Album Anniversary

Unsung Masterpieces: Thrice- Vheissu

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Making a statement through music and art is always a complex thing to do. On one hand you know that this is the best and most fulfilling thing you can do. So much so that the direction and influence you feel at that point is going to define you. On the other hand, there is a sense that people out there won’t get it and thus give up on you. But for those that understand and really pick up on, know that this is the album that needed to be made and up till this point, it was only a matter of time. Ten years ago, Thrice released their masterpiece called Vheissu. At first it was met with a bit of hesitation but as time settled, the album began to take on a life of it’s own. Vheissu was a dramatic and experimental departure from the bands more post hardcore roots. Thrice took chances to make an album with more substance and meaning. Not to say that their previous releases weren’t up to par, but this album just had to push past all those to leave a mark. They took a chance with adding different elements including different instruments, time signatures, and the use of electronics. All of these things really helped to ensure a true artistic approach in the writing and recording process. There are so many standout songs on this album, it’s hard to pick the absolute best. My personal favorite “The Earth Will Shake,” is a perfect example of the bands progression and how well it worked out. “Red Sky,” “Atlantic,” “For Miles,” “Like Moths To Flame,” and “Image Of The Invisible” are all standout tracks on the album. The entire record as a whole is beyond anything in the bands catalog. Take a trip back ten years ago and listen to Vheissu again.

Thrice- Vheissu:

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Album Anniversary: Garbage- Self Titled

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The mid 90’s were a very special time in music. So many ground breaking and influential albums came out and shaped the lives of my people.  On August 15, 1995, Garbage released their debut album. After spending time doing remixes and working on other peoples records, Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erickson decided they wanted to take the different instrumentation they had been doing and form a full fledged band. According to the way the story goes, Steve Marker was watching 120 Minutes on MTV, when he saw the music video of Angelfish’s “Suffocate Me.” He then showed the video to Duke and Butch and had their manager track Shirley Manson down. Shirley Manson met up with  Erikson, Marker and Vig for the first time in London. Due to Shirley’s other band on tour, Garbage was put on hold till after they finished their cycle. The three guys then attended Angelfish’s show in Chicago and Shirley was invite to audition for the group. The audition did not go well, but after talking with the guys while there and they found they had a similar taste in music. Shirley then called Garbage’s manager and asked to audition again.

The album itself is a blend of many different genres from punk, rock, techno, hip hop all with an incorporated pop tinge. There are so many great tracks like, “Vow,” “Stupid Girl,” “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Supervixen.”  Radio and MTV really picked up on the bands singles. To support the albums release, Garbage was the main support for The Smashing Pumpkins while on their tour for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

20 years into their career and Garbage still have a knack for creating great music. Their singles really still hold up well, as well as some of the deep cuts. The albums as a whole are a little iffy, but there is a real sense of pride within the bands as to what they have created. One thing I noticed while Listening back to all their albums, is that on Version 2.0, they really seemed to find their sound and hone it gracefully.

There is no doubt that all the members of the band are extremely talented, each bringing in something different to the table to create a great body of work. The one thing that always stood out to me about Garbage was Shirley Manson. She has a way about here that is part punk rock, alternative, and hypnotic. Her voice stands out amongst a lot of here peers in the entire genre.

Garbage is going on the road to celebrate their 20 year anniversary by playing their self titled debut in it’s entirety, as well as re releasing it with a slew of extras.

Garbage-Garbage:

Garbage EPK from first album:

By: Brian Lacy

Unsung Masterpieces: Dredg- Catch Without Arms

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There are quite a few bands that really work to create a piece of work that is special. They don’t compromise their artistic integrity just to sell their albums. Instead they grind it out in hope that people will listen and grasp just what they are doing. One of those bands is Dredg. Never one to follow a trend or sacrifice their art for a buck, the guys in Dredg stand by their vision and don’t disappoint. Their third album Catch Without Arms just passed the ten year mark, and it still rocks just as much as when it came out. Catch Without Arms was released on June 21, 2005. This album showed a change to a simpler, and more straightforward musical style for the band but still had a bit of the etherial tinge that El Cielo had. The album was produced by Terry Date (Deftones, Pantera, Soundgarden) and had some additional help from Queensryche guitarist Chris DeGarmo.

Catch Without Arms features great songs such as “Ode To The Sun,” “Bug Eyes,” “Not That Simple,” “The Tanbark Is Hot Lava,” “Sang Real,” and “Jamais Vu.” These songs show the forward movement of the band and it’s members ability to write individual songs. Catch Without Arms is a concept album about opposites, mainly focused on positives and negatives. Each member brings something different to the table. Singer/guitarist Gavin Hayes has a very intriguing voice that makes his lyrics come to life. Drummer Dino Campanella is one of the most underrated drummers in music. His ability is astounding, not to mention his ability to play drums and piano at the same time. This is truly something awesome to watch. Mark Engles has a guitar tone that is his own. It’s melodic and clean that fits perfectly with the nature of each song. Bassist Drew Roulette grooves right along with Dino’s drums, and his bass lines add another element to each song.

Dredg is one of the most underrated bands to come out since 2000. They really know themselves and what they are capable of. Their ability to push the boundaries of their art is uncompromising and satisfying. Give this album another listen and you’ll see why it is an unsung masterpiece

https://www.facebook.com/dredg

Dredg- Catch Without Arms:

By: Brian Lacy

Album Anniversary: Nine Inch Nails- With Teeth

36430ed9885892951d4b9acbc126c7d1It’s really crazy to think that it has been ten years since I turned 21 and Nine Inch Nails released With Teeth. I remember the day it was released very well. It was the day of my 21st birthday (May 3rd). A few weeks before I had attended a listening party for the album and was very excited to know that it would be coming out on my birthday, added incentive of sorts. I remember putting the cd on in my friends car and blasting the ever living guts out of it, thinking to myself wow, this sounds great.

Originally the album was to be called Bleedthrough and was a concept based on the exploration of “loss and possible discovery of self, along with alternate layers of reality and perception set inside a nightmare you can’t seem to wake up from; with lots of feedback”. Not long after though Trent stated that the name was changed because “it was supposed to be about different layers of reality seeping into the next, but I think some people were thinking about blood or a tampon commercial”. “‘Bleedthrough’ is no more,” Reznor wrote in a message posted on nin.com, “as the songs and concepts matured, the focus and theme of the album shifted somewhat–leaving me feeling that title was inappropriate. Or you could just say I changed my mind. Yes, the new album has a title and track list, and no I’m not telling you what it is yet”. During the writing of the album Trent began to realize that the songs didn’t fit in to the concept and could stand alone without the need for an all encompassing concept.  It was during this time that Trent was also heavily inspired by the use of more analog electronic effects and instruments, specifically tape delay and modular synthesizers, The drums on the album are courtesy of Josh Freese and Dave Grohl.

To me, With Teeth is as close as Trent will get to going back to that “RAW” feeling like he did with Broken. There are so many great songs on this album. The live versions of these songs translate so well. I had the opportunity to see them during this album and it was a great show. Songs like “You Know What You Are,” “The Line Begins To Blur,” “The Hand That Feeds,” “Beside You In Time,” and “Right Where It Belongs,” still stand out to me from those shows. I just wish Trent would play “Getting Smaller” at more shows!!

With Teeth stands up 10 years later and sounds fresher than most of the generic rubbish that is being churned out these days. Trent always stays true to where he is at in his life. This album truly represents getting his life in order and reflecting on the past as to not fall back down that trail again. With Teeth is and was the logical next step in the evolution of Nine Inch Nails. Here hoping that evolution continues!

Nine Inch Nails- With Teeth:

By: Brian Lacy

Album Anniversary: Radiohead- The Bends

the-bendsA bands second album is usually met with such high expectations if their first is filled with lots of praise that a lot of bands fail. Though sometimes the second album is beyond what you would expect. At the start of 1994, Radiohead began working on song arrangements for The Bends. The band nearly broke up due to the pressure of sudden success of Pablo Honey, as the tour extended into its second year. The band chose John Leckie to produce their new album. Leckie had been the producer on George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass, and The Stone Roses debut. The engineer Nigel Godrich would later go on to become Radiohead’s go to producer for all albums to come. The band found the first two months of work on the album difficult. The band’s record label, EMI, had set an October 1994 release date for the record, which later proved unrealistic. EMI also suggested Radiohead should record the album’s lead single first. No one could agree on what the lead single should be, so the band worked on four tracks they considered candidates: “Sulk”, “The Bends”, “Just”, and “Nice Dream”. This proved to be counter productive and slowed things down. Jonny Greenwood would also add to the slow down by experimenting with several rented guitars and amplifiers in order to discover “a really special sound” for his instrument, despite Leckie’s belief that Greenwood already had one. Also during this time tensions were coming to a boil between Thom Yorke and the rest of the band. So John Leckie suggested to Thom that he record some songs by himself on guitar. During this time the band had taken a short break to do a small tour and recharge. The break for the tour proved to be just what they needed. Radiohead completed recording the album at Abbey Road Studios in London, where Leckie also mixed some of the songs. The Bends marked the start of a gradual turn in Thom Yorke’s songwriting approach from personal angst to the more cryptic lyrics and social and global themes that would come to dominate the band’s later work.This would also be the last Radiohead album to me predominantly “raw” and without any electronic elements.

The Bends has long been my favorite album of Radiohead. Don’t get me wrong I love OK Computer and Kid A, but this album a a whole is fantastic. The songs, the way they were written and then the track listing make this a perfect album. From the first note of “Planet Telex,”to the swooning “High and Dry, the more upbeat almost rocking, “Just,” and the perfect closer in “Street Spirit (Fade Out),” The Bends is a masterpiece and after 20 years still holds just as though it were released today.

Radiohead- The Bends:

By: Brian Lacy

Unsung Masterpieces: Sunny Day Real Estate- Diary

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Music will always stand the test of time. Certain albums will forever be revered as timeless. Some albums though don’t get the recognition they deserve. Which brings me to Sunny Day Real Estate’s debut album Diary. The album is considered by many to be a defining emo album. It has also been called the bridge between post hardcore and the emo genre. Listening to this album you can tell where Brand New gets a lot of their influence from. Lyrically there is a sense of realism throughout the album. Jeremy Enigk has a real knack for creating vocal melodies that compliments his softer voice and the words. Dan Hoerner’s guitar tone is heavy yet crisp and bright, which accents the soft vocals and the delicate nature in which Jeremy plays. Nate Mendel’s bass has a nice dirty tinge to it, adding just the right amount of distortion to balance with William Goldsmith’s heavy hitting drums. Songs like “Seven,” “In Circles,” “47,” “Grendel,” and “48” are all stand out tracks. Diary was different from those released by all the other Seattle bands at the time. It’s melodic but has a slightly heavy sound that has had a clear impact on future emo groups. It is the seventh best selling album released on Sub Pop Records, having sold more than 231,000 copies. In 2013, Diary took the first place in LA Weekly’s  list of the “Top 20 Emo Albums in History”

 

 

By: Brian Lacy

Album Anniversary: Nine Inch Nails- The Fragile

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Somehow through all the trials and tribulations of life Trent Reznor was able to create amazing albums. Coming off a 5 year hiatus after the release of the highly influential and masterful album The Downward Spiral, Trent finally released The Fragile. While The Downward Spiral had heavily distorted instruments and dark industrial sounds. The Fragile relished in lush soundscapes electronic wizardry, ambient noise, heavy rock guitars, and vocal harmonies. The end result is uncompromising. The way Trent was able to capture the sheer torment and agony thorough his music and lyrics was beyond untouchable.

 

Each of the sides seems to represent something unique to the inner workings of Trent. The first disc (aka The Left), is easily the more accessible part of the album. Starting with “Somewhat Damaged” which communicates the state of mind/concept that this album is about. “The Day The World Went Away” really delivers. The ambience plays perfectly into the distorted guitars. The segue “The Frail” is a beautiful precursor to the wreckage that is “The Wretched” which is wonderfully angry. “We’re In This Together” is vulnerable and delicate while being able to still hold onto the rage inside of Trent. “The Fragile” is a love song of sorts or a plea to the one who is the apple of his eye. The instrumental “Just Like You Imagined” is a gem on it’s own. The vibe this song puts out is driving and near inspirational. “Even Deeper” gets more involved lyrically and exposes more of Trent. “Pilgrimage”  is another segue that leads us deeper down the tunnel and away from the light. “No, You Don’t” picks up where “Pilgrimage” ended and explodes with heaviness. “La Mer” is a song that Trent said he wrote when he was in such a dark place. There is something about that song the way it blends perfectly into “The Great Below” which closes out the left side beautifully. This song also acts as the end of a chapter.

The right side (disc 2) starts with “The Way Out Is Through.” In a way this song is the further descent into a personal hell. “Into The Void” deals with more of the personal issues, with a heavier vibe. “Where Is Everybody?” has a really cool deconstructed electronic beat that creates a really nice tension throughout the song. “The Mark Has Been Made” is another instrumental/segue that takes us further down the rabbit hole. “Please” has more of an industrial edge to it. “Star Fuckers Inc.” is just a really nice “Fuck You” to all those that irritated and got under the skin of Trent. The guitar tracks on this song are full of heavy goodness. “Complication” takes a step towards the more industrial dance laced beats. It kind of foreshadows where his music is heading. “I’m Looking Forward To Joining You, Finally” is a solemn song, as it exposes his want to say goodbye permanently. “The Big Come Down” furthers his not light at the end concept. Musically this is a very unique song filled with melody. “Underneath It All” is a gritty song which keeps the deconstruction alive. Ending the album is “Ripe (With Decay)” this instrumental plays like the close of a life or chapter. There is something special about this song, in that all the quiet sounds and stark instrumentation really helps to sum up all the songs.

The Fragile to me is a marvelous album that can’t be touched. I’d dare even put it above The Downward Spiral. Both are so unique and perfect it’s hard to pick just one. I guess it all depends on ones mood. Trent Reznor is a musical genius. His ability to delve deep and create something so real is inspiring. It’s not easy to create 1 masterpiece. Trent was able to do it twice.

 

 

By: Brian Lacy