Sunday, April 28, 2013
Song: "Project X"
Artist: Smackin' Isaiah (A Wilhelm Scream)
Album: "Give Girls More Beer"
"Project X" is a lighthearted song that appears to be about a project to cure the unbearable stench of one of their classmates. Back in the day, the band that would become A Wilhelm Scream, had a much lighter sound to them, mixing a skate punk and at times ska sound, almost like Less Than Jake. The band that they are today is more like the hardcore sounds of a Propagandhi. The beginnings of A Wilhelm Scream date back to 1996. Hailing from New Bedford, MA, the band formed under the name Koen. Koen released one demo cassette titled "The Big Fall". In 1997, the band changed their name to Smackin' Isaiah and released "Give Girls More Beer". In 1998, Smackin' Isaiah released "Gets Eaten Alive". These two releases helped the band get signed by Tank Records. Between 2000 and 2002, the band released a split EP with the bands Moronique and Merrick called "6:6:6". They also released what the band called their first "real" release entitled "The Way To A Girl's Heart Is Through Her Boyfriend's Stomach". Lastly, the band put out "Benefits Of Thinking Out Loud". This album started showing the signs of where the band would be headed musically, a heavier edge was starting to evolve in the band's sound. In 2002, the band was signed by Jump Start Records. With their change in sound, the band also decided to change their name. A Wilhelm Scream was born. Jump Start would re-release "Benefits Of Thinking Out Loud" under the new band name. 2004's "Mute Print" focused on a faster, more aggressive and technical sound. The rights to that album were bought by Nitro Records. In 2005, the band dropped "Ruiner". This album allowed the band to go on their very first trip to Europe as the support act on Lagwagon's tour. In 2006, the band released the "Diver" EP which featured some tracks that were left off of "Ruiner". 2007's "Career Suicide" cemented the band as a solid hardcore punk act and the band's reputation as a strong live act continued to grow. In 2009, the band signed with Paper & Plastick Records. Their first release through that label was their self-titled, five song EP. In 2010, A Wilhelm Scream got back in the studio to begin work on their next full length studio album. Currently, the band is still hard at work, hopefully putting the finishing touches on their new record. The recording process was halted a few times in order for the band to go out on a few tours but the latest is that they hope to have the new album out in the Spring of 2013.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Song: "Walking Is Still Honest" (stripped down version)
Artist: Against Me!
Album: "Crime" EP
According to Against Me! lead vocalist and chief songwriter, Tom Gabel/Laura Jane Grace, "Walking Is Still Honest" is about the time when he moved out of his mother's house. When you're young, you kind of take for granted the protection of being under your parent's care. You tend to think you don't need them and that they don't know everything but when you get out on your own, you kind of start to appreciate the things or advice they gave you to help you when you get out in the world. You find that maybe they did know a little something about surviving and you have greater appreciation for what they did for you. A more rocking version of this song appeared on the band's 2002 album "Reinventing Axl Rose". Against Me!, from Naples, Florida, formed as a band back in 1997. It began as nothing more than a vehicle for frontman Tom Gabel to get his solo material out there. In 1997, Gabel released "Against Me!", which was a cassette demo. In 1998, drummer Kevin Mahon joined Gabel for the "Vivida Vis!" demo. 2000 saw the release of a self-titled EP. In 2001, Against Me! released the "Crime" EP, which was their first widely distributed recording. That same year, they also released the "Acoustic" EP. In 2002, the band signed with No Idea Records and released their first full band effort, "Reinventing Axl Rose". In 2003, the band joined the well respected punk label Fat Wreck Chords and released their second full length album, "The Eternal Cowboy". This album would reach number 36 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart, thanks in part to singles "Cavalier Eternal" and "Sink Florida Sink". To capture the band's 2004 Spring tour, Against Me! recorded the DVD "We're Never Going Home", which was released that same year. In 2005, Against Me! released "Searching For A Former Clarity". This album was their first to chart on the Billboard 200 and spawned hit singles like "Don't Lose Touch" and "From Her Lips To God's Ears (The Energizer)". 2006 saw the band release the live album "Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live In London!!!". By 2007, Against Me! signed to major label Sire Records and attained the services of famed producer Butch Vig for their next album, "New Wave". This album reached number 57 on the Billboard 200 charts and Spin Magazine declared it the album of the year. The album was boosted by the singles "Thrash Unreal", "White People For Peace", "Stop!" and "New Wave". In 2008, the band released the digital only EP "New Wave B-Sides". The band would release more demos and unreleased material in 2009 with the album "The Original Cowboy". These demos were taking from "The Eternal Cowboy" sessions. In 2010, Against Me! released their fifth studio album, "White Crosses". Singles such as "I Was A Teenage Anarchist", "White Crosses" and "High Pressure Low" helped this album reach number 34 on the Billboard 200, the highest charting album of the band's career to date. 2011 saw the band release more demos and unreleased material with the albums "Total Clarity", whose songs were taken from the "Searching For A Former Clarity" sessions, and "Black Crosses", whose demos and acoustic renditions were recorded during the "White Crosses" sessions. The band also released the two song 7" "Russian Spies/Occult Enemies". Continuing what was a busy year for the band, Against Me! formed their own record label, Total Treble Music and well as their own recording studio in Florida, Total Treble Studio. In May of 2012, Against Me! founder and vocalist, Tom Gabel, came out as a transgender and officially changed his name to Laura Jane Grace. He said he had been suffering with gender dysphoria since he was a child. He, or should I say she now, has said that coming out will not affect the future of Against Me!, in fact, the band is currently working on their sixth album which will be titled "Transgender Dysphoria Blues". Currently, Against Me!'s new album should hit the shelves in the very near future. As I said, the band have been working on the new album since February of 2012, so it's most likely almost completed. Butch Vig was once again tabbed as the producer on the record.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Song: "Great White Whale"
Artist: Secret & Whisper
Album: "Great White Whale"
According to Secret & Whisper vocalist Charles Finn, "Great White Whale" is a story about being the only human left on Earth. Due to the man's loneliness, he decides to kidnap the biggest animal in the world, the great white whale, and keep it locked in a tower. The rest of the animals cause an uprising in order to get their whale back. In the end, the man releases the whale back to the wild. The overall theme is being lonely, but not letting your loneliness affect your good judgement in the end. Hailing from British Columbia, Canada, Secret & Whisper formed out of the ashes of the band Stutterfly. When Stutterfly lead singer Chris Stickney decided to leave the band, the rest of the members decided to carry on, hiring former Thebleedingalarm lead singer Charles Finn for their new vocalist. Because of the totally different sound the band had with their new singer, they decided to change the name as well. Hence, Secret & Whisper was born on February 24, 2007. In 2008, the band released their debut album, "Great White Whale". This album reached number 17 on the Itunes top 100 albums in the first week of sale, thanks in part to the singles "XOXOXO" and "Vanishings". In 2010, Secret & Whisper released their sophmore effort, "Teenage Fantasy". This album produced the single "Warrior (Southern Arrowhead)". Shortly after the release of "Teenage Fantasy" their were rumors that frontman Finn was being tabbed as the new singer for the band Saosin. Those rumors were shot down however by Saosin themselves. In February of 2011, Secret & Whisper streamed the b-side track "Pixie" on their Myspace page. By July of 2012, the band announced through their Facebook page that they were going on a hiatus. By late 2012 and early 2013, the remaining members of Secret & Whisper were focused on several other musical projects, most notably of which were Shreddy Krueger, Faux Fur as well as Charles Finn's solo material. Currently it appears as if the shelf life of a promising band is now over. As I said, most of the focus of the band members of Secret & Whisper is on various other musical projects. While it's too early to say that the book is officially closed on Secret & Whisper, the band is very much in hibernation at this point.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
Song: "10:45 Amsterdam Conversations"
Artist: Funeral For A Friend
Album: "Between Order And Model" EP
"10:45 Amsterdam Conversations" appears to be a song about a break-up, but more importantly, it seems like it takes place at the exact moment when the person knows that the relationship is over. It's in that moment that all the emotion and heartbreak reaches the surface. It's that "lump in the throat" moment! The song was originally on Funeral For A Friend's debut EP, "Between Order And Model", but was also released on their 2003 EP "Seven Ways To Scream Your Name". Funeral For A Friend is a post-hardcore band from Wales, United Kingdom. They formed as a band back in 2001. The band caught the ear of Mighty Atom Records who would release the band's first two EP's, "Between Order And Model" in 2002 and "Four Ways To Scream Your Name" in 2003. That year the band also dropped their debut full length, "Casually Dressed & Deep In Conversation". This album proved to be an iconic release in the British post-hardcore scene, producing three top 20 singles in the U.K., "Juneau", "She Drove Me To Daytime Television", and "Escape Artists Never Die". The success of that album led to the band signing with major label Atlantic Records who released the band's 2005 album "Hours". The single "Streetcar" would be yet another top 20 single for the band. The band also got the headlining gig on the British leg of the Taste Of Chaos tour alongside bands The Used, Rise Against and Story Of The Year. 2007 saw the band release "Tales Don't Tell Themselves and yet another top 20 single in the U.K., "Into Oblivion (Reunion)". This album would reach number three on the U.K. album charts. In 2008, Funeral For A Friend decided to go back to their roots and get back to the aggressive, screaming vocals that were prominent on their debut album. "Memory And Humanity" definitely brought the band's heavier side back to the forefront. In 2009, the band released a greatest hits album called "Your History Is Mine: 2002-2009". The band also recorded four brand new tracks for this album in order to make the purchase worthwhile for fans. In 2011 the band released "Welcome Home Armageddon" which also spawned the EP "See You All In Hell". This EP featured one brand new song as well as acoustic tracks and remixes of songs from "Welcome Home Armageddon". In 2013, Funeral For A Friend released their sixth studio album, "Conduit". This album reached as high as number 34 on the U.K. album charts, proving that Funeral For A Friend is still very much relevant, especially in their home country the United Kingdom. For ten plus years, Funeral For A Friend has become one of the most influential post-hardcore bands in Britain. Here in the U.S., they don't seem to get as much respect as they deserve but I feel they have been one of the top bands to come out. For music of the 2000's, I'd say that Funeral For A Friend, Thrice and Rise Against were the top, at least on my musical mountain they were. Currently, Funeral For A Friend is about to embark on an Australian tour in support of their latest album "Conduit".