There are quite a few awesome singles and albums being released today. Another Friday with something for everyone musically. New tunes from The Smashing Pumpkins, Run The Jewels, Scour, the new Killer Be Killed album and a few more that you’ll dig.
One thing I genuinely enjoy about cover songs is when bands really make an effort to make it their own. Whether it’s changing up the vibe or arrangements, the new interpretation often times can take the song to new heights. A great example of this is The Smashing Pumpkins version of Joy Division’s “Transmission.” The Pumpkins take on it is spacey, borderline psychedelic and even transcendent at times. It’s different enough yet still pays homage in a very distinct way.
The Smashing Pumpkins- Transmission (from Adore Deluxe Set):
The Smashing Pumpkins- Transmission Live 98:
The Smashing Pumpkins w/Davey Havok and Peter Hook- Transmission Live 2018:
About six months ago, Metallica released an alternate version of “Blackened.” This was obviously done during these very strange times we are living in. I really enjoy when bands break down their songs to the bare bones. Having a more acoustic feel to this song definitely gives it a different vibe. The original from And Justice For All is in my top 5 all time favorite Metallica songs. This new version, I have to say is quite fun. I’d really be interested to hear Metallica do a full on acoustic set in the same way the classic MTV Unplugged’s were.
The first track on any album is so important as we all know. The list is endless of all the great ones but, instead of making a giant list, why not go one by one and really savor them. Because it’s the 30th anniversary of the release of Facelift by Alice In Chains, how about we start with “We Die Young.” What a song to start off a record with. The instant you drop the needle or press play (whatever you listen to music on or with), it’s just perfect! The instant crunch of Jerry Cantrell’s guitar, then comes the thunder of the drums of Sean Kinney, rumble of Michael Starr and finally, the killer voice of Layne Staley. Simply WOW!
This is one of those track ones that could easily be on many lists of the best ever. Plus when you think about it, if you’ve never listened to Alice In Chains and Facelift is what you start with, and “We Die Young” is pretty much your introduction to the band! That’s a pretty amazing start if you ask me.
I love a good side project. More often than not, the side project allows the artist to explore a different side and see where that experiment goes. It’s quite interesting to hear this other side and experience something you aren’t used to hearing from that person. Which leads me to the band of the week, Blunt Razors. I’ve long been a fan of the band Planes Mistaken For Stars and when I heard that Gared O’Donnell and Neil Keener were working on new music that wasn’t going to be Planes material, I became very intrigued. While quarantined together throughout 2020 in Peoria, IL, they wrote and recorded a plethora of incredible songs. Sonically, some were enough of a departure from Planes Mistaken For Stars, that the pair felt it deserved a different name. And with that, Blunt Razors was conceived. Their debut release, Early Aught, is comprised of five gut-wrenching originals that have the grit and charm that Gared and Neil are known for. The two songs released so far, “Speeding” and “Amber Waves” show that there is a whole other level of creativity to these two talented writers. Their debut is out on November 20 (via Deathwish Inc).
There are so many bands and songs from the 90’s that when you hear a radio staple, often times, you wind up turning up the volume because you haven’t heard that song in a long while and it takes you back to that time. One song that I’ve always done that with is the song “Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand” by Primitive Radio Gods. Back in 1996, this song was inescapable. It reached number 1 on the modern rock charts and was featured in the movie The Cable Guy. This song definitely packs a vibe and fits the time quite well. Enjoy this throwback to the simpler times of the mid 90’s.
Primitive Radio Gods- Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand:
Page Hamilton of Helmet has one of the most distinct guitar sounds in the last 30 years. His style and tone has often been tried to be duplicated and has influenced and inspired countless bands and players. His work in Helmet is truly exceptional along with his other work with Glenn Branca, Band of Susans and his experimental jazz work. His style is so unique that when he’s guested on other band’s albums, there is no denying it’s Page. Here’s a few of the songs he has guested on over the years.
Nine Inch Nails- No, You Don’t (from The Fragile):
Therapy?- Unbeliever (from Troublegum):
Wire- All Fours (from Object 47):
Norma Jean- Opposite of Left and Wrong (from The Anti-Mother):
P.O.D- God Forbid (fro When Angels and Serpents Dance):
Linkin Park- All For Nothing (from The Hunting Party):
When you think of guitar solos, Nine Inch Nails is probably not very high on the first ones that come to mind. That is about to change though. On the epic masterpiece of an album that is The Downward Spiral, there is a song on there that has a guitar solo that oozes the pain and anguish that perfectly coincides with the thematic nature of the record. That song is “Ruiner” and it’s one of the most underrated songs on the album. The solo on the song is actually inspired by Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb.” Trent was interviewed by Guitar World magazine years ago and this is what he had to say about the solo, “Ah yes, the great, Pink Floyd-esque, Seventies-sounding section of the song. That’s just a preset on the Zoom. I think I accidentally called up the wrong patch. I’m not a soloist. I was just laughing when I was playing with this ridiculous sound, recording into the computer saying like, “This is so cheesy,” you know? I later realized that I basically tried to play a “Comfortably Numb”-type solo with this sound. I played the song for Chris, our drummer, and I was thinking, “He’s going to start laughing. It’s silly.” But he goes, “Man, that guitar section was fucking great.” Anyways, this solo when “Ruiner” is played live is stunning.
Nine Inch Nails- Ruiner:
Nine Inch Nails- Ruiner (Live at The Wiltern 2009- FINAL Wave Goodbye Show):
I will never forget the first time I listened to Nine Inch Nails album The Fragile the whole way through. There was something so special about that album. I could and will go into more detail about that album at some point down the road. One of the immediate songs that hit me like a ton of bricks was track number 7 on Disc 1 (or the left side), “Just Like You Imagined.” This instrumental track blew me away. It’s a total encompassing of everything that makes The Fragile so great. The song on the studio recording features David Bowie’s longtime pianist, Michael Garson, who adds some beautiful moments. Live, this song is even better. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing it live a few times and each one of those I was totally in awe at how amazing the song truly is.
In 1993 at the MTV Video Music Awards, Pearl Jam was performing their song “Animal” from their very amazing second album, VS. I still remember watching the show and seeing Neil Young come out on stage. The end result was Pearl Jam and Neil Young performing “Rockin In The Free World” together and what a performance it was. This performance also led to the members of Pearl Jam being invited to be Neil’s band on his upcoming album, Mirror Ball (which is a pretty cool album). This performance though, is one that I have always remembered and the song is perfect for right now too.