Sunday, December 29, 2013
Album: "Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place"
"Depraved" is a song that appears to be asking if you are depraved of truth, or have you been deceived into thinking or believing in something that might be negative or perhaps may even cause pain. The vocalist just wants the listener to not be a slave to anything or anyone and to stand on their own two feet and be knowledgable of all beliefs. He also does not want the listener to be ashamed of themselves should they see that their belief system was negative. It was taught to them, or perhaps brainwashed in them. Basically, he's saying to use your eyes to see, use your brain to learn. There's a big world out there, don't be chained inside a box. Expand your mind and embrace differences. Anberlin formed out of the ashes of the band SaGoh 24/7. Hailing from Florida, SaGoh 24/7 was a punk band back in 1998. They released two album under that moniker but the band eventually disbanded. Members of that band wanted to explore a different sound and musical direction and thus, in 2002, Anberlin was formed. The band signed with Christian punk label Tooth & Nail Records. This led to two misconceptions, one that Anberlin was a punk band and two they they were a Christian band. Anberlin is much more melodic rock than punk and they have stated that their religious befiefs are personal and their band is entertainment, period. In 2003, they released their first album, "Blueprints For The Black Market". This album wasn't a huge success by any means. It sold just over 60,000 units and spawned one moderately successful single, "Readyfuels". 2005 saw the band release "Never Take Friendship Personal". This album reached #144 on the Billboard 200 charts and featured the singles "A Day Late" and "Paperthin Hymn", the latter which reached #38 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. In 2007, the band released "Cities". This album debuted at #19 on the Billboard 200 charts, selling 34,000 copies in the 1st week of sales. Momentum was gaining for Anberlin and their successes led them to embarking on their very first headlining tour with support from the band Bayside. 2007 also saw the band release "Lost Songs", a compilation of unreleased material, b-sides and other rarities. The band would go on to sign with major label Universal/Republic by the end of that year as well. In 2008, Anberlin released their major label debut, "New Surrender". This album sold 36,000 units in it's first week, reaching #13 on the Billboard 200. The first single on the album was "Feel Good Drag". In 2010, the band released "Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place". This album would be produced by famed producer Brendan O' Brien, who's most well known for his work with bands such as Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots. This album featured the single "Impossible" and the band supported the album with a major tour with 30 Seconds To Mars. 2012 saw the band release "Vital". This album would be the band's most aggressive music to date, as shown on singles like "Self-Starter" and "Someone Anyone". In 2013, Anberlin released "Devotion". This was a compilation album that featured demos and remixes from the "Vital" sessions as well as a live & acoustic DVD. The compilation also featured three brand new tracks, including "City Electric" which would be released as the first single of that album. Currently, Anberlin has just released it's "Devotion" project in October of 2013. It has also been said that the band has been working on new material in that same month for a potential new release, possibly next year. They are a very active band, releasing new album almost every other year. Though they are rooted in punk, mostly because of their association with Tooth & Nail Records, they are much more 30 Seconds To Mars than they are MxPx. All in all, they are a very solid rock and roll band.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Album: "New Dawning Time"
"Backseat" is a song that appears to be about a young couple who are still living at their parent's house. It seems they just decide to hop in the car and drive with no particular destination. They're just happy to get away. The whole journey seems liberating and totally spontaneous to them. Gardener's origins as a band date back to 1996, when the bands Seaweed and The Screaming Trees were embarking on a tour of the U.K. Seaweed frontman Aaron Stauffer and The Screaming Trees' Van Conner would write two songs together that would eventually turn into a full band effort, thus the birth of Gardener. By 1999, the two had enough material to put together a full album. That album would be "New Dawning Time" and it would be released through legendary Seattle label Sub Pop. Gardener would be far different in terms of musical style than the grungy aggression of both Seaweed and The Screaming Trees. In fact, the band labeled their sound as "shack" rock. Though it featured guitars, bass and drums, their music would also feature an array of other instruments including sitar, tabla, flute and mellotron. Besides "New Dawning Time", the only other release I know of is a 7" vinyl single of the song "Boys Of Summer", originally performed by Don Henley. Though Gardener did tour in support of "New Dawning Time", the band itself was a short lived project. Stauffer went back to Seaweed for a short time while also working on the brief project Not From Space and another odd sounding band, The Blue Dot. Van Conner went back to The Screaming Trees for a short period but that band disbanded in 2000. He did some session work for Mark Lanegan's solo album as well as some work for Queens Of The Stone Age. The current status of Gardener is there is no status. The band hasn't put out any new material and hasn't performed live for more than ten years now. Stauffer is back to touring with Seaweed and they have been rumored to have a new album in the works while Conner has a new alternative metal project called Valis in which he is the vocalist/lead guitarist.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Song: "Shadow Of A Soul"
Album: "The Oracle"
"Shadow Of A Soul" is a song that appears to be how the vocalist appears to be changing who he is at the current time. He is no longer the man he once was, and perhaps, he's a shell of his former self. But, does he really see himself differently? Or is it those who once knew him who do not treat him the same? It seems he feels alienated by those he grew up with and isolated and alone in a place he once called home. Godsmack formed as a band back in 1995, hailing from Lawrence, Massachusetts. The core line-up has been Sully Erna on vocals and guitars, Tony Rombola on lead guitar, Robbie Merrill on bass and Shannon Larkin on drums. Originally called The Scam, the band soon changed their name to Godsmack, some say an ode to the Alice In Chains song of the same name. In 1996, the band recorded their debut album, "All Wound Up" for a mere $2600. This album basically featured most of the tracks that would be remastered for their 1998 major label debut, "Godsmack". It was their songs "Keep Away" and "Whatever" that took to local radio in Boston and really began to jumpstart their career. It definitely caught the interest of major label Universal/Republic who signed Godsmack in 1998. The band earned a spot on the Ozzfest tour as well as Woodstock '99. They also embarked on a European tour opening up for Black Sabbath. Their self-titled album debuted at #22 on the Billboard 200 charts and by 2001 had been certified 4x platinum. In 2000, the band released "Awake". This album debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 charts and reached 2x platinum status, thanks in part to the singles "Awake", "Sick Of Life" and "Greed". 2003 saw the band release "Faceless". This album debuted at #1 and featured the single "I Stand Alone", which had originally appeared on "The Scorpion King" soundtrack, and "Straight Out Of Line", which was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2004, Godsmack released the EP, "The Other Side", which featured all acoustic tracks, including three new songs, "Running Blind", "Voices" and "Touche". 2006 saw the band release "IV". Featuring the single "Speak", this album also debuted at #1 and sold 211,000 copies in the the first week of sale. To celebrate their 10 year anniversary, the band released "Good Times, Bad Times...Ten Years Of Godsmack". This was a greatest hits compilation which featured the band covering "Good Times, Bad Times" by Led Zeppelin as a bonus track. In 2008, Godsmack released the non-album single "Whiskey Hangover". In 2010, the band released "The Oracle". This album would be the third straight album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts. 2012 saw the band release their very first live album, "Live & Inspired". This album featured a bonus EP featuring some cover songs. Currently, according to lead singer Sully Erna, Godsmack plans to start working on new material possibly in late 2013 or early 2014 with hopes of releasing a new album. Though some people criticize Godsmack for their close similarities to the sound of bands like Alice In Chains and Metallica, there's no denying they have carved out their own niche in the rock and roll/metal world. They have become one of the biggest and most successful acts in hard rock music today.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Song: "Lehigh Acres"
Artist: Against Me!
Album: "White Crosses" (Limited Edition)
"Lehigh Acres" is a song about a community in Florida, located near Fort Myers, where a boom in homes, both being built and bought, occurred in the early 2000's. Eventually, the homes began to lose their property value and most of the people who bought were in over their head. It was basically a middle class community that veered towards poverty in a short amount of time. Though the song is about a specific community, it is a story that is known all too well all over the country. Lenders gave out money much too easily and people acquired debts that they could not afford. Against Me!, hailing from Florida, formed back in 1997. Originally, Against Me! was going to be the platform with which vocalist/guitarist Tom Gabel was going to release his solo material. He first released a demo cassette in 1997. In 1998, he added drummer Kevin Mahon and they released another demo called "Vivida Vis!". In 2000, the band released the "Against Me!" EP through Crasshole Records. 2001 saw the band release the EP "Crime As Forgiven By Against Me!". Released through Plan-It-X Records, this EP was the band's 1st widely distributed material. Against Me! also released an acoustic EP that year as well. In 2002, the band signed with No Idea Records and released their 1st full length album, "Reinventing Axl Rose". The band's line-up finally rounded out as well, featuring Gabel on vocals/guitar, Warren Oakes on drums, James Bowman on guitar and Andrew Seward on bass. 2003 saw the band sign with Fat Wreck Chords and release "The Eternal Cowboy". This album reached #36 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart, thanks in part to the singles "Cavalier Eternal" and "Sink Florida Sink". 2005's "Searching For A Former Clarity" was Against Me!'s first album to chart on the Billboard 200, reaching #114. The songs "Don't Lose Touch" and "From Her Lips To God's Ears (The Energizer)" became the band's first two music videos. In 2006, the band released "Americans Abroad!!!Against Me!!!Live In London!!!", their very first live recording. In 2007, the band was signed to major label Sire Records. They enlisted the help of producer Butch Vig, famously known for producing Nirvana's "Nevermind", and released "New Wave". This album peaked at #57 on the Billboard 200 charts and featured the singles "Thrash Unreal", "White People For Peace", "Stop" and "New Wave". In 2008, Against Me! supported the Foo Fighters on a major North American tour. Sire also released "New Wave B-Sides" as a digital only release. 2009 saw Oakes leave the band and Hot Water Music drummer George Rebelo join. The very same year, Fat Wreck released "The Original Cowboy", an album which featured demos and rare recordings from the "Eternal Cowboy" sessions. In 2010, the band released "White Crosses" with Vig handling the production aspect once again. This album featured the singles "I Was A Teenage Anarchist", "White Crosses" and "High Pressure Low". At #34 on the Billboard 200 charts, "White Crosses" is the highest charting Against Me! album to date. Despite the success of the album, the band and Sire Records parted ways. Drummer Rebelo also left the band to return to his old band Hot Water Music. Jay Weinberg was announced as the new drummer. In 2011, Fat Wreck released "Total Clarity", an album featuring demos and rarities recorded during the "Searching For A Former Clarity" sessions. The band also released the two song 7", "Russian Spies/Occult Enemies". Gabel would also form his own record label at this time called Total Treble Music. All future Against Me! recordings would go through this new label. In 2012, Gabel came out as a transgender saying he's suffered with gender dysphoria since childhood. He changed his name to Laura Jane Grace and began living as a woman. He's stated that this change would not affect his band, however. He, or should I say she now, began working on a concept album that would be titled "Transgender Dysphoria Blues", which would be about a transgendered prostitute. Grace would be producing and engineering this album. In 2013, Weinberg left the band and Adam Willard stepped in on the drumkit. Longtime bassist Andrew Seward also left the band. His spot was filled by former Refused bassist Inge Johansson. The band released the single "True Trans" which featured acoustic versions of two songs that are to appear on their new album, "FuckMyLife666" and "True Trans Soul Rebel". Currently, Against Me! plans to release "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" in early 2014. Though the line-up of Against Me! seems to be a revolving door, the band is very much Gabel/Grace's baby and her vehichle to express her songs. Against Me! is one of those bands that come out and gives me hope that their is still great, guitar driven music out there in a world of bubblegum pop and hip hop. Against Me! is a punk band that stands out for their originality and their their deep catalogue of great music.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Song: "Space Shot"
Album: "A-Z: Vol. 1"
"Space Shot" appears to be a song about just wanting to go out and lose yourself. It may be drug induced or alcohol induced. The vocalist just wants to go crazy and leave all inhibitions at home. He's ready to go out of his mind and lose control! Ash formed as a band back in 1992, hailing from Ireland. Vocalist/guitarist Tim Wheeler, bassist Mark Hamilton and drummer Rick McMurray were all high school students when they formed Ash. For two years they worked on various demo's, one of them being the song "Jack Names The Planets". In 1994, Ash released "Trailer". This album featured several songs from their earlier demo's as well as a few new recordings. 1995 was really the first breakthrough for Ash. Two of their songs, "Jack Names The Planets" and "Kung Fu" were added to the "Angus" movie soundtrack. This soundtrack was a commercial success and introduced Ash to a wider audience, especially in the United States. In 1996, the band rode that success in the form of their next album, "1977". Thanks in part to the singles "Goldfinger", "Oh Yeah" and "Girl From Mars", Ash was officially on the musical map. 1997 saw the band release the live album, "Live At The Wireless". It was also in 1997 that Ash recruited Charlotte Hatherley to join the band as second guitarist and back up vocalist. Her first appearance with Ash was on the single "A Life Less Ordinary". 1998 saw the band release "Nuclear Sounds". This album spawned the singles "Jesus Says" and "Wild Surf". The constant touring the band had been doing in support of "1977" and "Nuclear Sounds" was beginning to take a toll, however. The band almost went bankrupt and the critical and commercial failure of "Nuclear Sounds" nearly put Wheeler in full depression. Luckily, the band resurrected itself with the 2001 release of "Free All Angels". Hit singles such as "Shining Light", "Burn Baby Burn" and "Sometimes" led this album to reach #1 in the U.K. In 2002, Ash released a new single titled "Envy" as well as a singles compilation called "Intergalactic Sonic 7"s" which also came with a bonus b-sides disc called "Cosmic Debris". In 2004, the band released "Meltdown". This album featured the songs "Clones", "Meltdown", "Orpheus" and "Starcrossed". By 2006, Hatherley decided to part ways with Ash. This was a tough moment for the band as her background vocals would clearly be missed on future releases. In 2007, Ash released "Twilight Of The Innocents". The band had said that this album would be their last full length release as they felt the way music is being brought to the masses is changing and they wanted to change with it. Ultimately, they were saying that they would be releasing music digitally, probably as singles. 2009 saw the band try this strategy as they went on to release 26 singles, one every two weeks. This would be known as the "A to Z Series". In 2010, the band decided to release the entire "A to Z Series" on two compilation cd's, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Not only did these cd's feature all 26 singles, they also featured some b-sides, rare tracks and acoustic versions. In 2011, Ash collaborated with the band We Are Scientists to record the song "Washington Parks", which was released as a single and all the proceeds would go to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Later in 2011, to celebrate the release of their greatest hits compilation, the band reunited with Charlotte Hatherley to perform a special set of shows. Both Wheeler and Hatherley did not rule out working together on future Ash material. 2012 saw Ash tour with Weezer in the United States. In 2013, Ash would perform their own headlining tour in the U.S. and in August, they would perform at the Y Not Festival in Derbyshire. Currently, Ash has been working on new material in a New York studio at times in 2013. The new material has been said to be a new full length album, not just singles. No word if Hatherley is back with the band working on the new album. Ash is a much bigger deal over in Ireland and the U.K. than they are here in the States, but they have sold over 10 million album worldwide since their inception. They fell into the alternative scene of the early and mid 90's, not quite grunge nor punk. I always thought they had a garage-y, pop sound. They've sometimes experimented using hip hop turntables as well as delving into some synth pop sounds. All in all, very underrated band. Like to see them harken back to their "Goldfinger" and "Burn Baby Burn" days with their new material though.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Song: "Fractured (Everything I Said Was True)"
Album: "Plead The Fifth"
"Fractured (Everything I Said Was True)" appears to be a relationship song where the vocalist dove in and put himself into it completely but she was not so committed to it. She did not love him like he loved her and she was unfaithful to boot. Ultimately, he decides not to fight to save what relationship is left and he lets her go. Taproot's origins begin in the mid 90's. In fact, the band was formed out of the ashes of two other bands, Cymonic Drive and Skumbag. It wasn't until Stephen Richards jumped out from behind the drum kit and handled the vocals that the band moved forward and ultimately achieved some success. In 1997, the band sent a demo tape to Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst. He wanted them to sign to Interscope Records but the band decided on a deal with Atlantic much to Durst's dismay. In 1998, Taproot independently released "Something More Than Nothing" and "Mentobe" and in 1999 they also independently released "Upon Us". Through Atlantic, the band released their major label debut, 2000's "Gift". This album spawned the single "Again & Again". It also caught the ear of Ozzy Osbourne's son Jack who helped get Taproot a spot on the Ozzfest tour. 2002 saw the band release "Welcome". This album debuted at #17 on the Billboard 200 charts thanks in part to the single "Poem", which reached #5 on the Mainstream Rock charts. Achieving Gold status, "Welcome" is Taproot's most successful album to date. In 2005, the band released "Blue Sky Research". Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins helped co-write a few songs on this album. Behind the single "Calling", this album debuted at #33 on the Billboard 200 charts. In 2006, Taproot parted ways with Atlantic Records. Their fourth album, 2008's "Our Long Road Home" was independently released but with a distribution deal with Sony Records. At this point in their career, Taproot was operating more as a headliner on bigger tours than a support act. In 2010, Taproot signed with Victory Records. Their first album with Victory was "Plead The Fifth". Released in 2010, "Plead The Fifth" felt like a return to a heavier style that was prominent on their early albums "Gift" and "Welcome". The first single on the album, and my song of the week, "Fractured (Everything I Said Was True)" is definitely one of my top 5 Taproot songs! In 2012, Taproot released their sixth major album, "The Episodes". Not only did they tour to support this latest release, in 2013, they also set out on a 13th year anniversary tour for their album "Gift". They played the whole album in it's entirety on this tour to celebrate that album. During the course of their musical career, Taproot has shared the stage with such contemporaries as 12 Stones, Ice Nine Kills, Cold, Staind, Chevelle and 30 Seconds To Mars. Currently, as I said earlier, the band had been touring to celebrate the release of "Gift" 13 years earlier. As for new material, there is nothing new to report on the Taproot front at this time. They seem to be a fairly active band so I don't foresee a long wait for new material to surface.
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Song: "Pictures & Computers (I'm Not Superman)"
Artist: Scott Weiland
Album: "Happy In Galoshes"
"Pictures & Computers (I'm Not Superman)" appears to be a song where the vocalist's imperfections are clearly outweighed by his partner's lies and abusive treatment towards him. It has been said that many of the songs written on "Happy In Galoshes" were about Scott Weiland's ex-wife and I believe this song is one of those. He is not the strong man that he once was and she has burned down the world he once knew. Scott Weiland's musical career began way back in 1986 at a Black Flag show in California. It was at this show where he met Robert DeLeo and formed the band Swing. DeLeo left the band shortly after but his brother Dean and drummer Eric Kretz joined Weiland to form Mighty Joe Young. After recording a demo, the band was signed by Atlantic Records in 1990 and officially changed their name to Stone Temple Pilots. 1992's "Core" and 1994's "Purple" put STP on the map, joining grunge stalwarts Nirvana and Pearl Jam at the top of the rock and roll world at that time. Weiland helped pen some of the biggest songs of that era such as "Wicked Garden", "Sex Type Thing", "Plush", "Big Empty" and "Interstate Love Song" to name a few. In 1995, Weiland formed the short-lived band, The Magnificent Bastards. This band only recorded two songs, "Mockingbird Girl" for the Tank Girl soundtrack and "How Do You Sleep" for a John Lennon tribute album. 1996 saw STP release "Tiny Music...Songs From A Vatican Gift Shop". Shortly after the release of this album STP went on a hiatus, mostly due to Weiland serving a stint in jail for heroin possession. This wouldn't be the first or the last time that Weiland's musical career would be stunted by his drug and alcohol abuse. He struggled with cocaine, heroin and even crack and has been in and out of numerous rehabs trying to get his life together. In 1998, Weiland released his very first solo album called "12 Bar Blues". This album was quite the departure from his STP sound. It spanned all kinds of genres, not solely focusing on hard rock. Being experimental didn't lead to being successful however, and the album did not do well, with critics or fans. In 1999, Weiland and STP dropped "No. 4", which featured singles "Down" and "Sour Girl". In 2000, Weiland performed "Break On Through" and "Five To One" with the remaining members of The Doors for VH1's Storytellers. STP would record "Break On Through" for The Doors tribute album "Stoned Immaculate" as well. 2001 saw STP drop their fifth album, "Shangri-La Dee Da". While touring for this album, an altercation happened between Weiland and Dean DeLeo that led to an indefinite hiatus of Stone Temple Pilots. In 2003, Weiland joined Slash and Duff McKagan to form the supergroup Velvet Revolver. This band dropped two albums, 2004's "Contraband" and 2007's "Libertad". Weiland helped write several hits for VR including "Set Me Free", "Slither", "I Fall To Pieces", "She Builds Quick Machines" and "The Last Fight". By 2008 however, conflicts between the band members and Weiland led to the break-up of Velvet Revolver. Weiland moved on from Velvet Revolver by releasing his second solo album, "Happy In Galoshes" in 2008. This album featured the single "Missing Cleveland" as well as the David Bowie cover, "Fame". The album continued on with Weiland's experimental side. 2008 also saw Stone Temple Pilots reunite and headline several major festivals. In 2010, STP released their self/titled album and embarked on a world tour to promote it. 2011 saw Weiland release "A Compilation Of Scott Weiland Cover Songs". This album featured Weiland covering various artists such as Nirvana, Radiohead, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and David Bowie. That same year he also released "The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year", which was a whole Christmas album. In 2012, Weiland remarked that he would like to reunite with Velvet Revolver. In fact, he saw no reason why he couldn't work with both STP and VR. Velvet Revolver did reunite for a one time, 3 song gig to raise money for deceased musician John O'Brien, but that's as far as the reunion went as the VR members still don't seem to want to work with Weiland anymore. More bad news came to Weiland in 2012 as he found out that the other members of STP basically fired him from the band and hired Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington to take his place. This led to ongoing legal action as to who actually has the rights to the STP brand, as Weiland is a founding member. In 2013, Weiland embarked on the "Purple At The Core" tour with his new band The Wildabouts. Currently, Weiland has said that The Wildabouts may release new material in the near future. He is also still in a legal battle with the other three members of Stone Temple Pilots. Despite all of his personal demons and constant conflicts with his past band members, there is no doubt that Scott Weiland is one of the best vocalists to come out of the 90's grunge explosion. Ironically, new STP frontman Chester Bennington calls Weiland one of his main influences. Whether with STP, Velvet Revolver or solo, Weiland is still influential and relevant in the music world today.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Song: "Until The Judgement Day"
Artist: Hawthorne Heights
Album: "Fragile Future"
"Until The Judgement Day", to me, appears to be about giving the defeated or the broken something to hold on to. It's giving those who feel like life has been cruel and unfair a glimmer of hope. It seems the vocalist is trying to galvanize this group and show them that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Hawthorne Heights formed as a band back in 2001, hailing from Dayton, Ohio. They were originally known as A Day In The Life and from 2001 to 2004, they released "Four Bullets For One Girl", which was a demo, "Nine Reasons To Say Goodbye" and an EP titled "Paper Chromatography: The Fade From Dark To Light". It was after this EP that the band decided to change their name to Hawthorne Heights. In 2004, the band signed with Victory Records and released their first album under their new moniker called "The Silence In Black And White". This album featured the singles "Ohio Is For Lovers" and "Niki FM", which helped the album to peak at #56 on the Billboard charts. In 2006, the band released their follow up album, "If Only You Were Lonely". This album debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts, backed by the hit single "Saying Sorry". In 2007, tragedy befell the band as rhythm guitarist Casey Calvert was found dead on the band's tour bus on November 24th. He is said to have died of a toxic mixture of prescription drugs. Through the band's mourning came the song "Four Become One", which would be featured on their "Fragile Future" album. The band and their record label were going through some issues but in 2008, they resolved them in order to release "Fragile Future". The first single from this album would be "Rescue Me". The band also released the EP, "Rhapsody Originals", which featured acoustic renditions of songs from "Fragile Future" as well as one song from "If Only You Were Lonely". Linkin Park invited Hawthorne Heights to be part of their Projekt Revolution tour that year as well. In 2010, Hawthorne Heights signed with Wind Up Records and released their fourth album "Skeletons". This album featured a return to unclean vocals which were provided by lead guitarist Micah Carli. Before Calvert passed away, he used to provide the unclean vocals to J.T. Woodruff's clean vocals. The first single off of "Skeletons" was "Nervous Breakdown". Victory Records also released a best of compilation in 2010 entitled "Midwesterners: The Hits". Of course, that album featured songs from Hawthorne Heights' Victory years. 2011 saw the band leave Wind Up Records and create their own label, Cardboard Empire. The band planned to release a trilogy of EP's under their new label. "Hate" would be released in 2011 and "Hope" would be put out in 2012. A third EP, however, was never released, at least not as of yet. In 2013, the band signed with Red River Entertainment and released their fifth full length studio album called "Zero". The band would support the album by playing every date on the 2013 Vans Warped Tour. Hawthorne Heights musical style has been called many things, emo, pop punk, screamo, etc. They're known for incorporating clean and unclean vocals on their songs. They belong to a genre that has many copy cats but Hawthorne Heights is a band that clearly stands out from the rest. They've also remained very active since officially becoming Hawthorne Heights, releasing five full length albums in a span of nine years. Currently, as I said, the band is fully supporting their latest effort, "Zero".
Sunday, November 3, 2013
Artist: Smile Empty Soul
Album: "More Anxiety"
"Holes" is a song that appears to be about trying to fill various voids in your life. Some people use religion to fill that void. Some people use drugs to fill the void as well. You get the sense from the vocalist that he wants to figure it out on his own and that he doesn't appreciate those who try to preach to him about how he should live. Everyone has voids to fill in life. I think he's saying that you have to find how to fill them yourself. Don't listen to those who judge. Smile Empty Soul formed as a band back in 1998 when the members where still attending various Santa Clarita, California high schools. Their demo eventually got into the hands of Lava Records who signed the band. They released their self/titled debut album in 2003 which featured the singles "Bottom Of A Bottle" and "Silhouettes". This album was certified gold in 2005, selling over 500,000 copies at that time. Smile Empty Soul had finished their second album "Anxiety" in 2005, but due to conflicts with Lava Records, the label shelved the album and it was a fight for the band to get the rights to it. The band encouraged fans to rip the album via torrent sites because, at that time, they couldn't release it themselves. In 2006, the band signed to independent label, Bieler Bros. Records. The band added second guitarist, Mike Booth, formerly of the band Cold. Their next album, "Vultures" debuted at #169 on the Billboard 200 and featured the single "The Hit". In 2007, the band and Mike Booth parted ways and Smile Empty Soul returned to being a three piece band. 2009 saw the band sign with F.O.F./EMI Records and release their fourth album, "Consciousness". This album featured the singles "We're Through" and "Faker". Also in 2009, the band finally got the rights to "Anxiety" and released it through Itunes. In 2010, the band released "More Anxiety", which was a special deluxe package featuring the full "Anxiety" album as well as demos, rare tracks and a bonus DVD. In 2012, the band signed to eOne Music and released "3's". This album features the song "Afterlife". Guitarist/vocalist and chief songwriter, Sean Danielsen would also release his first solo EP that year as well. In 2013, Smile Empty Soul returned with yet another new album, "Chemicals" which was released in October of that year and featured the single "False Alarm". Smile Empty Soul has been a very active band since their self/titled debut in 2003. Their songs have always had a darker edge to them and their lyrics are often filled with depressive themes where sometimes the light doesn't seem to be seen at the end of the tunnel. Currently, they are touring in support of their latest release "Chemicals".
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Song: "New Punk Fashions For The Spring Formal"
Artist: Dillinger Four
Album: "Situationist Comedy"
"New Punk Fashions For The Spring Formal" is a pretty straight forward song about how the punk rock movement slowly became less of a scene or an ideal and more of a fashion statement. Punk rock, like most anything, especially in the United States, started gaining steam and popularity so clever marketers swooped in and made it a fashion and made it corporate. The heart is still beating in the artists, but they are clearly not happy with the corporate takeover of all things punk. Dillinger Four formed as a band back in 1994, hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their first contributions to music came in the form of three EP's, 1995's "Higher Aspirations: Tempered and Dismantled", 1996's "The Kids Are All Dead" and 1997's "More Songs About Girlfriends And Bubblegum". In 1998, D4 released their first full length album called "Midwestern Songs Of The Americas" through Hopeless Records. In 1999, D4 and No Idea Records collaborated on the compilation "This Shit Is Genius". This album featured all the material the band recorded between 1994 and 1997 including their three EP's. 2000 saw the band release a split EP with Pinhead Gunpowder, Billie Joe Armstrong's (Green Day) side band as well as drop their second full length album through Hopeless Records entitled "Versus God". As 2002 rolled around, the band signed on with legendary punk label Fat Wreck Chords and released "Situationist Comedy". In 2003, D4 released their very first live album called "Live At First Avenue". Now begins the lull for the band. As early as 2006, Dillinger Four had said that a new album was just about done and they hoped to have it out that year. The thing that most people don't realize is that Dillinger Four is not the band's main source of income nor is it their main priority. D4 is an underground band and even with touring and whatever record sales they get, it's not enough to sustain the band member's everyday home life so when things come up, having kids, selling houses, etc., it takes a little longer to complete an album and sometimes the band is placed on the backburner. Along with the delays on their next album, their was also an internet leak of the album and all kinds of accusations between the record label, the press and the band. As with anything on the internet, the album got nabbed by peer to peer networks and various other music piracy sites much to the chagrin of Fat Wreck Chords, Dillinger Four and all who worked on the album. Ultimately, "Civil War" was released in 2008 officially. Currently, there is no new news to report on Dillinger Four. As I said before, all of the band members have other jobs and responsibilities at home that it is hard to focus on the band, especially when it doesn't provide enought financial stability to do so. That being said, they are still on the Fat Wreck band roster and they haven't come out and said that they were breaking up either. When the time is right, I'm sure D4 will come out with some new music. While being under the radar, they are a band that reminds me a little bit of The Lawrence Arms. Both bands use clever and funny song titles and though a lot of their songs are fun, skate punk anthems, they do mix in some songs that focus on social issues of the day as well.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Song: "Negative Creep" (live)
Album: "Live At Reading"
"Negative Creep" was originally released on Nirvana's album "Bleach" in 1989. The version I chose for my song of the week was taken from the 2009 release "Live At Reading", which was a recording of Nirvana's 1992 appearance at the Reading Festival, widely considered one of their best performances. Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain has said that the song is mostly about himself, in that he sees himself as a negative person and he kind of loathes that fact. Nirvana formed as a band back in 1987 in Aberdeen, Washington where Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic were classmates. In 1988, the band worked on their first demos, enlisting the help of Melvin's drummer, Dale Crover. The band eventually settled on Chad Channing on the drum kit. Nirvana released the single "Love Buzz" on the now famous indie label Sub Pop. In 1989, the group recorded their debut album "Bleach" for just under $700, which was supplied by Jason Everman, who was added to the band as a second guitarist. After embarking on their first tour, however, Everman was let go by the band. In late 1989, the band released the "Blew" EP. The band was unhappy with Sub Pop though and began to seek out major labels. In 1990, Nirvana began working with producer Butch Vig on new material. They also kicked Channing out of the band. For the single "Sliver", Nirvana was helped out by Mudhoney drummer Dan Peters. Melvins frontman, Buzz Osborne, introduced Cobain and Novoselic to Dave Grohl, who previously played for the Washington D.C. hardcore band Scream. Within two minutes of playing together, Cobain and Novoselic knew they had their drummer. Nirvana would eventually sign with major label DGC Records. Then the music world changed forever! 1991 saw the release of "Nevermind". With the help of the smash single and youth anthem, "Smells Like Teen Spirit", "Nevermind" blew up the charts. By Christmas, "Nevermind" was selling 400,000 copies a week in the United States. In 1992, the album leapfrogged Michael Jackson for the top spot on the Billboard album charts. "Nevermind" has gone on to sell more than 30 million albums worldwide and, to Cobain's dismay, made him the voice of "generation x" and put Nirvana at the forefront of the Seattle grunge movement, alongside Pearl Jam, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains. Everything was not all roses for the band at this time however. Tensions over songwriting royalties began to create a rift in the band. Eventually Grohl and Novoselic agreed to take less as Nirvana was Cobain's baby. In late '92, DGC released the compilation "Incesticide", which featured rare material and some old singles and covers. In 1993, the group decided that Steve Albini would produce the follow up to "Nevermind". Unhappy with some of the mixes, especially "Heart-Shaped Box" and "All Apologies", the band enlisted REM producer Scott Litt to remix some of the album. The final product would be "In Utero". This album debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts and sold 3.5 millions copies in the U.S. For their first U.S. tour in almost two years, Nirvana added Pat Smear, formerly of The Germs, as second guitarist. The band also performed on MTV Unplugged, which is just a classic performance, one of the best the series has ever produced. 1994 saw Nirvana tour Europe, their final show in Munich, Germany on March 1st. No one knew then that this would be Nirvana's final show ever. Three days after this show, Cobain was found unconscious by his wife, Courtney Love, in their Rome hotel room. After being rushed to the hospital, Cobain finally stabilized and was well enough to return home to Washington. At this time, Cobain's heroin addiction was taking complete control of him. His family and friends staged an intervention and he agreed to go to rehab. After less than a week, he escaped the rehab, flew back to Seattle and on April 8, 1994, was found dead in his home from a self inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Nirvana was done. Done from recording any new material at least. In late '94, "MTV Unplugged In New York" was released. This album would win a Grammy Award. The band also released "Live! Tonight! Sold Out!", which was a live dvd. In 1996, "From The Muddy Banks Of Wishkah" was released. This was a live compilation and the band's third album in a row to debut at #1. 2002 saw the release of "Nirvana", a best of compilation that featured the song "You Know You're Right", the very last song recorded by Nirvana. In 2004, the box set "With The Lights Out" was released. This set featured tons of unreleased material, including several early Cobain demo tracks. In 2005, the band released "Sliver: The Best Of The Box", a compilation of tracks from their box set, including three more unreleased tracks. 2009 saw the band release "Live At Reading", a cd/dvd of one of the band's greatest performances. That very same year, Sub Pop released a 20th anniversary special edition of "Bleach". DGC Records followed suit in 2011 and 2013 respectively on 20th anniversary deluxe editions of "Nevermind" and "In Utero". Though Nirvana's career was cut short by the suicide of Cobain, there is no doubt about the legacy they left behind. There are certain moments in rock and roll history that stand out as landmark moments. Beatlemania. Jimi at Monterey. Elvis' comeback special in '68. 1970's punk. "Nevermind" is one of those landmark times. Nirvana changed the musical landscape. In 2013, Nirvana was put on the ballot for the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame. No doubt, they should make it on their 1st time.
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Song: "To Be Someone"
Artist: Noel Gallagher
Album: "Fire & Skill: The Songs Of The Jam"
"To Be Someone" was a song that was originally written by Paul Weller and performed with his band The Jam. It was originally on their 1978 album "All Mod Cons". The Jam was a band that would go on to influence several British acts in the years following. One of those bands being Oasis, especially their chief songwriter and guitarist, Noel Gallagher. So when the time came for a The Jam tribute album, Noel Gallagher definitely wanted to be a part of it. His version of "To Be Someone" is excellent, with just Noel and his acoustic guitar. The song itself is about living the life of a superstar and all the glitz, glamour and attention that is bestowed upon you. It's also about how that star eventually fades and those people that were hanging on to you now want nothing to do with you and now you only have yourself. No more press. No more limos. No more fans. It's a fall from grace story. From 1988 to 1991, Noel Gallagher spent time as a roadie for the band Inspiral Carpets. In 1991, he was asked by his brother Liam to join his band, then called The Rain. They soon changed their name to Oasis and Noel joined under the assumption that he would take over complete control of the songwriting and the musical direction of the band, to which all the band members agreed. From 1991 to 2009, Gallagher and Oasis became one of the most prominent acts in rock and roll, and due to the enormous success of the band's 2nd album, "(What's The Story) Morning Glory", they were considered to be at the forefront of a new British Invasion. That album sold a whopping 22 million units worldwide. It was not all roses for Oasis however. Constant bickering and even physical confrontation between brothers Noel and Liam created constant tension between members of the band. There were a handful of times when Liam just wouldn't show up at certain shows or performances and Noel skipped out on some as well. Even though 2005's "Don't Believe The Truth" was something of a resurrection for the band, it was not enough to relieve the battles from within. In 2006, Noel embarked on a semi-acoustic tour which led him to play the U.K., Europe, Japan, America and Australia. This was quite the successful jaunt for Noel and maybe was the boost that led him to believe he could be just fine as a solo artist. In 2008, Noel returned to Oasis for their "Dig Out Your Soul" album, the least successful Oasis album of their career. After one last fight with brother Liam, Noel officially stated that he had left Oasis for good on August 28, 2009. That very same year, Itunes released "The Dreams We Have As Children" which was one of the concerts that was recorded during Noel's solo tour and was to benefit Teenage Cancer Trust on March 27, 2007 at Royal Albert Hall in London. On March 25th and 26th of 2010, Noel performed two more concerts to benefit Teenage Cancer Trust, once again at Royal Albert Hall. These would be the first two official shows for Noel post Oasis. 2010 also saw Noel collaborate with some other artists such as Miles Kane and his longtime friend, Paul Weller of The Jam. In 20l1, Noel Gallagher formed a new band called Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and released their self/titled album that very same year. The band's first single would be "The Death Of You And Me". Currently, Noel is very happy being in his new band and though he has had communication with his brother Liam, he has no plans to work with him any time soon which kind of puts an end to any Oasis reunion for those hopeful fans. Liam currently fronts his own band called Beady Eye as well. No word if Noel's High Flying Birds are working on any new material as of yet either. Say what you want about Oasis and their music, but you can't deny that they were one of the biggest acts from the mid-90's and into the 2000's. Their Beatles inspired Brit-pop was a stark contrast to the brooding, depressive feel of the grunge movement and they definitely carved out their own niche in the rock and roll world. As the main engine that drove Oasis, Noel Gallagher has to garner the most respect and that respect is definitely deserved.
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Song: "I'm In Love With A German Film Star"
Artist: Foo Fighters
Album: "Best Of You" CD Single (CD 1)
"I'm In Love With A German Film Star" is a cover song that was originally recorded by post-punk/dream pop band The Passions in 1981 and appeared on that band's album "Thirty Thousand Feet Over China". The Passions lead singer Barbara Gogan has stated that the song was written about Steve Connelly who was a roadie for The Clash and the Sex Pistols and also appeared in minor roles in German films. The Foo Fighters covered this song in 2005 and released as a b-side to their song "Best Of You". The Foo Fighters formed back in 1994, based in Seattle, Washington. Originally, this was just a project for Dave Grohl to keep his musical juices flowing following the tragedy of Kurt Cobain's suicide. Grohl, of course, was the drummer of Nirvana, which Cobain fronted. Grohl basically recorded every song on 1995's "Foo Fighters" by himself, playing every instrument. To tour, he recruited Nate Mendel on bass and William Goldsmith on drums, both of which played for Sunny Day Real Estate. He also recruited former Nirvana touring guitarist Pat Smear to join the band. The self-titled album spawned the singles "This Is A Call", "I'll Stick Around" and "Big Me". In 1997, the band released "The Colour And The Shape". Unhappy with the drum tracks, Grohl re-recorded the drums for the entire album, creating a rift between himself and Goldsmith. Ultimately, Goldsmith left the band and former Alanis Morrisette drummer, Taylor Hawkins was brought in to replace him. Pat Smear also left the band at this time and was replaced by Franz Stahl, who Grohl played with in the Washington D.C. punk band Scream. This album featured the singles "Monkey Wrench", "My Hero" and "Everlong", which really became the band's signature song. 1999 saw the band release "There Is Nothing Left To Lose". This album was recorded in Grohl's home studio in Virginia. The working relationship between the band and Stahl became strained during recording sessions for this album. Stahl was ultimately dropped from the band and the album was recorded as a three piece. "Learn To Fly" became the 1st single to reach the Billboard Hot 100 charts. Former No Use For A Name guitarist Chris Shiflett joined the band to replace Stahl at this time. In 2001, the Foo Fighters inducted Queen into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Grohl and Hawkins joined Queen to perform "Tie Your Mother Down" at the induction. In 2002, the Foo Fighters released "One By One". This was a sketchy time for the band. Grohl had played drums on Queens Of The Stone Age's album "Songs For The Deaf" and joined that band's supporting tour leaving the remaining members of the Foo Fighters wondering exactly what is the future of the band. The recording sessions for "One By One" were not going well and Grohl refused to release the material as it was not up to his standards. Luckily, the band got together in Grohl's Virginia studio to re-do the entire album until they were happy with final product. "One By One" spawned the singles "Times Like These" and "All My Life", which turned out to be a huge crowd pleaser! In 2005, the band released "In Your Honor". This was a double disc album, one disc featuring full out rock songs and the other featuring all acoustic material. The album featured the singles "Best Of You", "DOA" and "Resolve". The band also embarked on a small, intimate acoustic tour which ultimately led to the release of 2006's "Skin And Bones", which was the band's 1st live album that chronicled the highlights of this acoustic tour. Pat Smear rejoined the band during this acoustic tour and would stay with the band to this day as the third guitarist. 2007 saw the band release "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace" The 1st single, "The Pretender", topped the Billboard Modern Rock charts for a record 19 weeks. The album was also nominated for five Grammy's, winning two, Best Rock Album and Best Hard Rock Performance. On June 7, 2008, the Foo Fighters played to a sold out Wembley Stadium in England. The concert was the true highlight of the band's career and the cherry on top was performing two Led Zeppelin songs, "Rock And Roll" and "Ramble On" with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones. In 2009, the Foo Fighters released "Greatest Hits" which featured two new recordings, "Wheels" and "Word Forward". For the release of 2011's "Wasting Light", the band recruited former Nirvana producer Butch Vig. The album was recorded using analog, a process that has waned with the more efficient digital technology. "Wasting Light" became the first Foo Fighter album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts. The band also released a vinyl cover album titled "Medium Rare" on Record Store Day. A busy year for the Foo's, they also released the documentary DVD, "Back And Forth", which chronicled the history of the band, right up to the recording of "Wasting Light". Currently, Grohl has stated that the band has been working on new material in 2013 and hopes to have a new Foo Fighters album out some time in 2014. The Foo Fighters are one of the biggest bands out there today. Their hard rocking style is intertwined with their sense of good pop melody. They are not afraid to write a total sing-a-long pop song, or a grungy garage stomper. Dave Grohl is as respected as they come when it comes to music. He was arguably the best drummer in rock and roll, and now he is a great frontman, songwriter and guitar player as well. The Foo Fighters are still relevant, still influential as hell and still sitting at the top of the mountain when it comes to rock and roll bands!
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Song: "Unthought Known"
Artist: Pearl Jam
"Unthought Known" is a very uplifting song. It appears to be about being cognizant of how your decisions affect those around you. It's about overcoming negativity and really taking a step back to appreciate your surroundings, whether that is those you love or just the beauty of the environment itself, the sky, the stars or the ocean. The song vibes of positive energy, maybe something Pearl Jam was incapable of doing in years past. Pearl Jam, of course, was part of the grunge explosion of the early 90's. They formed in Seattle, Washington in 1990 out of the ashes of Mother Love Bone, which was the band that Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament were in before their lead singer Andy Wood died of a heroin overdose. After some healing from the tragedy, Gossard, Ament and guitarist Mike McCready began to jam. They gave a demo tape to former Red Hot Chili Peppers' drummer Jack Irons, who then sent the tape to Eddie Vedder and Pearl Jam was born. In 1991, the band release the landmark album "Ten". Thanks in part to hit singles "Alive", "Evenflow" and "Jeremy", "Ten" reached #2 on the Billboard charts and proceeded to stay on the charts for more than two years making it one of the highest selling albums ever. To this date it has gone platinum 13 times! 1992 featured some prominent shows for the band including the all acoustic performance on MTV Unplugged as well as joining bands Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ministry on the upstart Lollapalooza Festival. In 1993, Pearl Jam dropped "VS". This album sold 950,378 copies in the 1st week, outperforming all other entries in the top 10 that week combined! This proved to be a record for 1st week sales up until 1998 when country act Garth Brooks finally broke it. "VS" spawned the singles "Go", "Animal", "Daughter" and "Dissident". In 1994, Pearl Jam embarked on a long battle with Ticketmaster over service fees they charged which made the ticket prices go too high. This battle became more of a fiasco for the band as it proved to be way too hard to tour by alternative methods, playing alternative venues. This was a difficult time for the band no doubt. You wouldn't know about the tensions within the band when "Vitalogy" was released to record sales however. The single "Spin The Black Circle" won a Grammy but cracks in the armor were beginning to show. The first being the firing of long time drummer Dave Abbruzzese over philosophical differences. In 1995, the non-Ticketmaster tour almost killed the band entirely. Fan bases were not happy that the band was playing venues out of market and the tour was mostly a failure. The band, minus Eddie Vedder, backed up Neil Young on his "Mirror Ball" album and subsequent tour. PJ did manage to drop the EP "Merkin Ball" that year which featured the songs "I Got Shit" and "Long Road", the latter which featured Neil Young on pipe organ. 1996's "No Code" was a clear departure for the band. They were pulling back the reigns and the style of that album was much more subdued. Though it debuted at #1, it quickly fell down the charts. 1998 was somewhat of a rebirth for the band. They released "Yield" which was a more collaborative effort, all members bringing material to the table, not just Eddie. The band also reluctantly decided to work with Ticketmaster again and finally embark on a proper tour to support the album. The tour was a major success for the band and is highlighted on their "Live On Two Legs" album that dropped in '98 as well. In 1999, Pearl Jam had unexpected success when they released the obscure J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers cover, "Last Kiss". This song became their highest charting single to date. In 2000, PJ released "Binaural". This was the 1st album to feature Matt Cameron on drums, who replaced Jack Irons, who replaced Dave Abbruzzese. It was also the first album not to be produced by Brendan O' Brien and the 1st PJ album not to reach platinum status. PJ began releasing all of their live shows through "official bootlegs" at this time to offer the fans the highest quality recordings while keeping the price at a respectable level. At one point, Pearl Jam had 72 albums debut on the Billboard 200 at the same time, an official world record! On June 30, 2000, tragedy befell the band once again as 9 fans were trampled to death during their performance at Denmark's Roskilde Festival. On October 22, the band performed their 10th anniversary show at the MGM in Las Vegas. The band also released the "Touring Band 2000" DVD documenting some of their live performances during that tour. 2002 saw the band release "Riot Act", the 1st album to feature B3 organist Boom Gaspar, a friend of Eddie's from Hawaii. The band also received it's first real political backlash with their anti-George Bush song "Bushleaguer". 2003 saw the band leave longtime label Epic Records. They released a 2 disc b-sides and rarities compilation "Lost Dogs" and also a live dvd, "Live At The Garden" which was the band's July 8, 2003 perforance at Madison Square Garden in New York. 2004 saw the band embark on the Vote For Change tour, which featured other acts such as Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty to name a few. The tour was in support of getting Bush ousted from the Presidency in the upcoming election. The band also released the all acoustic live album, "Live At Benaroya Hall" as well as "rearviewmirror (Greatest Hits 1991-2003), their last official release through Epic. In 2006, the band performed a short live set at Easy Street Records and released the performance exclusively to independent record stores. At this time the band signed to Clive Davis' J Records to release their self/titled album "Pearl Jam". The single "World Wide Suicide" was the band's 1st #1 single since "Who You Are" in 1996. The band would go on to headline the Leeds and Reading Festivals that year as well. 2007 saw the band cover The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" and release their powerful version of the song as a single. The band would headline the rejuvenated Lollapalooza Festival that year as well as release the dvd "Immagine In Cornice" which documented that band's Italian shows from 2006. In 2008, PJ headlines the Bonnaroo Festival and also appeared on VH1's Rock Honors in tribute of The Who. They performed "Love Reign O'er Me" and "The Real Me". In 2009, not only did the band re-issue "Ten" with all kinds of bonus material, they also released their 9th studio effort "Backspacer". This album was the first since "No Code" to debut at #1. Brendan O' Brien was also back as producer of the album as well. This album was probably the most positive album ever released by Pearl Jam as evident in songs such as "The Fixer" and "Unthought Known". On October 31, 2009, the band played the last official performance at the Philadelphia Spectrum, which was torn down soon after. 2011 saw the release of "Live On Ten Legs", a live compilation of songs from tours between 2003 and 2010. It also marked the release of the Cameron Crowe directed "Pearl Jam Twenty", a documentary about the history of the band. On Labor Day weekend of that year, Pearl Jam played a festival in East Troy, Wisconsin to celebrate their 20th anniversary. Both nights featured a Temple Of The Dog reunion, as long time friend of the band Chris Cornell appeared at the event. Currently, Pearl Jam is about to drop their 10th studio album, titled Lightning Bolt, on October 15, 2013. They have already released the hard, punk edged single "Mind Your Manners" as well as the big, pop ballad "Sirens" from the new album. They plan to tour in support of "Lightning Bolt" in October and November and in 2014 will headline the Big Day Out festival in Australia and New Zealand. Pearl Jam has become one of the biggest American bands ever. Their influence reaches far and wide and you hear it in post grunge acts such as Seether and Staind as well as newer punk edged bands like The Gaslight Anthem. Along with fellow Seattle bands Nirvana, Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, they forever changed the musical landscape back in the 90's and they are still very much relevant today.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Song: "Angry Days" (acoustic)
Artist: Joey Cape
Album: "Liverbirds" Split EP w/ Jon Snodgrass
"Angry Days" is a song that appears to be how some people still try to hold on to ideals that they held back when they were young. The teenage angst or anger you felt as a 16 year old should probably dissipate over time. Usually, your life changes from being a teenager to when you are in your 30's. Your priorities change. This song is about the person who is so stuck in the "angry days" of his youth that everyone he considered a friend has grown up and drifted away from him. Time for him to grow up too! "Angry Days" was originally released in full punk form on the band Lagwagon's debut album, 1992's "Duh". Joey Cape is, of course, most famous for being the lead singer of skate punk icons Lagwagon. Hailing from California, Cape's musical career started back in 1989. The decade of the 90's saw Cape basically focus on Lagwagon. To this day, Lagwagon has released seven full length albums, four EP's, one box set, one live album and one compilation. In 1995, Cape, along with Spike Slawson of the Swingin' Utters, Fat Mike of NOFX and Chris Shiftlett, then of No Use For A Name and current Foo Fighter, created the all star cover band Me First & The Gimme Gimmes. Cape would play guitar for that band. In 2000, Cape and former Lagwagon drummer Derrick Plourde formed Bad Astronaut. This project was the first to feature the softer side of Cape as several songs focused on acoustic settings. Bad Astronaut released three full length albums and one split album but in 2005, Plourde committed suicide which basically ended that band for Cape. 2005 also saw Cape further his interest in acoustic sets when he and No Use For A Name lead singer Tony Sly released a split album which featured mostly acoustic renditions of Lagwagon and No Use songs. In 2008, Cape released his first solo full length album through Suburban Home Records entitled "Bridge". In 2009, Cape announced that he was working on his second album. He also joined The Revival Tour, which is an all acoustic tour created by Hot Water Music frontman Chuck Ragan and features several line-ups featuring punk vocalists such as Brian Fallon of Gaslight Anthem, Dave Hause of The Loved Ones, Chuck Ragan, Frank Turner and Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!, just to name a few. In 2010, Cape release one song a month. The culmination of these twelve songs would be the 2011 album, "Doesn't Play Well With Others". 2010 also saw the split release "Liverbirds" with Drag The River and Armchair Martian frontman Jon Snodgrass. This is the album that features the acoustic version of "Angry Days" which is my song of the week! Cape and Snodgrass would work together again, this time with Tony Sly of No Use and Brian Wahlstrom to form the band Scorpios. This was yet another acoustic project who released one album and have often toured together all over the world, especially in recent years. Though the members of Scorpios still go on tour together, tragedy befell the band and the rest of the punk world when Tony Sly passed away in his sleep in 2012. Before Sly's untimely death, he and Cape released "Acoustic: Volume Two". Like their first album together, this one featured more acoustic takes on No Use and Lagwagon material. Ever the busy man, Cape also formed the band Joey Cape's Big Loud. They released one album which basically featured full band, rockin' versons of songs that appeared on "Bridge" and "Doesn't Play Well With Others". Currently, Cape has shifted his focus back on his main band Lagwagon. They have been touring since the latter part of 2012 and in October of that year, Cape has stated that the band has never been playing better and he hopes to have a new Lagwagon album out sometime in 2013. Regardless, whether it's shows with Lagwagon, tours with Me First & The Gimme Gimmes or small solo acoustic tours, Joey Cape always seems to be hard at work on something. That same hard work has made Cape one of the most respected and influential figures in the skate punk scene for more than 20 years.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Song: "Song 13"
Artist: The Vacancies
"Song 13" reminds me of a guy doing his best to win over a girl, especially if the setting is a bar or club or something along those lines. The vocalist is trying to tell her to take a chance on him and he promises to show her the time of her life. Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, The Vacancies formed as a band in 2004. It was in that year that they released their debut album, "Gutpunch". While on tour in support of Joan Jett, The Vacancies so impressed the rock icon that she signed them to her own label Blackheart Records in 2005. Their first release under Blackheart was "A Beat Missing Or A Silence Added". This album was praised by most who were paying attention and, in fact, won Best Hard Rock Album at the 6th Annual Independent Music Awards in 2007. 2007 was also the year that The Vacancies released their latest album, "Tantrum". With their style rooted in punk rock, they do have a little "garage-y" feel to them as well. They are also a band that doesn't shy away from standing behind various social and political issues that they hold dear to their heart. While they never achieved headliner status, The Vacancies have supported some major acts in the punk world including Social Distortion, Joan Jett, The Buzzcocks, Adolescents, Street Dogs, Pennywise, Rise Against and The Casualties. They also have played on some of the biggest festivals in the world including The Warped Tour, Bamboozle Festival and South By Southwest Festival. Currently, there doesn't seem to be much going on inside The Vacancies' camp. Since 2008, they've been pretty much off the radar, especially when it comes to releasing studio material. A five year layoff is a long time, however, especially for a band that was still very much trying to find itself and it's audience. While there has been no word that The Vacancies have broken up, it doesn't look good that they've been basically dormant since 2008.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Album: "Let The Dominoes Fall"
On the surface, "Lulu" could be seen as a tribute to the women of soldiers who have to hold down the homefront while their husband's are overseas fighting wars. I think the song goes a little deeper than that. To me it appears "Lulu" is about how America is being lost or better yet, stolen by warmongers and corporations that work to snuff and stifle the middle class or the working people. Lulu represents what America is all about. The people who work and labor and try to provide for their families while bigger powers that be try to basically squash them, their hopes and their dreams. Rancid formed as a band back in 1991. Hailing from Berkeley, California, Rancid formed out of the ashes of legendary punk/ska outfit Operation Ivy. Former Operation Ivy members Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman toiled around in a few other bands until finally forming Rancid along with Brett Reed on drums. In 1992, Rancid released an EP through Lookout! Records. This caught the attention of Epitaph Records who went on to sign the band and released their self/titled debut in 1993. Around this time Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day co-wrote the song "Radio" with Armstrong and was even asked to join the band as a second guitarist but he declined the offer to focus on Green Day who was about to explode. Lars Frederiksen would ultimately join the band as second guitarist and vocalist. In 1994, the band released "Let's Go" which featured the song "Salvation". This album was the band's first to reach the Billboard 200 charts. It was also sparking interest from major labels as well, most notably Epic and Maverick, which was owned by pop star Madonna. The band decided to remain underground and stayed with Epitaph Records. In 1995, Rancid released the classic "...And Out Come The Wolves". This album would reach #45 on the Billboard 200 charts and in 1996, was certified gold, thanks in part to singles such as "Roots Radicals", "Time Bomb" and "Ruby Soho". In 1998, Rancid released "Life Won't Wait". This album is sometimes called their own personal "Sandinista", which was recorded by legendary punk band The Clash. Rancid dove into several different genres on "Life Can't Wait" such as punk, ska, reggae, dub, etc. Stylistically, it was their most diverse record. In 1999, Rancid signed with Tim Armstrong's own label, Hellcat Records which was basically a sub-label of Epitaph. Their first release on Hellcat was a second self/titled album in 2000. This album saw the band go back to their hardcore punk roots and offered less ska or reggae influence. In 2002, Rancid and NOFX released a split which featured both bands covering each other's songs. 2003 saw the band release "Indestructible" which was distributed by Warner Bros. records. At #15, this was Rancid's highest charting album to date. From 2004 to 2006, Rancid went on a bit of a hiatus and most members focused on various side projects, most notably Devil's Brigade (featuring Armstrong, Freeman and Reed), Transplants (featuring Armstrong), The Bastards (featuring Frederiksen) and Armstrong's solo material. In 2006, Reed decided to leave the band and was replaced on drums by Branden Steineckert, formally of The Used. 2007 saw the release of the compilation "B Sides and C Sides". This album featured mostly rare tracks and compilation songs over the years. 2009 saw the band release "Let The Dominoes Fall". In the late 2000's, Rancid began taking longer and longer between album releases. Between 2009 and 2012, the band did do extensive touring but also focused on their many side projects as well. In 2012, some three years after the band released anything, they offered a free download of a new song titled "Fuck You". The band also offered a box set of all their albums and compilations titled "Rancid Essentials". Currently, Rancid began recording their new album in February of 2013. In June of 2013, Frederiksen announced that the album should be out in either late 2013 or early 2014. For more than twenty years, Rancid has become one of the most influential and respected punk bands that are on the scene. Though they release music more sporadically than in the past, between their plethora of side projects and their own material, it's quite easy to get a fix if you're yearning for all things Rancid!
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Song: "The Vulture (Act I & II)"
Album: "Grey Britain"
Usually I try to interpret the lyrics of my song of the week by saying a little about what I think the song may be about. But with "The Vulture (Act I & II)", I'll write exactly what the songwriter, Frank Carter, said it is about. Here's Carter's quote regarding "The Vulture (Act I & II)", "I was thinking about all the forgotten children who die before their parents, and this song is about one of those poor bastards becoming Death's apprentice". There ya go!! Gallows are an English hardcore punk band that formed back in 2005. In 2006, the band released their debut album, "Orchestra Of Wolves". This album caught the attention of Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz, who also owns Epitaph Records. Gallows and Gurewitz worked out a deal for the album to be distributed in the United States by Epitaph. Gurewitz went on to say that "Orchestra Of Wolves" was the best hardcore album since the Refused's "The Shape Of Punk To Come". 2007 was a year that Gallows worked the festival circuit hard. They appeared at the South By Southwest festival, the Warped Tour, Download festival, Taste of Chaos tour and the Reading festival all in that year. The band's single, "Staring At The Rude Bois", a Ruts cover, was the band's first UK Top 40 single. In 2008, the band made the song "Gold Dust" available for free download through their MySpace page. This song was not set to appear on the band's next album. 2009 saw the release of "Grey Britain". This album was released by Warner Bros. marking it their major label debut. Their relationship with Warner Bros. would only last one album however as the band and the label parted ways some time after the release of "Grey Britain". "The Vulture (Act I & II) was the first single released off of this album. Gallows wound up doing some support tours for acts such as AFI and Rage Against The Machine while supporting "Grey Britain". In 2011, lead vocalist Frank Carter decided to leave the band amid conflicts about the musical direction of Gallows. If you've heard Carter's later project, Pure Love, you can sense that he wanted his music to be more accessible and radio friendly, but maintain a certain garage feel. Gallows was a hardcore band, plain and simple, and the other members wanted it to stay that way. Carter played his last show with the band on July 23, 2011 in London. The band decided to replace Carter with former Alexisonfire frontman Wade MacNeil. His first recording with the band was a forty second track entitled "True Colours" which was a free download. In December of 2011, the band released a four track EP called "Death Is Birth". In 2012, the band released the full length "Gallows", the first full length album to feature their new vocalist. This album was distributed in North America by Bridge Nine Records. Gallows are very well respected in the hardcore music scene. Time is going to tell how well the band will be received after the departure of Frank Carter. He was an intregal part to the band's sound and songwriting and you can tell when you compare their first two albums to their third. By saying this, I'm not saying that the band is a disappointment with MacNeil on vocals, I'm just saying it's not the same. Currently, there's been no new updates as to whether Gallows is at work on new material at this time. I'm sure they are still doing some shows in support of their 2012 self/titled release.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Song: "Stop Whining"
Album: "Perhaps, I Suppose"
Some say that "Stop Whining" is a song that bashes the "emo" scene. It takes offense to the whiney kids who act like they are always depressed and suicidal just to get attention. The vocalist is basically telling this person to grow up and think about the consequences of the things they say. Think about the people you would affect if you really did commit suicide. Think about others for once instead of only thinking about yourself. Rufio is a pop punk band that formed back in 2000. They are from California. The band hooked on with record label The Militia Group early on and in 2001 released their debut album, "Perhaps, I Suppose". In 2003, the band moved on to Nitro Records and released their second album, "MCMLXXXV". This album garnered them their first appearance on the famed Warped Tour. 2005 saw the band release "The Comfort Of Home". This album showed their sound mature a bit from their earlier releases and is my personal favorite of the band. Fractures in the foundation began to appear in Rufio in 2006. The band was forced to pull out of a tour supporting No Use For A Name amid various line-up changes and inner turmoil. In 2007, it was announced via the band's MySpace page that they would play one show on June 1, 2007 at the Glass House in Pomona, California, then embark on a farewell tour through South America. The band did reunite, however, to record and release their fourth full length album, "Anybody Out There", in 2010. This marked a return to The Militia Group for Rufio. Rufio also released "The Loneliest" EP in 2010 as well. After some touring in support of "Anybody Out There", it was decided in 2012 that the band would be no longer as Rufio officially announced their break-up. Currently, most of the band members are focused on other projects and it appears as though Rufio is a done deal. The band never really broke through and got the recognition that similar bands got. It appeared to be an uphill battle for Rufio from the very start of their musical career. They chugged along but could never quite get over the hump.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Song: "We Are Not The World"
Album: "A Shipwreck In The Sand"
To understand what "We Are Not The World" is all about is to understand that "A Shipwreck In The Sand" is a concept album. Without explaining too much about the whole album, it's basically about betrayal. The vocalist's partner has been caught cheating on him with his best friend and all he has left is their daughter, the only thing that keeps him going. The betrayal sparks rage in the vocalist, however, and he sets his partner's house ablaze. "We Are Not The World" is basically the scene when he is on trial for arson and when he finds out that they are taking his daughter away from him because of the crime he committed. Silverstein formed as a band back in 2000, hailing from Ontario, Canada. In 2000, they self-released an EP called "Summer's Stellar Gaze". After some line-up changes, the band independently released another EP entitled "When The Shadows Beam" in 2002. It was after this EP that the band signed with Victory Records. 2003 saw the band released their very first full length album, "When Broken Is Easily Fixed". This album featured six songs from their independent EP's that were re-recorded as well as some new material. In 2005, Silverstein appeared to have a more energetic and punky sound with their release of "Discovering The Waterfront". The band started to play some major tours after this album alongside bands such as Aiden, Hawthorne Heights, Bayside and Simple Plan. In 2006 the band released the compilation album "18 Candles: The Early Years". This album featured the band's first two EP's as well as some b-sides, re-recorded songs, acoustic tracks and remixed versions of songs. The band also played on it's very first Warped Tour that year. 2007 saw the release of "Arrivals & Departures". The band toured for nearly a year and a half in support of this album including the band's first stops in Australia and South America. In 2009, Silverstein released "A Shipwreck In The Sand". As I said before, this album was a concept album about betrayal. In 2010, Silverstein filmed and recorded a couple of shows they played in Toronto for a live cd/dvd release. This release would be called "Decade (Live At The El Mocambo)". After this release, the band officially left Victory Records. In 2011, Silverstein signed with Hopeless Records. Their first release with their new label was the EP "Transitions". This EP featured two new songs that were going to be on their upcoming album as well as three b-sides. That upcoming album would turn out to be 2011's "Rescue". Vocalist Shane Told said that this album would feature tons of screaming and musical breakdowns. In 2012, the band released the EP "Short Songs". This album featured songs that basically were no longer than one minute long. The album also featured Silverstein doing some cover songs, most notably a Green Day song and a NOFX song. 2013 saw the band release their sixth full length album entitled "This Is How The Wind Shifts". In support of this album, Silverstein decided to play the entire Warped Tour. In almost 13 years as a band, Silverstein has released six full length albums, one compilation album, one live album and five EP's. They have also toured relentlessly during that time. They have been labeled everything from post-hardcore to emo to punk to screamo. Whatever, they have stood the test of time and have distinguished themselves as a band that is at the front of the pack, not following behind it like so many similar sounding bands. Currently, they are in full support of their new album "This Is How The Wind Shifts" and if they are true to form, they will probably release a new album in 2015, as they have basically put out a new album every two years.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Song: "Moment Of Surrender"
Album: "No Line On The Horizon"
"Moment Of Surrender" is a song about a drug addict undergoing a crisis of faith. The term "moment of surrender" is a common phrase that addicts refer to when they finally reach a point that they come to terms with the fact that they are an addict and that they need help. Those who go through addiction often wind up questioning their faith, whether that be faith in God or faith in humanity or even moreso, faith in themselves. U2 formed as a band back in 1976. The band members, vocalist Bono, guitarist The Edge, bassist Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen Jr. were all classmates in a school in Dublin, Ireland when they formed the band. Though the band's influences were rooted in punk rock such as The Clash, The Jam and the Buzzcocks, their early sound was more in line with the British new wave movement. In 1979, the band released the EP "Three", which was only released in Ireland. By 1980, the band signed a contract with Island Records and released their first full length album, "Boy". This album would feature the band's first U.S. hit single, "I Will Follow". In 1981, the band released "October". Bono, The Edge and Mullen almost left the band at this time due to a conflict with their spirituality and them being rock stars. Luckily, the band felt that they can continue being in a rock band and still maintain their spiritual beliefs. In 1983, the band featured a harder edged sound with their album "War". This was especially true on their hit single "Sunday Bloody Sunday". The band also recorded a live album and video called "Under A Blood Red Sky" at this time. 1984's "The Unforgettable Fire" was the band's attempt to get more ambient and experimental. The album featured the single "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" which became the first single to chart in the U.S. Top 40. In 1985, U2 performed at Live Aid which was a huge benefit concert to aid in the Ethiopian famine relief effort. 1997 was a pivotal moment for the band. "The Joshua Tree" was released and topped the Billboard 200 charts for nine straight weeks. "With Or Without You" and "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" were the band's first #1 singles and the album went on to win two Grammy Awards. "The Joshua Tree" was very much inspired by American culture and especially American music, most notably rhythm and blues and soul. In 1998, as a coninued homage to American music, the band released "Rattle And Hum". This album would feature live material as well as some studio tracks, some recorded in Memphis' famous Sun Studios, where Elvis Presley's early recordings were made. In 1991 the band released "Achtung Baby". This album marked one of the most trying times for the band. Internal conflicts about musical direction nearly split the band apart. It wasn't until the band got together in the studio to work on the landmark song "One" that the tensions began to dissipate and unity amongst the band members was once again apparent. "One" literally saved the band. In 1992 and 1993, U2 embarked on the ambitious "ZooTV" tour. The tour represented the sensory overload that is the digital age. In 1993, the band released "Zooropa". The band had mixed feelings about this album and felt it was more of an interlude rather than a proper album. 1995 saw the release of "Passengers". This album received poor reviews, the only highlight being "Miss Sarajevo" which featured Pavarotti on vocals. In 1997, the band released "Pop", an album which focused on tape loops, electronic programming and samples. This album felt like it was hurried and some felt it was a disappointment. The band did play a show in Sarajevo after the Bosnian War was over however. This proved to be a real highlight for the band. In 2000, the band finally decided to get back to their roots and make a great rock and roll record. This album would be "All That You Can't Leave Behind". This album debuted at #1 in 22 different countries. Thanks to hit singles like "Beautiful Day" and "Elevation", the album won three Grammy's. In 2002, U2's performance at halftime of SuperBowl XXXVI was an epic performance and touching tribute to the victims of 9/11. It is considered the greatest halftime show in SuperBowl history. In 2004, the band released "How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb". This album doubled the record sales in one week of it's previous album setting a record. In 2005, U2 was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. In 2009, the band released "No Line On The Horizon". The sales for this album were low by U2's standards and it was really their only album which didn't feature a hit single. To promote the album, the band embarked on their "U2 360" tour. Lasting two years, this was the highest grossing tour ever. For over 30 years, U2 has been one of the biggest bands in the world. Though at times, their drastic stylistic changes turned off some fans at times, they eventually always seem to get back to their roots and make some great songs and albums. The band is not afraid to wear their activism on their sleeves, or their spirituality, and their fame has allowed them to support several causes that they hold dear to them. Currently, it has been said that they are at work on a new album which they hope to have released some time in 2013.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Song: "Where We Breathe"
Artist: Boys Night Out
Album: "Broken Bones And Bloody Kisses"
Some say "Where We Breathe" is based on a book titled "Henry: Portrait Of A Serial Killer". The song follows a relationship where the girl's worst day is better than the vocalist's best day. Though he tries to show that this doesn't grate on him, it is, in fact, eating him on the inside. He's at the point where he's ready to veer off the road and watch her die in the cold November water. Clearly, the vocalist is murderous. Boys Night Out formed as a band back in 2001, hailing from Ontario, Canada. In the early days of the band, as shown from my song of the week "Where We Breathe", the band kind of fit into the post-hardcore scene, with screaming vocals and a bit heavier sound. They released an independent demo called "You Are My Canvas" in 2001. This got the band signed to One Day Savior Records and in 2002, the band released the EP "Broken Bones And Bloody Kisses". Interest in the band began spreading rapidly and eventually they signed with Ferret Records. In 2003, the band released their full length debut album "Make Yourself Sick". The band's sound was notably lighter and more pop orientated with the release of this album. The album did, however, garner the band a supporting slot on My Chemical Romance's tour. It also marked the first time the band was invited to play the Warped Tour. Boys Night Out was also featured on the Nintendo Fusion tour around this time with fellow bands Motion City Soundtrack and The Starting Line. In 2005, the band released an ambitious concept album entitled "Trainwreck". The album follows a story of a man who loses his sanity, murders his wife and chops his hands off so that he can't murder again. The album is like a conversation between the man and his doctor. In 2007, the band released their self titled "Boys Night Out" album. This album featured the single "Up With Me". Thoughout their career as a band, Boys Night Out has been kind of a revolving door of band members. They never seemed to be able to keep a consistent line-up through the years. In 2009, after almost two years of not playing live shows or releasing any new material, the original five members of Boys Night Out played a one off show on October 24th in Toronto. They played "Broken Bones And Bloody Kisses" and "Make Yourself Sick" in their entirety at this show. Shorly after this performance, a message was left on the band's Facebook page stating that they are currently label free and they are enjoying the freedom of not having to be forced to have material done by a certain date. They are expectation free. Though they did not mention a break up, they did hint at a bit of a hiatus from playing live or recording any material at the time. In 2013, Boys Night Out lead singer, Conner Lovat-Fraser stated that he didn't believe the band would be getting back together. Fans got a glimmer of hope when it was announced on the band's Twitter account that the band had indeed just finished recording a brand new album. Two days after this tweet, however, the band said that their Twitter account was hi-jacked and they shot down any hopes of a new album. They also declared that the band has officially broken up. Currently, nothing more to really write about the band. They have broken up. Sometimes, it seems that some bands struggle to find their musical identity. I put Boys Night Out in this category. Do they want to be screamo or do they want to be melodic pop? I know bands want to grow and change and explore new territory, but it seemed with every release, Boys Night Out was changing their style dramatically. Hard to gain a solid fan base following when your sound is all over the place. I personally thought the band's highlight was "Trainwreck". Loved the concept and storyline of that album but still, Boys Night Out was just one in the pack. They never really stepped to the front of that pack, they just fell in line.