Sunday, December 29, 2013

Song Of The Week: 12/29/13

Song: "Depraved"

Artist: Anberlin

Album: "Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place"

Year: 2010

"Depraved" is a song that appears to be asking if you are depraved of truth, or have you been deceived into thinking or believing in something that might be negative or perhaps may even cause pain. The vocalist just wants the listener to not be a slave to anything or anyone and to stand on their own two feet and be knowledgable of all beliefs. He also does not want the listener to be ashamed of themselves should they see that their belief system was negative. It was taught to them, or perhaps brainwashed in them. Basically, he's saying to use your eyes to see, use your brain to learn. There's a big world out there, don't be chained inside a box. Expand your mind and embrace differences. Anberlin formed out of the ashes of the band SaGoh 24/7. Hailing from Florida, SaGoh 24/7 was a punk band back in 1998. They released two album under that moniker but the band eventually disbanded. Members of that band wanted to explore a different sound and musical direction and thus, in 2002, Anberlin was formed. The band signed with Christian punk label Tooth & Nail Records. This led to two misconceptions, one that Anberlin was a punk band and two they they were a Christian band. Anberlin is much more melodic rock than punk and they have stated that their religious befiefs are personal and their band is entertainment, period. In 2003, they released their first album, "Blueprints For The Black Market". This album wasn't a huge success by any means. It sold just over 60,000 units and spawned one moderately successful single, "Readyfuels". 2005 saw the band release "Never Take Friendship Personal". This album reached #144 on the Billboard 200 charts and featured the singles "A Day Late" and "Paperthin Hymn", the latter which reached #38 on the Hot Modern Rock Tracks chart. In 2007, the band released "Cities". This album debuted at #19 on the Billboard 200 charts, selling 34,000 copies in the 1st week of sales. Momentum was gaining for Anberlin and their successes led them to embarking on their very first headlining tour with support from the band Bayside. 2007 also saw the band release "Lost Songs", a compilation of unreleased material, b-sides and other rarities. The band would go on to sign with major label Universal/Republic by the end of that year as well. In 2008, Anberlin released their major label debut, "New Surrender". This album sold 36,000 units in it's first week, reaching #13 on the Billboard 200. The first single on the album was "Feel Good Drag". In 2010, the band released "Dark Is The Way, Light Is A Place". This album would be produced by famed producer Brendan O' Brien, who's most well known for his work with bands such as Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots. This album featured the single "Impossible" and the band supported the album with a major tour with 30 Seconds To Mars. 2012 saw the band release "Vital". This album would be the band's most aggressive music to date, as shown on singles like "Self-Starter" and "Someone Anyone". In 2013, Anberlin released "Devotion". This was a compilation album that featured demos and remixes from the "Vital" sessions as well as a live & acoustic DVD. The compilation also featured three brand new tracks, including "City Electric" which would be released as the first single of that album. Currently, Anberlin has just released it's "Devotion" project in October of 2013. It has also been said that the band has been working on new material in that same month for a potential new release, possibly next year. They are a very active band, releasing new album almost every other year. Though they are rooted in punk, mostly because of their association with Tooth & Nail Records, they are much more 30 Seconds To Mars than they are MxPx. All in all, they are a very solid rock and roll band.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Song Of The Week: 12/22/13

Song: "Backseat"

Artist: Gardener

Album: "New Dawning Time"

Year: 1999

"Backseat" is a song that appears to be about a young couple who are still living at their parent's house. It seems they just decide to hop in the car and drive with no particular destination. They're just happy to get away. The whole journey seems liberating and totally spontaneous to them. Gardener's origins as a band date back to 1996, when the bands Seaweed and The Screaming Trees were embarking on a tour of the U.K. Seaweed frontman Aaron Stauffer and The Screaming Trees' Van Conner would write two songs together that would eventually turn into a full band effort, thus the birth of Gardener. By 1999, the two had enough material to put together a full album. That album would be "New Dawning Time" and it would be released through legendary Seattle label Sub Pop. Gardener would be far different in terms of musical style than the grungy aggression of both Seaweed and The Screaming Trees. In fact, the band labeled their sound as "shack" rock. Though it featured guitars, bass and drums, their music would also feature an array of other instruments including sitar, tabla, flute and mellotron. Besides "New Dawning Time", the only other release I know of is a 7" vinyl single of the song "Boys Of Summer", originally performed by Don Henley. Though Gardener did tour in support of "New Dawning Time", the band itself was a short lived project. Stauffer went back to Seaweed for a short time while also working on the brief project Not From Space and another odd sounding band, The Blue Dot. Van Conner went back to The Screaming Trees for a short period but that band disbanded in 2000. He did some session work for Mark Lanegan's solo album as well as some work for Queens Of The Stone Age. The current status of Gardener is there is no status. The band hasn't put out any new material and hasn't performed live for more than ten years now. Stauffer is back to touring with Seaweed and they have been rumored to have a new album in the works while Conner has a new alternative metal project called Valis in which he is the vocalist/lead guitarist.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Song Of The Week: 12/15/13

Song: "Shadow Of A Soul"

Artist: Godsmack

Album: "The Oracle"

Year: 2010

"Shadow Of A Soul" is a song that appears to be how the vocalist appears to be changing who he is at the current time. He is no longer the man he once was, and perhaps, he's a shell of his former self. But, does he really see himself differently? Or is it those who once knew him who do not treat him the same? It seems he feels alienated by those he grew up with and isolated and alone in a place he once called home. Godsmack formed as a band back in 1995, hailing from Lawrence, Massachusetts. The core line-up has been Sully Erna on vocals and guitars, Tony Rombola on lead guitar, Robbie Merrill on bass and Shannon Larkin on drums. Originally called The Scam, the band soon changed their name to Godsmack, some say an ode to the Alice In Chains song of the same name. In 1996, the band recorded their debut album, "All Wound Up" for a mere $2600. This album basically featured most of the tracks that would be remastered for their 1998 major label debut, "Godsmack". It was their songs "Keep Away" and "Whatever" that took to local radio in Boston and really began to jumpstart their career. It definitely caught the interest of major label Universal/Republic who signed Godsmack in 1998. The band earned a spot on the Ozzfest tour as well as Woodstock '99. They also embarked on a European tour opening up for Black Sabbath. Their self-titled album debuted at #22 on the Billboard 200 charts and by 2001 had been certified 4x platinum. In 2000, the band released "Awake". This album debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 charts and reached 2x platinum status, thanks in part to the singles "Awake", "Sick Of Life" and "Greed". 2003 saw the band release "Faceless". This album debuted at #1 and featured the single "I Stand Alone", which had originally appeared on "The Scorpion King" soundtrack, and "Straight Out Of Line", which was nominated for a Grammy Award. In 2004, Godsmack released the EP, "The Other Side", which featured all acoustic tracks, including three new songs, "Running Blind", "Voices" and "Touche". 2006 saw the band release "IV". Featuring the single "Speak", this album also debuted at #1 and sold 211,000 copies in the the first week of sale. To celebrate their 10 year anniversary, the band released "Good Times, Bad Times...Ten Years Of Godsmack". This was a greatest hits compilation which featured the band covering "Good Times, Bad Times" by Led Zeppelin as a bonus track. In 2008, Godsmack released the non-album single "Whiskey Hangover". In 2010, the band released "The Oracle". This album would be the third straight album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts. 2012 saw the band release their very first live album, "Live & Inspired". This album featured a bonus EP featuring some cover songs. Currently, according to lead singer Sully Erna, Godsmack plans to start working on new material possibly in late 2013 or early 2014 with hopes of releasing a new album. Though some people criticize Godsmack for their close similarities to the sound of bands like Alice In Chains and Metallica, there's no denying they have carved out their own niche in the rock and roll/metal world. They have become one of the biggest and most successful acts in hard rock music today.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Song Of The Week: 12/8/13

Song: "Lehigh Acres"

Artist: Against Me!

Album: "White Crosses" (Limited Edition)

Year: 2010

"Lehigh Acres" is a song about a community in Florida, located near Fort Myers, where a boom in homes, both being built and bought, occurred in the early 2000's. Eventually, the homes began to lose their property value and most of the people who bought were in over their head. It was basically a middle class community that veered towards poverty in a short amount of time. Though the song is about a specific community, it is a story that is known all too well all over the country. Lenders gave out money much too easily and people acquired debts that they could not afford. Against Me!, hailing from Florida, formed back in 1997. Originally, Against Me! was going to be the platform with which vocalist/guitarist Tom Gabel was going to release his solo material. He first released a demo cassette in 1997. In 1998, he added drummer Kevin Mahon and they released another demo called "Vivida Vis!". In 2000, the band released the "Against Me!" EP through Crasshole Records. 2001 saw the band release the EP "Crime As Forgiven By Against Me!". Released through Plan-It-X Records, this EP was the band's 1st widely distributed material. Against Me! also released an acoustic EP that year as well. In 2002, the band signed with No Idea Records and released their 1st full length album, "Reinventing Axl Rose". The band's line-up finally rounded out as well, featuring Gabel on vocals/guitar, Warren Oakes on drums, James Bowman on guitar and Andrew Seward on bass. 2003 saw the band sign with Fat Wreck Chords and release "The Eternal Cowboy". This album reached #36 on Billboard's Top Independent Albums chart, thanks in part to the singles "Cavalier Eternal" and "Sink Florida Sink". 2005's "Searching For A Former Clarity" was Against Me!'s first album to chart on the Billboard 200, reaching #114. The songs "Don't Lose Touch" and "From Her Lips To God's Ears (The Energizer)" became the band's first two music videos. In 2006, the band released "Americans Abroad!!!Against Me!!!Live In London!!!", their very first live recording. In 2007, the band was signed to major label Sire Records. They enlisted the help of producer Butch Vig, famously known for producing Nirvana's "Nevermind", and released "New Wave". This album peaked at #57 on the Billboard 200 charts and featured the singles "Thrash Unreal", "White People For Peace", "Stop" and "New Wave". In 2008, Against Me! supported the Foo Fighters on a major North American tour. Sire also released "New Wave B-Sides" as a digital only release. 2009 saw Oakes leave the band and Hot Water Music drummer George Rebelo join. The very same year, Fat Wreck released "The Original Cowboy", an album which featured demos and rare recordings from the "Eternal Cowboy" sessions. In 2010, the band released "White Crosses" with Vig handling the production aspect once again. This album featured the singles "I Was A Teenage Anarchist", "White Crosses" and "High Pressure Low". At #34 on the Billboard 200 charts, "White Crosses" is the highest charting Against Me! album to date. Despite the success of the album, the band and Sire Records parted ways. Drummer Rebelo also left the band to return to his old band Hot Water Music. Jay Weinberg was announced as the new drummer. In 2011, Fat Wreck released "Total Clarity", an album featuring demos and rarities recorded during the "Searching For A Former Clarity" sessions. The band also released the two song 7", "Russian Spies/Occult Enemies". Gabel would also form his own record label at this time called Total Treble Music. All future Against Me! recordings would go through this new label. In 2012, Gabel came out as a transgender saying he's suffered with gender dysphoria since childhood. He changed his name to Laura Jane Grace and began living as a woman. He's stated that this change would not affect his band, however. He, or should I say she now, began working on a concept album that would be titled "Transgender Dysphoria Blues", which would be about a transgendered prostitute. Grace would be producing and engineering this album. In 2013, Weinberg left the band and Adam Willard stepped in on the drumkit. Longtime bassist Andrew Seward also left the band. His spot was filled by former Refused bassist Inge Johansson. The band released the single "True Trans" which featured acoustic versions of two songs that are to appear on their new album, "FuckMyLife666" and "True Trans Soul Rebel". Currently, Against Me! plans to release "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" in early 2014. Though the line-up of Against Me! seems to be a revolving door, the band is very much Gabel/Grace's baby and her vehichle to express her songs. Against Me! is one of those bands that come out and gives me hope that their is still great, guitar driven music out there in a world of bubblegum pop and hip hop. Against Me! is a punk band that stands out for their originality and their their deep catalogue of great music.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Song Of The Week: 12/1/13

Song: "Space Shot"

Artist: Ash

Album: "A-Z: Vol. 1"

Year: 2010

"Space Shot" appears to be a song about just wanting to go out and lose yourself. It may be drug induced or alcohol induced. The vocalist just wants to go crazy and leave all inhibitions at home. He's ready to go out of his mind and lose control! Ash formed as a band back in 1992, hailing from Ireland. Vocalist/guitarist Tim Wheeler, bassist Mark Hamilton and drummer Rick McMurray were all high school students when they formed Ash. For two years they worked on various demo's, one of them being the song "Jack Names The Planets". In 1994, Ash released "Trailer". This album featured several songs from their earlier demo's as well as a few new recordings. 1995 was really the first breakthrough for Ash. Two of their songs, "Jack Names The Planets" and "Kung Fu" were added to the "Angus" movie soundtrack. This soundtrack was a commercial success and introduced Ash to a wider audience, especially in the United States. In 1996, the band rode that success in the form of their next album, "1977". Thanks in part to the singles "Goldfinger", "Oh Yeah" and "Girl From Mars", Ash was officially on the musical map. 1997 saw the band release the live album, "Live At The Wireless". It was also in 1997 that Ash recruited Charlotte Hatherley to join the band as second guitarist and back up vocalist. Her first appearance with Ash was on the single "A Life Less Ordinary". 1998 saw the band release "Nuclear Sounds". This album spawned the singles "Jesus Says" and "Wild Surf". The constant touring the band had been doing in support of "1977" and "Nuclear Sounds" was beginning to take a toll, however. The band almost went bankrupt and the critical and commercial failure of "Nuclear Sounds" nearly put Wheeler in full depression. Luckily, the band resurrected itself with the 2001 release of "Free All Angels". Hit singles such as "Shining Light", "Burn Baby Burn" and "Sometimes" led this album to reach #1 in the U.K. In 2002, Ash released a new single titled "Envy" as well as a singles compilation called "Intergalactic Sonic 7"s" which also came with a bonus b-sides disc called "Cosmic Debris". In 2004, the band released "Meltdown". This album featured the songs "Clones", "Meltdown", "Orpheus" and "Starcrossed". By 2006, Hatherley decided to part ways with Ash. This was a tough moment for the band as her background vocals would clearly be missed on future releases. In 2007, Ash released "Twilight Of The Innocents". The band had said that this album would be their last full length release as they felt the way music is being brought to the masses is changing and they wanted to change with it. Ultimately, they were saying that they would be releasing music digitally, probably as singles. 2009 saw the band try this strategy as they went on to release 26 singles, one every two weeks. This would be known as the "A to Z Series". In 2010, the band decided to release the entire "A to Z Series" on two compilation cd's, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2. Not only did these cd's feature all 26 singles, they also featured some b-sides, rare tracks and acoustic versions. In 2011, Ash collaborated with the band We Are Scientists to record the song "Washington Parks", which was released as a single and all the proceeds would go to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Later in 2011, to celebrate the release of their greatest hits compilation, the band reunited with Charlotte Hatherley to perform a special set of shows. Both Wheeler and Hatherley did not rule out working together on future Ash material. 2012 saw Ash tour with Weezer in the United States. In 2013, Ash would perform their own headlining tour in the U.S. and in August, they would perform at the Y Not Festival in Derbyshire. Currently, Ash has been working on new material in a New York studio at times in 2013. The new material has been said to be a new full length album, not just singles. No word if Hatherley is back with the band working on the new album. Ash is a much bigger deal over in Ireland and the U.K. than they are here in the States, but they have sold over 10 million album worldwide since their inception. They fell into the alternative scene of the early and mid 90's, not quite grunge nor punk. I always thought they had a garage-y, pop sound. They've sometimes experimented using hip hop turntables as well as delving into some synth pop sounds. All in all, very underrated band. Like to see them harken back to their "Goldfinger" and "Burn Baby Burn" days with their new material though.