This topic is pretty self explanatory. It’s all about exploring the deep cuts off certain albums.
Pearl Jam are one of those bands with an extensive catalog and so many great songs. A lot of these songs are not as recognized and that’s a shame because, there truly are a plethora of underappreciated songs. One song that I’ve always held in this regard is “Green Disease” from their 2002 album, Riot Act. The album itself features a diverse sound, including songs influenced by folk, art/alternative rock and some experimental rock. Lyrically, it’s one of the bands more political efforts as this album was influenced by the September 11 attacks and the changing political climate that followed. Which is where “Green Disease” plays a pivitol role on the album. Each Pearl Jam album always seems to have that one song that is very “punk” based in nature and this is that song for Riot Act. The song is all about greed and the despicable nature of it. The song is written by Eddie Vedder but, without the other guys in the band, it just wouldn’t have the same impact. This is also one of those songs that is a crowd pleaser too, though it’s only been played 65 times since the albums release.
It’s always interesting when bands take different genres and mix them together. The end results are at times questionable but, when a band finds the right pairing, it all comes together. There is a band that has caught my attention that has mixed shoegaze and sludge in a way that not only works, it feels right too. Greet Death, a three piece band from Flint, Michigan, are releasing a new album, New Hell, on November 8 (via Deathwish Inc.). The first couple songs released are just a glimpse of the lush and full melodies, dreamy guitars, and punchy rhythms that drive the poetic lyrics to soaring heights. The groups debut album, 2017’s Dixieland, showed that Greet Death are here to leave a lasting impression and that they did. New Hell looks to pick up where their debut left off, while expanding upon their sound to reach a new level.
Greet Death- Do You Feel Nothing? (from New Hell):
This new topic, Breaks & Rhymes, is all about Hip-Hop and Rap music.
Over the last few years, I’ve found myself delving deeper into things I haven’t really listened to. Since the release of the first Run The Jewels album, I’ve come to really enjoy them a lot. Killer Mike and EL-P are truly a dynamic duo and continue to put out quality music as RTJ. While getting into them, I started to really notice how great of a producer and beatmaker EL-P is. His style is interesting and inspired from so many different genres. After raving about RTJ to a friend of mine, he sent me a few of EL-P’s solo albums (Thanks Adam!!!). One of those, Cancer 4 Cure, really stood out to me and had me totally taken aback. Listening to that album was almost like a revelation.
Cancer 4 Cure is one of the best hip-hop albums I’ve ever heard. Everything about this album is genuine, pure and transcendent. The production on this album is truly remarkable. The beats hit on different styles from trap, old school hip hop, and even bits of industrial. The samples used as well are innovative and fresh. His flow is menacing and sharp as a Mastumoto katana blade (nice Kill Bill reference there Brian *pats self on the back for that one*). EL-P (real name Jaime Meline) is and always has been the real deal.
The album starts off with one of the coolest hip-hop songs I’ve ever heard in “Request Denied.” The moment you put this album on and this song starts, you know this is going to be pretty spectacular. You’ll also find yourself reaching for the volume button or knob to turn it up so loud it rattles your speakers, car or house. The rest of the album is chock full of sic beats, flows that would make Niagra Falls jealous and topics that have actual depth and reason. Tracks like “The Full Retard,” “Works Every Time (featuring Paul Banks of Interpol), “Drones Over Brooklyn,” “Tougher Colder Killer (featuring Killer Mike),” “The Jig Is Up,” “Sign Here,” “For My Upstairs Neighbor,” “Stay Down (featuring Nick Diamonds),” and closing double track “$4 Vic/Nothing But Me and You” are to me classics. The venom spit on these songs along with the realism is very vivid and striking. Everything about this album screams classic.
Cancer 4 Cure is the type of album that if you aren’t a fan of hip-hop, it will make you one. This album hits hard and is everything that modern hip-hop should be. It’s a vicious album that is sinister at times as well as heartfelt. The album is dedicated to EL-P’s friend Camu Tao, who had a huge effect on his life. As you listen to the words and the style of rhymes, you can really tell there is more in there than what’s on the surface. EL-P has created a style of production that is revolutionary and it accompanies his rhyme style so perfectly, when you hear any song he’s been a part of, you will know right then that you are getting something sensational. EL-P has made me a believer in hip-hop music.
I love music documentaries. There is something truly great about getting to find out things about bands you love and band’s you haven’t heard of. The idea of breaking down the mystique at times can be a little unsettling because you don’t want to be let down but, when you get someone in the band to open up just a little, you begin to experience the band on a whole different level. The best part is after you are done watching the documentary, the appreciation that it leaves you with often tends to inspire and push you to create. Recently, I finally saw the long awaited documentary on Jawbreaker and its was pretty fantastic.
Don’t Break Down is the story of Jawbreaker’s rise and fall and rise (well more like a re-emergence) again. This doc is quite interesting as it was originally set up around the idea of the three band members (Blake Schwarzenbach, Chris Bauermeister, and Adam Pfahler) coming back together at a studio to listen back to their records and reminisce a bit. What we get though is a somewhat deep look into the tensions and talents that made Jawbreaker great, but also tore them apart.
I don’t want to give anything away because this is quite a very interesting documentary to watch. The doc shows and gets into the beginnings of the band and most of the bands history. The interviews with the members (and others including friends and industry folks) are quite fascinating, as they delve into the history of the band and start to come out of their shells a bit. Something else happens to the viewer while watching this, you start to really wonder why Jawbreaker wasn’t one of the biggest bands in scene at the time. They had (and still do) the talent, songs, show, and passion for this, it’s just a shame that it all went the way it did.
I’ve watched Don’t Break Down a few times now and have found it engaging each time. You get a bit of a peek into the songwriting and how they created their records, also you get a pretty big glimpse into the band drama and tension, and the ending, is pretty damn great. One of the biggest things about Don’t Break Down is that much of the mystery of the band remains and that curtain is never drawn back.
Jawbreaker Don’t Break Down is available to stream on Amazon Prime!!
This new topic is all about the scores that go along with films.
Since this is a new topic, I thought I’d start with my all time favorite score soundtrack. Yes, it’s for The Crow. I absolutely love this score. It really is perfect and compliments this film beautifully. Consisting of mostly orchestral music, with some electronic and guitar elements, Graeme Revell created a soundscape that is lush and full of darkness. This score also has a way of giving you chills as you watch the film and you hear the score accompany the scenes. There’s an iconic scene in which Eric Draven is on the roof performing a guitar solo (entitled “Inferno”) that is not only iconic and wonderfully shot but, it’s also worth noting that Brandon Lee, learned to play guitar for his role in the film. Although since he died before filming this scene, a body double was used.
This score is truly one of the greats. It covers every emotion and feeling. The way the film is and how this score and the soundtrack are put together is stunning. There aren’t enough scores/soundtracks that can really hit it out of the park like this one did.
The Crow Score by Graeme Revell:
NEW TOPIC!!! This one will showcase all the hidden songs at the end of albums. You know the ones you had to wait 10-20 minutes for after the last song ended.
A.F.I.’s 2003 album Sing The Sorrow was quite a success. The album saw the band shift their sound even more from their once hardcore/horror punk roots. The end result though, despite many of the bands early fans not accepting the change, was an album that is pretty damn good. The album also featured two hidden tracks at the end. After a brief silence at the end of “…Bit Home Is Nowhere”, piano music begins to play as guitarist Jade Puget’s younger brother Gibson speaks the first third of the poem. After the poem is concluded, the hidden track “This Time Imperfect” fades in, featuring a guitar playing backwards and extensive sampling. “This Time Imperfect” is a really cool song that contains a lot of the elements heard on Sing The Sorrow.
In 2017, Liam Gallagher released his debut solo album, As You Were. That album was quite exquisite and it brought life back into Liam along with his legendary voice. Now, here we are a couple years later and Liam has released a new album Why Me? Why Not. This record picks up where the debut left off but, on this one, it gets a bit deeper and more expressive. There’s a nice layer of nostalgia to the album but, it doesn’t rely on it to make it’s point. Instead it’s an album that covers many things from being introspective to what the future holds. The songs and especially Liam’s vocals really draw you in just as the classic Oasis albums did.
The album starts off with a great rock song in “Shockwave.” It’s a very in your face track that will sure be a stellar live song. It’s also got a lot of attitude to it that propels the album as well. “One Of Us” is very blatantly about his brother Noel. It’s also one of the most profound songs Liam has ever sung. There’s a particularly great dig at Noel in the song when Liam sings “You said we’d live forever/Who do you think you’re kiddin’?” a nod to the Definitely Maybe track. That part is so striking. Even the video is stunning. “Once” is another very powerful song that will get all your feelings going as you listen. It’s a very retrospective song that no doubt will have people wanting to reach for their Oasis albums. “Now That I Found You” is a very heartfelt song to his daughter that is full of great melodies. “Halo” is a really solid song that also helps to bring the album back up to a more up tempo beat. “Why Me? Why Not” is a very Liam does John Lennon-esque song. It’s a very sincere and humbling track. One that should be celebrated as a rebirth of sorts for Liam. “Be Still” (which is my favorite song on the album as of this writing) is an edgy rock song that, if played live will be huge. It’s also a soaring song with lyrics and melodies that really help to make this a stand out. “Alright Now” is another song that is pretty deep and chock full of maturity that a young Liam would probably snicker at. “Meadow” is a bit of a solemn song with a sense of optimism and hope to it. The organ and guitars have this cool swell to them which helps to make this song have a cool swing to it that makes it sort of psychedelic. “The River” is another huge song on the album. It’s got a bit of an anthemic feel to it to go along with a later 60’s vibe. This is another one that live will be stellar. Closing the album out is “Gone.” This song feels like it takes on a message of what the whole album is about. There is still a bit of attitude and swagger to it while at the same time it’s almost like a coming to terms with life type of song.
Why Me? Why Not is one hell of an album. It’s honest, pure and humbling. Liam has even said he’s not much of a songwriter so, with the help of Greg Kurstin and Andrew Wyatt, they have helped to make sure Liam’s words and voice are put on a pedestal and celebrated as each song plays. This isn’t Oasis by any means but, these songs have the ability to stand up with a slew of the classic songs from that era. There is obviously a throwback of sorts to Oasis and the past but, this album doesn’t live there. It’s modern and feels inspired while keeping true to who Liam is not just as a person but as a singer, lyricist, and the rock star that he is. Why Me? Why Not is the perfect name for this album. It’s everything you’d want to hear from Liam and then some. He’s still got the charm and rasp that made him a star to begin with only now, he’s more mature and can see the error of his way. As You Were and Why Me? Why Not can stand up against anything Liam has done in his career and look back on with delight. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this album, you won’t regret it.
After 8 years away, Cold have returned. Armed with a new album, The Thing We Can’t Stop, and a new lineup, Cold seem like they are ready to get back to the rock. The new look and sound of Cold continues the bands honest approach to very emotionally driven songs. Scooter Ward, the bands lone original member, meticulously spent time writing these songs to make sure they retained the signature style that makes Cold who they are.
The album starts off with an atmospheric intro of spoken word as it then flows into anthemic “Shine.” I’ll admit when I first heard this song, I thought it was something more fitting for Scooter’s solo project The Killer and The Star but, the more I’ve listened, it really fits in the spectrum of what Cold is. “Snowblind” is one of my favorite songs on the album. This mid tempo jam is dark yet hopeful with gentle melodies that make this song a stellar and stand out track. “The Devil We Know” has bits of classic Cold (a la their first album). This is one song that I can tell when it’s played live will be a fan favorite for sure. “Better Human” is an interesting song. It’s got a very positive message as it fits for today’s world we live in. “Without You” is one hell of a song. The heavy guitar and bass parts along with the groove, have bits of 13 Ways To Bleed in it. As of now, this is my favorite song on the album. As the album continues, it has this sway to it that takes you on a ride of emotions, like “Quiet Now,” “The One That Got Away,” and “Systems Fail” do. “Beautiful Life” and “We All Love” wrap up the album. Both of these songs are deeply heartfelt and give off a sense of hope wrapped in a warm blanket of feelings. Also on the album is a cover of Snow Patrol’s “Run.” The version on this album stays true to the original but, it’s Ward’s voice that pulls it in a different direction.
The Things We Can’t Stop isn’t a part 2 of any of the bands other albums. The closest this one remotely comes close to is A Different Kind Of Pain in the way the emotions play out. This album is a very mature look inside Scooter Ward and his life and pain. As a longtime fan of the band, at first listen you sort of feel like something is missing but, the more you listen and take it all in, the more you start to really resonate with the songs and the mood it puts you in. That’s one thing that Cold has always done well, especially on their first two albums. The new members have given Cold a bit of a different sound but, it doesn’t stray too far from what makes this band who they are. I do wish that the production on the album was a bit more raw and more in the way that the vocals sounded on their debut and 13 Ways. Had it been like that, I think this album would have been a bit more impact. As I mentioned earlier, this record feels a little out of place in the bands catalog but, in its nature and after a few listens, it’s Cold through and through. No matter what, I and a lot of people are very ecstatic that Cold are back. I very much look forward to seeing the band live again and hearing these songs live. I have a feeling that, these songs live will take on a whole new life.
Back in 1996, one of the biggest movies of the year was Beavis and Butthead Do America. I still remember seeing that movie countless times with my childhood best friend. It was and still is one hell of a funny movie. One of the coolest parts of the movie was the soundtrack. In particular the song that White Zombie contributed to it entitled “Ratfinks, Suicide Tanks and Cannibal Girls.” Even the scene in which it’s featured is superb and super trippy. This White Zombie song was also the last thing the band would release before they broke up.
White Zombie- Ratfinks, Suicide Tanks and Cannibal Girls:
It’s pretty crazy to look at all the albums that came out in 1994 and see how many of those have gone on to become true classics. 94 was a golden year for music and it will be regarded as such for generations to come. There’s one album that came out during this time that helped to change the landscape of things. That album is Weezer’s debut also known as The Blue Album. The 10 songs that make up this legendary album are substantial and highly influential. Along with the pop charm and sensibilities, the melodic melancholy that is the backdrop for this album, helped to spawn a new sub-genre.
The Blue Album has quite an interesting history in regards to the writing and recording of it. The album was produced by Ric Ocasek (R.I.P) of The Cars and recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York. In case you didn’t know, Electric Lady Studios was Jimi Hendrix’s studio. Originally the band wanted to self produce the album but, the label insisted on a producer and they chose Ric. Original guitarist Jason Cropper was let go during the recording of the album and replaced by Brian Bell. Cropper had already performed all his parts on the album but, after he was let go, Rivers Cuomo redid all of his parts and according to Ric Ocasek, he did all those parts in one take. Cropper did receive writing credit though on the lead track “My Name Is Jonas.” Something else that I’ve always found funny was that for the album cover photo, original bassist Matt Sharp wasn’t happy with the way his head looked so photoshop was used to replace his head with another one from a different shot.
There are a hodgepodge of different influences and inspirations that can be found on the album, making it something quite spectacular. There’s pop elements to go along with garage rock, bits of post punk, punk rock, and even a tinge of metal at times. Right out of the gate “My Name Is Jonas,” sets the tone for how the dynamics of the album are. It’s also one of the coolest first tracks to an album. “No One Else” has this really fun playful bounce to it and an almost Beach Boys pop vibe to it. “The World Has Turned and Left Me Here” is one of those songs that the more you listen to, the more you relate. While it has a pop formula, it’s one of the more darker songs on the album. “Buddy Holly” was actually the second single off the album but, it was this song and fantastic video (directed by Spike Jonze) that really put Weezer on the map. Even Rivers Cuomo was hesitant about putting the song on the album as he felt it didn’t represent the sound he wanted. Ric Ocasek persuaded Rivers to put it on the album. “Undone- The Sweater Song” was the first single. Rivers has even said that this is an inadvertant rip-off of Metallica’s “Welcome Home (Sanitarium).” This song is super catchy but, it’s also quite poignant and deep. It’s also one of my favorite songs the band has ever written. Plus the guitar solo on the song is perfect. “Surf Wax America” is another super catchy song with a punk rock sensibility a la the Ramones. “Say It Ain’t So” is another of my all time favorite Weezer songs. It was the third and final single released. The heavy guitars on this song are exquisite and this tone has become often duplicated. The song itself is one hell of a track. It’s dark and hits all those right feels. This is also one of the bands most covered songs (Deftones, Finch and Dashboard Confessional and more have covered this song). “In The Garage” is quite an introspective song set against a poppy melody with cruchy guitars. This is one of those songs that many a suburban kid can relate to and still do. “Holiday” has some of the best guitar and bass tones on the album. It’s also a heartfelt song that has this layer of optimism to it. There is also this really fun barbershop quartet section in the middle of the song. Interestingly, while preparing for the studio sessions, Weezer focused on their vocal interplay by practicing barbershop quartest style songs to feel more comfortable collaborating vocally. Closing out the album is my absolute favorite Weezer song, “Only In Dreams.” The song’s lyrics tell the story of a young man who wants to be romantically involved with the girl of his dreams. But because he cannot do so in reality due to how nervous he is, he can only fantasize about being with her in his dreams. Though in an 2010 interview Rivers said of the song “I think most of our audience always thought it was a song about a girl when I’m really singing about my artistic process.” No matter what the song is about, one thing is for certain, this song is epic. The dynamics on this song are astounding. The precision of quiet to loud along with guitar, bass, and drum tones should be studied. The gradual increase in heaviness that leads to the guitar solo give me chills to this day. This song is sincere and absolutely immersive and as an album closer it’s perfect.
The Blue Album is one of those that you can listen to from start to finish without ever tiring of it or wanting to skip a song, even if you’ve heard “Buddy Holly” 500 times. The pop elements and brightness hook you in as they should but, it’s really the meticulously crafted songs and performances that make this album stand out. These songs don’t just fit in the era they were released making this album timeless. The Blue Album is a pre-cursor to the emo movement that bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Jawbreaker helped to create. This album is truly one of the best albums of the 90’s and 1994. Take a few moments out of your day and (re)discover how great this album is.