Sunday, February 22, 2015

Song Of The Week: 2/22/15

Song: "What I'd Give Up"

Artist: The Classic Crime

Album: "Phoenix"

Year: 2012

"What I'd Give Up" is a song that appears to be about how the vocalist would give up everything to be with the girl he loves, including giving up what he loves most, his band, playing live, touring and making music. That is how much she means to him and how much he wants his world to revolve around hers. The Classic Crime formed as a band back in 2004, hailing from Seattle, Washington. In 2006, the band signed with Christian punk label Tooth & Nail Records and released their debut album, "Albatross". With the lead single "The Coldest Heart", "Albatross" had the highest debut sales in the history of Tooth & Nail Records. In 2007, the band released the all acoustic EP, "Seattle Sessions". 2008 saw the band release "The Silver Chord". Featuring the singles "Abracadaver", "5805" and "Grave Digging", this album proved a heavier and darker effort from The Classic Crime". In 2010, "Vagabonds" was released featuring the singles "Four Chords", "Solar Powered Life" and "A Perfect Voice". By 2012, The Classic Crime was no longer on the Tooth & Nail roster so with the assistance of a Kickstarter fundraising project, the band released "Phoenix", featuring the lead single "Beautiful Darkside". Due to their success using the Kickstarter fund, the band once again decided to go that route with funding their next effort, "What Was Done, Vol. 1: A Decade Revisited". This album featured acoustic and re-tooled efforts of the band's songs spanning their entire catalogue, including two bonus tracks, "Selfish" and "Where Did You Go". Being that this album came out in late 2014, currently there is no news of The Classic Crime coming out with a proper release with all new material. I wouldn't be surprised if new material didn't surface sooner rather than later. The band has established quite the "do it yourself" work ethic, funding their projects and working with distributors with a very hands on approach. Though labeled Christian punk, the band does not agree with that label, as not all band members believe in the same things. They do believe in individual religious freedom and respect other's beliefs. I wouldn't call them "punk" either, maybe hints of pop punk. To me, they have a lot in common with their former label mates Anberlin when it comes to musical style.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Song Of The Week: 2/15/15

Song: "Modern Man"

Artist: Bad Religion

Album: "Against The Grain"

Year: 1990

"Modern Man" is a song that appears to be about how mankind has ravaged the Earth and destroyed her land, robbed her of her minerals and extinguished it's wildlife. Mankind has to be stubbornly proud as they consume their wealth and meaningless material things while the very thing that gives it life is being destroyed by it. Bad Religion formed as a band back in 1979, hailing from Los Angeles, California. The band featured Greg Graffin on vocals, Jay Bentley on bass, Jay Ziskrout on drums and Brett Gurewitz on guitar. In 1981, the band released the "Bad Religion" EP on Gurewitz' newly formed record label Epitaph Records. In 1982, Ziskrout was replaced by Peter Finestone and the band released their debut full length album, "How Could Hell Be Any Worse". This album featured the songs "We're Only Gonna Die" and "Fuck Armageddon...This Is Hell". 1983 saw the band release the odd, keyboard driven "Into The Unknown". At this time, Gurewitz left the band to enter a drug rehab and was replaced by former Circle Jerks guitarist Greg Hetson. In 1985, the band released the EP "Back To The Known", a return to a heavier sound, but not quite the punk rock that the band is known for. In 1988, Bad Religion had an epic return to form with the release of "Suffer", which was Epitaph's best selling album until the release of The Offspring's "Smash" in 1994. 1989 saw the band release "No Control", featuring such concert staples as "Change Of Ideas", "Big Bang", "No Control", "I Want To Conquer The World" and "You". In 1990, "Against The Grain" was released featuring one of the band's most popular tracks, "21st Century (Digital Boy)". At this point, Finestone left the band and was replaced by Bobby Schayer. 1992 saw the band release "Generator". This album featured the tracks "Generator" and "Atomic Garden", the latter which was the band's very first single, as well as their first song in which they shot a music video for. In 1993, Bad Religion signed to major label, Atlantic Records. That same year they released "Recipe For Hate" which reached #14 on the Billboard Heatseekers charts, thanks in part to the singles "American Jesus" and "Struck A Nerve". In 1994, "Stranger Than Fiction" was released. Featuring the songs "Stranger Than Fiction" and "Infected", this was one of the most successful Bad Religion albums to date. At this time, Gurewitz left the band once again, this time to focus on his now emerging Epitaph label. He was replaced by Minor Threat's Brian Baker. In 1996, "The Gray Race" was released, produced by The Cars' Ric Ocasek. This album featured the tracks "A Walk" and "Punk Rock Song". 1998 saw the release of "No Substance", an album that received mixed reviews from both critics and fans alike. 2000 saw the return of Gurewitz and the release of "The New America". This album featured the song "Believe It", the 1st song co-written by Gurewitz and Graffin in years. At this time, Schayer was replaced on drums by Brooks Wackerman of Suicidal Tendencies fame. 2002 saw Bad Religion return to Epitaph Records and release "The Process Of Belief". In 2004, the band released "The Empire Strikes First", featuring the single "Los Angeles Is Burning". In 2006, the band released a live DVD called "Live At The Palladium". 2007 saw the release of "New Maps Of Hell". Featuring the singles "Honest Goodbye", "Heroes And Martyrs" and "New Dark Ages", this album peaked at #35 on the Billboard 200 charts. To commemorate the band's 30th anniversary, they released the live album, "30 Years Live" in 2010. At the end of that year, they also released the album "The Dissent Of Man". This album reached #6 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart. 2013 saw the band release "True North". This album reached #18 on the Billboard 200 charts making it Bad Religion's highest chartest album of their career. At this time, Hetson left the band to deal with some personal issues and was replaced on guitar by Mike Dimkich. The band released "Christmas Songs" later that year, a punk rock take on some Christmas classics. Bad Religion spent the summer of 2014 touring with label mates Pennywise and The Offspring. Currently, as far back as 2013, band members have confirmed that they are planning, and working on new material for a future release. Is 2015 the year we see it? That remains to be seen but Bad Religion has been as consistent as any band, if not more, especially one that has been around for more than 30 years. Influential? That's an understatement. You listen to any punk rock band that came out in the early to mid-90's revival and you'd be hard pressed not to hear some Bad Religion influence. Their songs are fast paced, melodic and full of social and political views that the band is not ashamed to wear on their sleeves and bring to the forefront. The should be Rock And Roll Hall Of Famers, Bad Religion could easily be on the Mount Rushmore of punk rock bands!!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Song Of The Week: 2/8/15

Song: "These Wings"

Artist: The Darlings

Album: "The New Escape"

Year: 2010

"These Wings" appears to be a song about the hopelessness and despair of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The horror that these people faced during the disaster was unfathomable, people stranded on rooftops and the blood of the dead filling the flooding waters. The terror of the storm was one thing. The blind eye and disturbingly slow response by our government had some of these victims questioning not only their country, but their own faith in God as well. Hailing from the Southbay in California, The Darlings formed as a band back in 2005. Before they even released any music, The Darlings honed their craft by opening up for some legendary bands including Pennywise, Social Distortion, Bad Religion, Youth Brigade, TSOL, Strung Out, Face To Face and the Circle Jerks. In 2008, The Darlings released their first EP, "The Darlings", which featured the song "Where Did We Go". In 2010, the band released their debut full length album, "The New Escape". This album featured the tracks "American Dream", "The Hard Goodbye" and "Broken Heart Still Beating", the latter which stayed at #1 for several weeks on famous Los Angeles radio station KROQ. In 2011, the band signed up with Gadsen Records before embarking on a 59 city American tour. That very same year, The Darlings were named a Featured Artist by Billboard Magazine. In 2012, The Darlings frontman, Buddy Darling, and Strung Out frontman, Jason Cruz, formed an Americana side project called Jason Cruz and the Howl. This side project did not deter The Darlings from making new music, however, and in 2014, the band released their latest album, "Made Of Phantoms" in July of that year. To support the album, The Darlings embarked on a tour with Jason Cruz and the Howl and The Pullmen. Currently, it appears that The Darlings are still in support mode for their latest album, "Made Of Phantoms". The band has really made a name for itself, mainly because of it's live shows. The raw energy and passion of the band, and their tightness musically, makes them an act worth seeing live. Musically, although they are lumped in with the many punk bands that they've toured with and are influenced by, you cannot really just throw the "punk" label on them alone. They have a bit of a 90's alternative rock feel to them as well. At times they're melodic, Bouncing Souls type, energetic punk and at other times their music is punk rock laced with a rock and roll vibe, ala Social Distortion. Either way, this is a pretty solid band that's worthy of attention.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Song Of The Week: 2/1/15

Song: "Whatever"

Artist: Godsmack

Album: "Live & Inspired"

Year: 2012

"Whatever" is a song written by Godsmack vocalist Sully Erna as a direct response to his then girlfriend when the band was just starting out. It was damn near impossible to keep a relationship at that time in the band's history because when they weren't jamming and rehearsing, they were working regular jobs and when they weren't working regular jobs, they were rehearsing. It was his response to her when she was vying for time with him. His band was his passion and nothing was going to get in the way of that. The original version of "Whatever" appeared on Godsmack's 1998 self-titled album. The version I chose for my song of the week appears on the band's 2012 live album "Live & Inspired". Hailing from Lawrence, Massachusetts, Godsmack formed as a band back in 1995. Erna, who was a drummer in previous bands, decided to form a new band and act as the lead vocalist. In 1996, the band released their debut album "All Wound Up", which cost the band $2600 and was recorded in 3 days. The song "Keep Away" gained the attention of local radio station WAAF in Boston who began rotating the song on a daily basis. In 1998, Godsmack signed to Universal/Republic Records and released "Godsmack". This album basically featured re-mastered tracks from "All Wound Up" and their new single "Whatever". The album debuted at #22 on the Billboard 200 and by 2001, was certified 4X platinum. "Whatever" was and still is the band's signature song. 2000 saw the band drop "Awake". This album debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 charts thanks in part to the singles "Awake", "Bad Magick" and "Greed". Godsmack's song "I Stand Alone", which was featured on the soundtrack for the movie "The Scorpion King", became the #1 single at Rock Radio. It became the most played Active Rock song in 2002. 2003's "Fearless" was the band's 1st album to debut at #1. It sold over 269,000 copies in it's first week and featured the singles "Straight Out Of Line", "Serenity" and "Re-Align". In 2004 the band released an all acoustic EP called "The Other Side". In 2006, Godsmack released "IV", their second straight album to debut at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts. This album featured the songs "Speak", "Shine Down" and "The Enemy". To celebrate the band's 10 year anniversary, Godsmack released the greatest hits package "Good Times, Bad Times...Ten Years Of Godsmack". This album featured a cover of the Led Zeppelin track "Good Times, Bad Times". The band's next release was 2010's "The Oracle". Behind the singles "Cryin' Like A Bitch", "Love-Hate-Sex-Pain" and "Saints And Sinners", this album became the band's third to debut at #1. In 2012, the live album "Live & Inspired" was released. It came with a bonus EP of four cover songs. 2014 saw the band release "1000HP". This album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 charts and featured the singles "1000HP" and "Something Different". In support of "1000HP", Godsmack headlined the 2014 Uproar Festival. Currently, Godsmack is most likely still in the support stage of their latest album "1000HP". They normally release albums every 2 to 3 years so I wouldn't expect a new full length until probably 2017 or so. Godsmack is one of the biggest hard rock/metal outfits that are out there as of today. They are often compared to Alice In Chains because of their brooding, dark themes and sound. Erna's vocals are eerily similar to that of Alice In Chains former frontman, the late Layne Staley. When Erna growls, his vocals are often compared to Metallica's James Hetfield as well. Despite the similarities and some critics knocking the band off as cheap imitations of those 2 bands, Godsmack has definitely carved their own niche in the rock and roll landscape. Godsmack, as well as fellow Massachusetts band Staind, are the current faces of heavy rock/alternative metal/post grunge music.