Sunday, July 28, 2013

Song Of The Week: 7/28/13

Song: "Broken World"

Artist: Millencolin

Album: "Machine 15"

Year: 2008

"Broken World" appears to be a song about wanting to get away from how the world is being run. It's kind of a sarcastic jab at the evolution of humanity. As the world we live in decays around us, we look at leaders that have their own power hungry agendas and the vocalist is just fed up with it. He wants to start his own new land, one that cares about humanity and the environment that we live in. Millencolin is a skate punk band from Sweden that formed back in 1992. In 1993, the band released a demo tape called "Goofy". After this demo, Fredrik Larzon joined the band as the new drummer, officially making Millencolin a four piece. "Melack" was a second demo recorded by the band that year. This demo caught the attention of Burning Heart Records who released the single "Use Your Nose". Burning Heart officially signed Millencolin after the release of that single and in 1994, the band released the "Skauch" EP. Also in '94, Millencolin released their very first full length album, "Tiny Tunes". After getting some heat from Warner Brothers over the album title and artwork for "Tiny Tunes", the band re-released the album under the moniker "Same Old Tunes". 1995 saw the band release "Life On A Plate". This album would be distributed by Epitaph Records in the United States. In 1997, the band released "For Monkeys" and also played on their very first Warped Tour. "The Melancholy Collection" was an album made up of old EP's, b-sides and rare tracks that was released in 1999. 2000 would turn out to be probably the most pivotal time for the band with the release of their classic album "Pennybridge Pioneers". Thanks in part to the singles "Penguins & Polarbears" and "No Cigar", this album proved to be Millencolin's first major success and also allowed them to embark on their first major worldwide tour. While on tour to support "Pennybridge Pioneers", the band wrote and recorded material for their next release, 2002's "Home From Home". In 2005, the band released "Kingwood". This album was awarded "Best Swedish Rock Release" in their native country. 2008's "Machine 15" would be the last album of originally recorded material released by the band to date. It was around this time that the band also created the "Millencolin Open". This would be an annual event that would feature skateboard contests. Skating is what brought the members of Millencolin together in the first place and this was their way of giving back. In 2012, Millencolin released a CD/DVD called "The Melancholy Connection". This was a follow up to "The Melancholy Collection" and featured b-sides and rarities that were recorded from "Pennybridge Pioneers" and on. In between touring and recording with Millencolin, some band members also play and perform with various side projects as well, most notably lead singer Nikola Sarcevic's solo career, which is mostly folksy, acoustic material. On June 8th and 9th of 2012, Millencolin hosted a festival entitled "Millencolin 20 Year". This two day event was to celebrate the band's 20th year anniversary. Currently, there really hasn't been any updates as to whether the band is working on new material or not. They still, however, tour and perform quite often.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Song Of The Week: 7/21/13

Song: "Born Killer"

Artist: Scarface

Album: "Mr. Scarface Is Back"

Year: 1991

"Born Killer" is a song about someone you really don't want to fuck with! The vocalist is a manic depressive and a cold blooded killer who doesn't feel remorse or compassion for anything or anyone. He doesn't love himself so, he definitely doesn't have love for anyone else. He's a hardened criminal and a ruthless gangsta. If you mess with him, you probably won't live to see tomorrow. Scarface got his start in hip hop back in 1987. He actually went under the name Akshun. He eventually signed to Rap-A-Lot Records and joined the popular group Geto Boys. He was featured on the group's second album, "Grip It! On That Other Level". It was at this time that he changed his name to Scarface and he, along with the Geto Boys officially put Houston, Texas and the south on the hip hop map. In 1991, Scarface released his first solo album, "Mr. Scarface Is Back". This album would mark the beginning of a string of albums in the 90's which all achieved platinum status. 1993's "The World Is Yours" peaked at #1 on the R&B/Hip Hop Album chart. 1994's "The Diary" debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200 chart. 1997's "The Untouchable" was Scarface's first album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts, thanks in part to the song "Smile", which featured Tupac Shakur. 1998 saw the release of "My Homies", a double album which featured guest artists 2Pac, Ice Cube and Too Short to name a few. In 2000, Scarface released "The Last Of A Dying Breed", an album that was not as commercially successful as previous efforts, but was praised critically. In fact, the album helped Scarface win the Lyricist Of The Year award at the Source Awards. In 2002, Scarface signed with Def Jam and released "The Fix". This album sold 159,000 copies in the first week of sale. 2003 saw the release of "Balls And My Word", which was a collection of b-sides and rarities that didn't make it on to his previous albums. 2006 saw the follow up to Scarface's 1998 album "My Homies" as he released "My Homies Part 2", another double album. In 2007, Scarface released "Made". This album reached #2 on the Top R&B/Hip Hop album charts showing that he was still very much relevant in the world of hip hop. In 2008, he released "Emeritus". Scarface indicated that "Emeritus" would be his final studio album at that time. However, in 2010, he indicated that he was in fact at work on a new studio album, tentatively titled "The Habit". Scarface was incarcerated for some time due to failing to pay child support, but as of August 2011, he was out of jail and said to be working on "The Habit" again. Along with his illustrious rap career, Scarface was also named the President of Def Jam South, and helped bring along artists such as Ludacris. He also is starting to work in the production side of the business and has dabbled in some acting as well. Scarface has also remained loyal to the Geto Boys and has managed to appear on all of their albums, even while focusing on his solo material. He, along with the Geto Boys, should be considered the forefathers of hip hop in the south. Their influence is great in hip hop circles, in fact, The Source magazine claimed Scarface to be #16 on a list of the top 50 lyricists of all time. Currently, fans have to be eagerly awaiting the release of "The Habit" which I assume should be finished soon.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Song Of The Week: 7/14/13

Song: "Get This Party Started"

Artist: Stretch Arm Strong

Album: "Punk Goes Pop"

Year: 2002

"Get This Party Started" was originally performed and recorded by pop artist Pink and released on her 2001 album "Missundaztood". The song was her highest selling single at the time and really is her signature song. It was actually written for Pink by Linda Perry, who was the former frontwoman of the band 4 Non Blondes. The song's meaning is pretty straight forward. She's getting ready to tear up the town with her friends on a Saturday night. The clubs will be partying hard, and they will be partying hard because of her new song. My song of the week is a punked out cover of the song done by the melodic hardcore band Stretch Arm Strong that was part of Fearless Records compilation, "Punk Goes Pop". Fearless put several of these "Punk Goes" compilations out over the years such as "Punk Goes Metal", "Punk Goes Acoustic" and "Punk Goes 80's". Stretch Arm Strong formed as a band back in 1992. They are from South Carolina. Though the band members are all active Christians and value their faith immensely, they do not want to be considered a Christian band, in that they don't preach to their audience about their beliefs. The band's first released material was an EP in 1995 entitled "Not Without Resistance". This was followed in 1998 by another EP called "It Burns Clean". In '98 the band caught the ear of Uprising Records who released the band's first full length album "Compassion Fills The Void". After this album was released, the band began a four year relationship with Solid State Records. Their first release under that label was 1999's "Rituals Of Life". This was followed by 2001's "A Revolution Transmission" and 2003's "Engage". After their deal with Solid State was up, the band partnered with We Put Out Records, which was a branch of the Warner Music Group. The band's first and only release under that label was "Free At Last". After releasing that album and doing a small tour to promote it, Stretch Arm Strong became mostly inactive for the next five years. In 2010, the band played two shows in January. According to the band's MySpace page, these two shows were going to basically be the last time you would be able to see the band as they had no intentions of playing any more tours nor recording any new material. In their MySpace message, the band did not say they were breaking up, but due to their being so inactive over the years, the writing is basically on the wall. In the years they were active, Stretch Arm Strong wasn't afraid to show their support for various groups, including Women's Rights, Animal's Rights and the rights of disabled persons. Currently, it's been over three years since the band played those two shows in 2010 and they remain inactive. Safe to say the book is most likely closed on Stretch Arm Strong.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Song Of The Week: 7/7/13

Song: "Velvet Alley" acoustic version

Artist: Strung Out

Album: "Punk Goes Acoustic"

Year: 2003

"Velvet Alley" appears to be a song about a relationship that is on the brink. It seems like it crushes the notion of the theory that opposites attract. If the vocalist says up, she says down. If he says black, she says white. He just seems to want a moment, just one moment where they can be at peace with each other, but this relationship is just a constant argument with one another. It's going nowhere. "Velvet Alley" originally appeared on Strung Out's "An American Paradox" album in full punk style. The version I chose for the song of the week is taken from the compilation album "Punk Goes Acoustic", which featured several punk bands recording stripped down versions of their songs. Strung Out formed as a band back in 1989. After releasing several 7" singles, the band became one of the very first acts signed to Fat Wreck Chords, a label which was started by Fat Mike from NOFX. In 1994 the band released their first full length album, "Another Day In Paradise". 1996 saw the band release "Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues". In 1998, Strung Out released "The Skinny Years...Before We Got Fat". This album featured all of the bands recordings before they signed with Fat Wreck. "Twisted By Design" was also released in 1998 and showed a definite growth in the band's sound. In 1999, original member and bassist Jim Cherry left the band to work with the band Pulley and ultimately his own band Zero Down. Tragedy hit close to home for Strung Out when Cherry passed away from heart failure in 2002. The 2000 EP "The Element Of Sonic Defiance" was the band's first album not to feature Cherry on bass. "An American Paradox" was released in 2002 and became the band's first album to appear on the Billboard 200 charts. In 2003, Strung Out released the live album "Fat Wreck Chords Live In A Dive". By 2004, the band's sound continued to evolve and mature with the release of "Exile In Oblivion", which featured the song "Analog". 2007 saw the band release their sixth full length album, "Blackhawks Over Los Angeles". While on tour to support this album, Strung Out's van was stolen in Philadelphia and all their equipment was lost. Thankfully, the supporting bands Evergreen Terrace and I Am Ghost let Strung Out use their gear in order to finish the tour. In 2009, the band released "Prototypes And Painkillers". This was a compilation album which featured all of the band's b-sides and rare cuts. That same year the band put out "Agents Of The Underground" which was slightly less political than some of their previous efforts. 2011 saw the release "Top Contenders: The Best Of Strung Out". This compilation featured 23 remastered favorites of the band as well as three brand new tracks. For more than ten years, Strung Out has become a well respected punk band who infused a little bit of metal in their brand of skate punk to master their sound. Their longevity and work ethic is a testament to where they stand and their influence in punk rock circles. Currently, Strung Out drummer Jordan Burns revealed to in a 2012 interview that the band plans to release a new album in 2013.