Punk music has always been one of those genres that I’ve loved since first listen. It goes all the way back to being about 5 or 6 and hearing the Ramones. From that point onward, I was hooked. There was something about the simplicity of the music that hit home but also the honesty. Granted the latter part didn’t really hit till I got older, I could still sense there was something special about this style of music. As time passed I got more and more into punk music from the Sex Pistols and The Clash. Then 1994 happened and punk music exploded yet again with bands like Green Day, The Offspring and Rancid. It was then that I really delved into what punk music was all about. I then discovered bands like Black Flag, Bad Religion, etc. It was then that I realized the “heavier” side of punk music was for me. So over the years I found myself seeking out those bands that fit that style more. Which brings me to a band I heard a few years ago that has always stood out to me.
Back in 2013 there was an album that came out called Home by a band called Off With Their Heads, and there was something about this record that really left a mark. This band had the whole package, from hard hitting riffs and super punchy bass and drums to the honest lyrics and vocal delivery that made it all believable. Home, Off With Theirs Heads’ third full-length (though it could be considered their fourth depending on if you count the Hospitals record as an album), found the group diving deeper into experimentation without compromising their roots. This album is “real” and it’s grit shows through. When you have songs that tackle topics like anxiety, anger, and self loathing, it’s tough not to feel a connection. There is an underlying sense of catharsis to these songs which makes the end result feel very positive and optimistic. Songs like “Start Walking,” “Shirts,” “Nightlife,” “Focus On Your Own Family,” “Don’t Make Me Go,” “Always Alone,”and “Stolen Away” are not only standout songs but, anthems as well.
Singer Ryan Young has a voice that you feel every word he sings. It’s one of those immediate voices that will stay with you and act as a mantra of sorts. Musically, Off With Their Heads hit you like a ton of bricks. There is a real sense of urgency to the way they play and deliver the songs. You can really hear that on Home. Off With Their Heads are the type of band that has much in common with their punk influences but also bands like Jawbreaker and Jawbox. The realness and honesty (there’s that word again) really shines through in this band. That is something that will always have a lasting effect on those that listen and take the words to heart. Do yourselves a favor and take a listen to this unsung masterpiece and, celebrate a true work of art!
Aaron Harris is a name I’m sure many of you are familiar with, provided you are a fan of the bands Isis and Palms. As the drummer for these two bands, Aaron laid down some of the most haunting and heavy beats in the last twenty years. In addition to his work in Isis and Palms, Aaron has had a successful career as a producer and engineer. He’s worked with bands like Pelican, Deftones, Team Sleep, Spotlights, Jakob, Puscifer and With Our Arms To The Sun. So it comes as no surprise that Aaron, as talented as he is, began composing music for TV, film, video games, and commercials. Working under the name Methodic Doubt, Aaron has created a world that has been described as “downright breathtaking” by Spin magazine. And they are pretty spot on with that. The sounds created by Aaron have a very dark and moody tinge combined with pulsating rhythms, delicate strings, and electronic elements that add the right amount of atmosphere.
On his debut solo album, Dark Energy, you can really get swept away in the sounds. The collection of tracks on the album are the type that are ideal for horror, thriller, and suspense projects. The use of percussion, whether it’s the sounds, pulsating rhythms, eerie textures combined with the abrasive synth work creates this very vivid and spooky soundtrack. Aaron is super talented and it’s not a surprise to see him move in this direction. Now with Dark Energy, more people will get to hear how integral he is to the bands he’s been in as well as why he is sought after in terms of producing.
Last year when Venom was released in theaters it was met with mixed reviews. There was one thing though about the movie that was absolutely perfect and that was the inclusion of Run The Jewel’s on the soundtrack. The duo featuring Killer Mike and EL-P released a track called “Let’s Go (The Royal We)” and it was downright badass. Ever since they released the song, I can’t stop listening to it. I was hoping that it might be included on the duo’s upcoming RTJ IV album but, it seems like it was released just for the soundtrack. Either way this track is fantastic and the beat that EL-P created is “hard and heavy.” So, until Run The Jewel’s releases RTJ IV, this will do just fine!
Way back when A Perfect Circle released their covers album eMOTIVE, there was an edition that also included an additional disc entitled aMOTION. This disc was all remixed version of their songs. There has always been one that has stood out to me over the years and that is the Tilling My Grave mix of “Weak and Powerless.” This version was remixed by Danny Lohner (former Nine Inch Nails memeber and for a time was a part of A Perfect Circle during the Thirteenth Step era) and it was also featured on the soundtrack for the first Underworld movie. Anyways, this version always seemed to have more “balls” to it and that gave it a much “heavier” vibe. Another interesting note is that this version features work by Wes Borland and Josh Eustis.
A Perfect Circle- Weak and Powerless (Tilling My Grave: Renholder Mix):
A Perfect Circle- Weak and Powerless (Album Version):
I’ve written about Spirit in the Room many times before and it’s because they are awesome and deserve your attention. This group is the brainchild of vocalist and multi instrumentalist Dennis R. Sanders and to put it bluntly, they are fan-fucking-tastic. Spirit in the Room has been described as “If Nick Cave, Lemmy, Elvis, Harry Dean Stanton and Iggy, had a child in a church gone mad.” I’d say that’s pretty spot on. Throw in a bit of The Doors, Black Sabbath and some very out there experimental bands and you have the recipe for what makes Spirit in the Room so damn good. Their live shows are volatile and full of piss and vinegar that will leave you talking about the band for days, even weeks to come. Today, February 8th, Spirit in the Room has released Volume 1 of their EP series. The three tracks on Volume 1, set a tone and leave you wanting a whole hell of a lot more. There is an energy about the new music from Dennis that truly feels inspired and makes a statement as to what this band is capable of. I personally can’t wait for the other parts to come out. It’s one of my most anticipated albums er EP’s of the year. Do yourselves a favor and take a listen to Spirit in the Room and let the music take you places you haven’t been. You won’t be sorry.
Ever since I made my Ultimate Set List for Depeche Mode, I’ve been in that frame of mind. Which got me thinking about all the Depeche Mode covers out there. One of the ones I remembered being interesting and not bad was Rammstein’s cover of “Stripped.” There is some interesting history about this cover as well. Released as a single in 1998, this cover also appears on their album Sehnsucht, the one that has “Du Hast.” It was also the bands first song sung entirely in English. Their version cuts the line “Let me see you stripped down to the bone” to “Let me see you stripped”, which was due to singer Till Lindermann’s difficulty singing the “down to the bone” line. Though that part was restored in a remix done by former Nine Inch Nails member Charlie Clouser. Rammstein are supposed to release a new album in 2019 and tour it so, hopefully when they do, they decide to do this live.
Last night I was watching an old episode of Family Guy and in the one I was watching they did a parody of the Fiona Apple video for “Criminal.” So of course, that would lead me to this. Back in September of 1997, the video for the single “Criminal” by Fiona Apple was released. Her debut album Tidal, had already been out for a bit and singles like “Shadowboxer” and “Sleep To Dream” had been out as well. The album itself was met with critical and audience acclaim but it wasn’t really until the release of the video for “Criminal” that solidified the impact Fiona Apple would have. The video was directed by the extrodinary Mark Romanek (Nine Inch Nails, Johnny Cash, Jay Z, etc). Romanek and cinematographer Harris Savides created a video that was sensual and dangerous yet uncomfortable at the same time. Either way, the song by Fiona Apple and the video by Mark Romanek are truly gems and deserve to be recognized as that.