Sunday, August 30, 2015

Song Of The Week: 8/30/15

Song: "Eyes Of A Child"

Artist: Sully Erna

Album: "Avalon"

Year: 2010

Place Or Origin: Lawrence, Massachusetts

Years Active: 1986-present


"Eyes Of A Child" is a song that appears to be about how so many of us turn our backs to the pain and sufferings of innocent children. Whether that is children from poor countries or children who are terminally ill or even those who are abused. Basically, children who's innocence has been lost for whatever reason and those of us who can try to do something sit back and don't do anything or don't do enough. It's the tragedy of watching children suffer and not doing anything about it.


2010 - "Avalon" (Universal/Republic Records)


Sully Erna has been a part of the music scene dating back to 1986. He got his first break with a band called Strip Mind who released an album in 1993 called "What's In Your Mouth". After basically getting kicked out of that band, Erna would make the career choice of his life, stepping away from the drum kit and becoming lead singer of a new band called Godsmack. From 1995 till the present day, Godsmack has earned it's status as one of the top hard rock/metal acts out there today. Erna and Godsmack released 7 studio full length albums as well as a live album and a greatest hits compilation in their 20 years as a band. Dating back to the band's 2003 "Faceless" album, Erna had privately been working on songs, including "Eyes Of A Child", that were not quite built for the Godsmack sound. While they were dark songs featuring, almost tribal overtones, they weren't quite heavy enough to be Godsmack songs. That's when Erna began to work on a solo album. In 2008 and 2009, Erna embarked on small solo tours while Godsmack was on a hiatus and in 2010, he released his solo debut, "Avalon". The album is a hauntingly, beautiful piece of music. If you like Godsmack songs like "Voodoo", "Serenity" or "Spiral", then you would enjoy Sully Erna's solo debut. It has a Zeppelin III vibe perhaps mixed in with "Jar Of Flies" by Alice In Chains. Erna has also released a live DVD, "Avalon Live", to accompany the album and also released an "Avalon" box set featuring the "Avalon" cd, dvd, a making of dvd and a live cd. Currently, Erna and Godsmack released their latest album "1000hp" in 2014 and toured to support that. He has also stated that he is working on material for a follow up to "Avalon". Because of his vocal style, Sully Erna will forever be linked favorably or unfavorably to Layne Staley of Alice In Chains and James Hetfield of Metallica. To be truthful, Godsmack is kinda like a mash-up of both of those bands. Maybe not as fast and aggressive as Metallica nor as dark and brooding as Alice In Chains, but somewhere in the middle. This has not hindered their success as a band however, even though you do have the haters who sometimes call them rip offs of either band. Erna's solo material, to me, tends to evoke Led Zeppelin, especially when they began experimenting with middle eastern sounds and vibes. Clearly, Sully Erna is one of the better metal vocalists out there today and has been for a while, whether solo or with his band Godsmack.


1. Sinner's Prayer
2. Eyes Of A Child
3. Avalon
4. The Rise
5. Until Then
6. Broken Road
7. The Departed
8. 7 Years
9. My Light
10. Cast Out (Spirit Ceremony)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Song Of The Week: 8/23/15

Song: "Porno And Snuff Films"

Artist: The Lawrence Arms

Album: "Apathy And Exhaustion"

Year: 2002

Place Of Origin: Chicago, Illinois

Years Active: 1999-present


"Porno And Snuff Films" appears to me to be about the music industry. It's how the industry basically strips an artist of all his ideals and goals and art and breaks them down to the point where they fall in line and create what the people in the "big chairs" want to hear. It's about having the artist stop being true to himself and his art to create something for corporate gain. Once you've sold yourself out, your art no longer has any integrity. Unfortunately, this is a reality for many artists who succumb to the corporate thumb. Their creativity and originality is the ultimate cost.

THE LAWRENCE ARMS' DISCOGRAPHY (Full length albums only):

1999 - "A Guided Tour Of Chicago" (Asian Man Records)
2000 - "Ghost Stories" (Asian Man Records)
2002 - "Apathy And Exhaustion" (Fat Wreck Chords)
2003 - "The Greatest Story Ever Told" (Fat Wreck Chords)
2005 - "Cocktails & Dreams" (Asian Man Records)
2006 - "Oh! Calcutta!" (Fat Wreck Chords)
2014 - "Metropole" (Epitaph Records)


The Lawrence Arms formed as a band back in 1999, though all three members, Brendan Kelly, Chris McCaughan and Neil Hennessy, were already established musicians in the Chicago punk scene. Their debut album, 1999's "A Guided Tour Of Chicago", featured some political overtones which their follow up albums tended to veer away from, featuring more personal and introspective lyrical themes. The band is also known to incorporate history, literature and pop culture themes throughout their lyrics and song titles. The Lawrence Arms released an incredible 6 albums in 7 years! One of the albums being the b-sides and rarities compilation, 2005's "Cocktails & Dreams". While the band is most noted for it's relationship with Fat Mike of NOFX and his label Fat Wreck Chords, their latest release, 2014's "Metropole" was released through another legendary punk rock label, Epitaph Records. This release marked the longest time between full length releases for The Lawrence Arms, 8 years between albums. During that 8 year semi-hiatus, the band members focused on several side projects, most notably The Falcon, which featured Kelly and Hennessy along with Alkaline Trio's Dan Andriano and Rise Against's Todd Mahoney. McCaughan also released solo/acoustic material under the moniker Sundowner. Kelly would also get into the solo acoustic stuff, releasing a split album with Smoke Or Fire's Joe McMahon called "Wasted Potential". Currently, The Lawrence Arms were most recently promoting their last release, "Metropole", which came out in 2014. They are a major player in the Chicago punk scene alongside bands such as Alkaline Trio and Rise Against. Though their success hasn't reached the levels as those two bands mentioned, The Lawrence Arms definitely has the respect of those who matter in punk circles. They are a band that champions the DIY ethic that so defines what punk rock music should be about. That view has put them in direct conflict with the promoters of the Warped Tour, which the members of The Lawrence Arms feels is responsible for killing the scene. The battle between art and corporate is something the members of The Lawrence Arms feels very strongly about and they want art protected and nourished, not saturated or infected by striving for corporate success at the expense of artistic integrity.


1. The Slowest Drink At The Saddest Bar On The Snowiest Day In The Greatest City
2. Seventeener
3. You Are Here
4. Your Gravest Words
5. Great Lakes/Great Escapes
6. Porno And Snuff Films
7. The Devil's Takin' Names
8. 100 Resolutions
9. An Evening Of Extraordinary Circumstance
10. Them Angels Been Talkin'

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Song Of The Week: 8/16/15

Song: "Let The Train Blow The Whistle"

Artist: Joe McMahon

Album: "Wasted Potential" (split album w/ Brendan Kelly of The Lawrence Arms)

Year: 2010

Place Of Origin: Boston, Massachusetts

Years Active: 1998-present


"Let The Train Blow The Whistle" is so Johnny Cash! Why? Because it was originally written by the "Man In Black" for his 1994 album "American Recordings". The song is basically written as a eulogy to be read at his own funeral. And in Johnny Cash fashion, the eulogy has no problem giving a middle finger to those who deserve it! Forever the rebel, even in death!! He also says he's lived his own life far from perfection, but he has no regrets, even to go as far to say he'll see his enemies in hell!! Joe McMahon, best known as being the frontman for Fat Wreck Chords' band Smoke Or Fire", covered this Cash track and released it on a split album with Brendan Kelly (The Lawrence Arms) called "Wasted Potential".

JOE MCMAHON'S DISCOGRAPGHY (Full length albums only):

2010 - "Wasted Potential" (split album w/ Brendan Kelly of The Lawrence Arms) (Anchorless Records)


Joe McMahon grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and officially got on the music scene dating back to 1998. His original band was called Jericho. The band soon moved to Richmond, Virginia and due to legal problems with a band with the same name, they changed their name to Jericho RVA. After releasing one full length album and one EP, the band once again changed their moniker, this time to Smoke Or Fire. This was around 2004. Smoke Or Fire wound up hooking up with legendary punk label Fat Wreck Chords and would go on to release three full length albums with them, their last being 2010's "The Speakeasy". Like slews of punk rock frontmen, Joe McMahon caught the bug of the acoustic, roots/folk, solo thing that many others including Chuck Ragan (Hot Water Music), Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!), Tim Barry (Avail), Joey Cape (Lagwagon), Tony Sly (No Use For A Name) and many others also caught. His one split release with The Lawrence Arms' Brendan Kelly proves that McMahon fits right in with all the others I mentioned. Currently, McMahon has released several live songs on his personal Bandcamp page which you can stream or buy, he's about to release a split 7" with Billy Liar and he also plans to have a new, full length album out sometime in the near future. Besides his solo material and his work with Smoke Or Fire, McMahon is also half of the acoustic duo called Billy + Joe, which also features Canadian female vocalist/guitarist Billy The Kid. If you dig punkers going acoustic or if you enjoy attending The Revival Tours featuring punkers stripping down their sound, then Joe McMahon is right up your alley.


1. Let The Train Blow The Whistle (Johnny Cash cover)
2. Delawhere
3. Irish Handcuffs
4. Yesterday
5. Filter
6. Little Bohemia
7. Jinx Removing (Jawbreaker cover)
8. Beauty Fades
9. What Separates Us All
10. Monster Among Us

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Song Of The Week: 8/9/15

Song: "The Earth Isn't Humming"

Artist: Thrice

Album: "Live At The House Of Blues"

Year: 2008

Place Of Origin: Irvine, California

Years Active: 1999-2012, 2015


"The Earth Isn't Humming" appears to be about an "end of days" type of situation. The Earth has a "hum" to it that is caused by the ocean's waves. So, perhaps the Earth has stopped rotating, or some sort of catastrophic event to cause the oceans to be still. Whatever natural occurence has happened, the vocalist watches as more and more people "fall down", which he is probably witnessing the end of humanity. "The Earth Isn't Humming" is actually a cover song that was originally performed by the Washington D.C. hardcore band Frodus. The original appeared on Frodus' 2001 album "And We Washed Our Weapons At Sea". Highly influenced by Frodus, Thrice covered "The Earth Isn't Humming" and the studio performance can be found on Thrice's 2008 album "The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV".

THRICE'S DISCOGRAPHY (Full length albums only):

2000 - "Identity Crisis" (Greenflag Records)
2002 - "The Illusion Of Safety" (Sub City Records)
2003 - "The Artist In The Ambulance" (Island Records)
2005 - "Vheissu" (Island Records)
2007 - "The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II" (Vagrant Records)
2008 - "The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV" (Vagrant Records)
2008 - "Live At The House Of Blues" (Vagrant Records)
2009 - "Beggars" (Vagrant Records)
2011 - "Major/Minor" (Vagrant Records)
2012 - "Anthology" (Staple Records/Workhorse Music Group)


Thrice formed as a band back in 1999 when the members were all still in high school. Their first release as a band was the 1999 EP, "First Impressions". Early on, Thrice developed a hardcore/punk style featuring blistering fast riffs and some gutteral screaming vocals. In 2003, Thrice released their crossover album, "The Artist In The Ambulance". This was the band's major label debut and it features classic Thrice songs such as "All That's Left", "Stare At The Sun" and "The Artist In The Ambulance". Their 2005 release, "Vheissu", featured a change in musical style. The band was veering away from it's hardcore/punk roots and becoming a more experimental band, using a wide array of instruments and slowing down their pace. The lyrics were also getting deeper, featuring several religious themes as well as being influenced by various literature and writings. "Vheissu" would be Thrice's highest charting album of it's career, reaching #15 on the Billboard 200 charts. By 2009, Thrice wanted to make a more upbeat record as they felt "Vheissu" and "The Alchemy Index Vols I, II, III & IV" were "sleepy" feeling records. They achieved this with their 2009 release "Beggars" and their 2011 release "Major/Minor" really encapsulated what Thrice was as a band for it's entire career. In 2012, Thrice decided that they were going to take a hiatus on being a full time band, though they did declare that Thrice was not breaking up. This hiatus allowed the band members to focus on their various side projects, most notably lead singer Dustin Kensrue's solo material. Kensrue would become a worship leader at Mars Hill Church in Bellevue, Washington where he and his family live, but he would resign his position in 2014 due to a controversy surrounding the church's pastor. 2015 saw Thrice get back together and perform at several music festivals including Amnesia Rockfest in Quebec, Heavy Music Festival in the U.K. and Riot Fest in Denver, Chicago and Toronto. Currently, it is not known if the festival performances might jumpstart a new album by Thrice in the near future. As I said earlier, the band members themselves did not close the door on Thrice as a band so hopefully, these reunion shows are a spark that leads to new material being released. Though Thrice has evolved musically over the years, their style is comparative to bands such as Brand New and Thursday. Their roots are hardcore/punk but they are always evolving musically, technically and lyrically. I don't want to call them unheralded, but, to me, Thrice never really got their due as to how good they are as a band. I personally think they are one of the best rock bands to come out. Top 10 rock band in my book!


1. Stare At The Sun
2. Red Sky
3. Image Of The Invisible
4. Deadbolt
5. The Artist In The Ambulance
6. In Exile
7. Come All You Weary
8. All That's Left
9. Promises
10. Digital Sea

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Song Of The Week: 8/2/15

Song: "Requiem"

Artist: Avenged Sevenfold

Album: "Hail To The King"

Year: 2013

Place Of Origin: Huntington Beach, California

Years Active: 1999-present


If you read the Roman Catholic Church's definition for "requiem", it reads "a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead". I think that's where Avenged Sevenfold is going with this song. It really creates an image of being in hell, your soul being tortured and tormented and you're begging for forgiveness and a savior to rescue your soul from this fiery pit of damnnation. Though Avenged Sevenfold is not a religious band, "Requiem" has religious overtones, especially in it's description of hell.

AVENGED SEVENFOLD'S DISCOGRAPHY (Full length albums only):

2001 - "Sounding The Seventh Trumpet" (Hopeless Records)
2003 - "Waking The Fallen" (Hopeless Records)
2005 - "City Of Evil" (Warner Bros. Records)
2007 - "Avenged Sevenfold" (Warner Bros. Records)
2008 - "Live In The LBC & Diamonds In The Rough" (Warner Bros. Records)
2010 - "Nightmare" (Warner Bros. Records)
2013 - "Hail To The King" (Warner Bros. Records)


Avenged Sevenfold formed as a band back in 1999 when all the members were still in high school. After putting together a few demos, they released their debut album in 2001. Their first two albums saw the band incorporate a metalcore style, packed with screaming vocals and fast paced riffs. When the band signed on with major label Warner Bros., they decided it was time for a stylistic change. Vocalist M Shadows worked with a vocal coach to improve his tone and gone were the gutteral screams from their first two albums. This change was for the better in my opinion. The band's 2005 release, "City Of Evil", was the album that defined who they were as a band. Thanks to the hit singles "Bat Country" and "Beast And The Harlot", this album eventually achieved platinum status, making it Avenged Sevenfold's most successful record to date. The band's style shifted to a more heavy metal/hard rock sound that mirrored some of their major influences such as Black Sabbath, Pantera, Iron Maiden and Guns N' Roses. While their next few albums didn't sell as well as "City Of Evil", 2010's "Nightmare" as well as 20l3's "Hail To The King" both debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts. Avenged Sevenfold is one of those unique metal outfits that can fit right in on an Ozzfest tour, as well as on the more punk infused Vans Warper Tour, much like contemporary bands such as Bullet For My Valentine, Atreyu and Blessthefall. The harmonizing dual guitar attack of Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance draw comparisons to that of metal legends Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Currently, M Shadows has confirmed that the band is to continue working on new material in 2015 for a follow up to "Hail To The King" which should be released some time in 2016.


1. Bat Country
2. Afterlife
3. Dear God
4. Unholy Confessions
5. Beast And The Harlot
6. Shepherd Of Fire
7. Hail To The King
8. Welcome To The Family
9. Almost Easy
10. Nightmare