Sunday, February 24, 2013

Song Of The Week: 2/24/13

Song: "The Arsonist"

Artist: Thrice

Album: "The Alchemy Index: Vols. I & II - Fire & Water"

Year: 2007

"The Arsonist" appears to be a song about how someone is so sick and disgusted at how his city has seemed to almost decay before his very eyes. He just wants to take a match and gasoline to his city to burn it to the ground and rebuild it in the image he remembers. He doesn't hate the city, in fact, he loves it. He loves the foundation of it. He just hates what it's become and wants it to be like it once was. Thrice formed as a band back in 1998. It was a creation of two high school classmates, Dustin Kensrue (guitars/vocals) and Teppei Teranishi (guitars). After rounding out the line-up, the band self released their first EP, "First Impressions", in 1999. In 2000, Thrice released their very first full length album, "Identity Crisis". 2002 saw the release "The Illusion Of Safety". This album saw Thrice go out on their very first headlining tour as well as several other tours supporting such acts as Further Seems Forever, Face To Face and Hot Water Music. The band also would sign with Island Records at this time. Thrice released their major label debut with Island in 2003. "The Artist In The Ambulance" saw Thrice gain an even bigger level of success, thanks in parts to the singles "All That's Left" and "Stare At The Sun". In 2004, Thrice released the cd/dvd "If We Could Only See Us Now" which featured various b-sides from "The Artist In The Ambulance". At this point in Thrice's musical career, they heavily leaned on almost a hardcore/punk style featuring heavy guitars and faster melodies. When it was time to release 2005's "Vheissu", the band decided it wanted to shift musically and lyrically, using more instrumentation as well as using biblical and spiritual lyrical themes. Their shift in style definitely shows through songs such as "Image Of The Invisible" and "Red Sky". Before embarking on their next project, Thrice decided to leave Island Records and sign with Vagrant Records. Their next two albums were a concept of sorts. All the songs were based around four elements, fire, water, earth and air. This project was called "The Alchemy Index". The first two volumes, "Fire & Water" was released in 2007 while the next two volumes, "Earth & Air" would be released in 2008. "The Alchemy Index: Vols. I & II - Fire & Water" peaked at number five on iTunes top selling albums at the time. The band also released a live cd/dvd called "Live At The House Of Blues" in 2008 as well. For the band's next album, 2009's "Beggars", they made it a point to feature more upbeat and energetic music as they felt "The Alchemy Index" had a somewhat sleepy feel to them. In 2011, Thrice released "Major/Minor". It was after this album that Thrice announced that they would be going on an indefinite hiatus. Lead vocalist Dustin Kensrue has stated that the band has not broken up, but that they needed a break from being a full time band. Before going on this hiatus however, the band embarked on a "farewell" tour in 2012. The would also release a live album entitled "Anthology" which documented the tour and was like a gift to their faithful fan base. Kensrue's life has become more and more dedicated to his spiritual side, as he and his wife would move up to Washington State, where Kensrue would become the worship leader of the Mars Hill Church. He also has a new band up there called The Modern Post, which plays spiritual based music. Even with Thrice, Kensrue's lyrics began focusing more on faith so it's no surprise he has gone in this direction. Currently, there is nothing new to report on Thrice. The only hope is that the band members have not officially said that the band is no more. Hopefully, somewhere down the line, Thrice decides to resurface and take the musical world by storm again as they were a really top notch band. Keep your fingers crossed!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Song Of The Week: 2/17/13

Song: "Bury Me In Black"

Artist: My Chemical Romance

Album: "Life On The Murder Scene"

Year: 2006

"Bury Me In Black" appears to be a drunk filled tirade pointed at someone the vocalist knows, but perhaps has fallen out of favor with. To me, it seems that because the vocalist is in a alcoholic state of misery and depression, he seems to be pissed off at this other person, who maybe thinks that he or she is better than him or more perfect in a way. The vocalist thinks this person is just as ugly as he is on the inside and you would see it if you can peel back his or her "perfect" exterior. My Chemical Romance formed as a band back in 2001, hailing from New Jersey. Just three months after their formation, the band caught the ear of fellow New Jersey musician, Geoff Rickley, who is the frontman of the band Thursday. Rickley would produce My Chemical Romance's first full length album, 2002's "I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love". In 2003, M.C.R. signed with major label Reprise Records and in 2004, released "Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge". This was the album that shot the band to super stardom, going platinum thanks in part to the hit singles "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)", "Thank You For The Venom", "Helena" and "The Ghost In You". In 2005, My Chemical Romance got the opening slot on Green Day's "American Idiot" tour. 2006 saw the band release their very first live cd/dvd entitled "Life On The Murder Scene". As work began on the band's next project, My Chemical Romance wanted to create a concept album. In 2007, M.C.R.'s concept album was released called "Welcome To The Black Parade". This was supported on the "Welcome To The Black Parade World Tour" which featured supporting bands Rise Against, Thursday and Muse. In 2007, the band was also nominated for Best Alternative Group at the American Music Awards. The band would put out a live cd/dvd, their second, called "The Black Parade Is Dead", which chronicled their major world tour in support of the "Black Parade" album. In 2009, My Chemical Romance covered the Bob Dylan tune, "Desolation Row" which was featured in the "Watchmen" movie. They turned this Dylan song into an old school, gritty, snarly punk rocker of a song, one of my personal favorites by the band!! 2010 saw M.C.R. release their fourth full length album, entitled "Danger Days: The Lives Of The Fabulous Killjoys". At this time in their career, the band wanted to focus less on theatrics and concepts and really make a stripped down rock and roll record. They definitely wanted to put the major focus back on the music and less on the imagery of the band. In 2012, the band came up with the "Conventional Weapons" project. What this was, basically, were ten unreleased tunes dating back to 2009 which would be released two songs at a time for five months, the final installment being in February of 2013. My Chemical Romance's music can be labeled many things, alternative rock, goth punk, emo (though the band HATES being called "emo"), though they are clearly influenced by bands such as Queen, Black Flag, Misfits, Joy Division and The Smashing Pumpkins. The Pumpkins comparison is definitely a worthy one, M.C.R. having just a little more of a punk edge to them however. Currently, as of October of 2012, My Chemical Romance has been working on new material for what will be their fifth studio full length. I'd expect a new album at some point in 2013.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Song Of The Week: 2/10/13

Song: "Summer's End"

Artist: Foo Fighters

Album: "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace"

Year: 2007

"Summer's End" is a song that appears to be about longing through a lonely winter, looking forward to the coming summer because the summer is when the vocalist is going to be reunited with someone he is very close with. It seems he's getting through the winter days by hoping for summer to come to be with this person. The Foo Fighters formed as a band back in 1994, their origins being in Seattle, Washington. Back in 1992, Dave Grohl was still entrenched as the drummer for Nirvana, but in his spare time, he would record a bunch of demos, playing all instruments himself. Some of these demos surfaced on a cassette called "Pocketwatch". With the tragic suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in 1994, Nirvana would obviously no longer continue on. Grohl had several offers to become the drummer of several bands but he refused, instead focusing more on his own project, now called Foo Fighters. 1995's debut self titled album is basically Dave Grohl by himself. To tour, he recruited ex-Nirvana guitarist Pat Smear as well as bassist Nate Mendel and drummer William Goldsmith of Sunny Day Real Estate, Grohl handling vocals and guitar duties as well. For 1997's "The Colour And The Shape", it was much more a group effort, however, Grohl was not satified with the drum parts and wound up re-recording them himself. Though Grohl would offer Goldsmith a chance to stay on as touring drummer, Goldsmith was clearly not happy and decided to leave the band. The drummer spot would be filled by Taylor Hawkins, who formerly played in Alanis Morrisette's band. Just as a new member entered, yet another member decided to call it quits however, as Pat Smear decided to leave citing exhaustion. He was replaced by Franz Stahl, whom Grohl played with in his pre-Nirvana days in a band called Scream. When recording began for the Foo's next album, 1999's "There Is Nothing Left To Lose", it seemed that Grohl, Mendel and Hawkins were moving in one direction and Stahl was pushing in another. Painfully, Grohl had to decide to kick out his longtime friend and bandmate Stahl in order for the album to move forward. This album would be completed basically as a three piece. When it came time to tour to support the album, the Foo's settled on Chris Shiflett, former No Use For A Name guitarist, to join the band. The recording process for 2002's "One By One" was extremely strenuous and painstaking. The band was probably at it's lowest point internally. The recordings they had worked on for the new album were not good and tensions were mounting almost to the point where the band almost broke up. The guys decided to re-record the tracks at their own studio and it brought total new life to the songs, as well as the band. Grohl had planned on doing a solo acoustic album after "One By One", but the project soon became a full band effort. 2005's "In Your Honor" would basically be two discs, the first one a full rock effort, while the second one would be a stripped down, acoustic set. In 2006, the Foo's would embark on an all acoustic concert tour, featuring strings and keyboards as well. This tour was captured on the 2006 live album "Skin And Bones". The acoustic tour also saw the return of Pat Smear on guitar, making the Foo Fighters a five piece band now. 2007 saw the release of "Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace", an album that was nominated for five Grammys. The single "The Pretender" from that album topped the Billboard Modern Rock charts for nineteen weeks. The band's continued rise to the top of the rock and roll mountain culminated with a sold out performance at London's enormous Wembley Stadium. Even Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones joined the Foo's on stage at this show to perform a couple Zep hits. Grohl himself considers this the pinnacle of his musical career. 2009 saw the release of a greatest hits album, including two new tracks, "Wheels" and "Word Forward". For recording their next album, 2011's "Wasting Light", Grohl recruited Butch Vig to produce. Vig also produced the Nirvana classic "Nevermind". The recording was done all in analog and the studio was set up in Grohl's garage. The band also put out a DVD called "Back And Forth". This chronicled the history of the band, the ups and downs and finally, the recording process of the new album, "Wasting Light". For nearly twenty years, the Foo Fighters have become arguably the best rock and roll band of the current era. Their popularity has seemed to increase from album to album. After all these years, they are still very much relevent. They are still the bar which all other bands are measured. Even though they sort of came out of the ashes of Nirvana, you could definitely make an argument that they have surpassed them. Definitely not the initial impact of what Nirvana was, but the Foo's definitely deserve all the respect they get. Just look at the classic songs they put out. "I'll Stick Around", "This Is A Call", "Big Me", "Everlong", "My Hero", "Monkey Wrench", "Learn To Fly", "Stacked Actors", "All My Life", "Times Like These", "Best Of You", "Resolve", "Miracle", "The Pretender", "Let It Die", "Long Road To Ruin", "Walk", "Rope" and "These Days", just to name a few!! Currently, while Grohl is set to tour as the drummer for Queens Of The Stone Age, he has been quoted in January of 2013 as saying that the Foo's have written and recorded some material that will be part of their eight studio album. Stay tuned!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Song Of The Week: 2/3/13

Song: "Running Joke"

Artist: Queens Of The Stone Age

Album: "Era Vulgaris" (Bonus Track)

Year: 2007

"Running Joke" appears to be a song about how when you are young, through your imagination, there seems to be endless possibilities. A child's imagination doesn't seem to have any barriers or pitfalls attached to it. You can be anything you want to be, anywhere you want to be. You can aim as high as you want. As you grow older, you start to realize your own limitations and, perhaps, the dreams you once thought could come true become distant memories and your current reality could be quite harsh. "Running Joke" was a bonus track taken from the "Era Vulgaris" sessions that could be found as an Itunes bonus song or on the Japan and UK versions of "Era Vulgaris". Queens Of The Stone Age formed as a band out of the ashes of the band Kyuss back in 1996. Vocalist and guitarist Josh Homme is really the only constant member in the band as it usually has a revolving door of other artists and contributors. To name a few of the people that have either played on entire albums with Queens or have just contributed here and there are Troy Van Leeuwen, Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters), Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top), Mark Lanegan (Screaming Trees), Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam), Nick Oliveri, Rob Halford (Judas Priest), Alain Johannes, and Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails). Queens Of The Stone Age's very first release as a band was 1996's EP "Gamma Ray". Shortly after they released their debut full length album "Queens Of The Stone Age" in 1998. 2000 would see the band begin to hit their stride with the release of "Rated R". Their popularity began to rise on the heels of the drug inspired single "Feel Good Hit Of The Summer". In 2002, "Songs For The Deaf" was released and the album would wind up achieving gold status, thanks in part to the Grammy nominated hit singles "No One Knows" and "Go With The Flow". This album also featured the drumming of Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters but would also be the last album to feature bassist and fan favorite Nick Oliveri. 2005 saw the release of "Lullabies To Paralyze" which debuted at number five on the Billboard Music Charts. The band also released their very first live cd/dvd that year entitled "Over The Years And Through The Woods". In 2007, the band released their fifth studio album, "Era Vulgaris". After ten plus years of recording and touring, between 2009 and 2011 the band took a little break from each other. Most members began taking up various side projects, most notable of these was Them Crooked Vultures which featured Josh Homme on guitar and vocals, Dave Grohl on drums and legendary musician John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin on bass and various other instruments. Homme also found time to remaster, re-package and re-release Queens Of The Stone Age's first two albums, the self titled and "Rated R". In 2012, it was also announced that the band was back in the studio, hard at work on what will be their sixth studio album. Dave Grohl has officially signed on the be the band's drummer on the new album as well. Currently, the hope was to have the new album released in late 2012. However, it's looking more and more like new music will see the light sometime in early 2013. Be sure to expect more of the same big guitar riff orientated rock and roll that compares itself more to the likes of Led Zeppelin than most of the band's contemporaries!