat Wreck Chords. No Use along with NOFX and Lagwagon would give Fat Wreck it's signature sound. At this time, No Use began becoming less hardcore and more melodic/skate punk. In the mid 90's, when punk rock began having a resurgence of sorts thanks to bands like Green Day, Offspring, Bad Religion and Rancid, No Use started achieving it's best success as a band, right around the releases of their 1995 album "Leche Con Carne" and 1997's "Making Friends". No Use was kind of in that second tier of punk bands that emerged on the scene at that time. They didn't quite manage the success of Green Day or Rancid, but they always managed to get their respect. They were regulars on punk festivals such as the Warped Tour throughout the years. As the band entered the 2000's, they weren't quite as active as they had been in the 90's but still managed to release new material, their last album being 2008's "The Feel Good Record Of The Year". Much of the sporadic tours and releases as a band were mostly because of Tony Sly working on his solo material, which was more singer/songwriter acoustic stuff. The band is still very much intact, however. No Use For A Name still tours when Tony Sly isn't focused on doing some solo shows. Currently, the band has been comfirmed that they are working on a new album with a tentative release date scheduled for early 2012.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Song Of The Week: 11/27/11

Song: "A Man Alone"

Artist: Finch

Album: "Say Hello To Sunshine"

Year: 2005

"A Man Alone" appears to be a song about losing one's identity. The vocalist not only questions himself but also everyone and everything around him. At some point, the vocalist realizes that everything he put into his life, the blood, sweat and tears if you will, didn't quite turn out the way he expected. He woke up one day feeling as if maybe he sold himself out, maybe that the friends around him really aren't his friends. His very own identity has been compromised. Finch is a California band that started out back in 1999. After working together for about two years, Finch would release an EP entitled "Falling Into Place" in 2001. This EP was soon followed by their first full length studio album in 2002 called "What It Is To Burn". On the strength of the title track to that album plus the single "Letters To You", Finch began gaining a faithfull following of fans. When it came to creating their second full length album, 2005's "Say Hello To Sunshine", inner turmoil and conflicts started to rise within the band. Chinks began to show in the armor. Much of these conflicts were about what musical direction Finch would take. Some in the band wanted to continue with the more alternative rock style of "What It Is To Burn" while others in the band wanted Finch to become more of a post-hardcore band. "Say Hello To Sunshine" would have a more gritty feel to it, using much more screaming vocals than the previous album. Tensions within the band would lead to a small hiatus for Finch. This hiatus would only last a year however. The band announced some reunion shows for late 2007 and also would release an EP titled "Finch" in 2008. While working on a new album, the band abruptly decided to call it quits in 2010. The five members of the band just seemed to be pulling in different directions musically and decided to officially disband Finch. Most recently, despite the break-up, Finch has released a two track digital single called "Epilogue" as well as a new version of the "Finch" EP with three extra tracks on it. It's also not hard to find the demos the band was working on for their third album on the internet with a little searching. Other than that, Finch is basically a done deal. The book has officially closed.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Song Of The Week: 11/20/11

Song: "Surfacing"

Artist: Trust Company

Album: "True Parallels"

Year: 2005

"Surfacing" is a song that appears to be about having a change occur within you that is bringing out the worst in you. All of the bad qualities and impurities that the vocalist has buried inside him are beginning to creep to the surface and he is beginning to change into a more darker or broken version of himself. It seems as though he doesn't want this to happen, but he has no control of it. He's changing for the worse. Trust Company are from Alabama and they formed as a band back in 1997. After recording some demos and self releasing some music and touring, they caught the ear of the folks at Geffen Records where they were signed and released their debut album, 2002's "The Lonely Position Of Neutral". That album went on to sell over 500,000 copies giving the band some moderate success. The band was forced to drop out of the Ozzfest tour because of pressure from the label to release their follow up album. Despite delays with the album and little promotion, Trust Company's second album, 2005's "True Parallels" performed quite well. The band would part with Geffen Records, however, which would lead to a short hiatus for the band from 2005 to 2007. In those two years, the band members each focused on several side projects, most notably Amity Lane which featured Trust Company lead vocalist Kevin Palmer and original bassist Josh Moates. Amity Lane would release one album in 2006, "The Sound Of Regret". By 2007, the original line-up of Trust Company announced that they were reuniting. They spent the next few years working on demos and eventually got enough material together to begin the process of recording a new album. In March of 2011, the band released their third album, "Dreaming In Black And White". Currenty, Trust Company has been touring in support of their latest album, most recently opening up for Drowning Pool.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Song Of The Week: 11/13/11

Song: "Your Time Has Come"

Artist: Audioslave

Album: "Out Of Exile"

Year: 2005

"Your Time Has Come" is a song that appears to be about losing people you know way before their time. It definitely feels that vocalist, Chris Cornell, is talking about young people in this song who have passed away during his lifetime. He also references the Vietnam War Memorial and the more than 50,000 names of young people who had died and the impact of the fact that those families have to get through and move on from the same feelings of loss and mourning that he himself had to go through when he lost some friends in the past. As personal as and tragic as it is to lose someone who seems way too young to die, I believe by going to the Vietnam War Memorial shows that that feeling is extremely universal. Audioslave is a supergroup that formed back in 2001. Frontman, Zack de la Rocha, of Rage Against The Machine left that band in 2000 to focus on some solo material. The remaining members of Rage, guitarist Tom Morello, bassist Tim Commerford and drummer Brad Wilk would hook up with Soundgarden frontman, Chris Cornell thus meshing the two rock powerhouses. Their self-titled debut album in 2002 would be the band's most successful album to date, thanks in part to the hit singles "Cochise" and "Like A Stone". In 2005, when "Out Of Exile" was released it debuted at number one on the Billboard charts. "Your Time Has Come" was the second single released from that album. By the time Audioslave's third album was released, 2006's "Revelations", tensions and dissentions were rising in the band. Most of these disagreements were stemming from financial situations and just plain internal conflicts personally amongst the band members. In 2007, Chris Cornell officially departed Audioslave to focus on his solo career. The remaining three members wound up getting back with Zack de la Rocha to perform various concerts and festivals as the reunited Rage Against The Machine. Morello also focused a lot of his time on his own solo project, The Nightwatchman. Currently, Morello, Wilk and Commerford still perform as Rage Against The Machine from time to time, though the band has not been confirmed as working on any new material as of yet. Cornell, meanwhile, has been playing with the reunited Soundgarden who has been touring as well as working on a new album which should be released soon. Audioslave, for all intents and purposes, seems like a done deal. Due to the nature of the break-up and the fact that Cornell has not spoken to any of the other three members, I don't expect to hear from Audioslave anymore. I'd never close the book on it however. Cornell said the same thing about Soundgarden but they are now back together. Anything's possible!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Song Of The Week: 11/6/11

Song: "Checkmarks"

Artist: The Academy Is...

Album: "Almost Here"

Year: 2005

"Checkmarks" is a song that appears to be about a relationship in which the guy is just another number to the girl when it comes to sexual partners that she shares. In other words, he's just another "checkmark" on her bedpost. You get the sense that the guy wanted more out of their relationship but ultimately sees that she has done nothing but use him. In the end, you sense that his revenge is that now he is a famous singer in a band and she's just another face in the crowd. Perhaps she is kicking herself now for letting the boy who made it get away. The Academy Is... was an emo/pop punk band from Chicago that formed back in 2003. Their musical style is similar to that of bands such as The All-American Rejects or Fall Out Boy. They rely on pop melodies and emotional lyrics and vocals. "Checkmarks", off the band's debut album, 2005's "Almost Here", was not only the band's very first single, it proved to be one of their most successful singles which they released. Ultimately, The Academy Is... has released three full-length studio albums as well as four EP's. In early 2011, there was word from The Academy Is... camp that they were working on their fourth album though no official release date was announced yet. In a somewhat surprising move that no doubt shocked the band's fanbase, The Academy Is... announced in October of 2011 that they had decided to go their separate ways. Lead singer, William Beckett, has said that the album the band was at work on may see the light of day at some point but he's not sure when exactly. He also stated that the remaining band members will all be releasing music either solo or in other projects. Currently, after eight years of making music together, it appears it's time to close the book on The Academy Is... as a band.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Song Of The Week: 10/30/11

Song: "Messages"

Artist: Velvet Revolver

Album: "Libertad" (Itunes Edition)

Year: 2007

"Messages" is a song that was written from the perspective of those passengers that were on the airplanes that were hijacked and crashed on 9/11. It was based on the phone conversations that the passengers were having with their loved ones. You can see with the verses that the conversations start light, saying that they'll see those people when they land at their destination and the next verse, you sense that the hijacking has taken place and there is a fear in the calls and a fear of not knowing what is happening. The last verse, you sense that the passengers know their fate and they just want to tell everyone that they love them and hoping that their loved ones can make it through without them. They know they are going to die. "Messages" is definitely one of the better 9/11 songs i've heard so far with a very unique perspective on the events, a very personal touch. "Messages" was released as an iTunes bonus track if you digitally ordered the album "Libertad" through them. Velvet Revolver formed back in 2002 and was a definite hard rock supergroup featuring ex-Guns 'n' Roses members Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum along with Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland and Wasted Youth guitarist Dave Kushner. Their debut album, 2004's "Contraband" was a huge success for the band while garnering several awards for hit singles such as "Slither" and "Fall To Pieces". 2007 would see VR release their second album "Libertad" which didn't quite live up to their debut, but still kept Velvet Revolver at the top of the rock and roll world. A long and problematic tour in support of "Libertad" would ultimately create dissensions within the band, however. Battling old dependency demons as well as each other began creating the rift in the band that would eventually lead to Scott Weiland's departure in 2008. Velvet Revolver has since been on an indefinite hiatus with Slash putting out a solo record, Weiland returning to Stone Temple Pilots, McKagan and Sorum both working on previous bands and solo stuff and Kushner working on music for various television programs. Slash and McKagan never fully closed the book on VR however. New material was worked on and the endless search for a replacement singer was underway. The most rumored replacement was Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge. Though working with Slash on other projects, Kennedy seemed to not be in the running for Velvet Revolver. More recent news was that there was in fact a new singer for the band and that they are rehearsing together. The band has kept this information a secret, only saying that the band is going to have a much heavier feel. Now the rumors were that the secret vocalist may be Corey Taylor of Slipknot and Stone Sour fame. These rumors have not been confirmed nor denied as of yet. Currently, the fans of Velvet Revolver just have to sit back and wait until the band finally sheds some light on the new lead singer situation but it definitely seems that VR is far from calling it quits.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Song Of The Week: 10/23/11

Song: "My Last Known Address"

Artist: Reach The Sky

Album: "Open Roads And Broken Dreams"

Year: 1999

At first glance of the lyrics to "My Last Known Address" by Reach The Sky, it seems that this song is about a relationship that is ultimately doomed. After reading it several times, I do feel it's about a crumbling relationship, but i'm not so sure it is a boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife relationship. I get the feeling it's a mother/son or a father/son situation. You can see the boy is starting to fall apart, perhaps by the pressures of trying to meet the ideals or the standards of the parent. The parent has essentially turned their back on the boy. I sense that the boy is at his breaking point, possibly suicidal and he says the weight of his actions will fall squarely on the shoulders of the parent. The other reason I feel that suicide could be the ultimate theme here is in the title of the song, "My Last Known Address". Reach The Sky was a hardcore punk band from Boston, MA that formed back in 1997. Their style reminds me of bands such as Good Riddance and A Wilhelm Scream, definitely punk with a harder edge but without totally losing some melodic qualities. Reach The Sky was definitely an underground band, never quite breaking out into the mainstream and mostly garnering a local following in the Boston area. During their six year career as a band, Reach The Sky released two studio albums, 4 EP's as well as a split 7". By 2003, the band had dissolved but most of it's members stayed involved in the music scene, a few of it's members joining the band Bane. In 2009, Reach The Sky members got back together in hopes of re-igniting the spark that the band once had. This reunion would prove to be short lived however, basically closing the book on the band's existence. Currently, there have been no signs that Reach The Sky will reform, whether for creating new music or just playing a few shows. They're pretty much a done deal.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Song Of The Week: 10/16/11

Song: "Radio"

Artist: Hot Water Music

Album: "Alkaline Trio/Hot Water Music" Split EP

Year: 2002

"Radio" is a song about a relationship that is so far gone that the vocalist doesn't just want her to leave, he wants to kill her!! The classic lines "I wish you would take my radio to bathe with you. Plugged in, and ready to fall" really say it all when you think about what he really feels about her. "Radio" was originally written by Chicago based punk band Alkaline Trio and was released on their 2000 album, "Maybe I'll Catch Fire". When Alkaline Trio and Hot Water Music decided to record a split EP together, both bands decided to cover the other's songs. One of the songs Hot Water Music chose was "Radio". I believe Hot Water Music's version of "Radio" really captures what the song is about much better. It probably has to do with Chuck Ragan's raspy vocals in contrast to Matt Skiba's on the Alkaline Trio version. Either way, both versions of "Radio" are great songs. I could make an argument that "Radio" is Alkaline Trio's best song. Hot Water Music formed as a band back in 1993, hailing from Gainesville, FL. They built a strong following due to their great live shows and their tight musicianship. Though the band never really crossed over to achieve huge amounts of fame, they were well respected in punk rock circles and would become a very influential band. Some bands that drew clear inspiration from Hot Water Music are The Gaslight Anthem, The Loved Ones, Flatliners and the Polar Bear Club. After constantly touring and releasing albums at a steady clip for some thirteen years, in 2006, Hot Water Music went on a bit of a hiatus due to lead singer Chuck Ragan having to step away from the band to care for his family. During this break from Hot Water Music, the remaining three members went on to form The Draft and released the album, "In A Million Pieces". Chuck Ragan also began dabbling in acoustic/folk orientated music and began releasing some solo material. When 2007 rolled around, rumors began to circulate that Hot Water Music were planning to get back together. By January of 2009, the rumors became fact as Hot Water Music got back together to perform a small tour. The band would also self-produce a 7" entitled "The Fire, The Steel, The Tread/Up To Nothing". Currently, the band has signed with Rise Records and are working on a new full length album. Chuck Ragan is still recording solo material as well, most recently 2011's "Covering Ground".

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Song Of The Week: 10/9/11

Song: "I Luv I Jah"

Artist: Cave In

Album: "Never Give In: A Tribute To Bad Brains"

Year: 1999

"I Luv I Jah" appears to be a song about not being accepted for who you are, how you act, what you wear, etc. The vocalist gives you the impression that people look down on him for the way he lives his life, even his own family tends to disagree with who he is as a person. In the end, it doesn't matter to him because as long as he has the love of his God, then he can continue to be true to himself and be himself and it's his faith that makes everything ok. Some say this song was written in response to the band Bad Brains joining the Rastafari movement, which some fans weren't happy about or left some fans feeling alienated by Bad Brains. Bad Brains was a legendary hardcore punk band from Washington D.C. that formed in 1977. Their original recording of "I Luv I Jah" was released on their self-titled album in 1982. It was their fusion of hardcore punk and reggae that influenced several reggae/ska/punk bands in the future such as Sublime and Fishbone. Boston based Cave In covered "I Luv I Jah" for a Bad Brains tribute album in 1999. The song was also re-released in 2010 as part of Cave In's b-side album, "Anomalies, Vol. 1". Cave In formed as a band back in 1995. They started out very much a screaming metalcore/hardcore band. Over the years, however, they would change their style from album to album. Sometimes their music is very spacey, featuring long instrumentals while other releases are more alternative rock based. Their 2003 album "Antenna" is very much an alternative rock album and thanks to the single "Anchor", became their most successful album to date. From 2006 to 2009, Cave In went on a bit of a hiatus from recording and touring. When they did get back together and record, the band seemed to revert back to their old hardcore days using less and less clean vocals and more screaming/shredding vocals. Currently, Cave In recently released their last studio album entitled "White Silence" in May of 2011. The band has said that they plan to start releasing future projects in mainly digital format while touring a little less frequently as well.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Song Of The Week: 10/2/11

Song: "Sleep"

Artist: Lagwagon

Album: "Live In A Dive"

Year: 2005

"Sleep" is a punk rock love song. It's a story of longing for someone who is far away from you. The vocalist is on tour with his band and is yearning for the day that the tour ends so he can be back with his girl. He is full of hope. Hope that his band will return from the road successful as well as hope that he and his girl will eventually have children and become the family that he has always envisioned would happen. The version of "Sleep" I chose as my song of the week comes from Lagwagon's live album "Live In A Dive". "Live In A Dive" would be a series of live recordings released by Fat Wreck Chords. Other notable acts to have released "Live In A Dive" albums were Fat Wreck bands No Use For A Name, Strung Out and Swingin' Utters. The original version of "Sleep" could be found on Lagwagon's 1995 album "Hoss". Lagwagon along with NOFX and No Use For A Name really define the skate punk sound that dominated Fat Wreck Chords since the early 90's and beyond. Lagwagon is a band that doesn't take itself too seriously. Much of their material is written with tongue very much in cheek. There is no denying, however, that this band has earned the respect in punk circles for paying their dues and always staying true to themselves. Lagwagon formed as a band back in 1990. During their career, they have released seven studio albums, one EP, one live cd, as well as a collection of b-sides, compilation tracks and demos. The last official release by Lagwagon was 2008's "I Think My Older Brother Used To Listen To Lagwagon" EP. Since then, most of the band members have been working on other projects, most notably lead singer Joey Cape has released two albums which are mostly singer/songwriter, acoustic type projects. The band has got together to do a few small tours during this little hiatus they are on however, and Cape has said that Lagwagon has not broken up. He is, however, not sure if the band will ever release a full album again. They may get together to record a few songs here and there for release in the future and perform shows from time to time. Currently, Fat Wreck Chords is planning to re-release the band's first five albums in November of 2011. These re-issues can either be purchased separately or as a boxed set entitled "Putting Music In It's Place".

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Song Of The Week: 9/25/11

Song: "Family System"

Artist: Chevelle

Album: "Live From The Road"

Year: 2003

"Family System" appears to be a song about a family that is crumbling apart. There does not appear that there is any possible way to fix the situation as well. It definitely feels like divorce is going to be inevitable, especially when you read the lyrics and the vocalist says things like the things he used to love (family, spouse perhaps) he's learned to hate. There's no resurrecting this family structure. Chevelle formed as a band back in 1995, hailing from a suburb just outside of Chicago. The band was made up of three brothers, Pete Loeffler on guitar and vocals, Sam Loeffler on drums and Joe Loeffler on bass. After playing live shows for a few years, Chevelle finally recorded their debut album "Point #1" in 1999. The album began generating some buzz in music circles and when their small record label folded, they would be picked up by Epic Records and in 2002, would release their most successful album, "Wonder What's Next". The original recording of "Family System" would open up this album, the version I chose as my song of the week was from the band's live album, 2003's "Live From The Road". "Wonder What's Next" achieved platinum status thanks in part to the hit singles "The Red" and "Send The Pain Below". After recording their next album, 2004's "This Type Of Thinking (Could Do Us In)", the band parted ways with brother Joe. As his replacement, Chevelle kept it in the family by bringing in their brother-in-law, Dean Bernardini to perform bass duties. Chevelle remained a very active band as they would release new material basically every two years including 2007's "Vena Sera" and 2009's "Sci-Fi Crimes". Their style can basically be boiled down to alternative hard rock with hints of metal. They are often compared to Tool, mostly because of Pete Loeffler's singing voice which is similar to that of Maynard James Keenan. While both bands feature dark elements in their music and their lyrics, Chevelle's music is definitely more radio friendly than Tool. I would probably say Chevelle is more similar to bands like Staind, Helmet and Handsome. Currently, Chevelle is in the process of wrapping up what will be their sixth studio album which is set for release in December of 2011.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Song Of The Week: 9/18/11

Song: "Speeding Up The Octaves"

Artist: Hawthorne Heights

Album: "The Silence In Black And White"

Year: 2004

"Speeding Up The Octaves" appears to be yet another song about a relationship that has crumbled to the point that it can no longer be salvaged. You kinda get the feeling like the guy has been caught cheating or has definitely been the dishonest one. He seems to be trying to win her back but she just burns his letters and pictures in the fire. I think as the song goes on, he comes to the realization that he must let her go and move on with his life. Hawthorne Heights formed as a band back in 2001, hailing from Dayton, OH. The band originally went under the name A Day In The Life and released a few things under that moniker. By the time the band had signed with Victory Records to release their major label debut, "The Silence In Black And White", they had officially changed their band name to Hawthorne Heights. The band achieved some early success with the help of singles "Ohio Is For Lovers" and "Niki FM". That success would continue on with their follow up album, "If Only You Were Lonely" in 2006. The good times come to a screeching halt in 2007 however, when guitarist and "unclean" vocalist Casey Calvert was found dead in the band's tour bus. He had died of a mixture of prescription drugs and vicodin. After mourning the death of their bandmate and friend, Hawthorne Heights decided to go on as a four piece and ditch the "unclean" vocals for future albums, though they would bring them back but not as frequently as their first two albums. By using "clean" and "unclean" vocals, Hawthorne Heights could often be compared to bands such as Silverstein, Senses Fail or The Used. They are sometimes referenced as emo, screamo, pop punk or just plain alternative rock. During their ten year career, they have release four major label studio albums, their most recent being 2010's "Skeletons". Currently, the band has formed their own record label, Cardboard Empire, and plan on releasing a trilogy of EP's, beginning with "Hate", which was released in August of 2011. Each of these EP's will be released within four or five months of each other.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Song Of The Week: 9/11/11

Song: "Lost In A Portrait"

Artist: Trapt

Album: "The Punisher" Soundtrack

Year: 2004

"Lost In A Portrait" appears to be a song about needing someone in your life that completes you as a person. The vocalist sees his imperfections and flaws and he readily admits to them. He compares his life to a portrait on a canvas. He believes, even with his flaws, that he has a solid outline, but he needs her to be the colors that fill it in and make it whole. Trapt was formed in a California high school back in 1995. These classmates honed their musical chops in garages and parent's houses, generating enough spark until eventually they won a spot opening up for Papa Roach. After releasing a self-promoted album as well as a few EP's, Trapt drew interest from major labels and eventually released their official debut on Warner Bros. Records in 2002. This self-titled album would be the height of Trapt's success as a band thanks to high charting singles such as "Headstrong", "Still Frames" and "Echo". This album would lead to the band hooking up with more prominent tours and even beginning to headline more often. It also led to them being asked if they could lend a song of theirs to the movie "The Punisher". The band gave the unreleased song "Lost In A Portrait" for use on "The Punisher" soundtrack. From 2004 to 2010, Trapt would release three more studio albums as well as an EP and a live cd. The band would also continue to headline and co-headline several tours throughout that time period. Most notably, Trapt was awarded an opening slot for Motley Crue on 2008's "Crue Fest" tour which was also supported by bands Buckcherry, Papa Roach and Sixx A.M. Currently, Trapt is still supporting their latest release, 2010's "No Apologies" which hit the shelves in October of 2010.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Song Of The Week: 9/4/11

Song: "Leave It To Tomorrow"

Artist: Rancid

Album: "Demolition Sessions"

Year: 1994

"Leave It To Tomorrow" is a demo by the band Rancid that was released as part of a collection of demos and outtakes that were recorded between 1993 and 1994. The whole "Demolition Sessions" compilation is a must have for any Rancid fan and, while considered a rarity, is not very hard to find while searching the internet. Before forming Rancid in 1991, guitarist Tim Armstrong and bassist Matt Freeman were in the influential punk/ska outfit Operation Ivy. After Op. Ivy dissolved, Freeman wanted to continue to work along side Armstrong and thus, Rancid was formed. In 1993, Lars Frederiksen would join the band as a second guitarist as well as another vocalist. Rancid, along with the bands The Offspring, Green Day and Bad Religion, were at the forefront of the punk revival of the mid-90's. Just after grunge exploded on the music scene, a series of punk bands began to attract some of the spotlight. Rancid, however, would stick with independent punk label Epitaph Records while several other bands would sign with the mainstream. This always gave Rancid that extra street cred in punk circles. 1995's "And Out Come The Wolves" would be the pinnacle of Rancid's success as a band thanks to the hit singles, "Timebomb", "Ruby Soho" and "Roots Radicals". Record sales alone would not signify Rancid as a band. To this day, they are one of the most respected bands in punk circles and beyond. Their style is reminiscent of punk legends The Clash. Rancid, like The Clash, are not afraid to delve into other genres besides straight-forward punk. They've dabbled in reggae,ska, rockabilly, blues and even some hip hop. After releasing 2003's "Indestructible", Rancid went on a little bit of a hiatus in which they focused on side projects, most notably The Transplants, Devil's Brigade and The Bastards. In 2009, the band got back together and dropped "Let The Dominoes Fall". Currently, after a short tour opening up for Blink 182, Rancid is set to hit the studio in September of 2011 and are hoping to have what would be their eighth studio album hit the shelves sometime in 2012.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Song Of The Week: 8/28/11

Song: "Ay"

Artist: Flaw

Album: "American Arrogance"

Year: 1997

"Ay" is a song that appears to be about the determination and sacrifice that it takes in order to achieve success or fame. Sometimes while on this journey, you begin to find out who your real friends are and who are those that are just trying to ride on the coattails of your success. The latter seem to fall by the wayside if things are not working out for you. "Ay" is the first song off of the debut album from Flaw entitled "American Arrogance". This album was only released on cassette, independently by the band. Flaw started out as a band back in 1995 and they tried to ride the wave of the nu-metal, post grunge scene that was beginning to emerge at the time. The band's highlight of their career was their major label debut, 2001's "Through The Eyes". This album would award the band a slot in the 2002 Ozzfest tour. Success did not last long for Flaw however, their next release, 2004's "Endangered Species" was a flop. Inner turmoil and dissensions amongst band members would eventually lead to cancelled tour dates and an abrupt break-up of the band. By 2006, some members of Flaw began to kick the tires on a reunion. In the last five years, Flaw has been nothing more than a revolving door of band members and in-house fighting. The only constant in the band during this time was lead vocalist Chris Volz. In 2009, the band did manage to put together enough material for release called "Home Grown Studio Sessions". This would be a digital release that, once again was independently released by Flaw. When the band tried to pick up the pieces and go on the road to support this album, all of the old skeletons started raring their heads again and most of the dates were abruptly cancelled. Currently, while not officially disbanding, it's pretty safe to say that Flaw is pretty much a defunct band. They just can't seem to work together as a cohesive unit.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Song Of The Week: 8/21/11

Song: "Goodbye Forever" (acoustic version)

Artist: Alkaline Trio

Album: Recorded during a live acoustic session in London.

Year: 2005

This song appears to be a relationship type song where the man is letting the woman go. This is not an angry break-up between the two, but he just feels that she can not grow or blossom into the person she wants to be by staying with him. He is content to watch her from afar and is somewhat happy for her even though he is letting go of one of the best things he's ever had. The original version of "Goodbye Forever" appeared on a 1999 EP called "I Lied My Face Off" and was later put out on a 2000 compilation entitled "Alkaline Trio" which featured the band's early recordings from EP's and various rarities. Alkaline Trio broke onto the music scene back in 1996. They are part of a tight-knit Chicago punk scene that also features bands such as 88 Fingers Louie and The Lawrence Arms. Alkaline Trio features the dual vocals of guitarist Matt Skiba and bassist Dan Andriamo. Their style could be considered skate punk with a definite appeal to goth themes. Many of their songs revolve around drug use, depression, death, sorrow and failed relationships. That tends to lend itself to the band's gothic punk feel. Alkaline Trio has been around long enough that their influence is widespread amongst punk circles. They are also a very hard working band, having released eight studio albums, two compilation records, as well as various EP's and split cd's during their fifteen year musical career. Skiba and Andriamo also have put out solo material as well during breaks from Alkaline Trio. Skiba formed a band called Heavens which released one album, as well as releasing more music as a solo artist, most recently 2010's "Demos". Andriamo meanwhile has just released a cd in 2011 under the moniker Dan Andriamo In The Emergency Room. Currenty, Alkaline Trio released an album entitled "Damnesia" in July of 2011. This album is basically an acoustic album where the band reworked some of their previous songs in a stripped down format. The band's last studio release with all new material was 2010's "This Addiction".

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Song Of The Week: 8/14/11

Song: "So Cold"

Artist: Breaking Benjamin

Album: "We Are Not Alone"

Year: 2004

At first glance, "So Cold" has an apocalyptic feel to it. You get a sense that the vocalist and his companion are watching the streets clearing out, the death and the destruction and the only thing that feels alive to him is her touch. Breaking Benjamin lead singer, Benjamin Burnley has said that he drew inspiration for "So Cold" from the movie "28 Days Later" because of it's feeling of desolation. "So Cold" is one of the band's most successful singles reaching #2 on the U.S. Billboard Mainstream Rock Charts and staying in the Top 20 for 37 weeks. Breaking Benjamin formed as a band back in 1998. Their style is mostly mainstream rock, perhaps they could be considered post-grunge. They remind me of bands such as Three Days Grace and Seether. From 1998 to 2010, Breaking Benjamin has released four studio albums. In 2010, the band had to cancel a bunch of tour dates due to the health of lead singer Burnley. Also, turmoil and dissention began to creep up amongst some of the band members as well. Burnley wound up firing long time band members, Aaron Fink and Mark Klepaski due to them remixing the song "Blow Me Away" with out consulting with Burnley first. This incident has also led to legal action with Burnley suing Fink and Klepaski for some $250,000. Currently, though the band is in a state of turmoil, Burnley has said that he is going to continue on under the Breaking Benjamin name once he hires new members. The band is also set to release a greatest hits album in August of 2011.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Song Of The Week: 8/7/11

Song: "Save You"

Artist: Hot Rod Circuit

Album: "Reality's Coming Through"

Year: 2004

This song appears to be about trying to save someone from themselves. At first it seems you care so much for that person that it hurts you that you can't change them for the better. By the end of the song, however, you get the sense that the vocalist has come to grips with the fact that he is just faking himself into thinking he can actually save this person. He's grown tired of trying as well. Hot Rod Circuit formed as a band back in 1997 originally under the name Antidote. They only released one album under that moniker before changing to Hot Rod Circuit. Hailing from New Haven, CT, Hot Rod Circuit began creating a buzz through various college radio shows back in the day. Their underground feel lent themselves to becoming staples on various college radio programs. Soon some big labels came calling and the band signed with Vagrant Records and would release their most successful album "Sorry About Tomorrow". The song "Save You" would be on the follow-up album to "Sorry About Tomorrow", "Reality's Coming Through". Hot Rod Circuit has a very indie feel to their music. They are not all the way punk, as well as not being over the top pop. They seem to gravitate somewhere in the middle there. They kind of remind me of bands such as Jimmy Eat World and Sugarcult. After releasing one more album, "The Underground Is A Dying Breed" in 2007, Hot Rod Circuit decided to call it quits. Lead singer and chief songwriter, Andy Jackson went on to form the group A Death In The Park in 2008 which released an EP and are hoping to have a full-length album out eventually. Jackson also worked with former Taking Back Sunday guitarist Fred Mascherino on a project titled Terrible Things. That band would release one album before Jackson decided to depart in 2011. Also in 2011, Hot Rod Circuit have decided to get back together to perform at Krazyfest in Kentucky. It is not known whether this will lead to a full out reunion or not, but Jackson did not close the door on new Hot Rod Circuit projects for the future.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Song Of The Week: 7/31/11

Song: "When The Levee Breaks"

Artist: A Perfect Circle

Album: "Emotive"

Year: 2004

"When The Levee Breaks" is an old Delta blues song written by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie back in the 1920's. The song achieved most of it's fame when in 1971, Led Zeppelin recorded the song on their landmark album "Led Zeppelin IV". The song was written about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. This caused many of the residents along the Mississippi River to uproot their families to safety as their homes were destroyed by the flood waters. Most of these residents were poor black families. The song was very popular in African American blues music, especially in the south for obvious reasons. A Perfect Circle covered this song on their 2004 album, "Emotive". As they did with most of the cover songs which appeared on this album, they really gave the song a total makeover from the original to give it that distinct APC feel. A Perfect Circle formed in 1999 as a side project for Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan and Tool guitar tech Billy Howerdel. Howerdel was working on some demos that really caught Keenan's ear and he wanted to provide vocals to. Their first album, 2000's "Mer de Noms", would be the highest ever debut for a rock band on the Billboard charts. Where Keenan's main band Tool was much heavier and more on the metal side in their sound, A Perfect Circle was more focused on haunting melodies and more complex song arrangements. From 1999 to 2004, APC released three studio albums as well as a DVD and toured relentlessly in support of these albums. From 2004 to 2008, APC went on a bit of a hiatus as Howerdel would form Ashes Divide and Keenan would work with Tool as well as his other side project, Puscifer. In 2008, rumblings began coming out of the APC camp regarding working together on new material again. Keenan and Howerdel confirmed this, however they said a whole album was probably not going to happen and that they would probably release singles here and there via the internet. Currently, the band has worked on some songs and are currently doing a North American tour that will last from the summer of 2011 into the fall. A headlining spot at the 2011 Lollapalooza in Chicago is also a part of this tour.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Song Of The Week: 7/24/11

Song: "I Caught Fire"

Artist: The Used

Album: "In Love And Death"

Year: 2004

After reading the lyrics to "I Caught Fire" it kind of reminded me of that old 80's song, "I'll Stop The World And Melt With You". It's definitely that type of love song where it doesn't matter what's going on in the outside world or what scars you both have while being away from each other. The minute they are both together, all of that goes away and they are just lost in each other. Time stops, wounds heal and everything revolves around them and their love for each other. The Used have been quite the busy band since forming back in 2001. In a ten year span, the band has released four studio albums, a live/rarities compilation, a live cd/dvd, a b-sides ep as well as other exclusive releases through iTunes. In between all of those music releases, The Used have been relentless tourers. The only thing that slowed them down on the road was lead singer Bert McCracken having to have surgery on his vocal chords. Their style could be considered many things, screamo, post-hardcore or pop-punk. McCracken has been known to scream so violently live that it causes him to vomit on occasion. That's possibly what led to him having some problems with his vocal chords. I'd say they're peers with bands such as My Chemical Romance and Silverstein. Success for The Used didn't quite go all the way over the top as it did for MCR, however. They still headline tours and what not, but they have not been praised throughout the industry for having released their definitive album as of yet. Myself, I'm quite partial to their 2002 self-titled debut album. Their's a raw feel to that album and an intensity that I don't feel the band has matched yet on their subsequent releases. With their follow-ups, it seemed that they gravitated more towards the poppier side of writing. The songs started lacking the bite of tracks such as "A Box Full Of Sharp Objects" or "Maybe Memories". Currently, The Used are hard at work on finishing up what will be their fifth studio album. The record is slated for release sometime in the fall of 2011.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Song Of The Week: 7/17/11

Song: "Improv (That Far)"

Artist: Pearl Jam

Album: "Portland, Oregon; November 2, 2000"

Year: 2000

Since the very beginning of Pearl Jam being a band, their concerts have often included some impromptu jam sessions. Some of these appear to be off the cuff jams where, clearly, the band is making the song up as they go. Others, like "That Far", seem as though the band had been working on song before they introduced it to the audience. "That Far" is not the official title of this particular improv, but it has been given this name through various Pearl Jam fansites across the web. The song itself appears to be about coming home after a long time away, possibly from being on tour. The vocalist is happy to be back home and to see the person that he has missed welcoming him with open arms. "That Far" was recorded live on November 2, 2000 in Portland, OR. This show would be part of the Official Bootleg releases that Pearl Jam embarked on in 2000. This was an unprecedented move by any rock band at the time. Pearl Jam would release 72 bootlegs from their entire 2000 tour, a move that led the band to set a record for having the most albums on the Billboard charts at one time. For years, fans of Pearl jam would spend forty to fifty dollars on bootlegs to try to recapture what was and still is the strength of the band, their live performances. In an effort to lessen the cost for the fans, as well as give them a product that was far superior quality than most of the bootlegs that were out there, the band began releasing the bootlegs themselves. As for future tours, the band tweeked their bootlegs a little bit, selling them through their official website digitally. This made more sense for the band financially rather than releasing 70 plus cd's to record stores. I believe you can still buy hard copy cd's of shows through For twenty years, Pearl Jam has always been a band that looks out for it's fans, whether that's fighting Ticketmaster to lower ticket costs, playing two and a half to three hour concerts or releasing affordable, high quality bootleg recordings. As of 2011, Pearl Jam is working on new material for another studio album along with looking forward to their 20th anniversary festival, PJ20, which is a two day event in Alpine Valley, WI. Director Cameron Crowe is also finishing up a documentary of the band which should be out in the fall. Pearl Jam will also be hitting the road in Canada as well as Central and South America, shows which should provide even more rare covers songs and improvs for the impassioned Pearl Jam fan!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Song Of The Week: 7/10/11

Song: "Can't Keep"

Artist: Pearl Jam

Album: "Live At Benaroyal Hall"

Year: 2004

To me, "Can't Keep" is a song that is about having lived a full life and not being afraid to die. It seems as if it's coming from the perspective of someone who is clearly dying but is very much at peace with the process. You also get the sense that he believes his spirit will live on once his body dies with the one of the last lines of the song, "I will live forever, you can't keep me here". I definitely get a sense of going from the physical world to the spiritual world in this song. The original version of "Can't Keep" was on Pearl Jam's 2002 album "Riot Act". For the song of the week, I chose the version that was on the live recording at Benaroyal Hall. This show was an acoustic set that was recorded on October 22, 2003. "Can't Keep" was just lead singer Eddie Vedder accompanied by his ukulele. Perhaps this is what got the wheels turning for Eddie's 2011 solo album, "Ukulele Songs". Pearl Jam formed out of the ashes of Seattle band Mother Love Bone in 1990. With the release of their debut album "Ten", Pearl Jam was thrust in the spotlight of the grunge movement. This was a pivotal time in rock and roll. The 80's were really a down period for rock music and it very much needed a shot in the arm. Pearl Jam, along with Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains was that shot. Much like the British Invasion of the 60's and the punk uprising of the 70's, the alternative/grunge explosion of the 90's helped rock and roll right itself again. Some twenty years, nine studio albums, dvd's, live compilations and a massive bootleg collection later, there's no denying Pearl Jam's steady influence on the music world. Much like the members of Pearl Jam grew up revering such artists as Neil Young, The Who and The Ramones, now there are a slew of bands who hail Pearl Jam as their major influence. Pearl Jam is a band that achieved the highest of highs, got through the lowest of lows and managed to come out of it a much more solid band and very much a tighter group. Where back in the day, Eddie Vedder really controlled the musical direction of the band, now each member contributes equally. To this day their live shows are still the band's bread and butter. Some artists can't recapture what they do in the studio in a live setting. Pearl Jam is a band that transcends what the do in the studio live. They will forever stand out for their passion for music, their longevity and their influence as a band. Currently, Pearl Jam is working on a new album that they would probably like to have completed before the end of the year. They are celebrating their 20th year anniversary with a two day festival in Alpine Valley, Wisconsin on Labor Day weekend, a small tour of Canada and are also having director Cameron Crowe make a movie/documentary of the band's history entitled PJ20. There's no slowing down for the well oiled machine that is Pearl Jam!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Song Of The Week: 7/3/11

Song: "Evil Town"

Artist: The Vines

Album: "Winning Days"

Year: 2004

According to The Vines' lead vocalist, Craig Nicholls, "Evil Town" isn't necessarily about one person or one place in particular, but it could be anyone or any place where you just get bad vibes from. The Vines formed as a band in their native Australia back in 1999. At the very beginnings of the band, they were very much a garage band at heart. They drew several comparisons to Nirvana with their debut album, 2002's "Highly Evolved". With their stripped down sound and Nicholls' screaming vocals at times, I can see why there was a little similarity between them and Nirvana. They also had elements in their music that harkened back to 1960's psychadelic rock as well. This style got them lumped in with the many bands that started to hit in the early 2000's. Bands such as The Hives and The Strokes and The White Stripes to a certain extent. These bands were perhaps a breath of fresh air because their music was so stripped down and it was really like a back to basics kind of rock and roll. Though The Vines' first album was a great success for them, not only in Australia but in England and the United States, success also brought a lot of pressure on the band. Many publications hyped them up as the next Nirvana, a label that many bands would fail to live up to and The Vines were no different. "Winning Days", the band's second album, failed to live up to the success of their first and cracks in the band's armor were beginning to surface at this time. Soon the band had to deal with some departing band members, being dropped by their record label and the on again, off again depleting mental state of Craig Nicholls, which made things very hard on the band because Nicholls is the main creative force behind the band. The band had to cancel several tours do to Nicholls treatment of the fans. It got so bad that they would not allow Nicholls to do any interviews do to his mental state and what he would say. Eventually the band would get back on the road when Nicholls was more stable to handle it. They also continues to release album throughout the rest of the 2000's. While their popularity in the United States waned, in Australia they still appear and sometimes even headline some big shows and festivals. Currenty, The Vines just finished up their fifth studio album entitled "Future Primitive". It was released in June of 2011 in Australia but no date has yet been announced for it's release in the U.S.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Song Of The Week: 6/26/11

Song: "Said And Done"

Artist: Eighteen Visions

Album: "Obsession"

Year: 2004

"Said And Done" is yet another "relationship on the brink" type of song. Lots of heartbreak in the world of music!! In this song, the vocalist appears to be totally done with the relationship and tells his partner to move on with her life and to turn the page while she is still trying to save what seems to be a lost cause of a relationship. Eighteen Visions formed as a band back in 1995. In the early days, the band was very much a metalcore band with mostly screaming vocals. As the years went by, Eighteen Visions became more and more melodic and by the time of their sixth self-titled album, they featured purely melodic vocals with no screaming. As for style, you could say that they are peers of bands such as Avenged Sevenfold or Bullet For My Valentine. There are definitely some shades of metal, hardcore, straight rock and punk in their music. Where Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet For My Valentine really cemented their style musically is where Eighteen Visions couldn't seem to do the same. Those two bands, while venturing in different forms of music, you can tell they are based in metal. Eighteen Visions seem to go all over the place from album to album. Perhaps this is the reason that they couldn't hold firm a steady fanbase. The minute you begin to enjoy the band as a metalcore fan, they abruptly change their style on the next record say to a more punk feel. These changes probably alienated more fans than it brought new ones. Eighteen Visions was a band that just couldn't seem to figure itself out. By 2007, Eighteen Visions would decide to break-up amidst disappointing record sales of their self-titled major label album. 2004's "Obsession" was their most successful album and even that only managed to sell some 200,000 copies. Despite their struggles, both to find themselves and from various line-up changes, not many bands can say they lasted twelve years and released six albums. Currently, all the members of Eighteen Visions are working on various new musical projects. For fans of Eighteen Visions' lead singer James Hart, you'll be happy to know he does still front a band and it's called Burn Halo, a much more straight-forward rock band.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Song Of The Week: 6/19/11

Song: "Needles And Pins"

Artist: Deftones

Album: "Deftones"

Year: 2003

I've been on a bit of a Deftones kick the last couple of weeks, hence the back to back songs of the week! As for this song, "Needles And Pins" appears to be about finding someone who is as talented and gifted as you when it comes to what you do best. The first verse almost seems like a feeling out of the individual, perhaps in a competitive way. By the time the second verse hits, you sense that a collaboration with that person is at hand. By combining the talents of the two people, they feel that they are unstoppable and cannot be touched. The whole scenario kind of reminds me of the Lennon/McCartney relationship with The Beatles. Seperately, they were both very talented singers and songwriters but when they wrote together, they were biggest band ever! Without getting to much into the history of the Deftones which I explained a little bit in my previous blog, i'll just repeat that they formed as a band in 1988 and have releases six studio album in that span. 2003's "Deftones" was their fourth release and may be considered quited possibly their heaviest album to date. This album took a year to complete and cost the band some 2.5 million dollars to produce, some of the cost going to fines from their record label for missing deadlines. When it was all said and done however, "Deftones" would reach as high as number 2 on the Billboard 200 list. Lead singer Chino Moreno said this about the album, "It's all on record. We told motherfuckers not to lump us in with nu metal because when those bands go down we ain't going to be with them." Moreno's comments ring very true when you look at the popular bands at that time. Staind, who were once very heavy on their first couple of albums, had become soft and radio friendly while another band like Linkin Park just totally lacked any bite with it's music. The Deftones remained true to their style and who they were throughout their career, a main reason why they are so well respected amongst their peers. In 2010, the band released their sixth album, "Diamond Eyes" and currently have tours set up in Europe and Australia in support of that album.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Song Of The Week: 6/12/11

Song: "Around The Fur"

Artist: Deftones

Album: "Around The Fur"

Year: 1997

"Around The Fur" appears to be a song about how superficial and shallow those are that revolve their entire existence around glamour and vanity. That type of lifestyle just seems to be very hollow and lacking any substance and you can tell the vocalist really has little need for it in his own life. The Deftones were formed back in 1988 by three highschool friends from California. They could go under the genre of alternative metal amongst other things but they just stray enough outside the lines that it makes it hard to define their sound by one genre. Their music hits the listener first with it's heavy and aggressive sound. Then it soars to other places with lead singer, Chino Moreno's atmospheric vocals which eventually lead to gutteral screams which stir the final product into a frenzy. The Deftones never quite get recognized with being at the forefront of any musical movement, however. They often seem to get lost a little in the back while the music industry goes from one fad to the next. There is absolutely no doubt about this band's integrity nor the respect that they have in the circles that matter most, their fanbase and their peers. Just some of the band's that have praised the Deftones along the way include Alice In Chains, Suicidal Tendencies, Tool and Korn. During their 20 plus year career, the Deftones have released six studio albums, all of which have at least achieved Gold status. In 2006, longtime band member, bassist Chi Cheng, was seriously injured in an auto accident which really shook the band and it's members. They would ultimately bring in another bassist for the recording of their last album, 2010's "Diamond Eyes". Currently, the band completed a tour in the fall of 2010 with Alice In Chains and Mastodon. They also have several tour dates on schedule for Europe and Australia in 2011. As of now, Cheng is still recovering from his serious injuries and cannot join the band at this time.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Song Of The Week: 6/5/11

Song: "Hellbent"

Artist: Superdrag

Album: "Instant Live: The Paradise. Boston, MA 9/5/03"

Year: 2004

"Hellbent" appears to be a song about wanting to get away from your current living condition and start something new. You get the sense the vocalist seems to build up the courage to move on only to fall back into the same old situations. He can't seem to break the normalcy that is his life. You also get the feeling he is talking about the "rock star" life. He keeps getting sucked in by the drugs and the "hangers on" that only seem to bring him down. Perhaps "Hellbent", which was originally recorded for Superdrag's second album, "Head Trip In Every Key", was a bit of foreshadowing of what was to come for the band, especially lead singer John Davis. After achieving some success in alternative music circles with their debut album, "Regretfully Yours" and the hit single "Sucked Out", it seemed Superdrag really started to veer against the music industry with their follow-up releases. "Head Trip" saw Superdrag really tap into Beatles influences where Superdrag's record label, Elektra really wanted them to ride the wave of the alternative bandwagon and create more "Sucked Out" type songs. On their next release, "In The Valley Of Dying Stars", Davis put his frustration with the industry on his sleeve with the song "Keep It Close To Me". Davis would stand firm and not allow his creations to be compromised by outside forces. By the time of 2002's "Last Call For Vitriol", the wear and tear of physical and emotional strains really began to weigh on the band. Alcohol began to take control of Davis' life in a way that he could no longer function if he continued to live that way. In 2003, Davis would find God, get sober and ultimately leave Superdrag behind. He would release two solo albums between 2003 and 2007. Good news for fans of Superdrag came in 2007. Rumors were confirmed that the original band members would reunite for a small tour. In 2009, Superdrag released a brand new album entitled "Industry Giants". The band would continue to tour in support of that album throughout 2009. Currently, the band is in a bit of a hiatus period again with all the members working on various side projects. John Davis, however, has not closed the book on working on new Superdrag material in the future.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Song Of The Week: 5/29/11

Song: "Fallen"

Artist: 30 Seconds To Mars

Album: "30 Seconds To Mars"

Year: 2002

"Fallen" appears to be a song about escaping from your own reality, perhaps going to a space in your own mind where you can still relate to the things that surround you. "Fallen" was originally titled "Jupiter" and it is the oldest song in the 30 Seconds To Mars catalogue. 30 Seconds To Mars formed as a band back in 1998. It was originally a family project of sorts for brothers Jared and Shannon Leto. Though Jared gained some fame as an American actor, he refused to use his success in film to jumpstart his band. He was determined to keep the two separate from each other. Of course, fans of his movies would have an obvious interest in his other career as well, however. By the time of the band's 2005 album "A Beautiful Lie" was released, Leto would not have to worry about the band standing on it's own. "A Beautiful Lie", backed by the hit single "The Kill", was a huge success for the band which enabled them to go from opening band to headliners in a short period of time. The band's third album, 2009's "This Is War", would keep the band in the spotlight as one of the biggest rock acts of the mid to late 2000's. 30 Seconds To Mars draws their musical style from several different influences from Tool to David Bowie to Alice In Chains and even Bjork. I've heard them labeled everything from post-grunge, progressive metal to alternative rock. They are definitely a band that is driven by creating whole album concept rather than records that are driven by two or three singles. Currently, 30 Seconds To Mars finished up a world tour in support of "This Is War" in December of 2010. They are also signed on to be the headliner of International Lollapalooza in Santiago, Chile.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Song Of The Week: 5/22/11

Song: "Over The Hills And Far Away" (live version)

Artist: Led Zeppelin

Album: "How The West Was Won"

Year: 2003

After reading the lyrics to this song, it appears to me that the vocalist is searching for love that will last. It seems he has made his share of mistakes when it comes to relationships and he is on a quest, of sorts, to find that "pocket full of gold". I've heard some say the song is about sleeping around with as many women as possible. I can see that, but I sense he's doing it because he hasn't found the "one" yet that he feels comfortable and confident he can settle down with. "Over The Hills And Far Away" is a classic Led Zeppelin song that was originally released on the band's 1973 album "Houses Of The Holy". The version I chose to use was taken from the band's 2003 live release, "How The West Was Won". The song was recorded during the band's stop at the L.A. Forum on their 1972 U.S. tour. Led Zeppelin formed as a band out of the ashes of The Yardbirds in 1968. Originally, guitarist Jimmy Page wanted to form a supergroup with himself on guitar along with Jeff Beck and The Who's rhythm section, John Entwistle on bass and Keith Moon on drums. That band would never see the light however. Page worked with bassist John Paul Jones in some studio sessions in the past, so Jones has an inside track to the new band. Plant was also recommended to Page by a friend. Plant was the one who introduced John Bonham to the band and alas, Led Zeppelin was formed. At their height, you can argue that Led Zeppelin was as important and influential a band that The Beatles or The Rolling Stones were. That's how solid and innovative they were. Though based on a solid American blues foundation, Led Zeppelin was not afraid to push the envelope when it came to experimenting with different styles of music, as well as different instruments. When you talk about being the best of your craft, you're talking about Led Zeppelin. Robert Plant, arguably the best lead singer in rock and roll history. Jimmy Page, one of the best guitarists ever. John Paul Jones, perhaps the most talented musician in the rock world. John Bonham, the best hard rock drummer of all time, period. Led Zeppelin would rule the rock world from 1968 until 1980, when tragically, John Bonham would die in his sleep from choking on his own vomit. The band decided that Bonham was too important to the band to carry on and Led Zeppelin would be no more. Zeppelin would reunite for some shows, most notably Live Aid in 1985 and a benefit concert in 2007 for Ahmet Ertegun, a concert which trully showed the raw power of one of the best bands of all time, and also featured Bonham's son, Jason behind the drum kit. After this 2007 show, Page, Jones and Jason Bonham wanted to embark on a full scale Zeppelin tour. Robert Plant however, wanted to focus on his solo career and seemed to want to close the book on Zeppelin. Currently, the hopes of a Zeppelin reunion do not look good and Page has said that they would not tour under the Zeppelin name unless Plant is a part of the project.