Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Last Post for Awhile

I'm probably not going to be doing anymore posts until January 2nd.



Anyway, here's something to tide you over until then: a song from Tree Wave, a band that's been getting nothing but deservedly good publicity since I first heard their stuff. This song is called "May Banners" and it's incredibly defiant of the stereotypes which are typically associated with the band's genre. Tree Wave produces music with old computer equipment (a full listing is available at their website), but their music isn't just a lot of bleeping and blooping. You'll be pleasantly surprised when you hear it.


Buy Tree Wave's Cabana EP+
Tree Wave - May Banners

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Sukilove



Sukilove is a Belgian indie rock group with a very interesting sound. On their album You Kill Me they employ the noisy, buzz guitars of alternative rock groups such as Sonic Youth and yet create very melodic, pop-influenced rock. For example, their song "From a Blue-Eyed Girl" contains an unusual mix of these seemingly contrasting elements, but the band makes the combination work. The track opens with a series of repeating claps that you might hear in "I Want to Hold Your Hand" by the Beatles and then a low-pitched, dark humming sound creeps in. Afterwards, the lines, "You might get the world, I've got my shit together" are repeated. The song then progresses into bass-heavy buzz rock with a hint of pop-influence hidden beneath the noise. An interesting combination to say the least.

The album's opener, "Start a Life," is a little subtler than "From a Blue-Eyed Girl." It still has that mix of buzzing guitars and pop-rock, but it's a bit more laid back and would probably be a bit more acceptable by general audiences. That does not mean it's not a strong track in the least. Quite the contrary. In fact, I challenge anyone who hears that song to not start nodding their head to the tune while being taken aback by the power of Sukilove's noise pop.

"1234" is definitely one of the stronger tracks on the album and chugs along at very powerful, mechanically deliberate pace. The lead vocalist gets a lot more aggressive for this track and does a very good job of it. Speaking of aggressive, "Secrets" is probably one of the most chaotic and aggressive songs on this album, yet it still manages to maintain its subtle, melodic tendencies. It makes for an interesting listen. And for those of you who get tired of constant noise, you'll get your break in the much quieter and slower "I Didn't Mean it That Way," which somehow still manages to maintain the flow of emotional strength while taking a slight stylistic break.

Sukilove's You Kill Me is a very impressive album and definitely worth listening to or picking up at some point, especially if you're into buzzing noise pop.


Buy Sukilove's You Kill Me
Sukilove - From a Blue-Eyed Girl
Sukilove - Start A Life

And they said, "Let there be death metal!"



Recognize the band in the picture? Well, you should. That's Slayer, one of the greatest heavy metal bands of all time. They influenced all heavy metal bands that came after them and all but created death metal as we know it. With each album they have taken a new approach to their sound, so with each release it's like a fresh start from a familiar band. And you're never lacking in talent with this group. These are probably some of the greatest rock musicians ever assembled.

But I'm not only here massage their egos, I really wanted to share a couple of their better songs that may not be as well known to some. Like "Chemical Warfare," which is the first first track off of their EP Haunting the Chapel. The EP was released in 1984, two years before their classic album Reign in Blood, and was a sign of what was to come from one of heavy metal's biggest bands. "Chemical Warfare" is a very fast song with mile-a-second guitars and Tom Araya's strong, deliberate vocals. I was utterly blown away the first time I hear it, which is why I wasn't surprised when I learned that it's a regular for Slayer's live shows. Needless to say, it's a very intense song and well worth a listen.

Another song from Slayer's repertoire that's well worth a listen is "Point," which is the last track off of their album Diabolus in Musica. This album was released in 1998, 14 years after Haunting the Chapel. Listen to the songs from each of these albums and hear how Slayer's sound has changed over the years. "Point" still has the speed and the intensity of "Chemical Warfare" but it also borrows some elements from the hardcore genre. Just listen to Araya's raging vocals and you can hear that influence. But no matter what, this song rocks and it will get your head-a-bangin' and air guitar-a-ragin', I guarantee.


Buy Slayer's Haunting the Chapel EP
Slayer - Chemical Warfare


Buy Slayer's Diabolus in Musica
Slayer - Point

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Thirdimension



I recently sat down and listened to Permanent Holiday, the second stateside release from the Swedish band Thirdimension. Not a bad album by any stretch. From the very first track, I was reminded of Fountains of Wayne's self-titled debut. The lead vocalists from both bands even sound like each other. And Thirdimension has that pleasant britpop feel to their music with a modicum of psychedelia thrown in. However, unlike Fountains of Wayne, Thirdimension maintains a pretty consistent, overall midtempo pace and seems to have a more serious focus to their music. For example, the last track "We're Not Gonna Take It" is an slow moving, yet powerful song with march-like drum playing in the background. My only complaint is that lead singer Björn Steggman's nasally deadpan voice does not get more powerful as the music progresses into something more emotionally driving. However, that's only a minor distraction for me. It may be a bit more of an annoyance for others.

One of their catchier and more energetic songs is "Mondaymachine," track 7 on the album. It's a very nice, poppy tune that glues to your mind via your ear drums. It almost has a Beatles-like quality to it, which is saying something. And whereas I complained about the lead singer's voice in the song "We're Not Gonna Take It," I think his voice works much better in "Mondaymachine." His delivery complements the music very well. "Ex-Song" is another upbeat track that has some very nice guitar work and the catchiest chorus on the whole album. "Only Healer" with guest vocalist Caroline Schutz is another downtempo track and the addition of Shutz's beautiful voice adds a new level of emotional power. And if you don't like Björn Steggman's voice, and I can't say I'm all to pleased, it's nice to hear someone different.

Overall, I would say that Thirdimension is pretty good. If you're into indie rock with a mix of a britpop and psychedelia then you'll like this band.


Buy Thirdimension's Permanent Holiday
Thirdimension - Mondaymachine
Thirdimension - We're Not Gonna Take It

Monday, December 13, 2004

The Locust



What do you get when you combine hardcore punk with moog synthesizers? The Locust... isn't it obvious? What kinda dumb question is that anyway? I mean, they're probably one of the more interesting bands out today. You have to admit that much, whether you like them or not.

Although they sound a lot like any other hardcore punk band with their incomprehensible screams and raging bursts of energy that rarely last a minute, the addition of moog synthesizers and their original musical attitude add a lot. Just take some of the song titles from their album Plague Soundscapes as an example: "Earwax Halo Manufactured for the Champion in All of Us," "The Half-Eaten Sausage Would Like to See You in His Office," and of course "Anything Jesus Does I Can Do Better," which I have made available in this post. And although the titles don't really have much to do with the lyrics, that doesn't mean you won't find some interesting lines in the songs. I really like one line from "Anything Jesus Does I Can Do Better" that goes, "Would the owner of an ounce of dignity please contact the mall security?" I'm also partial to the lyrics from from the original "Well I'll Be a Monkey's Uncle" that go: "Dad, sister is on fire. Shut up and get the marshmallows. Dad, I don't like little brother. Shut up and eat what I give you. Let's go. This damn dollar has got to get me two. Dad I'm tired of running in circles. Shut up or I'll nail your other foot to the floor."

The Locust released a remix album of the aforementioned song, "Well I'll Be a Monkey's Uncle," which included a redone version of the original song and six remixes. I've included the Kid606 remix. It sounds less and less Locusty as it progresses, but it's still a fun song. And I'm a sucker for those really fast drum loops. Oh well.


Buy The Locust's Plague Soundscapes
The Locust - Anything Jesus Does I Can Do Better


Buy The Locust's Well I'll Be a Monkey's Uncle: Lab Remix
The Locust - Well I'll Be a Monkey's Uncle (Kid606 Remix)

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Remember Me?

Yeah, it's been a while, but I'm back with a slightly changed format and a promise to post more consistently, whatever that's worth. So here goes...

Buy The Best of the Ronettes

The Ronettes - Be My Baby

Buy The Shirelles' The Masters

The Shirelles - Will You Love Me Tomorrow?


You've probably heard of these bands some point if you haven't actually heard their material, but I felt I had to do a post about two of the most famous bands from the days when these girls groups were popular. The Ronettes, for example, were a group that worked with producer Phil Spector who is famous for his "Wall of Sound" approach to music. You can hear that in the Ronettes' song "Be My Baby," which is by far their biggest hit. It starts off with a very simple drum beat and then quickly progresses into a grand collage of strings, brass, and percussion. This orchestral pop sound adds an emotional intensity to the song that could have only from the mind of a musical genius. The lead vocalist, and Phil Spector's future ex-wife, Veronica "Ronnie" Bennett isn't the best singer, but her voice works for this song. She has a pleadingly, beautifully cute voice that works for song's mood.

Although "Be My Baby" was probably more influential, "Will You Love Me Tommorrow?" by the Shirelles is probably more popular. It's not quite as involved as Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" business, but it is still a beautiful song. For example, the lead vocalist Doris Coley is a better singer than Ronnie Bennett. Her voice is much more refined and she would have a much better chance of getting through American Idol. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow?" is also a very strong song lyrically speaking. If you actually sit down and listen to what the song is saying word for word, you begin to empathize with the singer. Lines like, "Tonight with words unspoken / You say that I'm the only one / But will my heart be broken / When the night meets the morning sun," speak with great emotional power to the audience. Think about it, ladies and gentlemen! Think about it!