Sunday, November 24, 2013

Song Of The Week: 11/24/13

Song: "Fractured (Everything I Said Was True)"

Artist: Taproot

Album: "Plead The Fifth"

Year: 2010

"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 Of The Week: 11/17/13

Song: "Pictures & Computers (I'm Not Superman)"

Artist: Scott Weiland

Album: "Happy In Galoshes"

Year: 2008

"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 Of The Week: 11/10/13

Song: "Until The Judgement Day"

Artist: Hawthorne Heights

Album: "Fragile Future"

Year: 2008

"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

Song Of The Week: 11/3/13

Song: "Holes"

Artist: Smile Empty Soul

Album: "More Anxiety"

Year: 2010

"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".