Sunday, October 27, 2013

Song Of The Week: 10/27/13

Song: "New Punk Fashions For The Spring Formal"

Artist: Dillinger Four

Album: "Situationist Comedy"

Year: 2002

"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 Of The Week: 10/20/13

Song: "Negative Creep" (live)

Artist: Nirvana

Album: "Live At Reading"

Year: 2009

"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 Of The Week: 10/13/13

Song: "To Be Someone"

Artist: Noel Gallagher

Album: "Fire & Skill: The Songs Of The Jam"

Year: 1999

"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 Of The Week: 10/6/13

Song: "I'm In Love With A German Film Star"

Artist: Foo Fighters

Album: "Best Of You" CD Single (CD 1)

Year: 2005

"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!