Sunday, January 30, 2011

Song Of The Week: 1/30/11

Song: "Welcome To The Terrordome"

Artist: Public Enemy

Album: "Fear Of A Black Planet"

Year: 1990

"Welcome To The Terrordome" is a song about the self-destruction going on in the black community. It's really about the tearing down of the community when people should be striving together to uplift it. Public Enemy's chief emcee Chuck D. is harshest on his own when it comes to black on black crime and cultural self-destruction in this song. Public Enemy formed back in 1986 and quickly became one of the most influential and most respected groups to come out in the hip hop world. Their second album, "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back" is widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time, not just in hip hop quarters. Several other musicians in many genres viewed "It Takes A Nation..." as a strong album, most notably being Nirvana's Kurt Cobain who put this album in his own personal top ten of music that he listened to. While "It Takes A Nation.." was PE's most heralded album, "Fear Of A Black Planet", released two years later, was their most successful. I always viewed Public Enemy as the punk rock band of the rap world. Their beats were harsh, noisy and cluttered and Chuck D. spit venom as an emcee. PE is really one of the first hip hop groups to focus on social, political and cultural issues in their albums. Along with Run D.M.C., and N.W.A., I would consider Public Enemy the most important group in rap history. As the 2000's approached, hip hop started going in many different directions and the material being released seemed to be more about boasting about what you have instead of focusing on real issues that are affecting the world. Because of this, legendary hip hop acts such as PE and KRS-ONE began to see their fame start to fade out. They still, however command respect for the path they laid. PE continues to release albums every two to three years, their latest being 2007's "How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul". Currently, PE is still quite active as they still do some touring between focusing on various side projects, Chuck D.'s being mostly focused on political and social issues while hype man Flavor Flav has been back in the mainstream due to his "reality" shows such as "Flavor Of Love". I wouldn't be surprised to see PE come out with a new album in the near future.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Song Of The Week: 1/23/11

Song: "Chesterfield King"

Artist: Face To Face

Album: "Standards & Practices"

Year: 1999

"Chesterfield King" is a true punk rock love song. It's about a man who perhaps at first is afraid to commit fully to a relationship but after taking some time to clear his head, he comes to realize that this relationship is too important to him to throw it away so he hurries back to the girl he almost left behind. "Chesterfield King" is a cover song by Face To Face. The original was recorded back in 1992 by the hugely influential punk/emo outfit Jawbreaker and released on their "Bivouac" album. Face To Face is one of many punk bands that were deeply impacted by the music created by Jawbreaker. Much like Jawbreaker, Face To Face has become one of the most respected bands in the punk scene. Face To Face got it's start back in 1991 and quickly became one of the top punk bands in an exploding California scene. Along with bands such as Rancid, Jawbreaker, Bad Religion, The Offspring and Green Day, Face To Face would also become a force in the punk rock revival of the 90's. Lead singer and chief songwriter, Trever Keith was the one main constant in the band throughout the years but since 1995, bassist Scott Shiflett also became a mainstay in the band. Shiflett is well respected in punk rock circles as well as his brother Chris who now plays guitar for the Foo Fighters. After putting out several albums on labels such as Vagrant Records and Fat Wreck Chords, Face To Face decided to call it quits in 2004. Keith just felt that the band had exhausted itself and he as well as the rest of the band wanted to work on new projects. This hiatus would only last for four years however. After persistent rumors circulated about a possible Face To Face reunion, in 2008 the band finally acknowledged that the rumors were in fact true. The band returned and began touring extensively most notably as headliners on the Warped Tour. Currently, Face To Face is putting the finishing touches on a new album tentatively titled "Laugh Now, Laugh Later". This album is set for release in early 2011.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Song Of The Week: 1/16/11

Song: "Rich Girl"

Artist: Everclear

Album: "The Vegas Years"

Year: 2008

"Rich Girl" is a cover song which was originally released in 1976. It was originally written and performed by Daryl Hall & John Oates. Everclear covered this song and released it on 2008's "The Vegas Years" which featured most of the cover songs which Everclear performed through the years. The song "Rich Girl" is basically about a girl who thinks she can get away with anything and do whatever she wants without consequences because her family comes from money. Any problems that she creates can be washed away because "daddy" has money. Everclear broke on to the music scene in 1992 hailing from Portland, OR. For the majority of the band's career it consisted of Art Alexakis on guitars and vocals, Craig Montoya on bass and Greg Eklund on drums. From 1995 to 2000, Everclear was one of the most successful bands in rock music, riding the wave of hit singles such as "Santa Monica", "Wonderful", "Father Of Mine" and "Everything To Everyone". The 2000's were quite a different story for the band however. Inner turmoil and tensions would lead to the departure of Montoya and Eklund in 2003. Alexakis then had to decide whether to continue on with Everclear and a new line-up or just go solo. He would keep Everclear intact, along with playing several solo acoustic tours, but new material was released rather sporadically. 2006's "Welcome To The Drama Club" was the only full studio release of all new material by the new Everclear line-up. They also released "The Vegas Years" cover compilation which featured mostly songs that were recorded throughout the band's career and 2009's "In A Different Light" which is basically an acoustic album featuring many of the band's hit songs stripped down. Currently, the band went through another line-up overhaul and, according to Alexakis, were planning on releasing a new album in 2010. 2010 has come and gone however with no new Everclear album.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Song Of The Week: 1/9/11

Song: "Dreams"

Artist: Taproot

Album: "Welcome"

Year: 2002

"Dreams" appears to be a song about confusing what reality is and what is not. When asleep, the vocalist seems to see who he is in an honest view and he's not quite sure he likes what he sees so he struggles to stay awake. The subconscious mind does not mask the truth like we often do in a conscious state. Taproot is a post-grunge band from Michigan that formed back in 1997. After some independent releases, Taproot got their first major break upon releasing "Gift" in 2000. The band began generating a following after "Gift" which would lead to their most successful album to date, "Welcome". On the heels of their hit single, "Poem", Taproot went from opening band to headliners. Their style is reminiscent of early Staind material with verses that gradually build up to exploding choruses often featuring guttural vocals. Following "Welcome", Taproot began experimenting with a somewhat softer sound which alienated some of it's core fanbase. Thankfully, with their 2010 release, "Plead The Fifth", the band seemed to go back to the heavy formula that gained them success with "Gift" and "Welcome". Currently the band is still on tour supporting "Plead The Fifth".

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Song Of The Week: 1/2/11

Song: "Caught A Glimpse"

Artist: Blindside

Album: "Silence"

Year: 2002

Before trying to explain what "Caught A Glimpse" appears to be about, it's important to understand that Blindside is a Christian band and those beliefs and morals tend to be themes in a lot of their songs. With that being said, this song is about being grounded by your relationship with God even while all the trappings of early success, fame and the Hollywood lifestyle beckons you at every turn. In battling through all of these temptations that are laid before you, it's your devotion to God that keeps you on the path you wish to be on. Blindside formed as a band back in 1994. They hail from Sweden. Though they are often labeled as Christian post-hardcore, they have showed some diversity in their most recent releases and have experimented with some electronica as well as jazz elements on some of their songs. They are definitely a band that does not want to be trapped into any certain genre while not totally going away from who they are as a band. While they are not a hugely successful band, they are quite solid in my opinion. "Caught A Glimpse" was the third single off of 2002's "Silence" album and i'd argue it is possibly in my top three for Blindside songs. While the band has released five studio albums and a couple of EP's, their last being 2007's "The Black Rose", they have been on a little hiatus from recording but have popped up playing live on various occasions. The good news for Blindside fans is that currently they are working on a new album which they hope to have released in March of 2011.